How Do We Protect Our Children?

by PresenceNow

My story began with a marriage that lasted almost 14 years, which also produced two wonderful children who are now teenagers. I was not one of those folks who was completely in love, totally bowled over, etc., but I was resigned to the fact that most marriages are “good enough.” I didn’t keep looking for the man I thought would be my true partner in life — I thought that although we all usually have good feelings about our spouse, most everyone has troubles and things to work on and our marriage would be no different.

I quickly learned that life went smoothly when I did what was expected of me, didn’t rock the boat, and dutifully reported everything in my day. When I “supported” my husband by agreeing with him and attempting to anticipate his every need or wish, he was happy, and life seemed okay.

When we had kids, I kept them occupied and clean, and encouraged them to spend time with their dad (which they didn’t like, and he didn’t push- heaven forbid anyone should see that his kids didn’t like him.) Things changed even more over time — my feelings were never validated or even acknowledged; he used gaslighting like it was going out of style; projection was a favorite pastime, and he was master of passive-aggressiveness.

We did what he wanted, when he wanted, and the kids and I got out of the way the rest of the time. He was charming in public, a great con man, and a big drinker.

No one knew what life was like at home.

I’m not sure what exactly sent me over the edge and helped me leave this relationship for a better life for myself and my kids…I remember feeling exceptionally frustrated at some point, confused and foggy, my physical health slowly heading downhill with stomach problems, insomnia, anxiety attacks, weight loss, depression. I remember asking myself how I had arrived here, in a life I had never imagined for myself, and why I was not happy.

I remember asking my husband why we were together when we were so different — an understatement, I know, but that’s where I was at the time.

That was the beginning of the end. He panicked at the implication that I might leave, began monitoring my email and phone, going with me to everything or coming home during the day at odd hours to “check” on me.

He tried to enlist the help of my parents, my friends, his family in convincing me to see the light. He tried religion, guilt, fear, blame, isolation, and shame to keep me from leaving. He accused me of having an affair, of not giving him a chance, of making him scared and feeling unsafe.

Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer and broke free. I found a place to live nearby and insisted he could have the kids, but only every other weekend. I filed for divorce. The years since then have been made of bittersweet healing. I have spent as much time as possible trying to build the life I always wanted, with many moments of joy that I cherish- have to cherish- as we journey through the next few years.

In true narcissistic fashion, my ex has spent inordinate amounts of time continuing to try to manipulate me directly or through the kids or courts. The kids started out scared, but they denied any troubles except to say that they didn’t want to see their dad any more than they were. Slowly, they have become more aware of and angry at how they are being treated, and new sets of problems arise from this.

For the most part right now, things are good. I’m with a man who is truly my soulmate and life partner, I have a great new job, a new house in a new town. I go to yoga and other activities I love, and I’m learning to meditate. I got some great counseling for a couple of years, and still go when I feel the need.

The kids are doing well in their new school, they have good friends and enriching activities. We travel together, something I’ve always wanted to do with my own family. We do a lot of talking and laughing together, too- so necessary. =)

Even though things are relatively good, we have our share of rough times. When we’re really struggling, I have a hard time not wishing the next few years go by quickly so I don’t ever have to deal with my kids’ dad ever again.

Then I give myself a reality check: 1) I want to enjoy the next few years, not wish them away, and 2) I’ll always have to deal with my kids’ dad. Forever.

Sometimes I think it’s my punishment for being so dense as to not have seen him for who he is, way back when. But I know I’m not to blame. It’s something I needed to learn.

Now we’re in court because my ex wants me held in contempt for not bringing the kids to his house a few times this summer and fall. I contend that the kids are getting older and want more say in their lives, and that the real problem is their relationship with their father.

He refuses to take responsibility for this. Blaming me is so much easier, and people tend to believe him. I brought the kids to counseling, then was told by the court I couldn’t do that anymore because I hadn’t consulted with the father. I’m at the end of my rope trying to teach the kids to be respectfully assertive, and to go to their dad’s even if they don’t want to, when all they do is talk back to their dad, getting bolder every time.

When they’re really feeling obstinate, they lock themselves in their rooms or run to a friend’s house when it’s time to go to their dad’s. They’re getting to the point where I can’t physically put them in the car, and I can’t pretend like nothing’s wrong. But my words only go so far, and they sound more and more hollow every time.

How do we, as the stable, sane parents, protect our children from their narcissistic parent? How do we justify sending them to a home where they (and we) know they will be treated in an emotionally abusive way, every time?? The courts don’t help. And we can’t say anything about the other parent that will be even remotely construed as “bashing” or we are seen as bitter, hysterical exes who just want to keep the children from the other parent!

It’s an infuriating paradox. What I want most is to move far away from this man, and for my kids to have the power (legally) to say when, or if, they will visit their dad. I know this isn’t possible, but I don’t want to see him around town. Now I don’t talk with him in person or on the phone, if I can help it — email only.

So how do we “move on” when we know that our time under the power of this awful person still stretches out ahead of us, sometimes seemingly indefinitely?? How do we take back ourselves and help our children NOW?

I read many of the stories and posts of people on your blog, and I am most amazed at those who remain calm and strong in the face of the narcissist in their lives. I’m not there. Don’t know if I ever will be, or want to be.

As you can see, I struggle most with the concept of forgiveness. I must have a streak of vengeance in me- I rejoice internally every time he does something “wrong,” as if it justifies or validates me. I know this doesn’t help the kids, but I also want them to always be able to see abusive behavior and not tolerate it.

Anyway, that’s my story. Thanks so much for “listening,” and for all that you do with your blog. =)

Peace to you!

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49 Responses to How Do We Protect Our Children?

  1. PhoenixRising says:

    Welcome, PresenceNow! And thank you for the strength and generosity of your heart to share your story.

    I just wanted to welcome you here…and if it wasn’t quite so late where I am, I’d write a few more words than this! But as it is, I have to get some sleep. I’ll be back tomorrow evening though to share some of my thoughts that your words have inspired in me.

    So again, welcome and thank you. I look forward to getting to know you more, and hearing the insightful comments of others!


  2. PhoenixRising says:

    Hi again, PresenceNow. You bring up a lot of points in your sharing. The first one I’d like to comment on in this moment is the quote that jumped out at me when I first glanced at it.

    I quickly learned that life went smoothly when I did what was expected of me…

    That says it all for anyone involved with a Narcissist. Not only is it that way for partners and spouses, but for children as well. It’s demeaning and attempting to live up to those expectations — which depend on the Narcissist’s needs *and* whims is not only draining but can make you feel crazy.

    What’s even more difficult is that there’s no consistency with these demands. There are no real rules, except that you meet their needs. How you do that can change from day to day, and you’re expected to know what it is.

    If they need you to be there, then you better figure it out. If they need to have their space, then you better be scarce, and not make them feel guilty for breaking any plans you two may have had.

    Any show of individuality can be seen as a betrayal or insult if it doesn’t fit with what they want or where they are. UNLESS that which makes you an individual is a reflection of how wonderful they are.

    My parents loved my dancing — if it meant they got to get complimented on what wonderful parents they were to have such a precocious dancer. But if something happened to offend them, or I wasn’t perfect in my performance…the ax would fall. Many lessons, a number of performances, lots of smile…and then one incident — my parents are offended, especially my father, and poof…no more dance. At all. Ever.

    How many of us have our own stories of giving up our voice to keep the peace, to keep the storm at bay.

