The biggest trick that narcissistic parents play is the subtle emotional abuse, as you said–“pinpricks.” This is by design, too. Every day you are given subtle reminders that you are not good enough, or displeasing them. And of course, the narcissistic parent is cruel–dangling their acceptance and love like a carrot that can (and will) be yanked away at the slightest hint that you are not behaving EXACTLY as they demand.
Their demands on their children are not about helping their children to be good people. Those demands are about making the parent look good. Their children are props–objects to be discussed at cocktail parties and with colleagues.
And when their children grow up damaged, filled with self loathing because they know they will never meet their parents expectations–these narcissistic parents will turn on you without a thought. If you don’t have the job that they can brag about or the cute grandchildren that they can discuss with their other vacuous friends–you are of no use to them. You must still be a prop, even as an adult.
As you probably know laundry queen–these parents are great at scapegoatting and backstabbing their own children. If their children do have problems that are obvious–these types of parents are very quick to jockey for position–labeling the adult child as the problem, the disappointment, the horrible perpetrator of pain and suffering for the adult. In my family, my siblings had problems with alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, depression and even one suicide attempt. All of this was pain from being raised in this toxic soup. But the pain was never acknowledged. These obvious signs of their failures–were annoyances and embarrassments to them. These people can’t and won’t see the humanity in their own children.
I cut off my malignant narcissistic parents many years ago. I started living the day I cut them off. They are very, very sick and damaged people.
I read this letter from this father–and I hope this is a springboard for these children to get some distance from these dysfunctional parents. Unfortunately, many children of parents like this are so damaged, that they remain connected–still desperately trying to get the love and acceptance that they have desperately needed as children. They’re trauma bonded to these narcissists and until they find a good therapist and realize that their parents are flawed and toxic–they’ll remain damaged children forever trying to please people who get off on inflicting emotional pain onto their children.
I’m glad his email went viral, demonstrating a bit of hope–that at least one of the children is saying “FU!”