Being raised by narcissists is the most abusive form of child abuse. It can leave you with a low self-esteem and poor sense of self if you let it.
Narcissists are people who care about no one but themselves. That doesn’t meld very well with being a parent. When you are a parent, normally, it is a thankless job. A narcissist is incapable of putting their own wants and needs aside to care for the emotional and physical well-being of their children.
Children who are raised by narcissists can suffer the worst type of child abuse anyone can endure. Being raised by narcissists is a very difficult thing to overcome, and there are many repercussions that stem from their upbringing.
18 signs you were raised by narcissists
Children who are raised by one narcissistic parent can come through sometimes unscathed by the treatment of their parents, but if you have two parents who are equally narcissistic, the emotional hurdle can affect your emotional stability for a lifetime.
There are several traits that result from being raised by narcissists. If you had no one looking out for you while growing up, then overcoming the abuse may be a hard road to recovery.
There are two different types of narcissistic parents. One is the engulfing type, where children are smothered to the extent that they never develop a sense of self. The second is ignoring narcissistic parents, who use neglect and emotional blackmail to control their children.
Either way, the consequences are similar, and it can end in dire consequences for the emotional maturity of the child and the way that they perceive themselves.
#1 You have low self-esteem. Being raised by narcissistic parents typically leaves the child with very low self-esteem. Not only were you unlikely to have your own identity outside of them, but they also made sure that you were stripped of any praise.
Constantly insulting and overly critical, you learned early on that whatever you did wasn’t good enough. That can ultimately lead to low self-esteem.
#2 Depression and anxiety are not uncommon. After either being overly controlled or neglected, it is not uncommon for those raised by narcissists to be prone to depression and anxiety. Never feeling in control of themselves, their decisions, or their own lives, children of narcissistic parents have very little hope for their future and feel helpless to change their life circumstances.
#3 You have a tendency to look for destructive relationships. Feeling comfortable with people who criticize, control, or manipulate you, you tend to seek out destructive relationships. Since it is the only thing you know, and likely, all that you think you are worthy of, normal and healthy relationships don’t feel right to you.
#4 You do a lot of self-sabotaging. When you do have accomplishments or healthy relationships, you self-sabotage them because you don’t know how to deal with them. Not only being fearful of losing something loving and good, you don’t feel like you are worthy of anything good, so you make sure to protect yourself by pushing people away and making poor decisions.
#5 You downplay your own accomplishments. You weren’t ever allowed to accomplish anything on your own that they didn’t take credit for, so you aren’t big on taking stock of your successes, and you tend to focus more on your failures.
You have the tendency to talk about yourself in a negative light and focus on your shortcomings, not the times that you rose above the crowd.
#6 You have trust and abandonment issues. Since your parents probably didn’t really care about whether you were happy, sad, or even taken care of, they also were not afraid to lie to you about whatever suited them.
That can leave a child feeling unsure of what is real. If your parents lie to you, then why wouldn’t everyone else? The very people you should trust the most weren’t so trustworthy, so what would compel anyone to be different?
#7 You keep things to yourself. Everything good you did, they criticized. Everything nice you had or cared about, they probably broke or took away. So, you have a tendency to keep things to yourself rather than fear that you are going to lose them.
#8 You don’t feel worthy of love. The child who is raised by narcissists doesn’t know what the feeling of unconditional love is. In their world, no one has to love and accept you. In fact, the very people who you are told have to love you, don’t. It is not uncommon for you to feel like you must have done something to make them not care for you. After all, that was their job.
#9 You were often made to feel crazy through gas lighting. Gas lighting is a technique used by narcissistic parents to make a child feel as if they are crazy. Changing the story and convincing children that they don’t know what they know, narcissistic parents put a gas light on any theories that they could be responsible for anything but good.
#10 You had to grow up quickly. When you are raised by narcissistic parents, you have to grow up quickly, because often, the parents need parenting. Switching roles, the child is left to clean up the mess of their parents, be responsible, and cover up for their shortcomings – or else they’ll face ridicule and anger.
#11 Not everyone was treated the same in your family. When children are raised by narcissistic parents, there is typically one child who is the “golden child.”
One child can do no wrong, and they are held in the highest esteem. Using them to compare the rest of the children to, they are a tool to make everyone else feel less than, and also unworthy.
#12 They didn’t tolerate any defiance or questioning. No parent likes to be questioned, but if you question your parents when you are being raised by narcissists, there was typically huge repercussions. The punishment was swift and harsh if adoration was not spewed toward your parents and their competency.
#13 They were masters at projection. Whatever it was that they did wrong, they probably projected onto you. That can leave you feeling like everything in life is your fault. Taking the blame for the rest of the world’s ills can leave a child raised by narcissists feeling perpetually guilty and unloved.
#14 You hide the genuine you. Since you were never allowed to be yourself because you had to exude perfection *which was unattainable*, you probably have a hard time showing the real you to the world. Whether you are always the “entertainer” or the “fixer,” you have learned what and who you are supposed to be – and that is the person that you show to the rest of the world.
#15 They had no sympathy or empathy for your pain – physical or emotional – so you kept it to yourself. You could have fallen off a roof, and they barely glanced your way. So, you learned very early on that no matter what type of trauma you endure, you have to grin and bear it.
Any attempt at getting sympathy or empathy would be rebuffed with comments about being a drama queen or a whiner.
#16 You are still afraid of them no matter how old you are. Being raised by narcissists teaches you that authority figures are to be feared. No matter how old you are, you never stop fearing the reaction of your parents and avoid them as much as possible. Fear is the cornerstone of control when being raised by narcissistic parents.
#17 You are still seeking their approval even if you know you will never get it. You know that you aren’t ever going to get it, but you still crave their approval no matter how old you are. Whether you are twenty or eighty, you want them, for just once, to say “good job” even though you know they are incapable.
#18 You learned that the world was not safe. Since your parents would constantly be in competition with you. Lying, being physically punishing, or hurting you emotionally, were all fair game. That taught you that the world is not a safe or a fair place to be. You see the relationships through a negative lens.
Being raised by narcissists is one of the worst forms of child abuse that a child can endure. Learning early that you are left to your own devices, that your concerns are yours *and yours only*, and that you are not very worthy of love or praise, you develop a poor sense of self that is guided by low self-esteem.
The good news is that you don’t have to feel the way that you do. There is a way to re-program your brain to see the world as it really is, not as you were raised.
The first step is to recognize that you were abused, try to forgive, distance yourself, and seek out those people in your life who love you and are concerned for you.
Remember, you can’t choose your family, even if you were raised by narcissists. But you can choose who to love. So, choose wisely for a much happier adulthood going forward.