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Parenting and Children

Can children of narcissistic parents ever recover?


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January 31, 2011 5:05PM

Narcissism is the personality trait of selfishness taken to an extreme level, and like any personality trait, it can be slowly changed through great effort or at least blunted with behavior modification techniques. While it is possible for children of a narcissist to suffer some emotional issues due to their parent being much more involved with themselves than with their child, many children of narcissists find that emotional support from another parent, a grandparent, or through friendships.

Psychiatric professionals constantly marvel at the durability and adaptability of children. However, not all children are that adaptable and if you are someone who suffers emotional issues because one of your parents is a narcissist, then you absolutely can be helped. However, please don't believe that having parents who are narcissistic will automatically cause you to have issues. This may be a root cause of some of your problems, but people are complex, and if you are happy and well adjusted, then there is no reason to fix something that isn't broken.

However, often children of parents with a socially debilitating personality trait like this one will find that they are emotionally needy and/or that they share the very trait that caused them pain during their childhood. Personality traits are slow to change, and doing so most often requires therapy and commitment. Narcissism is extremely pervasive and most narcissists will not recognize it in themselves. They may seek treatment because they believe their parents have "messed them up" or they can see the negative results of their personality trait (poor relationships, immoral acts that cause guilt, etc.), but do not understand how their decisions are creating these situations.

Plus, you'll work on becoming more adaptable as "emotional agility" (Not allowing the behavior of others to impact you) is absolutely key to being mentally strong. Ultimately, this is what is important. While personalities are extremely difficult to change, learning to blunt them so that people do not make negatively impacting decisions is not nearly as difficult.