There is also the dread that we might unwittingly echo the actions of our narcissistic parents upon our own children and not just become subsumed by our legacy , but pass it on like a bad gene.
This is certainly something I have struggled with, and know that many other children of narcissists have. There is no doubt that it is possible to pass this way of being on.
It would , we think, be reasonable to assume that people didn't want to, and so we, in fear, assume that it must be an involuntary thing and so assume ourselves to be at risk and force ourselves to remain vigilant, always checking our behavior, after all why not, we are used to this as a way of existing, but this time we are looking to see if there is anything narcissistic about ourselves. We swap one form of self vigilance for another.
I have wondered what it would be like to be the other way around, to be the good parent, to assume I was doing a good job. I am often inspired to comment positively on other peoples skills in this, especially if they are suffering from self doubt.
I think it is typical of the child of a narcissist that when you cant always own something for yourself you can, with certainty see it for other people, and its only once you see how easily you can attribute positive traits to others that you can start to allow yourself the possibility of owning them.
I for instance, am a nice person, not a little bit nice but bloody lovely! Kind, thoughtful, caring, compassionate. It is something that other people say about me - a lot. That is not my upbringing, that is me. Not owning that..that was my upbringing.
I have a totally shit model for what parenting looks like. However, I'm OK knowing that was shit and that I am working out ways to do it better. But that is so far from the whole picture and if I can get perspective it would seem that the worrying about being a good parent is an entirely different thing than actually being a good parent, which is capable of taking up entirely too much space in my head.
I wish it was a level playing field and that my parenting could be as good as theirs, yet there are so many things I fail to take into account, and It was only when I tried to reassure someone else of how possible it was to be the result of such poor parenting, and yet be a good parent themself that some of these thoughts crystallised.
I envy those who I see as good parents and the fact that they have a good model to work from, but this may well be entirely unjustified because:
My kids are not like me and need a different type of parenting in a different period in time with different social pressures, a different environment etc. to the one I was brought up in.
Good parenting now would be very different than good parenting was then. So I'm going to allow myself a big chunk of "ok"ness because I can work out as well as anyone what OK now is compared to OK then. That's a level playing field right there.
I'm going to give myself another break because my kids have different personalities, as do all kids, and you have to parent the kids you have, not some average child shaped meme. I'm an expert on my own kids, I make an effort to be that rather than regurgitating "examples I have seen people using on entirely different kids" - so that's another area that wouldn't have been improved.
I get more points for admitting I don't know what the fuck I'm doing and asking for help, advice and apologising when I get stuff wrong. For not setting myself up as some kind of god for my children and then castigating them when they notice I'm being a bit shit. If they notice I'm being a bit shit - good - and if they are brave enough to point it out - better ! And if we are able to put our egos away and work out what is the best and most positive route forward it's even more positive.
I get extra bonus points for knowing when a relationship is so shitty you have to walk away to protect yourself rather than stay because that's more sociatally normal, I'm glad I have been able to teach them that. To have had a very real if painful opportunity to show them that kind of strength.
Intuitive parenting? - many people think that good parenting should be intuitive, and I notice myself really worrying that this has been taken away from me by my own poor parents examples. However if I really think about this it would seem that this is cannot be the case. When you actually have to learn things you didn't understand - you really understand their intricacies - rather than making thoughtless assumptions.
For instance: I actually properly know what boundaries are - how to set and how to apply rules to them. I don't do it intuitively - so when people trespass on or past them I know they are doing it, and how to respond effectively. I'm not guessing, or wasting time with trial and error...I have learned this type of stuff, the hard way. It has cost me in all sorts of ways but it has made me a better example and mentor for my children.
Kintsugi is an ancient art of pottery repair, when a bowl was broken rather that throwing it away it is mended with molten gold - kintsugi bowls are often more valuable - and considered more beautiful than the unbroken bowl ever was.
I think that is the kind of parents children of narcissists can be. Sure it is possible to just look at the cracks and see flaws, but why not sometimes change perspective and look at just how awesome we are? Being broken might be the thing that eventually makes us better, not worse.