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How to Biblically Deal With a Narcissistic Parent

Reviewed by Karis A. Williams, MSMHC, LPC,   November 10, 2023

Narcissists in general are very hard to live with and relate to.  But when the narcissist in your life is a parent, your life can get pretty unbearable at times.  You can often feel like you are in an impossible situation, whether you are a child or an adult child of a narcissist.

So, how do you biblically deal with a narcissistic parent?  As a minor child, you find a safe adult who can help you get the help you need to navigate waters that are way too hard to go alone.  And as an adult, you set safe boundaries and learn healthy ways to relate to them and other difficult people in your life.  You may or may not be able to cut ties with them, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with unbridled narcissism for your entire life.

Let’s take a closer look at all the different ways to biblically deal with a narcissistic parent (or narcissistic parents).

How do Narcissists Parent?

First, before we talk about how to biblically deal with a narcissistic parent, let’s talk about how a narcissist parents their minor and adult children.

How a Narcissist Parents Minor Children

There are a few extenuating circumstances around how a narcissist parents their minor children.  All will have detrimental results in their children.  And all will need counseling or other strong support to understand how they were treated and what healthy relationships should look like.

How Overt Narcissists Parent Minor Children

First, let’s talk about an overt narcissist who parents children as the golden child.  These parents convince themselves that one or maybe two children in particular can do no wrong.  If the child does do something wrong, it is another child’s fault.  Either they were pushed too hard and couldn’t resist or badly influenced or some other excuse that totally takes the onus off the golden child.

That child will grow up thinking they are better than their siblings.  And they may very well show narcissistic tendencies themselves, as they were trained to think that they are better than everyone else.  (Narcissism can also occur genetically in addition to how they are raised.)

The overt parent will advertise loud and proud whatever accomplishments their child has produced.  But they will also go a step further in crediting the golden child with accomplishments that were not theirs.  They will either fabricate milestones to impress others, or pass the credit of someone else’s to their golden child.

A mother yelling at her young daughter (about 8 years old) while the little girl hides her face in her hands in shame and fear. This photo represents the title of the article, "How to Biblically Deal with Narcissistic Parents."

How Covert Narcissists Parent Minor Children

A covert narcissist will do many of the same things above.  But the difference is they won’t be so loud and in-your-face about it.  They will make sure you know their golden child’s accomplishments and milestones.  But they will do it in a subtle way like they didn’t really mean to tell the whole world, but they are really proud of their child(ren).

An example of this would be leaving a certificate out, then apologizing for leaving the said certificate out to be discovered.  False humility at its finest.

The covert narcissist will still have one or two golden children in addition to scapegoat children, depending on how many they have and how they personally view each one.

The strange part of how narcissists choose their golden children versus their scapegoats has very little to do with the behavior of the children.  We had eight children in our home.  Two were golden children and six were scapegoats.  Two of the scapegoats were chosen for their roles because they dared to stand up to my then-husband’s shenanigans, even from an early age.

The two golden children were such because they stayed well out of his way.  So he wasn’t able to see what they were up to or how they operated.  One more child also stayed out of his way, but didn’t get the recognition from him as a “special” child.

I often wonder if I asked my ex how he chose his children the way he did, if he was aware of how he chose or could even tell me.  But I also know he would never tell me his thought processes even if he did know.  In order to do that, he would have to admit he is a narcissist.  Which he still denies, in spite of an actual diagnosis from psychological testing.

How a Narcissist Parents Adult Children

By the time children grow up, the narcissist parent often doesn’t feel very different about them.  Once a child turns 18, the narcissistic parent is largely out.  My ex didn’t believe that we should help them financially anymore, including college money or help in hard times.

He also didn’t believe that birthday presents or other such things were necessary.  While I fully agree they weren’t necessary, why wouldn’t we do that for our adult children?  While it is true we are no longer an authority to them, we are their support and their family.

And finally, he didn’t really even see the need for relationship with his adult children.  He never really related to them as children.  He used to joke that they were free slave labor when they were growing up.  And then, one day I realized when he was laughing it wasn’t because he was joking.  He was laughing that he had such a large amount of that free slave labor.

