Opinion: My Narcissistic Father Used Pregnancy to Control My Mother

Walter Rhein

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Most people tell you that you need to escape narcissists. The only advice they offer is to remove them from your life. They tell you to get as far away from narcissists as possible.

But that advice is not always practical.

What if you share a child with a narcissist?

Parents have legal rights when it comes to their children. A woman who has a child with a narcissist will be connected to that individual until the child becomes an adult.

My narcissistic father engaged in both physical and emotional abuse of my mother. My mother could never escape him because they had children together.

My mother grew up in another era. She often said that women were treated “like second-class citizens.”

She had limited opportunities to play sports. She had difficulty finding work. There were also limitations on her ability to further her education.

These networks of control made it difficult for my mother to escape my father.

In that era, society made women dependent on men.

My father had more social power than my mother. He was the breadwinner. He was the one who provided insurance coverage. He controlled my mother’s money and health.

My father did not have these social advantages because he had earned them. He received them as a random consequence of his gender.

My narcissistic father controlled the people in his life. I often felt that my father confused control for affection. He didn’t have any friends with equivalent social power. His social circle consisted of the people he could dominate.

Even after my father left the family, he used his children to control my mother. My father didn’t occupy himself with the responsibilities of caregiving. My father traveled wherever he wanted to go and did whatever he wanted to do.

My father never acknowledged that day to day care of a child is an enormous contribution. He always acted as if my mother did nothing. He called her lazy.

Raising children takes an enormous amount of energy. You have to clothe them, keep appointments, be mindful of their health, and keep your children on schedule.

When I got sick, my mother was the one who took us to the hospital.

As a parent, I worry about my daughters. Narcissists know how to be charming in the courtship phase of a relationship.

Everybody has a hard time finding their first healthy relationship. I saw how my father used pregnancy as an offensive weapon against my mother.

My narcissistic father knew that having children with my mother was a way to control her. It was one tactic of many tactics of oppression he perfected throughout the years.

One way we can combat abusive relationships in our society is to hand more power to women. The more control women have over their lives, the less likely they are to become victims of abuse.

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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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