Narcissistic Parenting Is Bad for My Child, But What About Me?
They say that narcissistic parents can have lasting damaging effects on their children. That it isn’t healthy for a child to be raised by someone who constantly seeks attention and puts their own well-being over that of the child. That I should stop saying, “How about me? Am I such a pretty girl? Do you want to know how old I am and what grade I’m in?” Anytime a stranger tries to talk to my child. And to that I say: but what about me? Why doesn’t anyone care if I turn out damaged from the way that I’m raising my child?
Do you know what it’s like to have your child come home with a report card that says she’s “such a bright student and a joy to be around” but says nothing —nothing — about you? I do. And it hurts. While my daughter Mira might not understand that she’s doing something wrong, I am going to be scarred for an hour by the incident. Yes, a full hour! It’s that bad!
Why should I set my feelings aside to be at the service of my child? Especially when my child could so easily be at the service of me? Her tiny little hands can brush my hair with dexterity. That’s why I always make her do it every time she acts out by doing something egregious like getting a cold when I’m on my way to a tennis lesson.
A mother’s love isn’t —and shouldn’t be— unconditional. At least mine isn’t. Mira knows that. I read her a very long list of terms and agreements when she was misbehaving by looking prettier than me in the matching mother/daughter dresses I made us wear.
I’ve been told that the adult in the situation should behave with more emotional maturity, but isn’t that placing too much burden on the adult? If narcissistic parenting is so bad for Mira, shouldn’t it also be bad for me? After all, my child is just a smaller, more attractive (younger) version of me. I can’t even go into describing how appalling it is to stare into the face of someone who looks just like you, but is free of the fine lines your plastic surgeon works so diligently to erase.
The patterns of childhood leave a lifelong impression, so I do find some solace in knowing that I, Mira’s mother, did a wonderful job at being a terrible parent to her. Out of all the bad parents out there, I was the best at being the worst. My screwed-up child is going to be the most screwed-up around, and I dare any other parent to damage their child more than I’ve damaged mine!
I hope that I can raise awareness to all the narcissistic parents out there who are going through this same struggle. It’s the worst struggle anyone could ever go through in the history of struggles. But worst of all, of course, for me.