Side note:  He was also known in our neighborhood as the man with eight kids who hated kids.  All the neighborhood kids would hang out at our house until he got home.  And as soon as he got out of the car, if they were still in the yard, he would yell, “Kids, go home.”  Exactly those words, just the tone you would expect for those words.

Anyway, all of that was a long way of saying that because there was no true relationship, advocacy, or support growing up, the relationship with adult children was also grossly lacking.  There was no foundation on which to build a healthy relationship with adult children.  This would be true with both an overt or covert narcissist with golden children as well as scapegoats.

A man in the foreground on the left of the picture, looking frustrated and confused, with his hand on his head. Behind him are his elderly parents, both unhappy and nagging at him. This photo represents the title of the article, "How to Biblically Deal With a Narcissistic Parent."

There are a couple of instances where a narcissist will keep in touch with their adult children.  The first is when the narcissist wants to be seen as an amazing parent and will use his children to show that publicly.  It is merely a form of narcissistic support.  The second instance is when the narcissist has made bad life choices and needs money, housing, or other forms of support from their successful adult children.

Now that we have a pretty good idea of how the narcissist relates to their children, let’s talk about how to biblically deal with a narcissistic parent.

The Narcissistic Parent and the Scapegoat

If a child has historically been a scapegoat of their parent, they are not going to want to spend a whole lot of time with their parent.  They may go to coffee so they can ask for money or other support.  Or, on the other side of the coin, they may suffer without needs just so they don’t have to deal with their narcissistic parent.  Let’s take a look at some ways to biblically deal with a narcissist when you are the scapegoat.

For a “Scapegoat” to Biblically Deal With a Narcissist, Get Good Counsel

It is important that scapegoated victims of narcissism spend time in counseling, whether professional or from someone close to them that can help them learn healthy ways to cope.  Here are some verses regarding how important receiving the right counsel is:

1 Timothy 4:16  “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

Proverbs 24:6  “For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

1 John 4:1  “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

The Bible also talks about the consequences of receiving bad counsel.  You can take a look at those here:

Jeremiah 7:24  “But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.”

Psalm 1:1  “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

Romans 12:2  “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Interesting Fact:  Every verse in Psalm 119 talks about the instruction or counsel of God.  The verses use several different words to get this point across.  But if you read through the whole chapter and substitute “teaching of God” or “counsel of God”  for precepts, laws, or the other words describing the laws and teachings of God, you will clearly see how important counsel and the guidance of God and His people are.

Beyond counseling, here are some other ways that the narcissist’s scapegoat can get themselves on healthy footing.

Don’t Try to Prove Yourself Right When Dealing with a Narcissistic Parent

No matter how young or old you are, as his scapegoat, you will never be able to convince the narcissist that you are right.  Well, at least you won’t get them to admit it to you.  They will likely know very well that you are right.  But they are too far down the rabbit hole to admit it.  So they will die on the hill of making you wrong so they can be right.

Even though you know you are right, it isn’t worth the fight.  And you eventually get to the point of realizing that it is just fine to not be perceived as the one that is right in every situation.  Just having the peace and quiet makes it worth being seen as wrong.

This does not mean you have to lie just to make sure you are saying what the narcissist wants to hear.  It does mean that you will need to plan ahead what you want to say that maintains your integrity and allows you to prevent getting your narcissist riled up.

While you may not be a mind reader right now, you will quickly learn that the narcissist has the same few tired arguments that they use over and over again to fit the current situation.  You can have the same few answers ready for when the attacks come, knowing that if you just change the details of the situation, you’ll be able to withstand the attack without pissing off your narcissist.  For more on this, check out my article on 36+ phrases to disarm your narcissist safely.

That being said, over time it is hard feeling beaten down by a narcissist who always has to be seen as right, even though he rarely is in actuality.  This is not a healthy place to be over a long period of time.  So, do it while you need to.  But don’t plan on staying there forever.

