Burn-out by a narcissistic parent: This is, of course, a subject you don’t talk about very easily. But after a number of articles on narcissism, we notice that narcissism often results in overburdening or burn-out.
We often notice during the guidance of people with burn-out, that the origin of wanting to perform, the feeling of inadequacy, and ‘please behaviour’, lies in a large part of character, the environment, but also education.
Therefore, we will first start this article with a short analysis of what characterizes children of a narcissistic parent, and then show what this has to do with whether or not they will get burn-out at a later age.
Children of narcissistic parent(s)
What are the consequences for children with narcissistic parents?
High degree of dependency
Children of narcissistic parents often feel very dependent on their parents. The feeling that they would not be able to live, or be happy without the help of their parents. Instead of encouraging a child to lead his/her own life, with all the ups and downs that go with it, a dependency is created where guilt prevails.
Competition with a child
Narcissistic parents compete with their children. Even in trivial things, the parent wants to win over a child. (a game of chess, football, cycling) The parent wants to be in the spotlight at the expense of the child.
Have to perform for your own enjoyment
The performance of children is used to polish the ego of the parent. The parent boasts with everything he/she has done to make this success possible.
Belittling and degrading
At parties and gatherings the parent wants to be in the spotlight. If as a child you want to taste a little of this (appreciation/hearing/being seen) you will be belittled by your own parent or denigrating remarks will be made.
Have a perfect appearance
The idea that a narcissistic parent is all too eager to radiate that everything goes perfectly at home. A child gets the feeling that this is reality, and makes it reality. It is only at a later age is it discovered that reality is different, and that there was something lacking at home.
Everything had to be the way the parent wanted it to be. When, as a child, you couldn’t, or didn’t feel like it, you were expected to continue. We used to have nothing to contribute,’ you hear. There is no right to your own opinion. As a child of a narcissistic parent you have to settle and please your parent.
Parents are always right
As the child of a narcissistic parent, you always have to conform. The narcissistic parent was always right and you as a child are unimportant and are not heard or seen. As if you have absolutely no power or thought of your own or anything you can do.
As a child, you feel like you’re failing your parents. A deep-rooted feeling of guilt is in control of you, well into adolescence.
Longing for approval
You still feel like you have to show what you can do to your parents, even though you’ve been out of the house for a long time. The desire to be approved by your parents is very great.
No respect from the parent
You feel that your parent(s) have no respect for you as a child. That you’re not allowed to be who you are. That you have to adapt to the wishes of your parent(s).
Nuance: We always assume that a parent has the best intentions for children. It is also true that every parent makes mistakes and sometimes chooses too much for themselves. (because of whatever circumstances).
The fact remains that a parent is and always will be emotionally responsible for his or her children.
When you’re burned out by a narcissistic parent, it’s a good idea to get counseling.
Effects of a narcissistic parent on children
The narcissistic influence of a parent on a child goes very far. Here are some of them. We will undoubtedly short-circuit in all consequences, but no doubt you can draw a conclusion from this for yourself.
Bizarre performance drive
Originally you’ve been told that you only count when you’re the best of all. Everything you do that is less than perfect therefore does not suffice. You can only stop when it’s really fantastic. It’s obvious that this leads to going far beyond your own boundaries.
The feeling of not being there
Many children of narcissistic parents get the feeling that they shouldn’t be there. They figure themselves far away in favor of the other (young learned, old done) and show a high degree of please behavior. Only when the other person is also happy, is he also happy.
The feeling that you shouldn’t be there has far-reaching consequences. It may be that children start compensating at a later age and want to be present exaggeratedly. It also happens that these children retreat far away and almost start a hermit life.
Not being a child
If you make a mistake at any point, you’re going to go to ‘safe’. Switch on safe mode, do everything in such a way that it’s correct and you can’t be addressed, or as little as possible. As a child you soon walk on your toes and the child is gone. Being a child in the sense of: making mistakes, picking up, laughing about it and enjoying all the fun things. The pressure from ‘home’ puts the fun away.
Don’t start living your own life
In everything the child will eventually do, it feels as if the parent is still ‘looking over the shoulder’. The opinion of parents is so influential that the child continues to adapt, even if he or she has passed the age of 30. Leading one’s own life does not happen, which causes serious relationship problems on several occasions.
It often happens that a child of a narcissist ends up in a relationship with a narcissist. No matter how crazy this sounds, for a narcissist’s child it feels safe and familiar.
