This post contains some of the best narcissistic parent quotes that will make you feel less alone as a survivor of narcissistic abuse.
What Is Narcissism?
Many professionals in the mental health field recognize that narcissism exists on a continuum.
One key characteristic of narcissistic behavior is lack of empathy.
The narcissist will do what they can to get what they want without concern about who they hurt in the process.
Understanding narcissism and what drives the narcissist will help in the process of healing.
Narcissistic Parent Quotes
1. “How many narcissists does it take to screw in a light bulb? None, they don’t use light bulbs, they use gaslighting!” ― Unknown
2. “Dysfunctional parents do not apologise. It is one feature that the children of narcissists would instantly agree on. They will lie and justify themselves, but never accept they did anything wrong.” ― Diana Macey
3. “By undermining you they make sure that if you complain about the narcissistic parent nobody will believe you, because they already have a certain negative image of you. Again, this abusive behaviour is just how narcissists live day to day. The plotting and manipulation is necessary to twist others around their false image.” ― Diana Macey
4. “Narcissists don’t see their children as separate people that have a right to experience life from their own angle. There is no option in their heads in which the kids will be in charge of their own lives ‘unaided’ by the narcissist.” ― Diana Macey
5. “This is called crazy making, and it is what narcissists do. They push to provoke bad feelings, and when they do and their victim reacts, they feel better. Somehow they transfer their state of mind onto their victims.” ― Diana Macey
6. “If unloving mothers were able to see their behavious as abusive, they either would stop behaving that way or they would get help for their dysfunction. But many cannot: instead, they deny it, to themselves, their families, and the world at large, in order to avoid a sense of guilt, to avoid having to make changes in their lives, or to avoid the bruising awareness that they, too, were unloved children.” ― Victoria Secunda
7. “Children of narcissists learn that love is abuse. The narcissist teaches them that if someone displeases you, it is okay to harm them and call it love.”― M. Wakefield
8. “If you are told from the time you are one month that you’re no good and you’re not smart and you can’t do it and you don’t have an opinion of your own and you pick the wrong friends and you don’t study the right way and you don’t wear the right clothes and you don’t look nice, at some point you’re going to start believing it. And if you believe it, you’re going to need a mommy to tell you what to do. And that’s abuse. Not to let your child grow up to be an independent, respected human being.”― Victoria Secunda
9. “Another step is that daughters can learn to monitor their own feelings and instincts by saying, “I feel uncomfortable (angry, dominated, usurped, inadequate, guilty, furious) with my mother more often than I do not. I have to pay attention to that, because it shows in how I treat my friends (lover, spouse, kids, colleagues). There is validity here. I don’t have to blame or excuse my mother-I just have to see her so I can see myself.” ― Victoria Secunda
10. “When a mother attempts to bind a grown daughter to her, whether by fear or neediness or illness or rage, the consequences can be devastating. To continue trying to please an unpleasable mother threatens an adult daughter’s mental health and all of her relationships. And yet such daughters keep coming back to their mothers, without the daughters’ altering that relationship and their bitter or anguished reactions to it.” ― Victoria Secunda
11. “Recovering from the trauma inflicted by our narcissistic mother (or father/spouse/partner) takes time and effort. For some, it can take decades to understand, process, and unpack it. Healing isn’t a marathon. Rather, it’s a daily journey. We gain more insight. We educate ourselves. We process our painful abuse. We know that we are worthy of being loved, respected, and cared for.” ― Dana Arcuri
12. “If a toxic parent does not want to live in sin, they must not provoke their children to sin—especially by using the holy & righteous word to do it.” ― Zara Hairston
13. “Children who are not encouraged to do, to try, to explore, to master, and to risk failure, often feel helpless and inadequate. Over-controlled by anxious, fearful parents, these children often become anxious and fearful themselves. This makes it difficult for them to mature. Many never outgrow the need for ongoing parental guidance and control. As a result, their parents continue to invade, manipulate, and frequently dominate their lives.” ― Susan Forward
14. “Most adult children of toxic parents grow up feeling tremendous confusion about what love means and how it’s supposed to feel. Their parents did extremely unloving things to them in the name of love. They came to understand love as something chaotic, dramatic, confusing, and often painful—something they had to give up their own dreams and desires for. Obviously, that’s not what love is all about. Loving behaviour doesn’t grind you down, keep you off balance, or create feelings of self-hatred. Love doesn’t hurt, it feels good. Loving behaviour nourishes your emotional well-being. When someone is being loving to you, you feel accepted, cared for, valued, and respected. Genuine love creates feelings of warmth, pleasure, safety, stability, and inner peace.” ― Susan Forward
