narcissistic father

The Narcissistic Father and the Effect on His Children

Do you have a love one who you suspect is suffering from narcissistic personality disorder? Maybe even a parent?

Six percent of Americans, or 1 in 16, have experienced clinical narcissistic personality disorder.

Having narcissistic personality disorder affects the way you behave in social situations greatly. It can and will effect the way a father treats his children.

If you have a narcissistic father, you may recognize some of these traits:

Traits of a Father With Narcissistic Personality Disorder Include

  • Lack of empathy
  • Exploitative of others
  • Excessively arrogant
  • Obsessed with success through achievements
  • Harbors belief that person is special
  • Overly sensitive to criticism
  • Unwillingness to compromise with others

Being a narcissistic father with children who look up to you is especially dangerous.

In this article, we will break down the effect having this disorder can have on children.

1) Children Get Ignored

A child who has a narcissistic father can be ignored frequently.

Narcissists think of their own needs before anyone else’s including their own children.  If a child is hungry, this will come second to the father’s “need” to take another conference call.

Children will start to believe that their needs don’t matter. This will make them either lash out or learn to express no need at all.

2) Children Develop Anxiety

Children who have a narcissistic father live in constant fear of their father lashing out. Narcissists can exhibit a pattern of unpredictable behavior as they seek to further their own agenda and not factor in other people’s feelings.

People with narcissistic personality disorder strive for perfection for themselves and often push that onto their children. The children than strive for perfection in all aspects of their lives which can cause extreme anxiety.

For instance, if a father thinks his son should be good at football because he himself was good at football, he will obsess over his son’s athletic ability.

Inevitably, because children aren’t perfect, the child will let the father down and the father will lash out. Narcissistic fathers will continually put their child on a pedestal and be disappointed anytime the child doesn’t live up to expectations.

3) Children Will Have Trouble with Intimacy

The children of narcissistic fathers will grow weary of others. When a child feels as though they can’t trust their own father, it carries over into relationships for the rest of their life.

4) Children Will Become too Giving

When a child grows up with a father who has narcissistic personality disorder, the child becomes hyper-focused on the father’s needs. The child learns to sacrifice his or her own desires in favor of the desire of the father. The child never learns how to express what he or she needs properly because throughout childhood the father shut them down.

Later on in life, this will lead to an adult who can’t stand up for what they want. In relationships with others, the adult will constantly feel the need to fulfill the whims of their partner over everything.

This sort of people-pleasing mentality could cause the person to be walked all over for the rest of their lives.

5) Children With a Narcissistic Father Become Narcissistic

Children with narcissistic fathers are more likely to become a narcissist themselves.

Extroverted children are more likely to become narcissistic than introverted ones. This is because extroverts have any easier time asserting dominance in conversation – something narcissists constantly attempt to do.

Children learn a lot of their behaviors from their fathers. After years of watching their fathers act as though they are God’s gift to the world, it’s only natural that children will start acting this way.

It is natural for a child to want attention from their fathers for things they’ve achieved. Narcissistic fathers have a hard time celebrating anyone’s achievements but their own. Therefore, children will feel the need to compete with their fathers for attention.

6) Children Blame Themselves

It is easy for a child to start blaming him or herself for the father’s actions. The child thinks maybe if they were only better, the father would love them more.

They start to think that their father only acts the way he does because they’re not good enough.

Of course, in most cases, the child is doing nothing wrong. Rather the father has a personality disorder that makes him obsess over perfection and his own needs.

7) Children Develop Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or,  PTSD

Children who suffer for years at the hand of a narcissistic father can develop PSTD.

The fear and anxiety associated with living with a father with narcissistic personality disorder can cause children to block out memories and develop disorders of their own.

8) Children Compete With Their Siblings

It is not unusual for a father with narcissistic personality disorder to choose a favorite sibling. Oftentimes he chooses the one with qualities most like himself. This, of course, is because he sees himself as the ideal human being.

Once the favorite sibling is chosen, the other siblings try to compete for their father’s attention. They wonder why they’re not good enough and why their talents aren’t appreciated in the same way that the chosen brother’s or sister’s talents are.

This competition can lead to strained relationships between siblings and a strained family unit as a whole.

Help is Available

If you or someone you love is suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, there are methods out there  that can help them.

Cognitive behavior therapy, psychotherapy, and family therapy can all help a narcissist understand how they’re behaving and how their behavior hurts others.

Just be aware that when you point out to a person with narcissistic personality disorder that they need help, they likely won’t take it well. They’ll interpret your comment as criticism and will likely vehemently deny that there’s anything wrong with them at all.

Don’t be discouraged by this, know that there are others out there who are also dealing with loved ones with this disorder.

Please don’t hesitate to comment below if you have any questions or comments about narcissistic personality disorder or anything you read in this article.

