Flawed, Faceted, and Frightening: Dynamics With Narcissistic Parents

Narcissism and Scapegoating

Do narcissistic parents relate to their children?

Do they even see their children for who they are as individuals?

This is a crucial question. With a sad and complicated answer.

In many cases, both the narcissistic parent and their child believe it is they who are internally, irreparably flawed. But it is the child, having become the depository of the parent’s disowned traits, who may consciously ask, “What is wrong with me?”

How interaction might go

The parent may say, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but something is wrong with you.” The child is then “given” something to “carry” they are unable to control. The parent is fearful that the child will stop carrying it. If the child stops carrying “it” then the parent must (and should—it belongs to them) but likely won’t. They will find someone else to “carry” their shame. Paradoxically, the child will often feel abandoned when this happens.

What must be understood, however, is that the child cannot heal this “thing” himself because…this “thing” does not belong to them.

Adapted from When Your Parent Is a Narcissist by Meredith Resnick

Photo by Kat Jayne

About the author 

Jillian Bietz

Jillian Bietz is a writer and editor who enjoys doing in-depth research and exploring a wide-range of topics including all facets of mental health and wellness. She is the editor for My Voice Can Speak.

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