Why Your Narcissistic Parent Needs You

Isn’t is puzzling? No matter how much you ignore your narcissistic parent they keep coming back to you. Even if Narcissistic Father Makes Demands of Sonyou say “I don’t want any contact with you,” they’re back.

It’s like trying to stop that stray dog from following you home.

When your narcissistic father is pursuing you, it’s almost possible to believe he loves you.

But he doesn’t. He’s not capable of loving you. He’ll tell you he loves you. But when you think back you realize that he’s never demonstrated unconditional love for you. His “love” has always been conditional on how much adoration and praise you shower on him.

That’s not love.

The Disappearing Narcissistic Parent

Back in the early 90s, I was having a rough time making it, financially speaking. The bad economy decimated the town I was living in. There were few jobs to be found. I found three part-time jobs—the highest paying being $5 per hour—and a $60 a week apartment about the size of a refrigerator box.

I couldn’t afford a car so I walked to work. The nearest grocery store was over a mile away, so I was limited in what I could purchase each trip.

I couldn’t afford a phone, so I couldn’t leave a phone number on job applications to get a higher paying job.

My narcissistic mother knew the situation I was in. She never came around to check on me. Never offered a ride to the grocery store so I could stock up. Never had me come over to do my laundry so I didn’t have to carry a garbage bag of clothes a half mile. And she certainly didn’t offer to help out with my expenses.

I didn’t see much of her for a couple years. Yet when I got back on my feet and had a respectable job I heard from her all the time.

What gives?

What Narcissistic Parents Need from Their Children

  • Narcissist Parents Need Their Children to Reflect Well on Them: Since narcissistic parents take credit for their children’s success, they need them to be successful. The parent want to present their kid to the world and say, “Look what I made!” “Oh the sacrifices I made so this could be.” They want the adoration and recognition that belongs to the child.

But if the child is not successful, the story is different. Some narcissistic parents react with rage. My mother essentially disowned me for a few years until I was successful enough for her to take credit for again.

  • Narcissistic Parents Need Their Children to be Obedient: Even as adults, narcissistic parents expect their children to be obedient. This is because they still expect their children to meet their needs. This only gets worse as the parent ages.

If a child shows any streak of independence or refuses to meet the needs of the parent, then the parent may resort to “blackmail.” Their blackmailing can be financial, especially if the adult child depends on them financially. It can also be emotional as when the displeased parents withdraw their “love,” or demand the child repay them for all they “sacrificed” for her.

  • Narcissistic Parents Need Their Children to Provide Narcissistic Supply: Narcissistic supply is attention, adoration, or praise that others give the narcissist. Narcissistic supply can also be in the form of fear or discomfort that one exhibits being with the the narcissist. The narcissist needs narcissistic supply to maintain their false-self—the mask they present to the world.

 Young children are unending sources of narcissistic supply. They adore their parents and the parent can take credit for their achievements. As the child ages, any attempt at normal teenage independence or rebellion is met with rage and punishments. Teens usually end up towing the line and provide narcissistic supply.

The narcissistic parent still expects the child to provide narcissistic supply, even once the child becomes an adult and moves out. Not providing what the parent needs can result in parental rage and blackmail. The child is expected to succeed so the parent can shine. If the adult child doesn’t succeed, the parent will often heap scorn on him.

Knowing what your narcissistic parent wants from you provides you with a choice. You can provide what your parent wants or you can choose to not provide what your parent wants.

If you choose to continue giving your narcissistic parent what he wants, you can expect him to continue in his ways. That means he’ll continue to manipulate, emotionally abuse, and command you. He has no incentive to change. Wishing he would become a normal, loving parent is useless—he won’t.

If you choose not to give your narcissistic parent what he wants, you can begin the process of healing. You have a lifetime of wounds inside you. Your self-esteem is probably low and you are likely full of self-doubt. You need to learn how to be in a healthy relationship so you can finally have the unconditional love you deserve.

Your parents won’t make it easy on you. So you’ll need to learn to set and enforce boundaries with them. And you can expect your parent to bad mouth you to everyone they know.

Is it worth it to say no to your parents? Yes. Life becomes enjoyable when you start to heal. Once you heal enough, they will lose their power to hurt you. That’s a wonderful thing.

