Surviving a Narcissistic Parent

Things to be aware of if you were raised by the vainglorious

Amber Fraley
7 min readMar 1, 2019


I know quite a few people who have, or have had, a narcissistic parent. My husband, for one. (I’ve also noticed that the kids of narcissists tend to find each other, and like each other, quite naturally.) But my brother and I are the only people I know who hit the jackpot and grew up with two narcissist parents. I have read, though, that it’s not uncommon for narcissists to pair up, so I know we’re not the only ones out there.

I’m going to be 47 this year, and I’m just beginning to realize all the fun and interesting emotional challenges being raised by narcissists has produced in my brother and me.

These are just some of the many things your narcissistic parent may have broken in you, things you may not even be aware of:

Your self-worth

Self-worth is something that has to be built in a child. When a child is properly loved and cared for, and knows that he or she is safe, that’s the optimum environment in which to build that child’s self esteem. When a child isn’t absolutely sure if their parent will be there for them, then positive self esteem can’t be built. It’s like trying to build a house out of soft clay instead of bricks. You work with what you can, but if your parents don’t give you the proper materials, you’re likely to struggle.

Your sense of self

People who grow up in close, supportive families have a better sense of who they are and where they came from. Children of narcissists aren’t allowed to be themselves. Rather, your job as the child of a narcissist — and it is an exhausting job — is to constantly please them, and put them in the best light. As such, you may struggle with knowing who you are, what you value and that you’re worthy of love and respect.

Your ability to parent with empathy

We learn to parent from our parents. Whatever we were raised with will feel right and natural. I had to struggle, sometimes, with sitting with my daughter, being patient with her and giving her all the attention and hugs she needed, because I didn’t experience any of that growing up.



Amber Fraley

Writing about abortion rights, mental illness, trauma, narcissistic abuse & survival, politics. Journalist, novelist, wife, mom, Kansan, repro rights activist.