6 thoughts on “The Narcissistic Father and the Effect on His Children

  1. I was really astonished reading about the fact that a narcissistic parent can choose a child as favourite and the other as victim. This is was exactly what happened to me. My mother had had a disabled daughter, thus she started to hate me and only focussing on my sister, because she identified her with the victim. I would be very curious to know more about these family dynamics.

    1. I didn’t read that, I read he’ll choose a favorite child who has the same traits n likes as the father. Not victim. But maybe true, since they play the victim well

    2. I am one of two children. I was always a loved son, but my sister, who came after me, got called all these name like “Dolly” and became what is called a golden child. There was not outright favouritism, but I got into trouble all the time and had jokes cracked at me, which had a way of destroying my self-esteem. My Narcisstic father was sinfully oblivious to what he was doing, but it happened.
      He had in his head that me and mum could handle it as adults,(which I wasn’t), and my sister got treated as a sweet girl. We were scapegoats, which is apparently way for a Narcissist to set things up.

      She still does gets treated like royalty when she rings up. She lives a long way away and is aware of what is going on, and feels guilty about it.

      Now I still get treated like rubbish. I am not really aware of it because I have grown up with it, but my friends tell me they see it, and my mum and aunty are horrified about it. Ive read a book on shameless narcissists. It says ” there is nothing wrong with you. If you have been brought up by a shameless narcissist and feel bad about yourself, it is the narcissist’s fault. Just being around them a lot makes you feel like crap, let along your whole life.” If this book is right, I have to get away from this shameless narcissism or I will feel like a useless piece of crap for the rest of my life.” They have a way of engineering things so you are forced, somehow, to stay with them. He always kept me with him before because he said life was better him than with a normal boss. Now he is old, cant work without me, and he gets me to stay working with him because he doesn’t want to be bored sitting around retired. See how they do it? Now I am his interest provider. I want to get a job in a bank because I have a qualification and that is the career that I want, but he just wont retire. See how they work? It is so caniving. My sister say he wont retire.

      This shows that a Narcissist would keep their child working with them so as to keep them interested in retirement rather than retire (which they don’t want to do). I am 45 and worried that soon in my 50’s some bank wouldn’t employ me and that would ruin my chance for a fulfilling career. See how selfish Narcissists are???

  2. I am 37 have a 4 year old son, doing through a nasty divorce from a narcissist. I wish I knew all this before. I suffered in silence for years because I simply did not know there is such a thing as narcissism or what it was, it really helps to put a name to it and now fining all this information really changes everything gives me hope! thank you

    1. Hi Karine,
      I am also 37 and have a five year old son and am worried sick about the effects my husband’s NPD is having on my sensitive child and on me. I have been frightened to own the fact that he is a narcissist for over 12 years now, but what I am seeing in my child and in my own unhappiness is that I have to come to grips with the fact and move forward. I have never been able to express my concerns because everything always gets put back on me. I am so emotionally exhausted of being blamed for things, while I am the one taking care of everyone and everything and have for years (including helping raise my amazing now grown up step children who could never be perfect enough in his eyes but actually are amazing humans). A new feeling of humiliation is starting to creep in about myself due to how I am treated or “not treated.” I have walked on egg shells for years trying to be perfect and do everything in my power to keep things at an even keel, and then there will be an explosion of anger over the minutest of details, and I will once again be blamed. While, I understand and have compassion that he “knows not what he does,” he also could never admit he has a problem or want to seek help for it since he “does not believe in counseling” and he says it’s “just a ploy for people to make money” and “people should be able to solve their own problems,” which is also why we can never get marriage counseling and which his why I do so much self reflective work to be happy. It’s just the strangest thing to try and forgive and be a positive person all the time towards him and try to focus on positive aspects, but really just feel emotionally beat down and unhappy most of the time. My heart knows that I can love someone and forgive someone, but it’s also trying to grapple with the guilt of possibly leaving someone and knowing that I will be blamed for it and probably, “ruin my child’s life because I chose to leave the marriage.” I can’t live like this any more and I am proud of you for taking the steps to get away and have a better life for yourself and your child. I hope that everything worked out for you since you posted this a year ago. I pray that I can get the courage to make positive changes in my life sooner rather than later.

  3. I have very recently ended a relationship of 4 years with a male who I believes suffers this such horrible disease. For many years I belived he had bi-polar disorder. Although his behaviour had worsened in recent months becoming exactly as this article describes. when he moved back to his England where he is from, he suddenly become like a very different person,exhibiting traits showed here. His unempathetic responses towards me would suddenly feel strangely abnormal as i am a psychology graduate i knew his behaviour had changed. I believe narcistic people like himself are highly manipulative,you feel madly in love (if your a female) and the strange thing about what i learned was whilst he lived with me was he was a true actor as how he is now is the “real person”. I found this information very very helpful.

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