Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents and Fear

As an adult child of narcissistic parents, it is completely normal for you to live in a constant state of fear. Even The word FEAR in capital lettersthough you are free of your narcissistic parent, you may still be afraid of them.

You may feel that if you perform some slight—either real or perceived—that there will be shell to pay and retribution. Maybe you receiving a fear punishment from your parent. This fear can be that she still can punish you as she did when you were a child. Or maybe she has some hold over you, perhaps financial, where she can take something away that you need.

Perhaps you fear she may verbally attack you in some way as she did when you were an adolescent. You may simply still fear his disapproval. She conditioned you to want to please her. And even though you’re an adult, that need to please is still here. So you are afraid you’ll do something that she will disprove of.

No matter what you fear about your parent, it’s time to stop being afraid.

You’re and adult now. You can say no to her retribution. You can say no to his punishments, and show you can live without whatever she holds over you. You don’t have to listen as she attacks you. And you don’t need his approval.

Why You’re Afraid of Your Narcissistic Parent

You may not think of your narcissistic parent this way, but she’s an abuser. Maybe there was no physical or sexual abuse in your home, but there was plenty of emotional abuse. Research indicates that emotional abuse is as bad, if not worse, than physical and sexual abuse. And you suffered it for 18 years or more.

Examples of emotional abuse include the following:

  • Ignoring: This is when the parent literally ignores the child. She doesn’t answer his cries. She doesn’t respond to him. And when she calls the child, she may not use his or her name.
  • Rejecting: The parent literally turns a cold shoulder to her child. She will not respond to any of the child’s needs whether he or she be hurt, hungry, injured, etc. The parent may refuse to touch the child and ridicule him or her while the child is in distress.
  • Isolating: Here the narcissistic parent cuts the child off from the world. The child is denied contact with friends, family and/or adults. Children may be literally confined to a room or closet.
  • Verbally Assaulting: The child undergoes a constant barrage of shaming, ridiculing, belittling, and threats.
  • Terrorizing: The parent creates a climate of fear for the child to live in. She does this by bullying and through threats. The parent may set unbending or unrealistic expectations on the child and threaten to harm the child if he or she doesn’t meet the expectations. Another form is placing something the child loves—pet, sibling, or toy—in a dangerous situation.


Is it any wonder you’re still afraid of your parent? I’m sure that most of us went through multiple forms of emotional abuse. You should feel no shame for your fear. You can’t erase the fear accumulated by living with a monster for 18 years or longer. You’re still going to be afraid of the monster.

Getting Over Your Narcissistic Parent’s Emotional Abuse

The first step to getting over your emotional abuse is to realize your parent cannot hurt you anymore. She can try to. She can scream at you. Belittle you. Call you names. But she can’t put you in harmful situations. She can’t punish you. (And if she has a hold on you by giving you money, refuse to take it anymore. Break the chains.) There’s no way she can isolate you.

The only thing she can do is throw a tantrum and try to hurt you through belittling and name calling. All you have to do is walk away. That’s right. You don’t have to listen to it. Just walk away.

She’s not going to say anything new. She’s called you all the names and belittled you before. It’s time for you to stop identifying with what she says. If she says you’re a selfish little bitch, examine that? Are you? Don’t say yes automatically. Examine your actions.

I’m betting you are not selfish at all. Your mom having called you a “selfish little bitch,” which was probably the opposite of who you were. I know because I was called selfish all my childhood. After introspection I can say I am a giving person whether it be money, love, or time. The same is probably true for you.

What brought out the nasty accusations of selfishness was a narcissist’s inability to tolerate outshining all others. If you in your innocent sweetness were generous or giving, out came the accusation you were selfish. This emotional abuse occurred so you wouldn’t look better than your parent. That’s how twisted narcissists are.

Take each name or belittlement and examine it. You can do so with a close friend who you trust. An objective third party may help convince you of you “innocence”. If you have trouble with this exercise, or you can’t handle the feelings connected to the names, you may benefit from the help of a mental health professional.

Get Angry at Your Narcissistic Parent

Your parents are supposed to love and protect you. They are supposed to gently guide you through childhood and adolescence. Parents have a duty to support their children and build within them a healthy sense of self. Parents should help their children develop a good sense of self-esteem and rock solid self-confidence. These are the gifts parents have an obligation to give their children.

