A narcissistic parent is just about the worst scenario for a child. Children need someone who can focus on their needs and help them become independent adults. That’s the opposite of what a narcissist is able to do. Narcissistic fathers are aloof, distant, and overly judgmental of their daughters, and they are competitive and devastatingly harsh with their sons.
In neither case does the narcissist want the child to become independent. The damage they do is often so significant that you have to make the choice to cut them out of your life, but how do you do that?
You cut your narcissistic father off by first preparing for what you’re going to do. That means reducing contact first and getting your support network in place. When you’re ready to do it, you can write them a letter or confront them. In any case, you need to assert your boundaries and don’t argue.
I had to cut my narcissistic mother off for a while until I was able to do some important healing. Doing that was one of the most difficult things I had ever done, and cutting off your narcissistic father will be difficult too. But it’s a choice you often need to make for your own well-being.
One of the first things to do is to be clear about when you should make this decision and whether or not your relationship with him can be saved. Once you’ve made those determinations, the tips I offer you will help you cut him off in the easiest way possible.
When Should You Break Off Contact with a Narcissistic Father?
If you’re uncertain about whether your father is a narcissist, check out this video to understand what traits a narcissistic father really has. Because narcissists are so good at making you feel as though you are to blame for their abuse, it’s likely that you’ve been going back and forth about this for some time. You may even gaslight yourself with thoughts like, “I’m just too sensitive,” or “He’s not that bad.”
There are, however, some very clear indicators regarding when to cut your narcissistic father out of your life. Here are a few of those indicators:
- If he is physically abusive at all, let him go and get to safety.
- If is unable to be civil to you, it’s time to say goodbye.
- When his abuse has undermined your confidence to the point that you consider hurting yourself, get him out of your life.
- When he fails to respect your boundaries, respect yourself by walking away.
- When he has become nothing more than a critical voice in your life, it’s time to let him go and find someone who really loves you.
- When you realize that your relationship with him has nothing positive to offer you, it’s time to go.
Basically, you should trust your intuition. I know that’s likely hard for you to do because your narcissistic father has been gaslighting you all your life. Ask yourself this question: What good does my father bring to my life? If you can’t answer that, you need to move on.
Once you’re free of your narcissistic father, you can then start healing the damage his abuse has caused. It’s time to focus on your needs and let your father fend for himself.
Is There Any Way to Save Your Relationship with a Narcissistic Father?
I did eventually manage to save my relationship with my narcissistic mother, so it is possible with your father as well. But I had to do some significant healing before I was able to be around her again. I also had to set firm boundaries and enforce them with every violation.
I had cut her out of my life while I went through that process. This gave me enough distance to genuinely focus on my own priorities.
“Relationships with narcissists are held in place by the hope of a “someday better,” with little evidence to support it will ever arrive.”
― Ramani Durvasula, Clinical Psychologist, Professor of Psychology, and Author
Narcissists suck up all of the air in the room, and it’s hard to truly heal when you’re still around them on a regular basis. They will try to undermine your understanding of reality, and they won’t respect any boundaries you try to set.
Your parents have been up in your business for your entire life, and they don’t cede that territory easily. Cutting your narcissistic father off altogether is likely the only way to get enough space to really begin your healing process.
You may be able to reestablish a relationship with him later on when you’re stronger. But the key to doing that will be setting firm boundaries, restricting the time you spend with him, restricting the conversation topics, and forcing him to give you the respect you most definitely deserve.
How Should You Break It Off When It’s Time?
When it’s time to break it off with your narcissistic father, you first want to prepare, and then when you actually do it, you can better enforce your decision. Expect pushback from such a toxic person and realize that you may have to enforce your decision more than once.
Here are some specific tips for cutting your narcissistic father off so that you can ensure you will have the space you need to heal.
1. Reduce Contact First
It’s very helpful when you’re considering cutting a narcissist out of your life to begin by reducing contact. That will prepare your narcissistic father and you for what’s to come.
You can start by seeing him less frequently and for shorter time periods. You can gradually reduce contact even more so that when it’s time to cut him out altogether, it’s not that much of a change.
