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How to deal with a narcisistic father?

24 Answers
Last Updated: 12/29/2020 at 9:37pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
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Jennifer Patterson, LMFT, ATR-BC

Art Therapist

Life can be messy. Sometimes you need a little support to make your way through it. I love to help guide people through their challenges & to find the beauty in our messes.

Top Rated Answers
December 7th, 2014 6:27am
I think you stop expecting or hoping to change him, and learn how to be at peace with the way he is, and realize that it doesn't reflect who you are. I think the best way to deal, is to stop trying to deal with him, and accept that you're not going to receive the validation that you deserve from him, and that you have to validate yourself.
December 5th, 2014 12:32pm
Firstly, gather up some courage and discuss it with your mother. She is the one who knows better to you and your father than anyone else. Being a mother she knows how it feels and she will definitely listen to you and help you.
December 6th, 2014 11:25am
Sometimes, all you can do is accept him for who he is and move on with your life. My father was extremely narcisistic, and I ended up moving away for college. Whenever he would try to act that way towards me from that point on, I would just stop acknowledging him. He now realizes that, if he wants to keep me in his life, he needs to make personal improvements.
December 5th, 2014 3:57am
Narcissistic people tend to be self-centered and oblivious to the needs of others. They often feel superior to others and deserving of extra honors and privileges that they haven't earned. The best thing you can do is to avoid feeding into these unhealthy personality traits. Give the person praise or attention whenever they behave selflessly, and ignore them when they are grandstanding or crowing about their achievements.
December 5th, 2014 8:18pm
Communication is key. Tell your father how this behavior makes you feel. If all else fails, just except that this is his behavior and only he can change it. Keep the focus on your future and goals. However, don't stop loving dad, just adjust yourself to where you are comfortable.
December 16th, 2014 1:55pm
This is very difficult. From experience I needed a lot of time to understand that despite my dad's role as a father, he needed more attention than I did. And I guess to appease him I made him feel important and loved in spite of everything that happened. I also did it because I was afraid he'd physically hurt me again. Nowadays though that I'm older, it's easier to engage in conversation with him.
December 31st, 2014 8:29pm
I'm really sorry you have to live with a narcissistic father. It must be so hard for you to be used to fulfill his emotional, narcissistic needs. I would just suggest you to have boundaries, physically and emotionally. If you need to stay at home, you can, but make sure that you have your own private space. This is your safe space, and you're in charge in it. Second, emotionally, try to talk to your self that whatever you do, you do it for your self and not for your father, and whatever your father does, he does it for himself. Therefore, if there is a consequence entitled to an action, you can trace back whose action was that and who should be responsible of it. Please remember, you are not responsible for how your father feels or does! You can only be responsible to what you do and feel!
July 7th, 2015 7:53pm
I believe the best way to deal with a narcisistic father is to show how kind you are and to just be yourself. I think that people become who they surround themselves with, so by being that son or daughter who is always kind and optimistic, could really help fathers become more selfless.
July 13th, 2015 12:11am
Narcissism is extremely hard to deal with. When it becomes the reigning factor of someone's personality, it can be very difficult for them to see your points of view, or seem like they care about your emotional state at all. The best way to deal with a narcissistic personality is to focus on not taking it personally. Do your best to express yourself to the person, but do not get frustrated if they do not respond in a compassionate way. Say it once, and, if they don't respond well, engage in some self-care to work through your frustrations.
January 12th, 2016 1:18pm
One possible way is indirectly piting your father that he is being narcissistic, The other way to learn to change your behavioural pattern
January 14th, 2016 2:32am
In my experience with my own father I find it easier to just stay on stable ground rather than searching for more, but I also seek other male role models to learn from.
January 16th, 2016 9:16pm
1. Recognize that their behavior is abnormal, not merely “difficult.” Most people ultimately want to work out a problem in a way that’s mutually agreeable, but a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder thrives on the power play. For a parent with NPD– or who you suspect has NPD– it’s often “their way or the highway.” In my own family, my father has chosen not to see his grandchildren for years rather than make a reasonable concession about the terms of visits. If your parent values their ability to control you above having a functioning relationship, you can assure yourself that this is not normal or healthy human behavior. 2. Set firm boundaries. A narcissistic parent will frequently overstep reasonable boundaries just to prove they can. They may invite themselves to events, make a point of giving gifts only to the family members they prefer, or disregard your wishes about how to interact with your children. You will often be in the position of having to enforce consequences for their inappropriate behavior– such as saying, “we’d be happy to visit you the day after Christmas, but not before, because we don’t want a repeat of what happened last year.” You may find yourself feeling as if you’re disciplining a child, but that is the reality of managing someone whose behavior is inherently selfish. 3. Don’t let yourself be gaslighted. It’s very common for an NPD parent to try to convince you that you’re crazy or delusional. A friend’s mother constantly tells her she remembers situations incorrectly– even though a social worker’s documentation supports the friend’s version. My father would express concern for my mental health, claiming I was misremembering events from my life that he wasn’t even present for. I had thought this was a personal quirk of his until I learned it is a well-known manipulation tactic of people with NPD. While we don’t always remember things with perfect accuracy, you cannot let reality be dictated to you by someone with a personality disorder. 4. Realize that friends may not understand your situation. Friends and acquaintances who have no experience with NPD often give the most unhelpful support and advice. They will say “she’s the only mother you’ll ever have, you need to do whatever it takes to work it out” or “He’ll come around eventually, you’ll see. My great-uncle was mad at the family for ten years and then made up with everyone.” But when your parent’s personality disorder is the problem, the normal routes to peace won’t work. It isn’t a matter of settling a disagreement– it’s a problem that will keep coming back unless the parent seeks treatment (which most people with NPD will not do). You may worry that others will judge you for creating distance between yourself and your parent. But don’t allow yourself to feel guilty for handling a narcissist differently from how you’d handle an emotionally healthy parent. 