Enabling partner of a narcissistic parent

The enabling mother or father of a narcissistic parent is also personality disordered, and in fact, a secondary abuser, because they keep their child in an absolute torture chamber. The failure of the parent to support the child when in desperate need of release from the narcissistic situation, suggests that the enabling parent’s needs mean more to the parent, than the needs of the child.

The sad reality about enablers’ is that many enabling parents are in actual fact, the kinder parent to the scapegoat child, and to the other children as well. However, the true enabler is a mixed bag; and sometimes this parent can be downright horrible to their children.

How does the scapegoat child feel about the enabling parent?

In adult – hood, the scapegoat child doesn’t know how to feel about the enabling parent. They know that the parent appeared to care for them more-so than the narcissist, and even attempted to protect them from severe abuse at times. However, in the scapegoat child’s eyes the enabler didn’t do enough; and much of the time, gaining support from the enabling parent was like playing a game of lotto. It may happen, or it may not. Support from enabler’s can often depend on their emotions at the time.

For the scapegoat, the scenario goes something like this: the parent may support them today when the narcissist calls them a ‘bitch’ for no reason, or they may not.

The hardest issue for the scapegoated adult – child in this mess fueled by narcissism, is the reality that the enabler also scapegoated their own child at times too, when they decided to side with the narcissist, and to engage in blaming the scapegoat for absolutely everything that was going wrong in the family.

The enabling parent enhances the scapegoat’s fear that they are crazy. Instead of validating the child, and telling them they are not the crazy one, they often unconsciously support the narcissist by defending their sick perception of the scapegoat, which is not real, was never real, and will never be real.

The confusion for the children of the enabler

The adult – children with an enabling parent want to love this parent. After all, they did pay for the private school fees, organise braces, dental appointments and swimming lessons; things that otherwise would most likely not have happened if the child was left in the narcissist’s care without the enabling parent. They want to love this parent that often asked the narcissist to stop calling the child names, hugged and held the child, told them they loved them, and appeared to honestly cherish this child here and there.

However, the emotional conflict the scapegoat child goes through in relation to the enabling parent, is pure mental anguish, because yes, the enabling parent really was the only parent to the child, this is true. However,ultimately they decided not to protect this child when deciding to stay in the situation with the child, instead of leaving the parent with the child.

Where it becomes very complex for children with an enabling parent, is that the enabler is often the kindest parent, the most placid, and the reason why the child wasn’t ultimately destroyed by the narcissist. The enabling parent showed the child some love, which may very well be the reason they came out the other side. However, this parent is also the reason why the child became destroyed in so many other ways, and now struggles terribly in adulthood.

The scapegoat’s overall analysis of the enabler is that they were part of the abuse, and did the wrong thing.

The enabler panders to the narcissist

The enabler panders to the narcissist, tries to keep them happy, and will even become a part of the abuse of the children, if it means the narcissist will get off the enabling parents back. At the end of the day, they are the narcissist’s sidekick, soldier in the narcissist’s army, and thoroughly perpetuate the bullying epidemic even further.

Enabling parents tend to expect support from the children to help to contain the difficult situation, and the narcissist’s rage. They expect the child to make the narcissist happy, to keep them content, and to make sure the narcissist feels admired, special and cared about all the time. In situations such as these, the enabler will perpetuate the abuse by having unusually high standards of the child; and will expect the child to show the narcissist the utmost respect, even when the narcissist is not respecting the child.

The enabling parent will not meet the child on their own emotional level, validate the child, and walk away from the narcissist.

The enabler’s view of the situation

However, the enabler is not going to see it this way. The enabler can be very kind, is terribly loyal to the narcissist, and has an extreme amount of empathy for the damaged person that the narcissist has become. So they dismiss the narcissist’s behaviour, apologise for their abuse, and downplay the abuse for reasons of self-preservation.

The enabler often feels reliant on the narcissist, isolated in their abuse, and as though they are going crazy.

We must not forget that in all of this mess, the enabler has also been incredibly mentally damaged, manipulated, and brainwashed by the narcissist. Sometimes they simply shut down.

The enabler’s favourite phrase: forgive and forget

A lot of enablers’ play down the abuse, tell the children to toughen up, and to forgive the narcissist.

This reality questions the enabler’s ability to access real empathy. Is the enabler truly empathetic at all? After-all, while their child is being denigrated, the enabler watches, says ‘don’t be so sensitive now, forgive and forget,’ and continues on.

To have empathy is to be able to see, and to feel through the eyes, and heart of another.

The enabler is stuck in the vortex with the narcissist and their children. They allow horrific emotional abuse to occur, and become a flying monkey to the narcissist instead of supporting the child. Enablers are renowned for pushing the child to maintain their relationship with the abusive parent later on in life, even after the child realises that they have been the victim of serious mental abuse.

The enabler as the perfect victim for the narcissist

The enabler is the perfect victim for the narcissist. Enabler’s are often quiet, easy to talk to, very placid, and appear to have a lot of empathy. They also lack confidence, second guess themselves, don’t listen to their gut, and don’t believe in themselves.

What keeps the enabler in the home with the narcissist?


