Narcissistic parents are among the most abusive types of parents. A narcissistic father can cause long-term damage to his children. They are notorious bullies who belittle and dominate their children. If you’ve survived narcissistic abuse from a toxic father, it can take years to heal, and often, part of the healing process may include confronting him. But you might be wondering if that is necessary.
Confronting a narcissistic father can be cathartic and help you move forward in your healing journey. Whether or not it is necessary, however, depends more on your mental status, depth of healing, and personal situation. If it feels right for you, you should do it, but if not, you don’t have to.
I decided to confront my narcissistic mother, but that was in part due to my decision to stay in contact with her. It did help me move forward as I healed from her abuse because I was able to tell her about it. Expressing your truth can be an important part of that process, but you don’t necessarily have to express it to your abuser. Sometimes, just acknowledging the abuse is enough. Here are some important things to consider when deciding if you should confront your narcissistic father.
How Can You Decide Whether to Confront Your Narcissistic Father?
Expressing your truth is an important part of your healing journey, and as such, it may be important to confront a narcissistic father to express how his abuse has affected you. It may not be necessary, however, as long as you are able to express your truth to someone and move forward with strong boundaries in place to prevent future abuse. Here are some things to consider to help you decide if confronting him is right for you.
Do You Plan to Keep in Contact?
If you plan to keep in contact with an abusive narcissistic father, it may be necessary to confront him. You’ll likely need to let him know that you are aware of his abuse as you set strong boundaries with him to prevent it in the future.
If you don’t confront him, it will be difficult to put a stop to his narcissistic abuse. Moreover, his continued abuse will undermine your efforts to heal. It will put you at further risk.
Setting boundaries with him will be virtually impossible without confronting him about the behavior you will not accept going forward. While it can be intimidating to confront him, it’s vital because, as a narcissist, he won’t stop.
I had to go no contact with my own mother for a while during my healing process. When I got back in contact with her, I had to set strong boundaries to prevent further abuse and that meant confronting her.
Of course, she pushed back by trying to gaslight me, but I stood firm, and you’ll have to do the same with a narcissistic father. Narcissists can’t bear to admit they did anything wrong because it threatens to expose their flaws.
They won’t want to own up to their abusive behavior, but to heal, you have to insist on your boundaries and the consequences for any violations. You’ll find that you have new-found self-respect when you do. Watch this video for other strategies you can use to deal with a narcissistic father.
Do You Feel Blocked in Your Healing Process?
Even if you plan to go no contact, you might feel the need to express your truth before doing so. You might think that since you’re going no contact, confronting him is like throwing salt in the wound.
If you can continue to heal without confronting him, you may not need to do so. But if you feel like you can’t move forward until you’ve told him how you feel, then you will need to confront him.
It’s vital for you to recognize the abuse you’ve endured at the hands of your father in order to heal, but he will never accept responsibility for it. That’s true no matter what, and so, you’re making this decision based on what you need to do for yourself.
When I confronted my narcissistic mother, I needed to do that. I needed to express to her exactly how her behavior had affected me. Narcissists lack empathy, so she couldn’t feel that herself, but it was important for me to let her know.
I had to accept that she would never admit guilt, but I wasn’t confronting her to change her behavior, I was confronting her to heal my wounds. It’s important that you realize this.
You can’t confront your narcissistic father with the expectation that anything you say will change him. It won’t. But confronting him is a way of telling your inner child that you see them and you know what was done to them.
It also tells your inner child that you won’t let that happen again. This can be absolutely critical for healing for some people, but others don’t feel a need. That’s why you have to ask yourself if not confronting him will make you feel as though you can only get so far in your healing process.
Does Confronting Your Narcissistic Father Present a Physical Danger?
You might decide you don’t need to confront your narcissistic father if doing so would put you in physical danger. Some narcissists are physically abusive, and if this is the case, it might be better to avoid contact altogether.
There are other ways you can confront him without needing to be in his physical presence. You can, for example, write him a letter or send him an email.
But if you prefer not to contact him altogether, you can still do those things – write a letter, send an email, etc. – without sending them. You’re expressing your own truth, and that’s the important part of this process.
Acknowledging abuse can be difficult to do, especially when the abuser was a narcissist. For the longest time, I questioned if I was just imagining things or if I was making them up in my own mind.
