Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) results in terrible emotional abuse for the victims of a toxic narcissist. Anyone who suffers at the hand of a narcissist is left feeling inadequate, confused, and in doubt of their own abilities. It doesn’t matter the nature of your relationship with a narcissist, you will feel the sting of the abusive tactics. If you’re the child of a narcissist, however, the abuse is complicated by the fact that you have never known another way. Moreover, the special nature of the relationship between a father and his daughter means that such abuse can continue to affect her for the rest of her life.
There are many ways that narcissistic fathers abuse their daughters. All are related to the father’s incessant need for external validation. To him, his own daughter is nothing more than a source of narcissistic supply. He won’t hesitate to abuse her as he would any other victim of his toxicity.
The legacy of narcissistic abuse is one of emotional devastation, particularly for a daughter whose first relationship experience with a man is the relationship she has with her toxic father. It can leave her with a lifetime of scars, and it’s important to recognize the form that abuse can take. Here are 17 ways that a narcissistic father harms his daughter.
1. Narcissistic Fathers are Hypercritical
Narcissists, in general, are hypercritical of everyone they encounter. It’s part of how they make themselves feel superior. For a daughter, however, this is her first relationship with a man, and what this teaches her is that the males in her life have a right to be critical of her. It undermines her ability to trust men in general, and it makes her wary of intimate relationships. It also leaves her vulnerable to more abuse.
It also makes her vie for her father’s attention and approval, but given that he’s a narcissist, she’s not likely to get that from him. The effects of his criticism are that his daughter’s self-esteem and confidence are damaged to the extent that she will have difficulty feeling good about herself.
As an adult, the daughter of a narcissistic father often seeks out similar personality types in a futile attempt to remake the relationship she had with her father. She’s trying to make it work out this time in her favor. She wants to feel as though her father loved her.
The problem is that it continues the cycle of abuse as she tries to work out issues she didn’t even know she had as a result of the hypercritical nature of her father. She simply can’t feel good about herself because she constantly hears the critical voice of her father in her head.
What’s more, the daughter doesn’t know this was abusive behavior until well after it has had its toxic effect. By the time she understands there was something wrong with her father, the damage is done.
2. Narcissistic Fathers Invalidate Their Daughters
Narcissistic fathers teach their daughters that they are worthless. They constantly invalidate their ideas and opinions. They send a clear message to their daughters that what they have to say is not valid.
They teach their daughters that what is valuable about them, if anything, is not their intelligence or opinions. They invalidate the way they look and behave. They constantly undermine the developing sense of self-worth in the young child.
That has dramatic consequences later in life. The daughter is unable to establish successful intimate relationships. They may discard their ideas for a career because they don’t believe they can do it.
They continuously look for a way to recreate the relationship with their father as they try to form relationships in adulthood. They never feel confident about their abilities, and they often fail to live up to their full potential as a result of this abuse.
3. Narcissistic Fathers Use Triangulation to Control Their Daughters
Narcissists, in general, frequently use triangulation to manipulate the people in their lives and create drama. Triangulation is an abusive tactic whereby a narcissist will tell one person one thing and another person something entirely different.
The goal of triangulation is to undermine trust, create confusion, and destroy interpersonal relationships. Narcissists will often use this tactic within the family so that family members won’t feel comfortable talking amongst themselves or supporting one another.
Triangulation is devastating for the daughter of a narcissist because it undermines her ability to trust other people. They can form healthy interpersonal relationships within their family, and that carries over to their relationships with people outside the family.
Siblings often become estranged due to this type of abuse. The relationships you form in the early years of your childhood with people within your family are models for the relationships you will form later on in life. The daughter of a narcissistic father learns she cannot trust herself, people close to her cannot be trusted, and she cannot confide in her narcissistic father.
She literally has no one she can turn to in order to express her emotions. She has no one to tell her deepest thoughts to or express her greatest fears. The toxic triangulation her father exposed her to has taught her that no one can be trusted.
4. Narcissistic Fathers Withdraw Their Love
The love of a narcissist is conditional. When you’re doing what they want, they love you, but if you cross them, you are dead to them. For the daughter of a narcissist, this causes her to distrust the people she loves.
She learns early on that she must perform to receive love, and even if she does so successfully for a while, that love can be withdrawn at any time. She learns to walk on eggshells around those to whom she is close.
She also learns that love equates with how well she behaves. This makes her more submissive in her relationship with her father and anyone else in her life. She has learned that love can easily disappear, and that generates a low level of constant anxiety.
These patterns continue into her adult relationships, and she often finds herself living with another abuser. It’s another way that abuse perpetuates abuse.
