You hear a lot about narcissistic mothers, but there isn’t nearly as much information about narcissistic fathers. Narcissistic fathers create their own share of misery, and they can have a big effect on their children’s lives, particularly their sons. They can also often become bullies. So what should you do if your narcissistic father is a bully?
The first way to deal with a narcissistic father who is a bully is to recognize and acknowledge the truth. Once you’ve done that, you can take the steps to practice self-compassion, assert boundaries, and take other important steps to secure your reality. Therapy can help you to heal and move on.
Narcissistic fathers, whose characteristics you can see in the video below, often leave their children feeling like they are not enough and never will be.
This is particularly true for the sons of a narcissistic father, but daughters don’t escape their abuse either. That’s why it’s vital that you understand what you can do to push back against the bullying tactics of your narcissistic father. Let’s explore your options.
1. Recognize and Acknowledge the Truth
The very first thing you have to do when dealing with a narcissistic father who is a bully is to recognize and acknowledge the truth. Many times, the victims of abuse make excuses for their abuser. This is particularly true of children who may have been raised in this toxicity and don’t really know any better.
It’s not uncommon for people to think there’s something they are doing wrong when someone like a narcissistic bully attacks them. Their first response is to feel ashamed, which is just what a father who is a bully wants. They want you to doubt yourself and your reality.
That helps them to manipulate and control you. Moreover, the bullying tactic is just another distraction tactic that narcissists will often use to keep you from looking more closely at their behavior.
They don’t want you to focus on something they might have done wrong or their bad behavior. They want you to question yourself and even blame yourself. By using bullying tactics, they get you focused on the rage and the shaming instead of what they might be doing.
It’s a strategy they use in many different ways, but the first step in combating that kind of behavior is to recognize and acknowledge the truth. You have to see the problem before you can do anything about it. By recognizing and acknowledging that your father is a narcissistic bully, you can now begin to focus on how to protect yourself.
There is no excuse for bullying behavior from someone who is supposed to love you and be your protector. Don’t make excuses for your narcissistic father, and don’t pretend the abuse isn’t happening. Face the truth, and you can start to get the care you really need.
2. Be Compassionate with Yourself
Once you recognize that you have a narcissistic bully for a father, you can now start the process of healing from that kind of treatment. The first step in that process is to practice self-compassion.
Narcissistic bullies try to make you feel like you’re weak when you feel hurt by their treatment. Again, this is particularly true of the interactions between a narcissistic father and his sons. He may tell you to ‘walk it off,’ or he might insist you’re being too sensitive.
This is a form of gaslighting because he is trying to make you doubt your interpretation of what has happened. We’ll discuss how to deal with the gaslighting momentarily, but you have a right to your feelings, and you want to cultivate compassion for yourself in that situation.
Soothe your inner child and let them know that you understand why they would feel bad about what your father has said or done. Make sure you don’t just brush it off, but that you do process those feelings and allow them to pass through you.
If you try to ‘walk it off’ as your father might tell you to do, you’re likely to trap that trauma in your body where it will come back to haunt you again and again. Instead, sit with those emotions, let yourself feel them, and then you can let them go.
Give yourself compassion for having a father who is not able to give you the loving support he should be able to give his children. Then give yourself the loving support he should have given you. This will help you in your healing journey to overcome the lasting effects of his emotional abuse.
3. Document Your Reality to Resist Gaslighting
As we discussed before, gaslighting is a tactic the narcissistic bully will use to make you doubt your reality. Sometimes gaslighting is subtle as when your father says, “I was just joking,” even when you know he wasn’t. Other times, he might come right out and say, “That didn’t happen!”
To combat this extremely toxic abuse tactic, you should document your own reality. When something happens that makes you feel uncomfortable, write about it in a journal. Write down what happened in detail and how it makes you feel.
Your gaslighting father might try to say that he never said something you know he did say. By recording what happened, you can reassert your reality. If he denies it later, you can go back and see the contemporaneous documentation so that you will know you weren’t wrong.
In some instances, you might also record your conversation with him. This can be illegal in some places if he doesn’t know you’re doing it, so check your area for the relevant laws before doing this. If you have to let him know you’re recording him, you can just say, “Wait, I want to make sure I remember exactly what you’re saying, so I’m going to record this conversation.”
That might shut him up, which is also good, or if not, you’ll have a recording of the conversation so that you can validate your reality. It won’t do a lot of good as far as getting your father to admit he was wrong, but it will do a lot of good toward helping you understand that you weren’t wrong about the way you interpreted what he said or did.
