Raised by Narcissists (9 signs you were)

In this brief guide, we will look at 9 signs that you were raised by narcissists, and how to cope with the damage that narcissistic parents can do to you.

Signs that you were Raised by Narcissists

Here are some telltale signs that you were raised by narcissists:

  • Having low self-esteem
  • Blaming self for everything that goes wrong
  • Being too concerned with others’ emotions
  • Need to care for everyone all the time
  • Being scared when someone yells
  • Lack of Boundaries
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • One Sided relationships with people
  • Sensitivity to Criticism

When you are raised by narcissists, it can change you forever in the worst ways, because while narcissists may be very likely to have children, mostly to prove that they can and to have an object of love and affection associated with them, they may not make good parents in most cases.

Some narcissists may be able to get therapy at some point, especially if they have a partner that recognizes the signs and the damage it does to the child and convinces them to get therapy, but unless they do that, they usually make for the kind of parents that the child never really recovers from.

When someone is raised by narcissists they may have incredibly low self-esteem, to start with, because they will spend their formative years listening to criticism about how they can’t do anything right and how they can’t ever measure up to their parents, who may not be all they say they are but because they are narcissists, they may constantly talk about it.

Furthermore, a child raised by narcissists may also think for years that their parents were actually very accomplished and really did all those things they boasted of, and so they may consider everything their parent says to be gospel and consider themselves to be incredibly untalented and stupid.

However, the reality may be that the child being raised by narcissists might never really know of their parents’ tendency to exaggerate their accomplishments and they may internalize all the wrong values, and by the time they learn that their parent doesn’t really walk on water, they may have very bad views of themselves.

When someone is raised by narcissists they may also have extreme sensitivity to criticism, because they have listened to it their entire lives and they already think they are not good enough. When someone like this hears any more criticism, even well meaning one, they may get very upset and not be able to tolerate it.

Another reason why people raised by narcissists are sensitive to criticism is because they may have seen some rather explosive arguments or screaming situations right after they were criticized, because narcissists can have very bad temper tantrums, and these people have now learned to associate any criticism with possible yelling.

A key sign of someone raised by narcissists may also be that they are extremely uncomfortable around any kind of yelling or screaming, and they may have almost PTSD type responses to sudden noises or people yelling around or at them, because they may have learned to associate yelling and loudness with their parents being aggressive towards them and they now feel scared every time they hear such loudness.

How to Tell if You Were Raised by Narcissists?

Some of the signs you were raised by narcissists mentioned above might have seemed familiar to you if you were, but here are some questions to answer to see if you were raised by narcissists:

  • When you were in a good mood or had big moments did they always ruin it somehow?
  • Did they see situations in black-and-white, all-or-nothing terms?
  • Did they act magnanimously to outsiders but ignore your needs?
  • Did your parents ever give you gifts with strings attached?
  • Did your parents tell you to trust them, then disappoint or betray you?
  • Did they always take over the conversations or try to take the spotlight in the family?
  • Did it seem like they were never satisfied with you?
  • Did they always keep criticizing or undermining your decisions and choices?
  • Did they seem hypersensitive to real or imagined slights?
  • Did they ever seem emotionally immature or clueless about others’ feelings?
  • Was it hard for them to apologize, admit they were wrong, or take responsibility for any of their actions?
  • Did you feel like winning was extremely important to them, even at your expense?
  • Did they forbid you from disagreeing with them, or punish you for doing so?
  • Did they always act like a victim of martyr or act out for attention or sympathy?
  • Did they discount or ridicule your emotions, wants, and needs?
  • Did they leave you feeling helpless, trapped, unloved, or hopeless?
  • Did they often use guilt or pressure to make you put their needs first?
  • Was there a lot of disharmony, gaslighting, and drama in your family?
  • Were they punitive, distant, or withdrawn when displeased?
  • Did you feel like their love was always conditional?

If most of these situations applied to you, you may have been raised by a narcissist, but remember that narcissism is a spectrum disorder, and therefore not all of these need to have applied to you for it to mean that you were raised by a narcissist.

If you do find that you were in fact raised by a narcissist, you may want to know what you can do about it, which you can find in the next section.

How to Heal From Being Raised by Narcissists?

Here are some tips to heal from being raised by narcissists:

  • Seek therapy
  • Have a healthy circle of friends around
  • Move out as soon as you can
  • Try to limit your contact with your parent
  • Try to focus on building your own identity
  • Reward yourself when you accomplish something
  • Use Positive self Affirmations
  • Talk to your loved ones about it
  • Be open about your emotions as much as you can

Being raised by narcissists is traumatizing and heartbreaking, and chances are you will feel the effects well into adulthood, even feeling like you never stopped being a shadow of your narcissistic parent and are still somehow attached to them. This feeling does go away, however, with time and therapy and active effort, because while they may have damaged you immensely, they will stop when you are out of there and start becoming your own person.

