After gaining a better understanding of narcissism and doing the work to heal from your own wounds, it’s important to keep a few things in mind to break the cycle and avoid that legacy of narcissism, which Behary mentioned. That means doing everything in your power to keep your children from having the same experience and growing up to be narcissists themselves.
One of the most important factors is allowing your child to experience some separation from you, according to psychoanalyst Laurie Hollman, Ph.D.
“There is a stage of child development called separation-individuation during the first three years of life,” Hollman writes in her book Are You Living With a Narcissist? “This is when the child must work out his need to feel close to an admiring mother while also developing a healthy separation where he can tolerate that he is not omnipotent and grandiose.” In other words, allow your child to develop their own identity apart from you, and to feel safe doing so.
At the same time, it’s important for parents to set limits–especially if they’re worried about raising a future narcissist. Some parents struggle to discipline, especially those who are people-pleasers as a result of themselves being raised with narcissistic parents. But children require healthy limitations.
“The child needs [his mother] to set limits so that he knows how to relate to others in a way that is acceptable,” Hollman writes. “If he is too powerful, he expects that he is entitled to more than a child should have.”