15. “It’s amazing how people can change behind closed doors.” ― Susan Forward
16. “Once you understand what love is, you may come to the realization that your parents couldn’t or didn’t know how to be loving. This is one of the saddest truths you will ever have to accept. But when you clearly define and acknowledge your parents’ limitations, and the losses you suffered because of them, you open a door in your life for people who will love you the way you deserve to be loved—the real way.” ― Susan Forward
17. “When children can’t rely on their parents to meet their needs, they cannot develop a sense of safety, trust, or confidence. Trust is a colossal development issue. Without the learning of trust in our early years, we are set up to have a major handicap with believing in ourselves and feeling safe in intimate connections.” ― Karyl McBride
18. “When we recognize that we are not responsible for our childhood deprivations, and that we are entitled to feel anger (but not to act on it – awareness is not a license to kill), then we are able to let go of that anger and not be controlled by it.”― Victoria Secunda
19. “If a mother has an unhealthy need to dominate her children-which she demonstrates by bullying, terrifying, neglecting, suffocating, indulging, humiliating, overprotecting or abusing them- those children must come to the recognition that such treatment is wrong in order to begin the long process of recovery and ultimate understanding.” ― Victoria Secunda
20. “Just because your mother gave birth to you doesn’t mean they are capable of caring for you. Just because a woman had a child doesn’t necessarily equate to being safe, respectful, or healthy. NOT ALL MOTHERS CAN LOVE.” ― Dana Arcuri
21. “The narcissistic mother cannot give her child unconditional love. She’s not capable of being self-less, devoted, warm, mature, or attentive to you. Instead, everything is about her. Life revolves around meeting her unrealistic, immature needs. She expects your undivided attention. Your admiration. Your praises. Your loyalty to her. She demands you to meet her needs no matter how ridiculous they can be.”― Dana Arcuri
22. “The parent may be self-depreciating, but will become angry or hurt if others agree with the self-depreciating comments. The self-absorbed parent will use personal put-downs in an effort to get others to disagree.” – Nina W. Brown
23. “Self-absorbed parents express and experience few emotions, usually only anger and fear. They use the words for feelings, but these are empty and meaningless.” – Nina W. Brown
24. “Growing up in a family with emotionally immature parents is a lonely experience. These parents may look and act perfectly normal, caring for their child’s physical health and providing meals and safety. However, if they don’t make a solid emotional connection with their child, the child will have a gaping hole where true security might have been.” – Lindsay C. Gibson
25. “The children of self-absorbed parents, who experience these behaviors and attitudes from birth, are not allowed to become separate and distinct individuals in their own right, and may find that this affects their adult lives in often negative ways.” – Nina W. Brown
26. “The needy self-absorbed parent can come across to others as very caring and concerned. This parent is usually attentive, tries to anticipate every need, and is very anxious about getting recognition for their efforts. This need for recognition, specifically, is very suggestive of selfabsorption. This parent has to receive attention, appreciation, and approval for almost every parental act, both from the child and from others.” – Nina W. Brown
27. “Behaviors and attitudes reflective of the needy self-absorbed parent are clinging, overnurturing, and a tendency to be overprotective. Such parents may make a big deal out of what they think of as their personal sacrifices, complain a lot about a lot of things, and seem to get anxious when they are alone. They pester you to know your every thought, feeling, and idea, never forget an offense, and can be easily hurt since they are hypersensitive to perceived criticism. Such parents are never empathic, but they may appear to be sympathic.” – Nina W. Brown
28. “When the children of emotionally immature parents grow up, the core emptiness remains, even if they have a superficially normal adult life. Their loneliness can continue into adulthood if they unwittingly choose relationships that can’t give them enough emotional connection. They may go to school, work, marry, and raise children, but all the while they’ll still be haunted by that core sense of emotional isolation.” – Lindsay C. Gibson
29. “Some of your unrealistic expectations for yourself result from the messages received from your self-absorbed parent about how you were expected to take care of the parent.” – Nina W. Brown
