Mon-Fri 9-8 | Sat-Sun 9-5

The Effects Of Eggshell Parenting

Dr. Dana McNeil
Latest posts by Dr. Dana McNeil (see all)

What is eggshell parenting?

“Eggshell” parenting is a term that refers to a style of responses or behaviors from a caregiver that are demonstrated as inconsistent boundaries, frequent emotional ups and downs that are often volatile, unpredictable, and have inconsistent themes or triggers that bring them on. 

What are some telltale signs of eggshell parenting?

The signs are generally seen as inappropriate or overly reactive responses in the way the parent engages with the child. Eggshell parents often become easily frazzled or frustrated by typical age-appropriate behaviors happening with their children. These parents may become easily triggered by situations involving their children and may respond in ways that imply to the child that they are responsible for the emotional satisfaction of their parents.

For example: “If you would just behave then I wouldn’t feel so angry” “You make so much noise that I can’t think straight!”

Why is eggshell parenting “bad” or not ideal? 

Teaching a child at an early age that parents will be inconsistent, have porous boundaries, or their parent’s emotions are dependent on how a child behaves will all impact the attachment style a child develops. When a child grows up with a parent who is inconsistent with their own emotional stability or can’t show up for their children with dependable emotional support then the child is more likely to develop an anxious or avoidant attachment response. These behaviors can also lead to a child developing co-dependency with their parent figure versus having the space to experience their own sense of self and develop autonomy.

Are there any types of people who might be more prone to be eggshell parents (i.e. narcissists)? 

Parents who are experiencing mental health issues are candidates for developing eggshell parenting styles. Because mental health issues such as severe anxiety, depression, and other serious issues like bipolar disorder that impact a parent’s ability to regulate their emotions can have an impact on their children. Some personality disorders such as narcissism or borderline traits can also have a similar effect. These mental health issues impact a parent’s ability to regulate their responses to outside stimuli and the demands of their already taxed nervous system. 

Additionally, parents who have experienced trauma, are under the influence of an active substance addiction, or have grown up with their own experience of living with parents who model eggshell parenting are all at risk as well.

What is the link between eggshell parenting and CPTSD as a potential outcome?

Children who grow up in a household where they are continuously subjected to eggshell parenting behaviors have a greater risk of developing complex post-traumatic stress disorder which is commonly referred to as PTSD. The complexity becomes compounded because not only does the child have to work on healing and coping from the repeated and ongoing experience of their parent’s behavior, but they also must learn to deal with the aftermath. Oftentimes, growing up under these conditions creates additional symptoms such as anger, resentment, and distrust for getting too close from a fear of developing similar types of relationship outcomes.

Scroll to Top