Growing up with a narcissistic father has a profound impact on the life of his daughter. From rigid expectations to emotional manipulation and neglect, daughters of narcissistic fathers (DoNFs) suffer serious psychological damage, which result in them developing symptoms that plague them well into adulthood. In this post, we will explore the 10 most common symptoms that daughters of narcissistic fathers experience and how these can affect them in adulthood.
Understanding and acknowledging these symptoms is an important part of discovering ways to heal from your past, build resilience, and create healthier relationships with yourself and others.
- Living with a Narcissistic Father
- The Impact on Daughters of Narcissistic Fathers
- Difficulty Forming Intimate Relationships
- Fiercely Self-Critical and Prone to Negative Self-Talk
- Anxiety and Depression
- Difficulty Expressing Emotions
- Low Self-Esteem
- Fear of Abandonment and Rejection
- Excessive Sensitivity to Criticism
- People Pleasers and Doormats
- Struggling with Boundaries
Living with a Narcissistic Father
If you grew up with a narcissistic father, you may have experienced some of the following –
You Were Never Good Enough
No matter what you did, it was never good enough for your father. You could have gotten straight A’s, been captain of the varsity team, and been elected student body president—and he would have found something to criticize. This constant criticism can lead to feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness.
The negative message that you received from your father’s criticism might still linger in your mind, making it difficult to feel secure and valued. You may struggle with low self-esteem and feelings of not being good enough as a result of this ongoing criticism during childhood.
It is important to recognize that these underlying feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy were brought on by your experiences with your narcissistic father, and do not reflect the truth about who you are or the potential within you.
You Were Always Comparing Yourself to Others
Because your father constantly held you up against others (usually your siblings), you grew up comparing yourself to others. You were either not as good as them or better than them. These comparisons can lead to low self-esteem and a feeling of never being good enough.
These comparisons can bring about a sense of insecurity and an inability to accept yourself for who you are. Your self-worth becomes tied up in how others perceive you, creating a cycle of comparison and judgement that can be difficult to break free from.
You may find yourself battling mixed emotions as you strive to both protect and better yourself, making it hard to know where to draw the line between healthy competition and toxic comparison.
You Always Felt Alone
Because your father was never there for you emotionally, you always felt alone—even when you were in a room full of people. This feeling of loneliness can persist into adulthood and lead to problems in future relationships.
This loneliness can be especially difficult to bear as it is closely intertwined with feelings of abandonment and an inner sense that something is missing in your life. As a DoNF, these emotions are familiar to you, but can still be extremely painful when brought to the surface. You may start to question yourself and your worth as you search for answers and connection in relationships that might not always fulfil those needs. The fear of being alone or unloved again can bring up anxiety, impacting your ability to trust and open up to people, even if they do have good intentions.
Your Father was Never Proud of You
No matter what you accomplished, your father was never proud of you. This lack of approval can lead to a feeling of emptiness and a need for constant validation from others.
Constantly seeking approval from others is a common result of not receiving praise and acknowledgment from a narcissistic parent. This need for validation can leave you feeling vulnerable, and make it difficult to develop a strong sense of self-worth. It may also lead to feelings of hopelessness, as validation from outside sources will never be enough to counter the beliefs that you have internalized from your father’s lack of praise.
Your Father was Emotionally Abusive
Your father was emotionally abusive in two ways: first, by constantly belittling and criticizing you; and second, by withholding his love and approval. This emotional abuse can lead to a host of psychological problems, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
The effects of emotional abuse are long-lasting and can manifest in many different areas of your life. The constant criticism and lack of approval from your father creates a feeling of worthlessness, which can lead to distorted thought patterns like excessive self-doubt and blaming yourself for situations that are out of your control. These negative thoughts can be internalized over time, leading to depression and anxiety as a result of negative self-talk.
You felt unimportant, invisible, and unheard.
As a daughter of a narcissistic father, you are likely to have felt unimportant, invisible, and unheard. Your father would have made everything about himself and never really listened to you or paid attention to you.
Narcissistic fathers ignore their daughters’ feelings and desires. This can lead to feelings of low self-worth, isolation, and resentment.
The Impact on Daughters of Narcissistic Fathers
When the daughters of narcissistic fathers grow up, they are likely to struggle with a host of psychological problems, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
10 symptoms of daughters of narcissistic fathers – (1) Difficulty Forming Intimate Relationships
The lack of emotional support during childhood can make it difficult for daughters of narcissistic fathers to have healthy intimate relationships in adulthood.
