Have you ever wondered if your dad is a narcissist? Many clients wonder if their dad truly has a problem, or if they are just imagining things. That’s why I developed this bullet proof test. Here is your checklist to identify a narcissistic dad:
- Your dad was popular and charismatic
- Your dad had an impressive imagination
- Your dad was inflexible
- Your dad was jealous of you
- Your dad manipulated people to depend on him
- Your dad didn’t meet your needs
- Your dad lacked empathy
- Your dad couldn’t take criticism
- Your dad wanted you to look good to his friends
- Your dad is self-centered and vain
- Your dad had a public persona and a very different private persona
- Your dad wasn’t around much
- Your dad did what he wanted
- Your dad would fly in to a rage
- Your dad used people for his benefit
If your dad gets a check on 10 or more items in this checklist, then he is likely a narcissist.
For more information on dealing with a narcissistic dad, check out my in depth articles on narcissistic parenting.
- How to Deal with a Narcissistic Parent | Healing When There Is No love
- For Victims of Narcissistic Christian Parenting | Learning to Love Again
I also offer one to one counseling services. Check availability using the following link:
What Each Line of the Narcissistic Dad Checklist Means
Your dad was popular and charismatic
Narcissist dads are good at making people like them. While narcissists generally haven’t developed a full range of normal human empathy, they have learned to mimic and control their emotional expression in a way to make people like them.
A narcissistic dad is also very conscious about how he appears to others. He will make himself look like he is good at everything he tries, has a perfect family, and a perfect life.
Your dad had an impressive imagination
A common trait of narcissists is that they live their entire life rapped up in their own imagination. They can’t bear to be confronted with a reality that they fear might expose them for being “not good enough.”
Because of this, narcissists have a very active and creative imagination.
They may be very fun to play with as children. When you spend time with them, they can turn a mundane every day activity in to a fun adventure. They think in ways that most other people don’t or aren’t capable of. They haven’t lost a child’s sense of creativity and wonder.
Your dad was inflexible
Narcissists feel the need to firmly control their environment and the people in it. For the narcissist dad, it is their way or the highway.
When you are raised by a narcissist, they are very likely to attempt to control everything you do. They may weigh in on your activities, friends, romantic partners, dress, habits, career, etc.
As a child, it can be difficult to differentiate between what is normal parental advice and care taking, as compared to excessive control. Even as adults, most victims of narcissistic parents have a hard time differentiating.
So, you may need to compare your life to other people who grew up in a healthy household around the same time that you were a kid, or seek help from a knowledgeable coach or counselor to be certain if your dad was overly controlling or not.
Your dad was jealous of you
A very common sign of narcissistic parents is that they are jealous of their children.
Your narcissist dad may:
- Compare their accomplishments to yours
- Worry that you are more attractive than them
- Downplay your successes
- Claim you are too promiscuous, or not promiscuous enough
- Obsess over how much money you make
It is never normal or healthy for a parent to feel threatened by their own children.
Your dad manipulated people to depend on him
Narcissists love to be needed. They feel a sense of power and control when they make them self an essential ingredient in people’s lives. Especially when he doesn’t need them in return.
You may see him try to confuse people, push their emotional buttons, lie to them, gaslighting them, use triangulation to separate them from others or otherwise manipulate their psyche so that they feel alone and in need of help from your father.
As a child of a narcissistic father, he may have refused to teach you essential skills and have been too reluctant to give you independence as you grew up.
Your dad didn’t meet your needs
Narcissistic fathers tend not to be concerned for the wants, needs, or desires of their children.
They will take pains to look the part of the prefect father. And, the will tell you and everyone else just how good they are. But, they will generally not actually fulfill the natural need for love, recognition, and empowerment that a child has.
Your dad lacked empathy
In general, narcissists find it difficult if not impossible to understand or care about the emotions of other people. They cannot differentiate their feelings from other people’s feelings.
This makes a narcissistic dad cold a heart, although they probably have falsely warm and loving exterior.
Your dad couldn’t take criticism
Narcissists have a deep emotional wound inside them which makes them hypersensitive to accusations of fault. Even minor critiques or criticism is likely to strike a chord with a narcissistic parent. Sometimes, even innocent comments will be taken as a insult, even if they weren’t meant as such.
When faced with a fault, a narcissist is likely to deflect blame to other people, get very angry, become defensive, start pointing out other people’s faults, or become emotionally unavailable and withdrawn.
Your dad wanted you to look good to his friends
For a narcissistic father, his children are primarily a status symbol which indicates their success and status in life.
Children of narcissists often feel like prized ponies, being trotted out for company and put on display. And, whatever you do don’t embarrass dad. Otherwise, you risk feeling his wrath or passive aggressive retaliation.
Your dad is self-centered and vain
Narcissistic dads will often be very concerned about their looks and well being above everyone else in the family. If dad isn’t feeling well, then the family isn’t feeling well.
Families with a narcissistic father will have to tip-toe around him. Constantly making sure that he is happy and cared for. Meanwhile, everything and everyone else is neglected.
Your dad had a public persona and a very different private persona
Living with an narcissist, you see they they have two very different personalities which they switch between in public and private.
While everyone will put on an extra polite air when they are around people from outside the family, narcissistic fathers take this to the extreme. When they go in public, they will seem almost like a complexly different person.
They can go from screaming angry to congenial and happy at the flip of a switch. Their voice, face, and manner will suddenly transform when they pick up the phone, and revert back to their mean self once they hang up.
Your dad wasn’t around much
Since narcissistic dads are more concerned about themselves than they are about their children, they will usually be away a lot.
They may blame their absence on work, on having other obligations, on your mother, or even on you and your siblings. But, the reality is that they choose to do whatever made them happy, and are projecting the blame on to other people.
Your dad did what he wanted
A narcissist will act any way and do anything that they want. Irregardless of the consequences for themselves or other people.
If you dad constantly made decisions that broke social norms, laws, policy, or traditions just because they wanted to, then they may be a narcissist.
Your dad would fly in to a rage
Narcissists can suddenly and fiercely shift from being normal to a profound rage without any particular provocation. When you trip the narcissistic defense mechanism they build around their wounded emotions, they raise their weapons without warning.
The scary thing about a narcissistic dad is that you are never certain where the line is with them. You may be joking and having fun one second, only to accidentally cross the line and get slammed by their anger.
Your dad used people for his benefit
Narcissists are users who manipulate and control other people for their benefit.
If you see your father using psychological tricks to get his way, only to later discard the victim and move on to new prey, then he might be a narcissist.
Still not sure if you dad is a narcissist? Here is additional ways to detect narcissists in your life
- Tell-Tale Signs of a Covert Narcissist | A Fool Proof Test
- Signs of a Narcissist | 21 Behaviors of the Classical Narcissist
- 12 Signs of A Vulnerable Narcissist | Spot Them Before They Harm You
If you need help overcoming the damage from a narcissistic father, I have resources to help you. I also offer one on one distance coaching services.