Narcissistic mothers and enabling fathers
When the kids don’t stand a chance
Narcissistic mothers don’t have children for the right reasons. They are not caretakers. They have no maternal instincts or genuine love to give. For the narcissistic mother, children represent a captive narcissistic supply. Because the survival of a young child is in her hands, she hopes to be the number one object of his utter adoration. She dismisses the fact that children have needs, anticipating that the constant stream of narcissistic supply she will receive in return will be the perfect compensation.
The narcissistic mother does not imagine that her children will be separate entities with needs of their own. But children have individual needs, and those needs can be quite demanding for any mother. They are especially overwhelming for a narcissistic mother who now finds that she is giving in more than she receives. That is not what I expected.
The narcissistic mother feels resentful of her children and their need. This resentment intensifies your already natural tendency toward abusive behavior. Someone will have to pay for your unfortunate situation. Your innocent children are your possessions, so you can do whatever you want with them. What she likes is using them as scapegoats for anything that makes her feel unhappy or frustrated.
Any attempt by children to question her, defend themselves, or express their needs is met with terrifying narcissistic rage. Over time, with the same results every time they challenge her in some way, children learn to follow her rules. They are intimidated by fear into keeping quiet.
Where is the father while all this is happening? What are you doing with the abuse you see your children suffer at the hands of their mother? Logic tells us, given the circumstances, that children should trust their father for their emotional well-being. Surely someone has to love, protect and defend them. A father, the protector of the family, certainly would not stand aside and allow his children to be abused.
That’s what logic tells us, but it rarely works that way when it comes to NPD. A strong man with limits and high self esteem would have walked away from this crazy woman a long time ago and hopefully he would have taken her children with him.
But a strong man with healthy boundaries and great self-esteem wouldn’t be with this type of woman in the first place. If he somehow allowed himself to be seduced by her cunning and manipulative ways and false personality (as others do so easily), and then made the mistake of marrying her, he certainly would not have stayed in the marriage for long.
Narcissists take advantage of the weak; those whom they believe they can intimidate and manipulate. Men who marry narcissistic women and stay have masochistic tendencies along with low self-esteem, a pattern of abuse in their lives, are seeking to fill in the shoes of lost love or a mother they did not have, are codependent, or have a mental disorder. personality just as she does. There is always a deficiency of some kind.
A man who has it in common would not submit to the dehumanization, castration, objectification, or unpredictable fury of a narcissistic woman. I would never accept the role of perpetual victim; someone who believes he is unworthy and guilty of whatever his NPD wife chooses to blame him for.
A man who wants his marriage to a narcissistic wife to survive must worship the ground on which he walks; tell him everything he wants to hear. You must tell her how beautiful she is, how perfect she is, how superior she is, and how accurate she is of whatever point of view she takes. You must deny the importance of your own wants and needs to please her.
Narcissistic wives control their husbands like puppeteers. They use anger and withdrawal from love or sex to keep themselves at bay. They can make these men’s lives hell if they want to, and then make men believe they deserve everything. They keep their husbands alert with confusion. These submissive husbands become dependent on their wives to tell them what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong, what they are allowed to do and what is forbidden.
By the time children enter the scene, it has long been established that the husband’s survival in the relationship depends on his allowing his wife to be abused.
Men who marry narcissistic women and stay with them do not constitute strong parental material. They turn into spineless jellyfish who will do anything to keep the peace with their wives, even if it means they have to sacrifice the welfare of their children. Wives always come first; These parents make it very clear to their children.
The father also becomes complicit in the mother’s abusive tactics. She bullies him into doing his dirty work so she can remain the innocent of the abuse forever. If he abuses her, she may deny having anything to do with him. She is Teflon, nothing ever sticks to her.
His father’s behavior does not make sense to his children. They wonder, “How can Dad be so loyal to someone who treats him so badly? Why doesn’t Dad ever confront her?” Being a helpless witness to the contempt and castration of your father is very detrimental to the emotional well-being of the children, as is the direct narcissistic abuse of their mother.
Children raised in a family like this have no chance for emotionally healthy development. They have no emotional security. Their lives are completely unstable. They constantly live in a chaotic and unpredictable environment. These children can never rely on emotional coherence; therefore, he lives in a constant state of fear. They are forced to take on roles that are inappropriate for their age in an effort to establish a sense of calm.
No one steps in to help these children because no one on the outside recognizes what is happening at home. Narcissistic mothers present a perfect family image to the outside world. Everyone who looks from the outside sees his mother and father as wonderful people. Those outside the immediate family never see what happens behind closed doors.
The narcissistic mother demands total loyalty. Their mother reinforces again and again to the children that they should never discuss the private affairs of their family. Any semblance of love that she has spread is immediately withdrawn every time the children step over the line. They would not dare to embarrass their mother, so they must internalize all their feelings.
Children with narcissistic mothers and enabling fathers are emotionally neglected and abused from a very young age. They have no one to defend them. They are prepared for a life of misery; insecurity, lack of self-esteem, depression, anxiety, fear, anger issues, boundary issues, codependency, and painful adult relationships. Sometimes even the chemical balance in their brains is disturbed, making abuse almost impossible to overcome in later years without counseling, therapy, or medication.
Children raised in an environment like this grow up without healthy coping skills or problem solving. They have to build protective walls inside for their emotional survival. The most basic challenges in life are faced with confusion, fear, withdrawal, anger, or substance abuse. Their lives turn into disasters.
It is difficult for adult children who grew up in these types of homes to recognize the root of their problems. They have led very painful lives and often do not understand why. They have a hard time seeing the abuse for what it was and still can be. They hear about children being brutally beaten and feel guilty for comparing their pain to that of these victims. Emotional abuse seems to pale in comparison to physical abuse, in the minds of many. But that is definitely not the case.
Unlike physical abuse, narcissistic abuse is subtle. These abusers deliberately confuse their victims about the reality of what is happening, so victims never seem to identify the source of their pain. Narcissists play mind games. They deny everything they have done. Children (adults) can never confront their parents and get an admission, validation, or apology.
It’s twice as frustrating when the other parent takes exactly the same stance and stands up for the NPD parent, or when the therapist we go to or our friends blame us for creating the problem in the first place. That drives us crazy; makes us guess the validity and severity of our pain.
So, as adult children of narcissistic parents, we must stick together. We must support each other because no one else will understand. And most importantly, we must get professional help. We cannot recover without it.