The children of narcissists have a very difficult childhood. My mother was a narcissist, and it seemed like I was solely responsible for maintaining her mood. I had to cater to her every desire, and if I didn’t or if I had a need of my own, she flew into a rage. I walked around on eggshells my entire childhood, and I didn’t realize this was abnormal until a friend of mine mentioned something about it. It felt like hell on Earth, and it wasn’t until after a lot of work on my healing journey that I realized I was an empath. That’s part of why it was so painful, but did my mother raise me to be an empath?
To appease their frightening narcissistic parents, children of narcissists often become extremely emotionally intuitive, and after healing, they may become empaths. It’s not a given that they will be empaths, however, since they more often become codependent or narcissistic themselves.
Understanding the damage a narcissistic parent does to their children is a vital step in the healing process. You can’t heal the damage if you don’t know what it is. Let’s explore how narcissistic parents raise their children and what happens to empathic children in that kind of family.
How Do Narcissistic Parents Raise Their Children?
To the narcissist, everyone around them is an extension of their own identity. They exist to supply them with adoration and prop up their self-esteem. The narcissist needs this because they don’t have a healthy identity mechanism that allows them to self-soothe and support their own self-esteem.
The narcissist’s children are not excluded from this perspective. To the narcissistic parent, they are also extensions of their identity, and their purpose in life is to support the needs of the narcissist. When their children don’t live up to their expectations, as inevitably happens, the narcissist begins to emotionally abuse them. Sometimes, this toxic parent is also physically abusive.
From the child’s perspective, they experience their narcissistic parent as unpredictable and emotionally distant. Like any child, these children depend on their parents for life-sustaining resources and they crave attention and love from them as well.
As a result of the unpredictable and aloof nature of the narcissistic parent, the children learn one of a number of possible responses to this kind of treatment. Let’s take a look at some of the possibilities.
They Become Like Their Abuser
Many children of abuse recognize that they don’t want to be victims of abuse after they are old enough to make their own choices. They may determine that the best way to do that is to become like their abuser.
In the case of a narcissistic parent, their abuse often destroys their children’s developing sense of identity. As experts in child health noted in the book, New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research, researchers “found that adults with a history of abuse and neglect (as indicated by records and/or self-report) had a fourfold increase in personality disorders relative to those without a history of abuse or neglect.”
Many children of narcissistic parents become a narcissist themselves as a result of the maltreatment they receive in childhood.
They Become a Victim in Adulthood
Likewise, many children of abusive parents learn that this is the normal way for people to behave in close relationships. They learn it is something to be expected as an adult.
When they grow up, they look for similar characteristics that they saw in their parents in a prospective spouse. When this happens, the cycle of abuse continues, and they often pass this kind of maltreatment on to the next generation.
Essentially, they don’t know anything different. When they meet someone who is a narcissist, they see characteristics and treatment that are just like their mother or father. It’s normal, and they don’t see it as abusive.
They Become Intuitive
Almost all children of a narcissistic parent become more intuitive since they need to do this to survive. They learn to recognize the subtle signals that their narcissistic parent is unhappy, and they try to adjust their behavior accordingly.
Of course, it’s impossible for them to do this successfully all of the time, so they frequently experience the rage that happens when they don’t get it right. That only reinforces the notion that they need to try harder.
While being more intuitive is a characteristic of an empath and many of these abused children are empaths, until they can heal some of this abuse, their gift is more of a burden. The narcissistic parent will drain them of energy, and their desire to help can easily turn into codependence.
They Become Codependent
Codependence happens when a person neglects their own needs in favor of trying to please other people. They are the quintessential people-pleasers.
They neglect themselves to the point that they become very unhealthy psychologically and often physically too. This pattern of codependence continues to adulthood, and they become the target of abusive life partners.
How Can an Empath Tap Into Their Intuition to Heal Themselves?
Children of narcissists who are truly empaths can tap into that intuition to change the narrative. When they learn to balance their needs with their gift of intuition, they will find that doing so benefits their own path in life.
They can essentially take their own power back in order to understand what has happened to them and determine an appropriate path forward. They must learn to trust that intuition to lead them in the right direction.
They have to learn to call out the abuse when they see it and set strong boundaries to keep abusers from manipulating their kind nature. If you’re an empath, it’s critical that you look at each person in your life and each challenge you have faced as part of your learning process.
This is what has helped you to awaken to the gift you have. Once you can see that and begin to honor your sensitive nature, you become more self-aware and more grounded in your experiences and relationships.
From there, you can learn to trust and value yourself despite the negative training you received from your narcissistic parent. You are worthy of love, and while your narcissistic parent might not have shown you the unconditional love you deserve, you can cultivate it in your life going forward.
There are many possible outcomes that can result from being the child of a narcissistic parent. Being an empath is one of them as you have learned to cultivate your intuition in order to survive a tumultuous childhood experience. Healing the wounds created by your narcissistic parent can help you to appreciate your gift of sensitivity in ways that you didn’t experience as a child.
My 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers can help you recognize, defuse, and heal those old wounds that toxic people can use against you. You can heal them and stop narcissistic abuse forever. I used these same techniques to heal myself and am now able to have a relationship with my narcissistic mother without the abuse. If you would like a copy of this free guide, just click on this link, and I’ll send it directly to your inbox today!
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