Is Living With A Narcissistic Parent Damaging To Your Kids?
Recently, several books and articles have been written about narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). While these publications have great merit, few have examined the impact on children of living with a parent with narcissistic traits. There is some evidence that children raised by a narcissist can adopt some of their personality characteristics such as self-centeredness, inflated sense of entitlement, and lack of empathy. In fact, growing up with a narcissistic parent can be a strong predictor for the development of narcissistic traits, according to Wendy Behary.
Experts remind us that narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) exists on a continuum from mild to severe. Keep in mind that narcissism ranges from self-centeredness and other narcissistic traits to NPD. Narcissism is very hard to diagnose – even by experts. The following is a summary of NPD from the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) used by clinicians to diagnose and treat individuals with mental illness. Keep in mind, NPD can only be diagnosed by a person who is a licensed mental health professional.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder – A pervasive preoccupation with admiration, entitlement, and egotism. Individuals with this personality exaggerate their accomplishments/talents, have a sense of entitlement, lack empathy or concern for others, are preoccupied with envy and jealousy, and have an arrogant attitude. Their sense of entitlement and inflated self-esteem are unrelated to real talent or accomplishments. They feel entitled to special attention, privileges, and consideration in social settings. This sense of entitlement also produces a feeling that they are entitled to punish those who do not provide their required respect, admiration, or attention.
Before we take a look at how NPD impacts offspring, let’s take a close look at how this condition affects an intimate relationship. In her acclaimed book Disarming the Narcissist, Wendy Behary, a codependency expert describes a “perilous narcissist” as the type of narcissist who is unremorseful and devoid of a moral compass – as having a complete disregard and contempt for others. She writes, “There are certain circumstances where an intimate relationship with a narcissist isn’t worth fighting for, even if you have the leverage. The narcissist may even be a threat to your (and your children’s) security, safety, and stability.”