Feelings of worthlessness, insecurity and fear of rejection often plague individuals who grow up without a supportive father figure. This lack of validation and trust can lead to the belief that they are not good enough or worthy of love.
Consequently, such individuals may overextend themselves in trying to be perfect as a way to win acceptance from others, yet still feel inadequate and unheard when faced with intimate relationships.
Additionally, daughters of narcissists find it difficult to trust. These difficulties in forming meaningful connections can prevent the daughter from truly letting someone into her life, creating a sense of loneliness and isolation even when they are surrounded by people who care for them.
10 symptoms of daughters of narcissistic fathers – (2) Fiercely Self-Critical and Prone to Negative Self-Talk
Growing up with a narcissistic father can have profound psychological effects on a daughter’s development. When they reach adulthood, their father’s constant criticism and demands for perfection continue to haunt them. As a result, daughters of narcissistic fathers often internalize the toxic messages from their childhood, becoming hyper-critical of themselves and comparing themselves to unrealistic standards.
This leads to a vicious cycle of low self-esteem, shame, hurtful thoughts, and negative self-talk. It is necessary to identify this behaviour in order to work through it, learn to love and accept yourself, and ultimately break free from the damaging cycle of toxic behaviour perpetuated by your narcissistic father.
10 symptoms of daughters of narcissistic fathers – (3) Anxiety and Depression
The emotional damage caused by a narcissistic father can leave a lasting impact on their daughter’s mental health.
Daughters of narcissistic fathers are likely to struggle with anxiety and depression due to the lack of emotional affection during childhood. As adults, this can manifest in a feeling of worthlessness and low self-esteem, making it hard for them to trust others or form meaningful relationships.
Moreover, the lack of validation from parents can cause difficulty in believing that one is worthy of being loved and accepted, resulting in anxiety about how one is perceived or viewed by others.
10 symptoms of daughters of narcissistic fathers – (4) Difficulty Expressing Emotions
Growing up in an environment of emotional neglect and low self-esteem can make it difficult for daughters of narcissistic fathers to express their emotions. They come to believe that they must be perfect at all times, suppressing every negative feelings lest they face further criticism or disapproval.
As adults, this can manifest in difficulty expressing their needs and wants as they are used to hiding them away out of fear of being judged.
10 symptoms of daughters of narcissistic fathers – (5) Low Self-Esteem
The lack of affirmation and love from a narcissistic father can have a devastating effect on the daughter’s self-esteem. Without being given positive reinforcement or feeling secure in their worth, daughters of narcissistic fathers often struggle with feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness and loneliness.
This can lead to an inability to trust in themselves, leading them to question their decisions and never feeling sure of their own capabilities. Additionally, the lack of affirmation from a parental figure makes them feel undeserving of affection or love.
10 symptoms of daughters of narcissistic fathers – (6) Fear of Abandonment and Rejection
Growing up with a narcissistic father often leads to feelings of fear about abandonment and rejection. The constant criticism and belittling makes daughters feel they are never good enough, which leaves them questioning their self-worth and feeling like no matter how hard they try, they will never be accepted.
These daughters grow into adults who are constantly afraid of abandonment or rejection, causing them to struggle with distrust in themselves and others. As a result, this may manifest in difficulty expressing needs or forming meaningful connections.
10 symptoms of daughters of narcissistic fathers – (7) Excessive Sensitivity to Criticism
Growing up with a narcissistic father can create a fear of criticism and judgement from other people that may carry into adulthood. Being bombarded by criticism from your father is likely to have made you hypersensitive to any sort of critique, even if it is meant to be constructive.
It can feel like an attack on who you are, causing you to be fearful of any type of criticism and leading to difficulty in accepting feedback or making changes based on the advice of others. The constant put-downs from your childhood have made it hard for you to view criticism as anything but negative, resulting in a lack of confidence in your worth and capabilities.
10 symptoms of daughters of narcissistic fathers – (8) People Pleasers and Doormats
Daughters of narcissistic fathers often become people pleasers as a means of seeking the validation and acceptance that was absent during their childhood.
This willingness to always agree with others can lead to codependent relationships, where these individuals put the needs and wants of someone else before their own, even if it compromises their own beliefs and values.
