Friday, April 27, 2007

What About Your Children?

Parents ask whether they should leave a narcissist to get their children away from the predator.

Easy for me to say.

Don't assume that it all goes over your kids' heads. And though narcissists do treat everyone differently, it isn't because some persons appeal to their (dead) hearts. Narcissism EXPLOITS everyone as an object, even those they flatter, dote on, and suck up to. "If they're not at your feet, they're at your throat," but in either case they're just USING you, playing you for a fool.

Think how it makes anyone feel when it dawns on us that someone has just been using us.

This is a terrible decision to have to make in many cases. I'm glad I never had to make it.

I suggest that you talk to the grown children of narcissists. Ask them how the narcissistic parent made them feel. Ask them what they thought about him/her and themselves as a child. Ask them if any of their siblings acquired NPD. Ask them what they wish their non-narcissistic parent had done and why.

There are some online groups of adult children of narcissists that I think you can read even without being a member.

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At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the daughter of a narcissist. I could write a book on the subject, but I'll try to keep this short.

If the situation is bad enough that *you* need to leave, how can it not be bad enough to take your children with you? What possible good could come from staying "for the children"? An N's household is not conducive to raising emotionally healthy children. Trust me, the presence of children will not temper an N's behavior.

When I was a kid I wanted my parents to divorce. The concept of "staying together for the children" equaled enabling child abuse in my head. The N will attack his or her children--even just by teaching them that narcissism is the proper way to relate to the world.

Children are almost always more vulnerable than an adult: the N will use that to reform them into a "more pleasing image". The results will most certainly not be pretty.


At 4:45 PM, Blogger A P said...

I am also grateful (?) that this was not my choice, as my N was my younger sister. That would have been far worse than the past year ended up beinging, even WITH Lil Sis' out-of-control rages and eventual death.

It was when she realized I was no longer going to be her N-supply that she decided to focus in on my children. Then when my husband and I cut off her access to THEM, she made an effort towards twin daughters of one of our cousins. Thank goodness, my cousin had the presence of mind to see Lil Sis for what she was and head off her efforts.

No matter how dificult, be it emotionally or financially, it's GOT to be better for children to grow up in a home without narcissism.

At 6:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i really respect and appreciate the sharing. really. something i need to ask- if I struggle so much with the debate to leave- due to my "love",sense of loyalty etc. and i have the adult perspective- how much harder must it be for the children of the N? jt

At 7:25 PM, Anonymous gh said...

I agree that there are not easy answers. I think the most important thing, whether you stay or go, is letting your children know in age appropriate ways that narcissistic abuse is unacceptable and won't be tolerated. A few of the commenters here seem to have found ways to manage their narcissists so as to avoid the financial and emotional upheaval of leaving. How doable that is surely depends on the balance of power -- if you have enough power in the relationship to establish and enforce firm boundaries, you can probably do it and it's probably okay for the kids to then figure out the N-parent in their own time. Some N's will, I imagine,comply with firm boundaries rather than risk you leaving and subjecting them to the possible scrutiny of the outside world. But if the N won't respect boundaries, then your mental and/or physical health may make leaving the only real option. It can't be good for the kids to watch an N destroy you.

At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the daughter of an N and the mother of 2 children with an ex-NH.

It's HELL... he's selfish and rude. The courts don't want you to do parental alienation and he blames me for them not wanting to be with him.

But I have them in therapy. That's key. And eventually I think they will just cut him off. They can barely stand him as it is and its his own damn fault.

BTW - children of Ns often develop serious health issues (THE BODY DOESNT LIE by Alice Miller - read it)

IF you can get them away - great
IF he doesn't want to see them - great don't FORCE a relationship

If you have to let the kids see him - get them counseling - immediately

At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello. I've spent the past few days (vaca from work) reading this whole site, and all the archived blog posts.

My exN and I are separated, and I am struggling with decisions about letting him see our child. It's hard to figure out what is the most right thing to do. Child already has *dad* in mind, heart, life... seems so hard and wrong to cut him out now. I should have made better decisions in the beginning, but at least I got us out a few years ago.

Dealing with N*dad* has been hard on child. He says he will show, he says he will call - then no show, no call.

Therapy is where I'm heading next for child - I want to minimize the trauma. I don't always know the right way to deal with child's pain regarding N*dad*. I wish I would have cut him off from the very beginning. But back then I didn't fully understand what I was dealing with. The emotional abuse just made me think it was all my fault, and if I could only (fill in the blank) then he would not be so cruel.

