How Narcissistic Parents Con You to Get Past Your Boundaries

Mug Shot of Narcissistic Conman

Watch Out for Your Narcissistic Parent’s Con

Narcissists are like con men—they’re always scheming for a way to pull one over on you. You can set up boundaries to protect yourself, but they find the weaknesses in your defenses and slink through. And before you know it you find yourself the patsy in their con.

Where a conman uses visions of riches to ensnare their victims, narcissistic parents are likely to use your own guilt and anxiety to get what they want. The narcissistic parent’s demands are not always stated up front. At times they use a con to steal what they want from you.

Cons follow a predictable pattern that looks like this:

  • Foundation Work—the narcissist makes their plan and lays the ground work for getting what they want from you.
  • Approach—this involves getting in touch with you. This stage is carefully prepared and they come armed with what will make you feel guilty so you lower your boundaries.
  • Build-up—the narcissist introduces their scheme to you. What they want will mostly not be stated outright. They use this stage to lower your guard so they can get what they want.
  • Pay-off—the narcissist appears to give to you, his victim, something that you have been wanting. This may be a physical gift or an emotional promise. The narcissist knows what you yearn for so they know just how to pay you so you can be easily manipulated.
  • They Hurrah—this is a sudden crisis or unexpected development in which the adult child of the narcissist is pushed or forced to act. Once the hurrah is triggered the child is putty in the narcissist’s hands and will give her what she wants.

(For more information on how cons work, see

Right now I’m trying to figure out the hurrah in my father’s attempt to con me. Continue reading

Are You the Child of Narcissistic Parents?

Do you question if your the child of a narcissistic parent

By Micky Aldridge from Finland (Question Mark Cloud) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

What’s your first memory of your parent’s narcissism? When you were a child, you didn’t know that your mom, dad, or both, were narcissists. Even today, you may remain unsure your parent is a narcissist, but your suspicions won’t go away.

That’s the insidious thing about suspecting your parent is a narcissist—you tend to think you are the crazy one. That’s because every now and then your parent does something that seems kind and seemingly selfless for you. That single act is enough to make you question yourself and think that maybe your parent is only a bit self-absorbed, and not a narcissist at all.

I know how you feel. My wife suggested to me that my mother is a narcissist. Something clicked when she described the characteristics of someone who has narcissistic personality disorder. But, until recently, I still questioned labeling my mom a narcissist. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Narcissists are deeply self-absorbed, have grandiose fantasies about their deserved place in the world, and are obsessed with power, fame, and how they appear to others. They always have to be the center of attention. They continually talk about their accomplishments, and they change the topic of conversation to themselves without fail.

If you grew up with your narcissistic parent—some send their kids to live with others or ship them off to boarding school—you don’t remember being cuddled, hugged goodnight, or even having your hair tousled affectionately. Continue reading