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Adult Children of Highly Successful, High Achieving Parents

manhattan-psychotherapist-high-achieversAs the son or daughter of a high-achieving parent or parents, are you whip-sawed by an insatiable ambitiousness and a pervasive feeling that your dreams, your goals, and your passions will forever elude you?

Does it feel as if such aspirations are the exclusive privilege of your successful high-achieving parents? And that no matter how hard you strive for professional or creative success, self-doubt and self-sabotage ultimately undermines your efforts?

If so, take solace in the fact that you are not alone. You are simply the unfortunate child of a High-Achieving Narcissistic parent.

Granted, there are many adults who can balance both professional accomplishment and the demands of being a caring, attuned parent. But what distinguishes a pathologically narcissistic High-Achieving parent is when their professional or creative pursuits come at the expense of your legitimate developmental needs as a child.

It is your parents’ need for constant narcissistic reinforcement, in the form of attention and admiration, that causes them to deprive you as a young child of your legitimate narcissistic needs — to be noticed, nurtured, and encouraged — in order for you to develop a healthy self-esteem and self-confidence.Instead, what happens is that you, the child, accommodate to your parents’ needs. To avoid losing their love and support, upon which you are totally dependent as a child, you feel compelled to gratify your parents’ unconscious narcissistic needs at the cost of your own self-realization and self-development.

The Pendulum Swing Between Grandiosity and Depression

As an adult child of a High-Achieving Narcissistic Parent, your psychological crucible is the pendulum swing between Grandiosity and Depression, driven by your need to accomplish something worthy of admiration in its own right, to compensate for the lack of admiration and unconditional regard you received from your parents as a child.

You bask in the glow of grandiosity when such fleeting admiration and attention are showered upon you; and you bog down in depression when the inevitable waning of such admiration leaves you feeling like an utter failure.

Essentially, your core conflicts revolve around three major areas: ambition, self-esteem, and personal relationships.

Ambition is a fickle beast. It can drive you to dizzying heights of feverish productivity and grandiose expectations or it can level you with debilitating feelings of deficiency and worthlessness, paralyzing you from moving forward.

Self-esteem, likewise, can turn on a dime. One minute you’re basking in the light of your own grandiosity; the next minute, you’re pummeled by profound self-doubt and recrimination.

Personal relationships are often marked by a dismissive disregard for and disengagement from others (when drive and grandiosity are peaking), and an acute longing and need for closeness, affirmation, and reassurance (when the wheels of over-reaching ambition and inflated selfesteem have ground to a halt).

Treating the Adult Child of High-Achieving Narcissistic Parent(s)

In our therapy work together, our initial aim will be to understand the particular nuances of your core conflicts in the context of your identifications and conflicts with your high-achieving parents. Then, as I assist you in shedding these unhealthy identifications, you can begin to address the real underlying emotional wounds.

high achieving parentsMourning what you have missed, in terms of legitimate unmet childhood needs, can now lead to real and lasting healing.

As this true healing process unfolds, you will be far better able to integrate ambition, self-esteem, and personal relationships in a way that fosters in you a more realistic assessment of your own unique strengths and limitations, a stronger and more stable self-esteem, and a healthier balancing of self and other that promotes both personal growth and more gratifying and stable intimate relationships.