30. “Emotionally immature parents don’t know how to validate their child’s feelings and instincts. Without this validation, children learn to give in to what others seem sure about. As adults, they may deny their instincts to the point where they acquiesce to relationships they don’t really want. They may then believe it’s up to them to make the relationship work. They may rationalize why they have to try so hard in the relationship, as though it were normal to struggle daily to get along with your mate. While effort is needed to maintain communication and connection in a relationship, it shouldn’t feel like constant, unrewarding work.” – Lindsay C. Gibson
31. “Self-absorbed parents may present themselves differently to different people and in different situations or environments. In addition, other people have their own unique lens for perceiving and reacting to others. Depending on their roles and connections to your self-absorbed parent, other people may not see beyond the façade presented, and they may not realize that the parent acts and relates differently to you or others.” – Nina W. Brown
32. “The negative effects of your self-absorbed parent may lead you to perceive yourself as inadequate, inferior, ineffective, and a whole host of other self-defeating thoughts and attitudes.” – Nina W. Brown
33. “Self-absorbed parents are unlikely to change because they see no reason to change. They think they are “right” in their perceptions, behaviors, and attitudes and that you are “wrong” if you differ or challenge them. It’s been that way all of your life, but you just keep hoping, wishing, and yearning for them to change and that hasn’t happened.” – Nina W. Brown
34. “Attentive and reliable emotional relationships are the basis of a child’s sense of security. Unfortunately, emotionally immature parents are usually too uncomfortable with closeness to give their children the deep emotional connection they need. Parental neglect and rejection in childhood can adversely affect self-confidence and relationships in adulthood, as people repeat old, frustrating patterns and then blame themselves for not being happy.” – Lindsay C. Gibson
35. “Most signs of emotional immaturity are beyond a person’s conscious control, and most emotionally immature parents have no awareness of how they’ve affected their children.” – Lindsay C. Gibson
36. “Were you responsible for the physical or emotional well-being of your parent or parent figure, or even both parents? This is called parentification, where instead of the self-absorbed parent taking care of the child’s well-being, the child is expected to assume responsibility for the parent’s well-being, especially that parent’s emotional well-being.” – Nina W. Brown
37. “It is possible for you to show respect for your self-absorbed parent in interactions with him or her without agreeing with the parent’s characterization of you or having to buy into the parent’s denigrating comments about you.” – Nina W. Brown
38. “Sometimes children of emotionally immature parents repress their anger or turn it against themselves. Perhaps they’ve learned that it’s too dangerous to express anger directly, or maybe they feel too guilty about their anger to be aware of it. When anger is internalized in this way, people tend to criticize and blame themselves unrealistically. They may end up severely depressed or even have suicidal feelings—the ultimate expression of anger against the self. Alternatively, some people express their anger in a passive-aggressive way, attempting to defeat their parents and other authority figures with behaviors like forgetting, lying, delaying, or avoiding.” – Lindsay C. Gibson
39. “Emotionally immature parents don’t try to understand the emotional experiences of other people—including their own children. If accused of being insensitive to the needs or feelings of others, they become defensive, saying something along the lines of “Well, you should have said so!” They might add something about not being a mind reader, or they might dismiss the situation by saying the hurt person is overly emotional or too sensitive.” – Lindsay C. Gibson
40. “he toxic effects of your self-absorbed parent on you can be detrimental to your relationships, to your ability to think in constructive ways, and above all to improve how you feel about yourself.” – Nina W. Brown
41. “In fact, emotionally immature parents expect their children to know and mirror them. They can get highly upset if their children don’t act the way they want them to. Their fragile self-esteem rides on things going their way every time. However, no child is psychologically capable of mirroring an adult accurately.” – Lindsay C. Gibson
42. “Emotionally immature parents often have the fantasy that their babies will make them feel good about themselves. When their children turn out to have their own needs, it can send such parents into a state of intense anxiety. Those who are extremely emotionally immature may then use punishment, threats of abandonment, and shaming as trump cards in an attempt to feel in control and bolster their self-esteem—at their children’s expense.” – Lindsay C. Gibson
43. “A poisonous parent is one whose ways of teaching children about life and styles of interaction damage children’s abilities to form healthy connections with family members, friends, and eventually romantic partners and offspring. While every parent makes mistakes, it is the frequency and intensity of certain interactions that make them “poisonous.”” – Shea M. Dunham, Shannon B. Dermer, Jon Carlson
