Many people have had a narcissistic father. Narcissism is everywhere, unfortunately.
It has been present in the past, and it will be present in the future. It can ruin people’s lives, not least because it can be difficult to see. Narcissistic parents can ruin the entire course of their children’s lives. This article provides some ways in which you can see if you had a narcissistic father.
Do any of the below things sound like your father?
1. He Uses/Lives Through His Child
Parents want their children to succeed, so the saying goes. A narcissistic father will likely want his children to succeed, but not for themselves. No, he will want them to succeed because it will reflect well on himself.
Parents are supposed to raise children so that their thoughts and hopes are protected. Parents are supposed to ensure that their children can live for themselves. A narcissistic father will merely ensure that children live and grow to fulfil his wishes, rather than the child’s own.
Narcissism is a trait which invalidates individuality. People are individuals, but narcissists don’t see that. What they see is an extension of themselves, to do with as they please.
As children grow older, they begin to show their own personalities, likes, and dislikes. This can challenge a narcissistic father, who is used to seeing his children as little miniatures. If this happens, many fathers turn to marginalization of their children in order to tear down their success.
These put-downs come in many forms, but they have one purpose. The purpose is to lower or destroy confidence and self-esteem so that the narcissistic father never needs to feel threatened by their children.
3. Grandiosity and Superiority
Most, if not all, narcissistic fathers have a greatly inflated sense of themselves. No matter what they do, they feel as if they are the best, and should be at the top of the pile. People around a narcissist are therefore not their own people, but merely another way to assert superiority.
When it comes to a narcissistic father, this can manifest in two ways: either the child is used as a prop, or the child is taught to act in the same way. Thus the parent can use their child to assert their own viewpoint in the matter.
4. Superficial Image
Being superficial is not entirely the same as being superior. Many a narcissistic father has used those around them, including children, to show how special they are. Being superficial means showing off what is ultimately entirely inconsequential.
This can be a good memory (which occurs entirely by chance), or material possessions (which are ultimately meaningless). Many parents might use their child’s social life as a personal booster. It opens up whole new avenues for a narcissistic father to show off what they have, and what they think they are.
Manipulation can take many forms. When a narcissistic father uses it, the most commons forms are:
- Emotional coercion
- Unreasonable pressure
- Reward and punishment – i.e. do what I want or be punished
- Negative comparisons
- Guilt trips
A particularly common theme for family narcissism is when love becomes conditional. Instead of being something children receive as a matter of course, love is given in return for children acting in a certain way.
Another way to see this is that a narcissistic father will look at love as something to be used as a tool. If his children do what he wants, he will reward them with love. If they don’t do what he wants, he will punish them by withholding his love.
6. Inflexible and Touchy
Many narcissistic fathers are inflexible when it comes to how they want their children to act and behave. Every parent has to parent their child is they are to grow up properly, of course. But a narcissistic father will go far further than that: they will correct anything which they perceive as wrong.
What is particularly unfortunate is that this inflexibility can manifest in many different ways, making it difficult to combat. One reason for people being inflexible is that it is a way to control children. This tends to work more as the child gets older, and begins to spread their wings.
7. Lack of Empathy
Because narcissistic fathers don’t see their children as separate from themselves, lack of empathy is a problem. Children have their own thoughts and feelings, and it is important to validate them. When narcissism is involved, however, only the narcissist matters. Nobody else.
Many children, when faced with a lack of empathy, will begin to fight back. They will do this in three distinct ways:
- Fight back and stand up for themselves and their right to respect for thoughts, feelings, wishes, etc.
- Distance themselves from the parent in question to get some emotional distance.
- Creating a new personality which takes on the desired personality traits; these children show narcissistic tendencies themselves.
A narcissistic father may expect that their offspring will be there to take care of them in their old age. This is what is called dependency, and can take a variety of forms. The most common forms are financial, physical, or emotional, with physical often being the most common.
Taking care of aging parents is admirable, but it can be twisted into something unhealthy. Many narcissists can manipulate their children into making unreasonable sacrifices for them, whether personally or financially.
Co-dependency works in something of the same way. The definition of co-dependency is where two people enable each other in bad or actively hurtful actions, such as drug-taking, drinking, or anything else of that nature.
9. Jealousy & Possessiveness
A key part of narcissism is always having control over your target. A narcissistic father will show jealousy of anything and anyone which shows that their child or children are moving on with their lives.
Romantic partners, in particular, will come in for a lot of trouble. Romantic partners are the people who will have the most influence over a person – this will rival the control of a narcissistic parent.
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