    Except the only person at peace is the Narcissist getting his or her way. There is no peace for the person who must live a lie or mold themselves into whatever shape the narcissist deems right.

    This isn’t about healthy compromising or choosing to do something out of consideration for another. It isn’t about giving. It’s about being taken by someone who feels entitled to.

    If a narcissistic partner is that way to you, just remember, you can be sure they are like that with your children.

  3. PhoenixRising says:

    Second point:

    He tried to enlist the help of my parents, my friends, his family in convincing me to see the light.

    Nothing is more important to a narcissist than justification. And they will enlist anyone they can – your family, your friends, and if possible your children.

    Lots of children find themselves caught in the middle, but even that phrase implies that they are being pulled equally on both sides.

    The fact is a child can be “in the middle” with only one person pulling on the child, and where narcissists are concerned they have no qualms about pulling, dragging, pushing or shoving children in whatever direction they desire.

    It sounds like your children, PresenceNow, are more aware of what their father is about, and have personal reasons for not wanting to be around him. How old are they?

    Unfortunately, whether a child is aware of not, being a pawn, willing or unwilling, has got to be extremely stressful. It’s too bad narcissists are so lacking in empathy it doesn’t make any difference.

  4. PresenceNow says:

    PhoenixRising, thanks for your welcome and comments! And, especially, for this blog!

    Your first point is so right- we never really have peace, unless you count the “peace” of occasionally being temporarily stable on a tightrope, waiting for the wind (could be breezy or violent) to knock you off again. And you’re absolutely right about shows of individuality. Anything that wasn’t part of his plan was ignored or stopped.

    About your second point… This was extremely stressful for me at the time, as I’m sure it is for so many people in this situation, because I had already been made to feel that I was the crazy one. The tentative steps I took towards clarity and freedom were so easily washed away in the face of the narcissist’s arsenal of people “on his side.” And when I persevered despite it all, the kids were the next logical pawns in his game.

    My kids are now 13 and 15, and while they were never really enamored of their dad anyway, they are quickly learning that he’s not like other dads. I’m not sure if it was your story, PhoenixRising, about your daughter going to counseling and talking about how her dad’s behavior is abusive? And how she sometimes seems a little angry about the unfairness of her situation- you “got out,” but she still has to see him? My kids feel the same way. I feel guilty. I don’t know what to do.

    One of my greatest wishes for my kids is that they find happiness in their relationships. They are not happy in their relationship with their dad, but they feel powerless to do anything about it- they can’t leave, and they certainly can’t change him. So how do we help our children with the tools they need to be able to deal with people like him? Is it enough to be the parent who is loving and kind, who talks about and models healthy relationships? Can our kids enjoy their childhood and still turn out okay, despite a narcissistic parent? And finally, is it healthy for them to hate him so much that they can’t wait to turn 18 so they “never have to see him again?”

    It just makes me sad. In the midst of the relief and joy of realizing and getting away from such an unhealthy situation, there’s still that nagging understanding that it’s not really over. That I, and especially the kids, will never really get away. Do you think that feeling will ever fade?

    • PhoenixRising says:

      Hi PresenceNow,

      Well, I don’t know if that feeling will ever fully go away, but I do think that as time goes on and the children become more empowered to create their own space, that feeling will fade as the feeling of helplessness and powerlessness begins to fade.

      Children do grow up. Someday that will happen, and no court can force them to see anyone they don’t want to. Will their father be gracious about it? Maybe not, but you can know that it will now be up to your children how they will handle it and not him. And that’s worth looking forward to!

      I do believe that children can have happy childhoods even with a narcissistic parent. It’s just that that parent won’t be part of their happy childhood memories. You will, and other people will, but not with the narcissistic parent. It may not be perfect, but it WILL be enough.

      Even happy experiences with such parents will be clouded with the realization that there was no depth to it, that such experiences either had hidden motives or were switched off as quickly as turning off a light.

      As far as having tools to deal with people like that? Well, that can be one of the few positive outcomes for having a narcissistic parent IF they develop awareness — conscious awareness and understanding of the dynamics that they are dealing with. Otherwise, they will only develop survival mechanisms that may not necessarily help them when they become adults, and in all likelihood wind up either being attracted to narcissistic abusers or using the same methods of control without knowing why or realizing what they’re doing.

      Children of narcissistic parents need help to define what’s happening, to help put words to what’s happening, to be able to separate dysfunctional from functional. It’s so important to validate what they are experiencing, and to give them a safe space to verbalize their thoughts and process what’s going on.

      This is not the same as badmouthing the other parent. It is however calling out the game playing, calling it for what it is as your child shares with you. OR if they won’t share specific’s about their parent, make sure that you point out those dynamics as you see them played out on t.v. (lots of narcissistic stuff going on there) or in movies or in other relationships. Because you can pretty much be sure your child is experiencing them in one form or another with their narcissistic parent.

      My daughter is one of the most knowledgeable people on narcissism, because she’s lived it AND because she’s had her experiences defined and validated for her. I periodically ask her once if she feels uncomfortable with me “talking bad” about her father, and she always says no because 1) I only talked about him when she brought up things she was going through with him and was bothering her and 2)I helped her to not feel crazy.

      That’s all we can do most of the time. I don’t believe anyone has ever gotten any real support or satisfaction for narcissistic abuse through the court system.

      But we should count our blessings though because “all we can do” is really the best anyone can ever do. And that is validate another person – their perception and their humanity.

      Hope this holiday season is peace filled and joy filled for you and your family, PresenceNow.

      • HeadAboveWater says:

        @PhoenixRising, “But we should count our blessings though because β€œall we can do” is really the best anyone can ever do. And that is validate another person – their perception and their humanity.” Thank you so much for your words … I just determined that my soon to be ex wife is a narcissist and have been wondering how I am going to help my daughters deal with her now and in the future. Your words have give me a starting point to help them.

        • PhoenixRising says:

          @HeadAboveWater, Welcome, HeadAboveWater. So sorry for the reality of your situation, but so glad you’ve been able to realize it. That gives you a head start, as it were, to dealing with the situation more productively and efficiently.

          Undoubtedly, you may find yourself forgetting, being “taken” or played. It happens to old timers! So don’t feel bad. But because you do have this awareness, it lays a good foundation, solid ground for you to stand on, to come back to when you do find yourself knocked off your feet and into the mud.

          Good luck to you and your girls. Remember, even if your children may have an N in their lives, they have you. And that can make ALL the difference, even when it doesn’t seem like it’s making any difference at all. It does.

  5. PresenceNow says:

    PhoenixRising, you are amazing, so eloquently articulating the essence of raising children with a narcissistic parent- quite frankly, it calms me. Your words really ring true, and I can see that my children will be stronger (and smarter?) because of their experiences, and because I validate and help define these experiences.

    I know it’s sad when kids realize that a parent doesn’t really love them, but perhaps even that sadness is unnecessary- at least they won’t spend the rest of their lives trying to win the approval and affection of someone who can’t really give it. Hopefully they can spend their energy on positive souls who nourish them and help them grow. =)

    Take care, and same to you and your family for the holidays!!

