Narcissistic Parents Are More Loyal to Their Enablers Than Their Own Children

Walter Rhein

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One of the major enablers for my narcissistic father was his sister. This sister was one of those people with various advanced degrees who was too lazy to ever actually work. Instead of embarking on a professional career, she elected to become a professional parasite.

She was very good at stroking my father’s ego. Around him, she was always pleasant. She only ever smiled when she talked to him and never dared offer any criticism. Whenever she asked him a question, she began with “You’re so much smarter than me so maybe you can help.”

As a narcissist, my father was vulnerable to this kind of treatment. Narcissists are very insecure and they want praise and recognition above all else.

My father’s relationship with his sister harmed his marriage. The sister would do things like borrow items and then return them destroyed. This frustrated my mother. My father would then defend his sister to my mother.

I’ve come to think that the sister probably intentionally destroyed the things that she borrowed just to create conflict. She was a lazy person, but she wasn’t stupid. She was also very manipulative. Undermining her brother’s marriage was a way to improve her situation.

She knew to turn on her charm when she was around my father, but she barely even made eye contact with my mother. She would ask questions only to my father as if his opinion was the only one that mattered.

She would always create conflicts where my father had to choose between my sister and somebody else. Without fail, he always sided with her.

As I became older, she seemed to perceive me as another threat to her wellbeing. This led to her coming up with strategies for undermining my relationship with my father.

When I was about seven, she offered to pay me for stacking wood in her basement. She said she would pay me a quarter for every piece of wood I stacked. I thought this was good money, so I worked at it all day. I eventually stacked enough wood to earn twenty dollars, which was a fortune back then.

When she saw how much I had done, she said she didn’t think I’d do that much. She decided to only pay me two dollars.

Furious, I went to my dad. That week, my dad had been giving me lectures about how a man was only as good as his word. Based on those lessons, I figured that my dad would take my side.

Instead, my dad was furious that I had tried to take advantage of his sister by stacking up so much wood. He said that when a person knows they are being compensated too much for a job, they shouldn’t exploit the situation.

I remember the sister watching my dad scream at me about the conflict with a satisfied look on her face. The lesson I learned was that neither my dad nor his sister was as good as their word.

The problem with narcissistic parents and their enablers is that they think that they will always retain superior power. In reality, kids grow up, get good grades, and get good jobs. Later down the road, the kids end up having more power than the parents.

Today, the sister is of advanced age. She never worked her whole life so she gets less than two hundred dollars a month from Social Security. My dad is always asking for charitable donations to help her out. Any time I get a request like that, I remind them that she still owes me money for stacking her basement with wood. With interest compounding annually for decades, she owes me quite a bit.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI
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