4. Don’t Argue with Your Narcissistic Father
Arguing with a narcissist is an exercise in futility. Because narcissists have created a false self-image infused with grandiose ideas about their superiority, they can’t afford to ever admit they’re wrong.
One of their greatest fears is that they will be exposed as a truly flawed person, and admitting they are wrong is like showing that they are flawed. They can’t let that happen, and therefore, they will hardly ever admit wrongdoing unless doing so advantages them in some way.
That’s why arguing with them won’t do any good. What’s more, when they argue, narcissists talk in circles so as to create confusion and further make you doubt your reality. They will have you asking, “What did he just say?”
They want you to be more focused on the confusion than on the substance of the argument. It’s another way they can control you. They will also bring up old wounds, what is commonly referred to these days as “what about-ism.” You’ll be talking about the current argument, and they will bring up something you did two years ago just to get you off track.
In the end, you’ll be left feeling confused and even more irritated than before. That’s why it’s best to simply not argue with them. State your peace and walk away because you will never win an argument with a narcissist. You can also check out the following video to end an argument with a narcissistic father for some more ideas.
5. Don’t Justify or Explain Yourself to a Narcissistic Bully
You also don’t want to try to justify or explain yourself to your narcissistic father. He will seize on that as an admission of guilt and use it against you. They don’t believe you should ever have to explain yourself if you were in the right.
Not only will they not accept your justification or explanation, but they will also see it as a vulnerability. They will use it to further manipulate you into admitting you were wrong. That’s why you have to simply state your truth and walk away.
You can say something like, “Well, it’s clear we’re never going to agree on this, so we have to just agree to disagree.” Then refuse to argue anymore with your narcissistic bully and go about your business.
This might be hard if this is your father, but if you do anything else, it will only work against you. It’s frustrating because you’re simply trying to explain your thought processes in making the decisions you made. But a narcissistic bully doesn’t think logically, and they don’t really care about how you came to the conclusions you did.
They are too busy worrying about their own self-image and making sure that everyone sees them as superior. That’s why they will never understand you or why you make the choices you do. Justifying your actions will never get you anywhere with them; it’s just a waste of time.
In this case, it really is not you, it’s them, so don’t worry about whether or not they understand. They don’t care to understand.
6. Assert Your Boundaries
This brings us to another way to protect yourself from a father who is a narcissistic bully – boundaries. When you do something like walk away from a conversation that is going nowhere, you are asserting a boundary.
You are telling your narcissistic father that you will not discuss the matter further or that you will not discuss the matter until they can treat you with respect. That’s a boundary you’re setting.
Boundaries are all about what you will and will not tolerate. They are not meant to modify your narcissistic father’s behavior. They are meant to ensure you don’t engage with abusive behavior. Setting boundaries with a narcissist is critical.
Narcissists don’t understand boundaries. They see other people as extensions of their own identity. Since they cannot prop up their own self-esteem, they need external validation for that. They need other people to give them a constant supply of adoration and praise so that they can feel good about themselves.
So they don’t believe those people, who are extensions of their own identity, should have boundaries. But boundaries are essential for relationships, and you need boundaries to protect yourself from your abusive father.
Determine what your limits are, what you will do if your narcissistic father crosses a line, and then tell him about it. You can even give him a written copy of your boundaries and the consequences for violations so that he can’t claim he didn’t know.
This is an important element of self-care to prevent other people from abusing you. You don’t have to allow that to happen, and you can insist on being treated with respect. Don’t be afraid to let your narcissistic bully know you won’t put up with that kind of treatment.
7. Consider Therapy
There is a lot of personal growth work you can do on your own, but sometimes you need an objective professional who can help you see things you’re too close to see. A therapist can challenge you in ways that close friends or family members can’t.
There are many resources that are even more accessible than they have ever been before, and the stigma about going to therapy is not nearly as strong as it has been in the past. What’s more, there are affordable options for people who don’t have a lot of money available for something like that.
One of the best things about therapy is that it helps you see that you are not alone and that you are not imagining things. A therapist can help you sort out what is and isn’t abusive behavior, and they can help you develop an effective strategy for dealing with it.
They can also keep you honest. They will call you out if you’re trying to avoid doing something you need to do to stop the abuse, and they will hold you accountable for doing the personal growth work you’ll need to do to really heal.
You might have very good friends and caring family members that you feel are just as good as a therapist, but sometimes they are too close to you to see what you really need to free yourself. Additionally, if you choose to do group therapy, you will benefit from the experiences and insights of other people who are going through exactly the same thing.
8. Build a Social Support Network
When you’re dealing with a narcissistic bully for a father, you’re going to need people to whom you can turn when you feel down. This is your social support network, and it’s important for your health and well-being.
