The narcissistic parent

narcissistic parents

Narcissistic Parents

In my study of mental child abuse I’ve noticed how prevalent it is that the child abuser is highly narcissistic.

What’s a narcissistic parent? It’s someone who is self-absorbed, authoritarian (watch out for their outbursts), negative, a know-it-all, never culpable or blameworthy for anything, highly critical of others, secretive, cunning and conniving, manipulative, exploitive, stingy, ungrateful, a pathological liar (twists the truth with incredible ease), envious and competitive, deaf to other’s opinions, doesn’t listen (zero empathy), brags and exaggerates, plays favorites (and it’s a rotating favorite list at that), has no boundaries, inept at basic manners, lacks a sense of humor (especially at themselves), and excels at making others feel guilty… He or she is one unhappy person (read this post on Unhappy Parents) who sucks the energy and life out of those around them.

Looking at these traits, how many of them apply to your parent or ex? A narcissist will have most of the traits listed.

There’s a simple reason why the more a parent brainwashes his or her own children (or dishes out any other form of abuse), the more narcissistic tendencies they have:

It takes an extremely selfish and sick parent to inflict such harm onto their own child.

Any mature parent can set aside anger or hurt from a divorce and keep their child on neutral ground by refusing to enroll them in the middle of the conflict. But a narcissistic parent will be hell-bent on minimizing or even outright destroying the child’s relationship with the ex and unable to place their child out of the emotional turmoil. They can’t do it. In fact, they will actively bring pain to their own kids. That’s how mentally ill they are.

So how do you counter these parents, and is there hope for changing them? A sobering quote:

“Trying to reform narcissists by reasoning with them or by appealing to their better nature is about as effective as spitting in the ocean.”

That has been one of my biggest frustrations with my ex, thinking that reasoning with her and letting her eventually calm down and see for herself that I’m a good Dad would temper her behavior towards our son. But it never happened, and her actions even got worse over time. The sad reality is that you can’t change the narcissist. They don’t have the self-awareness or humility to see that they’re out of control and need help. They’re incapable of introspection. It’s deeply unfortunate, especially if your ex is the custodial parent and has ample amounts of time to transfer these narcissistic  traits onto your child.

The only recourse for you is to be a normal parent, providing needed contrast for your child. It’s very important to insist that any behaviors in him or her that mimic your narcissistic ex are stomped out immediately. So if your child is flippant, rude, and lacking manners– and they will on many levels when they’ve been living with a narcissist– don’t tolerate it.

“The narcissist is governed by his or her feelings, the decent person is governed by his or her obligations” – Dennis Prager

Since a narcissistic parent is governed by his or her feelings, they don’t have the ability to own up to their obligations to shield their child from emotional heartache, adult issues, stories of how bad Mommy or Daddy is, etc. They will actively get the children involved in the conflict. It’s inappropriate, it’s evil, and it’s abusive.

These parents are a vortex of negative energy, and will suck the life out of those around them. Children of narcissists suffer, and they come in two camps: those that are aware of this parent’s bizarre, completely irrational behavior “Yeah, there my Mom/Dad goes again…”, or they’re not and are mentally smothered by the parent. Sadly lots of these children end up inheriting the narcissist’s traits, supporting the findings that many children of narcissistic parents become narcissists themselves.

The reality is this. Once the children become adults, the only way for them to not further suffer under the tyranny of a severely narcissistic parent is to move away from them. Creating physical separation, and thus limiting contact, from a parent might seem like a bad solution. But the alternative is living a life of suffering. Remember, the narcissist will never change. After all, he or she isn’t the wrongdoer or person with flaws. Everyone else is.

Finally, here is a quote I would like to share that was left in the comment section (scroll down) from a reader, Eve:

“The narcissist has no conscience and no feelings for others, especially their own children. The only thing that matters is their own selfish ego– coercing, manipulating, causing chaos, and damaging lives everywhere they go.”

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About John

John T. Steinbeck is a parental alienation consultant. He and his son's relationship was under attack in a deplorable campaign of parental alienation. In this blog, John shares his insights, techniques, and tools in combating emotional child abuse. He did it-- today his son's love has been restored-- and you can too!
  • Seth

    It is truly heartbreaking. Let me tell you this though: I take my anger at my parents – and mother, especially who can’t honor the simplest boundaries – and I vow to make sure my own kids – now 5 and 7 – always feel like I care about THEIR feelings. If they come to me and say you do this or that which hurts me, I will put my behavior on notice, go to therapy if that’s what it takes, and tell my god, I am so sorry and I will try hard to not make you feel like that again. Sure, people end up hurting each other in relationships to some degree – it’s probably a part of love. But narcissists and borderlines? They fight dirty and will break your heart in two. The more I read all these comments, the more I know what I need to do – have extremely measured contact with my mother. I am too tired to estrange myself AGAIN. These people are so wounded – they couldn’t change unless they spent every day for a year in therapy – and even then, eventually they would go back to their old ways. I am so done. I have young kids of my own and a full time job, partner, etc. I don’t have time for this bullshit. These people need to find someone else to terrorize at their whim.

  • Delores Powell

    It seems very timely that I came across this tonight. becauseI’m a mother-in-law to what it seems here to be a very narcissistic person, she has been diagnosed with personality disorder, and she has 99% of these issues excepts for the rages, she’s the passive aggressive type, and also she blames the children’s behavior issues on mental defect I guess you could say, so she did not have to deal with it or discipline them, (but it’s amazing they haven’t been on medication since they were removed from her care). And the only behavior issues they have are normal tween things, (AHH), and behaviors that they picked up from her. Being the best, never their fault, things like that, but I’m working on these,

