Narcissistic Parents–Buying Off Their Children

Narcissists are incapable of developing and sustaining genuine relationships of any kind with spouse or children in particular. (This applies to male and female narcissists.) 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 golden child and don’t have the physical attractiveness, academics, athletic prowess, social skills, etc. 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 often 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 genuinely loving them. The narcissistic parent makes empty promises that are never kept. Some children remain tied to the narcissistic parent in a psychologically parasitic relationship. These children never grow up and realize 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 familial 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 the process of severing the relationship with a 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 individuals, capable of emotional and psychological intimacy.

Some adult children find that healing practices like gentle hatha yoga and meditation help to quiet their body/mind, attain a deep sense of inner peace, detach from the narcissistic parent and rediscover and appreciate the unique authentic human being that they are.

9 thoughts on “Narcissistic Parents–Buying Off Their Children”

  1. Comment: From Sara
    That describes my father to a T ! I was always treated like the black sheep because my academic skills were very average and I didn’t have amazing looks to compensate for that either! My youngest brother was the golden child as he has dyslexia like my father (who denies he had to this day!) He was the only one who sucked up to my father and was rewarded for it! My father keeps telling me that I have a low iQ but does ‘not know where the test results of this ‘test’ are! I challenge him about these things and he just gets angry!! He treats my 10 year old daughter as if she is his daughter trying to win her over with presents!

  2. My divorce was just final and my narcissist husband bought our 16 year old daughter a car and gave her his credit card to come with him. He is emotionally unavailable to her and she doesn’t see it. Falling right into lockstep with the above profile.

    Now going after our 14 year old son, who is very tenderhearted and will be destroyed by this. Breaks my heart, but narcissist keeps telling them they are “old enough to choose”. He is just using them to look like the “good parent” in the divorce. He will destroy them and leave their proverbial dead corpses behind. They can’t see it.

    He always used my daughter and created a rift between us that didn’t exist before. How he is doing the same thing to our son, who has always been very close to me. It is all to punish me. He is using them to blame and punish me.

    I can walk away from the marriage, no problem. That damage is done and irreparable. But how do you walk away from your children! They are innocent in this and do not know what they are in for.

  3. I grew up with a narcissistic mother who was very controlling and everyone thought we were the perfect little family…they had no idea of the horror and control that was really taking place behind closed doors. It took me marrying someone of a different religion and being treated as if I had the plague including receiving multiple manipulative and very hurtful phone calls to realize that my mother just wanted to control me and when she could not, she would try any means possible. I’ve stopped communicating with her to have some sanity and unfortunately, I may have repeated the process because now I realize that my husband is much the same. This became apparent when we had our daughter and he signed up for a volunteer event and left us at home only days after having her (via c-section). I’ve gone to many doctors appointments for she and I over the past year with no spousal support or assistance because he was too busy and couldn’t miss work…however, he’ll take days off for volunteer activities where he’s serving on leadership boards, etc. I am constantly begging him to put down his phone and pay attention to her when she wants to talk and show him something. He says I’m being a nag. At 19 months old, she cries and screams reaching for me when I hand her to him in public because I think down deep she knows that he’s not going to give up whatever he’s doing to truly care for her. Its embarrassing for all of us, but realistically, I think it is because he was too busy to spend time holding her and being there for her even as an infant. Instinct tells you who is going to sacrifice and take care of you. Now, I’m torn on whether to stay so she has a father in her life or leave so that she doesn’t experience the same painful childhood that I did.

  4. Can completely relate, my oldest daughter was given a Prius recently, my ex pays her phone bill, car insurance and she has been married for over a year now. The youngest daughter gets none of these, except constant criticism.

  5. Wow, Wendy. That’s really horrible.

    I have a Narcissistic Mother, who tells me to my face regularly that she never wanted a daughter and if she could go back in time, wouldn’t have had one. While, of course putting cake in front of me knowing I’ll emotionally eat it and then go on about telling me that her belonged in all the remedial classes in school and how gifted her brother is.

    These things will happen, I’ll cry, then I won’t talk to her.

    Then she will pay all my bills (which I can afford to pay on my own and make it a point that i ENJOY paying my own bills), and I’ll get confused. Think it’s an apology, consider being friendly with her. think, maybe shes sorry. maybe she changed.

    No, no. she didn’t change.

    This is just her way of keeping me under control. Making me feel even worse than I already do. and most importantly: giving her an excuse to say something bad about me in the future.
    “Oh, my daughter is so ungrateful- I still pay her bills.”; “Please, my daughter can’t even pay her own bills.” (she talks to me about me—all the time. its never ‘you’ its always ‘my daughter’)

  6. My dad used to tell me that I never needed and education in order to get ahead or attain a good job. He would borrow any money that I had saved to buy any way out. Only never pay it back to me. I am now 50, no career, working for him, and for the last 6 years, running his business, because he had a stroke, The business is not doing well, since he refuses to update with the times. He tells people that It’s my Business. even though my hands are tied, in so far as title, finances etc. He keeps telling me that he will sell and half is mine. I obviously don’t believe him. But he keeps me their so I go in and then drive over to take care of him and my mom, who also had a stroke a few months ago. I am so stressed out. All they care about is that their grocery shopping, banking , bill paying and Drs. Appts are taken care of. You can’t run a business successfully, if your not their, and running around for your parents!. They are crazy selfish, as far as I am concerned. I have never had any emotional support from them. They expect me to visit them every day, he calls me sometimes 3 times a day. I now can’t stand them. I am getting out, but I still feel guilty.

  7. This is my story!! Wow…. I’m four years divorced and fight this battle everyday… 4 kids..My oldest will probably not come back for a long time but my twins 20 are just now starting to reach out.. long complicated story but have been told by therapists to be patient… I seek peace everyday through it all.. And do not regret leaving my x as it should probably be worse had I stayed married.. Hang in there and wish you peace…

  8. Be that childs everything bcz the father is useless to her. It’s a terrible strain on you & probably very painful I’m sure, to see the same treatment coming from him that you got from your mom. I feel for you.

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