25 Characteristics of Narcissistic Parents and Dysfunctional Families (Part 2) By Darius Cikanavicius, Author, Certified Coach Last updated: 12 May 2019



Part one of this article can be found here.

And here’s the rest of the list.

14. Incompetency

In a dysfunctional family, the parent is fundamentally incompetent. They may feel helpless and consequently expect other family members, including their child, to take care of them and shoulder adult responsibilities. Or they will simply fail to meet their responsibilities altogether.


15. Pretending

Narcissists are pretenders. They are fake. They often pretend to be something that they are not. One way they do this is by falsely claiming that they have certain character traits when they really don’t. Or by declaring that they believe something that they actually don’t. Or by saying that they hold certain values while, when examining their actions, you can clearly tell that that they are lying.


16. Turning people against each other

The narcissist uses indirect communication to play people against each other. They also lie, gossip, smear, or slander others. They can also isolate their victim in order to control and manipulate them.

All of this is sometimes referred to as the divide and conquer tactic, and can even involve people outside of the family.

17. Projection

Highly narcissistic people are well-known for their tendency to project. They will accuse other family members of things that they are doing. Sometimes this is conscious, while other times it is unconscious. Whatever the case may be, chronic projection is the hallmark symptom of narcissism.

18. Comparison

Dysfunctional parents like to negatively compare their child to others: siblings, neighbors’ children, peers, and so on. “Why can’t you be like your brother?” “Tim is such a good boy and you always get into trouble; what do I do with you?”

19. Scapegoating

In a dysfunctional family, one or both parents pick one of their children to be the scapegoat. This means that the child is blamed for everything that goes wrong. If the father is drinking, then it’s because you’re a bad child. If the mother is neurotic, then it’s because you make her worry so much.

These are more evident examples, but there are plenty of subtle ones.

20. No self-responsibility / blaming others

Highly narcissistic people are known for avoiding responsibility. They will gladly take credit for other people’s work and accomplishments, but will almost never admit fault. Moreover, they will blame others for their mistakes and misbehaviors.
21. Chronic envy

A narcissistic person feels pathological envy. They hate seeing others happy. To cope, they exaggerate their accomplishments and competency, or brag about it, or put others down. They may feel manic after receiving their dose of narcissistic supply, and then sink into a deep depression when experiencing shame that they are not as good as somebody else.

22. Competition

Narcissistic people are so incredibly insecure that they even compete with their own children. A mother may feel threatened by a younger and more beautiful daughter. Or, a parent feels insecure that their child is smarter and more competent than they are.

23. Hypocrisy

Different rules apply to different people in a dysfunctional family. The parent might yell at the child for yelling, or beat them for hitting someone. It is okay for the parent to smoke or drink, but it is forbidden for the teenager. It is okay for the parent to lie, but the child must always tell the truth. The parent can get angry, but the child is expected to always be calm and obedient.

In other words, do as I say not as I do.

24. Neglectfulness and neediness

Narcissistic parents, like any narcissist, feel that they are overly important. They expect others to give them attention, yet they are neglectful and inconsiderate.

They disregard other family members’ feelings, thoughts, needs, and preferences. Yet they want for everyone to consider their feelings, thoughts, needs, and preferences as a matter of the utmost importance.

They ignore their spouse and children. They make the child feel invisible and worthless. They don’t seek win-win resolutions. Instead, they are capricious or tyrannical if others don’t give them what they want.

25. Creating conflict / baiting / trolling

Narcissists and otherwise dysfunctional people love conflict. It gives them attention, control, and an opportunity to “win.” They might simply create a conflict out of nowhere. Or they might bait you into one by provoking you and then blame you for getting upset.

BONUS: 26. Being unreasonable

Highly narcissistic people are irrational. They speak in word salads. Their arguments are not sound. They are unreasonable. They argue in bad faith. They try to dominate you instead of trying to understand you. They are self-absorbed and don’t care about your thoughts and feelings. They will evade, sidetrack, and distract. And, of course, they are compulsive liars.

Sometimes those who have dealt with people like that ask, “But why would they say/do this?” Because they’re irrational. There is no rational, healthy, appropriate reason why they act the way they act. The best answer you can get is this: “It’s because they carry a lot of unresolved trauma, are unwilling or unable to resolve it, and act out on others.”

2 responses to this post.

  1. It is both hard to read and reassuring at the same time.

  2. It is one thing to see it on paper, another to witness a narcissist behavior in person.

    If you were raised by one that subconscious familiarity draws us to them, and vice versa.

    My dad, my first wife and the father of my grandkids are narcissists. It can be generational.

    Thanks for your input.

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