Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents

Did You Grow Up with A Narcissist? Are You Dating or Married to a Narcissist? Do You Think “Will I Ever Be Good Enough? or “Will the Drama Ever End?”

When you grow up with a parent who has traits of a narcissist, you can go through life feeling “not good enough”. This can cause you to work too hard in your career or personal relationships, and can make you more vulnerable to dating or marrying a narcissist. It can also contribute to anxiety, depression, shame, and not being able to pursue your own interests.

If you were raised with a narcissistic parent or you are in a marriage or dating relationship with a narcissist, it may also make it hard for you to give and receive the Five A’s of adult love.

See the checklist below to determine if this describes your childhood relationship with one of your parents. If you’d like to feel better about yourself and have a life of your own, not so influenced by your parent’s words and actions, I can help.

Will the Drama Ever End?My trauma informed therapy approach for helping clients with the issues associated with being raised by a parent with many traits of a narcissist, is guided by the five step recovery model developed by Dr. Karyl McBride, PhD, LFMT. She is the author of the book Will I Ever Be Good Enough? – Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers, and the new book, Will the Drama Ever End? – Untangling and Healing from the Harmful Effects of Parental Narcissism. She is also the author of the book Will I Ever Be Free of You? How to Navigate a High Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist and Heal Your Family. You can find these resources on her website which you can access at the end of this page.



Based on my experience in working with adult children of narcissistic mothers and my completion and use of Dr. McBride’s Level I and Level II training programs for therapists, I am a member of Dr. Karyl McBride’s therapist referral network.  Often when you are raised in a narcissistic family, you often get into relationships with others with those same traits. I have also helped many clients recover from the trauma of a marriage and divorce with a narcissistic partner.

Below is a copy of her checklist titled “Is This Your Mother? This will help you better understand what behaviors are associated with a narcissist and determine if your self-esteem issues and present day problems with your mother or others are rooted in maternal narcissism. Dr. Karyl McBride writes: “Although this survey is about narcissistic mothers, I believe it will also be a good gauge for adult children of narcissistic parents in general.”

Is This Your Mother?

Checklist developed by Karyl McBride, PhD, LFMT and used here with her permission

McBride good-enough-book-cover-290x441“Note: Narcissism is a spectrum disorder with the most severe end of the spectrum considered a narcissistic personality disorder. A woman can have several narcissistic traits and not fit the personality disorder. All of these questions relate to narcissistic traits. The more questions you checked, the more likely your mother has narcissistic traits and this has caused some difficulty for you as a growing daughter and adult.”

  1. When you discuss your life issues with your mother, does she divert the discussion to talk about herself?
  2. When you discuss your feelings with your mother, does she she try to top the feeling with her own?
  3. Does your mother act jealous of you?
  4. Does your mother lack empathy for your feelings?
  5. Does your mother only support those things you do that reflect on her as a “good mother?”
  6. Have you consistently felt a lack of emotional closeness with your mother?
  7. Have you consistently questioned whether or not your mother likes you or loves you?
  8. Does your mother only do things for you when others can see?
  9. When something happens in your life (accident, illness, divorce,) does your mother react with how it will affect her rather than how you feel?
  10. Is or was your mother overly conscious of what others think (neighbors, friends, family, co-workers)?
  11. Does your mother deny her own feelings?
  12. Does your mother blame things on you or others rather than own responsibility for her feelings or actions?
  13. Is or was your mother hurt easily and then carried a grudge for a long time without resolving the problem?
  14. Do you feel you were a slave to your mother?
  15. Do you feel you were responsible for your mother’s ailments or sickness (headaches, stress, illness)?
  16. Did you have to take care of your mother’s physical needs as a child?
  17. Do you feel unaccepted by your mother?
  18. Do you feel your mother was critical of you?
  19. Do you feel helpless in the presence of your mother?
  20. Are you shamed often by your mother?
  21. Do you feel your mother knows the real you?
  22. Does your mother act like the world should revolve around her?
  23. Do you find it difficult to be a separate person from your mother?
  24. Does your mother appear phony to you?
  25. Does your mother want to control your choices?
  26. Does your mother swing from egotistical to a depressed mood?
  27. Did you feel you had to take care of your mother’s emotional needs as a child?
  28. Do you feel manipulated in the presence of your mother?
  29. Do you feel valued by mother for what you do rather than who you are?
  30. Is your mother controlling, acting like a victim or martyr?
  31. Does your mother make you act different from how you really feel?
  32. Does your mother compete with you?
  33. Does your mother always have to have things her way?

For additional resources, visit Dr. McBride’s site

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