I urge you to choose the road to healing. No parent has the right to demand their child meet their needs the way that narcissistic parents do. Only you can say, “stop!”

I wish you the courage to choose to heal. Feel free to contact me via the contact form for support. I’m still traveling down the long road your facing. It is one of the most worthwhile journeys I’ve ever made.

May you find the peace you deserve.

9 thoughts on “Why Your Narcissistic Parent Needs You

  1. I was reading your articles on the website and both my parents are narcissi-tics. I have been in counseling now for 9 months and I am on the road of healing. I recently took my ex husband back to court and added that my parents can’t have any contact with our children since I was in no contact and they were seeing my children thru my ex husband since I didn’t allow them to have access to them. I added this to our custody agreement back in October and was signed by a judge in December. I sent them a non emotional email stating that they are to have NO CONTACT with our children. Fast forward to March, I attended my grandmother’s funeral and on my way to the car I was ambushed my family members (6 of them) and they formed a circle around the children and I and I told them to please move out of the way and one of my family members flagged my dad down to come over and when he did they left. To prevent me from walking away he put his hand on my shoulder to stop me from walking away. I was angry.
    Now I have filed a protective order for my children. I am waiting to go to court in July but I have to say that all this is hard for me because it doesn’t matter what I say they feel entitled to my children. What are your thoughts on all this? Thanks! Feona

    • Feona,

      You did the right thing in taking your husband to court. And you are doing all you can to protect your children from your narcissistic parents. I’m proud of you. Given the behavior of your family and father at the funeral, you performed wisely in getting the order of protection. You now have legal recourse if they try to force contact.

      I think we owe it to our children to protect them from those who would scar them and use them for narcissistic supply. In my opinion, the parent who willing allows narcissistic grandparents to interact with their children is at a minimum being neglectful. The grandparents will not be nurturing. They will sooner or later heap emotional abuse on the children. We must prevent this.

      Unfortunately we have to always be vigilant. One of my narcissistic parents has stalked my family at public events and sent photos to let us know. Make sure your parents know about the order of protection. Don’t hesitate to use it if they violate it. You must strike fast and hard to protect your children.

      I wish you peace from these people who torment you. May you close and heal the wounds of your childhood.

  2. Hey there,

    I read your post with great interest. I’m about 18 months post discovery of my mother as a narcissist. I fell into deep depression and sought therapy – at which point the therapist diagnosed my mother to the letter. I went no contact with my mother last December and have kept my boundaries firmly in place while I wrap my head around this disorder and place it within the context of my history – and all of the repercussions across my life.

    I think the most poignant moments for me were:

    1) The realisation that the cold, dark, calculated, vindictive, harsh, heartless, silently raging, cruel bitch is my mother’s true self – OUCH – !
    2) The true self exists regardless of what I do or don’t do – the true self is not a punishment for how unworthy or bad I am – it simply is what she is

    I am now prepping to go through yet another great return (so many returns after all of those silent rages) but this time it’s because I’ve imposed no contact – not her.

    I am in no rush – it’s important to be ready. I am aware of the boundaries I will be setting. I’m just wondering if you have managed to return and set your boundaries successfully – or if you just opted to walk away?

    • Jane,
      Congratulations on going no contact. Doing so takes great courage. Congratulations also on entering therapy, another courageous act.

      My relationships with my narcissistic parents (both of them are a narcissist) are nearly no contact.

      My father is in a nursing home. He has no way to contact me as he doesn’t have a phone or my address. I am his legal guardian, so I have to see him every so often to get things signed. At this point he doesn’t remember my name and the alcohol induced dementia claims more of him every time I visit. Soon, once he forgets I am his son, it will end. I have done nothing courageous here. I am merely waiting for his brain to finish attacking itself.

      Mom is a whole other creature. She is determined to get back in my life. I have to keep deflecting her attempts to get me to meet her for coffee and lunch. I’ve caught her stalking my family and me. I plan on never returning to her. She did great damage to me and I won’t let her narcissistic fangs near my children to damage them.

      Jane, you are under no obligation to return to your mother. Before you do, ask yourself what you hope to gain by reestablishing contact, even with strict boundaries. Then consider if your mother is capable and willing to give you what you seek. Most likely the answer is no. I’m afraid that only heartache–yours–awaits you in returning.

