The blame game...
"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. She cried out, "Don't put me in a cage!" These problems came from her childhood experiences. A narcissistic mother or father reverses rolls.
As the narcissistic mother is emotionally immature, her child has to take care of her. The needs of the mother come first. "Feed me, love me" the narcissist mother cries to its child, instead of caring for the child's needs, the mother is like a vampire feeding on the child. I saw 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 said 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!
Narcissistic fathers also can damage their children either emotionally or sexually.
From the outside, looking in, the narcissist family does not appear dysfunctional. The N family history - filled with unquestionable mythology - is retold over and over till it sounds like the truth. No one questions present actions or the 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 and one day someone told her that her dog had worms. He gave the woman medicine to give to the dog. An easy procedure. The next time he asked about her dog, she told him it had died. She had not given the dog the medicine and the dog's heart had been eaten up by the worms. Mothers and fathers who are narcissists treat their children much in the same way. The children must jump to the narcissists beck and call, mirror them, agree with them, only then the narcissist parent will take care of them. But the narcissist parent may get tired of them and get rid of them -emotionally. Narcissistic parents can be cold and distant, then warm and caring.
Narcissists train people to cater to their wishes and whims. If you want to remain sane you have to be an adult with them. A child of a narcissist has a difficult time being an adult because they have been trained not to act like an adult with their narcissist parent.
N parents 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 she and her son were loving 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 often end up in therapy, if they are lucky, 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 ( other people's fault), and they are the eternal fan club, deflecting criticism, bolstering your ego, always complimenting you and your wife and children. They think you are a god, or goddess.
But the golden child probably has feet of clay, and is imperfect. But the golden one wants his or her wife or husband to treat teem as the apple of your family's eye. It might dawn on the golden child that he or she has problems, but blame it on someone else. The golden child might even think he or she suffers from some mental disorder, but dismisses the idea as ridiculous. Other people are crazy - never the golden child.
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, you are never appreciated. N parents are cold, distant, until company drops by, when 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 later.
No matter what they do, and no matter how hard you try, you will not admired like the golden child. Instead you will be criticized, because is for you own good (so the favorite golden one will not get jealous). You may start to turn inward, not let your inner feelings show, because the narcissists like to see you cringe, cry, and so you deny them that pleasure. They are cruel, and nasty, and then say you are thin skinned. (See how they react when they are criticized, they are the ones who are thin skinned!)
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 because everyone else thinks they are great.
If you are the adult child of a narcissist; you are not alone. More and more people recognize and understanding narcisisstm.