Narcissistic fathers produce narcissistic kids.
A narcissistic parent, particularly the father, has a lifelong impact on your child’s life.
Surely you used to think that when you were in your twenties and especially when you were in your thirties you would have already achieved a certain amount of success in your life. Your career would be running, you would have your home, a stable relationship and any other desire that you had in particular.
However, in most cases, many of these vital projects are far from being satisfied. This of course affects the confidence you have in yourself, and maybe if you look back and think about your childhood your father comes to mind, a person full of confidence, successful, popular, with friends and work, and above all that he never doubted himself, not like you.
When he went to a social event, your father knew everyone, everyone paid attention and almost all the action seemed to revolve around him. If we think about it, is it possible that so much confidence could become arrogance? If the above coincides with your case it is possible that you were raised by a father (or mother) with narcissistic personality traits. If this is your case, how could it affect you?
Each family is a concrete case and therefore each one forms a social structure with its own rules, secrets and behavior patterns. How this is the only thing we knew in our childhood, we tend to act, not always consciously, as if all mothers and fathers were made with the same mold as ours, and when we hear of parents very different from ours, It is because they are generally different from the average. That is, we tend to think of our parents as the general norm. That’s why, if you grew up with a narcissistic father, you probably never knew it and instead you always assumed that all parents behaved and thought in a similar way.
To know if we really know someone with a narcissistic personality, let’s explain what distinguishes these individuals from the rest, and specifically when they exercise their father role:
Focused above all on themselves, vain: They see and speak of themselves as if they were important, they think they are superior and therefore capable of achievements that others do not.
- They use people for their own benefit: They use others by taking advantage of them, being able to contact each one only when it suits them, ignoring them later. In general, they consider that others should help and offer what they ask, whether this thought is justified or not.
- They are charismatic: In general, they attract the attention and even the admiration of the people, also savoring that attention. They love being the center of attention, because in fact they think they deserve it.
- They fantasize in excess: In this case we do not speak of an imagination like the others, we speak instead of people tending to fantasize about their successes, prestige and abilities. In addition, they often exaggerate their achievements, so naturally that they even believe them themselves and consequently their goals are unrealistic.
- Critics do not take well: Criticism really hurts them, so they usually react badly to them, ignoring those who issue them, eliminating them from their lives or even trying to return the damage, depending on the case.
- When they get angry they are scary: They are not necessarily violent people, but when they get angry, they express this disgust very clearly, either with shouting, insults, or some of them even attacking who has upset them.
- They are distant and not very empathetic: The above is because, regardless of how emotional they are, they have problems using empathy, being generally indifferent to other people’s feelings. As we said, they do not necessarily want the wrongs of others, and they may worry to some extent about those around them, but of course it is not their strong point to be so self-centered.
- They constantly seek gratification and social approval: Despite their unbridled ego, they need to know that others value them as they do. That is why narcissistic parents spend more time without their family than other parents. Also, easily value the opinion of people outside the family, especially when they are considered more influential, than what their children think of him.
- They always do what they like: As we said, narcissists have problems putting themselves in the shoes of others, and that is why when they have to carry out activities with others they will tend to propose activities that they like. This attitude includes their interactions with their own children, and when they ask them to play with them, the father will usually try to get the child to play something that he likes, assuming that the child “logically” will like it too.
- They like to boast about their loved ones almost as much as about themselves: This includes especially their children, since they can afford some control over them that they do not. Therefore, if they turn out to have qualities to boast about, they will magnify them, while if they have defects they will tend not to mention them or even deny their existence, or at least in front of others since the family attitude can be very different.
- It is difficult to get from them what (emotionally) we need: This aspect is especially important in exercising the role of father or mother, because although they fulfill their obligations on a material level, they do not usually do so on other, more subtle levels. For example, your child will require your attention and affection but will only attend to those needs sporadically and surely when the father himself is well.
Maybe the above mentioned characteristics sound like something, maybe not. We must bear in mind that an individual with a narcissistic personality does not have, nor usually, show all the features described, although he will present the majority. On the other hand we can meet with subjects who have a few of these characteristics, and in this case we would speak of someone with narcissistic features, not of a personality disorder in itself.
The problem inherent in the classification of personality disorders
For most people the word narcissistic does not mean exactly the same as for psychologists, and also as we have seen we could find narcissistic features in many of us, but do not worry because this is quite normal and far from becoming a personality disorder
The term narcissistic, understood as a disorder in itself and although useful from the clinical point of view, is not without controversy. In fact, like many psychological diagnoses, it is a somewhat arbitrary classification and responds more to its usefulness when organizing our knowledge about this type of cases, than to real descriptions of specific individuals, and that is why the traits described above are not a list that the subject must meet to receive the diagnosis and if rather a cumulative criteria, so that if a certain number of them meets we can make the aforementioned diagnosis.
