"Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist." Michael Levine
A woman raised by a narcissist parent told me something that probably reveals how narcissists work. She told me she wanted to be "taken care of" by her husband, like a child. "Don't put me in a cage!" This comes from her childhood experiences. A narcissistic mother or father reverses rolls. Because mothers take the major role in child care, N mothers can do major damage to their children, if they are narcissists. A N mother is emotionally immature, the child has to take care of her. The needs of the narcissist mother come first and are like the needs of a hungry baby bird. "Feed me, feed me" the narcissist mother cries to its child, instead of caring for its child's needs, the mother is like a vampire feeding on the child. I have seen a narcissistic mother playing this game with daughters - the daughters would mimic a feeding bird - very childish actions for women over 20! One narcissistic mother wrote that her daughter and her were the same person! The N mother told her daughter she loved her so much that one day the daughter would not be there, because the N mother would have eaten her during the night? Scary!
From the outside, looking in, the narcissist family does not appear dysfunctional. Notice that the N family history - filled with unquestionable mythology - is replayed over and over till it sounds like the truth. No one questions present actions or past history of the narcissist. Guilt plays a big role in the family. Head games are the norm; little routines and pet names are used to brain wash children into thinking they are loved. Nothing is ever given to the child permanently.
A narcissistic woman I knew had a pet dog to keep her company, and one day some one told her that her dog had worms and he gave my mother medicine to give to the dog. An easy procedure. The next time he asked about her dog, and she told him it had died. She had not given the dog the medicine and his heart had been eaten up by the worms. Mothers and fathers who are narcissists treat their children much in the same way. If the children jump to the narcissists beck and call, mirror them, agree with them, then the narcissist parent will take care of them.
Once, my father came to visit at the same time. My mother in law called him and she spent an hour in a cafe crying, convincing him that we had to move back to where she lived. I told him that she was like his wife -another narcissist. I was furious, but my wife, still under her mother's influence, said nothing, just ignored it as if it had not happened. When my mother would visit it was no better. She would go into one of her "moods" and I would take her aside and give her a piece of my mind; I refused to be treated like a child. It was even worse when my brother was around, the same family dynamics would repeat themselves and I would end up feeling physically sick and leave.
N train people to cater to their wishes and whims, like spoiled children. If you want to remain sane you have to be an adult with them - a child of a narcissist has a difficult time with this, because they have been trained not to act like an adult with their narcissist parent.
The way N parents operate is that they assign their children roles, a bit like birth order, and they have to fulfill whatever that position entails. No matter how hard you try, you cannot compete with the golden child, the chosen one, who represents the narcissists mother or father's image. As a child, you fill as if you disappoint the narcissist if you do something other than what they want - that holds true for your role in the family. One woman I knew used to say that only her and her son had extraordinary feelings and were sensitive. Just the opposite was true, they were the most self centered and heartless members of that family. A young child has few defenses against such monsters. Adult children of narcissists end up at the shrinks, wondering what happened. A few figure it out, others just keep suffering and falling into the same trap over and over.
The sequels of being raised by a narcissistic parent are many and varied. If you happen to be the golden boy or girl, the chosen one, then you think your mother or father is great, because they think you are great, the spitting image of them. They gloss over your failings, the divorces, the bad business deals (the other people's fault), and they are your fan club, deflecting criticism from you, bolstering your ego, always complimenting you and your wife and children. They think you are a god, or goddess. You probably know that you have feet of clay, and are imperfect, yet you want your wife or husband to treat you as the apple of your family's eye. It might dawn on you that you have problems, but blame it on someone else, never yourself. You might even think that you suffer from some mental disorder, but dismiss the idea as ridiculous, other people are crazy - not you.
On the other hand you might be the unlucky one, the one in the family who always gets the short end of the stick. No matter what you do, your parents, or one of them, never likes it. They are cold, distant, but when company drops by, they will put you on display and you have to perform, you have to make nice. God forbid you say the wrong thing. You will pay for it.
You may have a sibling who gets all the attention - no matter what they do - and no matter how hard you try, you will not admired like them. Instead you will be criticized, because is for you own good (sot the favorite one will not get jealous). You may start to turn inward, not let your inner feelings show, because they like to see you cringe, cry, and so you deny them that pleasure.
You may have trouble showing your true emotions later on in life, because you are afraid. But of what? When you were young, your emotions got you in trouble, for reasons you still don't understand. You feel incomplete, half alive, and your ego seems to be either at full blast or gone to sleep. You are shy, or the opposite. Not knowing how real people act, you are suspicious of strangers. Only your N mother or N father understands you, they say, so you are constantly going home, trying to recreate a childhood that never existed. Maybe you dream a lot, never grounded in reality, and miss things. If you are given a surprise party, you collapse into yourself, not wanting to be the center of attention, because someone else should get all the attention, not you. Deep down you hate your mother or father, and feel ashamed for the sentiment because everyone else thinks they are great.