If you have grown up in a narcissistic family, your life has been very difficult and hurtful. This is the case if you have a narcissistic parent and one or more narcissistic siblings. Growing up and as a small child you probably believed that this was a normal family. As small children this is all we know. It is familiar to us. Some children are very keen at figuring out that they are being treated unfairly and that another sibling is getting all of the attention and a lot of deference. This child is allowed to do whatever he or she wants and does not have to take any responsibility for cruel behavior to his siblings. Some narcissistic parents don't even correct these budding narcissists when they have been rude to other adults. It is astounding but true.
Eventually, children in narcissistic families learn that there is no fairness if they are not the chosen child, the one that the parents want to use as a reflection of their perfection. The non-chosen children are often left to fend for themselves. Narcissistic parents are psychologically and emotionally unavailable, caught up in their delusional world of image, ruthless competition to the top, social engagements, indulging themselves, etc.
Often the raising of children is left up to babysitters or nannies. Children in these families don't even come fourth or fifth. They are trotted out as living props for family occasions and pictures are taken and framed for show. But there is no feeling, devotion, affection or loving focus placed on them. Some of these children don't remember ever receiving a hug from one of their parents. Mainly, they remember all of the criticisms, the shouting, the reprimands, the humiliations that caused deep feelings of shame that didn't go away.
Some adult children who grow up in narcissistic families continue to hold on to what they have longed for and never got---love and caring. They keep hoping that finally one of their parents or a sibling will wake up and acknowledge their value and their deserving respect and kindness. Dealing with a narcissistic family, these days do not arrive. The narcissist lives in the darkness of delusion. He believes that he is better than anyone else---brighter, more attractive, clever, successful, clever, charming, powerful. These beliefs began very early in the development of his personality and are rigid and disinclined to change.
Many adult children recognize these painful truth about their highly dysfunctional families and do the hard work of separating from them psychologically. In some instances they decide to discontinue any kind of communication with narcissistic family members. They go "no contact." During this period of transition some benefit from quality psychotherapy, supportive friends, members of the family who are not enmeshed with the narcissists. Stepping out of the narcissist's delusional world is a huge step toward honoring your own individual reality and the seeking of the truth. You now can live freely, being yourself. You have your own perceptions and you start to grow as a person, encumbered by the psychological imprisonments of the past. Many individuals take these steps. They are courageous but firmly claim that it is well worth the effort. To learn about every facet of the narcissistic personality disorder, visit my website:thenarcissistinyourlife.com
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Telephone Consultation: United States and International
Book: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life
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