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8 Ways to Help Your Child Cope With a Narcissistic Father

by | Jan 31, 2024 | 0 comments

The term “narcissism” on this blog is used to describe a specific set of personality traits. It is not intended to be used as a professional diagnosis.

Co-parenting with a narcissist is one thing, but how can you make sure their nonsense doesn’t negatively impact your child?

The impact of narcissistic parenting on a child can be significant, but there are ways to navigate these difficulties and protect your child.

In this article, I’m going to talk specifically about narcissistic fathers because this is a situation I have personal experience with.

Even though I know there are narcissistic mothers out there who make their children’s lives difficult.

But while narcissistic traits seem to be pretty similar across genders, there are very subtle nuances that define more specific dynamics.

That’s to say, daughters of narcissistic fathers likely have a vastly different experience than their sons.

Either way, this article is about narcissistic fathers and how you can help your child cope with them.

Let’s get started:

How Does a Narcissistic Father Behave?

Understanding the behaviors of a narcissistic father is important when it comes to helping your child cope with them.

I know that you know that your co-parent has narcissistic tendencies, but do you know how to label what your child is experiencing?

If not, that’s okay! I remember when I had zero idea what I was dealing with. That’s why I have this short and to-the-point narcissistic father checklist:

  • Excessive Need for Admiration: A narcissistic father will likely seek constant validation and admiration from others, including their child.
  • Lack of Empathy: Even with their own children, most narcissists have difficulty understanding or acknowledging their child’s feelings – or they just don’t care.
  • Manipulative Tendencies: Narcissistic fathers often use emotional manipulation to control situations and relationships.
  • Sense of Entitlement: Many believe they deserve special treatment and ignore the needs of others.
  • Difficulty Accepting Criticism: Narcissists hate criticism and will often react negatively and become extremely defensive.

You’ll probably notice many of these behaviors when it comes to co-parenting with your ex. But if they are treating you this way, it’s likely they are treating their child badly as well.

How Are Narcissistic Fathers Different From Narcissistic Mothers?

Okay, let’s talk about it – the difference between narcissistic fathers and narcissistic mothers.

Again, both share very similar traits, but there are subtle differences between the two. Knowing these differences will help you better protect your child and help them cope with the situation.

Just keep in mind that these are general observances and that every narcissist is different and unique.

Expression of Narcissism

  • Narcissistic Fathers: Often display grandiosity, seeking admiration through achievements or dominance. They may emphasize their role as the primary authority figure.
  • Narcissistic Mothers: May exhibit narcissism through a focus on appearance, achievements, or perceived maternal perfection, using these aspects to gain admiration.

Control and Manipulation Tactics

  • Narcissistic Fathers: Tend to employ overt control tactics, such as dominating conversations or decision-making processes, to maintain a sense of authority.
  • Narcissistic Mothers: May use more subtle forms of manipulation, including emotional guilt or playing the victim, to control situations and relationships.

Impact on Child’s Self-Esteem

  • Narcissistic Fathers: Children may feel pressured to meet high expectations, affecting their self-esteem if they struggle to live up to perceived standards.
  • Narcissistic Mothers: Children may experience emotional manipulation, leading to potential guilt or a distorted sense of responsibility for the mother’s emotional well-being.

Parental Roles and Expectations

  • Narcissistic Fathers: May prioritize their own needs and desires, often expecting the family to revolve around them.
  • Narcissistic Mothers: May place an emphasis on the image of the perfect family, expecting their children to fulfill specific roles to maintain that image.

Approach to Criticism

  • Narcissistic Fathers: Often react defensively and may respond with anger when faced with criticism.
  • Narcissistic Mothers: May employ more subtle tactics, such as emotional withdrawal or the silent treatment, in response to perceived criticism.

How to Protect Your Child From a Narcissistic Father

When you’re dealing with a narcissist, you understand that there are certain things you need to do to protect yourself.

This can include building emotional resilience against their antics or practicing self-care to boost your sense of self-worth.

But your children probably don’t know how to protect themselves.

