What Are The Character Traits Of A Narcissistic Father?

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If you are the child of a narcissistic father, you’ve likely experienced various types of emotional abuse. Your father would have also coerced you into living in his shadow with unreasonable expectations because he perceived your independence as a threat. 

It’s important to understand the difference between the traits of a strict parent and those of a pathological narcissist. Parent-centric tendencies such as having high expectations, being firm, and desiring offspring to ‘make them proud’ might seem narcissistic but these tendencies do not, in and of themselves, constitute pathological narcissism. 

What distinguishes a narcissistic parent is the denial to their offspring of an independent sense of self. In the narcissistic parent’s eyes, their offspring only exists to serve their selfish needs and agendas. That results in the pervasive undermining of their children’s sense of self-worth and their ability to achieve success independent of their narcissistic parent.

Traits of the Narcissistic Father

What exactly does narcissism look like in a father? The following are signs of a narcissistic father, but you should keep in mind that many parents might exhibit a few of these traits occasionally, but the pathological narcissist exhibits them consistently and without any concern for how they affect their children. 

  • I’m the Best — Grandiosity

Narcissists have an inflated sense of self, and that causes them to see other people as insignificant. That causes them to treat them as mere tools that can be used for their own personal gain. This image of other individuals even extends to their own children. 

Sometimes, they will also teach their children to think of themselves as special too. They may tell them that they are part of a special family, and they are better than other people. 

The sense of entitlement the narcissistic father feels and may impart to his children, however, is based solely on material, superficial, and egotistical trappings. Most of those are attained at the expense of their humanity, and that ultimately leads to their feelings of superiority. 

They create a superficial image designed to demonstrate just how special they are, and they will spare no expense in showing everyone what they consider to be their superior traits. It doesn’t matter whether those are material in nature, related to their physical appearance, or as a result of their accomplishments including the accomplishments of their spouse and children. 

  • Live My Dream

Parents are supposed to want their children to succeed. The narcissistic father sets up a series of expectations for his children that aren’t for their benefit. Instead, they’re for his benefit, his dreams and his goals. 

The narcissistic father sees his children as simply extensions of his personal wishes, and as such, they have no individual needs, thoughts, emotions or goals that should be valued or nurtured. His children exist to help him further his own goals. 

  • You’re Not Enough!

The narcissistic parent is threatened by their own children’s potential and success. They see it as a challenge to their own self-esteem. For that reason, they will undermine their children rather than bolster their self-esteem. 

Your narcissistic father might constantly put you down, nit-pick, unreasonably criticize or judge, and make unfair comparisons. He will also invalidate your positive attitude and emotions, and will consistently reject any accomplishments you might make. 

It’s common to hear things like, “You can’t do anything right,” or, “What’s wrong with you?” He might also say, “You’ll never be good enough.” All of this is aimed at lowering your confidence so that it will boost his own self-esteem. 

  • Do What I Want You to Do!

no empathy of a narcissistic father

Because the self-image of a narcissist is based on superficial trappings, they feel the need to control everything in their life from their environmental circumstances to the people around them. To do that, they make extensive use of manipulation. 

The manipulative tactics used by your narcissistic father likely included guilt trips, blaming, shaming, negative comparisons, and even emotional coercion. He likely also applied unreasonable pressure and a manipulative reward/punishment system. 

All of this taught you that love is conditional: you must earn love through your good behavior. That’s defined as behavior that pleases your narcissistic father. You might have heard a version of any of the following phrases many times throughout your childhood. 

  • I’ve sacrificed everything for you and you’re such an ingrate!
  • You’re an embarrassment to this family. 
  • You’ve robbed me of my happiness. 
  • Why can’t you be more like your brother?
  • You will win if you want to make me proud of you. 
  • Either you choose the college major I want for you or I will cut off any support. 
  • Unless you meet my expectations, you’re not a good child.

You notice that the common theme in these manipulative statements is that love is a reward for good behavior rather than simply an expression of a healthy parent. 

  • No, I Don’t Understand

Finally, your narcissist father had no ability to put himself in your place. He simply was not able to think about your feelings, and of course, he could never validate how you feel as being real or important. 

The only thing that matters to your narcissistic father is his own feelings and thoughts. This can cause you to be rebellious or passive due to the invalidation you suffered. It could also cause you to become a narcissist yourself. 

Final Thoughts

Living with a narcissistic father makes for a difficult and abusive childhood. The effects can last long into your adulthood and affect your life choices. 

Sometimes, you might not even be aware that you’ve been the victim of narcissistic abuse since you’ve never known any other parenting style. If your father had these traits, however, it is likely you’ve been emotionally abused. 

There is hope for the future: you can free yourself from the toxic effects of that kind of parenting. There are many ways to deal with a narcissistic father so that you can live a full and satisfying life. 

If you have a narcissistic father, learn how to tell him now. Just click on the link below this article, and I’ll send you a free copy of “5 Must-Know Techniques to Effectively Reject a Narcissist” directly to your inbox. 


If you want more tips for dealing with narcissists, setting boundaries, and managing emotional triggers, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel


Narcissistic abuse takes a terrible toll on your life. I’m Patricia, and my mother is a narcissist, so I know what you’re going through. These blog posts will help you understand narcissism better and give you tips for dealing with the narcissists in your life. Healing starts here!

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