What are the halachic obligations are to honor a mother or father that are a narcissist? An adult child may be trying to separate from emotional abuse and codependent relationship but this can often mean ignoring a parent(non-contact). Standing for a parent would reinforce unhealthy notions in the child.

I have looked at similar answers and am asking in regards to specifically narcissistic parents.

One of the sources I saw was In regards to Torah and Rabbinical writings, how does "honor your father and mother" work when you've been raised in an abusive household?

Harav Dovid Cohen shlit”a has stated [see addendum] that if interacting with an abusive parent makes a person emotionally ill then the child is exempt from this obligation. Since one is not required to spend more than a fifth of his assets for a mitzvas aseh then certainly one is not required to make himself sick. Obligating abused children to unconditionally honor their abusing parents will almost certainly exacerbate their emotional distress and/or disability and they are therefore, not obliged to do this.

Honor your Father and your Mother?

  • There are three "outs" to the obligation. A.) Parent's request would harm themselves. B.) Parent's request is too costly of the child. C.) Parent's request is to violate a mitzvah. [And a fourth, according to some -- it doesn't include arbitrary requests.] You'd have to work through with a competent rabbi and mental-health professional to what extent these apply in a particular case. It could be easier to say "cut off ties" than "show up but don't treat them with any honor whatsoever."
    – Shalom
    Mar 12, 2021 at 21:20
  • There is one size fits all response for when one's parent features symptoms of NPD. If it falls under an abusive relationship with the comprehensive understanding of one's Rav and psychotherapist, then the same halachos apply as emotional abuse: drsorotzkin.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/… . It's a completely separate question if one diagnoses their own parent (or asks a therapist to diagnose based on reported behaviors, which is unethical) then it's a matter of respecting them in your presence, and not disrespecting them elsewhere.
    – NJM
    Mar 12, 2021 at 21:56
  • It’s a shame that my comment, which was actually the only one written in Shulchan Aruch and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch has been deleted. For those individuals actually struggling with this terrible problem, please look in those two sources. Mar 14, 2021 at 1:35

1 Answer 1


Conservative Rabbi Benjamin Sendrow writes that we must honor our parents, except for when they are dishonorable. He writes:

Sadly, not every parent is lovable. At this point, I am not talking about parents who crossed the line into the evil realms of abuse in its many forms. But some people have non-violent, nonabusive parents whom they simply do not love for whatever reason.

He explained that those who "crossed the line" do not deserve to be honored in the way that Torah prescribes,

Read full essay here

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    Not sure what the stackexchange's policy is on this, but it is important to note that this 'psak' is from a Conservative Rabbi shaareytefilla.org/about/the-rabbi That doesn't mean to say he isn't a wonderfully kind and caring Jew, but they might have different standards of halacha than Orthodox.
    – NJM
    Mar 14, 2021 at 0:53
  • @NJM Does it make a difference? Where does it say that only "orthodox" Jews are "allowed" on this site? Are Reform and Conservative not welcome here? In any case, Rambam said to accept the truth no matter who says it, even if the people are Reform Jews. I realize this is not your view but the site's so apologize if I sounded to harsh to your comment. On the contrary, I enjoy readings comments.
    – Turk Hill
    Mar 14, 2021 at 0:57
  • Isn’t there a story in the gemara about rabbi tanchum (?) who’s mother was abusive. And that despite that he had to honor her. Honor does not mean love. It means respecting that this person bore you.
    – mroll
    Mar 14, 2021 at 1:27
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    @TurkHill Please forgive me if my comment leads anyone to believe ANYONE is not welcome here. I tried to sensitively convey that Jews of other denominations have a different standard of halacha than Orthodox. I can't speak for the Rambam, but seeking the "truth" in terms of halacha can only be done through the lens of a specifically defined mesorah of the Oral and Written Torah, which is not the same among non-Orthodox denominations en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – NJM
    Mar 14, 2021 at 2:11
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    @Turk Hill I made a single minor change to your post to satisfy all opinions, you are free to roll back if you so desire Mar 14, 2021 at 16:38

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