  6. bunnyhop2 says:

    PresenceNow, your story touched me…like looking in a mirror. I managed to divorce the narsissitic ex and retain physical custody of our three children, understanding what I had been living with for 10 years only during the hell that the divorce litigation put me through. As others have noted, the NPD is a master at manipulating the system (lawyer, therapists), garnering sympathy from friends and family, turning every situation to their advantage. This is what they live for. To highlight how warped the legal system is: when I petitioned to relocate for my job which was a 4-hr roundtrip commute each day, the ex argued that I was alienating the children (PAS is a godsend for these people), demanded full custody, and fabricated emails and calendars to suggest I had prevented his visitation. So he had the opportunity to appear the victim again and manipulate the system again. He started seeing my daughter’s therapist who claimed that he was doing his best etc…Even though I had documented that he had missed 30% of his visitation over 2 years and the guardian ad litem elicited stories from the children of the emotional and physical abuse, it took a year to negotiate and mediate the relocation. To do so, I had to agree to give him MORE time with the children. I truly believe he has loved every minute of the legal battles in the last five years. The bright light in all this is that I DID move, life IS better, the kids are happier. But I too worry about the long term impact on them. I agree that you are better to “call a spade a spade” when discussing the ex with your kids than to pretend that he is normal. They know better. My oldest daughter is savvy and struggles with not wanting to go anymore (she is 13) but is conflicted about leaving her younger sibs “at his mercy”. The biggest issue facing those of us in this situation is that the best way to deal with a narcissist is to ignore him so he searches for other NS and this is impossible when you have 10+ yr of co-parenting ahead of you. Visitation is an unending opportunity to elicit (good or bad) NS from me. The ex asks for unreasonable changes to the very detailed visitation plan negotiated at considerable time and expense only last year (another example of how narcissists don’t believe rules, agreements etc apply to them); what do you do? If you say “yes”, the kids spend more time with someone they don’t want to be with or you change your schedule to accomodate someone who has abused you for years. If you say “no”, then you have a battle on your hands. I have to believe that standing your ground, resigning yourself to the fact of dealing with cycles of NPD behavior over the long term, and, most importantly loving and validating your children will be the best thing in the end.

    • PhoenixRising says:

      @bunnyhop2, just want to say welcome! I’m not in a position to respond in any depth right now, but I did want to say hello πŸ™‚

      I’ll be back to share my thoughts as soon as I can. Just didn’t want too much time before I greeted you though.

      Until then, be gentle with yourself.

    • PhoenixRising says:

      @bunnyhop2, “…the ex argued that I was alienating the children (PAS is a godsend for these people”. I have heard this before too.

      Custody issues…In my case, my ex was totally fine with our arrangement, when it worked for him – the ability to work overtime without needing to find childcare when he was supposed to have her, the ability to hang with his friends on cards or sports night. If I had her more, and carried all the financial burden, then he would be fine…although he’d feel entitled to have her then whenever he wanted.

      Like if he didn’t have her on the night he chose to give her up to play cards, then he’d expect to have her on a night I was supposed to have her…or on a school day, during the school day.

      And I was willing to shoulder ALL the financial responsibility if it meant I could have her most of the time. She needed it, and I figured we’d make it work. It was very hard, I was constantly juggling bills, borrowing from Paul to pay Peter, but we managed. And he was fine…until I couldn’t do it any more and asked for child support. THEN he wanted her. THEN having her more was a problem.

      As far as PAS is concerned, as the consequences of HIS treatment of our daughter began to manifest, that’s when PAS became a handy accusation for him to throw. I was to blame. Not him. HE wasn’t reaping what he sowed. No, he was being victimized by me turning her against him.

      The accusation of parental alienation can be used to control, AND absolve one’s self of any responsibility for your behavior.

      I’m sure there are people who do try to turn their kids against the other parent. But there are, also, many people who are like wolves hiding behind their claims of being victimized by PAS to conceal their own abusive natures.

      • PresenceNow says:

        @PhoenixRising, that is so true- that they are like wolves hiding behind their PAS claims in order to conceal their own abusive natures. My biggest fear, though, is that as my kids get older, and probably even more reticent to visit their dad, his claim will be PAS, and that the courts might actually believe him and “take” the kids away from me. I can only hope that a qualified psychologist can tell that’s not true, or that any court battle will take so long the kids will get closer and closer to 18, or even that the courts will think the kids are old enough it’s not worth it to fight a legal battle over placement or custody…
        My kids actually seem to think their bad behavior will make him give up eventually, or that when they can drive, they’ll just refuse to go see him. I’m not so sure either is going to work!! Scares me to death.


    I found this website today and had to get logged on to comment. It is not a great feeling to kow that others are or have been what I am going through. I can sympathize with presencenow.
    I am in the process, the neverending process, of divorcing a narcissist. I actually had to face the reality that was his problem after he moved out. It is painful to think that I put up with the crap for over 14 years of the now 21 year marriage. The research showed that the narcissism can rear its ugly head after the birth of the first child. Hindsight is 20/20 and it is true. He was very emotionally abusive to the daughter mostly when I was not around, but I do not know that she has always felt unloved by him. I learned how bad it was after he moved out.
    He left after he snapped one night and tried to assult the 14 year old daughter and I had to jump in the middle. I got pushed and punched in the fracas and did not call the police because I did not want to deal with the crap. BIG mistatke! WE made a run for the boarder to save our lives because the two children and I knew that he would return for more or to “get even.”
    He was surprised that I got an attorney after he left to see what my rights were. The children were so happy that I took them for counseling because they were so happy. The counselor took less than 15 minutes to tell me that they were happy and why. I just never thought that children especially mine would be happier without their father.
    I am now on my third attorney and almost 3 years into trying to get a divorce. This last attorney seems to be more aware of how to deal with a narcissist and their willing attorney. His attorney has been as bad as he with the lies and increasing the costs of this. They got a Gaurdian ad litem involved for two children who are teenagers and one is almost 18! They had had us in a psychologist office who is notdoing he job either, but working for his attorney. IT has been a true nightmare.
    I feel very blessed that the children are as old as they are. They are having to fight for themselves as afar as time with him goes. They are refusing to spend the night and the daughter refuses to have anything to do with him. I do not agree but I do understand. I stay completely out of it because I am not going to fight the children to put them in a position of abusive submission. Because I have not said or it has not been documented that I have told the children not to go with him I have only been threatened and taken to court for contempt. I went to court with many people and that is what kept me from being found guilty.
    That is one of the key things. Do not go throug hthis alone. You do not have to bash, but take people with you to court! Even if you do not have an attorney.
    I can go one because my story is just as crazy as all the others. I just pray for my children that they forgive and move on in life.

    • PhoenixRising says:

      @FREEDOM FIGHTER, Hi Freedom Fighter! What a battle you are going through. But you are SO right. You don’t have to go through this alone. If you have friends and family who are aware of the situation, then it’s really important to lean on their support, to let yourself be supported by them.

      It doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes N’s can actually alienate you from your friends and family. They may have already succeeded in doing that before you even leave. It’s part of their way to control you, to cut off any options or alternatives other than them.

      But I am so glad you sound like you have allowed yourself your connection with others. You said,

      I am in the process, the neverending process, of divorcing a narcissist.

      Emphasis on “neverending”. Because N’s don’t let go. You can change your legal status with them, and even create distance…enough at least to where you think they are out of your life. But if you have children, and even if you don’t, N’s have a tendency to always come back…test the waters, as it were.

      But it does get easier to protect and maintain your boundaries, I think. It’s still annoying, but it’s easier and certainly always worth doing!

      Your children sound like they have enough strength and self-awareness to take with them into adulthood. They’re lucky to have you.

  8. HeadAboveWater says:

    It doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes N’s can actually alienate you from your friends and family. They may have already succeeded in doing that before you even leave. It’s part of their way to control you, to cut off any options or alternatives other than them.

