Opinion: Narcissistic Parents Demand Control of Public Education

Walter Rhein

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I grew up with a narcissistic father. He demanded to have complete control over every aspect of my life. His control extended to my education.

My narcissistic father maintained his power over me by ensuring my ignorance. He would often give me incorrect information. This behavior made me reliant on him.

When I tried to do things on my own, he would emphasize my failures rather than my successes. His objective was to make me doubt my abilities.

My narcissistic father prevented me from learning things as a control tactic.

For example, it’s very easy to learn how to fix a leaky faucet. Learning how to fix things will save you a lot of money down the road.

When my narcissistic father prevented me from learning things, it meant I had to depend on him. Because he made sure I was ignorant, he could charge me whatever he wanted for the services.

When I eventually learned how to do these things by myself, he became furious. When I accused him of cheating me, he denied it.

My father was very proud of his intelligence. He bragged about it often. He established the narrative that he was smarter than the other members of my family.

This narrative made us inclined to defer to him in any disagreement. We weren’t allowed to do our independent research because he controlled all the information.

As a parent, I monitor the materials my children receive at school. Parents must protect their children. However, this inclination becomes a problem when it leads to extreme censorship.

It becomes a larger problem when narcissistic parents in the community censor information that should be available to children.

As a parent, I find it challenging to guide my children while also allowing them to make their own choices.

In modern society, it is difficult to control all the information available to a child.

There were some topics that my narcissistic father wouldn’t discuss. My mother took us in for a family therapy session and my father refused to participate. He sat and pouted.
Once my father made a decision on something, it was impossible to get him to change his mind. If he decided an author was bad or a theory was bad, he wouldn’t allow it in the house.

My narcissistic father arrived at his decisions impulsively. He rarely based his decisions on educated or logical thinking.

Once he made a decision, he perceived any effort to question that decision as an assault on his authority. In the cases where he was clearly wrong, it led to family conflict.

My father disguised his narcissism by claiming he was trying to protect us. He invented dangers in the world and then used the fear of those dangers to manipulate our behavior.

There were no dangers. My father was keeping us ignorant so we were easier to control.

As a parent, I try to give my children good advice. I feel that it’s important that they explore their passions. I explain that my children must supplement their passions with studies that might lead to an income.

I feel it’s just as bad to be overprotective as it is to neglect your children. My narcissistic father exerted control over my education for his benefit, not for mine.

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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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