But rather than giving us the gift of compassionate and loving parenting, our narcissistic parents gave us scars that no one can see. Instead of the gifts above, our parents handed us:

  • Self-doubt
  • A lack of confidence
  • The inability to know what we want
  • An inability to express our needs
  • A belief that expressing our needs will lead to rejection
  • An inability to make a decision on things we figure out we want
  • An enduring sense of guilt about everything we do
  • Feeling bad about ourselves
  • An inability to assert ourselves
  • An inability to see our own value
  • A habit of accepting what we don’t want
  • Being trained to follow others and their wishes
  • A habit of taking on two much responsibility
  • A habit of sacrificing for the benefit of others
  • A belief that we have to present ourselves as inferior and nonthreatening to others
  • A mindset that allows us to be frequently taken advantage of
  • A habit of landing in unbalanced relationships where we give more than we receive
  • Always feeling we are on the verge of “getting in trouble”
  • A fear that individuals and organizations with power will use it to abuse us
  • A fear that if we say something we’ll be told we’re wrong
  • A fear of taking risks
  • A habit of trying to remain invisible to protect ourselves
  • Difficulty with self-care
  • Difficulty with life skills
  • Feeling that we’re stuck in childhood no matter how old we are
  • Feeling powerless
  • Feeling loss
  • Feeling afraid
  • Difficulty buying what we need


Given the legacy above that is our inheritance from our narcissistic parents, we should not feel afraid of them. We should feel very, very angry with them. Our blood should boil at the thought of them.

Yes. It goes against all those years of conditioning where she taught you to never be angry with her. Well screw that. I know it’s hard. I still have trouble getting angry at my narcissistic parents. But let me tell you, looking at that list and realizing how true it is for me helps.

But here’s what really pisses me off: when I think that it didn’t have to be that way. If my parents loved me and treated me with respect while nurturing me, that horrible list wouldn’t hold true for me. The same goes for you. It’s time to let the hot fires of anger burn away our fears.

Even if you don’t feel angry at your parents, the anger is still within you. It just gets expressed at the wrong people. I raged at my family for years before I figured out what I was really angry at. I let myself hurt people I love because I couldn’t direct my anger at the parents who hurt me.

I can never repay my wife and kids for the misplaced anger. But as I heal, my family heals.

Print off the list above and feel each item deep in your soul. Think of instances for each item. If you can’t get angry after that, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional.

If you’re angry and still afraid, tune in next week. I’ll cover another way to get through fear.

Remember, you’re not broken. You deserve to feel good about yourself. Everything on that list, and your feelings about those items, is because of what was done to you.

You deserve self-confidence, a guilt-free life, and healthy relationship with reciprocity. And you deserve so much more. But you’re going to have to work to get there. It’s not fair, but it’s our fate.

And I’ll be here to walk beside you.

May peace find you and settle in your soul.

What are you most angry over that your narcissistic parent did? Tell us in the comments below.

10 thoughts on “Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents and Fear

  1. Fear of being belted. Fear of being too stupid; fear of being not good enough.
    Fear of being home alone (father narcissistic, mother hardly ever there; always had house keepers without love, from early childhood)

    Light + Love to you

  2. What a powerful article! I appreciate this so much. Just to know I have right to the deep feelings of rage, and how, just maybe, allowing the anger, will help dissipate the fear. Because I’ve lived with it all my life. I’m 31 years old, and still feel fear toward my N father. But, when I look at the list here, of the beliefs I was indoctrinated with, or behaviors/ feelings I took on to survive, my identity/ personhood feels violated, and that makes me angry now. The anger seems to be part of hearing my own voice for the first time, apart from being an echo, a parrot, a puppet. Maybe I’m finding a sense of dignity as a human being. That gives me hope. I can truly relate to taking anger at on the wrong people. Subconsciously, being angry at my father was impossible because to do so, meant abandoning the dream of what could be or shouldve been, but the anger had to be expressed somewhere, and I know it’s caused damage. I must stop the cycle, and look full in the face of my fatherly pain, and rage, and cry, grieve. Thank you for extending a hand in the journey. I wish you healing

    • Thank you Mari. Forgive me for taking so long to respond to your comment. It was buried in a pile of spam that I’m just now getting through.

