Recently, someone asked me what I considered to be a sort of confusing question, but one that I think a lot of us have asked ourselves at one point or another.
“Can a narcissist be a good parent who doesn’t cause any damage to their children?”
Is this even possible? I have to be honest with you. I have met a LOT of narcissists and even more victims of narcissists doing what I do.
However, I cannot say that I’ve ever met a malignant narcissist who didn’t directly or indirectly cause significant psychological harm to their children.
Often, the harm was also physical and emotional. Sometimes, it was direct and intentional. It was also just a lack of interest or presence or pure neglect.
Considering all of that, how could it be possible for a malignant narcissist or someone with narcissistic personality disorder to be a good parent to raise emotionally healthy, self-actualized, and well-rounded children who become adults without many trauma issues?
Can narcissists be good parents?
While you might initially think it’s utterly impossible for a narcissist to be a good parent, there are a few particular circumstances under which it could theoretically happen.
My Theory: With a Little Friendly Competition, Maybe
Maybe we all have a little trauma in the cards. But I have not seen or heard about a narcissist who didn’t leave severe psychological scars on their children.
Minor traumas may be overblown, for sure. But just as often. the more significant, intense traumas – the kind that gives you that deep, dull ache in your heart when you recall them – are brushed under the rug like they’re nothing.
In general, my opinion has always been that it was, at best, highly unlikely that a narcissistic parent could do enough good in a child’s life to combat the bad.
And that, despite our best efforts, even some well-meaning parents cause some unintentional traumas along the way – or at least miss the opportunity to prevent them.
Most narcissistic parents have a shining moment here and there – or at least a few not-terrible memories are made along the way. There may even be certain parts of parenting in which they shine naturally.
For example, a client recently shared with me that her narcissistic ex had one good point in this area: he was the “fun” parent, and while this also meant he dragged the kids into activities they would end up hating (due to his gung ho, never slow down attitude), it was something that can be healthy and positive in a child’s life.
But, inevitably, such a parent will fail in other areas: genuine connection, structure, discipline, and proper attention, for example. So as sweet as the fun parent is, this is tempered with extreme emotions that can alienate the children and make them feel afraid, resentful, and unseen.
And that’s on the very mild end of the spectrum – it gets far worse.
So in the end, the best I believe it could get with a narcissist is not terrible, or tolerable. Their intermittent style of loving and validating alternating with ignoring, abusing, neglecting, and controlling their children simply doesn’t give their children a “normal” launch into life.
This is especially when that parent is controlling the other parent. You know, the one who should be the child’s advocate when the narcissist goes overboard.
The one who is most easily and often alienated by the narcissist? Yep.
After I thought about it for a while, I concluded that there might be one way a narcissist could be the perfect parent.
They would need to be competing in a Who’s the Best, Healthiest, Least Damaging, Most Selflessly Loving Parent contest. That contest would have to have some rock-solid guidelines and would need to offer regularly scheduled praise and adoration that came at the perfect time
Plus, it would need to have plenty of accountability and unscheduled home visits with secret kid interviews and assessments, to ensure a way to measure and track their progress. And, it would need to go for the whole life of the child or parent, whoever happens to live the longest.
Finally, it might help to give the narcissist something that helps keep their ego in check, depending on what their doctors (or budtenders) have to offer. But we also have to remember that narcissistic personality disorder is not a mental health disease; it is a personality disorder.
Technically, narcissistic personality disorder with malignant traits.
You cannot treat NPD with medicine, but some doctors choose to treat narcissists for co-morbid issues or even side effects of the drugs or treatments. In those cases, treating symptoms could in theory, be possible, but I still do not believe we could ever undo or even permanently stall their behaviors with medicine.
What Psychologists Say It Would Take to Make a Narcissist a Good Parent
The more I thought about it, I decided it would be a good idea to get the opinions of our team’s medical and educational psychologists, just to be safe and offer a full-spectrum answer. Here’s what they had to say when I asked them if there’s any chance that narcissists can be good parents.
Dr. Robin Bryman: Under Specific Circumstances, Maybe
“I believe a narcissist can absolutely be a good parent if the moon and stars are aligned,” Dr. Robin Bryman said, smiling.
“What I mean is that if the narcissist is intelligent, doesn’t have an addiction that impacts their lives, and they set their lives up in a way that their kids succeed, it is possible,” she added, noting that as long as the parent feels successful in their life, it’s not completely impossible.
“They’d need to have a beautiful, handsome, and/or successful spouse or partner, and they would have to be at the top of what they consider a successful life.”
“In this type of situation, the addiction, especially if it’s about control and power, can inadvertently allow a narcissist to effectively parent,” she said.
And since a narcissist often views their children as extensions of themselves, they will want that extension to be as well-adjusted as possible.
Dr. Zamecia McCorvey: Maybe, for Devoted Golden Child
When I asked Dr. Zamecia McCorvey if she believed a narcissist could be a decent parent, she was immediately taken aback.
“I automatically thought Hell No!,” Dr. McCorvey Said, “Considering my life experience being raised by parents who I believe were narcissistic.”
