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Denying the Father’s Role when Mother is a Narcissist
By: Beth McHugh 2009
One of the more painful aspects of detaching from a narcissist mother is acknowledging the role that the father plays in the family dynamic.
I have had many clients who, once they have identified their mothers as suffering from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), have to then look at the unpleasant truth of the role their father played in maintaining the status quo.
Often my clients proclaim that their father was “wonderful”, “warm and “loving” and he may well have been all these things. But the truth is, he allowed his wife to systematically erode the budding egos and personalities of his children. This passive neglect then leads to enormous pain to the child due to the unusual attachment that children of narcissist have with their parents.
Of course, this equally applies if the father was the narcissist in the family and the mother was the so-called “normal” parent. Again, the truth is that a well adjusted person would not marry a narcissist in the first place, or if they did, the relationship would flounder as the more well-balanced partner attempted to modify the unrealistic narcissistic demands of the spouse. In effect, the marriage could not survive. Where these marriages continue over time it indicates that the “normal” spouse is either giving in to the demands of the NPD sufferer and in turn, damaging his or her children as an unfortunate byproduct. Alternative, the spouse could simply be turning a blind eye to the goings on, living in their own world and leaving their unfortunate offspring to take the full brunt of the narcissistic behavior on their own.
This is too much for a child or young teen to deal with alone. In some cases, their may be overcompensation by the so-called “normal” parent in the form of gifts or activities, so that the child naturally comes to worship this parent as being the “good” parent while identifying the NPD parent as the “bad” parent. This is where the beginnings of much of the “black and white thinking” originates that is so common among adult children of narcissists.
But as in all matters nothing is truly black and white and a full recovery
from the influence of a narcissistic parent involves the realization
that both parents played a part in sustaining and maintaining the narcissistic
atmosphere in the family home.
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