As a child, you know you won’t be in the house forever.  But as an adult child, it may not be so easy to just walk away from you parent(s).  In those cases, a healthy view of boundaries is critical.  If you aren’t sure what good boundaries look like, especially in close family situations, check out this book by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  You will see your world transformed after learning the concepts of setting and keeping boundaries and implementing them.  The name of the book is Boundaries:  When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life.  You can get more information by clicking here:

Remind Yourself That You are Not What The Narcissist Wants You to Think About Yourself

The goal of the narcissist is to put you “in your place,” to bring you down so it will elevate him.  But that is not your actual place in life.  You are more valuable than the narcissist will ever give you credit for.

After I emerged from my narcissistic marriage, my pastor, friends, counselors, and many others said that when they met me, I walked as though I had been beaten down by life.  My shoulders were hunched over in defeat, even though I didn’t consciously feel that way.  But my subconscious thoughts literally affected my health and posture.

I am happy to say that with my healing, I also regained my health and even my posture!  I learned that the top shelf  in my kitchen cupboards was no longer unattainable, just because I literally stood taller after emerging from my narcissist’s abuse and learning emotionally healthy habits.

The book that helped me make sense of all of this was The Body Keeps the Score by  Bessel van der Kolk M.D..  If you want to understand the physical toll that your narcissist’s words and actions are causing on your body and how to heal from it, you really need to read this book.  I didn’t read it until a couple of years after I began my healing journey.  It all made so much more sense to me reading about it after the fact.  But if I had read it while I was going through everything, my healing would have been much quicker.

This book has a full 5-star rating on Amazon with 66 THOUSAND reviews!!!  You can take a closer look by clicking on the book right here:

You Can Lean into Your Empathetic, Caring Traits

Not only can you lean into your empathy and compassion for yourself and others, you need to!  Your narcissist has done whatever he could to dehumanize you and this is the perfect way for you to gain some of that humanity back.  Notice I said empathy and compassion for yourself as well.  You don’t need to go overboard.  Going to extremes would be selfish and actually nearly as emotionally harmful as the abuse you are trying to combat.  As with most things in life, balance is key.

Helping other people and even having compassion for the narcissist that put you in that spot to begin with is very healing to your soul.  But having compassion for your narcissist doesn’t mean putting yourself back in their control.  Remember to keep healthy boundaries while also being sensitive to them as a human being, no matter how flawed.

Choose a ministry or public service organization that will allow you to help others in healthy ways.  This is a good time for you to learn the difference between helping others and being codependent with them.

As victims of narcissism, we tend to try to help others before they even recognize a need for help.  We will do anything to prevent rocking the proverbial boat.  But when we can learn to help others and relate to them in healthy ways, we have healed way past just the narcissistic damage.  We will be able to relate to everyone in more healthy ways.

Biblically Deal with a Narcissistic Parent by Spending as Little Time as Possible with Them

Whether you are a minor or adult child of a narcissist, the less time you spend in front of the narcissist, the less abuse you will directly receive.  Here are a few suggestions to do this:

  • Spend time in your room or other spaces in the house that the narcissist does not frequently spend time in.  I spent countless hours reading in my room as a child to avoid confrontations with my narcissistic mother.  As an adult, as the abuse got progressively worse, the kids and I spent time in my room while my then husband was in the living area.  Then, when he was at work or in bed, we could enjoy spending time in the living area.
  • Find activities outside of the home that will keep you busy.
  • When you have to be around the narcissist, try to be with someone else as well.  There is sometimes safety in numbers.  But for times when the narcissist still chooses to abuse verbally or otherwise, you will have a witness who sees his behavior toward you and can help you later in counseling, the courtroom, or wherever you will need validation for what you have been through.
  • Take walks.  This has so many other benefits as well as keeping you out of the reach of the narcissist.  Walking is physically healthy.  But it also gives you time to think, listen to a podcast, listen to music, or even talk with a friend, either  on the phone, or who can walk with you.  And even if you are walking alone in quiet, it will help you to clear your head.
  • As an adult, you can spend less time visiting your narcissistic parent’s home.  For the times you do need to go, bring someone with you so they will likely be less narcissistic toward you.