    I didn’t realize that this was a common strategy for narcissists. This is exactly what is happening to me. My N wife has even turned my own sister against me. I couldn’t believe the conversation with my sister when it was happening.

    • PhoenixRising says:

      @HeadAboveWater, I fixed your quote. The code is:


      I do need to update the theme for this blog. πŸ™‚

      [EDIT: Sorry that didn’t turn out, did it? Well, I definitely do need to update this blog!]

      I haven’t experienced that with my family, but with friends…or people I thought were friends. I do know others that this has happened to though.

      It would be nice to hear from someone who has had that experience and how they handled it.

      I would imagine though, as tempting it would be to get upset it’s important to keep centered, and not get sucked into a drama that will only make you look worse.

      I learned with those who were convinced of N’s rightness to not get into an argument with them, but to tell them I’m sorry they felt that way, and to remind them they don’t know the whole story and ask them to please remember that and not judge. I’ve ended conversations if they insisted in continuing, asking them not to bring the topic up again unless they can do so with an open mind.

      But there are so many buttons that can be pushed in family relationships, even more than with friends. I’m sorry to hear you are going through this.


      My mother thinks that my “N” I can’t wait until he is my “X” is a saint and I deserve all that I get. I accepted that my Mom (who I was once very close to) and my husband (who I once loved) did not like me..simultaneously. IT was hard. I did alot of crying. I did more praying. I grew accustomed to living without him while he was in the house being mean with the silent treament and treating me as if I were invisable. The invisable treatment was his personal justification that he was not doing anything wrong but I was the crazy one. (I had ot figure that one out for myself!) I adjusted to life without my mom being interested. I accepted them for who and what they are and I understnad that people do not change until it hurts too bad to stay the same. I decided that I had two children to raise into functional adults and I was not going to allow them to be the reason that I did not go on. Basically, I had to hurt too bad to stay the same and I adjusted my life to live beyond their means. My Mom is still my mom and I love her because she is, but I do not allow her to abuse me. I walk away or just get off of the phone. The rest of my family has seen through his act. His family sees his behaviors, but they choose to pick sides. They do not even check on the children. Once again, I have two children to raise so I allow them, other family members, their space and opinions. No arguements from me. I make no attempt to make them see it my way. I think that bothers them the most!
      I still want a divorce, but that can’t seem to come fast enough. I do wonder if that will make it better for me. I mean as far as being aggravated by his antics. The only buttons that are beign pushed right now are the ones relating to my children being aggravated by this divorce!

  9. bunnyhop2 says:

    The N is expert at manipulating others. Case in point a very good friend of mine. Convinced that he meant well, trying hard etc even though I kept trying to explain the jekyll-and-hyde life we lived behind closed doors. Then one day at church (of all places) he ripped into her because she wouldn’t plan a play date with her kids and ours on the spot. She saw the dragon rear it’s ugly head and never challenged me again.

    So question for you all re dealing with N ex. Mine just handed me a letter, making demands for extra vacation time (I already said “no”) and asking to meet F2F to discuss the children. Once again he is going to try to show that I am the one with the problem. ie. I won’t meet with him. My behavior is responsible for the children’s dislike of him. I won’t give him extra time with them. Etc. I can see the writing on the wall. So, should I sit down with him as if this is a rational person? Any agreement we reach will simply be tossed aside when he chooses. Or should I stick to my current mantra which is that we have an agreement (the 2nd), signed in 2010 that dictates in excruciating detail where the kids are when?

    For any of you going through the legal battlefield, my advice is to stick with it, wrestle the most detailed agreement you can out of the system even if it seems to drag the process out and cost lots of $$$. That has been the one improvement over the visitation after our first negotiated agreement. Less room for error. Although I still pay much more than dictated by law and I still take my kids whenever he chooses to drop his visitation. Worth it in the end.

    • PhoenixRising says:


      So, should I sit down with him as if this is a rational person? Any agreement we reach will simply be tossed aside when he chooses. Or should I stick to my current mantra which is that we have an agreement (the 2nd), signed in 2010 that dictates in excruciating detail where the kids are when?

      I think the answer is in there. First, he’s not a rational person, and second…”any agreement we reach will simply be tossed aside when he chooses.”

      So it seems to me the question isn’t whether you should sit down and talk, but whether you should sit down to the dance. Because from your description that’s what it would be.

      I would be inclined to pass on that one. Of course, he will use that, as you said to claim this is all your fault, you won’t let him have them more.

      So it’s really a lose/lose situation for you, isn’t it?

      So you might as well pick the losing situation that works best for you…that works best for you.

      Because he’s doing this for him. Not the kids, and certainly not for you!

      If you have an agreement, that you had to go through two battles for, then stick with it. If you give in here, you’ll dilute the power of that agreement. He may ignore it when he chooses to drop his visitation, but I’d fight like hell to make sure he follows everything else.

      You can remind him without emotion that if he stuck with his agreement, then he would see the kids more often. But if he chooses not to have them when he’s supposed to, then he can’t make up for that time on YOUR time.

      Good luck. Having a mantra is a good thing. Sometimes I picture myself with my fingers in my ears going “La, la, la, la…” while I’m calmly looking at him and he’s going off. Anything to break that feeling of tension within me and exploding like a volcano.

      A little humor can help sometimes.

      If anyone reading this thinks that makes me sound immature, then you’ve never had to deal with a narcissist. Lucky you.

  10. bunnyhop2 says:

    Brilliant PhoenixRising. You are right. The answer is there. I will not sit down to the dance. I refuse to play the role he assigns me. I will decide what is best for me and my children and he will not dictate my life here and now. Not after i have escaped through divorce and relocation. Now i will taste the freedom so hard won.
    But quietly, while his attention is elsewhere……

  11. PresenceNow says:

    May I ask a new question, of PhoenixRising and anyone else who would like to respond?
    Recently I talked with the therapist who saw my kids for a few short sessions before the court mandated that I stop taking them to see her. I wanted to ask for her advice on some things that happened that my kids relayed to me, that were very upsetting to me. She listened, and then responded in a somewhat confusing way to me:
    1. She said if the kids are still really having a rough time with their dad, part of the problem is the fact that I don’t “co-parent” with him, and this is affecting the kids’ relationship with him.
    2. I told her about some incidents in which I felt my ex was behaving abusively towards the kids, and she told me that many people would not find those behaviors abusive. However, she also said that she had been in an abusive relationship, and that as a mom, if she felt her kids were being abused in some way she would take action immediately.

    These two things really bothered me. Would they bother you, too, or am I just not far along enough in my own healing to really see that she is right?? Am I stuck in a view that’s skewed in some way still??

    First, I don’t see how anyone can really “co-parent” with a narcissist. I feel like I tried so many ways to communicate with him at first, and then finally gave up when I realized I was just in the same situation as when we were married, only I lived in a different house. I do see that my kids employ the same behaviors I do, in that they try to avoid him as much as possible, and try not to get caught in his web of confusion. But they are also really angry, and I don’t want this to carry over into other aspects of their lives or carry into the future for them. What exactly can I do to communicate with my ex that will help the kids??

    Second, I feel helpless against the court system in battling what I see as abusive behavior on my ex’s part towards our kids. If the therapist is right, and no one sees this as an abusive pattern (it’s so easy for the narcissist to explain away every single incident), then why waste time and energy trying to change placement, or custody? But if, as a mother, (and I’m crying as I write this, the emotion is so great when it comes to our kids) we are to do everything possible to protect our children, then should we take some kind of action to remove them from this situation??

