Enabling Fathers of Narcissistic Mothers

Enabling Fathers of Narcissistic Mothers

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Enabling fathers of narcissistic mothers creates a whole next level of trauma in children, which will end up playing out in their adult lives in a multitude of negative ways.

I always knew that my dad was the ‘good’ guy in my parent’s relationship, however, I was also acutely aware that he did not have my back. In my eyes, my dad just buggered off to work and left us with my mother, who could be absolutely awful.

I didn’t have the understanding or vocabulary at the time to recognise my mother as a narcissist and my dad as the total enabler of her despicable behaviours.

After being raised by a narcissistic mother and then falling into a marriage with a covert narcissist, who was also raised by a narcissistic mother, I’ve inevitably been witness to multiple enabling fathers of narcissistic mothers.

You can bet that if there’s a narcissistic mother in the family, the father is most likely enabling her behaviour – because if he didn’t, the relationship would not continue. Either the father would get jack of it and walk away or the mother would discard the father in place of someone more suitable to her selfish needs and expectations.

This dynamic can work in any relationship, whether it’s male-female or same-sex.

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Enabling Fathers of Narcissistic Mothers

What is an Enabler?

Enabling Father, Narcissistic Mother

Ultimately, the enabler of narcissistic abuse cajoles the narcissist so that they always feel special and are made to be the most important person in the house. The top of the pecking order, if you will.

An enabler of narcissistic abuse is not only one who allows the narcissistic behaviour, but they also pander to the narcissist’s every whim.
READ: Full Glossary of Narcissist Terms

Whatever she wants, she gets without question. Whatever she says, goes. Her behaviours are always met with acceptance and support from the enabler (no matter how hurtful that behaviour might be towards others).

Any shitty behaviour by the narcissistic mother is always justified by the enabling father.

The narcissistic mother is an energetic black hole, who demands supply in the form of attention (positive and negative). This attention is much-needed by the narcissist so that she can continuously feed her fantasy version of herself.

As a young child, the narcissist subconsciously cut off any access to the human qualities of being empathetic, kind and compassionate. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this lack of morality couldn’t possibly extend out to their children, because it most certainly does.

When the narcissist cut off that natural supply (which we all have) to divine source and energy, they were inadvertently left with only one alternative. They must extract life force energy from other people in order to ‘feed’ themselves and continue living in their delusional state.

Think of a wolf in sheep’s clothing or a devil in disguise and then you can begin to imagine the truth of what a narcissist is beyond their physical human avatar.

A narcissist will demand and steal supply from their children without a backwards glance.

My mother was always making me and my siblings feel bad for everything she did for us. As a child I used to think, “But, that’s your job as a mother. Why did you even have kids?”

I now understand that her idea of having children was filled with illusion. She expected us to be a constant stream of energy for her… because let’s not forget, it is all about her after all.

However, as we grew into our own individual beings, she realised just how much (thankless) work was involved in motherhood, which inevitably resulted in her resenting us.

Examples of Enabling

There are many ways in which enabling fathers of narcissistic mothers support and encourage the abusive family dynamic.

Enabling fathers…

  • Always accept the narcissistic mother’s storyline, regardless of the child’s real-time experiences
  • Do not stand up to the narcissistic mother – he’ll rarely side with the children
  • Will actively blame others for the narcissist’s behaviour (even when the narc is clearly in the wrong)
  • Will diligently tidy up the narcissist’s wreckages (including physical, social and emotional messes)

Things enabling fathers say:

“Just do what your mother wants.”

“It’s just how she is.”

“Don’t poke the bear. You know what she’s like!”

“If you just did as she asked, we wouldn’t have to punish you.”

Why Does the Father Enable the Narcissistic Mother?

Enabling Father, Narcissistic Mother

A narcissistic mother demands complete loyalty. Her partner must worship her in every way and he must tell her that she’s beautiful, amazing and perfect. This behaviour is extremely confusing for the kids to witness, as they’re also very aware of how the mother treats their father so terribly.

It’s important to understand that narcissists need willing servants (and supply), which is why they energetically seek out people who are already predisposed to having low self-worth and low boundaries.