    My issue is that almost 3 years ago my 3 grandchildren were removed from my son and her after she almost killed my granddaughter, by giving her medication. Medication for older grandson,(she convinced doctors that they both had issues with adhd, and that my grandson was also bi-polar), because she was getting on her nerves and wanted her to be quiet, The problem is that CPS is working on reunification,9 within weeks we will start what is called intensive family therapy, where mom will come to the home for supervised visits) because my son blames himself because he was working out of town, (to make more money so she could spend)also she manipulates him, and he doesn’t want to acknowledge and/or recognize this behavior, maybe partially because my ex was like this. This may be a way to try to get him to recognize what’s really going on, and that she is not capable of non-toxic parenting. He only separated from her because, after 2 years,(in which the children were in foster care) if he didn’t they would have terminated his parental, as well as hers, so she ended up moving out of state for 6 months CPS thought that that was going to basically be the end, and returned the children to him, and I’m helping to raise them. (I’m now what I call a grandma MOM). the big issue that CPS has is that they no longer believe she will OD one of them again, but that basically although the kids are now thriving in their environment,(it’s not perfect but CPS is thrilled with their progress), that their progress is and will start to deteriorate, and these types of issues are much harder to prove so that parental rights can be terminated. It is just so hard to watch after beginning out of that kind of relationship myself for years, and the effects that it had on the children and myself, and even though most of it was directed at me I tried to buffer the children from him as much as possible, I can still see the affects it had on my children, especially in some of their partners. As it was for me both of my parents were this way but not to quite the extreme toxicity of my daughter-in-law. I just so worry about all my grand children for this reason but especially these 3, the bible is right about one thing, it is that the sins of the father are past on to his children, I never understood that for the longest time till the last several years as I evaluate my life, and I so want to stop this with these kiddos so they can have happy, healthy relationships as an adult, I guess the best I can do is to keep doing what I’m doing, like calling them on their behaviors, explaining to my son where they have learned them, hoping he will see the things he says he does,(I believe part of him has but he wants to give her one more chance to see if she has changed like she says has, although all of the rest of us who have contact with her knows she hasn’t just by little things she says or does that he doesn’t usually catch, cause he’s a single father pulled in so many directions right now.) and, loving them unconditionally no strings attached, and providing them stability through a consistency, and awareness, and sometimes with love talking about mom’s issues without anger or blaming just this is how she is, and will she get better well I try to put on a false front there I guess knowing she probably never will, but telling them she’s working on it that she knows what to do and say she just has to put things into action just like they do when they have things to work on weather it be positive and negative. Just my 2-cents on this topic, there are so many people out there like this though and you never know it, maybe we should start to question all those supposed to be perfect. good, happy normal homes, those seem to be the ones where this is the most prevalent, cause lets face it all families that are real have their ups and downs and all arounds, those are the good normal, truly happy homes that have some little quirks but everyone is basically honest on what goes on behind closed doors if asked. These and other issues are so hard and sad, people can see physical things like physical abuse and neglect, and these are hard enough for them to prosecute, much less emotional abuse that many times even longer lasting scars, because many times they are not acknowledged for a long time if ever, and even then the damage to the psyche is horrible and takes years or a lifetime to heal.

  • Hayden

    I simply can’t believe I’ve come across this page, this describes my mother down to every last detail on every post. I’ve always felt I couldn’t talk to people about it because every time I’ve try’ed they’ve gone to get her point of view as well and you already know how that went… its just me trying to “get peoples attention” or I’m “on drugs”, both direct quotes. I don’t feel so alone all of a sudden reading these posts and comments its just blown me away seeing that I’m really not the only one. I want to share all my experiences with people but there’s simply too much to put on here but I’ll list a few.

    My brother who is just 2 years younger then me was dragged into this with me
    even at the age of 2-3 as listed below

    THE SHAKEDOWN: This was so severe in my case that while I was with my father for the very rare 2 week visit I was so scared that I didn’t really even get to enjoy my visit because I was anticipating it the whole time, no to mention all the bad things she would tell me about him just prior to the visit pumping more fear into my heart about it. While I was with him he was ok with letting her call and talk to me he never made an effort to complicate it but in the phone calls she would always tell me about all the things I was missing back at her place and how much she loved and missed me and would constantly ask when I was coming back, then shed get all teary because she ‘missed’ me so much. But never cry’ed. One visit I recall lasted about a month and in that time I had a chance to bond with his new family (Wife and children, the children are not his biologically speaking but he has always treated them as his own) who he has been with for as long as I can recall, I had a great time and made lots of friends in that month alone, and my brother and I got along with our step-siblings like a house on fire. Then came time to drop me back to my mothers and the closer he got to her house the more I cringed (note I was 5 at the time) at the thought of going back, when we arrived I started screaming and cry’ing I didn’t want to leave the car, gripping the seat while they were trying to pull me out. finally when it was just us in the house she locked the door behind us and sat in the corner crying saying “you dont love me” “you make me feel like a horrible mother” “I even made chicken nuggets for us and put ‘our’ shows on and you dont even care”. My brother just being 2-3 at the time was hugging her balling his eyes out, but she was ignoring him completely and focusing the guilt on me, so naturally I caved and ate the nuggets to stop her crying and she did but only to ignore me for the next day or 2.

    I remember in year 2 I pissed my pants in class, the school gave me a new pair of pants and put the other pair in a plastic bag for me to take home, when mum picked me up from the bus stop she thought the bag had a gift in it, I could tell by her smile when she saw it but as soon as she realised what had happend all hell broke loose and she kept blaming me for it, then she punished me by making me go to bed really early for a week or so and continually verbally abusing me, along with threats of having no dinner during this punishment.

    Before my teen years she had got what she wanted when it came to custody by making me resent time with my father then she went further by completely destroying mine and my brothers social lives by continually intervening, abusing and guilting us.