    This is where I struggle with the question of how we exist in this life of parenting with a narcissist!! We live in a system in which the perceptions of a few people are all that matter, and there’s no absolute right or wrong. Am I a bad mother if I don’t talk to my kids’ dad, and if I’m not fighting to change placement? Can we fight the battle any other way, like from the “inside?”

    Am I inconsistent in my message to my kids? I avoid their dad as much as possible, and I do get frustrated when he tries to manipulate me in some way. Then, I turn around and tell the kids to try to talk with their dad, to be assertive but polite. But I don’t know if those are so different- it’s about setting and enforcing boundaries, and although my kids are not doing well on the polite part, they are standing up against some of their dad’s more unreasonable behaviors. And they’re the ones who still have to see him and interact with him.

    I’m not really sure where I’m going with all this. I was just looking for a place to write and vent a bit. Thanks for any thoughts you all might have.

  12. GarethsMom says:

    Hi PresenseNow,
    I just want to tell you that I can completely relate to EVERYTHING your descibing and the concerns that you have for you kids and the hurt and pain your feeling.One of the biggest struggles for me is knowing whether as a mom my love should motivate me to fight in the courts for what I truly feel is the best situation for my son emotionally and in every other sense, or not. On the one hand, if we are successful we can have some peace in knowing that our kids are somewhat protected, and even if we do not, at least we can live with the knowledge that we have done everything we can do for our kids. The only problem is, your right, co-parenting with a N is not going to happen, and court battles seem to be the Narcissists specialty. N’s will always be focused on themselves, regardless of what it is doing to the kids, so when it comes to fighting dirty in court battles, they have the upper hand from the start. I have fought and lost, and at times won in small ways, but each and every time, the N was relentless in the way he used manipulated our son and worked the system. It was torment for my son that continued for years. All in all I think there is no clear answer that can be applied to every situation, I just reccomend doing what you feel you must do for your kids, and pray for wisdom daily.
    Also, just my own personal opinion (for what its worth)about the therepists answers….sounds to me like maybe she was giving a “safe” answer about abuse. She may be right about how abuse seen by others and that is worth knowing before entering into a custody battle, and you and your kids are the ones who ultimately live with the results.

  13. mydaughtershero says:

    PresenceNow and GarethsMom I feel for both of you and reading your stories reminds me of my own struggles. When my daughter’s counselor recommended a guardian ad litem I was in shock. But I thought since she was willing to write strong counseling notes that would convince a judge there was adequate cause to get one I agreed to pursue it. Now 6 months later I feel it was a waste of time and money. The counselor played the fence and didn’t “remember” any abuse or neglect and my exN was able to play victim or intimidate people into “forgetting” things they’d seen or lived through themselves. This is a man who was described recently to me as “an unrelenting force of malice” – yet the GaL found “no parenting problems”. She says this even though she recommended he take a parenting class for men who have lost visitation with their children because of violence or jail! Everyone sees the problem but nobody wants to go on the record as the one to point the finger…except me and now I am being portrayed as hysterical. Part of me wants to cut my losses – he did lose 6 days of summer based on the GaL’s recommendation – because I’m afraid of what he can do in court. The other part wants to do whatever I can to protect my daughter. I question my judgement now too – maybe I am just too June Cleaver, maybe his parenting style is OK?? I am scared for my daughter – she stands up to him but he threatens her if she doesn’t comply. It’s all sneaky and below the radar….I just don’t know if I can convince a judge if he was able to fool the GaL. Sometimes I don’t know how I can go on another 10 years or more having to deal with him and his out of nowhere attacks and ridiculousness. Sorry for rambling -thank God we all know the truth and can relate to each other.

  14. bunnyhop2 says:

    Hi all: it is both comforting and disturbing how similar are these experiences. Mydaughtershero, i can absolutely relate. I have had my daughter’s therapist tell me that he was a good father in one breath and that he needed to put his hands in his pocketsbto avoid hitting the kids in the next. My eldest was the problem child because she got wise fast to his behavior and was trying to protect the younger two. I was the problem because I tried not to see him or interact with him unless absolutely necessary. The GAL interviewed the kids and the report was heart wrenching. I cried reading what the kids had told him, much of which was not known to me, which involved physical and verbal abuse, and was then stunned when the GAL recommended extended weekends and a midweek overnight to “compensate” him for my relocation 1 hr away. My lawyer told me that unless there are significant injuries the court does not like to interfere with “parenting styles”. And they are so afraid of taking away someone’s rights, they tend to ignore any information that would require action. But i know how you feel. I wonder every week whether I should have taken a stronger stand in court. Right now I feel it is best to focus on making their time at home with me as normal and relaxing as possible, modelling the relationships i hope they build in the future.

  15. GarethsMom says:

    You are so right bunnyhop2. am really thankful for this site right now, Becuase although I have people who have loved and supported me through all these aweful situations with the exN, but ultimately I had to go through it, and often feel alone in the fight…even though the things we have been through are so painful, there is comfort and strength in knowing we are not alone…mydaughtershero & bunnyhop2, my experience with the GAL was so similar, and his report ultimately just generated more manipulation and deciet from the N on our son. Our court system forced mediation before allowing a court date…It was an aweful and fearful experience or me. He started off so overly charming, it was ridiculous and un-nerving. In the end, after the exN had gotten everything he wanted, he refused to sign because he did not get as much money as he expected and wanted to go to court to argue for more time. This is when the mediator saw his true colors. She advised him that a judge would not look favorably on this and he just said “you let me worry about that”. I just feel very defeated in all this πŸ™ So far my son is coping pretty well, but he struggles with being angry with his dad and I wonder what this is doing to him emotionally.

  16. mydaughtershero says:

    Have any of you been through psychological testing before the final parenting plan was decided? My daughter’s counselor recommended it and the GAL, although she didn’t see the need, wrote it into her recommendations. Part of me is hopeful that this may get my daughter the protection she needs if he is diagnosed with a personality disorder. However, I’m also worried it’s a waste of a lot of money since he’s so manipulative….I wonder how reliable the tests are and how easy it is to fool them.

    • Momisme says:

      @mydaughtershero, First off, hello everyone, this is my 1st post, and I cant wait to jump in! Mydaughtershero, YES! My ex (who is the narcissist and bpd, and other things) and I both went through a psychological evaluation with mental testing and it did a world of good, infact, he lost custody because of it (as well as other things he and his family did) and ended up with supervised visitations, a lot comes out in mental health testing, mmpi and personality profiles.

      • PhoenixRising says:

        @Momisme, Welcome to this blog! I look forward to getting to know you and hearing about your experiences. It’s good to know that sometimes the court system can actually work out to the benefit of your children! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  17. GarethsMom says:

    I had that same situation. My experience was this. I complied with the reccomendations, which may have been helpful in disproving N’s claims against me as being crazy or unstable…but he never complied and that was not an issue that seemed to work against him as far as custody goes….

    • mydaughtershero says:

      @GarethsMom, wow, I never thought about the possibility of only me taking it! It’s still amazing to me how naive I can be in thinking he will do what’s right! Knowing he will NEVER get the test without a court order (and probably even then he wouldn’t) I am putting mine on hold until I have word he did it. Meanwhile I am writing a very tight parenting plan and hoping I can get this nightmare of a useless GAL investigation over soon.

