If you have these 7 traits, you probably grew up with narcissistic parents

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Growing up under the care of parents is a journey filled with love and learning. However, when narcissism enters the picture, it can shape your world in challenging ways. 

Perhaps you’re noticing patterns in your behavior or feelings that leave you questioning the influence of your upbringing. 

Acknowledging these traits isn’t about placing blame, but rather understanding yourself better and paving the way for healing and growth. 

In this article, we’ll explore 7 traits that might suggest you grew up with narcissistic parents, offering you a beacon of awareness and the first step towards embracing your true self.

1) You’re a people-pleaser

From a young age, you might have learned to put others’ needs and desires above your own, constantly seeking approval and validation. 

This inclination to please people around you could stem from growing up with narcissistic parents, who may have prioritized their own needs and emotions over yours. 

Maybe you began to feel like your self-worth was attached to how well you could meet their expectations. And as a result, you have developed the habit of going out of your way to ensure everyone else is happy, often at the expense of your own needs and desires.

This trait doesn’t mean you’re at fault or that your kindness is a weakness. It’s a reflection of your strength and resilience. 

However, it’s crucial to recognize that your needs are just as important as anyone else’s. Finding a balance between helping others and taking care of yourself is key to your personal growth and well-being. 

Remember, it’s okay to set boundaries and prioritize your own happiness. Your worth is not defined by how much you can please others, but by how much love and respect you show to yourself.

2) You struggle with self-esteem

In a family dynamic with narcissistic parents, praise and acknowledgment might have been conditional, depending largely on how well you met their expectations or fed into their self-image. 

Perhaps it was only handed out when you met certain achievements, and taken away or turned into cold criticism when you made mistakes. 

This inconsistency can lead to a shaky foundation for your self-esteem, as you might have learned to value yourself based on external validation rather than intrinsic worth.

It’s important to understand that these feelings are not a reflection of your actual capabilities or value as a person. 

Building a strong sense of self-worth comes from within, and it’s a journey that starts with self-compassion and understanding. 

Celebrate your progress, no matter how small, and remember that your worth is not determined by others’ opinions or expectations, and not even the things you do. 

You are worthy just for being you, regardless of any grades, awards, or accolades. 

3) You have a fear of rejection

Does the thought of someone saying ‘no’ or turning you away send chills down your spine? That might be because growing up with narcissistic parents can leave you with a deep-seated fear of rejection. 

These parents may have only given love and attention when you acted in ways they approved of, making you feel like you had to earn their love. 

Now, it’s like you have this little voice in your head, whispering that if you’re not perfect or if you make a mistake, people will leave. 

But here’s the thing: that voice? It’s not telling the truth. Rejection is a part of life, and it doesn’t reflect your worth as a person. You are worthy of love and belonging, just as you are.

It’s time to quiet that voice and open your heart to the truth: you are lovable, you are enough, and it’s okay to show your true self, flaws and all

Embracing this can lead to deeper, more genuine connections and a life filled with more acceptance and less fear.

4) You’re overly self-critical

Do you find yourself being your own harshest critic? Constantly replaying mistakes in your head or believing that you could’ve done better, even when you’ve given your all? 

Growing up with narcissistic parents might mean you developed a habit of self-critique, as you might have been held to unrealistically high standards, or frequently faced criticism instead of encouragement.

And even now that you have a bit more distance from your parents, that criticism continues inside your own mind. 

This inner critic can be relentless, but it’s important to remember it doesn’t speak the truth about who you are. 

You deserve kindness, especially from yourself. Learning to silence this critic and replacing it with a voice of compassion can be transformative. 

Whenever you catch your inner dialogue being negative, make a conscious choice to turn it into a voice of compassion. How would you talk to your best friend?

That’s the same love and compassion you deserve to give yourself. 

5) You have difficulty setting boundaries

Setting boundaries might feel like you’re navigating uncharted waters, especially if you grew up with narcissistic parents. 

In such households, personal space and needs might have often been overlooked, leaving you uncertain about where to draw the line in your own relationships. 

Your parents might have expected access to your thoughts, feelings, and decisions, making it challenging for you to establish and maintain healthy boundaries.

It’s vital to understand that having boundaries is not only okay, but it’s also necessary for your well-being. They help protect your energy, give you a sense of control, and contribute to healthier relationships. 

And learning to assertively communicate your needs and limits is a crucial step towards empowerment.

Start small, and practice saying ‘no’ when you need to. Remember, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for taking care of yourself. 

It might feel uncomfortable at first, but with time, setting boundaries will become a natural and integral part of your life, leading to a healthier, happier you.

6) You have a strong need for control

Living under the influence of narcissistic parents might mean you’ve developed a strong need to control various aspects of your life. 

This could stem from a childhood where unpredictability and instability were the norms, leading you to seek order and predictability in your adult life. 

Perhaps you had parents who micromanaged you, leaving you craving autonomy and control in your own decisions and environment.

This need for control can manifest in different ways: from organizing every minute of your day, to having specific ways you want things done, or even trying to control outcomes in relationships. 

While it’s a way to protect yourself from the uncertainties of life, it’s important to recognize when this need for control becomes limiting.

Embracing flexibility and learning to go with the flow can be liberating. Understand that it’s okay to not have control over everything, and sometimes, the best experiences come from the unexpected. 

Trust yourself and trust the process. Life is full of surprises, and that’s what makes it beautiful!

7) You have trouble trusting others

Trust might seem like a luxury rather than a given if you were raised by narcissistic parents. Growing up, perhaps promises were broken, secrets were not kept, or your feelings were dismissed. 

These experiences can lead to a deep-seated difficulty in trusting others, as you learned to rely solely on yourself from a young age.

Having trust issues can make relationships challenging. You might find yourself questioning others’ intentions, expecting disappointment, or holding back from fully opening up. 

It’s like you’ve built a protective wall around yourself, but this wall might also keep out genuine love and support.

Building trust takes time, especially when your past experiences have taught you to be cautious. Start by opening up to smaller vulnerabilities and see how people respond. 

Remember, not everyone has the same intentions as your narcissistic parents. Allow them the benefit of the doubt and don’t judge before getting to know them more.

Learning to trust again is a journey worth taking for the sake of your own happiness and the richness of your relationships.

Embracing change: Moving forward from a narcissistic upbringing

Growing up with narcissistic parents can leave lasting traits and tendencies, but recognizing these patterns is a crucial first step toward change. 

Your past doesn’t have to define your future. You have the power and strength within you to break free from these patterns and build a life filled with self-compassion, trust, and healthy relationships. 

Remember, it’s okay to seek support from friends, family, or professionals during this journey. You are not alone, and you are worthy of love and respect, just as you are. 

Embrace your journey towards healing, and allow yourself to experience the freedom that comes with truly understanding and caring for yourself.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

If he does these 9 things, he’s completely in love with you

13 things you don’t owe anyone an apology for (even if you think you do)