She said that being raised this way has seriously impacted aspects of her life, both growing up and even now, well into adulthood.
“However, as I think past my experience and rely on my understanding of narcissism, I’d say it really depends,” she said.
“They can be a great parent, depending on what role their child plays within the family dynamic,” she continued. “If the child is the golden child and does not deviate from the narcissistic parent’s control are reign, they will experience a better parent than a child who is not easily controlled by the narcissistic parent, or is the scapegoat.”
Maybe, says Dr. Judy Rosenberg, but there’s a catch. We know that there are plenty of malignant, toxic narcissistic parents who completely neglect their kids’ needs, ignore them, control them, physically or sexually abuse them, or otherwise make them miserable.
But there are also many narcissists who appear to be great parents. They take care of their kids’ physical needs and ensure they’ve got the latest and greatest in fashion, gadgets, and everything else. They have beautiful, expensive homes that are perfectly decorated and always spotless.
But even those who do take care of the physical needs may barely even know their children, and the rest are sort of like live-in bullies until the kids move out – and even then, often continue to abuse and control their adult children.
“A narcissist can be a good parent if they are ethical and moral and fulfill their obligations to their children,” Dr. Judy said. “But they will never be a great parent because they just don’t have the wherewithal to show empathy.”
That trademark lack of empathy would effectively leave the child feeling unseen, at the very least. If we were talking about a malignant narcissist, the effects on the child would be more profound.
But, Dr. Judy said, “If they choose an empathic partner it can buffer the effects.”
So, if a narcissist chose a good partner with decent empathy skills, any potential damage to the child’s psyche could be mitigated.
While Dr. Judy’s thoughts are clearly sound, I’d add that, since we know that narcissists are notorious for emotionally and psychologically abusing anyone who gets close enough to see behind their false self (the mask they show the world), we can safely assume that this abuse would also, directly or indirectly, affect the child.
Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today
Quit Faking Happiness and Learn How to Live Authentically
Many people are content with the lives that they lead on the surface, but deep down, crave something totally different. The most common excuse is that “they could have it worse, so there’s no point in complaining.” You have to be happy by your own standards. If you’re not happy working 9 to 5 at your office job, then make a change in your life. If you want freedom from a corporate job and want to start your own online business, go for it!
Don’t settle for a mediocre lifestyle and pardon it just because “things could be worse.” Of course, things could be worse. You could be homeless, crippled, starving, and tons of other unfortunate things. Don’t let that stop you from doing what you dream of – always strive for the best of the best.
Become that person you always daydream of being, because it’s attainable. The only thing holding you back from achieving these dreams is yourself. The people around you can’t control who you are or what you find happiness in doing.
You have to set your own goals and, more importantly, strive to achieve them. By feigning happiness, you’re barely fooling the people around you, but you can never fool yourself.
You’ll always have that feeling that you’re not content, or that you wish you were somewhere else in life. Everyone else might think you’re pretty happy doing what you’re doing, but you know the truth.
Even some of the people closest to you might see through your façade and realize that you’re feeling stuck. If you let it be known that you’re looking for a change in your life, those opportunities are more likely to present themselves.
The most important part of living a wholesome life is knowing what you want out of this world. Don’t try to convince yourself that stocking shelves at a grocery store is what you want.
If you want to see every corner of the world, you should strive to accomplish that, because at the end of the day, you’ll feel much more accomplished than you would living your typical, everyday life that helps make ends meet, but doesn’t do anything to contribute toward your personal satisfaction.
When you finally accomplish whatever goal you’re working towards, you can tell people that you’re happy and actually feel that way deep down. It will be refreshing to be truthful about your life.
Often, my clients who are recovering from narcissistic abuse tell me that they don’t even know who they are anymore – and even if they do, they all think they’re too old to start something new.
Still, sometimes life forces you to start over – and that’s especially true when you leave a toxic relationship. So lemme ask you….
Do you feel like it’s too late to achieve a significant amount of success? Many of the most successful people did start at a young age. It can be disheartening for the late bloomers among us. But many of the most successful people you know didn’t get started until much later in life. If you think you missed the boat because you’re middle-aged, you couldn’t be more wrong. You’re wrong even if you’re 80. Success often isn’t achieved until later in life.
1. Samuel L. Jackson didn’t get his first big role until the age of 43. Prior to that he was a struggling actor with little future. Now he’s known by people all over the world for his acting. How many movies, TV shows, and video games has he been in since that first big role in Jungle Fever? 140!
2. Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart at the age of 44. He had been successful in the retail environment in his younger years, but nothing out of the ordinary. Wal-Mart went on to become one the biggest companies in the world, and Walton become one of the world’s richest.
3. Stan Lee. Known to everyone as the creator of Spiderman and the X-Men, Stan Lee didn’t experience success until the age of 39. And his most well-known work didn’t occur until several years after that. Who says it’s too late to do something incredible with your life?
4. Ronald Reagan never held a political office until the age of 55! He became one of the most popular presidents in modern history.
