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Unhealed Cptsd Can Cause Enmeshment Trauma in Children

Mar 01, 2021

It is no shock to learn that narcissistic abuse causes enmeshment trauma in children. Enmeshment is when two or more people are in a relationship that has no clear boundaries - everything is blurred including where your personality ends and the others begin. 

Narcissists don't allow their children to be authentic, autonomous, individuals with their own thoughts, feelings and perceptions. Children are expected to do, be, think and feel whatever suits the toxic parent. This causes enmeshment trauma because the child quickly learns that it is safer to abandon self and morph into whatever mom or dad need in order to not be punished, abused or abandoned. What makes matters worse is that the enmeshment is considered 'normal' to the toxic parents, and trying to be authentic is viewed not only as abnormal but as 'bad' or disrespectful.

That child grows up with no sense of identity, unable to be assertive, never trusting in themselves, fearful of saying no, unable to put down boundaries which makes them the perfect narcissist magnet and the cycle begins once again in other generation.

Well- while we know that narcissistic abuse creates this, it's important to understand that unhealed cptsd can create enmeshment trauma as well. 

If a parent is unable to emotionally regulate themselves and the child sees the parent in deep depression or heightened anxiety or both - since our brain is designed to do what it needs to do to survive - it will cause the child to try to 'fix' or be there for mom/dad in order to ensure survival.

A young child is dependent on their parents for everything - and so if mom/dad is falling apart emotionally this will cause the child to feel unsafe. The child will then do all s/he can to make mom/dad feel better, even at the expense of self. The child will do all in their power to not be a 'burden', even by foregoing their needs, they will put themselves last, they will feel responsible for the emotional well-being of their parent.

Put simply - they will become enmeshed. 

Whether enmeshment is the result of abuse or whether it's the unintentional side of unhealed cptsd - the end result is the same.

The child becomes enmeshed, abandons self and feels responsible for the feelings of others.

The reason I bring this up is because anyone that has been through narcissistic abuse whether in childhood or due to romantic relationships - if you have children and you want to help your children (which I'm sure you do) then please make sure to help yourself first. 

We cannot help our children to become autonomous, authentic and healthy if we are not autonomous, authentic and healthy. The focus on healing cannot stay on the other person, it must also cause you to look within. It's not easy, it's not comfortable but it is necessary for you and your children. a

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