Does My Narcissistic Parent Love Me?

We all, at any age, like to think that our parents love and treasure us. We also like to think they will be there toNarcissistic Father demonstrates conditional love for son because son didn't give father narcissistic supply, support us if we have problems or are in need of assistance.

As much as this might hurt to read, none of the above is true for the adult child of a narcissistic parent.

You already know that your parent is not like other parents. Your parent is self-absorbed, talks about themselves in grandiose terms, and is overly critical. You may have come to accept it.

What you may not have come to accept is your parent’s limitations when it comes to loving others, even you. But coming to accept your parent’s limitations in this area will take your further down the road of healing.

Therefore, it’s vital that we explore this painful topic.

How a Narcissistic Parent Views His Child

When you were born, you hopefully entered the family of two people, one of whom was not a narcissist. Your non-narcissistic parent gave you the attention that an infant needs. She bonded with you, giving you the capacity to love. This parent, I hope, loved you and showed you genuine affection.

Meanwhile, your narcissistic parent resented your presence. Let’s say the narcissistic parent was your father. He viewed you—all eight pounds of you—as a threat.

As a threat to what? To his source of narcissistic supply.

While your mother cuddled and held you, your father felt increasingly ignored. This is a phenomenon in healthy couples where the husband feels ignored and a bit resentful of the baby. Healthy couples work this out and move on with their lives.

But in a couple where the father is a narcissist, this resentment doesn’t get worked out in a healthy way.

He resents his wife’s ministrations toward the baby and will manipulate her into turning his attention back to him. He will act loving to the wife and get her to attend him even when the baby has needs. To the narcissist, the needs of his infant child are secondary to his own need for narcissistic supply.

The Narcissistic Parent’s Conditional Love for His Children

Healthy sets of parents have a goal of raising their children to have high self-esteem. They also teach their kids to be autonomous individuals who can successfully navigate life.

Doing this for their kids is not even on the narcissist’s radar. Let’s take our narcissistic father again. He views his children as a way to maintain his self-image and to provide narcissistic supply—the fuel that keeps his false self-image in place.

The narcissistic parent loves his children for their ability to maintain his self-image and provide narcissistic supply. Both of these things are important to him.

When we think of a healthy mother’s love for her children, we automatically assume it is unconditional love. The parent will love that child no matter what she does or becomes. There are no conditions on that love. If the child runs away and doesn’t speak to her parents for years, her parents will still love her. They would welcome her back into their lives and give her whatever she needs.

Unconditional love is not the type of love narcissists have for their children.

Narcissistic love is conditional love. The narcissistic parent loves his children only to the extent that they can help him maintain his image—his false self—and provide narcissistic supply. If the child stops giving the narcissist what he needs, the narcissist stops loving his children.

If the narcissist’s child ran away, she would, for all practical purposes, cease to exist in his mind. The only way he would welcome her back into his live is if she immediately started providing narcissistic supply and could bolster his self-image. Then he would love her again.

That’s because his love for her is conditional. It is based on his daughter meeting certain condition. Conditions that he determines. The narcissist lacks the ability to love unconditionally. Everything is about what’s in it for him.

To love unconditionally, you have to be willing to put the welfare of the person you love before your own. You have to be willing to give love with no expectation of anything in return. And you have to be willing to make sacrifices on behalf of who you love and not make the one you love feel guilty about it.

The narcissistic parent can do none of these things for their child. A narcissist’s welfare always comes before that of others. They give nothing without expecting a greater return. And if they make a “sacrifice,” they do it with the intent of getting something back.

As my narcissistic mother used to say to us four kids. “You don’t appreciate the sacrifices I make for you.” She was attempting to make us feel guilty. She also sought narcissistic supply from us in the form of us saying thank you and begging her not to make sacrifices for us. When we did that, she expressed love for us. A love that was absent when we were not feeding her endless need for narcissistic supply.

Your Narcissistic Parent Today

So what about now? Has your parent changed since you grew up and started your own life? Has he learned to love you unconditionally?

I’m sorry to say that he has not. Nor will he ever unconditionally love you. He lacks the ability and, even if he wanted it, there is no way for him to attain the ability.

But your parents tell you they love you? Yes, but just as when you were a child, that love is conditional. Even though you do not live with them, they seek to bolster their false-self and gain narcissistic supply from you.

One way they use you to obtain narcissistic supply is by telling others about your accomplishments. Maybe you hold a prestigious job, are an artist, or are a community leader. You can be sure if you do they tell their acquaintances about you, while making it sound like they are the reason for your success. The same if your spouse is exceptional in any way. They will always find a way to take credit.

And if you have children, they will use them the same way they used you. They will not be loving grandparents who unconditionally love their grandchildren. Rather they will be vampires that suck narcissistic supply from you kids.

Boundaries Between Narcissistic Grandparents and Your Kids

You have an important decision to make when it comes to your narcissistic parent and his relationship to your kids. And that decision is where you draw the boundary line between him and your kids.

This is not an easy decision. Your parent has conditioned you to please him. He’ll try to manipulate you by saying he wants to take those little sweethearts out. He might even plead with you to spend time with them.

But remember, he is incapable of unconditional love. He only wants to use your children to bolster his false image and as sources of narcissistic supply.

Just like he did with you.

Do you want him getting his claws into your children? Do you want to let him make them feel like you did as a child? Do you want to turn your children over to someone who only loves them for what they can give him? And if they don’t provide what he wants, do you want him raging at them?

Keeping you children from your narcissistic parent can be difficult. I know because I’ve drawn the boundary line.

With my narcissistic father, drawing the line was simple. He wants nothing to do with my kids.

