Growing up with a Self-Centered Parent

Let’s face it, being a parent is a tough job! It is a difficult responsibility that doesn’t come with any instructions and there is no one “right way” to parent. Throughout my years of working with children and adults, I have noticed the significant harm that can come from being brought up by a self-centered parent. There is such a fine line between being able to take care of yourself and putting your children first in your life. Much like how the flight attendant explains, that in case of an emergency, it is important for you to put your own oxygen mask on first and then your child. Yes, there are many times when it is necessary to place your own needs above that of your children because if you don’t you may not be able to take of yourself, let alone your children. These behaviors do not tend to cause psychological harm to children; rather, they demonstrate a healthy ability to take care of one’s self and places value on self-care. These are not the parents I am talking about. Instead, parents who tend to focus mostly on themselves, may appear entitled by others, or have difficulty understanding the value of another person, are the parents I want to talk about. These parents have typically been raised in difficult environments where abuse, trauma, neglect, or mental illness had occurred in their families of origin. They typically don’t even recognize how their actions may be negatively influencing their children. The individuals who I have worked with who have come from parents who struggle with narcissism, typically have a hard time in relationships of their own, have low self-esteem, may have some narcissistic traits, and have a difficult time knowing that they are valued as a human being. Because so many parents who have narcissistic traits tend to place value on concrete, tangible things such as monetary value; it can be difficult to have a genuine relationship with them. Parents frequently have a hard time being connected and genuine in relationships and may see their children as more of something to help them gain status. For example, these parents may be proud of their child for an accomplishment, but rarely are able to be (or express) proud of their child for just being their child. This tends to lead to children being overly focused on achieving goals, acquiring monetary value, or other status things, (i.e. CEO of a company) over their own personal well being. What can be even more challenging for these children is that they frequently never feel like they are “good enough” because they don’t feel like they are enough. These children and adults raised by these types of parents can struggle to find their identity, what things are important to them, and how to have close relationships that are not based on what the other person can do for them. Therapy can help change these past patterns. Within the context of safe and supportive relationship these past feelings of rejection, never being good enough, and not really knowing yourself can be addressed and healed. Trusted Therapy, Inc Tonya McFarland, PsyD 1030 Johnson Rd, 323 Golden, CO 80401 303-709-5897