Toxic Fathers Can Cause Serious Damage That Won’t Just Go Away
Please do not underestimate the long-term damage inflicted on the daughters of narcissistic dads or how these relationships become the templates for future partners. With their disregard for personal boundaries, these charismatic men expect everyone including their children to satisfy their smallest whim. If they do not receive the demanded narcissistic supply, they will withhold affection and neglect their child’s emotional and physical needs. The daughter, as a result, will only get approval through her total obedience and blind loyalty.
This is a disaster for daughters. They need parental stability and their father’s protection instead of emotional neglect. In fact, the damage of a narcissistic father leads to psychological symptoms similar to children who were physically abused. The effects can be lifelong if not addressed by mental health professionals.
Types Of Damage Cause By Narcissistic Fathers
Without help, these young women have a high probability of:
- A distorted understanding of what love looks like.
- Choosing narcissistic or emotionally unavailable partners.
- Not knowing what to do with romantic partners who are good to them because they’ve been conditioned to think love is controlling and manipulative.
- Normalizing and subconsciously expecting abuse and neglect from romantic partners, work colleagues, and friends.
- Constantly pursuing perfection to prove her worth.
- Judging herself harshly with little resilience to disappointment.
- Lacking boundaries and assertiveness because she’s been led to believe it’s selfish.
- Multiple trauma responses such as dissociation, hypervigilance, or people-pleasing.
- Seeking validation through numerous sexual partners.
- PTSD, depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, and addictions.
- Autoimmune disorders because long-term exposure to cortisol & adrenaline (fight or flight chemicals) cause inflammation in people who experience chronic narcissistic, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and trauma.
The daughters know their dads will adore them in front of an audience but will ignore them behind closed doors if they do not do exactly what they want when they want it. Furthermore, many people do not see narcissistic fathers for what they are, and friends and families will turn against the children calling them ungrateful if they complain or try to expose their fathers’ abuse.
So How Do narcissistic Fathers Undercut Their Girls?
Since human brains are wired to love and admire our parents, it is difficult to see or accept a father with no conscience or empathy. Their inconsistencies fool us, making their manipulation difficult to spot and as a child, we cannot identify “abusive” behavior because it’s our normal. So how do these men sabotage their daughters?
- These fathers devalue emotion. They resent and pathologize a child’s normal dependency as selfish or defiant. Their girls soon believe they will never be good enough to be loved or accepted as they are and that love is conditional.
- Toxic parents use financial manipulation to control their children, whether by giving lavish gifts or withholding money.
- They physically and emotionally abandon their kids when they are most needed. When they are busy, they can’t be bothered with any crisis involving a child that does not give them narcissistic supply. At times, they feel their children deserve their suffering and relish it.
- They normalize abuse and rage in the home by declaring, “If you hadn’t made me mad, I wouldn’t have screamed, hit or ______ you.”
- They will only show up as a parent if it makes them look or feel good; then, gaslight the child to undermine their perceptions through lies.
- They will often exploit their children to be their confidants, therapists, friends, or whatever else they need.
- They will scapegoat or play favorites to control their children.
- They will use triangulation and smear campaigns to alienate their children’s relationships with other family members and social circles to control the narrative presented to the outside world.
- They will reward the children who agree with them and punish those who don’t. Since they are vindicative, they will go to great lengths to harm anyone who exposes their behavior.
How Do Daughters Heal From The Damage Of Narcissistic Damage OF Fathers
We must educate ourselves on the effects of narcissism and seek out healthy relationships as we recover. It is difficult to break the patterns from our childhood or embrace self-care, but working with a trauma therapist or trained professional helps. They can assist us in setting healthy boundaries, grieving our past, and establishing a stronger sense of self.
As we move forward, we have to evaluate each relationship for the possibility of toxicity. I follow Martha Stout’s rule, “When considering a new relationship of any kind, practice the Rule of Threes regarding the claims and promises a person makes, and the responsibilities he or she has. One lie, one broken promise, or a single neglected responsibility may be a misunderstanding. Two may involve a serious mistake. But three lies says you’re dealing with a liar.” (Stout, The Sociopath Next Door)
My other tip-offs for toxic behavior:
- Anyone who employs over-the-top flattery, intense eye contact, and moves into my personal space without consent.
- Anyone who brags about gaming the system or purposely hurting others.
- Anyone demands undeserved respect, plays the pity card, or tries to control you in any way.
And lastly, if my nervous system sends a warning signal such as intense unease, or worse a panic attack, I know I may be dealing with someone toxic.
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