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Growing up With a Narcissistic Father: How to Turn Things Around

Growing up With a Narcissistic Father: How to Turn Things Around

The father-daughter relationship is a special one! It should be nurtured and encouraged because Daddy does have a lot of impact on his daughter. Unfortunately, not all fathers are a positive influence. Some of them are downright damaging. My own father often told me, as a teen, “Your too fat. I will never be able to marry you off!”. I look at pictures now and wonder how I ever believed him! A girlfriend in high school often spoke of her father’s threats to cut her out of the family if she didn’t go to his college after graduation. And yet another spoke of how her father constantly trivialized her good grades and community work because she was “only meant to get married and have babies”.

The Power of a Narcissistic Father

Dad’s narcissism causes chaos in the family home, especially if the home follows the age-old model in which Dad is the Head Of The Family. When we grow up in that model, we always look to Dad for leadership. When Dad is a narcissist, the damage is insurmountable. Young girls’ are wrought with emotional stress from Day one on being the perfect child. But for the narcissist, that child cannot possibly be perfect. The child is not capable of understanding that their father is the cause of their issues, rather they blame themselves. Often reverting to the common phrase “I am so stupid, why did I do this?”

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The Traits of a Narcissistic Father

Identifying the narcissistic father can be hard as they will convince you that they are anything but a narcissist. However, there are very noticeable signs that you can track and learn to heal from. Here are the top signs to look for:

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  • Lives through their childThis is the father who expects their child to follow their footsteps (take up the same career, go to the same college, take the same jobs) and/or accomplishes the dreams the father did not. If the child does not follow through, they are often threatened to be disowned.
  • Marginalizes the childThis is the father who is actually threatened by the potential and successes of the child. When the child succeeds, the father must put them down so that they feel worse about themselves.
  • Superiority Narcissistic fathers have an inflated sense of self and will project upon their children that they are superior in every way.
  • ManipulationManipulation is the most common trait in the narcissist. Often they use it to guilt trip (I did this and you are ungrateful), blaming (It’s your fault I am unhappy), shaming ( you embarrass me), and emotional coercion (you are not a good daughter/son if you do not live up to my expectations).
  • Lack of Empathy the narcissistic father is unable to be mindful of a child’s feelings and validate them as real.
  • Co-Dependency expecting the child to take care of them for the rest of their lives. This includes emotionally, physically, and financially. If the child tries to sever this dependency, the father will resort to guilt trip and shaming to achieve their dependency goals.

Why He Becomes a Narcissist

The truth of the matter is, we are all a tad narcissistic. However, many of us keep in check with expressions of humility that balance out the narcissism. So why do some fathers fail at humility for balance? According to Psychology Today, narcissism is a taught behavior in childhood. Perhaps the boy child was coddled just a little too much. Perhaps his own parents took care of things for him out of guilt rather than allow him to stand on his own two feet. Or maybe there was praise for doing something wrong. Or the idea that “boys will be boys” was drilled into his psyche just a little more often than necessary. And rather than correct the parenting and teach him some humility, it kept going well into adulthood. Now you have someone who does not know how to function in any other capacity.

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How to Grow Up with A Narcissistic Father

Just like anyone else, you will desire some normalcy to your life and healing from Daddy is the place to start. It can feel like an overwhelming endeavor, but it will be well worth it in the long run. How you choose to heal is completely up to you. Here are a few suggestions to consider:

  • Keep some things to yourselfYes, we all want to share our inner most secrets or successes with someone. Since narcissists lack any empathy or compassion, it’s best to share those secrets or successes with someone else.
  • Set boundariesjust because you recognize the hurtful things he says, does not mean you have to take it. When he begins a tirade, immediately acknowledge it. “Stop playing mind games” and “Dad, this is not constructive” are two ways to assert that you know what he is doing and that you are not going to be abused.
  • Accept him as he is – this is tough. When we know something is wrong, we want to fix it. You can’t fix him, he must come to that decision on his own. The more you try to fix him, the worse things will get.
  • Get into good therapy – consider therapists that specialize in domestic violence (which does include emotional abuse) or narcissistic abuse.
  • Cut ties – as an adult, you have a lot more say about what is happening in your life. If your father is going to physical violence, you are not obligated to maintain that relationship any further. It’s difficult. And you should speak with your therapist, if you have one, before cutting ties.
  • Leave if you mustInitially acknowledging the abuse will make it happen more often. Some fathers will go into physical territory if challenged. Do not stay if you do not feel safe. Leave. Keep your car keys and your phone on you at all times so that he cannot interfere with your leaving.
  • Change your futureMany young women who have a narcissistic father, end up pairing themselves with a narcissist. Do your best to remember the signs and acknowledge them in your partner. Avoiding a repeat of the past means you can meet a great partner who truly loves and respects you.

Many of us have had a narcissistic parent, you are certainly not alone! By joining therapy groups and seeking counseling to heal, we can truly change the future for ourselves and our own children.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

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Angela Kunschmann

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

He asks you for your opinion, but only follows his own advice regardless of what you say.She loves to talk about herself, everything about her is just better than you.  When you try to share anything happy about yourself, she seriously doubts it.

If you know someone who acts like these examples, there’s a chance they might be a narcissist.

What is a narcissistic personality?

Narcissism is a spectrum personality disorder which most of us have.

In popular culture, narcissism is interpreted as a person who’s in love with themselves, more accurately, their idealized selves. Narcissists believe that they are too unique to be understood and that they are so good that they demand for admiration from others.

Psychologist Stephen Johnson writes that,[1]

the narcissist is someone who has buried his true self-expression in response to early injuries and replaced it with a highly developed, compensatory false self.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) describes narcissistic personality as a personality disorder. It is a spectrum disorder, which means it exists on a continuum ranging from some narcissistic traits to the full-blown personality disorder.[2]

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not very common, but the truth is, we all have some of the narcissistic traits.