I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to spend less time in front of your narcissist.  These are the things that worked for me.

As for some Biblical proof that this is what victims of narcissism should do, check out the following verses:

2 Timothy 3:1-5  “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”

1 Corinthians 15:33  “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'”

Matthew 18:15-17  “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

Proverbs 22:24  “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man,”

Biblically Deal with a Narcissistic Parent by Reading About the Effects of Narcissism and how to Heal

Reading books and articles on how to respond to and heal from narcissistic abuse prove incredibly helpful.  They help you to clear your head and learn healthier ways to deal.  This, in conjunction with my counseling, was the biggest thing I did to change my whole line of thinking.  I was no longer buried under the narcissist’s demands and control.  Suddenly, I saw a whole new world.  My thinking cleared almost instantly with the first couple of books and articles I read.

I have a whole resource page for you with the books that helped me immensely.  When you scroll down past the books, there are also tons of free printables to help you along your own road to healing.

You can also see my articles on healing from narcissism.  There are plenty of them to get you started and encourage you as you begin your journey to a better life.

You can even help children who have been affected by emotional and narcissistic abuse.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

Some Days He Growled:  A Picture Book Introduction to the Cycle of Domestic Violence, Bullying, Abuse, and Unhealthy Relationships by N. Kimball Ostrowski.  The title really says it all, but my favorite part of this book is when it opens and introduces with wolf–in sheep’s clothing.  There has never been a more perfect use of a reference to a narcissist than in this introduction!

I used this book for my son when he was 10.  He already had a good handle on narcissism and how to work through it, even though he very rarely sees his father.  But I loved the way that each time he was abused in some form by Wolf,  Ghost would fade just a little bit more until he was practically gone.  Yet another perfect metaphor this book uses to explain the damage of narcissism and emotional abuse to children.  You can get more details by clicking on the book here:

One other book for kids that I found so perfect in helping them to understand narcissistic abuse was The Strongest Thing:  When Home Feels Hard by Hallee Adelman.  The story begins by showing the types of things Sera’s dad gets angry about (ants that are in the house that are somehow her and her mother’s fault), and it also immediately talks about the physical manifestations in Sera’s body as she experiences the abuse and anger of her father toward her or others.

This book will be instrumental in helping kids understand their fear and difficulty in dealing with an emotionally abusive parent or other authority.  And it is the perfect way to find out exactly what they are experiencing that they may not have been able to put to words until now.  Find out more by clicking on the book below:

Here are some verses that show the value of learning how to live an emotionally and spiritually healthy life:

Proverbs 1:1-33  “The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, …”

Proverbs 1:5  “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,”

If you read through the Psalms and Proverbs, you will find dozens more verses that talk about learning and guidance.

For more information on ways to protect yourself from the attacks of a narcissist, whether you are the scapegoat or golden child, check out my article for more on surviving a narcissist.

The Narcissistic Parent and the Golden Child

Okay, that was a whole lot on dealing with the narcissist’s treatment of the scapegoat.  Now, let’s change gears and talk about all of the issues that arise from the narcissist and how he treats his golden child (or children if that is your case).

While the golden child of a narcissist certainly doesn’t have to deal directly with the anger and other issues, they are not left unscathed.  Instead, they deal with the pressure of having to live up to the ideals of their narcissistic parent, along with anger and possibly jealousy from the scapegoat siblings, plus guilt because they are mysteriously treated better than their siblings.

Many of the ways that the golden child will learn to biblically deal with a narcissistic parent are going to be the same as for the scapegoat above.  For instance, they will also need good counseling from multiple sources that will help them cope well and not blame themselves for how they feel and have acted up to this point.  The difference is that the specific circumstances they will work through will be different.  And also, how they approach the narcissist will be different as well.

The one thing that does stay the same is the Scripture verses that you will use to work through the narcissism, whether you are a scapegoat or a golden child.