      Your comment captures so much of what is real about finding your true self after surviving a narcissistic childhood. The anger is important.

      It’s good that you realize that your father is not going to change. Giving up that dream is an important leg on the journey to healing.

      I wish healing, wholeness, and peace for you. I can tell you’re progressing nicely on you quest to heal. Keep striving.


  3. Hi Chase, Thank you so much for putting up all this information, I can relate to all that you are feeling. I’m a 31 year old indian girl raised in Aus who had a narcisstic mother and a neglectful and abusive father. Much of my 20’s was spent being afraid and a people pleaser with no real sense of self or awareness of my own thoughts and feelings. I started working on myself for the past 4 years reading various books, getting numerous spiritual healings, doing courses etc and although I have overcome many psychological obstacles, I’m realising that I still have far to go in total self healing. Anyways, at least I have started on my journey and that in itself is a big thing. I also wanted to share with you (and any others who may be reading this) is that i gained alot of benefit from seeing applied kinesiology practitioners, (energy healing), I have a fabulous practitioner that I see here in Melbourne, Australia who has been vital in my past few months of leaps forward. I know it is a tough journey because no-one can see or understand what you are going through 🙁 And it is very hard to explain to people. You have done such an awesome job in clarifying all those points above only people with a very high sense of perception can see this! So I really applaud your efforts. If you ever want to connect feel free to email me. Lots and lots of love, Saba

    • Hi Saba,
      I”m sorry for taking so long to reply. My comment section got buried in spam and I’m just catching up. Thanks for your kind words.

      I think it’s great that your on a journey of self healing. Have you ever thought of starting your own blog to retrace your healing journey as a road map of healing? I’d read it.

      I too have some experience with using applied kinesiology on issues–both physical and emotional–related to my parents. It is amazing what a single session can do. Maybe I’ll do a post on it. Thanks for the idea!

      You’re right about it being a tough journey. I don’t believe that anyone who isn’t on the journey can understand what we who are on it have lived through or are experiencing.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences. Please stop back and tell us more about your journey.

      I wish you courage to face the darkest portions of your journey.


  4. That’s exactly where I am now.
    (Shortcut to “now”: See last paragraph).

    Even back when I was 18 I knew, he was a totally sick person. But I wanted to study and I needed help. So I gave in eventually, agreed to staying at home, working 60% and studying. It wasn’t like I could stay there for free, but with all the fearful stories he told me…you know how it works. “You couldn’t look for yourself”, “you need my help”, “you would mess it all up”….
    So I made the biggest mistake I ever did. I went into 3.5 years of pure torture only to break down half a year before my Bachelors because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Totally empty, feeling all alone, totally selfish, every single thing about me was wrong…even the way I woke up in the morning, took a shower…gosh…even the way I breathed. And I’m not lying, every single movement was wrong. His answer to my breakdown: You should go to a psychiatry and see how it works. Maybe you’re better off there…

    Luckily, something in me new that I wasn’t the problem. So I started walking my own path. That’s been 2.5 years now. The hardest time of my life, I can’t count the times where I simply wasn’t able to do one more step. A new abyss opened up every single day. All these voices in my head…all were my father. I just didn’t know where to go, because I just couldn’t say what I wanted, what I needed. Just thinking about myself sent mountains of guilt into my consciousness. It’s so selfish to think about “me”…it’s always about “me”…blabla.

    So it’s been 2.5 years now, I never went back to Uni, instead I got myself a Job, I moved out of the house, I have barely any contact with my family, I lost all my friends. The Job sucks, because it’s still what my Dad always wanted me to do. I absolutely hate it, but hey, it’s better than staying with the devil.
    However, moving through all the anger, guilt, loneliness, hatred, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt….oh yes…guilt (Im sure you now what Im talking about) helped me finding myself.

    Now I am at the point, where I relearned who I am and what I want to do. But there is still one huge problem…..In my head there still is my Dads voice (seems to be the last one, everything else is mostly gone) just simply saying “NO, I dare you to do this”. And I can’t move, I can’t turn away…Im just sooo scared and I fear his rage, I just can’t move one inch. And I makes my cry. I can see now how my life is supposed to be, I can feel the warmth and the happiness and I CAN’T GO THERE because I am so afraid. I really don’t know what to do anymore. I wish someone could help me and would be there for me…I really don’t know how to face this….

