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Can "Good Parents" Raise Narcissistic Children?

Updated: Apr 30

Can "Good Parents" Raise Narcissistic Children?

Written by Narcissistic Abuse Expert and Coach Randi Fine

Narcissistic Abuse Support and Guidance with Randi Fine

Much has been written and spoken about abusive, personality disordered parents raising children who ultimately develop narcissistic personality disorder. A significant amount of information is also available regarding kind, loving, empathetic parents whose children are born with antisocial personality disorders. But little is known about devoted, unconditionally loving, well-balanced parents whose children develop narcissistic personality disorder.

To be honest, until a client suffering from this heartbreaking situation recently pointed out to me the lack of information available, I had yet to publicly weigh in on this topic. I had previously given some thought to how this might occur, so when my client consulted with me about it, I did have a concrete answer.

This void of relevant information causes unnecessary pain and confusion for parents who are experiencing it.  Not only that, but the self-blame they inflict on themselves after reading over and over how narcissistic children are produced by narcissistic parents, is cruel and unusual punishment. These parents suffer from immense guilt—that after giving their all to their children, they caused them such severe, irreparable harm.

This phenomenon occurs under very specific circumstances. One such circumstance, the one I will address in this article, involves children who are genetically predisposed to developing a mental health disorder who, at an early age, have been left or abandoned by a parent they loved and trusted, but did not form a healthy attachment with.

The survival needs of every child to love, be loved, and feel safe creates dependency on both parents (if both are in their life). Though they may receive healthy love and safety from one parent, that parent may not be able to compensate for the loss of attachment to or rejection by the other parent: the one who was once in their life but for whatever reason has walked away. In these cases, children may take unconditional love from one parent for granted, and intensely focus on the parent they desperately want but cannot have.

Children within the same family setting will not all respond this way. Innate temperament and genetic predisposition influence how children will psychologically, mentally, and emotionally deal with the devastating loss.

Narcissistic personality disorder is formed in childhood before the age of eighteen. The exact cause of NPD has yet to be fully discovered. Theories suggest that it is rooted in childhood abuse, neglect, or trauma during the formative years, or inflicted upon by parents, authority figures, or peers. That results in the abused essentially becoming the abuser. Refusing to hurt any longer, the child goes into attack mode and becomes the perpetrator. This is a maladaptive defense mechanism used to deflect the pain away from the child’s damaged true self.

If you are an adoring, committed parent experiencing horrific abuse or alienation from an adult child you raised, now is the time to stop punishing yourself. You are not perfect. No parent is. But you have done nothing that is worthy of receiving such horrendous treatment. You are not to blame for your adult child’s personality disorder.

Those with narcissistic personality disorder will never change. They simply cannot. They will never see their part in any relational problems and will never be accountable for their cruel, vicious actions.

Tragic as it is, there is nothing you can do to fix or heal this relationship, but you can fix and heal yourself. Do it for you. Do it for those who truly value your love and attention.

Release yourself from the constraints of your anguish. Gain a healthy perspective—one that allows you to move forward.  Enlist the support and guidance of a professional with experience in this area. Don’t skimp here. The right professional will make a huge difference in the length of your healing process. The person will teach you healthy ways to reclaim your life. Isn’t it time for you to live life on your terms.

You may not know who to turn to for help. If so, rest assured that I am always here to help you.

Randi Fine is an internationally renowned narcissistic abuse expert and coach, and the author of the groundbreaking book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing and Recovery Second Edition, the most comprehensive, most well researched, and most up-to-date book on this subject. In addition to helping survivors recognize their abuse and heal from it, this book teaches mental health professionals how to recognize and properly treat the associated abuse syndrome. She is also the author of the official companion workbook Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: A Comprehensive Workbook for Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse. Randi Fine is the author of Cliffedge Road: A Memoir, the first and only book to characterize the life-long progression of complications caused by narcissistic child abuse.

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