If you have a family member who is a narcissist, you have likely experienced treatment that doesn’t feel very loving, and it’s no wonder you might ask if the narcissist really loves their family. Narcissists will manipulate their family members just like any other person in their life, but you might console yourself with the thought that deep down they must truly love you, right?
Narcissists certainly love the idea of family because it makes them feel as though they are a person worthy of love, and surely narcissists have feelings, but the reality is that whatever they might feel ‘deep down,’ they don’t typically treat their family in a way that feels like love.
To understand better how narcissists think about their family, it is worthwhile to explore how the narcissist views the concept of family and what they believe having a family does for them. You’ll also want to learn more about the reality of how narcissists treat their families.
Why Do Narcissists Want to Have a Family?
Most narcissists will proclaim that family is the most important thing in the world to them, but if you ask most family members of the narcissist, they might have a different view. The reason why narcissists really want to have a family is that they will have a ready supply of adoration, or so they think.
Because of their mental condition, narcissists will manipulate and abuse anyone in their life, and this includes their family members. They will use all of the usual techniques for abusing them: gaslighting, lying, triangulation, and even physical abuse.
It’s important to remember three things about narcissists and families. The first is that narcissists will manipulate anyone in their life to their advantage. They have a deep-seated need to have people admire and adore them, and who better to do that than your loving family members?
The second thing to remember about how narcissists view the people around them, even family members, is that they see them as extensions of themselves. Because the narcissist must rely on external validation, they see the people in their life as mere extensions of themselves that are there to provide them with that much-needed validation which is also known as narcissistic supply.
The final thing to remember about narcissists is that they notoriously lack empathy. You might think they would never treat someone they love in a particular way, but they are not able to fully understand the ramifications of their actions. They simply can’t empathize with how their actions affect even their beloved family members.
How Will Narcissists Treat Their Children?
Narcissists often treat children as though they are adults. Because they see them as extensions of themselves, they have difficulty understanding why their children don’t act like adults. They also have little patience for the needs of a child since they don’t see how those needs directly benefit them.
For these reasons, narcissists are often very demanding of their children and very controlling as well. Their children are like wildcards in their life; if they aren’t carefully controlled, they can expose them as the bad people they believe themselves to be and the bad parents they have likely become.
Most narcissists will often be very involved in their children’s lives. They want to control everything right down to who their children talk to and what they say. As the child grows and that becomes more difficult, the relationship between a narcissist and their child often becomes more contentious. In some cases, narcissists may even resort to physical abuse to try and control their children.
If narcissists aren’t micromanaging their children’s lives, they often go to the other extreme and neglect them. This is particularly true of covert narcissists who are trying to show the world how great they are through their good works. These narcissists may be so busy helping other people that they overlook the needs of their own children and family members.
In some cases, narcissists may also overly pamper their children. They may seek to convince their children that they are part of a special family, and as such, they are entitled to special treatment.
In any of these cases, the damage done to children can create a lifetime of difficulties. That’s why the children of narcissists often require long-term therapy to overcome the abuse they have suffered.
How Does a Narcissist Conceive of Love?
For the narcissist, love is a transactional feeling, one in which other people must have something to offer them rather than it being a mutual exchange of connection, empathy, and warmth. They don’t see love as consisting of give-and-take; rather they see it as something for which they receive without having to give.
They are unable to feel empathy, and so, they don’t recognize how their actions affect the people they claim to love. They are only capable of seeing and thinking about their own needs and how their family members can meet them.
To the narcissist, their children exist to help them feel important, intelligent, and powerful, and their spouse is there to provide them with feelings of security, reliability, and support. They want to project an image of the perfect family because it makes them feel superior to other people in their life.
That’s why narcissists will even manipulate their own children to get their narcissistic supply. They often choose a favorite and use triangulation to play the children against one another, and against the other parent.
What Happens if the Narcissist’s Family Doesn’t Comply?
As the children of narcissists grow older, they may start to rebel against their narcissistic parent’s control tactics. They may come to realize that their experiences with this parent aren’t normal, and they may even come to realize their parent has a mental condition.
For this narcissist, this is their worst fear. To them, it will feel as though they are being exposed as what they fear deep down that they truly are — a bad person and a bad parent. Still, they can’t face this, and it can cause a mental decompensation that can make them unpredictable and possibly even violent.
The reality is that the narcissist can’t face their true self, and they can’t deal with the feelings of vulnerability that a rebellious child stirs up. This can lead to further abuse, more stringent attempts to control their lives, and if all else fails, it could also result in either outwardly directed violence or inwardly directed violence.
The same is true if a spouse resists the narcissist’s attempts at control. It’s a situation that can turn truly ugly very quickly. Moreover, the abuse that the family endures over time can lead to long-term mental and possibly physical effects including depression, anxiety, complex PTSD, and even suicidal ideation.
It’s not possible to know what emotions another person truly feels, but what is true is that the narcissist is not capable of expressing love as most people experience it. Regardless of what the narcissist may feel for them, spouses and children of narcissists often don’t feel loved, and that is really what matters in the long-run.
Children and spouses of narcissists often need therapy to recover from the after effects of the narcissist abuse they suffered over time. They simply didn’t feel as though the narcissist really loved them, so even if they did care about their family, their inability to properly show it has the same effect as if they don’t really care.
While the feelings narcissists have for their family members are complicated, you often have strong emotional responses to your family and even to childhood memories. These are emotional triggers that the narcissist in your life can use against you, but you can stop them. Check out my 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers to learn more about how you can defuse those triggers and stop narcissistic manipulation.
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