5. Narcissistic Fathers Send a Message of “Never Enough”
This is one of the more toxic effects of narcissistic abuse. The daughter of a narcissist is learning every day in every way that she is never enough. She can’t do enough to please her father.
She will never receive the love and admiration she craves from her father no matter what she does or says. Daughters who receive that message often become overachievers. They can go on to have great success in life, but they never get the recognition they want from their father.
It undermines their self-confidence and creates that negative inner voice that can be so destructive to their self-esteem. They become dependent on external validation, though for different reasons than their father.
6. Narcissistic Fathers Condition Their Daughters to Interpersonal Abuse
Another incredibly toxic result of narcissistic abuse is that it conditions their daughter to abuse. They often don’t recognize what their father is doing as abuse, and when they are adults, they won’t see it in their intimate partners either.
They learn that abuse is normal and expected in close personal relationships. Their father has normalized the abuse, and since they are also looking to ‘fix’ the relationship they had with their father, they often end up with abusive partners.
What’s more, they can go on to abuse their own children in a similar fashion. Narcissistic abuse was the model they had in childhood for how to raise a child, and they continue the pattern.
7. Narcissistic Fathers Rob Their Daughters of Self-Confidence
All of these tactics undermine the self-confidence of the daughter of a narcissistic father. Instead of building her up so she can become an independent, functional adult, her father is always tearing her down.
Narcissists don’t want their children to feel self-confident because they don’t want them to be independent. They want them to rely on their parent. That feeds their delusions of superiority, and submissive children are an excellent source of narcissistic supply.
When a father does this to a daughter, it can easily undermine her self-confidence for the rest of her life.
8. Narcissistic Fathers Make Their Daughters Crave Male Attention
Not only do these abuse tactics make the daughter of a narcissistic father crave male attention, but it also makes them less discerning with regard to the type of male attention. That leaves them vulnerable to abusive relationships in the future.
The daughter of a narcissistic father has been taught that her father’s attention is paramount, and she wants so badly to please him. As a result, she often competes for male attention in unhealthy ways.
In some cases, the daughter of a narcissistic father will do anything to get that male attention. She can demean herself or put herself in danger as a result.
9. Narcissistic Fathers Undermine Their Daughter’s Developing Sense of Identity
Erik Erikson was a German-American psychologist in the early 20th century who defined the stages of psychological human development. He identified eight stages that start at birth and continue until death.
He identified adolescence as the stage where an individual is developing their sense of identity. Of course, the earlier stages play into whether an individual will develop a strong sense of identity or suffer from role confusion.
Erikson defines identity as the basic organizing principle that continues to develop throughout your lifetime. A strong sense of identity helps an individual create a continuous self-image that stays constant even as you experience new things and add new aspects to your self-image.
Identity serves the function of giving you a sense of uniqueness and continuity. It is critical for the good mental and physical health of adolescents. Without it, you will remain uncertain of who you are and your role in the world. You’re likely to drift from one job and relationship to another, and you’ll most likely feel disappointed and confused about your life. This is the fate of the daughter of a narcissistic father unless she seeks help.
10. Narcissistic Fathers Teach Their Daughters They Don’t Have Boundaries
Narcissistic fathers also teach their daughters that they don’t have boundaries. Narcissists, in general, ignore or constantly challenge the personal boundaries of everyone in their life. They see other people as mere extensions of their own identity, and that makes them feel entitled to violate their boundaries.
For narcissistic fathers, they see their children as their possessions which makes them feel even more entitled to violate their personal boundaries. Their daughters learn they don’t have a right to expect others to respect them and treat them well.
This is another way narcissistic fathers make their daughters more vulnerable to abusive relationships in adulthood.
11. Narcissistic Fathers Disregard Their Daughters’ Needs
Narcissists, in general, disregard everyone else’s needs. They believe everyone in their life, including their daughter, should be focused on the narcissist’s needs. They believe themselves to be superior to other people, and that’s why everyone should care about them even though they don’t care about anyone in their life.
Their daughters learn to put their own needs aside in order to keep the peace and please their father. They may even come to believe they don’t have a right to have needs. This leaves them vulnerable to abuse, but it can also cause them to ignore important physical and mental needs.
That, in turn, can affect their overall health and longevity. It’s another vicious cycle that feeds upon itself.
12. Narcissistic Fathers Devalue Their Daughters
Narcissistic relationships typically involve three stages. The first is idealization, the second is devaluation, and the third is the discard. Most narcissistic parents start out idealizing their children. They are the most beautiful, the most intelligent, the fastest developing, and so on.
They set unrealistically high expectations for them as a result. Of course, the children can’t possibly live up to those expectations, and sooner or later, they will disappoint their narcissistic parent. When that happens, the devaluation stage begins.