    Just before my year 5-6 formal she said “you better not kiss any fucking girls do you hear me?!?! because if you ill fuckin’ find out RIGHT!” when i came back from the formal she ‘jokingly’ asked me about kissing girls, then I lied and said I did to test the waters, she immediately stormed into mine and my brothers room and started to break things (his things too) I ran in and told her i was joking then she turned and gave me this look of pure hate then started guilting me and verbally abusing me.
    Around this time my brother tested the waters aswell by responding to all her threats saying “id like to see that” shed make all these threats and he just kept saying “id like to see that” so she shoved him againsed the wall and choked him with both hands untill he stared turning blue then she stopped, then proceeded to sell all of our toys untill she felt we were sorry, even tho we never really had many toys to sell, she always managed to sell it all off and make us feel like the bad guys for “making her do it”

    When I was 18 I got my ex pregnant, this was not planned so naturally mum had no clue and id hoped to keep it that way for a while but she always knows when somethings up and gets the information she needs. She was already interviening in our relationship but it got worse at this point because she was carrying “her” grandchild. Always telling my ex what to do in the pregnancy and criticizing all her ‘faults’, I couldn’t do much about this because she kept doing it while I wasnt around, taking her out for a ‘girls lunch dates’ which I know was just a ploy to get her and keep her away so she could fill her head with lies and confusion but it didnt last All this drama caused my ex to leave across the country to live with her family and my ex didnt want me to come with her, she didnt want to me leave my ‘life’ in my home town for her and the child but my attitude was like “F**k that im sticking by our child even if it means leaving all my friends” and I thought she just didnt want to be with me at this point but that didnt change anything I did follow. As soon as mum caught wind that we were moving so far she went ballistic “YOU’S ARE JUST TRYING TO TAKE MY FIRST GRANDCHILD AWAY FROM ME”

  • Hayden

    The thing is people believe the narcissist and not you, they have silver tongue’s never forget that

  • Good

    I used to react with defiance with my mum too, I wasn’t about to swallow all her drivel. It’s worth remembering that narcs must think themselves really unimportant and be terribly jealous in order to kick up such a stink all the time. Keep up the “we ain’t taking sh*t” talk because eventually that will really kill them and/ or they will go and pester someone else. Because why would anyone want to be bothered with them??

  • Good

    No, it is mental abuse. They do it to trick you and my mother always wanted me to be doing anything other than what I was actually doing as she was a spoilt, needy, lazy failure and wanted to bring everyone down to her level. My dad has a few elements of narcissism too and tried to control her in various ways, but somehow she managed to wreck his career and nothing ever went anywhere whilst he was with her, it was just all nonstop battles (she by the way never had a career).
    She is deeply embarrassed and ashamed about me although the irony is she has nothing to be ashamed of. At heart she is deeply jealous and actually I think these people are jealous of people who are nice and genuine and can’t stand the fact they might get more attention, so they continually seek to disrupt their lives. Which is why it IS important to a) stand your ground, b) get away ASAP.
    My mother is so pathetic and deeply upset about my career choice (creative arts) and so deliberately uninterested in what I do that you know what I do? I just laugh! Her problem. Not mine.

  • Susan

    I just last night found help thru my friend’s local county social services for adult disabled man abused! I explained the situation to my doctor after months of research & finding help for adult man was nearly impossible but using disabled as adjective (which is inevitable outcome!), I hav hopefully found somewhere to help my voiceless victim an escape!? So help is reaching the male victims rapidly newly field of professional & social concerns! Good luck

  • Susan

    I too applaud everyone who has gotten this far to seek help which means ur on the road to getting help from wat I’v researched ! My friend (once boyfriend ) for 14 months has been going thru exactly the same issues as those ppl posting but he is so brainwashed he denies most time but at times thanks me as he fears his mom’d wrath which I accidentally saw wen she was enraged seeing that the AC was on (by me!) that she rendered his body language that of a broken battered woman & then said I saw I& took it wrong… Which I respectfully used analogies relating to fairy tales & definition of love to no avail! I hav been consumed to the point where I don’t know where to turn but last nite found a social community based place to seek help for adult disabled men who are abused!

  • Susan

    Congratulations for ur quest for overcoming obstacles incidious as brainwashing to read an article & seek help! I know that ur seeking help is a huge step in ur healing process as my boyfriend (who initially hid this somehow) remains in denial at age 49 & looks like POW, depressed & totally unable to see anything except wait for her providing lowly degrading jobs which rarely come to fruition causing him to self isolate in depression for many months calling it “hibernation” & he must walk hours doing mundane tasks creating golf ball blisters on his ankles with a titanium hip replacement & wearing work boots that hav no sole or comfort wearing Cinderella clothes which she buys & he “doesn’t care” & says I get too upset caus that’s how moms are & he tells me exact words as his on told me,”he’s hotta do wat he should do & h” talk to me wen he gets there “! “Weekdays are no good” caus he’s “no good at relationships” this repo toured only seems to follow us being apart & he begins to show signs of hope which she must detect & causes his destructive behaviors loosing time & it’s getting noticeably worse I’m assim

  • Susan

    I am so sorry to hear of your heAlth & inability to escape or secure gainful employment. I can relate thru my childhood issues which I didn’t know about the full extent surprisingly until I sought help after witnessing a vulture evil (as portrayed in Wizard of Oz or many fairy tales of evil witches!) mom 4′ tall enraged upon entering his house (that she didn’t c me) & scolding him (in every way shape & form portrayed in fairy tales & movies!) like evil abuser barking question as 2 Y the AC’s on when I (upon entering moments before) turned on at the site of my friend HER SON’s 6’1″ muscular frame into that of a battered woman shrinking to match her height arms above head, etc not uttering a word & leaving the room exiting house with hair , sweat & grass stuck to his glistening skin on hottest summer day fr mowing lawn! They changed subject upon realizing my presence never saying another word in apology or kind word to my friend except handi g him

  • Rhonda

    Has anyone found a way to protect your grandchildren from a narcissistic parent?

