Every human being requires approval. However, this need should not develop into narcissism. Narcissism is a property of character, which consists in excessive self-love and self-esteem, which is untrue. The term narcissism appeared due to Sigmund Freud who introduced it into psychology when creating his theory of psychoanalysis. Narcissistic parents are the interesting, controversial issue because narcissism and parenting seem incompatible terms. Such parents care about the physical health of their child, can sign them up for different sections, dress splendidly, but they understand nothing about the inner world and the necessities of their child, and they are the least interested in their children’s wishes, feelings, talents. Unfortunately, narcissism is inherited, and in adulthood, the child can use behavior patterns adopted in the family and presented as the only correct ones. Narcissistic parents’ love for their child is always conditional. They love him or her for something. The child does not know that other parents love their children simply because of their filiation; respectively, he or she has no experience of unconditional love.
At the same time, the narcissistic parent also rejects the natural love that exists inside each normal child to his or her parent and devalues this love as something insignificant. Then the understanding of true love distorts and instead, the concepts of “lust”, “passion”, “thirst for possession” appear. One of the effects of the narcissistic parents is that children become their parents’ continuation, bearing compensatory functions. The “continuation of oneself” in the person of the child is intended to solve the unsolved parents’ psychological problems. “Too often, we use our children to compensate for our own unmet goals or limitations. When we don’t feel fulfilled in our own lives, we can over-identify with our kids” (Firestone 2013). Gradually, the children lose themselves and, as they grow up, begin to search people to perform for them the same compensatory function and fill in the internal voids. What is more, narcissistic parents always demand absolute success in everything that the child does.
However, if one asks such parents why they want their child to be an excellent student, they cannot justify their desire. Such parents believe that assessments measure the individual’s value. More precisely, that only external evaluations measure the value of the individual. They give priority not to the child’s knowledge; they focus on how teachers assess them and that their child should be better than anyone else. In the eyes of such a parent, a child is a collection of knowledge and skills that he or she possesses. They ignore the child’s feelings, inner world, and the outer world begins to replace the inner one. It is only essential for such a parent to boast of his or her child’s education and abilities. Narcissistic parents find constant fault in their children and compare them with other “perfect” kids. In such a comparison, the child is constantly not successful enough. There is someone else who always surpasses him or her. The child is still not good enough to love him or her. There may be no direct comparisons, but the parent makes it obvious. Later, an adult narcissistic person cannot enjoy any success, because no matter how praised the person is, after five minutes he or she again will feel not good enough. One mistake can make them consider themselves unworthy of respect and love.
Moreover, narcissistic parents are constantly monitoring the child and systematically destroy his or her interests. They are afraid that the child will become strong enough, will form his or her personality and one day he or she will understand what is happening. Under awkward pretexts, they can throw away things that the child appreciates and loves. They even like to “blacken,” to call the child’s body “dirty” when he or she becomes a teenager and begins to mature and become attractive sexually. During this period, the parent can throw phrases that devalue the appearance of a seemingly pretty girl or a handsome boy. Narcissistic parent feels at a distance when children get out of control or begin to experience those emotions that they should not experience (inspiration, joy, love). And in case of any failure, they immediately indicate where exactly the crash was, make him or her feel miserable and then help to solve the trouble. Thus, against the background of the loser, he or she rises spiritually and becomes successful.
The narcissistic mother can devalue an adult son and reduce his self-esteem so that he will not be successful in work or family. Such parents are afraid that the grown-up child will become strong and break the connection with them, leaving them alone. Overall, children of narcissistic parents are psychologically traumatized people. The consequences of the narcissist’s influence are negative for an adult, but for children, this influence is merely destructive. Parents impose high expectations, try to control the lives of their children, force children to succeed in spheres where they failed. As a result, children grow up with blurred boundaries and low self-esteem. They do not know who they are, what they want, what their goals and plans are, they try to please people and are constantly ashamed. Narcissistic parents may not realize the fact that they cause traumas to their children, so it is highly desirable to inform them of their mistakes to avoid unfortunate consequences in the future.