For the daughter of a narcissistic father, the devaluation stage can have devastating effects on her self-esteem. He may be critical of her weight, her appearance, and her abilities. He makes her feel worthless, and that has effects that can last a lifetime.
13. Narcissistic Fathers Exploit Their Daughters’ Talent
As mentioned, narcissists see the people around them as extensions of their own identity. That means they will exploit and use any talents that their children may have to their own advantage.
They hate not being in the spotlight, so if their daughter has a talent that everyone is captivated by, the narcissist wants to somehow take credit to bring the spotlight back to them. They will also use their daughter’s talent to get ahead in life.
If she is a good performer and seeks out a career as a singer, for example, the narcissistic father may demand to be her manager and even steal money from her. The narcissist feels entitled to anything she is or can gain given that he participated in giving her life.
14. Narcissistic Fathers Teach Their Daughters Learned Helplessness
When a narcissistic father devalues, criticizes, and invalidates his daughter, he is doing so because he wants her to become dependent on him. He wants her to ask his opinion about everything she does for the rest of her life.
He wants her to need his assistance. He is, in effect, teaching her to be helpless so that she will remain dependent on him. He won’t give her the chance to prove she can do it for herself because he doesn’t want her to feel confident, ever.
This is another way he teaches her to be a victim. It leaves her vulnerable to abusive relationships throughout her life because she is looking for someone to help her.
15. Narcissistic Fathers Value External Beauty Over Internal Depth
Narcissistic fathers will admire the beauty of their daughters and use it to their advantage. They will teach their daughters that they must maintain their beauty or they will be worth nothing. This is, in effect, how the narcissist feels inside so it’s a form of projection.
They are teaching their daughters that their internal qualities like good character, honesty, and kindness mean nothing. It is their beauty that is paramount.
The narcissist also loves to take credit for his daughter’s looks. He feels even more superior that he was able to create such a gorgeous creature, and he will stop at nothing to ensure she stays that way.
16. Narcissistic Fathers Create Codependent Daughters
All of these abuse tactics turn their daughters into codependents. Every step of the way, narcissistic fathers teach their daughters that their needs don’t mean anything. They need to set aside their own needs and desires to focus on those of their narcissistic father.
This is the ideal situation for a narcissist. They want someone who will exclusively focus on their needs, even to the extent of disregarding important health needs. Codependents do this, and they become the quintessential people-pleasers.
This pattern definitely carries into adulthood and into their adult interpersonal relationships. This is why the daughters of narcissistic fathers often end up in an intimate relationship with another narcissist.
17. Narcissistic Fathers Commit Emotional Incest
Emotional incest is also known as covert incest. It doesn’t involve sexual abuse, but it is similar in that the parent treats their child like a romantic partner. They expect their child to meet their needs in the same way that a romantic partner or another adult should.
While emotional incest doesn’t involve sexual abuse, it has the same effects as sexual abuse. The child who experiences this kind of abuse often suffers from depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and relationship problems.
It is common for a narcissistic parent to do this to their opposite-sex child. Narcissistic fathers frequently commit emotional incest with their daughters, and narcissistic mothers do so with their sons. Narcissists always create unrealistically high expectations for their children, and they heap adult responsibilities on them at an early age.
Narcissistic fathers expect their daughters to meet their emotional needs in the same way they expect their spouses to do so. What they’re really trying to do is create a constant source of narcissistic supply that can replace their romantic partner should the need arise. Though narcissists sometimes commit sexual abuse, this is not about sex or power. It’s about wanting someone who will prop up their ego for the long term.
Of course, this is devastating for the daughter. It robs her of her childhood, and it is a confusing message because of the sexual undertones it implies. Even without the sexual abuse, the daughter is effectively taking on the role of mother. This is extremely harmful to her sense of identity, self-esteem, and sense of self-worth.
A father has a special relationship with his daughter, just as a mother does with her son. That’s true whether he’s a good father or not. The narcissistic father, unfortunately, can scar his daughter for the rest of her life. He uses her for the narcissistic supply she can give him and to prop up his own ego. It leaves a dark legacy that can perpetuate the cycle of abuse. He manipulates her emotions and uses them against her. There is a way out, but it involves a long journey of healing.
To begin that journey, I would like to offer you my 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers. It’s a free guide that can help you identify the emotional wounds that created your triggers, defuse those triggers, and even heal those old wounds. I know the toxic effects a narcissistic parent can have on their child, and I really want to help you stop the abuse. If you click on this link, I’ll send this guide directly to your inbox. It will help you heal the wounds left behind by your narcissistic father.
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