Covert Narcissist Father

Are you interested in covert narcissist father insights? Then this guide is for you!

When people think of a narcissistic father, they picture someone who’s an aggressive, grandstanding bully.

However, there are fathers whose narcissism isn’t obvious.

These covert narcissists still manipulate their children and center themselves in everything. But they often behave more subtly.

The following are seven common behaviors and attitudes found among covert narcissist fathers.

1. He doesn’t want you to have your own identity

A narcissistic father damages his children’s sense of self. His kids are meant to be whatever he wants them to be.

He may mold one child into a trophy to be displayed and admired.

Maybe he’ll want this child to become a miniature version of himself or pursue goals he gave up on when he was younger.

Another child may need to serve as a scapegoat, blamed for any reason the father comes up with.

Children may also be called on to act as their father’s servants or unquestioningly loyal friends.

A child may be forced into more than one of these roles.

What the kids actually need and want is irrelevant.

To the narcissistic father, they don’t truly exist outside of his self-serving purposes.

In various ways, a narcissistic father undermines each child’s character, talents, and self-worth.

Such a father will obstruct your development and try to keep you from having a life that’s fulfilling for you.

2. His behavior is controlling

As children grow older, reasonable parents permit greater freedom and encourage a healthy sense of responsibility.

They want their children to be competent and to function independently.

Independence isn’t limited to specific tasks or chores. It also means that children are developing their own personalities and discovering what they want out of life.

Because a covert narcissist wants his kids to serve his own needs, he doesn’t have an interest in allowing them to become independent.

They should remain bound to him and responsive to all his wishes.

To control their children, covert narcissists don’t need to act in a violent or aggressively overpowering way. They can exercise their control more subtly.

One tactic is to use guilt and disappointment as weapons.

When you do something independently of your father’s wishes, he puts on a display of anger or wounded feelings.

In various ways, he lets you know that you’re a disappointment.

He may treat you coldly and withhold loving behavior.

Another tactic involves stifling any activities that don’t fulfill the narcissist’s wishes.

For example, let’s say you want to learn a musical instrument. If your father doesn’t want you to, he’ll find ways to sabotage you.

He may repeatedly interrupt your practice sessions or pretend to be helpful while making devastating remarks that destroy your confidence.

Covert narcissists also use unpredictable positive reinforcement. On many occasions, your father may withhold his approval or attention.

However, he’ll sometimes give you the care that you crave. He’ll praise you about something or speak to you with what seems like respect.

These crumbs of positive reinforcement keep you hanging on for more.

3. He uses protectiveness and good intentions as excuses

A father who is a covert narcissist may claim to be protective of his kids.

If he’s controlling their lives in various ways, including their relationships and finances, he’ll say that he’s only looking out for them.

Similarly, he may claim to have good intentions for whatever he does.

If you question his behavior or show that you’re upset, he’ll respond as if you’re attacking his character.

Regardless of the circumstances, he’ll try to convince you that you’re being ungrateful and behaving wickedly or thoughtlessly.

The language of protection and good intentions seems reasonable to most people.

It helps your father come across as a self-sacrificing parent and not as someone who is cutting down his children’s attempts to grow and thrive.

By undermining your self-efficacy, a narcissistic father binds you closer to him. You lack trust in your ability to take care of yourself or to make decisions independently of him.

You become highly fearful of making mistakes.

4. He wants you to prioritize his emotions and thoughts while diminishing your own

A common effect of being raised by a narcissistic parent believes that your thoughts and feelings don’t matter.

In contrast, whatever the narcissist feels or thinks is of utmost importance; you need to give it all your attention.

A covert narcissist doesn’t have to fly into a violent rage to produce this effect. He may suddenly begin to ignore you without telling you why.

He may sulk or become cold and withdrawn. While displaying regret or sorrow, he may threaten you with the loss of something you find important.

Passive-aggressive remarks, snide comments, and expressions of disgust are other favored tactics.

Also, he may rely on self-pity and claims of being unappreciated.

There is a multitude of ways a covert narcissist father will diminish your own emotions.

He’ll regularly dismiss your feelings as exaggerations. He’ll tell you that you should feel ashamed of various emotions, including justifiable anger or sadness.

When dismissing your thoughts, he may rely on gaslighting, a tactic that gets you to doubt your own memories or perceptions.

By spreading falsehoods, he may convince other people to take his side, leading you to question your version of events.

If you express an opinion contrary to his, he may mock your intelligence or claim that you’re showing him a lack of respect.

You may feel as if he’s competing with you. For example, if you talk about how your day is going, he may interrupt and talk about himself.

If you share something you’re proud of, he may deflate your happiness with an unflattering remark or a show of boredom. He may also take credit for your achievements.

Regardless of his techniques, his goal is to emphasize himself at your expense.

You’re not meant to deal with your emotions healthily or cultivate independent thoughts. You’re supposed to bottle up your feelings and not say or do anything that will upset your father.

5. He doesn’t take responsibility for his behavior

Covert narcissists may feel like others are out to get them. Even if they’re doing well, they may feel that they’ve been unfairly deprived of all kinds of things.

They’re thin-skinned and react in a highly defensive way to justify criticism. They won’t admit that they’re wrong.

Even if you voice your disagreement mildly, a narcissistic father will take it as an attack, and he’ll often attack you in return.

He’ll think that you’re insulting his superior judgment and intelligence. He’ll want to punish you for showing him a perceived lack of loyalty, respect, or love.

One form of attack is the use of false accusations. If you criticize him, he may accuse you of something you haven’t done or paint a highly distorted picture of your actions.

The aim is always to keep himself in the victim’s position, the wronged party.

It doesn’t matter if the evidence is in your favor. He’ll disregard the evidence, talk circles around you, and use exaggerations or lies to avoid admitting that he’s wrong.

He may also shut down any attempts at a discussion, perhaps by simply giving you the cold shoulder whenever you raise a certain topic.

At the same time, he’ll hold you responsible for things that aren’t your fault.

He may blame you for his own bad mood or mistakes. Or he may expect you to be a sympathetic audience as he blames others.

6. He maintains a positive reputation outside the home

Fathers who are covert narcissists often have a good reputation.

They come across as hard workers and dependable providers. At their workplace, place of worship, or among their friends, they may seem decent and mild-mannered.

In some cases, they may be a pillar of the community; someone other people turn to for leadership and assistance.

If your father has a positive reputation, it’s harder to talk to anyone about how he treats you.

People often won’t believe that he’s anything but a friendly, normal dad. They may think you’re ungrateful or are making things up to gain sympathy.

Your father may use his reputation in subtle ways to discredit you. He’ll count on other people taking his word over yours.

They’ll see him as a well-meaning parent with a difficult kid. Over time, you may find yourself seriously doubting your perceptions.

If everyone else thinks he’s fine, you may wonder if you’re misreading him.

7. He makes you feel like you don’t measure up

The love of narcissistic parents is conditional. You may exhaust yourself trying to please them, but you feel that you’ll never do enough or be enough.

Their moments of approval or affection don’t last.

A covert narcissist may envy his children’s abilities and relationships.

Even if he pushes them to succeed in certain ways, he wants to limit how much they can do on their own without his involvement.

Regardless of their achievements, the children of a narcissistic parent may still feel small and inadequate.

Keeping his kids full of self-doubt or self-loathing helps a narcissistic father maintain control. It helps him maintain the illusion that he’s superior to them.

If they strive for his approval or fight for it amongst themselves, he retains his power.

Emotionally untangling from such a father is a necessary part of healing and maturing.

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