Having a Narcissistic-like Dad

Hi y'all! I'm 23 years old and live at home. I'm in college, but am on summer break right now. I will start off with my history. My parents hooked up which is how I came about. My Dad left when he found out my Mom was pregnant and my Mom had severe depression to the point where she lost custody of me. She still struggles with this. My uncle voluntarily took me in and raised me. It was great of him to do that especially since he doesn't have a wife and I love him. But unfortunately we don't get along that well and it's partly because he's very narcissistic-like (he's never been diagnosed) which makes him very tempermental, controlling and mean at times. He always wants to be praised and does it himself if others don't. I compliment him when he deserves it and thank him when appropriate. He even told me he sometimes wishes he never took me in and that hurt. Sometimes he yells at me for no reason and I know he's proud of me, but rarely admits it. But there's another part of me that feels like I'm not good enough. Every time I meet his desires, his expectations just rise again. I struggle with depression and anxiety and he doesn't understand. Sometimes he even mocks me for it and that hurts my feelings. He's also very stubborn so communication isn't that easy. I just had to vent and criticism is welcome as long as it is constructive. Thanks!

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37 Replies

  • Hi, I have several thoughts about your situation. First, what do you want to do ? Your uncle will probably not change so any solution will have to come from you. I'm sorry you have anxiety and depression, that's a lot to deal with along with college and your Uncle. Not impossible though it will probably take some time. What options do you have, other relatives, or friends. If he is a true Narcissus he will have a lack of empathy which may be why he mocks you and as you get older and have ideas of your own he may feel threatened . Why don't you Google Narcissism and see if you can find something on how to live with one. Your low-self esteem could come from his unrealistic expectations.

    You'll get no criticism from me, sweetie, I think you are doing fine and trying to take control of your life. Good luck,VM

  • Many thanks for your reply. Ive learned from the internet and experience not to argue with people with this disorder. I recently got a second job aside from volunteering and he doesn't like it. I am financially dependent on him and drive a car that he bought for me and is taking it tomorrow. He says he wants to save his own car since it's old, but I think it's really because he doesn't want me to go horseback riding where I work in exchange for lessons. This has happened before and sometimes he ends up leaving my Toyota behind after all so maybe that will be the case. He could have a mild case of narcissism because he does love and care for me, but doesn't always know how to show it. When school resumes, I am going to stay on campus as I think distance would be good for us. I took your advice and googled this issue and it told me to prevent these people from crossing lines. My Uncle sometimes comes into my room without knocking so I'll have to fix my door. That way I'll be able to lock it. I'm trying to find a way to be independent while still respecting his authority. Thanks again!

  • Yes you are right. Never bother to argue with this kind of person as they are not interested in reaching an agreement; they are only interested in imposing their own point of view and just get worse and worse if challenged. Well done you for realising this so early; it took me half a lifetime with my mum. There was no internet when I was young, no forums like this; I grew up not knowing she was a narcissist and trying to please all the time. The problem with that as you have rightly pointed out ( apart from all the "game playing " and outright lying they do which I hadn't realised ) is that you will never ever be good enough; as you said they continually raise the bar. It is like they are never satisfied and they just go on and on and on as if they have to have people to have a go at even when things are fine. I learned this too late in life. You are lucky you know this now.

    We have no way of knowing if he's a true narcissist or if he just has traits but the advice from vintage me and your response to that all seem like good ideas. It is a good idea to be able to learn to be as independent as you can. Sometimes these kind of people subconsciously don't want you to have your independence as it means they are less able to control you. No matter what gaining your independence is a desirable thing anyway and just remain cautious about him. You already know what to do which is great.

    Gemma XXX

  • Thank you.

  • Interesting you say you are trying to be independent whilst respecting his authority. Apart from obeying general house rules, paying a contribution etc, you are now of an age where you have the right to make your own decisions. He no longer has 'authority' over you. Maybe he tries to exert this authority by giving you things then controlling your access to them. Best way to avoid this is to make sure you earn your own money and buy your own car, but if he has gifted you something, put your foot down and insist he respects your right to decide what happens to it. He may not have taught you how to stand up for yourself, but you need to start practicing now or become a pushover all your life.