I guess I just wanted to chime in here, because I appreciate this site- helping me to understand Nbehaviors better than any other site I've seen.

It's appreciated.


At 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's so angering when they jerk us around when we are adults but it is so incredibly unfair of them when they jerk their own kids around. it's so easy to criticize him in an attempt to ease our kids hurts- but that can backfire too. then the kids start to think that we are jerks too or vindictive or too whiny... and we run the risk of alienating our kids from us.from what i've been reading as the mom (or as the nonN dad) we are best off staying on the side watching then if/when our kids get hurt bad enough, be there to console them in their pain. (that's hard to do after we realize how badly we've been hurt) jt

At 5:00 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

"from what i've been reading as the mom (or as the nonN dad) we are best off staying on the side watching then if/when our kids get hurt bad enough, be there to console them in their pain."

There I disagree with you. I bet you're overlooking one thing most of us do overlook. Timing.

Believe it or not, I learned how important timing is when I first tried to train a Cairn Terrier. Timing is everything. They don't remember ten seconds ago. You gotta catch them in the act.

We don't do that with narcissits though. Why? Because they will bawl at us to get off their BAAAACK! You know, turn on that obnoxious blaring foghorn.

So, we have been trained to let the abuse pass. Then later, in private talk to the child. We might be giving the narcissist the silent treatment as well by then, which is another ill-timed tactic that just feeds the N's victim act.

That can all backfire.

But I saw a woman once who always ignored what her N husband did to hurt the kids - except one time. She had red lines. One was adultery and the other was physically beating the kids. One day he started to beat one of the kids.

She went off like a bomb and was between them pounding him in the face and the chest yelling furiously that he'd better not ever touch one of the kids again or he'd be oughta there.

Guess what? It worked. Everyone was stunned. He got his payback in the very act of doing the deed that brought it on. Like a puppy you must catch in the very act of piddling if you want the lesson to stick.

The effect on the child? The same. No sympathy for Dad this way. Plus, her mother had stepped between her and someone hurting her. That's love.

I'd call that a good effect on the child.

So, at some point you have to draw the line. When you see that child really hurt, do something to stop the narcissist instantly.

At 10:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think children suffer growing up with narcissism in the home.

My friend has an N-father, and his two sisters are also Ns. He has escaped "unscathed" (in terms of inheriting N) but not without years of abuse - just because it isn't physical violence doesn't mean it doesn't affect the child/teenager or that it is acceptable.

Even after divorce, if the children are in contact with the N -the N badmouths the other parent. The N-parent still has an 'audience' in the children.

From what he has told me, there is NOTHING an N wouldn't stoop to.......

At 2:07 AM, Blogger Angel said...

I just started my blog about being the daughter of a narcissist. Please visit my site at and read the first entry. If any of your readers ever have a doubt about getting their children away from a narcissistic parent, I would ask them if they would let their child drown. It is the same lifesaving service. I wish someone had taken me away. But they didn't. Thank you for this wonderful blog.


At 2:25 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

Angel, looks like I'm not the only one up late :)

I think your first post really helps people understand just what it is that a narcissistic parent does to a child - even without ever laying a hand on him or her. Good luck. A link to your blog is in the sidebar.

At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a child, my dad manipulated me into thinking all the bad came from my mother. I hated our household but was not able at that time, to rightly name the problem and I tended to side with my dad even if he was the one causing the bulk of pain in my life.

If I were married to a naricissist, I think I would divorce but I know that I could not expect my kids to understand or that the divorce would not damage them. Kids with a narcissistic parent will be damaged and that is the sad reality. I think any decision would be in weighing out the least damage as compares to the greatest and ones own ability to handle the situation.

I also think that anyone who lives subject to another's narcissistic behavior will be damaged and self preservation must also be considered. The children need at least one whole parent.


At 6:51 AM, Anonymous Lynn0407 said...

Thank you so much for these posts about the efffects on children. Since reading these posts I have made a concerted effort to step in where the timing is crucial. I'm on my guard all the time, but I still miss many opportunities, but with each week I am getting better. I have an abusive and controlling N partner and a 3.5 year old daughter to him. (his current issues didn't appear until after she was born, before then I did not know all this would come out.) He's a shaming, blaming and accusing parent who hardly has a nice word to say. I can't remember the last time he said he loved her. He's asked me to say it for him - WTF? No way.

I have printed off your 2 blog spots about the effects on the children and have shared them with my DV support group with 1 other woman who has a small child too.

Thank you, keep up the good work.


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