Life Isn’t Really Easier With a Narcissist When You’re the Golden Child

Often, the narcissist will treat the golden child like they can’t make a wrong choice or decision.  The pressure of that behavior can be unbearable for the child.  We will talk about that a little more later.  But as for the narcissist thinking that the golden child is flawless, just know, there will come a time that the narcissist decides the golden child is no longer so sparkly.  Either the golden child will no longer suck up to whatever they say, mostly for the sake of not rocking the boat or dealing with confrontation.

The golden child will also find themselves wildly swinging between spending time with their narcissistic parent and avoiding them like the plague.  They often spend time with that parent in order to gain benefits such as money or privileges.  Or they could be spending time with them in order to keep their favor and not end up in the same situation as the narcissist’s scapegoats.

The golden child’s position may seem to be an enviable one, but it is not even remotely.  The golden child may seem to be getting an unfair advantage and enjoying the perks that come with that–money, gifts, kindness, privileges.  But in order to keep all of that prestige, they must always seem to be in agreement with the narcissist.

There is constant pressure to perform up to the narcissist’s demands.  If they fall from grace, they risk everything.  And then they have to deal with the fact that scapegoat siblings may be angry or jealous with them for their favored position.  Add to that the personal guilt they feel for being in this position, even though it is likely nothing they did personally, and the golden child’s life can be worse than the scapegoat, who has to deal with the anger and bad behavior of the narcissist.  But they aren’t always teetering on the edge of seeming destruction.

Differences in How the Golden Child Biblically Deals with a Narcissistic Parent

While the golden child has a different set of issues than the scapegoat when biblically dealing with a narcissistic parent, many of the narcissist’s tactics and resulting responses will be the same.  It is critically important for the golden child to understand what is going on and be able to respond to it in emotionally healthy ways that won’t trigger the narcissist.  Actually, that is a difficult job for a child.  It is also a very unfair one that a child should never have to navigate their way through.  Let’s break it down.

The Golden Child Needs Good Counsel Too!

While everybody thinks the golden child has it made, he or she really doesn’t.  The pressure can seem insurmountable.  Fear, people-pleasing, analysis paralysis, and depression can easily set in, especially for minor children of narcissists.  And for that reason, the golden child needs good counsel just as much as the scapegoat.  Honestly, literally everyone who is dealing with a narcissist needs good counseling, both professional and a few wise friends who can keep the victim of narcissism balanced and emotionally healthy.

The Golden Child Doesn’t Usually Need to Prove Themselves Right

You don’t have to worry too much about proving yourself right.  The narcissist parent thinks of the golden child as an extension of themselves.  That means they already think you are right.  The downside to this is that they will pit you against your scapegoat siblings.  That can be a tricky road.  Sibling relationships can already be strained and competitive.  You will have to work hard to maintain a positive relationship with your siblings, but it can be done!

The Golden Child Also Needs to Realize They are not What the Narcissist Thinks They Are

It is just important for the golden child to realize they are not the extension of the narcissist that they are expected to be.  They are their own person.  They have their own set of thoughts, ideals, dreams, feelings, and education.   If they don’t consciously know this, they will get buried underneath the pressure of the narcissist on them.

Because I did not understand the abuse our family was experiencing, I did not help my children understand these concepts as well as they needed to.  I remember telling my counselor one day that I had always thought if I loved my children to the best of my ability, they would be okay.  She informed me that even the most loving of mothers cannot undo the damage of a narcissistic father to their children.  The damage is still done.  It made a lot of sense.  And all of my children have effects of that abuse to this day.  Fortunately, they have all recognized those issues and we are all working toward complete healing and working through occasional triggers.

As soon as you realize there is narcissistic abuse in your home, you must help all of the family members to understand that they are not defined by that abuse.  They are defined by their own lives.  The moment you help them to do that and get them to a counselor who can work as a team with you, the healing process is well on its way.

The Golden Child Will Still Need to Spend as Little Time With Their Narcissistic Parent as Possible

The golden child is also going to spend as little time as practical with their narcissist parent.  But they will be in a more difficult position.  If they are honest with their parent about why they need to spend less time, the narcissist will get angry and possibly retaliate.  But it also isn’t healthy to lie to smooth things over.

