Opinion: My Narcissistic Father Claimed it Was My Job to Take Care of Him

Walter Rhein

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Children of narcissistic parents spend their whole lives groomed for exploitation. Narcissistic parents care only about their wants and needs. They have no regard for the wants and needs of their children or anyone else.

Growing up, my narcissistic father often made comments about how it would be my job to take care of him when he got old. He would say this laughing as if there was no escape from this fate. He’d say, “When I’m old, you’ll have to change my diapers.”

He liked to say that this was my obligation because he took care of me when I was a baby. However, after the divorce, my mother acknowledged that he was rarely in the house when I was growing up.

This was just one of many tactics my father used to maintain control over me throughout my life.

To break the cycle of abuse, I had to cut my father out of my life. My father liked to wield total control over everything I did. He had my life planned out to the end. He made it clear that I would be required to be his full-time caregiver when he became old.

He started making these comments when I was less than ten years old. At that time, I wasn’t able to understand what this obligation even meant.

When I suggested that he might be able to receive better care in a retirement home, he insisted he was being mistreated. I was punished for even suggesting that I wouldn’t take care of him.

As an adult, I’ve come to see that it’s inappropriate for a parent to assume a child will become their full-time caregiver. I am a parent. I wouldn’t expect my daughters to give up on their lives so they can take care of me.

I want my daughters to have healthy, happy families of their own. I see it as my duty to do the best job I can to take care of them. I do this out of love. I don’t expect anything back for it.

Children do not owe their parents anything. All people have a right to pursue their happiness. All people have a right to attempt to achieve a healthy life.

Narcissistic parents expect their children to dedicate themselves to the happiness of their parents. They assume their children will care for them when they get older.

In loving relationships, it is wonderful when a child becomes a caregiver for a parent. People want to hold on to their healthy relationships for as long as possible.

It is inappropriate for a narcissistic parent to manipulate a child into thinking she has to give up all her hopes and dreams and attend to the parent. It requires money and knowledge to be a full-time caregiver. A child might not be financially capable of taking care of a parent later in life.

The best way to escape the abuse of a narcissistic parent is to look forward rather than backward. When my father says something to make me feel guilty, I think of my children. I try to make all my decisions based on what is right for my children.

It is very easy to cut people out of my life who disagree with that tactic. My children are vulnerable and they love me. The good people in my life should support actions that benefit them. The people who want me to put them above my children reveal themselves as narcissists.

I don’t have an obligation to be a full-time caregiver for a narcissistic parent. They would receive better care in a home. I have a right to live my own life.

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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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