Growing up with narcissistic parents is a horrific experience. Neglect & abuse abound, resulting in a child who grows up with little or even no self-esteem, doubts about their sanity, no real identity beyond what their parents told them they were & other horrible traumas that often result in Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or C-PTSD.
In addition to this trauma, many of these children are met with disbelief & even blame for the way their parents treated them. Sadly, this treatment comes mostly from family members. Even as adults, this invalidation often continues & can be even more heartless & painful.
You may find some of these phrases I mention in this post sound familiar to you. If you do, & if you think they will help the person who said them to you see the error of their ways, feel free to show this to them. However, know many people who invalidate victims of narcissistic abuse are also narcissists, which means they only will use the information to hurt you further. You need to use your best judgment on this.
“Why not just talk to your parents. Tell them how you feel.” Normally, this isn’t bad advice. Two functional people often can create solutions to problems by discussing them. This is impossible with narcissists, however. They lack empathy & feel entitled to do or say anything they want. The way people feel about their words & actions, in particular their children, mean nothing to them. Unless they feel they can gain something by impressing someone by caring about their feelings, no one’s emotions mean anything to them. Narcissistic parents often view their children’s feelings as selfish, unreasonable, stupid, or trivial.. that is if they even notice their feelings at all. Many narcissistic parents don’t even notice their children’s feelings no matter how upset they are. They also are highly likely to use their children’s emotions against them to humiliate, shame or manipulate them.
“You need to find a way to fix this relationship!” My aunt once told me how I needed to get into therapy to find a way to fix things with my parents, & “don’t dare tell her it won’t work!” I thank God I was far along in my healing journey at the time she said this, because such words could’ve been devastating if I wasn’t! I tried to do as she said when I was 17, & even saw a few therapists. No matter how much therapy I got, no matter what I did, I couldn’t fix the relationship with my parents. While one person can destroy a relationship, one person can never fix a relationship. It takes two to make a relationship work. Putting the burden of fixing it on a victim is simply cruel & stupid.
“How do you think your behavior makes your parent feel?” After setting boundaries or going no contact, the flying monkeys love to slither out of the wood work & tell victims how wrong, evil, selfish, & stupid they are along with them being terrible sons or daughters for acting the way they are. They make these adult children sound like spoiled rotten little brats who are throwing a hissy fit because they don’t want to eat their vegetables at dinner. People who say this fail to realize that child of a narcissistic parent or two spend their entire lives are spent considering their parents’ feelings! Every single little thing is about the parent & nothing has to do with them. No wonder the parent is upset about that child setting a boundary or even going no contact. The parent probably never expected this to happen. That doesn’t mean boundaries or no contact are wrong, however!
“Have you ever thought about how you make your parents feel by talking about this?” They may add 1 Peter 4:8 that in part says “love covers a multitude of sins” to make it sound as if God Himself is ashamed of the victim for discussing the abuse. This is incredibly shaming & cruel! Narcissistic parents instill in their children a very large dose of fear about discussing the abuse. Being open about it is incredibly difficult & brave. If those parents wanted their child to discuss them in a positive light, they shouldn’t have been abusive.
“Parents always love their children.. it’s a shame children don’t always love their parents.” This is an utter LIE. There are plenty of parents who lack the ability to love their children. Narcissists may love the narcissistic supply their children provide but truly loving their children in a healthy, Godly way is beyond their abilities. Not to mention, there are plenty of children of narcissistic parents who love them. In fact, almost every adult child of narcissistic parents I have spoken with loved their parent a great deal. It’s the parent’s behavior they hated. I’m the same way. I love my parents, I just couldn’t tolerate the abuse, which is why I went no contact. It wasn’t done out of hatred for them.
“You kids always blame your mother & don’t take any responsibility for yourself.” The fact is children naturally deny bad parts about their parents or find a way why their parent’s bad behavior is their fault. It’s probably a survival skill. If the child can deny the parent doesn’t love them or is abusive, they stand greater chances of receiving care from their parents. These children work harder & harder to please their abusive parents, so the parent will give them some care at least.
“You need to get over it. That’s in the past.” When you have C-PTSD as a result of being raised by a narcissistic parent or two, the past is always a part of your present. Flashbacks, nightmares & intrusive thoughts are triggered very easily & they don’t go away simply because we want them to. If only it was that easy! Even medication can’t stop such things. It takes time & dealing with each event as it comes up to get any semblance of control over it interfering with the present, & even then, it may not go away entirely. I still have flashbacks & nightmares once in a while about events I have dealt with to the best of my ability. It’s rare, but it still happens.
“Your parents have always been so nice to me!” Narcissists work hard to create an image of perfection to those who aren’t their victims. It’s not uncommon for narcissists to have a friendly & pleasant conversation with someone, then once the person is out of their presence or they hang up the phone, they attack their victim. People who haven’t seen behind the narcissist’s mask often have a hard time believing that the person you claim was an abusive parent is anything but the good person they see.
To help those who suffered at the hand of a narcissistic parent or two, if you don’t know about narcissistic abuse, you will need to learn about it. You also will need to remember not everyone has a functional family, & accept that some families are extremely complex & dysfunctional.
If you’re a victim of narcissistic parents & someone says comments like this to you, please remember what they say is wrong. It comes from their own dysfunctional beliefs, not reality. Try your best not to take their words to heart.