Luckily, there are ways you can shield your child from the negative effects of being raised by a narcissistic father:

  • Establish Clear Boundaries: Help your child set healthy boundaries by giving them guidance, encouraging open communication, and respecting their limits. This will give them the confidence to do this with their other parent.
  • Maintain a Stable Routine: Consistency provides a sense of security for your child and will help them cope with the unpredictability of a narcissistic parent. Don’t get too caught up in the details – just give your child an environment where they know what to expect.
  • Encourage Healthy Relationships: Foster positive connections with other supportive family members, friends, or mentors. This will help your child see what normal, caring, and compassionate people act like.

Okay, so we’ve talked about ways to protect your child. Now, let’s talk about how you can help them cope with their narcissistic father (because, unfortunately, you can’t make your ex go away).

How to Help Your Child Cope With a Narcissistic Father

You can’t change the way your ex acts and treats your child.

However, you can help your child fortify themselves against the treatment they receive.

A lot of helping your child cope is helping them build strength against their other parent. And honestly, it’s a strength that will help them throughout the rest of their lives.

Let’s look at how you can help your kiddo:

1. Validate Your Child’s Feelings

The first thing you can do is validate your child’s feelings. Acknowledge how they feel and let them know that their emotions are important and not something to be dismissed.

Encourage open communication and provide a safe space where they can express themselves. This will help you better understand their experiences with their other parent. It also allows your child the opportunity to be honest without fear of judgment.

2. Teach Coping Strategies

Equip your child with healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the challenges of having a narcissistic father. This can include things like mindfulness, journaling, or engaging in activities they like to reduce stress.

I find that practicing these strategies when things aren’t stressful is key. Trust me, trying to get your kid to take deep breaths while they are in the middle of a meltdown is like throwing gas on a fire.

Instead, take a few moments every day to practice things like deep breathing. Encourage daily journaling. Then, when it’s time to cope, these things will come naturally.

3. Emphasize Self-Worth

You know as well as I do that dealing with a narcissist can do a number on your self-esteem. They purposefully push you down to make you easy to control.

Sadly, they often do this to their children as well.

That’s why it’s important to emphasize your child’s worth. Highlight their strengths and achievements, as well as their efforts.

Building their confidence can act as a protective factor against the negative impact of a narcissistic father.

4. Develop Emotional Resilience

Assertive parallel parenting. Woman has fists on hips with an angry look on her face.

Support your child is building emotional resilience by teaching them how to bounce back from challenging interactions with their other parent.

You can encourage critical thinking to help your child distinguish between their other parent’s behavior and their own self-worth (see point #6).

Teaching conflict resolution strategies is another way to help them build resilience. Help them understand the value of staying calm and using “I” statements to communicate their feelings. This will help them feel more in control of the situation.

5. Encourage Independence and Decision-Making

Help your child develop a sense of independence by involving them in age-appropriate decision-making processes.

This will also help them feel more in control. This empowerment can provide them with a feeling of autonomy and help them deal with their narcissistic father’s controlling tendencies.

6. Practice Detached Empathy

Guide your child on how to empathize with their narcissistic parent without becoming emotionally entangled. This is called detached empathy.

Basically, you encourage them to observe their parent’s behaviors objectively, helping them detach emotionally.

This will help your child not blame themselves for how they are treated. It will also help them reconcile how to love their narcissistic father without being okay with the way they act.

7. Provide Professional Support

If you notice changes in your child’s behaviors or health, or other signs of anxiety, you should involve a mental health professional.

Your child may not tell you that things aren’t okay, or they may not even realize how bad things are.

A therapist or psychologist can help guide your child through their experiences and feelings. Plus, sometimes kids are more comfortable talking to someone who isn’t their parent.

8. Develop a Safety Plan

Work with your child to create a safety plan for times when interactions with their narcissistic parent become particularly challenging.

This plan can include steps to de-escalate situations, find a safe space, or contact a trusted adult for help.

Make sure your child always has a way to contact you when they are with their other parent. This can be a rule in a court order stating they are allowed to call you or, if they are old enough, providing them a phone for communication.

You Can Help Your Child Deal with a Narcissistic Father

Figuring out how to deal with a narcissistic father is challenging for you and your child.

But you can protect your child and help them deal with this stressful situation.

Just remember – you can’t change your ex, but you and your child can become stronger in spite of them.

Is your child having a hard time with their narcissistic father? How do you help them cope? Leave a comment and share your insights! ⬇️⬇️⬇️

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