They simply will not tolerate someone who stands up to them or calls them out on any of their ludicrous behaviours.

People with low self-worth are perfect as they’re more pliable to the narcissist’s behaviours. They’ll generally feel as though they should be so lucky to have found anyone to love them at all and will be willing to ‘settle’ with the narc.

Quite often the enabler grew up in a household with narcissism, substance abuse, needy, selfish or neglectful behaviour by the very person/ people who were meant to be caring for them. Therefore, they learnt from a young age that it was safest for them to diminish their own needs in the face of the toxic parent.

In other words, their self-worth is severely lacking and they are already ‘trained’ to put others before themselves without question.

It’s easy to see how this becomes an eternal cycle between parent and child. Ultimately, someone along the ancestral line needs to become savvy to the cycle of emotional unavailability and abuse and be able and willing to break it.

Let’s have a look at some common reasons why the father will enable the narcissistic mother’s behaviour:

  • The enabling father knows that to keep the peace and avoid rageful outbursts, the narc mother needs to be kept ‘happy’ at all costs
  • The image of a ‘good wife’ or ‘happy family’ outstrips the emotional needs of the child
  • Calling out the mother would mean having to look at his own role in the family dynamics, which would mean needing to take responsibility
  • Fear of being alone if he doesn’t go along with the narcissistic mother’s behaviour
  • Fear of rocking the boat and having to ‘deal’ with the mother’s backlash
  • Emotional and mental exhaustion from the narcissistic mother’s manipulations
  • Seeing the behaviour as ‘normal’ due to unhealthy childhood dynamics and/ or being in a toxic relationship for so long
  • The father is completely manipulated by the narcissistic mother and believes her lies about how ‘bad’ the children are
  • The enabling father is afraid of losing his children if he leaves

In my own childhood household, my father’s canned response to anything from the kids was, “Whatever your mother says,” or “Whatever your mother wants.”

He was one of the many enabling fathers of narcissistic mothers.

I have so many clear memories of my mother being completely cruel, callous and illogical, then I’d look over at Dad as if to say, “Are you going to let her treat me like this?”

Not one memory exists of my father standing up for me and pulling Mum up on her atrocious behaviour. I would look into his eyes and he knew that I knew, but he’d more or less shrug his shoulders and support my mother, no matter what.

The feeling was that of the parents against the children. It was so far from a kind, loving, supportive close-knit family unit. That just did not exist in our house.

A sickening facet of the enabling father is when he ends up dishing out the abuse on behalf of the mother. She is masterful at manipulating him and will often play the victim to make him think the children are awful or defiant against her.

A narcissistic mother can be extremely persuasive, especially given that she will know the exact wounds within the father to hook into, which will get him on her side. Even to the point where he forgoes his fatherly duties of protecting his children.

My childhood was completely dysfunctional on the inside but looked like the perfect, middle-class family on the outside. Private schooling and braces for the kids, two socially acceptable occupations for the parents and a newly built home in the suburbs.

As an adult, I have had a few friends tell me that things didn’t seem right when I was growing up, no one truly knew about the abuse, because Mum’s facade made everything look so great to the outside world. Given her self-inflated ego, she truly did believe that it was all great because she was ‘amazing.’

Due to the nature of narcissistic abuse and its subtle characteristics, I was a deeply traumatised child (depression, anxiety and dangerously underweight), but I was never able to put my finger on the source of it all. I just thought I must be the problem and that there was something wrong with me – a typical codependent trauma response.

I guess that my father probably wouldn’t pair the word ‘abuse’ with his wife or household dynamics for the same confusing reasons that I was never able to.

Why Does the Enabling Father Stay?

Father and Child

I would often feel sorry for my dad because I could see how poorly my mum was treating him and I used to wonder, “Why does he stay with her?” Honestly, as a child, I knew I’d be much happier if he left her and found a truly wonderful woman who treated him well. I was also craving the type of mother that I just didn’t have.

Narcissistic abuse is a slow progression, which happens over time, often in an underhanded way. No one ever enters a relationship with the foresight that they will be used and abused.