      Whatever your decision, I wish you painless healing and a life of peace. You are a brave soul.

  3. Thank you so much for this article. I’ve recently been set free from a long and emotionally draining relationship with a narcissistic parent. I’m hopeful that this calm and lighter spell in life continues, years of unnecessary drama all but stunted my progression. I hope your journey to healing has been pleasant and rewarding.

    • Yolabubbles,

      Congratulations on ending your relationship with your narcissistic parent. It took great courage for you to do this.

      Thank you for the healing wishes. I have healing wishes for you. May you close the wounds for good that came from the emotional abuse your mother heaped on you. May you find your true self and never have to hear an unkind word or experience an unkind action again.


  4. Yes, compliance is compulsory.

    When my husband refused to divorce and break up our marriage because his enmeshed parents demanded to be number one in his life….

    They disowned him!! Cut him off.

    And yes, they play the victim, crying of heartbreak that they too have boundaries.

    And when they realized they wouldn’t have unlimited & unsupervised visitation with their grandchildren, they clarified that while they have let go of their adult son, they still love and miss their grandchildren and maintain they want to be a part of their lives.

    So they deny cutting off their son now because it suits them but they continue with their smear campaign that we are withholding our children out of spite and harming our children.

    So yes, obedience & narcissistic supply is all they care about.

    • Sunny,

      I’m so sorry you have to go through all of this. It’s not easy to see your kids targeted.

      You’re wise to erect boundaries between your children and your husband’s parents. They would attempt to turn the kids against you. And they would use your children as sources of narcissistic supply.

      Set firm limits against your husband’s parents. Don’t let them near your kids. Be prepared for the grandparents to be relentless in attempts to access your children. I have placed such boundaries between my children and my parents. They are always trying to circumvent the barrier.

      I hope you find peace and the narcissists in your life go away.


  5. Hi Chase,

    It’s Jane again I wrote to you back in June 2015 when I was considering “the great return” following a period of no contact. I’m a little further down the road and feel quite differently now. I’m pretty sure I’m not going back. It’s taken me a while to accept that;

    The False self isn’t real
    The True self is a monster
    So one isn’t real and one is a monster

    I’ve maintained what I now understand to be “low contact.” I haven’t seen or spoken with my mother directly since November 2014. However I have responded to the occasional email sent to me every few months with a stock standard response of “I am improving but I am still unwell and I will resume contact when I am able to do so.”

    Prior to going no contact I told my mother I was suffering from depression, anxiety and multiple PTSD symptoms and made it quite clear it was a direct result of her actions (another silent treatment during which she fed information about life threatening surgery to me through her flying monkeys – with the kicker if I called her it could kill her because she wasn’t to have any stress).

    So I’ve been in therapy all of this time and wrapping my head around the disorder, how it functions and looking at my past through the lens of this disorder. Understanding that it wasn’t about me and there was nothing I could have done to stop her, change things, protect myself or stop the punishments / judgements.

    Over the last few days I’ve received a couple more emails from her. She’s upping the stakes on her game. The first email was essentially a goodbye and when that didn’t elicit any response from me, she sent a guilt tripping email where I was asked to take pity on her and surely whatever I THINK she’s guilty of isn’t worth all of this punishment.

    And so through the lens of the disorder I see projections while she tries to back me into a corner to break my boundary. If I don’t return, or even defend myself against this undermining attack guised as a humble request, I am the “harsh punisher who has no pity.”

    I couldn’t describe her more accurately if I tried.

    Mostly, while I am the one in need, it’s still all about her and what she needs. Was there a thought about the impact of a goodbye email on someone suffering from depression? NO. Was there a half way thought about me and what I might need? NO. Just a catalogue of things she needs.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no point in going back. What am I going back for? To feed the false self, to appease the monster within? Whatever this person “feels’ for me, it’s not love.

    So while I’ve been understanding, grieving and letting her go – she’s been working out ways to manipulate me back for another “great return.” And there’s been so many post her silent treatments. So while I’m shaky today and will no doubt be tomorrow, I’m not part of the game anymore and I’m moving on with my life.

    I was going through my bookmarks this morning and stumbled across my entry on your site. Thanks for creating this resource. It’s somewhere I can escape to and relate.

    Bless you, Jane.

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