Psychopathic parents, both fathers and mothers, definitely affect their children in many ways. There are probably two general categories of effects, depending on whether or not the child has inherited a predisposition to become psychopathic.
Psychopathy is highly genetic. That means a child can be born with a predisposition for the disorder to develop. Genetics, of course, is a crapshoot, so a child may or may not get the genes.
However, psychopathy results from both nature and nurture. Whether this disorder actually does develop is due to the parenting a child receives and the environment that the child grows up in. It is possible, with extremely attentive parenting, to prevent psychopathy from developing, or at least mitigate it. Essentially, parents must teach the child love, empathy and impulse control.
Psychopaths make terrible parents. They will not bother to instill love, empathy and impulse control in a child. They can’t teach what they don’t know.
Psychopathic parents do not love their children. They are not concerned about a child growing up to be healthy, productive members of society. They look at children as possessions, like a car or a flat-screen TV.
Some psychopaths neglect their children. Others engage in physical abuse and sexual molestation.
But even if psychopaths don’t engage in outright physical abuse, they usually inflict psychological and emotional abuse. They lie to kids, break their promises, and keep changing the rules. The parent may say something, and then insist the words were never spoken, which distorts a child’s sense of reality.
The net result is that a child grows up in a very unstable environment. If the child has inherited the genes for psychopathy, chances are good that he or she will develop the disorder. If the child has not inherited the genes, he or she may develop other psychological issues, such as anxiety and depression.
Children of psychopathic parents who are not themselves disordered often have much to overcome related to their families of origin. They may not know what a healthy relationship or a healthy family looks like. They may become involved with sociopaths themselves, because it feels normal.