Yes, the father enables the narcissistic mother’s behaviour, but he is just as much a victim of narcissistic abuse as the children.

READ: Understanding the Cycle of Narc Abuse

The difference is that children are unarmed and helpless against a narcissistic parent. The father, however, is a grown man and does have a choice as to what he will do about the situation.

Don’t get me wrong, I spent 20 years in a narcissistically abusive relationship (not understanding what it was). I’m fully aware of how insidious and confusing the abuse is, not to mention the trauma bond, which makes you sickeningly loyal to the person who’s hurting you and your family.

However, I largely protected my children from my ex’s bullying behaviour and stood up for them when needed. Even though I was stuck in the cycle, I still had my eyes open enough to not allow that behaviour to be directed towards the kids. I took the emotional beatings instead, which usually resulted in my ex gaslighting me, playing the victim or belittling me for ‘raising the kids in a bubble’ (i.e. blocking him from abusing them).

So, a parent can be in a narcissistic relationship without enabling the narc’s behaviour towards the children. However, I will admit that I was enabling his behaviour in other ways out of pure survival.

The trademarks of narcissistic abuse are manipulation and gaslighting, which keeps the enabling father in a state of confusion.

He is probably emotionally shut down and in survival mode himself. I can bet that he doesn’t comprehend the long-term psychological effects of the abuse, plus his enabling behaviour will have on his kids in the future.

However, when you look into trauma bonding, it becomes easier to see how and why people stay in abusive relationships.

READ: Trauma Bonding Explained

What Happens if the Father STOPS Enabling the Narcissistic Mother?

Father, Narcissist, Arms crossed

For the father to stop enabling the narcissistic mother essentially means that he will need to stand up to her.

Bear in mind that the husband/ partner has been programmed by the wife/ mother that his obedience and submissiveness are expected, while assertiveness and questioning of her behaviour are not permissible.

Speaking his truth or going against her agenda is just not safe.

My ex’s mother is a covert narcissist and his dad is the biggest enabler I’ve ever met. That woman doesn’t even get herself a drink if he’s home. She’ll call him from another room to fetch her whatever she needs or wants. If they go out to the shops, he will drop her at the door, then go find a park… because walking from the car park is simply beneath her!

On two occasions I witnessed him object to her whim, albeit in a joking manner to soften the blow. Well, the reaction from this ‘sweet, innocent lady’ (a complete facade) was nothing short of venomous.

She raised her eyebrows and looked at him with those dark, soulless eyes a narcissist gets when their mask completely falls. “Excuse me?! How DARE you!” I could feel the wrath from the other side of the room and just like that, he was back in line.

There are a few eventualities if the father stops enabling the narcissistic mother, once and for all…

  1. The father will walk away and risk the vengeance of the narcissist, oftentimes losing everything in the process, including custody rights with his children.
  2. The father will leave the children to fend for themselves with the mother, with the only advice of… “Try not to upset your mother.”
  3. The narc mother will drag him through the mud, publicly smearing his name and leaving the poor bloke utterly broken and exhausted.
  4. The narcissist mother will already have her next obliging supply lined up, then discard the father. Cheating on him to secure the next person is very likely in this case.
READ: How to Stop Enabling a Narcissist

How Enabling Narcissism Affects Children

Narcissism, affects on children

It’s very common for enabling fathers of narcissistic mothers to bury themselves in something – work, substances, projects, other people and so on. This numbing out allows them to avoid having to face what’s going on between the narcissistic parent and their children.

If they can’t see what’s happening, then they’re excused from having to do anything about it, right?

Another common eventuality is that the father may be so enmeshed and bonded to the narcissistic mother, that he devotes his whole life to being her loyal servant. This is most definitely the case for my ex-father-in-law with his covert narc wife. She is always the victim, displaying a constant stream of medical ailments, which forever bind him in the ‘carer’ role as she plays the ‘poor me’ card on repeat.

In any scenario with a narcissistic mother and enabling father, things are made abundantly clear right from the beginning that the mother is the only one who matters. All family members are expected to put the mother’s needs above their own.

