A narcissistic parent is one who is motivated to raise children who will fit into a role prescribed for them by the parent. Think of the parent as an architect, drawing plans for what the house—in this case, the child—should look like. The narcissistic parent has set ideas from the start about how his or her child will dress and act, and what they will achieve. Narcissistic parents are extremely image conscious and have a strict need for their offspring to fit the image they have prescribed.
The narcissistic parent is motivated by the wish for their child to achieve a fixed type of success conceptualized by the parent alone. Narcissistic parents often did not achieve all their personal or career dreams, and so they look to their children to overcompensate for their own shortcomings and perform, perform, perform. The children of narcissists are cast into the role of high-functioning puppet. If narcissistic parents could have their way, they would orchestrate most moves their children make in life—who would be in their social circle; what sports they’d play; where they’d go to school; who they’d date and marry; and what they’d do for a living. Narcissistic parents are control freaks incarnate, and their children must constantly refer to the script their parents have written for them. (For more about the psychological effect of narcissistic parenting on children, see my article, “Narcissistic Parents’ Psychological Effect on Their Children.”)
Take a look at the signs described below and ask yourself if you are guilty of any of these traits or behaviors with your own child, or whether you know someone who uses these unhealthy tactics with their children.