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Narcissist Father: Save Your Child

Uploaded 11/13/2010, approx. 5 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

Women abused by narcissists and psychopaths often write to me, and a typical question is, his father is a narcissist, we divorced a few months ago, but he has visitation or custody rights.

You wrote that narcissism breeds narcissism. How can I prevent my child from becoming a narcissist under his father's influence?

Well, to this kind of question, I usually answer.

Your son is likely to encounter a narcissist in his future. In a way, he will be better prepared to cope with them, more alert to their existence and chicanery, and more desensitized to their abuse.

For this, actually, you should be grateful. There is nothing much you can do otherwise.

Stop wasting your money, time, energy and emotional resources on this intractable problem of how to insulate your son from his father's influence. It is a lost war, though in a just cause.

Instead, make yourself available to your son. The only thing you can do to prevent your son from emulating his father and becoming a narcissist is to present to him another role model of a non-narcissistic parent, you. Hopefully, when he grows up, your son will prefer your model, your behavior, your conduct and your example to his father's.

But there is only that much that you can do. You cannot control the developmental path of your son.

Having unlimited control over your son is what narcissism is all about, and it is exactly what you should avoid at all costs, however worried you might be right now.

Narcissism does tend to breed narcissism, but not inevitably. Not all the offspring of a narcissist inexorably become narcissists, some of them, or actually the majority of them, don't.

The narcissistic parent regards his or her child as a multifaceted source of narcissistic supply. The child is considered and treated as an extension of the narcissistic personality.

It is through the child that the narcissist parent seeks to settle open scores with the world. The child is supposed to realize the unfulfilled grandiose dreams and fantasies of the narcissistic parent.

This vicarious life-by-proxy can develop in two possible ways.

The narcissist can either merge with the child or be ambivalent towards him.

The ambivalence is the result of a conflict within the narcissist between his wish to attain his narcissistic goals through the child and his pathological destructive envy of the child and the child's accomplishments.

To ameliorate the unease bred by such emotional ambivalence, the narcissist resorts to micromanaging the child's life through a myriad of control mechanisms. These can be grouped into guilt-driven mechanisms.

The narcissistic parent would say, I sacrificed my life for you. Dependence-driven mechanisms. A typical narcissistic parent would say, I need you. I cannot cope without you. Goal-driven mechanisms, where the narcissistic parent will tell the child we have a common goal which we must achieve. And explicit mechanisms, where the narcissist will simply say, if you do not adhere to my principles, beliefs, ideology, religion, or any other set of values, and if you do not obey my commands, orders, and edicts, I will impose sanctions on you.

The exercise of such control helps the narcissist to sustain the illusion that the child is a part of him. Such sustenance calls for extraordinary levels of control on the part of the parent and extraordinary levels of obedience on the part of the child.

The relationship is typically symbiotic and emotionally vicissitudinal and turbulent. The child fulfills another important narcissistic function, that of narcissistic supply. There is no denying the implied, though extraordinary, immortality in having a child.

The early, natural dependence of the child serves to assuage the fear of abandonment that all narcissists share. Fear of abandonment is an important driving force in the narcissist's life.

The narcissist tries to perpetuate the child's dependence using the aforementioned control mechanisms.

The child is the ultimate secondary source of narcissistic supply. He is always around. He admires the narcissist. He accumulates and remembers the narcissist's moments of glory. He loves the narcissist unconditionally, and owing to his wish to be loved, he can be extorted into forever giving without ever receiving from the narcissistic parents.

For the narcissist, the child is a dream come true, but only in the most egotistical sense.

When the child is perceived as reneging on his chief duty to provide the narcissistic parent with constant adoration, the emotional reaction of the narcissistic parent is harsh, sudden, and revealing.

It is when the narcissistic parent is disenchanted with the child that we see the true nature of this pathological relationship.

The child is then totally objectified.

The narcissist reacts to a breach in the unwritten conflict with words of aggression and aggressive transformations, contempt, rage, emotional and psychological abuse, and even physical violence.

The narcissist tries to annihilate the real child, brought to the narcissist's awareness through the child's refusal to act as before, through the child's emerging autonomy.

The narcissist tries to substitute a subservient, edifying, former version of the child for the current growing, maturing, autonomous child.

The narcissistic parent tends to produce another narcissist in some of his children, but this outcome can be effectively countered by loving, empathic, predictable, just, and positive upbringing, which encourages a sense of autonomy and responsibility, differentiation, and individuation, separation in the child.

Provide your child with an alternative to his father's venomous and exploitative existence. Trust your son to choose life of a death, love of a narcissism, human relations of a narcissistic supply.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Narcissist: No Custody, No Children!

