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Growing up with a Narcissistic Father

In front of the world, our father daughter relationship is perfect, but behind the closed doors, everything changes.

Photo of Daniel Lobo/Flickr

I listen my dad how he brags about my
latest achievements to our neighbor and one scene pops into my mind:
in the movie “What Women Want”, when Gibson’s character enters
his daughter’s room and promises her to buy everything for prom,
while she thinks of how narcissistic he is, trying to impress her
friends, playing the perfect dad.

Well, this is happening here, to me: my
father, the narcissist,
is trying to impress our neighbor.

In front of the world, our father
daughter relationship is perfect, but behind the closed doors,
everything changes. Growing up with a narcissistic father teaches you
that you have to be perfect all the time, but, at the same time, you
will never be able to match your parent’s expectations.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is
recognized
as a mental disorder
by psychiatrists. Those affected are highly
selfish and base their own self on what other people think about
them. They are superficial and they tend to ignore everyone, but
themselves. According to estimations, about 1% of the population has
NPD, but few of them actually seek therapy, pushed by friends and
relatives.

Growing up with a narcissistic father
definitely doesn’t allow you to push him towards therapy, but you
will be seeking help, as an adult, when you will realize that you’ve
been raised by a parent with NPD.

Here are the harsh truths about a
father daughter relationship plagued by narcissism.

Your self-esteem is very low

When you are raised by a narcissistic
parent, you realize from an early age that your value depends on your
actions. Today you might be the best kid in the universe for winning
a race, but tomorrow you might be worthless, because you’ve stained
your dress. As your narcissistic parent is going to present you as a
perfect little version of himself, behind the closed doors you will
be abused. This abuse can take place in many forms: verbal, physical
or psychological. Each time you are not the perfect daughter, you are
worthless. In time, this leads to severe trust issues, which most
often backfire on you, the kid of a narcissistic parent, putting your
at higher
risk for addiction
and before you know it, you’re hooked on
benzodiazepines or another vicious substance that helps you feel
better.

You are never praised for real

Your narcissistic father is going to
make you feel that you should never be rewarded for your
achievements, nor you should feel you’ve done well enough. “Enough”
doesn’t exist! You are always expected to do more. The expectations
are so high, they easily become
impossible to match
, so you are bound to endure a lot of
criticism from your parent.

You are dragged in a co-dependence
relationship

When your father has NPD there is not a
father daughter relationship between you, but more of a
co-dependence. One of the ways narcissistic
parents maintain control
over their kids is creating a
dependence. You will often hear your parent can’t live without you or
something alike, which instills a lot of guilt in your heart when you
even think about leaving.

You learn you have to beat everyone

There are no exceptions to the rule:
you must be the best. This means anyone must be beaten, even your own
siblings. Needless to say, this puts a lot of pressure on your
relationship with your brothers/sisters and most of the times you
will end up fighting. Parents with NPD are great at turning their
kids against each other, which is very traumatizing.

You lose track of who you are

Ultimately, growing up with a
narcissistic parent you lose track of who you really are. Your are
being forced to hide or deny your own feelings and ideas so much,
that you eventually lose any willpower. When you leave the abusive
NPD parent
you realize you have no personal desires, no goals and
this is scary.

Not all narcissistic parents turn into
abusers, as only those who take things to the extremes end up
traumatizing their families. As kids there is little one can do, if
anything, so the only way to cope with the situation is to understand
that you are much more than just what your father wants you to be and
that you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be yourself.

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