That prepares him and you. Make no mistake about it, you’re likely to experience a range of emotions when you take this step. You may feel grief, sadness, anger, and relief. You shouldn’t expect that you will suddenly feel great.
You’ve got a lot to work through once you are no longer in contact with him. By reducing your contact first, you can begin that process so that you’re prepared as well. It won’t just be your father affected by this, you will feel many different emotions too.
As for your father, don’t expect any kind of reaction from him. You will likely be disappointed. Remember that narcissists have an uncanny ability to shift blame for any perceived wrongs from themselves to anyone else around them.
Your narcissistic father may react with rage, but if you think he will realize the error of his ways, you’re likely to be sorely disappointed.
2. Set Clear, Strong Boundaries
The next step in the process is to set clear, strong boundaries with distinct consequences. This is another part of the process of detaching yourself from your toxic father.
Your boundaries are your way of respecting yourself. The goal is not to get your father to change his ways – only he can do that – the goal is to force him, and anyone else in your life for that matter, to respect you the way you deserve to be respected.
This is you taking care of yourself, and it’s something your narcissistic father should have been doing all along, but his personality disorder doesn’t allow for that.
One thing is for certain – your father will never accept responsibility for his actions. To do so would likely cause a narcissistic collapse as his false self-image, the one he constructed in childhood, comes tumbling down.
You can’t change him, but you can start respecting yourself with clear boundaries, and you can refuse to interact with him if he crosses a line. He won’t change his ways, but he may stop behaving badly around you.
3. Organize a Strong Social Support Network
When you cut your narcissistic father out of your life, you’re going to need your peeps. These are the loving family and friends who genuinely have your best interests at heart. These are the people you need around you to support your decision and help you heal.
It’s a good idea to get them identified and organized before you cut your narcissistic father out of your life. They will be vital to helping you actually follow through on this decision. Now, your father may have isolated you from friends and family, but there are things you can do to develop a helpful group of people to support you.
|Tips for Organizing a Strong Social Support Network…
4. Recognize that Your Health and Well-Being are Your Priority
To be successful in distancing yourself from a toxic parent, you have to put your needs first. Your narcissistic father should have done that himself, but his personality disorder didn’t allow him to focus on anyone other than himself.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to put yourself last. It’s time to be the parent to your own inner child that your father should have been to you. You can be your own hero, and in fact, you need to be in order to heal the damage he has done.
When you’re ready to break off contact with a narcissistic parent, that means your time has come. You’re ready to begin the courageous task of healing the wounds created by their toxic abuse.
You deserved to have been cherished, encouraged, supported, and unconditionally loved. Instead, you were dismissed, your feelings minimized, and you were mercilessly criticized. If you were lucky, you were simply ignored.
It’s not a good childhood by anyone’s measure, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to have a great life now. It’s time to recognize that you matter!
5. Let Go of Blaming Yourself for the Relationship Status
You are the child, and your narcissistic father is the parent. It is his responsibility to have cultivated a strong, loving relationship with you. You didn’t do anything wrong.
Adults are the ones who are tasked with taking care of their children in a way that helps them develop a healthy identity mechanism and self-esteem. Your narcissistic father didn’t do that. He damaged your psychosocial development.
What’s more, he’s not sorry. Narcissists don’t apologize, and if they do, they’re up to something. The manipulation your narcissistic father employed to try and control you was not an example of good parenting.
He is responsible for the status of your relationship. You didn’t deserve that, and you are not to blame. Period. He’ll blame you and allow you to carry the burden of that if you let him, and that’s why you can’t let him.
Remember, you need to be your own hero, and it’s time to take back your life from a toxic parent who doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
6. Work with a Therapist
Experts at the University of Melbourne in Australia have found that psychotherapy can help abuse victims reduce their symptoms of depression and anxiety. These are likely some of the strongest emotions you will feel as you go about cutting your narcissistic father out of your life.
Moreover, a therapist can help you heal the old wounds that your narcissistic father created early in your childhood. They can also help you identify new goals for your life now that you’re free of the abuse.