  • There are a variety of reasons as to why an enabler would want to stay in a life long marriage with an emotionally dangerous person. For some enablers it is religion and fear. They believe that they are not allowed to leave their partner; and once married to a so-called christian narcissist, the enabler, regardless of children or not, must do everything they can to maintain the relationship.

Intergenerational patterns:

The enabler may be acting out on family patterns. They may have had an enabling parent, and a narcissistic parent.


The enabler may believe that there is no point in leaving because if they do leave, the narcissist will make their life a living hell. It is very likely the enabler would need to get an AVO out on their narcissist if they left.


Some enablers’ are not concerned in the slightest about the abuse of the children, and are happy to stay with an abuser for the sake of their comfort pleasures, and the financial growth that has been achieved while with the narcissist.



  1. Marcus | 9th Dec 17

    Unbelievably accurate. This article just described in the most precise manner everything I have felt and experienced. It’s almost as if the author observed my family life and wrote an article on us. However by the end of the article I was hoping for an answer to whether or not it’s advised I also cut ties with the enabling parent?

    • Parenting Exposed | 14th Dec 17

      Hi Marcus,
      it depends on the circumstances. Therapists have been known to suggest this if the entire situation is toxic, and there is no backing from the enabler.

  2. Phillip | 4th Feb 18

    I can’t believe this as well, this is exactly my life . My dad also played a victim his whole life, and never once took my side against my narcissistic mother ever . Not even once , and always tells me to be the bigger person, which means let her do whatever she wants without and a reaction

    • Parenting Exposed | 5th Feb 18

      Yes Phillip, what you have described is very very common in the narcissistic family unit. Its very very sad and hurtful.

  3. Liz | 7th Feb 18

    Wow. This describes my enabling mother as well. As an adult, it’s very difficult to process that her relationship was more important than her children’s well-being. It was like a friend that was your bestie till the boyfriend showed up & then promptly forgot your name. Very sad.

  4. Mina | 10th Feb 18

    My mother in law is a narcissist. My father in law is a total wimp and lets her boss everyone around. I can imagine how awful it must have been for my husband growing up in that environment. My husband was the golden child until he married me. I am a nice person but will not be pushed around. I am public enemy number one to the mother in law. I seriously have no respect for my father in law. Zero. I don’t understand why he doesn’t put his nasty wife in her place.

    • Parenting Exposed | 10th Feb 18

      Hi Mina, I’ve witnessed this dynamic play out over and over again. I don’t understand why enablers tolerate the behaviour either.

  5. Adri | 20th Feb 18

    This is exactly what I’m dealing with as well. I left my childhood home early during a visit because my narcissistic father got into a rage and as I was packing to go my enable mother said “you aren’t in danger” after I told her I was scared.

  6. Survived but still in pieces | 23rd Feb 18

    It is really helpful to read about the enabler. I used to ask my Mum to leave my father from when I was around 14 but she never did. She stayed because of her promise to him & before God. I have said to her that my Narcopath father broke his promises so many times over & that God knew what went on & what my father was like & God would understand.
    She chose my Narcopath father over us children which I really struggle with. My Narcopath father has died recently, but we are still left with the invisible scars and people praising him at the funeral. It makes my blood boil. I feel like screaming. I want my mother to take responsibility for the damage she allowed to happen by staying but I think she needs time to find herself again. I have so much hurt inside, it is like a cancer, he is poison in my blood.

    • Parenting Exposed | 3rd Mar 18

      Hi ‘survived but still in pieces.’ Thankyou for sharing your story. Such a common one unfortunately. I am sorry this has happened to you. Unfortunately religion has a lot of power over people. I wish you all the best on your healing journey.

  7. Anonymous | 8th Mar 18

    This is so true and leaves the scapegoat with no support and willing to accept the crumbs of “so-called love” from others in future relationships, which in turn opens old wounds and continuing the damage. What do you suggest the adult scapegoat do in this situation?

    • Parenting Exposed | 10th Mar 18

      Yes, anonymous, you are so right! And thankyou for your input. You’ve described the scapegoats reality in future relationships so articulately. What to do? I have been told that one must change the type of person they are attracted to, and to opt out quickly as soon as they realise they are reliving old relationship patterns. Difficult to do though if one has been trained to be co-dependent.

  8. Samina B | 19th Mar 18

    Hello, I am 37 and the first born in a family where my mom was the narc, sister the GC and dad the enabler.
    I also have a younger brother that is not the GC and seems to have been spared although he does not defend me.

    Anyway, I love my father dearly and I know he stayed with my mom not for religion but for cultural reasons. Although he was mentally/emotionally abused, he stayed loyal and true to her. He loves me tons, but nonetheless would tell me things like “in the next life, I’ll get you a better mom”.

    He stayed because in their cultures you stay together in the good and in the bad, for better or worse as they say.

    They are both in their 60s now and I think comfort as sick as it sounds also plays a role in this for my dad, the enabler.

    Thank you for writing about this subject as well as you have.
    You will never probably realize how amazing the work you have done on this website is.
    You rock and god bless.

    • Parenting Exposed | 23rd Mar 18

      Thankyou for your beautiful comments Samina. God bless. x

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