As children of narcissistic parents, we tend to see narcissism everywhere. Any display of pride or show of self-love reeks to us of narcissistic personality disorder’s stench.
But there is such a thing as healthy narcissism. Well-adjusted adults have a good supply of healthy narcissism within them. It’s important to know the difference from unhealthy narcissism so that you allow this trait to exist within you. Doing so is part of developing a healthy sense of self.
Why We Lack Healthy Narcissism
Think of your children or other little children you’ve known. Remember how they hungered for your attention and your words of praise? Such wonder is captured in their calls to you of “Look at me!” and “See what I did?” Continue reading
Narcissistic parents tend to adopt one of two styles of parenting: enmeshment or neglectful. Both styles are loaded with negative consequences for children of narcissists. This post explores the consequences of enmeshment for the child. In a future post we’ll explore the consequences of neglect.
What is Enmeshment?
Enmeshment is a dysfunctional state where a two or more people have porous and indistinguishable boundaries. Enmeshment can occur between a parent or child, whole families, or adult couples. This article will be talking about enmeshment between a narcissistic mother and her son. The narcissistic parent could become enmeshed with her daughter or all her offspring, though. The same goes for a narcissistic father.
Since the boundaries between two enmeshed people are permeable, they tend to catch each others emotions. If the narcissistic parent becomes angry at a store clerk who slighted her by waiting on another customer first, her son will grow angry as well.
Emotions are a complicated thing for those in an enmeshed relationships. Unable to tell the difference between each others emotions, each member in the relationship will have times when they feel they need to be rescued from their emotions by the other person. Similarly, they’ll each have time when they feel they have to rescue the other person from their emotions.
Those in an enmeshed relationship come to depend the other enmeshed person for their identity. They become so lost that they lose, or fail to develop, their sense of self.
An enmeshed person depends on the person their enmeshed with for their self-worth. Since narcissists emotionally abuse their children, their enmeshed offspring often have low self-esteem. Continue reading
Do you know who you are? I don’t mean in a name, rank, and serial number way of knowing. Do you have a solid, healthy identity? Are you blessed with a strong sense of self with solid boundaries between you and others? Or are you filled with self-doubt about who you truly are?
Think about how you see yourself. Is the first thought that you are the son or daughter of your narcissistic parent? Or do you think “I’m a loser” or some other derogatory description?
I was driven to ask myself these questions when my son appeared in the kitchen in the middle of a school day. A high school junior, he left during the middle of the lunch period because he didn’t feel right. He asked me about family history. He said he was trying to figure out who he is.
I told my son that family history can tell you where you came from. But it doesn’t define who you are. I think that this is an important lesson for adult children of narcissistic parents. Continue reading