Dear Therapist: How do I live with a narcissist father?

By Prateeksha Shetty

Published: Thu 23 Sep 2021, 7:14 PM

I am a 15-year-old girl, and I recently realised that my father is a narcissist. I have no freedom at all and I am not even allowed to hang out or go to my close friend’s house. As an extrovert, this deeply bothers me, especially, when I see others my age hanging out. Because of all this, I can barely concentrate on my studies. I have tried to talk to my father about how I feel, but it always ends up in him talking about his own issues. What can I do to lessen my anxiety? — Name Withheld



Dear Writer, having a narcissist parent has long-standing effects on your personality, mental health and general outlook in life. At some point, you may need to opt for therapy if your parent is a true narcissist. I understand that being a minor, this may not be feasible (financially) at this point of time but finding professional support is highly advised. You can approach your school counsellor or well-being officer within your school who can guide you and offer their support.

Confrontations or dialogue with such a parent is often futile as need for control is deeply ingrained and your pleas may fall on deaf ears. Unfortunately, that leaves you to channelise your need for socialisation in more indirect ways like extracurricular school activities, virtual events and communication, events that seem legitimate and acceptable; for example, academic trips, competitions, sports tournaments. I am aware that this is tricky and that you may, in fact, have to reassure yourself and be patient that in a few years’ time, you will, hopefully, be more independent. You can also try working towards this goal in ways that are within your control right now. It is also advised that you form a strong support group like your friends, your mother, siblings and cousins, whom you can vent to and detach and distract yourself. As you grow older, you will feel less vulnerable and more empowered to deal with your father.

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