Impacts on a Child with A Father with NPD
Fathers with narcissistic personality disorder can have a significant impact on their children. The effects can vary with daughters versus sons, though.
Impacts on a daughter
Daughters with fathers who have NPD often state that their dads were never able to give them what they needed growing up. They commonly feel their relationship is unfulfilled. It’s also normal for them to recall having to compete with their siblings to get any parenting time or affection from their narcissistic fathers at all.
Some adult daughters say the toxic relationship still has a profound impact on their life. Many feel constantly vulnerable and always under pressure to do better, even as adults. People who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder are often perfectionists, and fathers can make their adult child, especially daughters, feel insecure and inadequate, unable to and undeserving of receiving love.
Impacts on a son
Boys who grow up with fathers who have narcissistic personality disorder may feel like they never measure up. Sometimes fathers can become competitive with their sons. They might go so far as to intentionally win at any cost against their sons, even at the smallest games. Further, they’ll likely relish the victory to the point of being extreme and inappropriate.
Sons with fathers that exhibit narcissistic behavior may feel defeated, as if they’ll never be able to live up to or outperform dad in any way. If they do succeed, it might be marginal and the victory can be downplayed by the father, making the son continue feeling second-rate.
Of course, every child — even those in a healthy relationship — has unique dynamics with their father. There’s a commonality, however, in the NPD father’s inability to empathize with or even show basic concern for his children.
“A narcissistic father figure can negatively impact one’s self esteem and overall internal value system which can be the driving forces within relationships throughout life. As a result, one might experience a two fold emotional response of never measuring up, while also feeling beholden to shame or guilt. Talking with a therapist can be a supportive way to process these experiences and move forward.”
Talkspace therapist Elizabeth Keohan, LCSW-C, LICSW, LCSW