Did you grow up in a childhood where you spent the majority of your time taking care of your caregiver(s) needs? Instead of your parents meeting your needs, you found yourself sacrificing your needs to take care of your parents. Your parents were self-involved, more worried about their own needs and wants, that you were neglected and/or ignored. This kind of parenting is known as narcissistic parenting.
A child who lives in a home with narcissistic parents ends up adapting to their parent’s needs as a way to prevent further neglect, verbal, physical or any abuse. Children are smart and adapt to their environment accordingly. Children who grow up with narcissistic parents learn that they are not allowed to have needs because these needs compete with their parent’s self-centred needs. Children learn that meeting their parent’s needs will gain approval from their parents, and this then feeds their essential need for self-worth. In some severe cases, the children are put in a position to parent their parents.
Examples of this are parents who tell their child about their emotional problems or tell their child that they want to kill themselves and hope for their child to solve their problem or rescue them. In this case, the child gets their self worth from saving their parent or meeting their narcissistic parent’s needs.
This type of parent, programs the child to be an excellent little caretaker. This phenomenon is also known as parentification. Such a child grows up to be a professional helper, nurse, counsellor, or other focused. The child, as an adult, does not understand any other way to feel worthy other than to meet the needs of others at the cost of their own needs.
Now an adult, friendships are based on meeting the needs of others at the cost of themselves, just like when they reached their parent’s needs at the expense of their own needs. The now-adult meets their partners, children, and friends’ needs at the cost of their individual needs. This is a set up for codependency. It’s a set up for burn out and illness.
Recovery is …. taking an inventory of the relationships in your life.
Are they reciprocal? Whose needs of others are you meeting at the cost of yourself?
In a helping profession do you have downtime? Meet your needs for sleep, good food and exercise?
Do you know what your needs are? Take an inventory and journal about it.