How a Narcissistic Father Can Hurt His Son or Daughter
The child of a narcissist father can, in turn, feel a pressure to ramp up their talents, looks, smarts or charisma. It can cost them if they fulfill Dad's wishes—and it can cost them if they fail. No winning here.
Recent studies confirm that narcissistic parents are incapable of truly loving others, even their own children.
A narcissistic father thrives on the sense of control. It’s his way or the highway, as far as he’s concerned. This isn’t just “being difficult”. It’s abnormal, unhealthy behaviour. He may value his ability to manipulate you above having a functional family relationship. You won’t find him very willing to compromise or concede on issues.
Narcissists might have "grandiose" delusions about their own importance and an absence of "shame" - but psychologists say they are also likely to be happier than most people.
In general, here‘s how a narcissistic father can affect a daughter or son.
A narcissistic father may ruthlessly bully or compete with his son in games, even when the boy is a less-capable child.As the son of a narcissistic father you never feel that you can measure up. Dad was so competitive that he even competed with you. (Or didn’t pay attention to you one way or the other.) You may have accepted defeat—you’d never outdo your dad. Or, you may have worked hard to beat Dad at his own game just to get his attention and some semblance of fatherly pride. You somehow never feel good enough, and even when you do succeed, you still feel empty and second rate.
Similarly, he may be jealous of his wife’s attention to the boy, compete with him, and flirt with his girlfriends or later wife.
For some daughters, affection was never present at all; the narcissistic father may have refused to touch or even care for the infant child and emotionally neglected the daughter throughout her life span.
👧 Daughters of narcissistic fathers often describe feeling “unsatiated” when it comes to getting what they needed from their fathers. They never got enough and would have to compete with siblings for time with Dad. As a young child, Dad would comment on how beautiful you were. But as you grew older, he would rarely miss out on commenting on weight and attitude. You probably carry these concerns into adulthood, even if you found success. With a dad like this, it's never enough. With men (or women), you often feel vulnerable and worried you’ll be dumped for someone else. Anxiously avoiding commitment or taking on the narcissistic role are both natural ways to keep relationships safe; it's understandable and self-protective. (But you lose.)
A daughter needs her dad’s adoration; it validates her and helps her internalize her specialness. Healthy fathers give their girls that gift. You are special and deserve love for being you.
Just like girls need to be adored by their fathers to feel validated, boys also need their dad to believe in them.
Here are signs that your dad had narcissistic tendencies or was an outright narcissist:
🍁 Dad was self-centered and pretty vain. He had an inflated sense of self-importance that led him to believe he was superior and entitled to only the best.
🍁 Dad used people for his own good. He would take advantage of others, to the point of exploiting them when it suited him. Everybody seemed to cater to him — or at least he expected them to.
🍁 Dad was charismatic. Everyone wanted to be around him and he relished admiration from others. He loved being in the spotlight and the positive reinforcement that came from being the center of attention.
🍁 No one had an imagination like Dad. Grandiosity is alluring, and so were his fantasies of success, prestige and brilliance. He would often exaggerate his achievements, and his ambitions and goals bordered on unrealistic.
🍁 Dad didn’t take criticism well. Nothing stung him like criticism; he often cut those people out of his life, or tried to hurt them.
🍁 Dad’s rage was truly scary. Some people get mad and yell a lot. Dad could hurt you with his anger. It cut to the bone.
🍁 Dad could be aloof and unsympathetic. Narcissists often have a hard time experiencing empathy; they often disregard and invalidate how others feel. Of course, he was exquisitely sensitive to what he felt, but others were of no mind.
🍁 Dad wasn’t around a lot. He got a lot of gratification outside the family. Other fathers hung out with their families a lot more. Plus, he craved excitement and seemed to be more concerned by what others thought of him, rather then how his own kids felt about him.
🍁 Dad did what he wanted when dealing with you. Narcissists don’t step into someone else’s shoes very often. He only did things with you that he enjoyed.
🍁 Dad wanted you to look great to his friends and colleagues. You were most important to him when he could brag about you.
🍁 You couldn’t really get what you needed from him. Even if Dad provided on a material level, you felt deprived on a more subtle level. For example, you wanted his attention and affection but would only get it sporadically, and only when it worked for him.
Imagine growing up in a home where one of your parents couldn’t truly love you. Where every time you looked to them for encouragement, you were told that you were stupid for even trying. A parent who viewed every act of independence as a threat and met each accomplishment in your life with jealousy instead of joy or praise. This is what it is like to live with a parent who is a narcissist.
So how do you survive a narcissist father?
🌸🌿 Get into good therapy. You want to come to terms with Dad for who he is, and how he hurt you. He's your father after all, and you will need to differentiate from him in order to enjoy his presence without being undermined. It’s no small task.
🌸🌿 Accept Dad for who he is. His arrogance and constant need for ego stroking can be annoying. If you put him into place in your mind, he may simply end up being a lovable but annoying father. Take the best, as long as he doesn’t still have the power to hurt you.
🌸🌿 Do not let Dad hurt you. If he has a rage attack, you may decide to get in the car and leave. Limits are often a good thing. “Dad, this is not constructive.”
🌸🌿 Cut ties if it is too toxic or dangerous. Some narcissistic parents have violent or abusive tendencies. It goes along with their self-righteousness. You are now an adult. Take care and take caution. Keep your expectations realistic and low.
🌸🌿 Don’t expect a relationship with a narcissistic person to be based on mutuality or reciprocity. Narcissists are selfish and can’t put your needs on par with their own. As an adult, you can keep these conflicts with your father at a distance; but if you date or marry a narcissist, it probably will wear you out.
🌸🌿 When you want something from a narcissist, convince them that it will be to their benefit. I am not a big fan of dishonesty, but some people with narcissistic traits can be manipulated. When you want such a person to do something for you, you need to spin it in a way so that your request seems to be to their benefit. This may work with your father and with others too.