The spotlight often falls on mothers when it comes to narcissistic parenting, but where are the fathers at during this conversation?
Having a narcissistic father can also hugely impact children, leaving a hefty amount of trauma and self-loathing behind.
Psychologist Kim Sage shed light on this issue in a recent TikTok, sparking an important conversation about the most obvious sign your father may be a narcissist.
According to Sage, “Narcissistic fathers tend to blame their children for their bad relationship with their kids.”
She goes on to say that these men “are forever victims of their own children.”
Why Narcissistic Fathers Play The Victim — And How To Deal With Them
When engaged in an argument with your narcissistic father, you’ve likely wondered why he constantly seems to adopt a victim mentality.
Julie L. Hall, author of “Narcissists in Your Life,” explains, “Narcissists operate from a perspective of deprivation, believing there is never enough deference to their feelings, needs, and specialness.”
Despite their charming facade, Hall says these fathers lack a well-developed sense of self and self-worth, leading them to believe they truly are superior to others and that their feelings should matter the most.
This deception creates a cognitive dissonance with reality, which may explain why these fathers tend to blame their children for their worsening relationship.
In addition, these fathers love to play the victim due to their own hypersensitivity. Though it may seem hard to believe, narcissists truly believe they should get whatever it is they desire, and any minor setback, Hall explains, sends them spiraling out of control.
To stay in control, they will lash out at their children, making their children feel guilty for things that aren’t even their fault.
Lack of Empathy
Combined with their lack of empathy, Hall says these fathers struggle to see situations from anyone’s perspective but their own, making it challenging to acknowledge their own faults.
The Challenge of Holding a Narcissistic Father Accountable
Your narcissistic father may have constantly shifted the blame onto you, leaving you feeling both unheard and ashamed.
According to marriage and family therapist Karyl McBride, “A trademark of a narcissistic personality disorder or even a person with a high number of narcissistic traits is this strange problem with accountability.”
Narcissists blame others because of their own self-loathing and fragile ego.
Think of a glass water bottle that has already been cracked on the outside. This bottle is barely holding itself together, so when one more tiny little crack appears it explodes.
Cue your narcissistic father going into an explosive rage, hurling insults to break you down.
Like a bully in high school, their goal is to not only preserve their own ego, but to destroy your self-worth in the process.
How to Deal With a Narcissistic Father
The first step is recognizing that he’s not merely difficult to understand, he’s manipulative. This realization is crucial, as it helps you to better understand why enforcing boundaries is so important.
Picture this: Your narcissistic father shows up at your house, clearly uninvited. Perhaps he decided to do this because you recently expressed needing space. Though he is purposely testing your boundaries to both spite and push you, you know better.
Seeing through his manipulative tendencies, you assert your boundaries and, if necessary, seek help or walk away from the situation. Your father, flabbergasted, responds negatively, but you insist on keeping your boundaries intact, promptly shutting down his toxicity and preserving your mental health in the process.
Psychoanalyst Robin Stern highlights the importance of sorting out the truth during times of manipulation, encouraging anyone who feels they are being gaslighted to keep records of conversations and focus on how the gaslighting distorts events to feed the manipulator’s own agenda.
To counter their gaslighting, Stern recommends that you “stop worrying about which one of you is right and focus on your feelings.“
If your narcissistic father is unfairly criticizing and blaming you for your bad relationship with him, take a deep breath and disengage from the conversation.
Try using short phrases that don’t allow for further conversation, such as, “If that’s how you feel, we can agree to disagree.”
Remember, while you can’t control your narcissistic father, you do possess the ability to take steps to ensure he no longer has control over your mental well-being.
Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor’s degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career and family topics.