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Narcissistic Mothers/Fathers Abandon Their Children

Posted Feb 08 2010 12:03pm

It is difficult for many of us to understand how a parent can abandon his/her child. In many ways all narcissists "abandon" their children by being incapable of loving them. The narcissist is so involved with himself and his life that there is no time, energy or inclination to nurture a child, even one's own.

Even when a narcissistic parent is physically present, his attention is elsewhere---on the next business deal, material acquisition, business/social event.  He or she may go through limited behaviors of caring for the child but this is mechanistic and phony. Many adult children of narcissists have contacted me and shared the painful reality that their parent(s) was not psychologically and emotionally present for them. In many instances they were made to feel like nuisances and pests.

Some narcissistic parents are so cruel that they literally tell their child to "Go away; I don't have time for you." "I have important things on my mind. You are distracting me. Go outside and play." And the classic: "Leave me alone; I'm busy!" Busy, when a child needs his parent so desperately. Busy, when psychological attachment to the parent is essential for healthy development of the psychic structure. Busy, when the result of being abandoned can be devastating to this child for the rest of his life. That's the way narcissists operate. There are many cases in which the narcissistic mother or father takes a flyer---flees the scene--leaves the family and never returns. The abandoned spouse is often left with few material resources and the responsibility for raising the children completely on her/his own. Often the narcissist has found another partner with whom he has been secretly involved for some time.

In other instances, it is a burgeoning career and the prospect of fame and large sums of money that provide the perfect motivation and excuse for leaving all of his/her responsibilities behind.

I know of an example of a children's' book writer who took this route. How tragically ironic. The narcissist abandoned his children to write and publish books that entertained other peoples' children. Narcissists commit these crimes of the heart without shame, reflection or a twinge of conscience. 

In many instances the powerful narcissistic tilt within our current society makes easy excuses for these individuals. If they are successful and famous---that's all that matters. Let's not bother with the wretched details of how they have treated their own children. That takes too much effort and is too "complicated."  

Adult children of narcissists who were abandoned have a very tough rode ahead of them. Some stumble through their lives in various states of agony: depression, addiction, anxiety, bipolar disorder, multiple failed relationships and marriages, etc. There are adult children of narcissists who have prevailed over their very difficult psychological histories. This has often taken many years of psychotherapy, personal inner work, spiritual journeys and other forms of healing. I have heard from many of those who have walked this pathway with great courage and perseverance. I honor them. They have given all of us hope and opened our hearts more fully to the eternal pursuit of human wholeness and healing. Visit my website:



Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Telephone Consultation 


Posted by LindaMartinezLewi
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