  • Ali F

    How do you handle it when the non-custodial parent is the narcissist? I’ve been divorced for almost 2-years and my ex, after having the motion to vacate our divorce denied, is now ready to go to the Appeals Court. Currently, I have sole physical and legal custody. He doesn’t help support our children and lives across the country. I’ve agreed to let 2 of our children visit multiple times, but he’s not returned them on time 3 out of 6 visits, speaks harshly about me when they’re there, and rarely let’s them call us, even on a holiday, during the extent of their stay. As for our younger 2 children, I haven’t “let” them go but have repeatedly told him to come and visit them in their home town so they can get to know him (he left when one was an infant and the other was 2). I’ve also offered the invitation to extended family even inviting them to stay in our home.
    We have a scheduled call each week for the 2 oldest and a separate one for the 2 youngest which he often reschedules and then doesn’t follow through unless I’m the one that reminds him via text or email. Most recently he requested we talk about solutions to the issues he has with the divorce, but I asked we stick to email, to avoid the volatility and emotional chaos the conversations create. This was met with a harsh response that any abuse I’ve alleged from our marriage would pale in comparison to how I’m abusing our children and his family.
    I struggle because I never want to be guilty of parental alienation…we send cards and presents for almost every holiday and birthdays to him and extended family; I do not speak critically or negatively about him; and I constantly tell them how much he loves them. When I send updates or pictures about what they’re doing, I often get no response or an email about how he hopes I can be the one to see our kids’ lives in pictures one day (he moved away). But although our two oldest have a blast doing all the awesome things they do during their visit and look forward to going, he’s pushed my flexibility to the edge by not sending them back as scheduled (they’re across the country…it’s gut wrenching and scary when you find out the day before their return that they won’t be coming home). Doing what’s in the best interest of my children, instinctively, I feel he should start visiting them here. But it breaks my heart because they won’t get to see their grandmother, who’s great, or their older half-siblings (that have also been conditioned to criticize me). I believe they could have equally fun moments with their dad here, but he often even bad mouths where we live (us in a small town versus suburbia for him).
    Where is the balance? If I protect my children via my instinct, I’ll be labeled the alienating parent (still allow them to call and visit here but not allow them to go across country). But if I let them go, I risk fighting a custodial interference battle; knowingly exposing them to his veiled mental abuse. He’s so convincing that at times I still catch myself affected by his guilt trips, seeing his “logic,” knowing that all my decisions have been based on the best interest of our children. Although I do not worry about what others say versus what I believe is in the best interest of our children (not out of malicious intent or revenge), I do not want to end up in the crosshairs of opposing counsel for denying his rights or the children’s rights, despite being advised by my counsel to cut off visitations there and hang up the phone when he starts badmouthing me to our children during the calls. For our children, I never want to be the one they’re blogging about. On the flip side, for our children, I believe it’s possible that there are exceptions to the rule regarding the involvement of both parents. Any advice?

  • Samm

    “The sad reality is that you can’t change the narcissist. They don’t have the self-awareness or humility to see that they’re out of control and need help. They’re incapable of introspection.”

    “The only recourse for you is to be a normal parent, providing needed contrast for your child. It’s very important to insist that any behaviors in him or her that
    mimic your narcissistic ex are stomped out immediately. So if your child
    is flippant, rude, and lacking manners– and they will on many levels
    when they’ve been living with a narcissist– don’t tolerate it.”

    This is so heartbreaking to read, and I am so sincerely sorry for your pain because I have been raised by a narcissistic and abusive father, and an overbearing mother who overcompensates and justifies his abuse by creating “crises” in my life that she can “rescue” me from, so I can empathize with your message. I see the anguish of being villainized to your child, but it’s masked by anger; I see the fear of watching your child become calloused and self-involved, but it’s shrouded by silencing it.

    You cannot change anyone – except yourself. If you want to contrast the authoritative control of the other parent don’t do so by combating their opinions, views, teachings; do so by asking, listening, and encouraging the CHILD’S thoughts. If the child is mimicking narcissistic behaviours then they are showing you that they don’t have the tools for self-awareness, humility or introspection. “Stomping out” their rude, flippant, ill-mannered traits is not going to teach them how to become self-aware or introspective. Rather, it is only going to reinforce and demonstrate to them that what they are thinking/feeling/experiencing isn’t important. Furthermore, simply being intolerant of their actions doesn’t offer an opportunity to alter them, as it only allows for them to learn to not express what they are going through at all and internalize everything.

    They need to know that the way they acted was unacceptable, but also, and more importantly that WHY they acted that way is important, and valid, but that they need to find healthier more constructive ways of getting their message across.

    Finally, step up to the plate and do the one thing no narcissist can – admit when you’re unhappy and tell them why. If they acted out and got in trouble don’t just tell them why you punished them, but explain it. Admit that you don’t like it when they’re rude because it makes you sad and hurts you when they’re mean, and if they’re flippant admit that you disciplined them because it scares you when they don’t take things seriously because it could put them in danger one day. If you don’t explain your internal processes to them then they will learn to feel guilty for everything because they won’t know what part of what they did was wrong.

  • tired mind

    I left my narsassistic ex husband 10 years ago, when our son was 2. I neverin million years knew what I was getting into when I left him. His mother is maybe worse? My son is almost 12 and he is so sick of them brainwashing, talking bad, everything and anything that could make me mad, or hurt us financially and such. Those two live just to pit hell on my son and myself. Every single thing they say to me is exactly what they are doing. I am so happy I found this and I need advise, help for my son and myself. I try and fight to stay happy and fight hard, but after that many years, it’s not easy. My ex has taken me to court 14 times, I won every time. The grandmother has followed my son to every school to work to be next to him. It’s that bad. They take pictures of warts that treated and the doctor did, she goes to the school nurse over me. She won’t let my son out the door after school until she sees I’m at the other end of the school and my son gets so pissed and thank god sees their games. I just wanna cry for myson all the time. He ddon’t deserve this, He is the greatest child ever and othe judge even ordered therapy does not work for us, so after 3 years, and thousands later, back to square 1. The grandmother hired private investigators to follow me for almost a year, I do NOT drink or do drugs!! So why?!?!? Im mentally tired and I finally 2 mos ago started taking up for myself . I am proud and probably would Still be scared if my son didn’t tell me to stand up to the bitch and dick!! Tell me that isn’t wrong when a child is saying that about family!! It’s terrible, but that’s how fed up my son even os

  • Anthony McGrath

    John
    Just felt compelled to say, what a fantastic site. Absolutely so accurate regarding the Narcissistic parent, grotesque as they are. Hopefully we will have Cinderella Law (UK) to deal with them soon. Ordering the book for more insight and guidance.
    Anthony

  • Matthew L

    Im having trouble with both a narcissistic parent and ex-mother in law. I have three children all under 10. One of them has a developmental disability.