  • When I say respect I mean house rules and things like that. Obviously I don't want to give him the middle finger or attitude. I plan on moving to campus this fall when I attend college.

  • Fair enough. Good on you.

  • Thanks.

  • Well done you! For reaching out. For a start, I would be so proud of you if you were my child. Your articulate and very intelligent. Your proactive and trying to improve your life! I think making space between you, and staying on campus is a good idea. It's hard when someone is negative and criticle. No wonder you suffer with anxiety and depression. I'm truely sorry. I wish I could give you advice. But I really wanted to let you know your an amazing strong person and you've been through so much in your short life. So give yourself a pat on the back for coming through so much and turning out so well. I'm here anytime you need to vent. Best wishes to you always. Be kind to yourself. X

  • Thank you. I needed to hear that. But just so you know I'm way more complex than you think and have plenty of faults.

  • Omg u sound just like me sweety! But a younger version considering u r in college. IDK about u but I am extremely proud of u! I myself recently discovered after many failed romantic relationships that I was & (always will be) attracted to narcissistic men, I agree with a lot of experts that daughters look for partners like their fathers. My dad, who I love very much is a strong personality, very opinionated, manipulative, mood swings 0-100 in a second, lies ALOT, but also is generous & can give very deep insightful advice, I myself have learned to accept his character defects because he is my dad, & the only one I will ever have. I don't argue with him, but I am however, kindly assertive when he gets out of line. I also suffer from depression, PTSD, anxiety & some other b.s., I wont own those titles anymore, I found that at times in my life, yes, those diagnosis were accurate, but they do not define me, I am so much more than those conditions. I guess my point to all of this is if I can offer any advice it would be, continue working on u, & ur self discovery, & protect yourself if u r single, narcissistic men & women tend to prey on those of us that have been already exposed to narcissistic personalities & we tend to be "very attracted" to men mainly, but women too, that hold some or all of those N qualities. I don't know your situation but I do know mine & several other women who have had narcissitic parents(s), some part of their lives, if not all, have been negatively impacted due to narcissistic personality exposure & the pattern continues on until awareness can hopefully break it. I hope this helped somewhat, if just to know u r on the right path, and u r not alone. I'm here if ever u would just need someone who can identify & hear u.......

    "To thine own self be true, let no other impose his will on you."

  • I've recently decided that I will not take his verbal abuse anymore and moved into a homeless shelter. I plan to get a job or two among other things to make my own money. If I am financially dependent on him then he'll have ways to manipulate me which is what I don't want.

  • I totally agree with you Evelynarnold, I think she is amazing.VM

  • Thank you. But like I said to Evelynarnold I'm way more complex than you think and have plenty of faults.

  • You don't have to take shouting from family. you sound like you feel responsible for your dad. you aren't. you need to know you are ok in your own right. I have depression and anxiety too. I try to be nice but I am tired of being a people pleaser. Be yourself.

  • I've decided to lock myself in my room every time there is an argument. Then I'll come out when he's calmed down and try to discuss things rationally. Thanks for your message.

  • Why would you expect criticism for us here. To understand a person we need to be able to walk in their shoes and understand their feelings.

    Your Uncle seems to be a lonely may who is uncertain of his needs and therefore needs support and understanding of His needs, as He must feel quite worthless and uncertain of His position within the family structure

    I am not saying that I understand his concerns, only you who where past down to him to look after you knows how the family used to treat him when He was a young child and later. To ask yourself that may help you understand the problems He has past through and the negative feelings that had affected his mood, and attitude to life.

    You are now twenty three years old now, at college and soon be able to make your way in life. Could it be your Uncle understands that and could be worried when He lossess your input and company ???