5. Colonel Sanders didn’t invent his famous chicken recipe until he was 50. His famous chain of restaurants is still doing well today. His likeness has been used to market KFC since the very beginning.
6. College students everywhere owe a debt of thanks to Momofuku Ando. At the age of 48, he created those Ramen noodles that poor students rely on for life itself. How many times have you had Ramen noodles in your life?
8. Taikichiro Mori became a real estate investor at the age of 55. He was a professor before that. He was the richest man in the world in 1992 with a net worth $13 billion. He inherited his first building from his father. The rest he accomplished on his own.
9. Grandma Moses started painting at the age of 78. If you have the gumption, you can still make an impact after 70. One of her paintings sold for over a million dollars.
10. Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t publish her first novel until she was 65-years old. She wrote an additional 12 novels after that. A successful television series was built around her series of books. Older children still read her books today.
11. Peter Roget created the first thesaurus when he was 73-years old. He was trained as a medical doctor but had an obsession with words, especially words that had the same meaning. He quit his medical career to focus on the creation of the first thesaurus. The most popular thesaurus in the world still bears his name.
It’s never too late to leave your mark on the world! But time is constantly passing, so it’s time to start making it happen. Spend the later portion of your life pursuing something you love. There’s still time to do something amazing!
If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a narcissist, you know the feeling of having your heart torn out, stomped on, and then squished into tiny pieces before you can even blink. Does this sound a little dramatic? It really isn’t. That’s exactly how you feel after you’ve been attacked by a narcissist who is actively gaslighting you.
Have you been attacked by a gaslighting narcissist?
In fact, narcissists are well-known to gaslight, manipulate, and try to control the people closest to them. On top of this, they are infamous for their narcissistic rage (usually followed by the almost equally painful narcissistic injury). These gaslighting attacks are exhausting and overwhelming, and they leave you SPINNING.
What is gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a shockingly effective manipulation technique used by most narcissists. The goal of a gaslighter is to manipulate you into questioning your own sanity, your perception of the world, and the situations you experience. The gaslighting narcissist will actively call you crazy, make you feel dumb, and try to make you feel not good enough. Learn more about gaslighting.
What does gaslighting feel like?
When you’re in the middle of being gaslighted by a narcissist, you don’t usually realize it, unless you’ve taken the time to learn the signs of gaslighting and to understand the reasons it happens.
During gaslighting, you will feel numb, broken, empty – like a shell of your former self. The world feels hollow and you find yourself feeling completely devastated by the selfish, callous, and cold treatment you’ve just suffered.
As someone who has personally survived being abused by a narcissist in a relationship, I recognize that need to find your center again after being attacked by a narcissist.
Do you know the SOUL-CRUSHING feeling that comes from narcissistic abuse?
Are you always feeling emotionally exhausted? Like, the narcissist’s behavior becomes so outrageous that if you weren’t there, you might not have believed it yourself?
That’s what this kit will help you get over – that feeling of being completely, utterly, and extremely alone in the world…the feeling of empty, hollow, nothingness that comes along with having been emotionally abused by a narcissist.
The PERK (Post-Gaslighting Emergency Recovery Kit)
Even better, I’ve decided that this one is too important and too IMMEDIATELY necessary to sell it. I want to get it into the hands of as many victims of narcissistic abuse as possible – because honestly, we ALL deserve better. And this free downloadable kit will help you to soothe yourself in the moment and figure out what to do next.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll be on your way. But this is just the beginning – there’s so much more to do for yourself in narcissistic abuse recovery. Start with the resources listed below.
Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery, right now.
The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this to be the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. Offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 12k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
Other Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups– We also have separate groups for each stage in your narcissistic abuse recovery, as well as some for those who have moved past recovery and are evolving into the next stage of their own life. Survivors have unique and individual needs, even when they’ve moved on – so we’re still here for you.
One-on-One Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching – If you prefer to get more personalized support in your recovery, you might like to schedule a session with one of our coaches to plan and execute your own narcissistic abuse recovery plan.
Find a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist – If you’re looking for a therapist for narcissistic abuse recovery, either because you cannot afford coaching and want to use your health insurance or because you have additional issues you need to address that do not fall within the realm of coaching, you will want to find the right therapist for you – and as far as we’re concerned, that therapist must understand what you’ve been through. This page offers assistance to help you do exactly that.
Are you bored and feeling kinda ugly and unapproachable lately?
Are you tired of feeling unattractive?
Do you wanna bring out your inner goddess? Do you want to bring your sexy back, or to find it for the first time?
Good news – I’m a total nerd who loves to study the science behind human psychology, including attraction and how it works. That’s why I’m always paying attention and asking questions.
Today, I’m sharing something that answers the question every woman wants answered, but few are brave enough to really ask.
And many women have a different idea of what men consider hot. That’ why I asked my focus group of about 150 people what they think makes a woman hot.
Just as some similarities in perceptions showed through, there were some very marked differences between men and women on what they think makes a women hot. I’ll explain all that for you – and more – in this video.