In this case, the best scenario is to say as little as possible without risking your safety or integrity.  Often the narcissist is so self-absorbed that they will barely notice you are spending less time with him as long as you are doing the things that are necessary.  As you get older and learn healthy boundaries and responses, it gets easier to handle.

The Narcissistic Parent With Younger Children

Of course, the first verse we think of when we talk about how children deal with their parents is Ephesians 6:1-2, which says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” 

This verse works perfectly when family life is normal, albeit imperfect.  But what about in a family riddled with a narcissistic parent’s abuse?  Believe it or not, it applies just the same.  Let’s move on to Ephesians 6:4.  It says, “ Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  This is certainly not the case when a narcissist parent is constantly gaslighting and otherwise abusing their children.

Unfortunately, minor children of narcissists can’t just tell their parent how they feel, yell at them, or walk away.  But that doesn’t mean they can’t seek out help.  But then, the problem with this is that often young victims of narcissistic abuse don’t even realize they are being abused.  They will feel like something is not quite right.  But they won’t really get the full picture for a long time.  Unless another family member has been through it, understands, heals, and can now help the children to see what is going on with their own relationship with the narcissist.

This doesn’t happen often enough.  But when it does, it allows the child to seek out a counselor, teacher who understands, family member, neighbor, or family friend that understands.  So, what can we do to help?  For those of us that recognize narcissistic abuse and its fallout among victims, we can help victims that know something is wrong but can’t quite put their finger on it.

Biblical Ways We can Help Children to Deal With a Narcissistic Parent

If we suspect a child is the victim of narcissism, we can help in a number of ways.  Here are some of them:

  • Talk to them about healthy ways to deal with unhealthy emotional issues.  Use examples that won’t trigger them (extreme examples) but will help them to make the necessary application to their own experiences.
  • Allow children to share with you when they have fears, worries, concerns, or other things they want to share.
  • Make sure that children realize you are a safe place to communicate to.  If you are not safe, they will not open up to you.  This means you must be able to keep their secrets and be available to them.  If you sincerely listen to children, you will find them eager to share.
  • Help children find the words to match the feelings they are sharing with you.  The better they can understand and articulate their situation, the better they can heal.  Be careful not to put words and situations in their heads that they are not feeling or communicating to them.
  • Help them to come up with solutions to the problems they are sharing with you.
  • Help them to understand and implement safe boundaries.  Even though they are children, they can still set some boundaries.
  • Teach the child what emotionally healthy behavior looks like.  And teach them some good responses to inappropriate demands that will keep them safe in most circumstances they share with you.
  • Teach them when it is appropriate to seek emergency help should they need it sometime in the future.

Here are some verses that back all of this up:

Matthew 18:10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

Mark 10:14 “But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” (This verse shows that we should not cast away children because they are young, but to be aware of their feelings and needs to be seen and heard.)

Acts 20:35  “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Proverbs 20:11  “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.”

Isaiah 54:13  “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.”

Colossians 3:21  “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”

The Narcissistic Parent With Adult Children

Adult children of narcissistic parents have a huge advantage over minor children because they have autonomy that younger kids do not yet have.   But that doesn’t mean dealing with a narcissistic parent as an adult child is easy.  Let’s take a look at some of the issues.

First, adult children of narcissists have learned through their upbringing to do whatever they can to appease the narcissist before things get out of control.  They take on the position of mind readers to avoid anything going awry.

Next, they learn to say whatever will appease the narcissist, often whether it is true or not.  They are willing to give up any argument just to not have to deal with narcissistic rage.

Adult children of narcissists tend to grow up with all kinds of anxiety issues.  From depression to codependency, trouble bonding, people pleasing, and low self-confidence are some of the major issues they face after a literal lifetime of narcissistic abuse.

Making things even worse, many children have no idea that it was narcissistic abuse that caused all of these issues.  Often they feel like just getting out of the house is the healing they need.  They have no idea what they don’t know about healing and becoming emotionally healthy.  And it can take years and many broken relationships to figure that out.