Therapists are a critical part of your social support network, and they can help you reimagine your life. They can help you create a life that’s free of abuse.
One of the most courageous things you will ever do is to face your inner demons, the ones that were born of the abuse you endured from a narcissistic father. There’s no judgment you should fear when you take steps to improve your mental well-being. If you’re looking for some online resources for dealing with narcissism, take a look at this video.
7. Accept that Your Narcissistic Father Will Push Back
There are many ways your narcissistic father may react to your decision to cut him out of your life. He may seem to accept it but then continue to send you emails or contact people in your family about you.
He may fly into a rage and start screaming at you. He may start a smear campaign against you within your family in order to do damage control for anything you might say about him. He may still try to contact you despite your decision.
He may even show up at your home or place of work to insist that you see him. He may become incredibly charming to try to win you back.
No matter what, he will push back in some way. Narcissists can’t empathize with how their behavior affects other people, and they can’t accept responsibility for causing problems. So he will respond in some way, and you simply have to accept that might happen.
8. Write Your Father a Letter
One way to actually go about letting your narcissistic father know about your decision is by writing him a letter. That way, you don’t have to be present for his immediate reaction, which is likely to include rage, and you can think about what you want to say and how best to say it.
You won’t have to be worried about being interrupted as you try to make your point, and you can say everything you want to say. Here are some points you might consider including in that letter if you decide to do it this way.
- Our relationship is not adding value to my life;
- I no longer need your criticism or judgment;
- You don’t seem to care about my needs, so this is better for you, too;
- I’m grateful for the things you did do for me, like providing me with shelter and food, but a father’s love means so much more;
- I need time to heal some issues that our relationship have caused, and I must, therefore, insist that you don’t contact me until I let you know otherwise;
- I wish you well going forward, but I no longer want to be around you.
9. Don’t Argue with Him Over Your Decision
If your father does push back by confronting you about your decision, it will do you no good whatsoever to argue with him about it. If you do argue, he will see that as a weakness and try to exploit what he interprets as indecisiveness.
What’s more, you risk actually falling for this tactic by agreeing to anything just to get him to shut up. And he may cause you to question whether or not the problems you have with him are your responsibility.
The best response if he confronts you is to simply reiterate your decision and walk away. Refuse to let him pull you into an argument. He may say some very provocative things to get a response from you, but ignore those and get away from him.
10. Alert Family Members of Your Decision
If you have some family members that you are particularly concerned about, you should let them know of the decision you made. Your narcissistic father may attack them or try to initiate a smear campaign against you with them.
If you want to avoid losing their support or friendship, you might reach out either before or right after you’ve cut your narcissistic father off to let them know about it. You can simply let them know that you had to make this decision for your own mental health.
Tell them that your decision does not affect how you feel about them and that your hope is to keep them in your life. Let them know that your father may say some very mean things about you, but you hope they realize that there are two sides to every story.
Reiterate that you care about them and don’t want this decision to affect the relationship you have with them. Let them know that they don’t have to feel a need to defend you to your father or discuss the situation with him if they don’t want to. That’s not what you expect.
Just let them know that you want to maintain a good relationship with them because you love them and feel like you need them in your life. Once you’ve done that, you have to let them make the best decision for themselves, but at least they will know that you reached out with love.
A narcissistic father is not a good parent. He’s about the furthest thing from the stereotypical loving, supportive father you always see depicted in the movies. He will criticize you, compete with you, and never give you the praise you need to encourage you to keep going. He will also not only create emotional wounds and triggers, but he will also use those very triggers he created to manipulate and control you.
I’ve run into this kind of abuse before, and that’s why I created a 5-Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers. This handy guide is designed to help you recognize your emotional triggers so you can defuse and heal them. It’s free, and I’ll send it directly to your inbox if you just click on the link here. This guide will help you prevent the toxic abuse your father will employ to get you to do what he wants forever!
If you want more tips for dealing with narcissists, setting boundaries, and managing emotional triggers, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel