Understanding Today's Narcissist
Understanding Today's Narcissist

Episode 65 · 4 years ago

E08: Ways Narcissists Retaliate Through Children

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Divorcing a narcissist doesn’t solve everything. The next party on the victimization list is often the children. But really, the narcissist is just using the children to attack the ex-spouse. Learn how.

For more help, join us for a 4 week live webinar on how to Survive a Divorce with a Narcissist. Register here: http://growwithchristine.com/narcissism/narcissism-copy-2/. 

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Welcome to understanding today's narcissist, where we explore how you can better manage and relate to the narcissist in your life. I'm your host and psychotherapist author, Christine Hammond. Like to take a moment to thank one of our sponsors, psych CENTRALCOM. You can find my articles listed at Psych Centralcom. Under exhausted woman. Today I want to talk to you about seven ways that a narcissist retaliates to their children after divorce. So you think that things are going to like, get better and they don't. Actually, things get even more difficult...

...because the children are now with their narcissistic spouse for any amount of time, whether it's half the time or just a portion of the time, and the children are kind of being pulled in two different directions. Yes, things were bad when you were together and yes, things will be bad even after you have gotten a divorce. So I'm going to talk a little bit about some of the tactics that narcissists use on the kids, and the reason I want to highlight this is because my ultimate concern has always been the protection of children and all of this. I'm more concerned about them than I am the adults. That might sound a little harsh, but it's true, and because they are the innocent victims and all of us, they did not ask for their parents to be their parents, they didn't ask to live in a certain situation or within certain environments, and they are most likely just victims through all of the abuse that has gone on and what they have seen or not seen and...

...had to deal with by themselves. Children of narcissists have a difficult time sometimes growing up and when they become older they usually need some help along the way in order to keep themselves from becoming like their narcissistic spouse or from marrying one, because you often marry what you're familiar with, unfortunately, and that's kind of how the narcissism gets perpetuated down from one generation to the next. So along the way, if you are not the narcissist and you are in a divorce with a narcissist and you have children in that situation, here are some of the tactics that you are nars x narcissistic spouse is using on the kids, and this is just to help kind of help you understand what's going on in their life so that you can better prepare them for how to handle these situations. The first thing that's going to happen is it's a sense of projection. So the narcissist is going to tell the kids that they're not the narcissist,...

...that you're the narcissist instead, and so any kind of negative narcissistic traits are going to be projected onto you, which of course they're super familiar with because they know what they are and in many cases they're not even embarrassed by it whatsoever. They're going to claim that you have no empathy and that you don't understand what the children are feeling. However, that's not the case at all, and and they're also going to say that that the reason why that they have achieved what they have achieved or done what they have done is all because of the narcissist, in that the spouse had no help whatsoever, even if they were a hundred percent supporting the marriage. So it doesn't really matter what the truth is. It only matters what the narcissists can kind of spin so that they come out looking like the better parent in front of the kid, and so they will project their own stuff onto you. That's number one...

...number two, there's going to be unnecessary generosity. So there's not just gift giffing at Christmas or birthdays, but there's unnecessary gift giving that's up very overthetop and kind of lavish at times, and this is done at random times to draw greater amounts of attention. So the narcissistic, the narcissist, the narcissistic parent will give the child gifts that are just over the top and they do this to to get the kid off hundred percent on their side and they don't really tell them why they're getting it or anything. They just say, Oh, I just felt like getting it for you, whatever, was thinking about it you and got it for you. And what they expected return from the child is appreciation, is thanks, is recognition, and they also expect the child to go back and tell you about it so that that you they will give so that they will give a favorable view of the narcissist to you.

So it's the problem is, though, is that the child then has to constantly feed that narcissism, that narcissistic need for attention, and when they don't and when they don't do the praise, then the child winds up getting into trouble, which brings me to the next point, which is excessive and unnecessary discipline, so that at the exact opposite extreme of generosity, is disproportionate discipline for minor infractions. So the kid didn't show enough appreciation to me or isn't grateful enough and therefore I'm not going to get them a Christmas present this year, or the kid mouthed off at me and said something that wasn't Nice, so I'm taking their car away for six months. It is it is disproportionate to what has occurred and to what is going on, and it is excessive and it is done to put the kids in kind of this confused state of not knowing what to do, so they had better just do whatever the narcissist...

...asked them to do. So it's this push pull tactic that they're doing, that they did with you, they are now doing with the child, and so this very much will probably aggravate you because you will see it very quickly having experienced it yourself, and helping your child to understand that this is what they're doing is very useful as well. Number four, dream stealer. So let's just say that you at some point in time said, Oh, I really want to do a European vacation. Well, the narcissist will probably find a way to do that European vacation with their new spouse and with the kids, without you, of course, as a way of stealing whatever it was your dream was. It wasn't their dream, but it's a way. It's a backhanded, passive, aggressive way of getting back at you and showing you if you had stayed with me, you could have what you want, but...

...instead you don't. So in this case they're using the children as revenge and the children are just like little ponds in their game, where they're just along for the ride. But unfortunately it's a vengeful tactic and if you try to go to the extent of saying something along the lines of well, the children shouldn't go on this trip, well then you look like the evil person and you look like the bad guy instead of the narcissist. And and in that way it really is a checkmate maneuver because either way you go with this, you wind up losing. You can't say that this was your dream, because then the narcissist will just get all the ego he wants out of it and know that it really hurts you and you can't keep the kids from going because then you look like the evil parent. Number five, gas lighting. We talked about gas lighting before, but this is kind of what it looks like in the scenario with children. So a favorite line of the narcissist is that never happened. Your mother or father is making that up. They're completely crazy.

So that is a typical statement that I hear them say. And so, without you being there, the narcissist literally rewrites history and uses this push pull tactic to kind of cement the revision. So the problem is the kid doesn't know that this is really going on and they don't understand, and so they're tossed literally in the middle of who to believe. Do I believe my narcissistic parent who's telling me that my other parent is crazy, or do I believe you, who says that it's really the narcissist doing it? And the hard part is for the kid, they're half both of their parents, so trying to get them to say, okay, one parent is crazy and the other one isn't is like trying to split them in half and saying half of you is crazy and the other half of you isn't. It's a really hard place for a child to be, and so this gas letting technique winds up,...

...unfortunately, being very effective with the children, because they stuck. They feel completely stuck between both parents and are totally unsure of WHO, of who they can of who they can believe. This usually generates large amounts of anxiety and kids, which is what we cut, very commonly seeing kids of narcissists number six, the silent treatment. So most narcissists are really talented and using the silent treatment to get what they want by withholding love or affection. That's one of their favorite tactics. So in a divorce situation, however, though, this tactic changes slightly. They will now demand that you, as a spouse, contact them when the child is away from the narcissist, and so you have to make regular phone calls, you have to do the regular contact. If you don't, letters being said to the lawyer, Blah Blah Blah, they're going to Ara fate. Right. However, it's not true and reverse. When the child is with the narcissist, they will blame everything as...

...to why the kids can't call. They will make excuses, they'll blame the children, they'll totally deflect responsibility and have a gazillion reasons why the kid couldn't contact you or reach out to you. So and then if you try to point that out, the narcissists will just say that you're being demanding and controlling and manipulative and overbearing and you're a helicopter parent and all of that other kind of stuff. So this is this is a weird kind of silent version of the silent treatment. But it is this constant this silence is a constant reminder and fear that they that you have very little to no control of the children when they are with their narcissistic spouse. So so it is a way of really shutting you out and in turning their back on you. Number seven, wrongful punishment. So when the narcissist becomes angry with you, a lot of...

...times they will unjustly punish the children and and that is so unfortunate. But this has happened a more times than I can count. When they're the narcissist just projects all of their anger that they feel towards towards you onto the kids, and so the kids wind up doing ridiculous amounts of chores, excessive things. They're punished for minor crimes, sometimes punished for things that they didn't even do. I once had a dad who's actually looking at porn on his kids computer and then he accused the kid of looking at porn on the computer and punish the child. Crazy as that sounds, but that's exactly what was going on in that case. It took us a long time to figure it out, but you know, fortunately we had somebody who is really good at computers and could figure out whose ID was logged on at the time. So, sadly, this is instead of becoming sadly, instead of becoming angry with their...

...narcissistic parent, the kids actually for the excessive punishment. The kids actually become angry with you because they feel unprotected and being unprotected in the middle of all of this craziness is worse to them than having to deal with it in the moment. So that's the sad part about it, which can further alienate you from their kids. So knowing that the punishment is going on and helping the kids to understand it does actually make it better. What I have found is very effective for kids that are in the middle of this is for them to have a counselor to talk to. They should have their own counselor step at apart from someone else, so that they can actually have a discussion and say, Hey, this is what's going on in my household and this is what I'm feeling and this is what I'm experiencing. That way they feel like they have somebody who's always there for them and that they can count on. But if you are in the process of divorcing a narcissist, these are some things that you wash those should be aware of. Or if you have already gotten...

...a divorce from a narcissist, I'm sure all of these things sounded really familiar to you. There are ways to help your kid get through that and we will talk about that in a different session, but for right now, helping your kid to identify this is what's happening to them and helping them to see some of the reality of what's going on is okay, as long as it's age appropriate. Obviously we can't do this with a four year old or five year old. We're even a ten year old. They don't have critical thinking skills until twelve, so so you have to wait until they get older before you can explain some of this, and that's the hard part about this, is that time may not be on your side in this factor. But be very careful what you do say to your child about your narcissist, because it is going to get back your ex narcissistic spouse, because it will get back to them. I hope this was helpful for you. We'll talk soon. Thank you for listening to understanding today's narcissist. If you've enjoyed the episode,...

...please subscribe to the podcast on Itunes to make sure that you don't miss another one. If you'd like to learn more, you can visit us at grow with christinecom. Thanks so much for listening and we'll be back next time with a new episode.

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