The term narcissism or narcissist is thrown around pretty frequently these days. The truth is, most of us exhibit at least one (or maybe more) of the common traits associated with narcissistic personality disorder, but that doesn’t mean we’re all living with NPD. Sometimes we take our families for granted- naturally, we do. Each family is a miniature sociological experiment, with its own set of unwritten rules, secrets, and nuanced behavioural patterns. We take our mom and dad for granted; this must be what it's like for everyone. Your dad may have been narcissistic, but you just assumed that all fathers were like him. Psychologists say that narcissistic people are those self-involved individuals who have an inflated sense of self-importance and are not empathetic towards other people. Therefore, such people wreak havoc on one’s life. The damage is greatest still when it’s the parents who are the narcissists. The child suffers not just mental trauma but gets scarred for life
A narcissistic father, rather than nurturing the child, stunts their growth. Girls feel that they can’t get enough love from their fathers, and boys think they can’t be good enough for them. Similar negative thoughts are manifested by children of a narcissistic father. Hence, it is important to watch out for the signs of narcissism in the child and take steps to counter the damage done.
Not all parents have a narcissistic personality disorder, but it’s not uncommon for a narcissistic mother or father to display narcissistic tendencies, which can be just as damaging when rearing a child. Identifying the signs of narcissistic abuse can be difficult, but there are several common themes among narcissistic family members and parents.
1. Rage and Anger
Some people get mad and yell a lot. Dad could hurt you with his anger. It cut to the bone. Dad could rage when upset. There is a concept called narcissistic rage. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of it. The narcissistic father has a trigger spot. When frustrated, he can rage to hurt. They display sudden mood changes and volatile anger, Because the narcissist often sees others as objects, he can hurt you in the worst way, say the nastiest things — and mean it. Even when dealing with kids, a narcissist wants to win. Damage is acceptable as long as he gets his way. No wonder so many family members tiptoe around a narcissistic parent. They may be charming, but it’s the temper that gets everyone into line.
2. They want the spotlight
Keeping up with his narcissistic tendencies, the father wants admiration from all the people around him. He amps up the charm around people to be perceived as charismatic and devoid of flaws. If the attention is not given to him, he will lash out at the people around them. He enjoys showing off all the supposed superior dispositions he beholds. A father with narcissistic tendencies brags about his accomplishments and goes out of the way to flatter himself.
3. He likes to control
They may be well-liked and important to others but controlling and harsh when no one is looking. A narcissistic father likes to have complete control over his children. Therefore, he precisely regulates the most insignificant tasks. And lack of obedience from the child may lead to severe consequences or punishments.
4. He manipulates in his favour
The narcissistic fathers manipulate their children into obedience. They withhold love to serve as a punishment and expect the child to show extreme gratitude for the love they get from their fathers. Parental manipulation includes guilt trips, shaming, blaming, and even negative comparison. For example, if the father lets his children know that love from their side is conditional and has to be earned, it reflects a narcissistic behaviour
5. They don’t take criticism well
They react to criticism with shame, rage, or humiliation. As narcissistic fathers perceive themselves as perfect, they are not open to criticism. For them, they are faultless, so any critique is thought of as a threat and is not well received. They hurt or cut out those who do the criticism.
6. Your mother did most of the parenting
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 about what others thought of him, rather than how his kids felt about him. Raising children is hard, exhausting, and often, repetitive. It’s gratifying because you just LOVE that little creature called your son or daughter. The average narcissist is quite young psychologically. They crave excitement and enjoy the spotlight. Having an infant squirt some urine in your face while changing his diaper doesn’t cut it. Going to a play date with a 6-year-old daughter gets old fast.
7. Dad wants you to look great to his friends and colleagues
Bragging about your children’s success is the typical Dad’s thing, but narcissistic parents brag about their kids and often these kids feel they fall short in their parent’s eyes. The narcissistic Dad can’t help himself. Since so much of a narcissistic father’s preoccupation was on success and looks, you had easy rules to follow. Indeed, you may have complied, but it left you worried in case you are to fall short one day.
8. Lack of empathy for others
He doesn’t empathize, doesn’t consider his child’s feelings, lacks empathy, and perceives their sensitivity as a sign of weakness.
9. He is driven by ego
His ego means everything to him and he can do anything to keep his ego satisfied, even if it’s hurting someone else’s pride. He reflects a selfish personality and does not care about how his ego-driven behaviour affects his children.
10. Dad thought big
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
If you had a narcissistic father, you are probably suffering. You may be narcissistically inclined yourself, or you may be chronically insecure about your worth; perhaps both. Validation is not their strong point. I do hope that this piece does some service in validating your experience. If so, it’s been worth the effort.