My mother was so adept at gaslighting that I really did question if I had some kind of problem with interpreting reality. I would see her do things, but if I confronted her, she would explain them in a way that had me questioning myself.
When I figured out that she was being abusive, I was so relieved! If, for some reason, I had not been able to confront her, it would have been enough just to know that it was her, not me. As it was, she denied everything when I did confront her, but that didn’t matter anymore because I knew.
That’s what is really important for your healing, more important than any confrontation. You have to know deep in your heart what is true for you. Knowing that is how you heal.
Is Confronting a Narcissistic Father a Waste of Time?
Mildred Kavanaugh, who had a narcissistic mother and husband, writes, “Confronting a narcissistic parent is a waste of time and will accomplish nothing. I understand you have many things you would like to confront him with, but is it worth being cut out of the will to accomplish nothing?”
She’s not wrong, and it is important to consider the possible consequences of confronting your narcissistic father. If you are in his will and hope to inherit money at some point in the future, you should consider if confrontation is something that is necessary and helpful in your case.
As Mildred notes, the narcissist will not take responsibility for doing anything wrong, and they are not likely to change unless they dedicate themselves to long-term psychotherapy. Additionally, they can make you feel worse than you did before the confrontation.
These are important considerations, but confronting them is not about getting them to admit wrongdoing or change. It’s about your healing process. If you need to speak your truth in order to heal, and you’re not afraid of the consequences, then it’s worth doing.
Confronting someone is a step in a process that includes developing compassion for them, forgiving them, and then forgiving yourself. Sometimes, you can do the last three steps in that process without confrontation, but if you feel you can’t, then confronting your narcissistic father may be right for you.
How Should You Confront a Narcissistic Father?
If you do decide to confront your narcissistic father, there are several ways you can do that. You have to consider whether your father might be physically abusive when you do this, and what you are planning to do following the confrontation. Let’s look at a few ways you might go about this.
Confronting your narcissistic father in person is one of the ways you might choose to do this. Obviously, if it’s possible he could be physically abusive, this may not be the right choice, but it has its benefits.
First, when you confront him in person, you can see his body language as you do. That may be something you want to do so that you can gauge his inner response. Outwardly, he’s unlikely to give you much except denials, but sometimes facial expressions and body language tell a different story.
For some people, it’s also important to express something like this in person for their own benefit. They feel like they can really make the person hear them by being there.
You should be aware that he will likely push back against anything you say, and he will try numerous typical manipulation strategies to avoid feeling guilty or taking responsibility. He will gaslight you by telling you that you’re overly sensitive, that’s not what he really meant, and so on.
He will also lie and project. He may accuse you of being a narcissist. You need to be strong enough in your healing process to resist these tactics, or you will once again fall prey to his abuse.
You should also begin by stating that you need say some things and that you would appreciate it if he listened before responding. That doesn’t guarantee he will do that, but when he starts to interrupt, stop him and ask him to let you finish.
It’s important to be firm in your approach. Your father will try to divert the conversation and distract you from finishing. If you’re strong enough, however, you can make your points and walk away before he can respond with more toxicity.
Write a Letter
Another way to confront your narcissistic father, particularly if you want to make your points without being interrupted, is to write him a letter (or email). While you won’t have the satisfaction of seeing his immediate reaction, you will be certain you can express everything you want to say.
That’s a big benefit of choosing this method. You can take your time to think about exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it. You can write it, let it sit for a while, and then edit it as you think is necessary.
You can make sure it perfectly expresses what you want to say before you send it. The process of writing this letter can, in and of itself, be a cathartic, healing process. When you do send it, you can let it go.
You may or may not get a response, but that’s not the point. The point is to express your truth and your pain. In doing so, you can release that trauma and move forward.
This may be the way to go, too, if you don’t feel strong enough to resist his manipulative tactics if you see him in person. Sometimes, expressing your trauma can help you gain that strength so that you can confront him in person at some point.
Another thing you can do is to write out the letter to clarify your thoughts, and then you can do the confrontation in person after you are sure you know everything you want to say. For many people, the process of writing out things they want to say can help them organize their thoughts and how they want to express them.
Call Him on the Phone
Another method you can use to confront a narcissistic father is by calling him on the phone. This is a good tactic if you want to hear his response but don’t care to confront him face-to-face.
