The Apple of Daddy's Eye: Parental Overvaluation Links the Narcissistic Traits of Father and Child

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jul 30;17(15):5515. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17155515.


This study contributes to the literature on the parental correlates of children's narcissism. It addresses whether parental overvaluation may drive the putative link between parents' narcissism and children's narcissism and self-esteem. The cross-sectional design involved a community sample of 519 school-age children (age ranging from 9 to 11 years old) and their parents from an Italian urban context. Child-reported measures included narcissistic traits and self-esteem, while parent-reported measures included narcissistic traits and overvaluation, as well as parenting styles. A series of structural equation models, run separately for mothers and fathers, showed that both parents' narcissism was directly and positively related to overvaluation and the children's narcissistic traits; overvaluation partially mediated the indirect link between the fathers' and children's narcissistic traits. None of the parenting-style dimensions were related to the children's outcomes, with the exception of the mothers' positive parenting being directly and positively related to children's self-esteem. These findings shed new light upon the parental correlates of child narcissism by suggesting that mothers and fathers convey their narcissism to their offspring through differential pathways. Our findings may be understood from universal as well as cultural specifics regarding the parenting roles of mothers and fathers. Clinical implications for the treatment of youth narcissism suggest the potential of targeting not only children but also their parents.

Keywords: childhood narcissistic traits; father’s narcissism; parental overvaluation; parenting.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Father-Child Relations*
  • Fathers*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • Narcissism*
  • Parenting