We can help others just by showing them we understand what they have been through and how it is affecting them now, sometimes years or decades after they have left the narcissistic home.  We just need to be careful that we aren’t seen as intruding on their personal life or meddling.  The best way for us to do that is to show them that we can listen and truly hear their heart over time.  No rushing will ever help someone build trust to help others.

Many of the same principles of helping others heal are the same as they were for minor children as outlined above.  But one way you can help adult children of narcissists in a different way is that their boundaries will be vastly different.  You can help them to learn to set much bigger boundaries now that they are likely not living under the narcissist’s roof.  Even if they are still living with their narcissistic parent, they can still set healthy boundaries as an adult who can now make their own decisions.

If you (or they) are not sure how to set healthy boundaries, I have a book that could be earth-shattering (in the best way) for you.  It sure was for me.  It is very appropriately named Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  It changed my life in ways I could never have imagined.  And it finally allowed me to get out from under the narcissistic abuse.  If only I had read that book 30 years earlier!

You can read more about it right here:

And finally, here are some supporting Scriptures, showing you the benefit and necessity of helping adult children of narcissists to heal.

Hebrews 13:16  “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

1 John 3:17  “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”

Acts 20:35  “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Philippians 2:4  “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Galatians 6:2  “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:9  “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

This is by no means a comprehensive list of Bible verses relevant to dealing with the adult children of narcissistic parents.  But it gives you a good idea of how we work together as a community, no matter how easy or hard the issues are.

Click here for more advice on how to deal with a narcissist.

And check out my article on what words the Bible uses for narcissism and narcissists.


Knowing how to deal biblically with a narcissistic parent can be very difficult.  But it is one of the most rewarding things we can do for people who had such a rough start in their life.  And the satisfaction of seeing these people heal after what they have been through is one of the best things we can experience ourselves.

Unfortunately, the church at large is not aware enough of these issues, so children of narcissistic parents don’t get the support they need.  We can do something about that.  We can help the kids to heal, whether they are still children or adults.  And we can equip churches to learn how to deal with narcissism issues that tear apart the family as well as the church body.

Are you a child of a narcissistic parent?  When did you realize?  How long did it take you to begin healing?  Where are you at in the process now?  Are you stuck or lost?  Or are you well on your way to living a whole life?  I would love to hear your story.  Please feel free to share!

You can check out my many more articles here.  And if you would like to contact me about speaking with your church or for more in-depth advice, feel free to contact me here or schedule a consultation here.

You’ve got this!  I  have seen so many people turn a corner and realize that they truly can heal.  I’ve already prayed for you today.  ♥  God knows who and where you are and what you need.

Blessings and hugs,

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Hi! I am the founder of Navigating Religious Narcissism after being raised under a narcissistic mother and married to a narcissistic man for 31 years. It is my prayer that I can be as valuable on your journey to healing and peace as were so many who crossed my path of healing.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Tara

    Thank you. I am an atheist by choice but growing up in church and asking questions found me rejecting religion as adult. My mother could be a covert narcissist but we will never know because she will not admit it. Currently we (my sister and I)are being scriptured how I’m a sinner and evil and need to repent. This is her current excuse for the behavior. Also age, time, cost…
    I found no contact is best. My sister is trying grey walling. This is wonderful to have explained so it finally makes sense. It won’t make me religious again but it does explain why the love of God was not present in my home and why scriptures made me feel betrayed. Reading Ephesians 6:4 is the part she left out every time. Cherry picking.

    1. Marie

      Hi Tara! Thank you for sharing. It is so difficult to navigate religion and religious issues when you are constantly bombarded by it in negative ways as a child. And the fact that you and your sister are still getting it thrown at you is horrific. I am truly sorry for that. Regardless of whether you choose to be an atheist or the most devout Christian, that is your choice and those around you should love you in spite of your decisions not necessarily lining up with their own personal ideals, let alone trying to control and manipulate it.
      It sounds like you and your sister have been reading up on these issues and you are working your way through them. Keep on reading! Talk to others who are familiar with your issues. You are on the right track! And yes, guard yourself against the religious abuse and cherry picking. I wish peace and comfort for you and would love to hear from you as you continue through your process of growth. Hugs! ♥

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