D.W. Winnicott, a British pediatrician psychoanalyst said having a “good enough” childhood is adequate for us to grow up to be well-adjusted adults. In other words, we don’t need perfect parents or perfect childhoods to have successful lives as adults. This is good news for those of us who had less than ideal upbringings. It means that we can still thrive even if our parents didn’t always understand us or meet all of our needs. We can still build fulfilling and satisfying lives for ourselves even if our childhoods were far from perfect.
According to psychologist Mary Ainsworth, there are four main types of attachment styles that determine how children interact with their parents. These attachment styles are secure, avoidant, anxious and disorganized. The belief is that how we were cared for as an infant determines our current attachment with our partners. Attachment styles are crucial to how we interact with others and can have a major impact on our relationships. Those with a secure attachment style tend to be more trusting and intimate with their partners, while those with an avoidant attachment style may have difficulty forming close attachments. Individuals with an anxious attachment style may be clingy or needy, and those with a disorganized attachment style may be unpredictable in their interactions.
So, what if you did not have a “good enough” childhood? Maybe your parents was a narcissist! Narcissistic care-givers often create a toxic environment for their children. They may be over-critical, unsupportive, and even manipulative. Narcissist parents share some common traits. One is that they demonstrate a lack of empathy. They may not realize or care how their words and actions affect their children. In addition, they lack insight into their own behavior. For example, they may not see how their need for attention or approval comes across as demanding or self-centered. As a result, their children may grow up feeling unsupported and unimportant. These children may also struggle to develop a healthy sense of self-worth.
Narcissist parents may also have difficulty setting boundaries. They may allow their children to do things that are harmful or destructive, without providing guidance or direction. This can lead to serious problems down the road. Narcissist guardians often have difficulty showing affection. They may be critical and withhold praise, love, and connection. This can leave their children feeling empty and unloved. In short, narcissist caregivers can have a profound effect on their children’s lives. In some cases, these children may be physically or emotionally abused. It may also be difficult to form trusting relationships later on in life. In some cases when these children becomes parents themselves they might end up replicating their parent’s dysfunctional patterns in their own lives.
The messaging from both theorist D. W. Winnicott and Mary Ainsworth are hopeful that by understanding our own attachment style can help us to better understand our relationships and take steps to improve them. As well that you’re not alone, if you’re feeling guilty or ashamed about your childhood. You can still have a happy and successful life.
If you suspect that you have a narcissistic parent, it is important to seek professional help to learn how to cope with her toxic behaviors. Only by understanding and addressing the issue can you begin to heal the wounds she has inflicted.
How we perceive ourselves is important for our self-worth as human beings. Some of the work ahead of you are to break some of the behavior patterns and challenge core beliefs that are not serving you now. Such as believing that you can only be loved because of your looks, for what you can do for others or even for your appearance. It may have been helpful in your childhood to cope by avoidance or people pleasing but now in your adult life it is causing more disruption than good.