The child of a narcissist is trained to meet the needs of the parent from the day they are born. If the narcissist fathers more than one child, usually one is designated as the "chosen" one, while the other(s) can never do enough to warrant pride, or even love, from the narcissistic parent. Even the "chosen" child is not actually loved by the parent, though the narcissist will do whatever they need to in order to make it appear that the chosen child is loved. The chosen child will be showered with praise in comparison to the other child(ren). The "chosen" child is in a precarious situation: on one hand, they do not get the same level of wrath from the parent as the others do; however, the chosen child is also the brainwashed child that is the parent's servant. The chosen child is so chosen because the child feeds the narcissist's ego and jumps through the thousands of hoops required by the narcissistic parent. In some sense, one could compare the chosen child to a well trained dog. The owner appreciates the dog when the dog does what the owner wants it to. The chosen one will have a hard time letting go of this assigned role as they mature. The burden of serving the narcissistic parent will continue long after the child has left the nest. The chosen child will be faced with countless decisions, burdens, and an enormous feeling of guilt as their narcissistic parent ages.
The aging narcissist faces desolation in the twilight years. They've created a wasteland for themselves. They've pushed everyone close to them out of their lives. They've used everyone they know; those who have given (and given and given) of themselves to the narcissist realize that their work has no reward. This realization creates isolation for the narcissist. There is nobody that wants to continue to serve the narcissist's needs with nothing in return. The narcissist is a black hole that will suck you dry. When you're dry, you're no longer of use to them, and you are tossed aside like trash. The chosen child of the narcissist has a complex role in the aging narcissist's life; they're the last string for the narcissist when his wife has left him and his friends have jumped ship.
The chosen child will grow to a point in which they either realize the parent is a narcissist that is not capable of providing the love and acceptance the child has been seeking their entire lives OR will never wake up and realize the abuse that has been imposed on them. If the child takes the latter route, the child will live a stunted life; they will propagate the abuse they endured onto their own children.
For the child that realizes his parent is, in fact, a narcissist, there are three choices. Choice number one is to continue to cater to the narcissist and allow the guilt the narcissist impels upon them to push them in directions they do not wish to go and to do things they do not wish to do. To do this is to basically give up your life for a worthless cause. Nothing you ever do will ever be enough. They will use you forever and ruin your life. They will tell you nice things to get what they want (admiration, caring, help, etc.), but- to them, you're only as good as the thing you're doing for them at that moment in time (or about to do for them). For them, NOTHING YOU DO IS EVER ENOUGH- nor is it ever GOOD ENOUGH!
Choice number two is to limit the abuse from the parent by setting boundaries with the parent.
Choice number two is not an easy choice, but none of the choices are easy. If the child chooses to continue a relationship with limits with the parent, the child will be tested and tested to their limits by the parent. The parent will become extremely needy. The parent will call with emergencies at all hours of the day and night, with each emergency more dire than the last. The narcissist senses the child imposing distance, and the narcissist is agitated at the prospect of losing their one, true, lifelong, source of admiration, service, and adulation that was supposed to be guaranteed by the chosen child. The parent begins to feel bitter. Rage and negativity take to an entirely new level. The parent is angry at everything and everyone. None of his "friends" or family members are good enough (even moreso than before; of course, we all knew that they were no-good before, but when you make choice number 2, prepare to hear about them and their no-good deeds constantly). He's got a lot of anger because you're imposing limits on your relationship with him- but his anger about it knows no bounds. He is like a wildfire that will talk about every single person he knows behind their back (more than before). He'll make up lies about them and tell you how they're no-good. But, to their faces, he'll continue to be nice. During the face-to-face contact, the parent is getting his admiration fix. Someone's feeling sorry for him. He's telling them they're great. He's offering them things. All of this is just to ensure that they'll be there for the next favor he needs or for the next visit he needs to feed his ego. The narcissist constantly needs help from everyone around him. This neediness is really a guise; what he really needs is your attention. And- the higher the status of the person giving him their attention, the better. The higher- status listeners (or service providers, helpers) are the ones that don't get shit-talked for awhile. Maybe even a few months. In the end, though, even the high-status people turn out to be pieces of garbage to the narcissist.
Choice number 3: Completely cut ties with the narcissistic parent. This is not an easy thing to do. You've been trained from the time you were born to provide for the parent. You were there to please them. You knew that any wrong movement, twitch, facial expression, would set him off. You've been trained to feel guilt for everything you do. Nothing you do is ever good enough. You feel a sense of doom about the future because your narcissistic parent made promises over and over that were never fulfilled. You carry these perceptions into your adult life, with your children, spouse, with your job. You feel that people are conspiring against you. That they don't really like you, that you're going to lose your job at any time. Cutting ties with the narcissistic parent is the first step to gaining your own life- a life that can actually feel peaceful and fulfilling. You'll have pangs of guilt from time to time. Treat them like cigarette withdrawals. Feel them, realize they are aftershocks of guilt, but do not give into the guilt. The aging narcissist has lost most of his sources of admiration and service. He's still counting on you: you are the one that has been supplying him steadily, constantly, they way you were trained to do so, since you were a child. When you pull the plug on him, you have to realize that he is an adult. No matter what his excuses are for needing you, remember, he is an adult that has created this life for himself. He is the only one who can help himself. While you may be able to help logistically with this and that, if you do, he will never stop asking for more.
Choice number 3 is the best choice for the child of a narcissist. However, be cautioned that when put in this position, the narcissist will become extremely volatile. The parent will be in a new situation where he'll have to face himself. In this position, the narcissist will likely become extremely depressed, think of suicide often (or even commit suicide). He may frantically go in search of a new source of admiration; he may delve even deeper into his addictions. These are not your worries. These are not your problems. These are not your fault. These problems are for HIM to deal with. Is there someone in your life that you force to pay attention to you? Do you have someone that you guilt into doing everything for you? Do you pretend as though you are completely helpless? NO! You don't require the attention that your parent does. You cannot continue to give him all the good parts of yourself while you let it ruin your own life. His problems are HIS problems. Cut ties. If he does commit suicide, prepare yourself mentally before it happens. And if it does happen, realize it was HIS decision. And it was a selfish decision.
The narcissist knows no bounds and will ruin your life if you do not stop him from doing it. The only effective way to stop him from ruining your life is to cut ties with the parent. You will NEVER get anything good out of helping him. Even if you think that it makes you feel good to help him, you're enabling him and you're not being true to yourself. No matter what you think could happen if you cut ties, no matter how bad, you must do it.