A researcher from the University of Granada in Spain has examined published research between 1994 and 2021 that shows a strong social support network increases your lifespan and improves your health.
Your loving friends and family members help improve your immune system, and they help you reduce stress. You also need them to validate your reality as you process your feelings about the way your narcissistic father treats you.
They can also help you see the extent of the abuse and encourage you to take the steps you need to get out from under your narcissistic father’s abusive thumb. They also act as a positive counterweight to your narcissistic father’s negative toxicity.
They will help you feel good about yourself, and they will encourage you to take good care of yourself too. They are a positive force in your life that help you to navigate the toxic waters of an abusive narcissistic bully.
There are a number of ways you can build a strong social support network. You can contact old friends on social media if you’ve lost their contact information, you can join a group of people with similar interests, or you can volunteer to do something you care about.
This will bring you into contact with people who share your passion. It’s a great way to make new friends and build your social support network.
9. Consider Going No Contact
One of the things you might need to consider if you are an adult child of a narcissistic bully is to cut off all contact with your father. There are a lot of reasons that people don’t think about this.
Our culture teaches us that we are supposed to love our parents, and when we’re not feeling that love, we think there’s something wrong with us. The truth is that you should love the people who truly love you and who treat you with respect.
You are not actually required to love people who emotionally or physically abuse you. It’s okay to get away from them if you don’t have any other options. Going no contact with a father who is a narcissistic bully has to be an option on the table.
It might be necessary at least until you can gather your strength and do some healing so that you can be around them and still prevent the abuse. It might also be that you simply need to cut off all contact and never look back.
You don’t need to feel guilty about that if it’s a decision that will help you with your mental and physical well-being. You are not obligated to love your narcissistic father.
If you do elect to go no contact, you’ll need to cut off all contact and block him from being able to call you or post on your social media accounts. You might also need to avoid going to places where he knows you will be since he might show up when you least expect it.
10. Take Legal Action if Necessary
Let me be perfectly clear here – if you are being physically abused, no matter how old you are, tell someone and get to a safe place away from that abuse. Physical abuse is never the victim’s fault, and you don’t deserve to be treated that way, ever.
If you’re underage, be sure your mother knows what’s going on, and if she won’t protect you, tell a teacher, a counselor, or a police officer what is happening. It is never okay for your narcissistic father to harm you physically.
It’s not okay for him to harm you mentally either, but that’s harder to prove. Physical abuse, however, can be documented. Take pictures of any injuries he causes, and talk to someone about what is going on.
If you’re an adult and your narcissistic father threatens you physically, you can take legal action to prevent him from contacting you. Get a restraining order or have him arrested. You don’t have to endure physical abuse.
You can follow through by pressing charges against him, and that creates a document trail so that you will have a record of his abuse. Once again, you don’t deserve to be physically or mentally abused, and you should take the steps you need to get away from that kind of person. This includes taking legal action as necessary.
11. Recognize Not Everyone is Like Your Narcissistic Bully
When you’re being bullied by a narcissistic father, you might think that everyone’s father is like that. I know that’s what I thought about my narcissistic mother. I just figured that everyone’s mother was cruel as she was.
It wasn’t until a friend of mine remarked about how mean my mother was to me that I realized her mother didn’t treat her the same way. Of course, you don’t know as a child that you’re being abused. You grow up in that toxic stew, and until you start to get out into the world, you don’t know that what you’re going through is actually abusive.
If you are being lied to, gaslighted, triangulated, triggered, and devalued, that is abusive, and not all fathers are like that. It isn’t normal either, and there is a better way to parent children. You don’t have to accept that kind of treatment as just the way it is.
You also don’t want to continue that cycle of abuse with your own children. You can stop it by taking the steps you need to take to get away from the abuse and begin to heal. You can be a better parent to your children than your bullying, narcissistic father was to you.
Narcissistic fathers can be extremely cruel to their children. They don’t have any empathy for how their actions affect other people. They are also solely focused on getting their need for narcissistic supply met. It’s something they need almost constantly. They fear being exposed as a flawed individual, and for that reason, they can’t ever admit they’re wrong. They also see their children as extensions of their own identity, so anything they do to them is fair. They create deep emotional wounds that can affect their children for the rest of their lives.
If you’re being abused by a bullying, narcissistic father who is constantly triggering you emotionally, I have something that can help. My 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers is a free guide that will help you recognize those emotional triggers your father uses against you and defuse them. You can even work on healing the original wounds that caused the triggers. To get a copy delivered directly to your inbox, just click here and start the healing process today!
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