Enabling fathers of narcissistic mothers create 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 was nothing short of a bitch.
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, then falling into a marriage with a narc, 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 doesn’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?
Ultimately, the enabler of narcissistic abuse cajoles the narcissist so that she always feels special and is 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.|
Whatever she wants, she gets without question. Whatever she says, goes. However she acts or reacts is 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 narc so that she is able to feel as though she actually exists.
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 narc cut off that natural supply (which we all have) to divine source and energy, they were inadvertently left with only one alternative. Te extract the life force from others in order to ‘feed’ themselves and continue ‘living.’
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 myself 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.
- 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 never 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?
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 terribly the mother treats their father.
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 a low sense of self.
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 bullshit behaviours. They’ll generally feel as though they should be so lucky to have found anyone to love them at all and will be totally 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 totally 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 the toxic relationship for so long.
- The father is completely manipulated by the narc mother and believes her lies about how ‘bad’ the children are.
In my own household growing up, my father’s canned response to anything from the kids was, “whatever you 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-classed 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.
Although as an adult I’ve 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 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.
My guess is 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?
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 narc’s behaviour, but he is just as much a victim of narcissistic abuse as the children.
The difference is, children are unarmed and helpless against a narcissistic parent. The father however, is a grown-ass 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 need be. Even though I was stuck in the cycle, I still had my eyes open enough to not allow that behaviour 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, it is possible for a parent to be in a narcissistic relationship without enabling the narc’s behaviour towards the children.
I’ll admit, I was definitely 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 really doesn’t comprehend the long-term psychological effects the abuse in addition to 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.
What Happens if the Father STOPS Enabling the Narcissistic Mother?
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 is expected, while assertiveness and questioning of her behaviour is 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 and 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 carpark 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…
- The father will walk away and risk the vengeance of the narcissist, oftentimes losing everything in the process, including custody rights with his children.
- The father will leave the children to fend for themselves with the mother, with the only advice of… “try not to upset your mother.”
- The narc mother will drag him through the mud, publicly smearing his name and leaving the poor bloke utterly broken and exhausted.
- 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.
How Enabling Narcissism Affects 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 totally 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 binds him to 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.
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
The SECONDARY portion of the abuse is when the child learns over time that their other parent will not intervene or protect them from the injustices dished out by the mother.
The second parent 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
- Anxiety and depression
- Will go on to experience toxic relationships in their adult life
- May go on to be a narcissist themselves
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 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 narc and I simply cannot go through the abuse again.
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 selfishness and torment 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 60’s. 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 fucks given as to how her actions affect my brother). I went No Contact with her some years ago.
How to End the Pattern of Toxic Relationships
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 in 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 affects 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. Because ultimately, it’s those wounds which draw in the toxic people and experiences.
Without healing the wounds, you may never truly be free of narcissistic experiences.
|REMOTE HEALING SESSIONS|
|Without effective healing, you risk being bound to the narcissist forever… but you are destined for so much more than that!|
If you’ve tried everything to heal from narcissistic abuse, but just cannot seem to shift things, it’s probably time to call in the big guys.
You can certainly go down the therapy pathway, which is definitely helpful, but it can also be tediously slow. Or, you can choose to enlist the work of the spiritual realm with an accomplished medium, such as Selena Hill.
Without the help of Selena, I’d still be stuck with C-PTSD and deep trauma ruling my life.
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