  18. GarethsMom says:

    @mydaughtershero, sounds like a smart plan to me πŸ™‚ I was and can still be so niave too, thinking he will some how just do the right thing, like most normal people would! Never ceases to amaze me! Probably never will…
    Im so sorry your having to deal with all this, I know how stressful and overwhelming it can feel… You will get to the other side of this, it cannot go on forever. I hope and pray that your ordeal will SOON be over, and for protection and favor in the courts for you and your daughter. Its difficult for complete strangers to step in and get a clear and acurate picture of what is truely in the best interest of the child, so Im praying that your ex-N will overplay his hand and it will reveal his true self to counselors, GAL’s and judges.

  19. Only_By_Gods_Grace says:

    Hello All,

    I am new to this site and thank God I found it, but wish none of us ever needed to.

    As you all know, there is never any good outcome when dealing with a NPD. No Contact is for my sanity, but with an N, there is never anyway to obtain true No Contact. They know just how to prey & stay within the law. And when you have a child with them it will never be NO Contact even when court ordered except with matters pertaining to the child. What a joke. I am working on getting a thicker skin, but my draw to this website is not for how I handle life with an N, but how my 6 y.o. daughter does and how to avoid the scars it may (most likely will) have on her.
    What do I say to her when her daddy pulls his NS-BS through her just to get to me? I am very careful to guard what I say as I understand (at her age now)she gets her identity through both of us and saying anything negative about him will only make her sad. He talks enough smack about me when he is with her. (And so does his latest GF.) Having “derogatory behavior avoidance” in a divorce decree is a joke b/c the courts could care less. I even have him leaving derogatory voice mail messages as evidence and no one cares. They think I am just an over emotional ex going through the normal woes of divorce. Oh brother, how the court system fall so short in this area…but that is another post.

    My desperate dilemma is how do I call him out on his NS-BS to protect her without sounding negative about him? How do I enforce good parenting such as having a routine for bedtime, brushing teeth, etc. when he has none and makes me look like I am a horrible mother for doing so? How do I explain dumping her off with a GF so he can party is not because she has done anything wrong? How do I prevent her from ever seeking his love attention in ways that are harmful to her? Or worse yet, determined to fix him like I did growing up with my N-dad. Talk about setting the stage for co-dependence behavior all over again. I at least left her father so the N-abuse would not be in her face on a daily basis, but he is in full throttle with NS when he has her to get to me. Worse yet, I see her loving demeanor becoming depressed when she talks about him. She already says she doesn’t even “care” if she talks to him on the phone or sees him, although she looks forward to the idea…she is only 6. I am so worried how all of this will affect her. I know firsthand as a child what NS-BS does to a child and I want desperately to avoid this with her.

    What resources are out there on how to talk with your child in age appropriate ways that deal with the NS-BS, yet not be derogatory as we all know how damaging it is to a child to hear negative comments about their parent? How do I repair the derogatory-BS she hears every other weekend and 3X/wk phone contact he was awarded? How are either of us going to survive the next 12 years without loosing our minds? Our lives w/o him are better than with, but it sure is hell on her when she is with him and heartbreaking on me as a mother knowing I must hand her over to the wolves as the court ordered. How do I deal with all of this…how does she?

    • PhoenixRising says:


      Without a doubt, you are totally correct about you can never have no contact when you have a child by a narcissist…unless it’s totally in their benefit to be elsewhere. But narcissists are not known to burn bridges or to close doors. You never know when a supply might be needed.

      Your daughter is close to the age my own child was when we separated. It was SO frustrating at first. I learned quickly there was absolutely nothing I could do to effect any change in his behavior. In fact, if I tried, it only made things worse. He had this eternal “You can’t tell me what to do” attitude, and was incapable of being on the *same side*, even in regard to our child. There always had to be someone who lost, which needed to be me, and someone who won, which of course would be him.

      So no mutual cooperation here. Always a power struggle.

      It was most difficult in the beginning, precisely because like you I had to be guarded in what I said. Because I couldn’t say any of the things I wanted to say.

      So I just gave him enough rope. It was hard, but I knew I did not have to do anything about him. He would eventually reveal himself to her. And he did.

      What I had to do was focus ALL my attention and energy on her.

      First, and foremost, I defined the boundaries and the rules at my home. Yes, that meant I was a meannie mommy sometimes, but it worked out to both our benefits. Your child will grow older and begin to realize just what a valuable thing it is to have in a parent who cares enough to provide structure. Honestly, it does happen.

      Plus, your child will begin to value things above instant gratification even though they will like that, too. But it will not take long before they see the value of substance, when they can tell the difference between “spoiling” in unimportant things no matter how fun and tempting, and respecting in real things…like treating them like they have value as human beings and their thoughts and feelings are important.

      My ex never came out and said bad things about me directly, but he had this talent to imply or make it appear that he was the victim, and I was the ogre. That I was hurting not only her feelings through this separation but his, and he was as much a victim as she was. Because of this I had to deal with her anger for a good while. All I could do was ask her to trust me and assure her I’d never put her through this separation and divorce if it was the last resort for me and I had tried everything else.

      But I could give her no details, not for years, and even then I have not told her everything. But she is a teenager now and it’s appropriate for her to have a clearer picture on the dynamics especially as they may apply to her in future relationships.

      For me the most important thing I could do for her then…and now, was to validate her. I certainly did not provide her with any details in our relationship, especially when she was younger, but I most certainly did validate her experience.

      “When someone says this to you…when someone does that…when someone treats you…it’s normal to feel angry, sad, upset, etc.”

      I took every opportunity to get her into the habit of paying attention to how she was feeling, encouraging her to share her experiences, to talk about what she went through when she was with him without filling in the blanks for her, but giving her emotional state and reactions names as she described them.

      Over time, she began to bring more detailed examples that were carbon copies of what I experienced. I was able to validate her experience by sharing some of mine. She told me later this prevented her from feeling like she was crazy. This is especially important if the other parent gaslights.

      Your most important role is to be her reality checker. Yes, she loves her father, but he can’t be anything he’s not. If he is personality disordered, the older she gets, the more of her own person she becomes, the more she’s going to run up against his dysfunction. Because he will not be capable of seeing her for herself but what he needs her to be at that moment.

      That’s what you can do for her. To see her, to make her feel seen.

      One thing you can’t do is to prevent her tears or protect her from him in the sense that you can stop him from hurting her. He will hurt her. She will cry. She will struggle with the kind of father she has.

      But with you by her side, you can empower her, and turn this around into an incredible learning experience.

      You teach her through your example. You validate her through your eyes, reflecting back to her the beauty of her own uniqueness by your acceptance and celebration of her.

      You can’t spare her. But you can empower her. I know ultimately, my daughter will have to decide how she will live and who she will choose to be with. But I feel given the circumstances, she is turning the situation around the best she can to add to her strength, not take it away.

      As far as books or resources go, I’m not aware of any specifically for younger children. I think there are scant few resources in this regard. If anyone knows of any, I’d love to hear!

      What I did do though is when he painted me in a bad light, I always apologized to her for that, and said I didn’t know why he felt he had to say those things, but it was wrong, and then I’d just focus on what she was feeling.

      This way, I could support her without attacking him. He wound up making himself look bad, and my daughter knew she could always come to me, and there’d be no backlash anger on my part she’d have to deal with.

      Accessibility, validation, empowerment.