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Traits of a narcissist:

  • They have a deep need for admiration and validation. They think they’re special and too unique to be understood.
  • They feel they are superior to other. They achieve more and know a lot more than you.
  • They do not show their vulnerabilities. They fear what others think of them and they want to remain superior in all situations.
  • They are unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others. They want to be the centre of attention and believe that showing emotions is a sign of weakness.
  • They are skilled manipulators and are emotionally abusive. They know how to make use of their charm to take advantage of others to get what they want.

How are narcissists different from others?

Narcissism expert and the author of Narcissism in a Nutshell, Zari Ballard, tried to answer some common questions asked by non-narcissists about what a narcissist thinks and feels from a narcissist’s perspective.[3]

Do narcissists know they are narcissists and are they happy?

We could really care less about how others feel. We enjoy our so called cold existence. True narcissists don’t want to change. We feel in total control of our lives using this method.

Do narcissists know or understand right from wrong?

Narcissists know the difference between right and wrong because they understand cause and effect. There is no “guilty conscience” giving them a clue and they are displaying the symptom of being “indifferent to social norms” while most likely presenting as ‘cold-hearted.’

Narcissists have a very different thinking mechanism. They see things from a different perspective. Unlike non-narcissists and empaths, they don’t have much sympathy and are reluctant to show emotions to others.

Why do people become narcissists?

1. Narcissism is vulnerability taken to an extreme.

The root of a narcissistic personality is a strong resistance to feeling vulnerable with anyone.[4]

Narcissists refuse to put themselves in a position where they feel vulnerable. They fear that others will take advantage of their weaknesses, so they learn to camouflage their weaknesses by acting strong and powerful. The think showing emotions to others is a sign of weakness, so they learn to hide their emotions and act cold-hearted most of the times.

Narcissists live in a state of anxiety because they are highly aware of their emotions and how others think of them.

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Vulnerability aversion, is the root of a narcissistic personality.

2. A narcissistic personality could be a result of a wounded past.

Narcissists are desperate to seek validation constantly because they either didn’t feel worthwhile and valued in the past, or were being paid too much attention as the most precious and unique one in the world.

Faulty or inadequate parenting, for example a lack of limit setting, is believed to be a major cause, and both permissive and authoritarian styles of parenting have been found to promote narcissistic symptoms.[5]

Both parents who fail to see the worth in a child, and parents who spoil and give excessive praise to the child promote narcissism as the child grows. While the former ones make the child feel inferior of others and want to get more attention, the latter ones encourage an idealized-self in the child.

How to deal with a narcissist?

1. If someone close to you is a narcissist, embrace the differences.

There’re different personality types and not everyone will think and act the same as you do. Instead of trying to change others, learn to accept the differences and strike a balance when you really have to communicate with them.

2. Don’t try to change them, focus on your own needs.

Try to understand that narcissists are resistant to change, it’s more important for you to see who they really are, instead of who you want them to be. Focus on how you feel, and what you want yourself to be.

Embrace the fact that there’re different types of personality and the only thing you can control is your attitude and your own actions.

3. Recognize what they do only comes from their insecurity.

Narcissists are quite vulnerable deep inside, they question others because that’s how they can make themselves feel better.

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When you learn that what a narcissist does to you is nothing personal, but something that comes from their insecurity, you know that sometimes they just need a certain amount of reassurance.

This is especially important if the narcissist is someone you have to closely work with, or if they’re your family member. The right amount of reassurance can calm them down and get the tasks on hand completed.

4. Ask them what would others think instead of what’d others feel.[6]

Narcissists don’t feel guilty, but they care about how others think of them deep in their heart.

Clinical psychologist Al Bernstein explains:

There are just things, like other people’s feelings, that narcissists rarely consider. If you have their ear, don’t tell them how people might react; instead, ask probing questions. Narcissists are much more likely to act on ideas that they think they thought up themselves.

If you have to work with a narcissist closely, focus on the facts and ideas, not the emotions.

5. Let go of the need of getting a narcissist’s approval.

You’re not who a narcissist says you are. Don’t let their blame game undermine your self-esteem, and don’t argue with them just to defend what you believe is right.

There is no point arguing with a narcissist just to prove them wrong because they will not give in proving themselves right. It’s more likely that you’ll get more upset when they disagree with you in an unpleasant way.

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Know your own worth and detach from a narcissist’s opinion on you.

6. If a narcissist is hurting you, stay away from them.

Remember, a healthy relationship is two-sided. It’s about mutual respect and it’s based on give and take. But any kind of relationship with a narcissist is likely to be the contrary, it’s about making the narcissist happy and constantly supporting them. A relationship like this will only weigh you down and is unhealthy for your growth.

7. Set a boundary and always keep it.

If you’re setting a boundary, you have to be willing to keep it. When a narcissist sees that you’re trying to take back control of your life, they will try to test your limits, it’s just their instinct to do it.

Be prepared that your boundary will be challenged. Make your boundary clear, have all the actions needed to be taken in your mind.

For example, if you have decided to stop communicating with them, they will likely to show up in front of you just to talk to you. Be brave enough to keep your boundary, don’t back down and get close to them again; or else they will not take your boundary seriously any more.

8. Learn when to walk away.

When a narcissist starts to make you feel uncomfortable and doubt about yourself, it’s time to pick yourself up and give yourself enough respect to just walk away from them.

If you’re in love with a narcissist, you should seriously think about ending the relationship and move on for a better life. If the narcissist is your family member, you don’t have to be cruel to them, but it’s better to keep distance from them.

Reference

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