1. Chronic self-blame. Narcissistic parents may or may not be openly abusive. Often they’re almost certainly emotionally tone deaf. Emotionally sensitive children who long for love can’t simply change their parents. They often nurture hope by sacrificing their self-esteem. “I’m the problem,” they tell themselves. “If I were quieter, calmer, or happier, my mother wouldn’t yell, ignore or criticize me. If I fix myself, I’ll finally be loved.” Sadly, we often blame ourselves for what’s missing from our lives to preserve a shred of hope.
2. Insecure attachment. Think of secure attachment as our degree of comfort with becoming close to and depending on others in healthy ways. The neglect, abuse, or emotional absence of a narcissistic parent can make us question how safe we are in other people’s hands. Roughly speaking, insecure attachment can take two forms: avoidant or anxious attachment. Whether you become anxious or avoidant depends on a complex combination of temperament and consistency in care.
3. Need-panic. A related problem is something called need-panic. Narcissistic parents can also make their children terrified of their needs. They may seem to need nothing from their partners or friends. Then, a crisis hits, and suddenly they call their friends incessantly or seek constant reassurance. Ultimately, the quickest way to eliminate a need, after all, is to get it met immediately.
4. Fierce Independence. Outgoing, adventurous children may respond to narcissistic parenting by abandoning emotional intimacy altogether. They believe no one can be trusted or relied on. This is however impossible to maintain. Alternatively, children more sensitive temperaments may become compulsively selfless caretakers. They enjoy nurturance by providing others with the warmth and caring they never enjoyed.
5. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The more abusive narcissistic parents become, the more likely they are to traumatize their children. Further, that can lead to a fearful approach to life and to PTSD. This leads to anxiety, sudden memories of abuse, and emotional numbing.