Of course, like all psychological disorders, the described traits must be expressed with an intensity and / or in a form that causes some harm to the individual. According to the DSM-V, a narcissistic personality is defined as a personality pattern aimed at “grandiosity, need for admiration and lack of empathy.”
They seek to be admired, and consider having more rights than others because they think themselves more important, abusive, lacking in empathy, easily feel jealous when others achieve what they do not, and they are arrogant. Another characteristic is the lack of respect for social limits, due to their difficulties in realizing the needs of others.
Bearing all this in mind, let’s return to the topic that occupied us, which is how a narcissistic father can affect his sons and daughters.
The narcissist father of your children
A narcissistic parent can usually cause psychological harm to their children. For example, being indifferent to the bonds between both, manipulating their children to get their affection, and ignoring the needs of these in favor of their own. Also, since the image they project towards others is so important for them, they demand perfection in their children so that they can be included in that perfect image that they show to the rest, because they consider their children as their achievements. This can cause continuous pressure on the child to improve in everything he does, thinks or says. Taking into account the lack of understanding that a minor has with respect to an adult, surely do not realize what is happening and either try to fulfill the wishes of his father, which will tend to be impossible and will cost him great suffering, or he will choose eventually ignore the paternal demands, which will also suffer the aforementioned psychological damage and the parent-child relationship will be harmed.
Let’s see some ways in which a narcissistic father can affect his son or daughter, since there is a tendency to experience this situation in a somewhat different way in each case:
Daughters of narcissistic parents: They usually refer not to feel satisfied with their needs of attention by the father, which can be aggravated if they have siblings with whom they will have to compete. When they are small, they may receive compliments from the father, but as they grow, they disappear or remain superficial, so that they increasingly prove to be insufficient. Logically this can affect the development of his personality to adulthood, being the parent-child distance a topic that causes concern and unrest, so that they may seek success to obtain parental approval, although this of course does not guarantee it.
Since with such a father will never be enough, the social and family relationships that later develop will certainly be conditioned. As they grow up, these people may be more affected when they are rejected by others, they may feel too anxious about commitments and therefore avoid them, or look so desperately for success that they never have enough. Adopting the narcissistic personality for oneself is also another possibility, with the obvious negative consequences that this entails.
Children of narcissistic parents: The psychological damages that we usually find in children are somewhat different, since the child tends to compare himself with the father figure, and in this case he will never feel that he can reach it. In addition, the comparison will be even more evident if the father competes directly with the child, or rather makes him compete.
Since naturally a child can not overcome his father in almost any circumstance involving competition, when the child is finally an adult he will have internalized the idea that his father is categorically better than him in everything. Even so, it is possible that the young and subsequent adult will try to achieve success in any area of his life in order to get paternal attention and something that looks like a glimpse of pride on the part of the parent. However, no matter how successful he is, a narcissistic father will not usually show that pride, although he may sometimes feel it, and this will seriously affect the relationship between them.
As in the previous case, one of the worst possibilities is that the son ends up imitating the father’s pattern of behavior and personality and in turn becomes a narcissist, compensating for the lack of love received through great self-love, which even thus you will need continuous external approval.
Therefore, how can we face this situation when we believe that our childhood was affected by a similar situation?
- Go to therapy: This may be an obvious advice, but it can help us understand what is happening to us, how it affects us, our father, and how, if possible, we can reconnect with him accepting that his peculiar way of being does not owe us affect more, enjoying their presence without feeling we diminish.
- Accept your father: He may be arrogant and his need for constant attention may be exasperating, but the best option is to accept it. I do not mean by this to allow him to harm us without consequences, but it is better to think of him as a father we can love despite his shortcomings. If we deny him the power to harm us, we only have to take advantage of what he can offer us. Which brings us to the next point.
- Do not let it hurt you: When we interact with him and have for example an outburst of anger, you can simply leave, but not before making it clear that you do it because that situation is not constructive or gives you anything. Let it be your problem, not yours.
- Cut the ties: Of course it is not the preferable solution, but in those cases in which the father is especially dangerous or presents an exaggeratedly toxic attitude, it may be the best option. When we become adults, we decide and there is no reason to allow us to become a victim of their abusive behavior.