To further perpetuate the cycle, we live in a society that still predominantly places the mother in the main role of child-rearing. Many men are quite happy to (or may be expected to) step back and leave the raising of the children to however the mother sees fit.

This leaves a wide open space for narcissistic mothers to gaslight, manipulate and devalue their children by projecting their own self-hatred and deep inner shame upon their vulnerable little ones.

It’s heartbreaking.

Primary Abuse

The PRIMARY part of this abuse is the child having a confusing, ongoing assault of scapegoating and toxic projections coming from the narcissistic mother throughout their childhood years (and beyond).

What a child of enabling and narcissism experiences:

  • Confusion and instability
  • Living their childhood on eggshells
  • Abandonment from both parents
  • No support from the outside world because the narcissistic mother sets it all up to look ‘perfect’
  • Constant anxiety
  • Shame and unworthiness

Secondary Abuse

The SECONDARY portion of the abuse is when the child learns over time that their father will not intervene or protect them from the injustices dished out by the mother.

Their father will either stand on the sidelines, watching it happen, or they will take part and do the narcissist’s dirty work for them.

Outcomes for an abused child of a narcissist and an enabler:

  • Deep shame and unworthiness
  • Feeling unlovable and unworthy of unconditional love
  • Feeling like they don’t deserve protection
  • Feel as though all they’re worthy of is abuse and/ or neglect
  • Complex PTSD
  • No boundaries
  • Codependency
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Will go on to experience toxic relationships in their adult life
  • May go on to be a narcissist themselves
READ: 15 PTSD Symptoms from Narc Abuse

How has an enabling father and narcissistic mother affected my own life?

Now, as an adult, I’m working hard on clearing my deeply entrenched trauma and Complex PTSD from my childhood and subsequent marriage to a toxic covert narcissist.

I’ve come to a point in my life where I simply cannot trust another man until I’ve worked through my trauma. Until then, I’m 100% sure that I’ll just attract another narcissist and I simply cannot go through the abuse again.

READ: Trusting After Narc Abuse

I’ve had to set up unspoken boundaries with my mother to maintain low contact. She’s still as unemotional, manipulative and demanding as she always was, which can be frustrating at times.

A few years ago I went through the process of grieving the ‘mother who never was.’ I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never have a real mother and that I’ll never be able to talk to her about how her absolute self-centredness has affected every aspect of my life.

I’ll never receive any validation or accountability from her – I’d merely be met with more gaslighting. Then I’d no doubt receive a phone call from Dad telling me to ring her and apologise for what I’d said to her. He still very much enables her toxic behaviour, right into their 60s. If that hasn’t changed by now, it’s not going to.

My Dad is really just a shell of the man he used to be. He’s so shut down that I barely even remember the happy, fun Dad who used to laugh and have loads of fun with us… when he was there. It’s just heartbreaking for me to witness, but that’s his journey to take.

My sister is actively working on her deep trauma to level up and create an amazing life for herself, which I have no doubt she’ll achieve. It’s been nothing short of a long and arduous road for her.

Meanwhile, my brother has gone and unconsciously repeated the cycle with a narcissistic wife of his own. She is a nasty person who has caused a string of damage in my own life (with no care given as to how her actions affect my brother). I went No Contact with her some years ago.

Line Break

How to End the Pattern of Toxic Relationships

Happiness, Freedom

It’s extremely likely for a child of narcissistic abuse and an enabling parent to then move on into unhealthy relationships throughout their own life.

The best way to combat that painful outcome is to access and release the childhood trauma, which is stuck in the body. Only then can you have a shot at a beautiful healthy relationship, without the fear of attracting another narcissist or toxic person.

I’ve personally found that the more time that passed after leaving my narcissistic husband, the deeper the trauma was getting entrenched.

Instead of healing with time and the pain lessening… it just seemed to be getting worse.

I found that the only way to lessen and remove the effects of C-PTSD was to have some energetic healing sessions with Selina Hill (see below), an accomplished spiritual medium and coach.

From there, she was able to permanently remove the stuck memories and trauma from my body. Ultimately, it’s those wounds that draw in the toxic people and experiences.

