Narcissistic Parents—Buying Off Their Children–This is Not Love

Narcissists are incapable of developing and sustaining genuine relationships of any kind with spouse or children in particular. They are parents in name only. Many of them spend most of their time away from their kids. They can’t be bothered taking time and patience to listen to their children, comfort them when they are upset, encourage them with school, show deep affection and love for them. So many children of narcissists with whom I have communicated describe their lives with a narcissistic parent as horrific. Those who are not the special child and don’t have the looks and talents that the narcissistic parent values, find themselves marginalized and demeaned. The narcissist parent is obsessed with his/her image. Because of this need for narcissistic supplies these parents make sure that to those living outside of the home, there is a look of perfection and normalcy about this family. A portrait of loving attentive parents is cleverly created for public image purposes for the narcissist.

To keep his/her children quiet and in control, narcissistic parents who have the means use money and generous gifts as a way of buying off their children. This becomes a way of life for them. Money is used in exchange for love. Some children of narcissists go along with these manipulations; others recognize that their parent(s) is incapable of loving them and using material means to control them. In many cases the narcissistic parent makes empty promises that are never kept. These children remain tied to the narcissistic parent in a psychologically parasitic relationship. These children never grow up and realized their potential. They spend their lives waiting for something that will never come—genuine love. In exchange they accept the narcissistic parent(s) gifts, material largess and special privileges of being part of the inner circle.

Children who awaken to this truth go through painful realizations, recognizing that their parent cannot love. This is a difficult psychological and emotional process for children of narcissists. Surprisingly, many children of narcissistic parents are loving human beings, capable of deep empathy.

Coming to terms with psychologically and in some cases physically severing the relationship with the narcissistic parent is a complex process. There is a period of grieving over the loss of not having a parent–the person from whom you needed unconditional love. Some of these children benefit from psychotherapy in working through these painful issues. Part of the healing process is in their recognition that they are loving and capable of emotional and psychological intimacy. Some of adult children turn to healing practices like hatha yoga and meditation to help them quiet the mind, attain a deep sense of inner peace and finally detach from the narcissistic parent. It is essential that you take charge of yourself, recognize and lead your life as a person of great value and integrity. As you move ahead you will rediscover your unique gifts and talents. To learn about the narcissist in-depth, visit my

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Telephone Consultation: United States and International
Book: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life