Fear of failure and uncertainty
We know the point ‘0’ in our coaching conversations. The point where it is all right, where you are allowed to look around and resign yourself to reality. We also call this the ‘here and now’. The children of a narcissist do not know this at all. They are always trying to do even better. This also means that the old is never good enough. There must always be action, always development, otherwise it’s not good enough. The consequences of fear of failure and uncertainty are often overburdening, overstraining and burn-out.
Increased risk of burn-out by a narcissistic parent
The core that causes someone to burn out is a lack of autonomy. This means that someone does not manage to be at the helm of his or her own life. That someone does not succeed in steering himself/herself towards happiness, inner peace and relative security, despite all the bumps that occur along the way.
A narcissistic parent wants to be in the spotlight. At your expense as a child. You’ll have to adapt to the parent, or you’ll be broken. In any case you will not be allowed to go your own way as a child, for fear that you will be a threat to the narcissistic parent.
In any case, you will not be allowed to go your own way as a child, for fear that you will pose a threat to the narcissistic parent.
The points where everyone does the right thing to prevent a burn-out are:
- Taking care of yourself
- At the helm of your own life
- At 40%- 70% of your maximum ability to work
- Showing love to yourself and your surroundings
- Coherent to one’s own feelings and desires
Why people with a narcissistic parent get burned up
The conclusion is obvious: as a child of a narcissistic parent you are often not at the helm of your own life. You simply learned at a very young age that you have to adapt. That the other is always more important and that you matter if you please another person to the maximum.
More than often someone falls into a relationship with another narcissist. These kinds of relationships are extremely exhausting and destructive.
Reverse responsibility to a parent
It also happens regularly that a child starts to feel responsible towards a parent. A narcissistic personality disorder arises from a very low self-esteem. It may be that a child who is able to live well sees this and pierces it. It happens that the child starts to feel responsible for the mood of the parent.
This can also happen if one parent is narcissistic, and the other parent is extremely adaptable. Caring for the other parent can lead to a child wanting to meet the needs of the non-narcist parent. Again, the child will feel responsible for the ups and downs of the parent.
This form of reversed responsibility is called ‘parentification‘, a common cause of burnout.
Nuance: Every child is a little bit parenticized. No matter how well a parent wants to do it, you make mistakes. The margin is there, but it should never be the case that as a child you feel responsible for parents.
A parent is always emotionally responsible for a child!
Changing the narcissistic parent
Don’t go agitating the parent with narcissism. This doesn’t make any sense. Lead your own life, go on, you don’t fix it and you don’t heal your parent.
By extremely focusing on the narcissistic parent, your self-confidence gets even more dented. There is a big chance that you will live ‘in your own world’. This will soon resemble the behaviour of a narcissist.
You don’t change the parent with narcissism. Don’t try that either. Unfortunately, you can’t change a narcissistic parent, no matter how much you want confirmation from your parent that you’re allowed to be there. Chances are that a narcissistic parent will deny their own narcissism and use it against you.
Tips for staying out of a burn-out by a narcissistic parent
To stay out of a burn-out by a narcissistic parent, you should take these tips to heart:
You decide how close you get to your parent. This can be that you choose to have less contact with a parent. We call this self-protection.
Living your own life
It’s crucial that you start living your own life. It may well be that some of the norms and values you have inherited from home deserve a certain ‘recalibration’. It is best that you decide for yourself what is right or wrong. That you formulate core values for yourself that you are going to adhere to.
Left hand, right shoulder
Pat yourself on the back. You’re doing great. The fact that you’re reading this article means you’re doing it to justify your feelings.
Training and coaching
Milltain provides training and coaching for private individuals and organisations. Our team consists of 35 coaches and trainers who have now helped thousands of people struggling with stress and burnouts.
Milltain for private individuals:
Are you stuck in life because of stress or a burnout? We developed an effective online program that is fully focused on the complete recovery from a burnout. More than 2000 people have successfully completed this training!
Movement and nature play prominent roles in this training. Recovery is a process that contains peaks and troughs, and that’s something we know all about. Our highly experienced coaches provide you with active support.
Learn more: Stress and burnout coaching
Milltain for organisations:
With the help of a team of experienced trainers, Milltain supports organisations in the prevention of stress and the (re) finding of work happiness in the workplace. A single burnout can easily cost an organisation € 70,000 (or more!)
In addition to financial suffering, the human suffering is great. Not only for the employee but also for close colleagues who have to deal with the blows. Before long, you find yourself in a negative vicious circle.
Get long-term absence and stress among employees under control with the help of our highly effective team training via Zoom or a similar tool.
This training has proven to be an international success for both managers (leadership skills) and employees (dealing with stress).
Learn more: Online team training