Calling him on the phone can work, but you should expect him to hang up on you at least once. You can also expect him to use gaslighting and projection just as he would in person.
Still, this method is a good one for people who want to know the narcissist has heard them but who don’t want to see him. Once again, it’s a good idea to ask him to hear you out before responding.
He likely won’t, but you can always hang up on him, too, if he doesn’t want to listen. Be prepared for an earful of rage at some point in the conversation, but that’s another opportunity for you to set a boundary by refusing to interact with him in a rage.
How Will Your Narcissistic Father React When You Confront Him?
There are several different ways your narcissistic father might react when you confront him. My mother used several of these when I confronted her. This is why it’s important to have made significant progress in your healing process before you elect to confront him.
Here are several different things he might try and what you can do to shut them down.
One of the first reactions you can expect to see is narcissistic rage. Narcissistic rage is a sudden, explosive burst of anger that you’ve probably seen before. It happens anytime a narcissist feels threatened.
Narcissistic fathers are often bullies, and they use rage frequently to control the people around them, including their children. It can lead to a physical altercation as well.
This is not something you should accept. If he bursts into a rage, the purpose is to distract you from the conversation at hand. You should respond by refusing to acknowledge his rage.
You might say something like, “I know this is upsetting to you, but your rage will not keep me from speaking my mind. If you can’t listen reasonably, I’ll write you a letter instead, but I will express these emotions.”
If he continues with a rageful response, simply walk away or hang up the phone and resolve to choose a different method to express your thoughts. This video has some other thoughts on how to end an argument with a narcissistic father.
Gaslighting is another common response. Your narcissistic father will try to tell you that you have imagined the abuse he inflicted or that you’re too sensitive. He will downplay your feelings.
He might say things like, “Every child thinks their father is abusive. I’m not abusive; you’re just spoiled.” Many of his responses may infuriate you, but it’s important to stay calm as you respond.
You need to stand firmly grounded in your own interpretation of reality. If your father tries to tell you that you’re overly sensitive, say, “I have a right to my feelings, and I know how what you did affected me.”
If he tells you that you’re imagining things, simply say, “I know what happened, and I know you do too. I’m not changing my understanding of the events based on your denial.” You can also state that this is how you feel, and you only want to express that to him.
Devaluation and Dismissiveness
Your narcissistic father may also choose to devalue and dismiss your feelings and claims about their abuse. He may call you names or tell you that you’re just making things up. He may dismiss your feelings as being ‘water under the bridge’ or not mattering anymore.
This kind of emotional abuse is inexcusable, but it’s a product of his inability to accept responsibility for anything that’s happened. You can set a boundary here by refusing to allow him to engage in this manner.
If he begins to devalue you, simply let him know that you won’t accept being called names or otherwise insulted. If he can’t talk to you in a respectful manner, you won’t talk to him anymore at all. You should always keep no contact on the table as a possible solution even if you prefer to continue to have him in your life.
If he dismisses your feelings, you should let him know that he doesn’t have that right. They are your feelings, and you are going to express them. If he can’t handle that, then perhaps he should take a closer look at how he’s acted.
You should also hold his feet to the fire about how he’s treated you over the years and the effects that treatment has had on your life. If he continues to dismiss your feelings, you should simply walk away or hang up and write that letter.
You won’t be able to see his reaction, but you will be able to express your truth that way. Again, no contact should be an option because you definitely deserve better than to be treated in that way.
A narcissistic father is just about the worst kind of father out there. He’s self-centered, emotionally (and possibly physically) abusive, and he won’t hesitate to bully you. He is only focused on his own needs, and he won’t hesitate to demean you if it gets him something he wants. He is a terrible parent, and no child deserves to be treated that way. He will create emotional wounds and then use those very wounds against his own children.
Nothing you say to him will change him, but the important thing is healing yourself. I’ve created a 5-Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers that can help you to heal some of those emotional wounds your father created. This handy guide is free, and it is designed to help you recognize, defuse, and heal emotional triggers and the wounds that created them. Just click on the link, and I’ll send you a copy directly to your inbox. You deserve so much better than the parenting you received, and this guide can help you resolve some of the trauma you suffered.
If you want more tips for dealing with narcissists, setting boundaries, and managing emotional triggers, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel