6 Signs of a Narcissistic Father

Have you ever wondered if your father is secretly narcissistic?

A narcissistic father sees any attempt for independence as a threat — diminishing their child’s sense of self and coercing them to comply with inflexible requests. Typically, any form of healthy and unconditional love is absent as well.

Here are 6 signs of a narcissistic father.

  1. Live through their child

Does your father set expectations to fulfill his own unmet needs and dreams?

All fathers want their children to be successful and good human beings. However, some fathers support their children as a means to continue the legacy that they have failed to build up years ago. He places himself into the child’s shoes and coerces them to do things his way, which in turn can blur the child’s identity and make it feel as if they’re an extension to his whims rather than an independent human being with their own beliefs and dreams.

  1. They put their child down

Does your father throw off-handed remarks that somehow always make you feel worse?

Some fathers tie their self-esteem to their superiority in the household — and having their child challenge their position can threaten them. In those cases, the father may try to put their child down through nitpicking, comparing them to others, and emotional invalidation in order to maintain their superiority and protect their self-esteem. This can also come out in phrases like: “you’ll never succeed without me.” or “You’re not worth our hard-earned money.”

3. Parade the image of their child

Does he boast about your accomplishments to make others envious?

It’s normal to feel pride in your child’s accomplishments, whether it’s in school, sports, or relationships. But if the intent of the father is to put down other parents’ accomplishments and talk about how special and envy-worthy you are — this can be a sign of narcissism at the works. It’s like saying, “Look how special I am … and how you are not.”  

4. Constant manipulation

Does your father guilt-trip you when you try to set a boundary?

Manipulation comes in many forms – from shaming, emotional coercion, to manipulative threats of cutting ties. Narcissistic fathers weaponize love and only give it on occasion instead of healthily expressing it as a natural emotion. This unhealthy parenting can be disorienting to the child — causing them to have a distorted view of love and developing unhealthy attachment styles in their future relationships.

5. Dependency

Does he force you to make sacrifices while disregarding your own needs?

A narcissistic father feels as if their adult child owes them something, whether it’s financial, emotional, or physical needs. This could entail the adult child to do great sacrifices without regard for their own needs and priorities. If the child says no, the father could retaliate by guilt-tripping and saying something like: “Oh, so you don’t love me anymore? After all, I’ve done to help you?”

In those cases, it’s best to stay firm on your boundaries and communicate your side of the story. It might not always change his mind—but you can at least say you’ve done all you can, move on, and once able, move out. 

6. Neglect

Is your father too involved in his career or personal life — with little time set aside for you?

A narcissistic father can find the idea of child-raising too much to bear — leaving it to his spouse to take care of child-rearing. He might be too absorbed with his work or personal life that he forgets to set aside time to foster a relationship with his child — which can cause the child to develop self-esteem issues and a slew of other mental health problems.

Closing Thoughts

Do you know anyone who resonates with any of the signs above? Have we missed anything?

Let us know in the comments below. That’s all for now, Psych2Goers!


Ni, Preston (Feb 2016) 10 Signs of a Narcissistic Parent. Psychology Today. Retrieved at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/201602/10-signs-narcissistic-parent

Villines, D. (Mar 2019) A Dream Deferred: Are You Living Vicariously Through Your Child? Retrieved at   https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/dream-deferred-are-you-living-vicariously-through-your-child-0306197

Thomas, N. Jan 5, 2021. 10 Signs of a Narcissistic Parent, & How to Deal With Them. Retrieved at https://www.choosingtherapy.com/narcissistic-parent/

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