The best way to start undoing all the damage that is done when you are raised by narcissists, you need to get away as soon as you can and get therapy for the issues you likely have.

Also try to surround yourself with the people who truly love you, regardless of how hard it is for you to trust them, and try to believe them when they tell you that you are worthy and talented or smart or any of the thousand wonderful things you probably are and never heard about from your parents.

When you are raised by narcissists it can also be hard to know what the right thing to do is, and in that case, just do the opposite of what they would have done or asked you to do.

Raised by Narcissists: Stories 

Raised by narcissists is a subreddit on the social media site Reddit, and people share their experiences of having been raised by narcissists, some of which are given below to help you not feel so alone.

“I felt like I was in a state of arrested development from age 15, and people perceived me as being about 15 through maybe the age of 25. I only started my “adolescence” after getting out of the fog around that time, so I feel about 10 years behind. Some days it feels like I literally lost 10 years of my life like I was in a coma. But since I wasn’t, it conversely feels like my timeline was extra extra long.”

“Yeah it’s a common Nparent thing to belittle your experiences and one-up you by saying they have it way worse and there’s no way you could be depressed or anything. This is why I never went to counseling but just kept getting worse and worse until I finally went and then inevitably learned my mom isnt the best parent. It’s hard but you have to learn not to compare your feelings and experiences with other people’s. Just look at it as it is”

“My teacher in college, who had seen my progress for 4 years, just said the phrase to me, that my parents, for my whole 24 years, never said to me.

It felt weird. I didn’t know how to respond other than ‘thank you’. I do feel happy, but there is an inkling of cynicism towards it. Is it because I never really hear that phrase from a person who’s age is near with my parents’? I immediately doubt it, even though I know he’s sincere with it.

Does anybody ever felt that? Or is it just me?”

BetterHelp: A Better Alternative

Those who are seeking therapy online may also be interested in BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers plenty of formats of therapy, ranging from live chats, live audio sessions and live video sessions. In addition, unlimited messaging through texting, audio messages and even video messages are available here.

BetterHelp also offers couples therapy and therapy for teenagers in its platform. Furthermore, group sessions can also be found in this platform, covering more than twenty different topics related to mental health and mental illness. The pricing of BetterHelp is also pretty cost-effective, especially considering the fact that the platform offers financial aid to most users.


In this brief guide, we looked at 9 signs that you were raised by narcissists, and how to cope with the damage that narcissistic parents can do to you.

Being Raised by narcissists can damage you for your entire life, and it can be a very difficult thing to deal with because it will affect nearly every relationship you make in your life, and it may even cause you to become dysfunctional in the interpersonal domain.

If you were raised by narcissists, or if you have any further questions or comments about being raised by narcissists, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Raised By Narcissists

What happens when you are raised by a narcissist?

When you are raised by a narcissist, you may find that you are incredibly attuned to what everyone around them is feeling, because you may have developed a hyper-sensitivity to what others are experiencing as a result of having to keep in touch with all of your narcissistic parents’ emotions and feelings all the time.

When you are raised by a narcissist, you can suffer from an inability to protect yourself from others’ emotions and everything people do around you, especially negative things, can affect you very deeply.

Do narcissists worry about being narcissistic?

No, narcissists do not worry about being narcissistic, mostly because either they won’t believe it or they will not dislike the idea even if they do believe it.

Also, someone who worries about being a narcissist is probably not one to begin with, because people who actually have Narcissistic Personality Disorder or a narcissistic style rarely wonder or worry about their narcissism. 

What happens to a child raised by a narcissist?

When a child is raised by a narcissist they may often suffer from very low self-esteem and probably have a very bad identity.

Children raised by narcissists may be shamed and humiliated by their narcissistic parents far too often for them to develop a healthy self-esteem, which is why any child that is raised by narcissists will become either a very high achiever or a self-saboteur, or even both, in some cases.

Do narcissists have high or low self esteem?

Narcissists have high self-esteem, but the fact is that their high self-esteem is actually rooted in a sense of very low self-esteem because deep down they believe they are fakes who are not nearly as great as they should be, so they overcompensate on the outside.

Narcissists have what researchers call “fragile high self-esteem.”  and this type of high self-esteem is extremely dependent on external validation and self-deception or having fantasies of success, power, and beauty to cope with the feelings of low self-esteem they harbor on the inside.