44. “Given this shaky self-worth, it’s hard for emotionally immature parents to tolerate their children’s emotions. An upset or fussy child can stir up their anxieties about their own fundamental goodness. If they can’t immediately calm their child, they may feel like a failure and then blame the child for upsetting them.” – Lindsay C. Gibson
45. “Poisonous parents are those whose ways of teaching children about life and styles of interaction damage children’s ability to form healthy connections with family members, friends, and eventually romantic partners and offspring. While every parent makes mistakes, it is the frequency and intensity of certain interactions that is damaging.” – Shea M. Dunham, Shannon B. Dermer, Jon Carlson
46. “Emotionally immature parents can act out their need for enmeshment even with people who aren’t close family members. If there’s an enmeshment void, they’ll go outside the immediate family to fill it. They might also become enmeshed with a group, such as a church or other organization.” – Lindsay C. Gibson
47. “Some poisonous parents have an insatiable craving for the attention and affection of their children to the point where the relationship becomes about meeting the parents’ needs and desires for love and security rather than about the child’s needs.” – Shea M. Dunham, Shannon B. Dermer, Jon Carlson
48. “Overall, children with emotionally immature parents cope with emotional deprivation in one of two ways: either internalizing their problems, or externalizing them. Children who are internalizers believe it’s up to them to change things, whereas externalizers expect others to do it for them. In some circumstances, a child might hold both beliefs, but most children primarily adopt one coping style or the other as they struggle to get their needs met.” – Lindsay C. Gibson
49. “Most emotionally immature parents have an externalizing coping style. Because they’re always looking outside themselves to feel better, externalizers don’t work to develop better self-control. They get overwhelmed by emotion and either deny the seriousness of their problems or blame other people. Externalizers think reality should conform to their wishes, whereas more mature people deal with reality and adapt to it.” – Lindsay C. Gibson
50. “Because anger is an expression of individuality, it’s the emotion that emotionally immature parents most often punish their children for having. But anger can be a helpful emotion because it gives people energy to do things differently and lets them see themselves as worthy of sticking up for. It’s often a good sign when overly responsible, anxious, or depressed people begin to be consciously aware of feeling angry. It indicates that their true self is coming to the fore and that they’re beginning to care about themselves.” – Lindsay C. Gibson
How does having a narcissistic parent affect a child?
Having a narcissistic parent can have numerous negative effects on a child’s emotional and psychological well-being.
It can lead to low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, difficulty establishing healthy boundaries, and challenges in forming trusting relationships.
The constant need for validation from a narcissistic parent can leave a child feeling unloved or undeserving of love.
Can a narcissistic parent change?
While it is possible for individuals with narcissistic traits to change, it can be challenging for a narcissistic parent to do so.
Recognizing and acknowledging their behavior is the first step, followed by therapy or counseling.
However, change can only happen if the person is genuinely motivated and committed to personal growth.
How can someone cope with having a narcissistic parent?
Coping with a narcissistic parent can be challenging, but there are strategies that can help.
It’s important to set healthy boundaries, seek support from trusted friends or family members, and consider therapy or counseling to address the emotional impact.
Developing self-care practices and focusing on personal growth can also be beneficial.
Can the effects of a narcissistic parent be overcome?
Yes, with time, effort, and support, individuals can overcome the effects of having a narcissistic parent.
Therapy or counseling can provide tools and techniques to heal from past traumas, develop healthier relationship patterns, and improve self-esteem.
Engaging in self-discovery and surrounding oneself with a supportive network can contribute to personal growth and resilience.
Can a narcissistic parent have a good relationship with their children?
While it may be challenging, some narcissistic parents can have an improved relationship with their children through therapy or personal growth.
However, it is important to recognize that not all narcissistic parents are capable of change.
Ensuring personal boundaries and seeking professional guidance can help navigate this complex dynamic.
Hadiah is a counselor who is passionate about supporting individuals on their journey towards mental well-being. Hadiah not only writes insightful articles on various mental health topics but also creates engaging and practical mental health worksheets.