- Limit their influence: The long shadow of the narcissistic father can influence us more than we think, and the son can get to identify with the pattern of social behavior that the parent presents. On the other hand, the child may develop an anxious character, because he has learned that he can not trust others to pay attention when he needs it. Therefore, we must try at all costs to avoid this influence.
- Have realistic expectations: Do not expect your relationship with the narcissistic person to be based on mutual respect and reciprocal affection. They are selfish by nature and do not usually postpone their needs to meet the needs of others. As an adult, you must learn to understand the situation and how we said not to let it affect you, as far as possible. For this it is essential to maintain realistic expectations, so that we know what we can expect and what is not from that person.
- Learn how to deal with it: When you need something from a narcissistic person, convince him or her that they will get some benefit from it. I do not say that you lie to him, but he will be more in favor of your cause if in addition to what you can obtain he also participates in that success.
- Do not let your judgments cloud yours: Or what is the same, do not let your criticisms make you think you are less important than you really are. In relation to this, you may not be interested in entrusting them with certain information or sharing your successes with them pending their recognition. If you know that surely you will not receive the treatment you deserve, look for support in someone you trust.
- Conformism is an option: It may seem like a bad deal but in these cases we should not rule it out, because when interacting with a narcissistic father that we do not want to permanently leave, it may be easier and require less effort to accept their wishes if we believe that the discussion is not It will be useful in this specific case. Be careful, I do not say that we should comply with your orders in general, but we can sometimes assess the situation and if it does not affect us negatively, just follow the flow.
- The confrontation is also an option: In general, narcissists usually get away with it because others allow it, even if it is due to their passivity. Logically, if we are determined to prevent this we must keep our position firmly before them and also express to them that their attitude is unacceptable. Easily this causes a negative reaction on your part, perhaps your anger, but at that point we must not let it affect us and we must remember that as adults we can better understand the situation and our father, being therefore less vulnerable to their actions . Remember that yes, that narcissists hate criticism.
- Take pity on him: Yes, his arrogance does not make it easy for us to sympathize with him, but if you think about it for a moment, someone who needs compliments, attention and the approval of others on a continuous basis, in fact it is well worthy of us to be sorry for him, Suffer for it. This is a good way to improve the relationship with a narcissistic father, because to a certain extent it may be worth it, although it is difficult for him to understand our new attitude.
Having said that, although it is difficult with a narcissistic father without being affected, I am sure that you have also found throughout your life with other people who have also influenced, and in your case for the better. In particular, in your own family you may find individuals with whom you feel more identified or with whom you simply have a better relationship, such as your mother, brother or grandfather. We can also find like-minded people to trust, in friendships or in other contexts, such as teachers, coaches, therapists, etc.
Of course, it is important in these cases to be clear about our own worth. Our greatness does not depend on our successes, since there are many more things in life. There are great men and women out there that we will never hear about because the world does not recognize their talents, but they are no less important.
One last note
To all the above, I would like to add an aspect of the narcissistic father that I know well because of my work as a psychologist. In the cases of guardianship and custody of minors, we usually have a father and a mother who fight for this custody, and who are faced in a judicial proceeding because for whatever reasons they have not been able to reach an agreement on how to divide the time their younger children spend in common with each other.
Leaving aside cases in which one of the two parents seriously breaches their role as such, is assaulting or abusing the child or simply being negligent with the care that should provide, we will find two people who believe equally that are trained to be parents and usually, that the other parent does not.
Even in cases where the motivation is appropriate, we can find that one of these parents does not adequately care for the child but also does not recognize their faults. It has rarely occurred to me to find a father who is genuinely and genuinely convinced that he performs his role in a great and unbeatable way, and that the proof is that his children adore him, and then through the children and through another type of evidence that this person noticeably neglects the care that the children need.
In these types of cases that I describe, it is not uncommon for the children in question to have their physical needs covered (food, shelter, clothing and even whims) but who do not share leisure time with the children, listen or be interested in them. what happens to them, or how they feel. The result is a father who believes he is doing everything perfectly and deserves (sounds?) Praise, being surprised when others do not interpret the situation as he did, and even more when it is the children themselves who report not feeling loved by the parent.
The result in these cases is that children feel less and less attachment when the family union breaks down, because it is impossible for them not to compare the treatment received by both parents. If there is a narcissistic father, he will lose, and little by little the father-son relationship will be damaged, something that in many cases the adult reproaches the minor and blames the other parent is indoctrinating against him. As Banschick’s text said towards the end, sympathize with the narcissist, because his behavior and attitude lead him in all probability to loneliness.