Narcissism is an issue in itself. Narcissists are controlling, they warp principles when it benefits them, and they can even cause serious, detrimental health affects. But a narcissistic parent can make life a living hell from the get go.
Yes, a narcissistic parent. Not just that, but a narcissism enabling parent. Parents that don’t have the backbone, don’t have the initiative, whatever it is for whatever reason, parents that allow their narcissistic and damaging spouse to further damage their child.
They feel like an absolute blessing. In fact, people with these parents often see them as a major reason they even got through their more directly damaging parent.
But rest assured, they are further administering damage in their own way. And I’ll use a personal story as an example.
When I was a kid, it was very apparent I had rampant ADHD.
My grades suffered, the other kids called me a weirdo, and even the teachers made fun of me.
I remember once, a teacher stood at the front of the room, and said
“There are twenty-eight children in this room. Twenty-seven of you should pass this test tomorrow.”
And everyone just turned around to look at me and laugh.
I always was the odd one out, and I’d get beat up constantly for it. We lived in a really rough part of Tennessee, so violence in my school wasn’t so much punished as it was expected.
I couldn’t be any less of myself though. And bully after bully would beat the crap out of me as a kid.
It was always like that. But my mom was always there for me, and she helped me through a lot of it.
My dad, on the other hand, just made it worse.
In fact, he was the one I was easily the most afraid of.
See, my dad was a narcissist. So this day he’s still one of my biggest and clearest examples of that.
He’d always pat himself on the back for being such a godly man. He tried to be a figure in the church, and even landed a pastor roll at a few points.
Meanwhile, he’d come home, find something completely miniscule and many times harmless, a proceed to beat me so bad I’d violently cry to sleep.
He used to beat me, so bad. He had a plank of wood to beat me with, one he put metal bolts in it to “give it weight”. And he even put a leather handle on it, so it wouldn’t fly out of his hands.
He’d beat me so bad. Not just when I’d do something I knew was wrong, I could respect that. But no, just. For things that were just genuine mistakes.
I remember one day, we’d just gotten to a new neighborhood, we’d just moved there. And one day, this kid just punched me in the face, and ran away.
So I ran to my dad, and I told him what happened. I was still crying and holding my face.
But when I told him, he put me over his knee, and spanked me as hard as he could.
When he was done, he looked me in the eyes and said
“I just became the pastor here. I can’t have them hearing my son is getting into fights.”
Getting into fights? Getting punched isn’t getting into a fight, that’s just getting punched in the face. I didn’t fight back, I just ran straight home.
It hurt, so bad. And I just needed a dad in that moment to be there for me.
My dad didn’t comfort me, at all. He never cared about me, at all. He just hurt me even worse than the kid did.
Dad was an abusive, narcissist parent. Never cared about anyone’s feelings but his, if he had them.
But after something like that, my mom would always come in after him.
She’d hug me and told me how much she loved me, and that my dad loved me too, he just couldn’t see how badly he was hurting me.
I still remember how much I appreciated my mom in those moments. It felt like she was the only one in the world that actually loved me.
I never considered she could’ve done anything to stop it. In the moment that never crossed my mind. But after getting older, and looking back, my mom wasn’t the hero there.
She didn’t have to sit back and watch my own dad just wind up and beat me with his hand, his belt, or a paddle.
But she did, and she sat back, content in being a complicit wife in all of it.
My life was a living hell until I got out, and away from the man I hate I hated to call “father”.
In the moment, it’ll feel like one parent is the hero, and the other is the villain.
But if at the end of the day, the two are more than fine letting you take far more than you deserve, being beaten physically, emotionally, or mentally, it’s likely that both are the people to watch out for.
Either way, if you’re struggling with a narcissistic parent, or have struggled with one, it’s important to remember.
As a parent, it’s your job to love and protect your child in any way you can.
A narcissistic parent can’t take the time to look outside of themselves.
It was not your fault.