Narcissistic fathers often emotionally damage their children. They disregard boundaries, manipulate their children by withholding affection (until the children “perform”), and neglect to meet the needs of their children because they are interested only in meeting their own needs. Their image and perfection is essential to narcissists; they often demand perfection from their children. The children thus feel intense pressure to be perfect and try to ramp up their talents, looks, intellect or personality to please their father. It has a high personal cost to them if they succeed in fulfilling their father’s wishes – and it can cost them just as much if they fail. It’s a no-win situation.
There is profound unhappiness among the members of a family ruled by a tyrannical narcissistic father. In many of these families, the mother simply echoes the father as she feels uncertain of herself (due to his emotional abuse) and is afraid to take her husband on. Often this destructive pattern is the result of the mother’s own childhood. Not aware of the dynamics of narcissism, she went from a cruel, tyrannical father to a brutal, domineering husband. Repetition of psychological patterns, such as is seen with abuse and narcissism, is common. The mother chooses a spouse similar to her abusive parent and raises a family in an abusive environment like the one she was raised in.