    • Dear Yann,

      What a touching tale. You really suffered under your father’s abusive manipulations. Your writing of your struggle to walk your own path tore at my heart.

      They make you think you need them. They don’t want you around but they don’t want you to leave. Congratulations on finding the courage to leave.

      I urge you to find a way to leave your job and do something more in line with what you want to do rather than what your father wants. That’s the next step on your journey of choosing yourself rather than your father.

      It is the child in you that fears his rage. You have nothing to be afraid of. So he yells. So he throws things. Unless he hits you you have nothing to fear. He is simply having a temper tantrum, like a toddler who wants another cookie. His words may sting, but ask yourself if they are true. Don’t believe what he says. He truly does not know you or love you. Therefore he is in no position to criticize you. Tell his voice in your head to go to hell.

      Yann, I think you could benefit immensely from therapy. If you have insurance use the mental health coverage to access treatment. If you don’t have insurance, try to find a therapist who will charge you on a sliding scale.

      I’m concerned about you. I think you have had a difficult life, even for a child of a narcissist. Please check in here and let us know how your doing and how I can help.

      May your fear evaporate like water on a hot summer’s day.


  5. Oh yes, maybe it’s helpful to know this:
    I can tell you one thing. There is only one thing that can help you through this. Its your anger!
    The very thing you never allowed yourself to feel. Thats’ your voice! Everything else is a lie and not yours. Its the anger that will allow you to see your past how it really was, to see your N parent how he/she really was/is.
    Just listen to it. Even if it sends tons of guilt through your body, your anger is right. It will show you truth and heal you.
    Your anger is your savior, if you just let it do its job.

    • Yan,

      You put very well how anger can be a tool to help you realize your parents are narcissists. I agree it can help with the guilt and setting boundaries too.

      But I feel that anger reaches a point where its usefulness ends. That’s where healing begins. I carry lots of anger about various situations and the anger is not letting me let go and move on. At this point it’s counterproductive.

      I’d like to know your thoughts on my reply.

      I wish you much happiness.


  6. Hi Chase and everybody.

    The fear has been a part of my life. As a child I lived in fear from my mother.
    I receive the fear-treatment (abandonment, rejection) when I don´t do, don´t behave the way the mother wants me. It is often very subtle, or at least for me it was. I start to feel this fear. To me, it is the fear of falling down, having no ground under my feet. It brings the feeling of fainting, weakness in body, heart beat. I guess these feelings are those I felt as a child.
    My mother has a financial hold me. In my childhood, it was the food, the shelter, the physical safety. I suffered experience of being very sick (no food) and dying as a baby (caused by medic. doctors and the family), thus I am easily threatened by any hints reminding me those experience. The mother used them -she punished me, telling things that made me think that I will receive no food and will be thrown away from the house, being homeless, foodless, eventually sick.
    In my adulthood, my mother stole money from me (I did not know). She manipulated an ineritance procedure, through threats, comments who said the lawyer like “you will have to pay all the money for assessment of the property again, it is too much money, you are not living in the country, we cannot wait for you, the property cannot be divided theoretically, only physically, and thus, it is unpossible”. I was scared that time. I did not understand this fear, and I listened to it. I signed that I give up the property. I did not want to make my mother even more angry, I did not want to suffer from fear as the small child.
    Somehow it came up that I had the opportunity to raise the question to return the money equal to the property back to me. The reaction was not good: threating me again, in a way that she does not understand me what I am talking about (like I wa stupid, I was mubmling ….). Her eyes so widely opened, I thought she is seeing through me, wants to attack me, but basically she phycologically threathens me with methods I am susceptible to. She started to dowplay the amount of money there was in the inheritance. I left. I knew it would be too much for me and she would only feel my fear and the that would not be good for me.
    I am not sure how this will unfold. I am scared in my emotional life that now, the big hell will begin with her. She already treats me silent, the silent rage. I knew I stepped into something very big for her: the money. I could espace her.
    Neverthless, I did it anyway (big credit for me). The fears showed up. I am scared like a small child in front of a monster, dangerous adult who can mess up with my mind, my emotions, my physical safety.
    Today. I am more strong with keep with it, because I know that it is the fear someone else impose at me.

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