Copyright © 2009 by Richard A. Grossman, Ph.D. · All Rights reserved · E-Mail: email@example.com
of "voice"; now they expect their children to hear, respect, and even idolize them. (Ah! My mother/father was a saint.) In their eyes, this is what parent-child relationships are supposed to be like. But there is more. For a narcissistic parent, a child's only purpose is to inflate their sense of self. Entering a child's world does not serve this purpose, in fact, it is a complete waste of time. Of course sometimes a narcissistic parent can make it appear that they are entering a child's world. One of my clients, David, told me his father would hold his birthday party on the family boat every year--a lavish celebration for grade school children (and extended family). David was dying to go bowling or to the movies on his birthday like his friends did. One time he asked his father whether he could possibly do something else. His father blew up. "Which one of your other friends gets to have a birthday party on a yacht?" his father said. David remembered the moment as if it happened yesterday.
How do children respond to narcissistic parents?
Some simply retreat (see Little Voices). Others, with a different temperatment may begin a "voice war": they use aggressive tactics to regain "voice." They talk back in school, they disobey, they act out. They become incapable of experiencing empathy, for understanding and feeling another's pain is experienced as losing themselves. They appear completely selfish.
For such behavior, children are reprimanded. But narcissistic parents are never punished for their more subtle tactics. A narcissist's offensive thrusts are often hidden under the guise of advice, righteous punishment, or even manipulative praise. This,
Voicelessness and Emotional Survival