5. Accept that you may have to cut ties and move on. For a long time, I believed it was my responsibility to try to “work it out” with my father. After a six-year estrangement, I met with him and then spent the next year trying to heal our relationship. But soon it became apparent that nothing was going to improve. He saw this not as a second chance or new beginning, but as an opportunity to make me pay for the things I’d done that he resented. Thanks to the extended break from his influence, though, I was able to clearly see how bizarre and unhealthy his behavior was, and knew my kids and I deserved better. After a year of earnest effort, and another email telling me I needed to work harder to get back into his good graces, I realized we had reached the end of the road. I wanted a healthy father-daughter relationship, but he only wanted someone to manipulate, and I wasn’t interested in filling that role. I said goodbye and, more than a year later, have never had a moment of regret about it. I could not make peace with my father, but I could make peace with the absence of my father. If you are dealing with a narcissistic parent, be aware that you’re not alone in your experiences. Online you will find many support groups, helpful articles, and people sharing their stories. And if you’re the friend of someone struggling with this situation, listen with sympathy and encourage your friend to trust and protect herself. In the end, no matter how good our intentions, life is too short to wait on another person to grant us peace of mind
January 21st, 2016 8:13pm
Mmhm.. It's really hard because it's virtually impossible to make them see your point of view. Still, I recommend writing to them and hen sitting down for a discussion of the content shared to make it easier for them to get correct perspective.
January 22nd, 2016 12:22am
The best way to deal with anyone that has a specific diagnoses of some sort, is to do research on the disorder. Research what narcissist is, so that you understand the next time you encounter it with that person. It makes it easier for one to deal with this type of personality.
January 22nd, 2016 4:48pm
Instead of judging him, try to accept him. Think like a detective - WHY is he the way he is? Explore that question and you may come to a place of more compassion than judgement.
January 27th, 2016 4:21pm
I feel if you try your best to ignore his ego, not letting it get to you try finding friends that makes you feel comfortable with them enough to make you feel like you can tell them anything that you would want to tell you father like a father figure
January 28th, 2016 4:47am
I truly believe that people are placed in our life to teach us things. How we want to be or dont want to be. We take traits that are admirable and incorporate them into ours or realize how toxic and individual could be. How to deal with a narcisistic father is to realize (1) his self-esteem is not complete (2) limit time exposure (3) eventually, decide if you want to be around this person or not. There is no where said that you have to be around someone who is toxic regardless if family or not.
February 10th, 2016 2:11am
Your dad might be narcissistic for a reason and maybe that is what that is building his confidence. What you can do is give him some space to be who he is at times but talk to him if it gets too much. Be honest with him and tell him that it is bothering you and it is too much for you.
February 11th, 2016 1:38am
It could be very helpful to do some research on narcissism, and the relationships narcissists keep with those around them. Also, this can make you aware of the manipulations that could happen, pretty often. And seeing them for what they are, gives you better control.
August 30th, 2016 4:54pm
Do not fuel his narcissism. When he does nice things praise him for it. When he is showing the worst attitude try and bring him down a little. Ask him for reasons why he feels the way he does and give him examples as to why it is not a big deal. Ask him what others would think of his behavior. Humanize him, but do not destroy his ego completely.
June 27th, 2017 3:36am
if he is toxic to your wellbeing, you may need to put some distance between you and him right now so that you can heal.
July 2nd, 2019 2:29am
Dealing with a narcissistic father can be tough. They may see themselves as the most important, or that they’re the only one who can be right. My father has always used the bible to back himself up, saying that since he was the man and the husband he is always right. It’s tough to deal with, especially when they don’t listen to how you feel. I find it to be helpful to put myself in his shoes and see why he acts this way. While it may not justify his actions, you can’t exactly fix him or mold him to be something else. Remember that he is human too, and although it may be hard to deal with and evoke feelings that you don’t want, everyone acts like themselves for a reason.
March 23rd, 2020 7:31am
I 'deal' with my narcissistic father as well. This made me laugh because of the way you worded the question- you often just have to 'deal' with these kinds of things. I know this can be very emotionally tiring; I have given myself sleepless nights and countless scars just because of the love I couldn't receive or wasn't shown. However, what I do want you to understand is that you don't have to 'deal' with these people. Quite often, silence and perseverance are your greatest assets- my dad is in much, much control because I stopped giving him the time of my day. When I had to, the responses were very minimal. If he started to argue with me, my responses always were along the lines of, 'Okay, you're always right. Does that make you feel better about yourself?'. He either uses humour or hurtful comebacks to get me, but I can see on his face that it does affect him. Eventually, this gets better- trust me. Just don't feel like you have to 'deal' with these sorts of people. Just remain calm and divert your attention. Although the best thing is to make your boundaries very clear- I do understand that when it's with a father, it gets a little difficult. The best 'advice' (I'm not supposed to give one, I know! Take it as it resonates, a suggestion) I can give is to engage less in conversations. Be better at what you do and don't 'deal' with him when you don't have to- often, ego clashes are a result of more arguments. Let him win, let him have it and you, have your sanity.
December 29th, 2020 9:37pm
Research more about narcissism within the family unit. Narcissism can look different across different family roles and genders. Realize that you are not alone, there are endless stories and communities online to read and be apart of. Also understand that your parent won't change so it's your responsibility to assert boundaries. It won't seem fair that you have to be the bigger person rather than your parent. However, learning to set healthy boundaries within the family unit can spill over and benefit you in other areas in your life where boundaries may also be set. Good luck we are here for you!