Without healing the wounds, you may never truly be free of narcissistic experiences.

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Energetic Healing from
Narcissistic Abuse

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2 thoughts on “Enabling Fathers of Narcissistic Mothers”

  1. OMG! I need some help!! I am a daughter to a narcacistic mother. Throughout my life my mother has given me the roll of the black sheep or the scapegoat. Growing up I was alwats trying to get her approval but ALWAYS fell short or never got the response I felt I should of received from her. EX: put myself through college and graduated and she didn’t show to graduation and she never talked about the excitement that you would think your mother would talk about. I was pretty much ignored all through growing up as my older siblings could do no wrong and didn’t attend college but were always in my mother’s good graces. Throughout life I could see my mother’s short comings and would feel bad for her in a way as I could see right through her and not approve of what I was seeing. Her lies and manipulation made me wanna get away from her as soon as possible. After I had my kids I could tell my mother treated my like a redicilous child and would always talk about me in a negative light to my other siblings. She had a habit of talking about people behind their back but be so nice to their face. Then she would walk away and roll her eyes and go in the other room and start talking about that person to someone else.
    She was so judgemental and two faced. She would pit my siblings against eachother and alwats make herself outta be the catalyst for whatever she wanted. If you didn’t agree with her you were burned to the steak so to speak.
    In my 30’s I was doing g well in the medical field and raising my two kids on my own. I went through a divorce and was extremely hurt and depressed. I didn’t have much to do with my family due to broken relationships in our family unit as we got older, so I had no one to lean on during this time. I began to take narcotics (pain medication) and became addicted. I realized I had an issue and sought out help on my own and was on the upside of recovery. My mother had reached out to me (who lived in another state) and said why don’t you and the kids come to Texas where her and my step dad lived. Being I had no support system where I was I reluctantly agreed. After moving there I began to notice my mother starting to abuse my children as she had me growing up. As my kids were getting ready for school and sitting at table eating breakfast I remember my mother hitting my son on the back of the head causing him to spill his cereal. RAGE ran through me. You don’t ever want your kids to feel what you felt as a child. As she began scolding him for spilling his cereal (due to her hitting him) I realized right there I could not put my kids through that and decided to make plans to move. I spoke to my mother and step father about moving back to Tennesse and said I think it would be best. My mother at first was upset and said “okay if that’s what you want.” My parents suggested keeping my son for the summer (2 more weeks) and for me to go ahead and go to Tennessee and when I got a place and got all moved in they would send my son. I again reluctantly agreed. After I got to Tennessee my mother and I got in a heated argument over the phone over her forging my name and depositing my child support checks into her account and not telling me. She hung up on me and as I tried to calm down and call her back she didn’t answer. I gave it a day to cool off and tried her the next morning. My mother had changed her number!
    I couldnt even talk to my son and tell him to have a good day and i would see him soon…my heart sunk to my stomach. I was panicked. I continued to try and keep calling and called family members and never got anyone. Next thing I know i noticed on Facebook through someone elses account they had moved? To a whole other state! (Ohio)
    I had no idea on what to do? This was my mother? Why would she try and take my son to a whole otjer state? That wasn’t the agreement… After about a month of trying to get ahold of my mother, my step dad who had also changed his number, and other siblings to no avail I receive a letter from her basically stating……
    Seeing how you wanna move back to another state to use drugs and be a mother and dump your kids on me, she had no choice to go through the courts and get custody of my kids due to abandonment!
    WHAT!!!! I hadn’t abandoned my kids. She was supposed to send them when I got settled and I was settled. I didn’t leave to go back to TN. to use drugs, I left to get me and my kids away from her.
    The conclusion to this story is …My son was 13yrs old. My Daughter was 9yrs old. They are now 28yrs old and 32 yrs old. My Daughter and losing my kids was DEVISTATING TO ME! They were my life. If your wondering if I ever went back to drugs after this…Yes I did. Hard! After many years of up and down abuse and homelessness and multiple abusive partners I began to clean myself back up and get my life back together. My Daughter who is now 28yrs old we have continued to talk and I have visited her in Georgia where she li es now , married with my grandson, we continue to work on our relationship Everyday. I have been upfront about EVERYTHING and let her know I didn’t abandon her and her brother. I didn’t want our time together to be about me explaining myself so I just let it be and we have a close relationship now. My son on the other hand who is 32 is also married. I’ve tried many times to reach out to him and see him. He answered the phone one time and said “he couldn’t talk to me because it was just too hard.” He hung up. I e tried to send letters and emails but he never responded. I can’t help but feel this constant urge to make my mother pay for not only turning my life upside down but my kids lives. My son and daughter use to be so close we all three were. I was a single mother we were all the three of us had. Now my son and daughter are strangers. They don’t even speak and haven’t for many years. So how do I handle this? What do I do to deal with a mother that i trusted with ny kuds betray me like that? As she goes around lime the dedicated grandmother who had to raise her grandchildren because her daughter was a drug addict. That wasnt the case at all. I was clean till i lost my kids and left feeling powerless over the situation.. I can accept what I’ve done and what I became but what I can’t accept is the pain my mother inflicted on not only me but my kids now..
    What do I do?? I’ve tried to address it and tell my siblings about what happened but my mother only denies it and I end up playing into her game and end up making myself look more crazy by my responding to her.
    Are my kids better off without me in their lives? Should I just let them live their lives seeing how I made a mess of everything? I am at the point I am confused and I hurt everyday. I can barely think about my kids without breaking down and find it better to stay busy. It doesn’t really help cause when I go to bed by myself I wonder what I could of done? What can I do to fix this? Or do I fix it? I can not help but realize I have failed my kids and I hurt everyday as I’m sure they are too. That is too much to carry. So how do I fix this?
    Any suggestions?
    PLEASE HELP! IM BEGGING FOR SOME KIND OF GUIDEANCE REGUARDING THIS MATTER! PLEASE HELP ME!!!!! I have never thought a mother was capable of doing something like this. I don’t care if my kids were murderers I would help them in whatever they needed. If they needed me to help with kids I would but I wouldn’t take them away and tell them their mother doesn’t care about them.
    No matter what!

