So how do you survive a narcissist father?
Every narcissist is a hero and a legend in his own mind. And, so was Daddy.
- Get into a good therapy. You want to come to terms with dad for who he is, and how he hurt you. He’ is your father after all, and you will need to differentiate from him in order to enjoy his presence without being undermined. It’s no small task.
- His arrogance and constant need for ego stroking can be annoying. AcceptDad for who he is. If you put him into place in your mind, he may simply end up being a lovable, but annoying father. Take the best, as long as he doesn’t still have the power to hurt you.
- Do not let Dad hurt you. If he has a rage attack, you may decide to get in the car and leave. Limits are often a good thing. “Dad, this is not constructive.”
- Cut ties if it is too toxic or dangerous. Some narcissistic parents have violent or abusive tendencies. It goes along with their self righteousness. You are now and adult. Take care and take caution.
- Has your Dad affected your dating habits and choices? Some identify with their father by becoming arrogant themselves. Others are anxious in their attachments because they could never trust Dad’s undivided attention. Do you date narcissistic people yourself?
- Keep your expectations realistic and low. Don’t expect a relationship with a narcissistic person to be based on mutuality or reciprocity. Narcissists are selfish and can’t put your needs on par with their own. As an adult, you can keep these conflicts with your father at a distance; but if you date or marry a narcissist, it probably will wear you out.
- When you want something from a narcissist, convince them that it will be to their benefit. I am not a big fan of dishonesty, but some people with narcissistic traits can be manipulated. When you want such a person to do something for you, you need to spin it in a way so that your request seems to be to their benefit. This may work with your father and with others too.
- Never let a narcissist determine your self-worth. Narcissists lack empathy and the ability to validate others, so be careful about trusting them with sensitive information or sharing important achievements because they won’t treat it with the respect it deserves. I have seen this backfire many times.
- Sometimes compliance is the simplest way to deal with a narcissistic parent. It may sound cheap, but if your father is narcissistic, you may not be interested in cutting him out of your life. He is your Dad, after all. Sometimes, it’s easier, and requires less effort, to comply with most of his wishes. It may not be worth the fight. You are an adult now, and you are not under his roof anymore.
- Alternatively, you can assert your own authority and challenge his. Narcissists get away with their behavior because others (passively) allow them to. Sometimes, you may need to adopt an authoritative stance – and firmly impress upon him that his demeaning attitude is unacceptable. You are no longer a child, and you are not as vulnerable to his rejection or anger. Be prepared for push back. Narcissistic people HATE criticism.
- Pity the Narcissist. Arrogance doesn’t really inspire sympathy or compassion. But at the end of the day, when you think about it, you may come to pity someone who is in constant need of compliments, attention and validation. It is freeing.
Appreciate the Healthy Adults Out There:
While it’s hard to grow up unaffected by a narcissistic father, there may have been others who helped you along the way. Looking back on your life, you may identify a grandfather, a grandmother, a coach, a teacher, a therapist or a religious figure who really appreciated you. Maybe, your mother saved the day.
Take in the Good:
I hope you can find the good. There may have been some good in your narcissistic father. Embrace that, while distancing yourself from the rest. Plus, there may have been special men and women in your upbringing – internalize their good. And, there are good people to care about today – bring in this good as well.
Finally, realize the value within yourself. You don’t have to be great to be good enough. That’s an important healing.