Unfortunately, this often leaves them feeling powerless in situations where they should be able to assert themselves or express disagreement. When faced with any type of conflict, daughters of narcissistic fathers may find it difficult to stand up for themselves and communicate their needs, leading to feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy.
10 symptoms of daughters of narcissistic fathers – (9) Perfectionism
Daughters of narcissistic fathers tend to become perfectionists because they have been conditioned from an early age to strive for a level of excellence that under normal circumstances would be impossible to achieve. The unrealistic expectations placed on them by their fathers can shape their self-image and perspective, leading them to become overly critical of themselves and feel insecure in the face of any sign of failure. These feelings can then manifest in a compulsion to reach the standards set by their father, causing an unhealthy drive for perfection.
10 symptoms of daughters of narcissistic fathers – (10) Struggling with boundaries
Daughters of narcissistic fathers may find it difficult to establish and maintain boundaries with others due to the lack of proper practice growing up.
When a father expects their daughter to answer to his whims without question, these daughters may struggle in saying no as adults, unable to draw lines and create safe spaces for themselves. This can be detrimental both mentally and emotionally, as learning how to set boundaries is an important part of self-care. If not learned in childhood, consciously practicing setting healthy boundaries can help these individuals restore balance in their relationships with others and peace within themselves.
Conclusion – The 10 Symptoms of Daughters of Narcissistic Fathers
Growing up in a narcissistic household can have serious consequences on your emotional, mental, and physical well-being.
Daughters of narcissistic fathers grow up feeling powerless and invisible, unable to voice their true feelings or express their opinion. This creates feelings of low self-esteem, as well as an inability to set healthy boundaries for themselves.
Additionally, daughters of narcissistic fathers usually experience a number of the abovementioned 10 symptoms, including anxiety and fear of abandonment due to lack of trust in relationships or a lack of emotional validation.
If any of these symptoms sound familiar, it is important to reach out for help from a professional who can provide specialized guidance and support specifically tailored for victims of narcissistic abuse.
For Further Reading
You might also want to check out the following posts about narcissistic families and the impact of childhood trauma:
- SoNM (Sons of Narcissistic Mothers)
- SoNF (Sons of Narcissistic Fathers)
- DoNF (Daughters of Narcissistic Fathers)
- DoNM (Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers)
- ACoNs (Adult Children of Narcissists)
- Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers – What You Need to Know
- Daughters of Narcissistic Fathers (DoNF) – The Struggle of Growing Up in a Narcissistic Family
- The Narcissistic Family Golden Child
- The Narcissistic Family Scapegoat
- The Narcissistic Parent and the Enabler
- Narcissistic Family Roles: The Complicated Dynamics of Narcissistic Families
- Breaking the Intergenerational Cycle of Family Abuse
- Emotional Abuse as a Child Linked to Adult Chronic Pain
- CAPDR – Child affected by parental relationship distress
- Adverse Childhood Experiences and PTSD: What’s the Connection?
- The Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences on Puberty
- Learning how to Trust and Love after Adverse Childhood Experiences
- Parentification: The Role of the Parentified Child in Narcissistic Families
- What is Codependency and how to overcome it
- Resilience – the ability to bounce back after adversity
- Is the Golden Child destined to become a Narcissist?
- Secrets and Shame: The Corrosive Impact of Family Secrets
- How to Deal with a Narcissistic Sibling: Tips for Navigating Family Drama
- Going through the stages of grief for my lost childhood
- 10 Symptoms of Daughters of Narcissistic Fathers
- 10 Symptoms of Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers
- The Narcissist Mother – How to Identify and Deal with this Personality Type
- How to Deal with a Narcissistic Mother-in-Law: Protect Your Relationship
- How does a narcissistic mother behave?
- What Happens to Children of Narcissistic Fathers?
- How to Recognize and Respond to Emotional Abuse from Parents
- The Negative Impact of Growing Up with a Narcissistic Parent
- Do daughters of narcissistic mothers become narcissists?
- The 6 Survival Strategies used by Narcissistic Family Scapegoats
- Parental Alienation: The Destructive Impact on Parents and Children
And finally, this is my story. I was the scapegoat daughter of a narcissistic father.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. When you use one of my affiliate links, the company compensates me. At no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission, which helps me run this blog and keep my in-depth content free of charge for all my readers.