There's this article about narcissists, written from a Christian perspective, ending with claims about how ACONS can honor their nparents. One is:

We honor them by insisting that they get the professional help that they need, before they have anymore contact with us & our family members.

Question: Would the Catholic Church agree with that?

What I tried: Google shows a lot of articles about Catholicism/Christianity and narcissism, but I don't know which ones are (Catholic and) official/officially endorsed.

Note: This may extends to abusive parents in general, whether or not they are narcissists. I think it would be a good partial answer to answer in the general case. Maybe it's not really different from the specific case of narcissists, hehe.

ETA 1: Based on the now deleted Mormon answer provided (by JBH, iirc), it seems the answer is likely. (Update: See the Mormon answer.)

In general, yes, but the precise actions to be taken during estrangement or steps to be taken to become estranged or, in the first place, whether or not to become estranged must be decided with advice from a religious or mental health professional/s such as priests, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc.

Or simply

Probably yes, but definitely seek professional advice.

My guess then is that this question instead falls under a broader range of questions to which the answer is either of the above. What range of questions could this be? I'm thinking now of some church document or section entitled 'On matters pertaining to mental health, etc'

ETA 2: Guess we're not ready for Catholicism SE (unlike how we've been ready for statistics SE and how we might be ready for operations research SE)

I'm disappointed that none of our Catholic participants have been able to contribute an answer. Even a link to a Catholic social services organization would have helped.

  • 3
    Do not believe that you will find an official stand point on this from the Church. For one thing each case must be weighed on its own merits or lack of. The Church, like hearing confessions does not permit the use of social media. Answers will vary according to each case. Guidance over the media is generally not seen in a good light within Catholic circles when questions of conscience could be involved. I know of priests that have favourited both points of view depending on circumstances.
    – Ken Graham
    Feb 29, 2020 at 12:18
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    I could give an answer based on experience with what I have learned from engaging with conversations with priest, but it would not be sourced out in the usual way this community likes to have questions answered with appropriate links and so on. In the end if physical or spiritual or phycological damage could result in remaining as a family unit, it would be in the interest of the children to be separated from their parents. This could also include breaking off all contact with them also.
    – Ken Graham
    Feb 29, 2020 at 15:07
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    @BCLC Could you edit your question so it's a question, please? It's really not easy to see what's the real question and what is mere commentary (which really shouldn't be there). May 28, 2021 at 22:30
  • @AndrewLeach thanks for the feedback. what about 'Would the Catholic Church agree with that?' ? i'll make this bold, but i guess you have more issues with the post anyway?
    – BCLC
    May 29, 2021 at 11:12
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    I have problems with "ETA". Just make a coherent single post, and remove the commentary. There's no point in commenting on an answer which is deleted and actually irrelevant; and the last section appears to be a sarcastic criticism of the community. May 29, 2021 at 11:45

1 Answer 1


I'll try to answer this by making reference to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but it may not be the cut-and-dried answer you want. Ken's comments are a good summary of the stance of the Church: that it is up to individual conscience.

Here's what the catechism says about the fourth commandment:

2216 Filial respect is shown by true docility and obedience. "My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching.... When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you."20 "A wise son hears his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke."21

2217 As long as a child lives at home with his parents, the child should obey his parents in all that they ask of him when it is for his good or that of the family. "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord."22 Children should also obey the reasonable directions of their teachers and all to whom their parents have entrusted them. But if a child is convinced in conscience that it would be morally wrong to obey a particular order, he must not do so. As they grow up, children should continue to respect their parents. They should anticipate their wishes, willingly seek their advice, and accept their just admonitions. Obedience toward parents ceases with the emancipation of the children; not so respect, which is always owed to them. This respect has its roots in the fear of God, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

So there are a few things to note here which can guide us. First is that a child in his father's home must obey every just command. This means that the children of narcissistic parents who lives at home need not obey unjust commands from his parents, such as those commands to indulge the parent's vain and sinful behavior. But if the father says to, for instance, clean up the kitchen, that is a normal filial duty a child might have (assuming it is age appropriate), and thus the child must obey even if the parent gives the order for a vain reason. That is my understanding of the passage.

Furthermore, adult sons and daughters who no longer live at home owe their parents respect, but what that respect looks like can be hard to discern, and will depend on the specific circumstance. Certainly, it is not respectful to affirm a parent in their sin or indulge their vices. So a child of narcissists may need to abstain from behaviors that affirm to their parents their vicious behavior. Things like indulging the parent's ridiculous whims or playing along with manipulative games, allowing oneself to be manipulated, seems almost to be positively disrespectful. Such behavior is rooted in an assumption that the parent is either not responsible for their vicious behavior or is unable to change. More than being just disrespectful, this attitude is an implicit denial of the efficaciousness of God's Grace to heal sinners.

Given this, although there appears to be no hard and fast rule from the Church, I would argue that there are certainly instances when a faithful Catholic can and even should break contact with a parent. Most notably: when that breach of contact is intended to induce the parent to repent of sin.

Disclaimer: I personally have had to do this in my own life. My father refuses to repent for the real and grave sins he has committed against me and my mother and I have made it clear to him that I want to have a relationship with him, but I need a real apology first where he names the things he's done to hurt me and apologizes, not just vaguely apologizing for "the hurt he's caused" generally, which is all he's willing to do. Through prayer and conversation with my wife, I'm convinced that this is honestly best for everyone involved. It will, hopefully, make him think about his behaviors and repent, and it also will protect our future children from harm (without going into detail, he can be very manipulative and is also an anti-Catholic non-denominational Christian, so we have concerns about him undermining our beliefs to them as well).

I think I honestly struggle the most with this commandment because my father is not the kind of man I could respect if he was just some guy I met on the street and I knew everything he had done to his family, but I am still obliged to dig deep and find some way to respect him in spite of that, according to my Church and my faith.

Conclusion: I think that the catechism is the best guide on this. It spells out the expectation for filial obedience, where that ends, and the fact that respect is still owed to parents very clearly. What we need to keep most in mind for this question, though, is that cutting contact is not in itself disrespectful, and can even be medicinal for the parent who has strayed from the straight and narrow way, and hence would be in those cases the most respectful thing a child could do.

  • it's such a genius interpretation and i agree but i hesitate to accept this as the answer because the real meat of the question is if it is indeed respectful/disrespectful to not indulge/to indulge. idk. thanks. condolences for your family life and stuff. (btw, it's no surprise to you that i'm NOT talking purely hypothetically right? lol) 'Given this, although there appears to be no hard and fast rule from the Church' --> you know (gasai) i heard catholic social teaching is like the best kept secret. anything from there maybe?
    – BCLC
    Jan 28, 2022 at 15:25
  • Also good job on helping the site be ready for catholicism se (see my other questions. lol.)
    – BCLC
    Jan 28, 2022 at 15:36
  • lol why no bullet point?
    – BCLC
    Jan 28, 2022 at 16:28

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