    Always here


  • My Uncle was emotionally abused as a kid. He was the 7th out of 10 kids which probably means he didn't receive enough attention. He was belittled as a youngster and now feels the need to be on top as an adult. Also this is the kind of parenting he was taught to do. I don't think he's treated well at work and he also isn't passionate about his job. I agree that he's lonely and perhaps is bitter that his life didn't go the way he planned. He wanted to get married and have kids, but none of that happened. Instead he practically adopted his niece. He told me that he originally thought he'd be taking care of me for a few years until my mother got back on her feet. Then he was going to start his own family, but that never happened and I'm still here. He said he never had time for a girlfriend because he was too busy raising me which made me feel guilty. I felt like I had deprived him of having a normal family and still feel this way even though I know it's not my fault. I can feel one way despite knowing that reality is different. Maybe you're right about him anticipating the loss of my company and input, but I'm sure he feels threatened because he won't be able to control me anymore. Thanks for your reply :) I never thought about the fact that he might be unsure of his role in the family.

  • Lots of single men raising children find wives (lets face it, women just love rescuing a poor man in such situations, I should know, I did it twice), and maybe you being there save him from an even lonelier existence, or a bad marriage and expensive divorce. Maybe he had problems in this area, and you were a good excuse for why he was single. Who knows. Whatever the truth, it was his decision..do not feel guilty. Best not to say any of this to him though as it could be hurtful and provoke more arguments.

  • Hi, my mum is as narcissist and sadly they rarely do get diagnosed because they think the problem is with everyone else and not them. The way your uncle is with you is exactly how my mother is with me. Nothing is good enough, nothing I do is either. She loves attention etc etc. That actually contributes to an unstable state of mental health because you are constantly jumping through hoops to never get to the end place. They never change and the only point you will break free of the cycle is when you come to terms with that. I would suggest although I know it isn't easy. Surrounding yourself with people, friends who see the good in you and are not instantly negative or give you unreachable goals. You have to kind of put a wall up between yourself and him so that he doesn't notice but he also doesn't hurt you so much. It is completely easier said than done I know but if you do not make it obvious he will not notice but at the same time you will build your self esteem up and progress. At least you have identified he has narcassitic tendencies and that is actually good. I went for years thinking the problem was with me and not her. Hope it works out.

  • Thank you for your message. I do plan on returning to school this fall and will stay in a dorm, townhouse, or suite. This morning I realized the the lock on my bedroom door is still working even though the knob is loose. I plan to lock myself in my room whenever he gets mad and to come out after he has calmed down so we can have rational discussions.

  • Remember aswell that narcissists do not like it when you begin to grow up and move on, my mum would have me living on the same street as her if she could, in fact my brother and his family do. He may well be intensifying things because he can feel that is happening(as suggested already). They become jealous easily. You have to live your life, so never be emotionally blackmailed into stopping that.

  • Thanks. When I get married I already know he won't get along with my husband unless he gets help.

  • Haha my mum and husband dislike each other with a passion. He dislikes the way she treats me. Hopefully you will find a feisty husband who stands up for you. After all they will be married to you, not your uncle. Believe me the right person will not be put off by family. Also your uncle will just have to put up with it, it's your life not his.

  • True. I just hope I won't get caught in the middle of any of their arguments. But that's in the far future so I'm just going to focus on today.

  • It could be narcissism, insecurity, fear of confrontation, abandonment issues, inability to communicate, lack of personal boundaries, bad parenting from his parents etc etc. It is sad but this is his issue to deal with, not yours. You are the child, not his therapist. However, he was there for you, even if not perfect, and for that be grateful, and try to be kind and gentle. (NB Gratitude does not require you to sacrifice your own life, that is a guilt trip and not to be endured. If he tries to make you feel guilty, nip it in the bud quickly and cut contact for a while, making it clear you will not be blackmailed).