With my narcissistic mother, it’s been more difficult. She keeps wanting to take them out, and my wife and I ignore her requests. We used to let her take them out. But then we saw it was all about how she looked. She took a ton of photos, but she forced the kids to smile widely in each one. The pictures communicate “Can you see by my painful smile how much fun I’m having with grandma?

My wife and I realized we didn’t want my narcissistic mother’s toxicity in our kid’s lives. So we drew a line.

And the line needs to be constantly reinforced. Because your narcissistic parent will try again and again to get past it—like some guerrilla warrior intent in getting into the enemies base. You have to stay strong. You have to think of your child in your parent’s clutches and the damage your child might suffer.

Accept Your Narcissistic Parent Can’t Love

This may have been a hard post for you to read. I’m sorry for that. We all want our parent to love us. We want to think they’d come to us no matter what the situation.

But we children of narcissists are both cursed and blessed. We are cursed because we don’t have parents who love us no matter what. And I think we sensed this all of our lives. Maybe this knowledge can help us make more sense out of our pasts. Perhaps it’ll explain that pain that sits in our guts.

And we can be thankful because we are blessed. The effect that many narcissists have on their children is that the child grows up to be a narcissist too. My sister is an example.

However, something saved you and me and we were spared the horrid, empty existence of a narcissistic life. So even as you mourn your parent’s inability to love you, be grateful for your ability to love unconditionally. Whether that love is directed at a significant lover, your kids, a friend, or even you pet—maybe all these beings—you have something precious that your parent will never have.

And all the pain he caused you couldn’t knock out your ability to love unconditionally. Be grateful each and every day for being spared.

See your parent for who they are and recognize that the pain, inadequacy, and self-doubt you feel is in you not because you have something wrong with you, but because it’s what your narcissistic parent gave you instead of love.

May you heal and be at peace.

How does your narcissistic parent use you for narcissistic supply? Tell us in the comments below.

7 thoughts on “Does My Narcissistic Parent Love Me?

  1. Reading that last bit, and all these articles just made me so glad for my siblings and mom. Apparently, the usual outcome is for siblings to hate each other.
    I see the behavior that causes this in my father – favoritism, humilliating us in front of each other, garnering for reinforment when he was angry, fostering resentmentmaking me think of my awesome mom as weak and my little sister as an annoyance (She picked up bad traits, as did I. She can be a bossy, disrespectful smartass even to those she loves. But I have the highest respect for the pure kindness she has for her friends and her confident go-getter attitude. She would actually stand up for me or my mom in arguments, & for all her domineering side, she protects her friends from bullies & genuinely encourages them to be confident themselves, unlike our father. )

    But in the end, we came out loving each other and I now realize that we were very lucky.

    • Kendrix,

      It seems that the woman in your family have found away to stick together even in the face of your father’s narcissistic behavior. I’m happy for you. Receiving unconditional love blunts the emotional abuse narcissist’s dish out.

      May you continue to receive this love.


  2. Thank you Chase for your helpful post. I am coming to terms, aged 57, that my narcissist mother never has, and never could love me for who I am. Things came to a head last weekend when I finally reached a point of no return with her. I said to her ” I have never felt you loved me. You never once have said you loved me”. She looked me straight in the eye and said, with some passion ” but I was so proud of you” . This is the tragedy …she was and probably is still is proud of my achievements, but being proud is an expression of conditional love, not the kind of unconditional love children crave and need from their parents. The tragedy is on both sides – I know it is a popular sport to expose and analyse the awful behaviour of narcissistic parents – and, boy, have I done this, but there is another side to it. I have been deprived of her love, but she has been deprived of mine. Since my teens I have never felt love towards her ….I have felt frustrated, angry, at times disgusted, outraged and hurt ….but I haven’t felt love. The tragedy cuts both ways. She too will never experience, in the way I have experienced with my daughter, the precious bond of unconditional love between a mother and her child. I find it hard to believe that, at some level, when she is not angry, blaming or spreading malicious gossip about me, that she can’t connect with this loss. Or am I kidding myself?

    • Dear Kate,

      No. You are not kidding yourself. She can’t connect with the loss. She is only capable of that which will feed her own sense of grandiosity. And that’s what your achievements do for her. She feels the credit for them is hers.

      I think that it’s an incredible insight you have had that she has missed out on your love. No matter how much pain you felt you can still see what she missed. That’s no small thing.

      As a father I cannot imagine missing out on my children’s unconditional love. And I never realized that until I read your words, so thank you.

      Thank you for writing. I wish you well on you journey of healing.

  3. Dear Chase . Thank you. Your response is really validating ….. it is part of my healing journey to try to put myself in her shoes too. There must be reasons why she turned out to be the unpleasant lady she undoubtedly is. In the past, when we have had our rows I have always gone back, hoping against hope that there is a chance that she can change. I have finally accepted that she can’t, that I need to protect myself and my family, and that her behaviour falls into the pattern of a malignant narcissist. But part of my healing is to let go of my anger towards her ….the time for anger is over, the time for healing has begun, and part of my healing is to reflect on her loss, as well as mine. I wish you well too Chase

  4. Thank you for publishing this article. It sent shivers down my spine when you mentioned the part about your mother forcing your kids to smile for her in photos. Just like my mother. I’m 23 and still coming to terms with my broken upbringing, entirely due to having a narcissistic mother. You could stick her entire personality in a psychiatric personality disorder book…she fits every description I’ve read about it to a T. The impact she had on me took years of therapy and treatment to even understand. But I’m grateful she couldn’t take away my empathy and ability to love unconditionally, even though that means still loving her.

    • Thanks for writing. It always helps me to hear that someone else has a parent exhibiting the same craziness as mine. I wish you well on your journey of healing and congratulate you and the work you’ve already done.

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