It’s like trying to stop that stray dog from following you home.
When your narcissistic father is pursuing you, it’s almost possible to believe he loves you.
But he doesn’t. He’s not capable of loving you. He’ll tell you he loves you. But when you think back you realize that he’s never demonstrated unconditional love for you. His “love” has always been conditional on how much adoration and praise you shower on him.
That’s not love.
The Disappearing Narcissistic Parent
Back in the early 90s, I was having a rough time making it, financially speaking. The bad economy decimated the town I was living in. There were few jobs to be found. I found three part-time jobs—the highest paying being $5 per hour—and a $60 a week apartment about the size of a refrigerator box.
I couldn’t afford a car so I walked to work. The nearest grocery store was over a mile away, so I was limited in what I could purchase each trip.
I couldn’t afford a phone, so I couldn’t leave a phone number on job applications to get a higher paying job.
My narcissistic mother knew the situation I was in. She never came around to check on me. Never offered a ride to the grocery store so I could stock up. Never had me come over to do my laundry so I didn’t have to carry a garbage bag of clothes a half mile. And she certainly didn’t offer to help out with my expenses.
I didn’t see much of her for a couple years. Yet when I got back on my feet and had a respectable job I heard from her all the time.
What Narcissistic Parents Need from Their Children
- Narcissist Parents Need Their Children to Reflect Well on Them: Since narcissistic parents take credit for their children’s success, they need them to be successful. The parent want to present their kid to the world and say, “Look what I made!” “Oh the sacrifices I made so this could be.” They want the adoration and recognition that belongs to the child.
But if the child is not successful, the story is different. Some narcissistic parents react with rage. My mother essentially disowned me for a few years until I was successful enough for her to take credit for again.
- Narcissistic Parents Need Their Children to be Obedient: Even as adults, narcissistic parents expect their children to be obedient. This is because they still expect their children to meet their needs. This only gets worse as the parent ages.
If a child shows any streak of independence or refuses to meet the needs of the parent, then the parent may resort to “blackmail.” Their blackmailing can be financial, especially if the adult child depends on them financially. It can also be emotional as when the displeased parents withdraw their “love,” or demand the child repay them for all they “sacrificed” for her.
- Narcissistic Parents Need Their Children to Provide Narcissistic Supply: Narcissistic supply is attention, adoration, or praise that others give the narcissist. Narcissistic supply can also be in the form of fear or discomfort that one exhibits being with the the narcissist. The narcissist needs narcissistic supply to maintain their false-self—the mask they present to the world.
Young children are unending sources of narcissistic supply. They adore their parents and the parent can take credit for their achievements. As the child ages, any attempt at normal teenage independence or rebellion is met with rage and punishments. Teens usually end up towing the line and provide narcissistic supply.
The narcissistic parent still expects the child to provide narcissistic supply, even once the child becomes an adult and moves out. Not providing what the parent needs can result in parental rage and blackmail. The child is expected to succeed so the parent can shine. If the adult child doesn’t succeed, the parent will often heap scorn on him.
Knowing what your narcissistic parent wants from you provides you with a choice. You can provide what your parent wants or you can choose to not provide what your parent wants.
If you choose to continue giving your narcissistic parent what he wants, you can expect him to continue in his ways. That means he’ll continue to manipulate, emotionally abuse, and command you. He has no incentive to change. Wishing he would become a normal, loving parent is useless—he won’t.
If you choose not to give your narcissistic parent what he wants, you can begin the process of healing. You have a lifetime of wounds inside you. Your self-esteem is probably low and you are likely full of self-doubt. You need to learn how to be in a healthy relationship so you can finally have the unconditional love you deserve.
Your parents won’t make it easy on you. So you’ll need to learn to set and enforce boundaries with them. And you can expect your parent to bad mouth you to everyone they know.
Is it worth it to say no to your parents? Yes. Life becomes enjoyable when you start to heal. Once you heal enough, they will lose their power to hurt you. That’s a wonderful thing.
I urge you to choose the road to healing. No parent has the right to demand their child meet their needs the way that narcissistic parents do. Only you can say, “stop!”
I wish you the courage to choose to heal. Feel free to contact me via the contact form for support. I’m still traveling down the long road your facing. It is one of the most worthwhile journeys I’ve ever made.
May you find the peace you deserve.