    Whatever his own personal reasons for doing what he did, all you need to concern yourself with is the future and your own emotional health. Set a few emotional boundaries, as you are doing physically by fixing your door. Rather than withdrawing totally from his life, gradually start by spending more time with friends. Thanks him for his sacrifices and his support, and tell him you will always need him as a parent and to be in your life, but reassure him that his efforts have meant that you are now a healthy adult who needs to be making your own decisions, and that includes what you want to do with your life. Ask him to respect your independence and you will respect his right to move on too.

    Maybe your own emotional strength and self-confidence will be the reward he is looking for.

  • Thanks but I don't think he will see my strength and self-confidence as a reward. More like a threat. You're right that I should spend more time with friends. I'm a college student in summer break right now. All of my friends are from school and i don't have many from home. I need to change that though. Thanks!

  • Generally I feel the way I was treated throughout my life, parents can really mess the attitude of their brood. This can pass down the decades and their children pass down these faults to future generations.

    It takes a bright child to break away from errors of the past. Also understand the failings of their parents and relatives


  • I agree. On the bright side, when parents do good things, their decendants can reap the benefits just as well if not better.

  • Mbvu, from what I've read of your posts you seem like a sweet and kind soul who deserves better treatment. Although he was good to take you in, I'm guessing that might make his treatment of you all the more hurtful and confusing since he's in more of a dad role to you than an uncle and since you love him. A dad telling their kid that the kid messed up their life plans, mocking them for painful conditions like anxiety and depression, and busting into their room without knocking is straight up disrespectful and hurtful to the kid and you deserve respect and kindness! Maybe a good, empathetic therapist could help with all this? Sounds like there's probably a lot to vent about. I hope you find more supportive, positive people to help you feel better. And good for you going to live on campus in the fall.

  • Thanks. I have a therapist and a psychiatrist. He can act racist at times which is ironic because I have a black counsellor and two Indian doctors lol. He hates the fact that I'm on medication and seeing a crisis counsellor (I've been molested), but what can I do :/

  • Find another therapist, maybe? Might be worth a try. So the therapist and psychiatrist are two different people? I'm guessing so just because it wouldn't make sense for a psychiatrist to hate the fact that you're on medication! But why would he hate that you're seeing a crisis counselor? If it helps you, he should be all for it. I finally found a therapist I love (although now I can't afford it ugh!) but when I was seeing her it made all the difference. She was just so sweet and caring, first time I felt that way about a therapist and it really helped. There are some duds and also some truly good ones, I think.

  • Oh. Its my uncle who can act racist at times which is ironic because I have a black counselor, an Indian psychiatrist, and another Indian physical doctor. Its my uncle who doesn't like me seeing a crisis counselor and taking medication.

  • Ohhhh, ok. I got you. Well, I, for one, think it's fantastic you're doing both of those things as long as they're helping you! Good for you taking care of yourself.

  • Thanks.

  • Hello,

    My ex partner also had this condition, when you wrote criticism welcome as long as it is constructive brought back so many memory's for me. Is that what he say's to you when you have a different opinion or are hurt by his high expectations of you ?. "you just can't take constructive criticism ", was one of my ex's saying's as he was totally putting me down and ripping my heart out.

    As much as you love your uncle, you have to also love yourself and you really don't owe anyone anything , you were just a child when he took you in, children are a pleasure to have, a blessing not a burden. That's the deal with being a parent you want NOTHING BACK the reward is knowing you did all you could. The reward is seeing that amazing adult stood in front of you !

    You will never get what you truly deserve from your uncle as he is not capable of the sacrifice a normal parent would make for there child, it is not your fault or his he just is not capable they don't do empathy or normal emotional responses. In my experience with my ex I had to leave and make the decision that he was not suitable to have contact with my daughter till she was old enough to handle him.

  • Thanks. He expects something in return now that I'm older. I can't give him what he wants because his expectations just keep rising so I've given up. He's not very happy so I've shared with him my secret to my good life. I told him about my Christian faith. I'm fine with him not sharing my beliefs, but he doesn't count my passing of this information as a favor. He has not mentioned anything about my ability to take criticism.

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