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Do Narcissistic Parents
Love Their Children?

Copyright © 2009 by Richard A. Grossman, Ph.D.  ·  All Rights reserved  ·  E-Mail: ragrossman@voicelessness.com
Let us consider the choices for a minute before looking at the survey results.  If we consider one measure of love to be putting a child’s interests before one’s own, without doubt, choice 1  reflects this characteristic.  Choice 2 may have an element of love-- but narcissism begins to creep in around the edges.  In Choice 3 self-survival begins to trump the child’s survival.  In the remaining two choices, according to this definition, arguably there is no love.

I posed this question to both adult children of narcissistic parents and adult children of non-narcissistic parents.  (Keep in mind these limitations:  whether or not a parent was or was not narcissistic was based on the opinion of the respondent--there was no external validation.  Nor was there validation of whether the parent would actually respond in this way.)

The results for adult children of narcissistic parents can be found here.  The results for adult children of non-narcissistic parents can be found here.

The results for the adult children of narcissistic parents suggests narcissism is a spectrum--there were some parents placed in each of the five categories.  But half of the parents were placed in Choice 3--where parents' self-survival trumped their children's survival.   Respondents may have perceived some parental love, but self-preservation was more important.  Or perhaps, no love was present and respondents perceived their parents would have simply rationalized their choice.


The results of the poll on adult children of non-narcissistic parents were not a surprise:  the vast majority of parents were deemed capable of putting their child’s interests above their own.  This is normal parental behavior.  (If you’re wondering why one adult child of non-narcissistic parents chose choice 5, I did too.  It is possible that parent was psychotic.)
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Do Narcissistic Parents
Love Their Children?
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