17 Signs You Were Raised by a Narcissistic Parent

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By Jonathan Trent

Knowing if you had a narcissistic parent can be challenging if you don’t know the traits to look for. However, the impact of narcissistic parents cannot be underestimated, as they can leave a perpetual mark. Here are 17 signs you grew up with a narcissistic parent.

Manipulative Behavior

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Narcissistic parents will frequently use guilt trips or emotional blackmail to get what they want. They have no remorse when they resort to gaslighting you to make you question yourself or when they play the victim to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

Lack of Boundaries

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People invading your personal space and privacy may feel familiar if you were in close quarters with an egotistical parent who disregarded your feelings or needs. Forbes notes that these damaged boundaries affect your ability to communicate authentically and powerfully and taint your own self-worth.

Constant Need for Validation

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Striving for approval and validation from others is a common trait of someone who was raised by a narcissistic individual. As their self-esteem has been damaged, they may feel inadequate or unworthy unless they are receiving praise or recognition, which can be emotionally taxing.

Conditional Love

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If you grew up with a narcissist, love, and affection would only have been given when you met the expectations of the self-important parent. Instead of loving you unconditionally, they withheld it as a form of punishment. This may have made you feel as though you needed to earn their love through achievements or compliance.

Emotional Neglect

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Being raised by a self-serving parent may have invalidated or minimized your experiences and struggles. Instead of being heard and offered emotional support, you may have had your emotions and feelings ignored or dismissed to accommodate your guardians’ needs and desires.

Sense of Obligation

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CNBC discusses how narcissistic parents expect their children to make sacrifices so that they can do or have whatever they want. With these individuals, you could have felt obligated to meet their demands and expectations and may even have felt guilty for setting boundaries or prioritizing your own needs.

Control Issues

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With a narcissistic caregiver, you likely were not in control of your own life. They may have dictated your choices and decisions, failing to respect your autonomy or independence in the process. This may have extended to making decisions for you without considering your preferences.

Difficulty Establishing Healthy Relationships

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Struggling with trust and intimacy in relationships is a major side effect of dealing with a narcissistic parent. Rather than being able to attract healthy partners, you will bond with those who mirror the behavior of your narcissistic parent because of your inherent feeling of unworthiness.


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In order to impress and get validation from your toxic parent, it is likely that you began to strive for perfection to avoid criticism or disapproval. These people have unrealistic expectations for their children, placing pressure on them to excel in every field to keep up a certain image.


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The lines are blurred in families that are dominated by a self-glorifying individual. As they make their children feel responsible for their emotions or well-being. You may have found it difficult to form a separate identity outside of their influence even if you no longer speak to them.

Emotional Instability

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It is difficult to predict how a narcissistic parent will behave as they are prone to mood swings. Psychology Today notes that their children may be more prone to depression and substance abuse as their parents often display extreme reactions to minor issues or perceived slights.

Sense of Entitlement

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Self-loving parents believe that they are special and deserving of special treatment simply because they believe they are better than others. They will expect others to cater to their needs and desires. In fact, they have no regard for the rights and boundaries of others.

Competitive Nature

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Rather than supporting you in your endeavors, narcissistic parents will view you as a competition. They will feel threatened by your success or accomplishments, undermining your achievements to maintain superiority. As everything is about them, they will distract from your wins.

Inability to Apologize

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Conceited parents will refuse to admit fault or take responsibility for their actions. Accountability is not practiced by these individuals who will justify harmful behavior instead of apologizing. They may even expect you to apologize even when they are completely in the wrong.

Low Self-Esteem

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Children of egotistical parents may internalize their critical voice and negative self-image. They will struggle with feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness, finding it difficult to assert themselves and set boundaries. Psych Central reveals that these parents won’t have the unconditional acceptance to foster healthy self-esteem.

Emotional Exhaustion

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It is normal to feel drained after interactions with narcissistic parents. You may have had to walk on eggshells to avoid conflict, constantly trying to anticipate and meet their needs. This can take a toll on you mentally as you have to grapple with their toxic behavior.

Difficulty Expressing Needs

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Your needs and wants are diminished and shunned when you are the child of a narcissist. This may result in you developing a fear of rejection or backlash when expressing your needs. At times, you may even feel guilty or selfish for prioritizing your own well-being.