    From the start of the marriage we had problems. I moved to a new country to live with her and her mother. We frequently fought which at times even became physical. One few of the issues was that I didn’t initially find work. The ex had it in her mind what sort of work I should do, so made it difficult for me if I applied for a job that she thought would make her family laugh at us. It was also difficult to apply for jobs in places that she thought were too distant. The boundaries were 10 miles to the south, 5 miles to the north and about 15 Miles to the West. Eventually I enrolled on a computer course but still couldn’t find work. I then became a health worker, which she was fine with as her mother had a similar position.

    Another problem I had was in finding friends. The ex never had any friends of her own and they thought I shouldn’t either. Their reason was that once your married you don’t need friends. I joined a volunteer emergency service which she wasn’t happy about. When I had the chance to go on call outs further than her boundaries she would scream and yell, not for going, but for just wanting to go. You see her way of arguing was to keep harassing me not just until I had apologised but until I had convinced her that I regretted even thinking of an idea she didn’t like. This would involve waking me up although the night repeating the same questions until she was satisfied. I was also convinced that I shouldnt tell my own family of our problems because she said if I did, they would never be welcome here. Since we lived with her mother and I lived on the other side of the planet from my family it was very difficult. We had agreed to live with her mother on a temporary basis. It turned out to be permanent, because the ex said I was unreliable and also dangerous because of the fights we had had.
    I wanted to leave but didn’t have the money ( the ex controlled the finances) and they said they would sue me if I left for me having lived with them with minimal rent The ex kept the money. I also didn’t have any close friends in this country.
    So I figured the only option was to stay. I found work and once established agreed with her plans to have children.

    Once the first one was born I noticed that I was discouraged from activities such as bathing the child, though I could change nappies. The rational was that she didn’t trust me in case I let the child drown. I used to take my son for small walks when the ex was at work, and the mother in law just didn’t tell her. I just put this down to anxiety on her part. We had another child 18 Months later. The same thing happened, I still took the kids for walks but ex found out and tried to stop it. Eventually when the second child was about 18 months we suspected she needed special care. The ex convinced her mother that I should be stopped from walking my son. She said I shouldnt only be walking him because it wasn’t fair to leave the youngest out and I couldn’t take her out as she would try and run away.
    Eventually after another two years we had a big fight in front of the children which became physical, I became so remorseful I decided to leave, at least until things calmed down.
    I was away for three months. I still saw the children every few days but it want enough. I missed them terribly. Obviously I couldn’t have the children on my own, and so it was for about an hour a day. It was then when she presented me with a paper asking me to agree for her to be able to make all the decisions for the children. Of course I didn’t sign it. We agreed that I could come back but with the following conditions. I could only have one key for the door (It had two locks). Once I had returned she said that she wanted another child. That if I refused then I should leave as she would need to find someone who could give her another child. She said by not giving her another child I was denying her her rights. She also said that because we I been physical she could prevent me from seeing the children as I had been abusive.

    I agreed. I couldn’t bear the thought of being banished form seeing the children. As a health worker I would also have to give up my job if I was proven to be abusive.

    When the next child was born things got worse as the ex found more faults. If a child woke during the night, she would get me to sit on the floor and watch them in the dark. If she came in and found me asleep or not looking at them it would cause another argument, This in her mind was neglect. At the time I was working full time and also studying part time at university. If the children woke and got into our bed she would tell me to sleep on the floor. If I went to the lounge room to sleep she would drag me off. She said I was trying to get out of helping her. After lots of arguments I ended up sleeping on the lounge. Life was hell, As the arguments increased the ex was pushing me to take medication so i wouldn’t be so argumentative.

    It was during this time that I started confiding in a co-worker. She seemed everything my ex wasn’t. she was understanding and interested in what I had to say. she was also sympathetic. I fell for this girl and we started having an affair. She said she wanted me to live with her. After a short time thing with the new girl weren’t going too well. She didn’t like the idea of sharing me. So totally in love and seeing a way out I told the ex I wanted a divorce. The same day the new girl said she didn’t want to see me anymore.

    I became very distraught. I had just ended my marriage and the girl I had plans for had said she didn’t want me. I had nowhere to go and understandably the ex and her mother were extremely angry at me. The new girl agreed to message me but didn’t want to see me as she said she was unwell.

    I thought my life was over and considered ending it all, though afterwards I realised this had just been a cry for help. I just had to get away. Since I never had any money I needed my share of our savings to go back to my family overseas. The ex agreed to this but only after I had signed the separation papers. She wanted me to agree that I could take the children when she agreed at the time. Also that she kept 85% of our finances. she said I could stay with her and the children as long as I paid maintenance and rent. Since I felt so low and suicidal I agreed. I just needed the support of my Parents.

    I hoped however that on my return I could start seeing the children and hoped I could at least take my son out of the house. This would never happen. I tried on numerous occasions to take him out. I would ask him to go with me and most times he declined. When he agreed his mother would hold his face to hers and keep asking him if he wanted to go until he said no. They invite me on trips with them but usually at the last minute as they are going out the door. Then they will just give a rough location. When I’d arrive in the area they would say they’ve had to change their plans and gone somewhere else or they wouldn’t wait for me once there and I would have to run to catch up.
    When I offered to cook for the children they would give them something else before I could finish. They have also given the children strict dietary requirements which they say is too complicated for me to follow with my cooking skills. If the children are eating and they touch me they are sent to wash my hands. The mother in law told me in front of the children it was because I was diseased as I had been with dirty women. They also say I dont wash my hands properly.
    The only child that I can communicate with is the one with a developmental disability. She is immune to the pressures from her mothers side. The youngest one doesn’t acknowledge me. Since my split with the ex the mother in law
    always makes sure she is standing between us. If she sees me interacting with her she will entice her with something more fun. Sometimes the child will come up to me, hit me, and then proudly run back to her grandma who will be egging her on. My son hasn’t spoken to me for six months. He stopped one night after hitting his head. I heard him screaming and went to investigate. His mother was restraining him while his grandma was holding ice against his head. When I protested they ignored me. I told the the ethical and correct way but they still ignored me. The ice had been held quite a while and he was screaming more. I pulled the grandmas hand away and the two women started screaming at me. The grandmother started dialling the police. The boy pleaded for her not to call the police and the daughter told her to stop. They continued yelling at me to give them the ice. The grandmother told me that one day I will find a bullet in my head. As I say, my son hasn’t spoken to me since then.

