Opinion: Narcissistic Parents Can’t Understand Fairness

Walter Rhein

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I played Monopoly twice with my father as a child. Both times he crushed me. My father treated Monopoly like it was real money.

The muscles in my father’s face tightened when he got angry. This was the look on his face when he hit me. It was also the look on his face when he played monopoly.

The fun of Monopoly is trading properties. The objective is to get a complete property set. The way my father played Monopoly taught me why his personal and professional relationships failed.

My father would not agree to a deal where both parties got a property set. He felt the only fair deal was when he got a property set and the other player did not.

If the other player did not agree to an unfair deal, my narcissistic father became angry. He demanded you made trades with him just to get the game over. Even though he wanted the game to end, he refused to make a fair trade.

I noticed that my father acted this way all the time. If there were ten cookies on the table, my father insisted he should get seven.

My father once bought twelve jelly donuts from the bakery and ate six of them on the way home. He felt that the only fair division resulted in him getting more.

My father is twice divorced. Both times he offered deals to his wives. Both times he told his wives that the deals were fair.

Divorce always requires a division of assets.

“This is a very generous deal. It’s more than I should give you.”

Both times, the judge told him the deal was unfair.

The judge told my mother that she should receive more. My mother did not demand more. My mother did not divorce with malice.

My narcissistic father resented her for that. Authority figures frustrated him. Being told he was unfair frustrated him.

Narcissistic parents feel that they are victims. They interpret every interaction as unfair. Even when a narcissist gets more than the other party, the narcissist still thinks it was unfair.

Narcissistic parents refuse to recognize fair treatment. They ignore evidence that disproves what they believe. If you show them that you are honest, they assume you’re setting them up. They believe unfair treatment is inevitable.

Narcissistic parents don’t trust their children.

Narcissistic parents treat their children unfairly. They justify their behavior by saying everyone is unfair. They refuse to believe that some people are honest. They refuse to recognize their actions are the problem.

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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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