      Those are things you can do something about. Him? Nothing. Sounds like you’ve done everything you could within the parameters of the law. It’s frustrating I know, but try as best you can to focus on what you can do…not what you can’t do.

      I’m wishing you the very best. I know it doesn’t always seem like it, but your daughter is very lucky. She’s very lucky to have you. You can and are making ALL the difference in this child’s life.

      You need to remember that, and take comfort in that. You are one powerful presence. It is he who is weak…destructive, yes, but his influence is NOT stronger than yours.

      Best to you and your precious child!

      • once-upon-a-time says:

        Hey, this is a great site, thank u so much. I find these tips here from only by gods grace to be so helpful! Lately as I have watched my narcissistic ex go from overt hostility towards me to manipulating my just turned 4y.o. son, I have been beside myself with fear and worry for my child. I don’t know if it is worse for me to stay near his dad and monitor the visitation, or move away to my family and risk a custody/visitation outcome of weeks on end alone with his dad. My son suffers from what appears to be PAS when he returns from his dad, and recently has begun verbalizing his anger towards me around these times as well. The poor child will say he doesn’t want to go see his dad, then will say he wants to so he can feel angry. I am in a state which presumes primary physical custody to unwed mothers, which I had been somewhat misinformed about until just recently (thanks to a subpar lawyer) but now I’ve been told that if I want to relocate to my family, (16 hours away) my best bet is to do so under the premise of taking a vacation. If I do so, he may choose to sreve me papers & force a hearing, I may or may not have a decent outcome, as I have been documenting his verbal abuse of me (physical a few times, very few)since my pregancy. I don’t know whether having to spend time with his father regularly (every o. weekend) and having me there to try to diffuse the fire thereafter is best, or taking the risk of leaving the state and having the child forced into extended vacation alone with him could be more damaging. I am getting tired of having the awful.upset in our lives, and would like to be near my family. There is a 50/50 chance he will persue his right to visitation if I leave. He may not, if he can.get out of paying child support, which honestly I’d give up any day for peace. Sofar he has not filed for anything, and there are no court orders other than child support….

  20. PhoenixRising says:

    Only_By_Gods_Grace, first, I’m sorry it took me this long to approve your first comment. Two, I will respond to this post tonight. But let me just say this right now: I was in your shoes. My daughter is now a teenager. It will get better. Your daughter will get stronger, and you will both survive.

    Talk to you this evening.

    Best to you,

  21. gentlewarrior says:

    Thank you PheonixRising for your posts and sharing. I am new here and found this blog when searching the internet. I am now aware after all these years that my ex is a narcissist and so much of what is shared I can identify with and don’t feel so alone. I never imagined…never knew. I thought it was all me until my children began getting older and the attacks are now directed at my daughter in heinous ways that has damaged her deeply. I am looking forward to sharing and connecting more with those who live this horror. Blessings and light

  22. PhoenixRising says:

    Welcome gentlewarrior!

    So sad that children are not exempt from the abuse of narcissists, but they’re not. And it usually does occur as the children grow older. That’s because children are coming into their own personalities, which means they will start to have their own opinions, mature in their love as it goes from blind hero worship to love based on mutual respect. Narcissists see that as a betrayal and something they have to control.

    So sad your children are going through this. But how blessed that they have one parent who can validate her children and accept and love them for who they are. You, gentlewarrior, will make ALL the difference just by rendering your children visible and seen.

  23. Romans828 says:

    I’ve been looking for help for hours and thankfully I came across this site. I’ve been sobbing reading all of these posts because I can relate to everything written here. My biggest concern is my two boys, especially my youngest. He returns home after visits with his N-dad and his N-stepmother so sad, frustrated and angry. Every time he visits! He has so much anger in his heart. I don’t know how to help him. He is seeking love and attention from his N-dad and is not getting it. I know exactly how hurt he is because that’s how my entire marriage was after our first son was born. Thank you all for sharing your hearts on here. When I’m not crying I’m going to read these posts again and make a purposeful plan for how to help my sons. As someone else mentioned, there are NO books or other resources out there to help us know how to help our children through this. Again, thank you to whoever started this blog.

  24. PhoenixRising says:

    Hi Romans828, and welcome to this blog. I’m so sorry your sons have to deal with this abusive situation but I’m glad they have a mother who is willing to do whatever she can for them.

    It’s really hard to witness our children have their hearts broken, and while we can’t change their experience with the other parent, we can validate their experience, as narcissists and other covert abusers rarely acknowledge their behavior or impact on others. This is very important for the empowerment of your children, and will probably be one of your greatest tasks.

    I wish you the very best, and please don’t hesitate to share however much of your story that is right for you or ask questions.

  25. Tryn_my_best says:

    I identify with so many of these stories as well. I’m writing today, thankful that I found this site, but out of concern that my 13yr old, to the N, has changed the way she looks at her father recently and it concerns me. Over the last 5 years that we’ve been divorced he’s never been to a dance recital or a softball game or never even allowed her to attend a friends birthday if it was his weekend. She used to beg me not to go with him, but I felt that she needed to maintain a relationship with her dad so I would make her go. He has recently gotten a new job which apparently pays very, very well and every other weekend when she is with him, he is buying her new, expensive clothes, taking her out to eat several times and always going to the movies, all of these things I cannot afford because he pays child support when he wants. So, my concern comes because she now wants to go with him and has said to me, “do you really think it’s fair that dad only gets me every other weekend”. Which are the exact words out of his mouth. She’s even talked about having a conversation with him that she may want to have joint custody, which broke my heart. Am I unjust in being concerned, am I just jealous that he’s spending money on her that he owes to us? I thought that she saw him for who he was…that parent who didn’t want involved except when it suited him. But, now I’m not sure. I would have hoped that I was raising this young lady to not be materialistic, but I’m scared as hell. Is he buying her love? And why doesn’t she see it and how can I stand back and not say anything? Should I try to get her into counseling to try to deal with whatever has caused her to have such an abrupt change? How can I be the better, supportive parent when he’s manipulating her or “brainwashing” her (I hate that term but it seems appropriate). My apologizes for rambling on. I want her to grow up to be a strong woman and be able to stand up to him and see him for who he really is…..

  26. UnderstandingTheDark says:

    I’ve been involved in my step son’s life for 8 years. My husband and I have had a hard time dealing with his mother, to say the least. I’ve spent so many years trying to figure out why she is so different than anyone I’ve ever met. There is just no reasoning with her or excepted apologies, nothing. So I just discovered what Narcissism really is and I’ve been reading non stop all week and it’s like a light bulb went off. There’s been so much pain and frustration but now at least what we’re dealing with makes sense. Even how much my step son’s personality has changed goes directly along with how he is being treated by his narcissist mother. He isn’t allowed to be himself or ever disagree so he’s just become this quiet, polite shell of this once care free happy go lucky boy. My husband and I are just becoming aware of what we’re actually dealing with and I know my step son is not aware that anything is different or wrong besides that he knows his mom hates us.I still feel a little overwhelmed with how to figure out how to help him cope and be himself. I really started looking for narcissism because he just recently told us about some pretty negative things his mom says to him to keep him down. I want to make him aware that its not him, its her. I want him to understand the importance of what he thinks and feels and that it’s who he is and therefore it’s not wrong. I’m so glad I found this site, and particularly this posting.

  27. peanut02 says:

    Post-Divorce. Parenting part-time with a “n.” These comments are spot on.

