Picture adult children of narcissists acon

Adult Children of
Narcissistic Parents
ACONs Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved.


Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents grow up disempowered and disconnected from their authentic selves. They fear retribution, punishment and condemnation, and are their own harshest critics. Until they resolve the issues resulting from their upbringing, they struggle with a deep sense of inferiority and fear of rejection. ACONs are often either overachievers or underachievers.

Adult Children of Narcissists are well-practiced in the art of pretending they have no needs, believe that they must present as demand-less in order to gain others' acceptance, and that if they show their true wants and needs to others, they will be rejected.

ACONs cannot easily accept and nurture their own wishes, and this may manifest as taking on roles they are not well suited to or do not like, or as an inability to be, do and have things they most want. Self-sabotage and perfectionism are common issues.

Many Adult Children of Narcissists feel that there is an intangible, immutable difference about them that cannot quite be identified which makes them inherently guilty, bad, wrong and unworthy.

Prior to resolving their childhood issues, ACONs have tremendous difficulty asserting themselves well, asking for what they need, seeing their own value and honoring their true wishes. They have been trained to follow, to accept, to sacrifice, to take too much responsibility, and to make sure they present themselves as unthreatening or inferior.
Adult children of Narcissists are frequently taken advantage of and find themselves in unbalanced relationships that require more of them than they can expect to receive.

Adult Children of Narcissists suffer from a vague feeling that they are always on the verge of "getting into trouble" unjustifiably. They fear that individuals and organizations with power will use it to abuse them. Constantly invalidated as children, ACONs consistently doubt themselves and worry about being told they're wrong and getting mistreated or penalized severely. Most are very uncomfortable taking risks, and may try to present as invisible in an effort to protect themselves.

ACONs have difficulty with self-care and life skills, and may feel as if they are "stuck in childhood" despite their age, feeling powerless, lost, frightened, and wanting someone to parent them.

Many Adult Children of Narcissists suffer from a tremendous sense of guilt about everything they do. Where others have no difficulty buying what they need, taking time off, or making sure they care for themselves, ACONs stumble, caught in the gap between being expected to care for themselves and having been programmed not to do so at all cost.

Among the objectives for ACONs to achieve are freedom from crippling guilt, developing a sense of mattering, mastering self-acceptance and realizing their self-worth. Assertiveness, self-care, and demanding equanimity and reciprocity in relationships by raising their low expectations of others and lowering the impossibly high standards they set for themselves are key issues. Discovering, accepting, valuing, nurturing and protecting their true selves without guilt or fear is central to their healing.


*This article describes the behaviors and attitudes of ACONs who are not narcissists themselves.



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                                                Characteristics of Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents (ACONs)