    I have tried to have my own life with friends and hobbies but I feel guilty when Im away. I feel I’m not trying hard enough to be with them. If I stay home all day I may get a few minutes with them, then they are taken away or given something else to do.

    I know what I need to do, I need to get out of here. The problem is that I’m scared. I know what lengths they will go to to get their own way. I also think I have given them enough ammunition be successful. I believe that by allowing this to continue I have helped their claim that I am not a responsible parent. I know I can be responsible, but the fear of missing out on their childhood completely is too much. Sorry that this was so long but I really felt I needed to vent.

  • Me

    Glad to hear Im not the only one going through this sh%t. I have 2 narsc parents and 2 siblings that took after them. When I tried act in defiance and get some independance from my Mom she said she “talked to the courts and they said she could kick me out of the house at age 16″. She said they wouldn’t come after her for kicking out her child because I was so close to 18. What did I do… I had to conform to her so I wouldn’t be homeless. Fuck her! She also called the police one time saying I slammed her into the wall. They took me to juvenile jail. I had to call and beg her to take me back. Thank God I found a great therapist. We are working through everything. She is teaching me how to set boundaries with my family. This work with my therapist only seems possible after first treating my alcoholism almost a decade ago. It’s been a sh^&*y life for the early years but things are getting better, dare I say good.

  • Me

    Thanks for sharing your story David. That is a very extreme story. It’s too bad people from the “outside” think we can just get over it. I wish it were that simple. For me, all of the progress I have made was with another person (therapist, 12 step sponsor).

  • Jaye

    This article is so familiar and so terrifying. My dad is a horrible narcissist and got full custody of me and my sister, and spent our lives (even today, and I’m almost 30) trying to alienate us from our mom. My relationship with my mother is terrible now. I was never comfortable being around her, even during visitations, because I knew there would be so many consequences from my dad. I wish she had found this website when I was still young. Instead she lashed out at us for siding with him, even though, in hindsight, what else could I have done? Of course I had to side with my abuser, I lived with him full time and he made my life a living hell even if I wasn’t siding with my mom.

    These days, when I try to reach out to my mom, she’s still angry at me for what she considers a betrayal. And I’m still angry at her for essentially abandoning me in that nightmare. I don’t think it’s salvageable. But I’m so glad these resources exist now to help other parents fight to have a real relationship with their kids. You’re doing great work, John!

  • http://www.brainwashingchildren.com/ Brainwashing Children

    That’s correct, sadly. Courts look the other way because most judges are former lawyers and simply don’t want to become educated on the forms of child abuse.

  • http://www.brainwashingchildren.com/ Brainwashing Children

    Sorry what you’ve had to experience from your adoptive mother. Your “you owe me a favor” bit inspired me to write this article: http://www.brainwashingchildren.com/you-owe-me/.

  • http://www.brainwashingchildren.com/ Brainwashing Children

    It’s a tragedy, but sometimes that’s what it takes for peace and calm to take over… replacing the pathological abuse. These types of parents violate their main oath: to protect their children. Mentally as well as physically.

  • Dot

    David, I want you to know how much I feel your pain and how similar your story is to mine in many respects. I was being groomed to be at least a 2nd generation slave in my own home by my abusive/NPD/Psychopathic mother. I was very fortunate that I had a “normal” good father most of my childhood and he provided a buffer for me during many of the early years of my life. My father knew my mother less than a month when he married her and I was born six years later when he was getting ready to leave her because he couldn’t take her rages, verbal abuses, and personal attacks any more. She became “miraculously” pregnant and I was born when he was 61 and she was 41 years of age. As my father’s health declined, my mother, the psychopath, tirelessly ground him down with relentless volleys of verbal abuse and personal attacks to the point he suffered some form of stockholm’s syndrome and toward the end of his life he went along with most of whatever she said or wanted for some modicum of peace. Growing up in my household was a nightmare of trying to avoid her, defend myself from her, and retain some sense of who I was as opposed to who she constantly told me I was. When I launched into the world I did nothing but find myself in bad relationships unable to set appropriate boundaries, struggling to know what was all right for people to say and do to me, and with almost no information on healthy conflict resolution or healthy expressions of anger. Invariably I found myself in the company of abusive, narcissistic men. Post divorce I moved home with my children as I literally had no place else to go and shortly after I moved home my father was diagnosed with cancer leading to his death. I stayed at first to shield him from her abusive tirades and attacks redirecting her rages toward me as much as I could. After his death, she literally seduced me into staying with her offering to care for my children as I developed my career and finished my education. When I entered the work world, I was encouraged to work long hours and to hold as many jobs as possible to bring as much money as I could home to meet everyone’s needs and like a blind fool I did thinking this was best for my children. As I was an only child and she slowly but surely cut off my friends, my social contacts, and any free time outside of our home burdening me with all the household chores, shopping, house and lawn care as well as working two or more jobs a week. She always made sure the house was a complete disaster so I had no prayer of ever being done with the home and this cycle continued until my mid forties. When my last child was going into to college and I was directing my own agency, I finally lifted my head up enough to realize I was all alone and lonely and I told her I wanted to move out. We negotiated for months with her begging, manipulating, and threatening me. Finally she let me know if I dared leave her she would destroy my life, take my children who would then care for her (they were all adults now), and hurt me in ways I could not possibly imagine. I just laughed at her. I have been estranged from my children for over a decade now. My oldest daughter moved in with her and takes care of her and this oldest daughter who I also believe is a psychopath is my mother’s heir. So despite the fact I poured money, sweat equity, payed bills for this monster, and bought everything for her including lightbulbs and toilet paper for over 20 years, because I wanted to leave her, she took everything from me including my children who she obviously groomed to believe my place in life was to serve everyone and that I had no rights what so ever. I often marvel I was able to work and function as well as I did and I credit my father for what skills and abilities I had. I knew I had a blind spot for abusive men that I just couldn’t understand, so I just stopped dating for over ten years. You don’t just “get over” being programmed for your entire life by a psychopath to be their slave and you have to literally discover who you are, what you like, and what is appropriate in relationships, all relationships, going forward or you end of being re victimized over and over again. Be patient and live every day like a discovery. You have the right to grieve, feel cheated, angry, and to discover and enjoy what is left of your life. Congratulations on getting away when you finally did. I too was a slave to one of these monsters. My mother had a sister who was also a family slave. Apparently this enslavement can be generational.