    The big defense mechanism is denial. And you think a narcissist (“n” for short) will just behave around a child. They can behave so well when they want something or at work, so you know it is possible. They will definitely be their best self for your kid/s.

    Do not be in denial. Your family was formed with a “n.” That parent is still a β€œn.”

    You and your kids will always be impacted by his/her personality disorder (usually a he, so I’ll just use he). How do you start to create a plan to manage this? What is the path toward conscious, self-loving and child-centered parenting that does the job of protecting the kid from this parent with a personality disorder?

    This comment takes the two biggest pillars in the plan for post-divorce parenting with a β€œn” parent. I will go back to them again in future comments.

    1. Love: This is going to take more than you. Everyone you are close to is part of this plan. Everyone is going to need to be a little brave and step outside their comfort zone and tell the kid, every time they see them, that they love them. Not that β€œthey love them when they do x or y,” that is something a β€œn” will do. Just tell the kid that they love them. Adding that the divorce is not their fault is always a bonus.

    2. Truth: Eventually, the kid needs to be told something about their β€œn” parent in a neutral way. They need to be told their other parent is different. Not that the β€œn” parent is broken or incomplete, which he is — and it is so sad as we are so lucky not to be like him — just that he is different. The kid will see it and not take the behavior of the β€œn” so personally. But it won’t be fore years, until they are older.

    What is the ultimate goal? Even in the face of tyranny from the β€œn” they will do things just to please themselves. They will find their heart and passion and nothing will pursuade them off the path of conscious, balanced and gentle self-love within their own community. Conversely, if the kid doesn’t feel their own heart, they become a part of the wreckage the “n” leaves behind in this world. Picasso’s own family is an intense example. His narcissism was called the “Picasso Virus.” Everyone he married or parented became wreckage, not even capable of holding a job much less seeing their own self-worth.

    There is a secondary goal. The kid will see the β€œn” people from a mile off and think, β€œOh, I feel like they are different and not someone I need to have around.” If they have the choice, they will not let their energy be sucked away; they will seek out loving people who do normal people things. They will have relationships with people who tell them the truth, who are there for them and plan fun things that celebrate their relationships.

    Remember all that fun? You want that for your kid. Do not be in denial. You can do it.

  28. fallinapart says:

    I thank god for finding this site, it feels like you are the only one in these relationships and you feel so helpless. I am still married to a N with a small child. I have been abused both verbally and physically, and my child has seen it all. The problem I had leaving was that my child who is still under 5 idolizes his father, which I know seeing this behavior is the most damaging to my child. I have to ask for a divorce but have feared so much and been in such a bad depression I have had to take anti depressants, which of course he know throws in my face. I am starting to feel stronger and have a good support system and now this supportive and empowering blog. My fear is what I have seen here that even after divorce my child could still be victim to this abuse, once he is not his/her fathers golden child. I am so worried about the influence he will have to become a N himself for I knwo that is why his father became one. I’m so glad to have found this site and welcome any suggestions advice you that have been through divorce can offer as I venture into the unknown terror of divorcing an N.

  29. Livinginhell35 says:

    My situation is that I have separated from my Ex N now for over a year. When I decided to end the relationship my child was still a baby and I was breast feeding. My ex was monitoring all my emails and phone calls and knew when I was considering leaving. He stayed home from work everyday so that I couldn’t physically take my child with me. I reached breaking point after an argument and decided to go to my parent’s house for a couple of days for some thinking time. He still wouldn’t let me take my child. Previously when I took the child to my parents’, he pretended to be all nice so we let him in and he physically grabbed my baby (hurting her in the process) and drove her back to his home. The police were called & I foolishly went back to him then. His family are all Ns and supported him and turned on me and what makes it worse is that they are all involved in the legal profession. He managed (with the support of his family) to withhold my child from me for almost a month and force weaned my child. That was so traumatic for me and I broke down and needed help. They have now managed to make out that I’m mentally ill (by breaking down) and are using the court system to bully me and to limit time I have with my child. I only get 15% of time with my child per week. I get no overnights and my time has to be supervised by a relative. This all has been an absolute nightmare. Sometimes I feel like my situation is ridiculous to the extreme and find it hard for other people to understand what I’m going through.

  30. SerenityNOW says:

    I realize this is an old post, but I just came across it and am stunned by the similarities to my current life! I’ve been married to a narcissist (who is also an alcoholic) for nearly 7 years now. We have two small boys who are the absolute lights (and loves) of my life. If nothing else, my husband has given me them and I’m thankful for that. I’ve known my husband is an alcoholic for several years and in the process of figuring out how to help with that, I’ve come to realize that he’s a narcissist as well. Double whammy. I’m seeing the affect it’s having on our older son (who’s 3) and have no idea what to do. He tells his father daily that he doesn’t like him. If my husband tries to go get him from bed in the mornings, my son will have an absolute meltdown. He wants Mommy and ONLY Mommy. I couldn’t figure out why this was happening because the drinking issues are at night (after the kids are in bed). I assumed it was that he could feel my tension around the drinking, and that may be part of it, but as I’m reading about narcissism a million and one little (and massive) lightbulbs are going off in my head. Thank you for this post. It’s been an eye-opener for me, and although it’s a terrifying reality to be presented with, it’s comforting to have some answers (and to know I’m not crazy!). Thank you.

  31. peaceful life awaiting says:

    I would greatly appreciate anyones advice after reading everyones comments on this feel my ex is a N and im trying desperatley to protect my two children one who is 11 and the our child who is soon to be two. He has fliited in and out of our lives making endless promises to us all and whenever challenged gets defensive and simply angry. My eldest is confused and blames himself feeling unloved by my now ex and the youngest is displaying very unwanted behaviour due to the sheer confusion of the whole situation. I have been advised to take out a restraining order but feel will this make the situation worse ? My ex is very good at lying and as stated as long as i do as i am told and go along with anything he says then life is fine. When ever i ask questions or challenge then that is when the problems occur. I am worried about my two children and am a loss now as to what to do. Yes he is out of our lives some damage has already been done to my eldest but he does not want to be like him as he understand he treats others in an unkind way but unsure as to why. He has also seen for himself he think only of himself and not others or how they are feeling often pushing them away if they have hurt them selves or upset over something.

  32. mendacious says:

    Thankfully, the UK government are introducing new laws which I anticipate will address the continued abuse directed at children (Cinderella law)I pray that legislation will address the narcissistic parent and identify the harm that they inflict. I was mortified when I connected all the dots, realising that my son has to endure his mothers controlling negative nature on a daily occurrence. The difference in my sons personality is incredible whilst in the remit of his mother, leaving an empty hollow feeling of despair and concern. I too scratched my head in turmoil for such a long period of time, the projected phrase turns your world upside down, what a terrible journey that we have all travelled, but, all the wiser and in time, whole again, ready to commence upon life’s incredible pleasures.
    I am still searching for the inner ability to remain calm with the N, to rise above and not become emotionally involved, not with the N, but the son that I adore and the mothers ability to direct toxic events that distract me. To continually use my son as a pawn in her game of deceit and control. I would appreciate any advice and guidance that any person can offer.
    I realise that my sons mother is an important figure in my son’s life, but, surely, he requires stability and normality with his day to day care?
    I currently only have access to my son on alternative weekends and frequently I sense his turmoil, my son is 6 years old and I sincerely fear for his development and degree of normality. My son has started to lie to me, primarily whilst in his mothers care, obviously, wishing to please his mother, but, such behaviour can not be good for my sons development?

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