Parents diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder should be denied custody and granted only restricted rights of visitation and care under supervision, according to Professor Sam Vaknin. Narcissists regard children as sources of narcissistic supply and can be abusive, putting children at risk of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Narcissistic parents can also use control mechanisms to sustain the illusion that the child is a part of them, which can be emotionally turbulent for the child. The child is the ultimate secondary source of narcissistic supply, and the narcissist's love is conditional upon the supply of narcissistic supply.


Golden Child and Scapegoat Black Sheep: Narcissistic Parent's Projected Splitting

Narcissistic parents often cultivate their children as sources of narcissistic supply, with the golden child being idolized and the scapegoat child being neglected and even abused. This discriminatory behavior is due to the narcissistic parent's projected splitting, which involves the inability to integrate contradictory qualities of the same object into a coherent picture. The narcissistic parent splits their personality into good and bad traits and projects the good aspects onto the golden child while projecting the bad aspects onto the scapegoat child. This pattern of behavior becomes lifelong and can lead to emotional incest and even outright incest.


Narcissistic Parents Possessive: Envy, Destroy Their Children, Offspring

Narcissistic parents view their children as extensions of themselves and seek to control and manipulate them to fulfill their own needs. This can lead to children feeling insecure, codependent, and prone to repeating dysfunctional relationship patterns as adults. Narcissistic parents may interfere with their children's love lives and sabotage their relationships to maintain control and a constant supply of admiration and attention. The impact of narcissistic parenting can be profound and long-lasting, affecting the child's sense of self and ability to form healthy relationships.


How to Help a Child with Narcissistic Parent (Modelling)

The text discusses the impact of narcissistic parents on children and offers advice to a concerned mother on how to help her child cope with a narcissistic father. It delves into the concept of social learning theory and the role of modeling in shaping behavior. The advice emphasizes the importance of providing the child with an alternative, non-narcissistic role model and allowing the child to imitate positive behaviors. The text also explores the psychological dynamics of narcissistic parenting and the potential effects on the child's development.


Narcissist's Dead Parents Resurrected in His Children

Narcissists often try to recreate their own parents in their offspring, molding their children to resemble their parents' attributes and behavior patterns. This creates an intergenerational trauma by replicating early childhood conflicts with their own children. Narcissistic parents treat their children as extensions of themselves and use them for their own gratification, leading to a cycle of narcissism. In modern society, many parents may exhibit narcissistic tendencies, raising the question of whether narcissism is becoming the new mode of parenting.


Prodigy Narcissist

Child prodigies are often dehumanized and instrumentalized by their parents, who see them as fulfilling their own dreams and wishes. This can lead to the child feeling entitled to special treatment and lacking in empathy, compassion, and social skills. As adults, they may become narcissistic and misjudge the extent of their accomplishments, leading to strained relationships with others. This creates a vicious cycle of hurt and resentment.


Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

Narcissistic mothers can have a significant impact on their adult daughters' relationships, with children of narcissistic parents being ill-adapted and prone to deploying psychological defense mechanisms. They can become co-dependent, needy, demanding, and submissive, fearing abandonment and displaying immature behaviors. Some children of narcissistic parents become inverted narcissists, craving relationships with narcissists, while others become counterdependent or even narcissists themselves. Narcissistic mothers micromanage their child's life and encourage dependent and infantile behaviors, emotionally blackmailing them and threatening to disinherit them if they do not comply with their wishes.


Narcissist Hates His Disabled, Sick, and Challenged Children

Narcissistic parents of disabled or sick children may view their child as an insult to their self-perceived perfection and omnipotence, leading to devaluation and humiliation of both the child and their mother. Some children may develop narcissistic tendencies themselves, while others may regress to a phase of primary narcissism. Narcissistic parents of seriously ill children may also seek attention and praise from medical personnel, but this should be distinguished from Munchausen syndrome and Munchausen syndrome by proxy, which involve inducing illness or injury in a dependent for attention and sympathy. In all cases, the child is used as a prop and may be discarded when they become autonomous or critical.


Overprotective Parents And Manipulative Helplessness

The text discusses the negative impact of overprotective parents on their children. It explains how overprotective parents prevent their children from experiencing reality, growth, and separation, leading to lifelong consequences. The text also delves into the behavior of narcissists and the dynamics of relationships between overprotective parents and their children as well as between dependent partners and primary partners. It highlights the detrimental effects of overprotection on the child's development and the perpetuation of dysfunctional behaviors in adulthood.


When YOU Discard the Narcissist FIRST

The text discusses the consequences of discarding a narcissist before they have a chance to devalue and discard you. It explains the potential outcomes of this action, such as narcissistic injury or mortification, and the subsequent behaviors of the narcissist, including seeking revenge or finding a replacement. The text also delves into the narcissist's internal processes and their need to complete the stages of grief and mourning for the disrupted shared fantasy.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2023, under license to William DeGraaf
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