Narcissistic Parents Want Their Children to Fail

Walter Rhein

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In a perfect world, parents are people who put the lives of their children before their own. Parents are there to pick their children up when they fail. Parents offer advice when children are confused. Parents are the guiding light by which children make their way in the world.

But what if one or both of a child’s parents is a classic narcissist?

Narcissists are insecure and need to be in control. Narcissists are afraid that they will be left alone, so they try to control the lives of the people around them.

In a healthy relationship, parents wish to see their children succeed. Good parents want a better life for their children than they received. A narcissist sees a successful child as a threat.

When adults are involved in a relationship with a narcissist, they recognize that the narcissist tells lies. Narcissists like to present the image that they are competent and powerful. But when a narcissist starts having money troubles, an adult will notice.

It is a lot easier for narcissists to fool children than it is to fool other adults. Children are dependent on their parents. There is a tremendous gap of power. When a parent pretends to be successful, the child is likely to believe the story.

Children of narcissistic parents often share the experience of being told that nothing they did was ever good enough. Narcissistic parents like to set impossible tasks. Then they criticize their children when they fail to achieve them.

Good parents help their children navigate obstacles. Narcissistic parents place challenges in front of their children. The objective is to teach their children that the world is impossible to navigate without the assistance of the narcissist.

It is difficult for children to break out of the cycle of narcissism. Sometimes the abusive tactics of a narcissist lead to a child recognizing that something is wrong. Narcissists demand that their children do well in school and are critical of anything less than a perfect report card.

This tactic can have an unanticipated consequence for the narcissist.

Even though narcissistic parents will never congratulate their child on achieving the honor roll, a good student does become more empowered over time. With personal growth, the student begins to recognize the contradictions in what the narcissist has to say.

Narcissists base their worldview on a personal delusion. Children seek their way in the world, and they depend on the guidance of their parents. Anyone who is involved in a relationship with a narcissist adopts coping tactics.

One tactic is for children to make an appearance of compliance. Narcissists want to be in control. Children can avoid a narcissist's attention by pretending to behave.

Children raised by narcissists will have to break away from their abusive parents. When they become adults, these children might never speak to their parents again. It is possible for children raised by narcissists to have healthy, happy lives.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI
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