  2. I’m so incredibly sorry about all that you’ve been through. It’s more than anyone should have to endure. I wish I could say I was surprised to hear all of the things your mother has done, but honestly, nothing a narcissist does surprises me any more. My advice is this, it’s time to turn inward and heal up all of your trauma and wounding so that you can begin to put yourself back together. Anyone who has been through prolonged narcissistic abuse will end up feeling like their soul has been smashed into a million pieces, all while the narcissist walks off with a smirk on their lips. I highly recommend finding a good therapist who has plenty of experience dealing with the effects of narcissism and dedicating yourself to healing, layer by layer (there will be lots!). If you’re into spiritual healing, I found that a good medium was able to connect with my higher team and remove the trauma from my energetic body quicker than what I could have achieved through therapy – but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. The healer I used can be found at the bottom of all of my blog posts, if that’s something you feel to explore. As for your kids, unfortunately, the damage from your mother has already been done and they’re on their own journeys now. She will no doubt have filled their heads with rubbish, all to serve her own agenda. I think just keeping up contact enough for them to know they can come to you when they’re ready is all you can do at this point. As you heal within yourself, you might find that they are energetically drawn back to you all in the right time, without you having to force anything. As for your mother, well keeping her in your life is a choice only you can make. However, cutting her out for good will only improve your mental health and ability to heal and move forward into a better life. She will never change, but she will continue to pull you back down into her toxic arena until the day she dies if you allow her to – it’s all she knows how to do. Every time you try to convince everyone of your innocence, you’ll just play into her hand. She has set the story up that way so that you cannot win. This is the ultimate lesson in not being able to control anyone but yourself. So, be the person you’ve always wanted to be for your kids and do not take your mother’s bait. The best way to truly beat a narcissist is not by getting revenge – it’s by making them completely irrelevant and rising so high above them that they cannot access you anymore. Good luck, I wish you all the best. Know that you’re not alone, there are so many in this community all working to reclaim their power. You’ve got this!

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