  • Amy

    Jen, I can totally relate! I started trying to sever ties to prevent my children from further exposure to the way I was being treated. I then saw my parents putting the grandchildren into roles based solely on the role each of us kids held, placing my three as the new generation of scapegoat. I tried to reason with them and stop it because I still didn’t understand just how insidious the abuse is. Long story short, my children ended up being raged upon and were incredibly hurt by my Narc father. I no longer have contact with anyone in my family of origin. You’ll find your way and your daughter will be ok because you’re aware and have demonstrated that you’ll do whatever needs to be done to keep her safe. My children are so much more resilient than me and refused to take that abuse because they have been treated better from the beginning. I don’t wish that I have abusive parents but since I do I am a better mom. Being able to provide a great environment for my children somehow makes the pain bearable. Take care!

  • Terrified Mother

    JOHN, I am a desperate mother of a 6 year old boy who I have full custody of because of his Dads abuse during our relationship. The short time we were together after I had our son was the most dreadful and painful point in my life (and I’ve had a pretty tough adulthood). His father has standard visitation and its been a non stop battle for the past 4 years because his father is without a doubt narcissistic. My son is seeing multiple counselors with regard to his recent diagnosis of ADHD and the abuse he is witnessing and experiencing during his visits with his Dad. My son’s Psychiatrist reported abuse to CPS after a session in December 2013 when my son told her his father hits him with a belt when he is angry. When he kept coming home with bruises on his calves I would ask what they were from and would always reply with “I don’t remember”. Right after Thanksgiving break with his dad last year, my son FINALLY BROKE DOWN and sobbed to me that he never wanted to go there again and he was so tired of his Dad hurting their dogs and his half brother (who was just barely 2 at the time). My baby was keeping these “secrets” as his Dad told him to but he had enough and broke down in the middle of prayer time at bedtime one night. Now, he is sealed tight like a clam and my husband and I are having an extremely difficult time with his behavior at school and home, most especially when he return from a weekend at dads. His fits are getting more and more violent and during therapy last week his therapist observed the most horrible fit which began when he found out he was going to Dad’s house. Every time she mentioned that adults are never supposed to hurt you and our job is to protect you which is what Mommy is trying to do but you can’t keep secrets if someone is hurting you. He would get enraged and fall to the ground in the fetal position with his hands over his ears and scream at the top of his lungs. Then he would kick me and throw things at us like a chair or book. Many other things happened during this session that alarmed her and she said she had no choice but to file a CPS report because his actions and reactions spoke very clearly that he was being abused by his father. She even attempted to contact my current caseworker who is just now responding to the claim from 8 months ago. My sons father has him terrified to talk about his emotions and is acting out in physical transgression. He is so co fused and we are trying so hard to help him and it seems like are not making progress quick enough. He is just recently (in the past two months after his 30 days with his Dad) mimicking his father’s actions which is very scary! He doing things just the way his father did with me, acting like he is going to punch me (although his father usually connected with my face or chest), he is saying horrible things to me (the exact things his Dad used to say to me when he was upset) which he could never have gotten those words from us or tv at home. We are very scheduled, monitor all media with both our children, log to church, eat dinner as a family, have a bath every day, ya know – the normal kind of household with values, morals, routines, love, consequences, etc. I don’t know what to do, the system is working so slowly and I’m in fear of what his Dad is going to do next. YeSterday he threatened my husband during the exchange for his unfortunate weekend visitation (which is always at the police station due to his father attacking me during the custody battle in 2009 and is court ordered in our decree) because he noticed our son had a bruise on his arm from playing on our trampoline three days ago. His Dad said he was going to have to file a case (I’m assuming CPS got in touch with him finally this week and is now retaliating which I knew would happen), My husband responded that he could do whatever he thinks he needs to do. Due to my past and the abuse I’ve suffered from both of my children’s father’s, my husband and I do not spank our kids ever. Ayden’s Dad knows this. When I chose to talk to my Sony father last January about not putting his hands on Ayden anymore, this is when the brainwashing started. He no longer has rules or boundries at his Dads and his Dad is now trying to buy his love which doesn’t bother me too much. What alarms me is my son has come home telling me dad whispers mean things in His ear at night about mommy and he asks me things like “what does loser mean” and “why does daddy say you’re stupid?”. It’s so evident what’s going on. Most recently his father refused to give him his ADHD medication during the summer 30 day visitation and is still refusing until he gets control to speak to Ayden’s psychiatrist, which he has no legal rights to do so. Also, he has recently contacted my sons elementary school to request information and when they responded that the court order does not give him that right, he was very nasty to the Principal. She assured me the school is safe for Ayden and she had already alarmed security of the risk in the event he comes up there. It’s all escalating and I don’t know what recourse I have. I have to come with our current custody agreement because if I don’t, he won’t hesitate to hold me in contempt of court. Long post, but I’m desperate and searching for advice. PLEASE HELP!!!!!

  • Mila

    I also was married to a narcissistic man for 22 years. Having a narcissistic father nothing seemed out of the norm. I would probably still be with him if he hadn’t made the fatal mistake of starting to escalate into physical abuse. I may have been through hell but it never felt so good to slap a restraining order on the SOB. My three children were 20, 18, and 15. My oldest divided to go live with her Dad because he needed her. I haven’t spoken to her in two years. My middle daughter shows signs of being just like him. I recently told her I have been patient and kind with her for three years now with nothing being returned and that I no longer would be paying for her college. Her Grandma had a money market account she had been saving for her and I had signed off my legal rights to it and she could use the money for what it was meant for. My daughter response sounded just like her father how I am just so emotionally needy She still E-mails me her little notes and of course how much I owe her. She just hasn’t quite figured out what happened to her door mat mother who no longer will sweep her lack of respect under the carpet and holds her accountable for her actions. So far my youngest is the only one who understands what a monster his father is. He made a deal with his father (X loves his money) that he would move in with his father with the understanding that is how he would contribute to his college with he is required by law. My son still hasn’t moved out. I refuse to let this monster destroy me. I will not give him the satisfaction. After 20 years of being a stay at home mother I have found a job that I love. I am going to college to get my Associates Degree. I still haven’t started dating and it isn’t because I haven’t been asked out a lot it is I haven’t found a man who even comes close to being my match. I hope that who ever I meet will have some decent kids and my children may have thrown away a good mom maybe my step kids will enjoy a loving step mom. I have learned to pray and give my troubles to the Lord and that is all you can do.

  • K Jenkins

    This happen to me too. I have a 5 year Restraining order against my ex-husband presently and a previous 5 year that expired, My children have been brainwashed by my x to think I am an awful mother (they do this around him). When they are with him they sneak to make phone calls and now I believe they feel uncomfortable to even call. I was excuse of abuse by my middle child, and SPS found abuse allegation on founded. My oldest was diagnosed with having panic attacks per the lies he made them tell. Despite the history of abuse of domestic violence perpetrated my x, the court award him full physical custody and I now get to see my children on the weekend. All of this because my children lied and said I was an abuser, but they wanted to see me on the weekends because I would be a great weekend mom. Does not make any sense? No it does not, and I thought the court would be intelligent enough to see that. I wish you luck. I am now faced with having to deal with this awful decision. It is difficult when your youngest tells you that he does not know what the truth is. I am optimistic even through this journey, and I will be steadfast in not including children in drama, and correct narcissistic behavior when the children demonstrate it.

  • Dot

    Sarah what a great piece you wrote, it describes aspects of my home life almost perfectly. Let me add that my mother even read my diary aloud to a couple of my friends who were waiting for me to get home from band practice. She also delighted in bringing out hideous naked baby pictures of me that clearly showed my vaginal parts to my boyfriends while commenting what a “pink baby I was..” What I especially liked was your descriptions of the insane arguments these people engage you in and how any attempt to calm them just evolves into escalations. These freaks are so alike. Distance yourself….never look back and never let her around your children.

  • Rosa

    This site is brilliant, I’m so glad I found it. All of the points above about the Narcisistic Parent describe my Dad’s ex perfectly. We don’t know what to do. Its been happening for 15 years now. Theres been so many court orders for my Dad to see his kids, which she has broken time and time again. I don’t even know where to start.
    She took my two half siblings (both younger than me) to the other side of the country as far away as she legally could, and has completely brainwashed them against their Dad, and our family. She is so unbelievably manipulative, I’ve really never seen anything like it. My brother is now 19 and genuinly believes that he hates his own Dad by choice. I see them a few times a year if I’m lucky. Dad sometimes goes three years without seeing them. Everytime I try and tell my brother the truth, he thinks I’m trying to turn him against his mum. Any time I message/email/try and get in contact with him, his mum knows – she’s conditioned my brother and sister to report any contact they have with me/my Dad/ our family straight to her. And then she’ll bombard our family (including my 77 year old grandmother) with the most vile, angry messages, which literally go on for pages and pages, hyterical, full of lies and nasty language, and making no sense whatsoever.Its my sisters 11th birthday today and of course I have no way of contacting her. Her mother has blocked me from her facebook, and her phone.The only way I could contact my sister, would be to call her mum’s phone, which I know will acheive nothing. I won’t be allowed to speak to my sister, and will inevitably get a hysterical verbal abuse. She has done this many years before, and has taken great pleasure in telling her kids that one half of their family don’t care about them enough to even send a message on their birthdays.
    Its sick, so wrong and I literally have reached a point where I don’t know what to do. Because she’s a narcisist, its everyone else who’s sick and wrong.
    She has accused my family of abusing my brother and sister, and made them believe it. I’m so scared that they’ll never know the truth, and will always remain alienated from us. I know the advice is to not give up, and keep contacting them, but I know for a fact that my sister will never know that I’ve been trying to contact her.

  • chris

    nope to people recognizing…all other info is good…my mom a social worker,then teacher fir gvt.my dad NAVY top gun instructor…none saw my parents as fir who they still are…control addicts..I was hit by NUNS.at preschool..then I got mad so they retaliated w shrinks and Ritalin then my dad w turrets and post war stress WOUKD thump onnme…my tounge ,geographical, caused by 1000s of soap in my mouth routine, followed by spankings and my favorite, he’d say.this is going to hurt me more than you…cCatholic crap..u know…while I was on THIER Ritalin..NEVER NOT once did a SHRINK ask if they were using force in the home…while I was on MEDS…no.never…undetected…thanks world!

  • emily

    At last my happiness has been restored by a Man named Dr ABUBAKAR ,, my name’s are miss JOY i want every one on this site or forum to join me thank this DR ABUBAKAR for what he just did for me and my kids . my story goes like this i was married to my husband for 5 years we were living happily together for this years and not until he traveled to Italy for a business trip where he met this prostitute who be witched he to hate me and the kids and love her only so when my husband came back from the trip he said he does not want to see me and my kids again so he drove us out of the house and he was now going to Italy for to see that other woman. so i and my kids were now so frustrated and i was just staying with my mum and i was not be treating good because my mama got married to another man when after my daddy death so the man she got married to was not treating i and my kids well so i was so confuse and i was searching for a way to get my husband back to me and my kids so one day as i was browsing on my computer i saw a testimony about this MAN DR ABUBAKAR of drabubakarlovespell@gmail.com shared on the internet by a lady and it impress me too so i also think of give it a try at first a was scared by when i think of what me and my kids are passing through so i contact him and he told me to stay calm for just two days that my husband shall be restored to me and to my best surprise i received a call from my husband on the second day asking after the kids and i called Dr ABUBAKAR and he said your problems are solved my child so this was how i get my family back after a long stress of brake up by an evil lady so with all this help from DR ABUBAKAR of drabubakarlovespell@gmail.com i want you all on this forum to join me to say a huge thanks to DR ABUBAKAR and i will also advice for any one in such or similar problems or any kind of problems should also contact him for help
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