Sadly a narcissist will use their own children. There are lots of ways they do this, as you may already know, they know how much you care for your children. So they’ll happily use them to manipulate and knock you off balance, hurt and upset you any way they can.
Do not let the narcissist know their actions have bothered you. They might up their games when they don’t get reactions from you. They may find someone else to annoy. If your children still have contact. Here are some ways you can help yourself and your children. A couple of examples of what the narcissist might use the children for to get at you and how to help them.
My first recommendation is limited contact within a routine, the less time they spend with the narcissist, the more time the children’s brain can think clearly for themselves.
Exact day of the week. Every week. Or same evening if it’s a Monday, stick with Monday every week. Exact time allowing for traffic delays. If the narcissist is a no show, that is the narcissist’s problem and is, in fact, a blessing on your children if they don’t arrive at time arranged tough that again is the narcissist problem. You’re doing nothing wrong. In fact, stability and routine is a must for children with a narcissistic parent. It’s hard with everything that the narcissist is throwing at you and your children. Just remember, one-word answers towards the narcissist with no emotion if they ask to pick up another day if it suits you and the children then say yes if not, it’s a “no”, and if they tell you “you’re keeping my child from me” if you must respond ” the children are here on days arranged.” Or “that’s interesting “ or “ sorry you feel that way” or “ why would you think that” if you have to re-answer. Stick with these same answers. The narcissist hates routine and loves messing everyone around. No need to explain yourself more than once to the narcissist as you’ve more than likely done this countless times and it’s all fallen on deaf ears. They will twist things around and try to take you off-topic, so explain once and leave it at that if you’ve given them a chance after chance to pick up the children on their days, and they don’t, that’s up-to-the narcissist, just keep everything you can in writing.
Focus on who they indeed are, not who you’d like them to be.
From time to time, the narcissist may act like they love and care about the children. This is only if it’s to the narcissist advantage. Don’t be fooled; they do not change, and they always resort back to their manipulative ways. The narcissist only loves and cares for themselves instead of wasting your breath on the narcissist. Turn it into a positive with your children. Yes, this is hard, but it can be achieved.
You may find they want to start doing the school run. With a narcissist, this will be so they can get into a relationship with one of the other parents up there— or worse, some have been known to go for teacher. The narcissist is always looking at what they can gain, with no thought of how this affects the child, especially when the narcissist then discards the teacher.
Remember, when the narcissist is acting nice, they are trying to win the child round at the moment. You need to look at the end game. They may have made the children say stuff to you like “ it’s all your fault”, or the children may blame themselves. Simply let the children know, “ it’s not mummy’s fault, it’s not daddy’s fault, and it’s definitely not your fault sometimes in life things don’t work out. So look for the positive and move forward.” Re-enforce that whenever needed. When things are repeated, it sinks in. Find that positive and tell them one, which can be hard, and you might have to say it through gritted teeth. If the narcissist has moved in with someone new and the children are finding it hard to say things like “ you don’t have to like them straight away, you don’t have to like or love them even if you don’t want to, but you must respect the new persons.” And perhaps “ it’s ok, you’ve just got more people to love you and look out for you.”
Or “ just show respect if nothing else. It’s hard now, but you may grow to really like them. If not when you are older, it’ll be your choice if you spend time with them” it’s all about you being optimistic at the moment with everything you say and do with your children. Making sure your actions match your words. As children listen to both, as they grow, they will see for themselves. That is because you’ve to surround them with positive love and care. Something the narc cannot do. They will know who was truly around for them, and it will be ok. You may have lost something in the moment with what the narcissist had said, but you and your child will make it in the end. Do not slate the narcissist to the child. The child will be dealing with enough of this from the narcissist.
It is hard on you at first if the children come home really liking the new parent. Remember, no one can replace you. The children love you. They have more people to love them and hopefully one good role model when they are with the narcissist.
A narcissist will talk to the children In very manipulative ways, asking questing about you, planting seeds of doubts in their minds. The children will often come back different and throw everything at you. They may be stressed or agitated. This is actually a Positive. No, not that your children are acting that way. But look for the positive. Your children feel safe, secure and loved enough with you to let it all out. Let them let it all out. They need to get it out, “ ask what’s bothering them”, let them know if they don’t want to talk now, it’s ok. Do not put your words into the children’s heads. This can be hard and frustrating. As the narcissist is doing this to them, they need to learn they have one parent that will listen, and they don’t doubt that reliable parent.
You need to accept that right now. Your child might not be able to see who you are clearly and who the other parent is. Just love them, accept them and be there for them. It will slowly become clearer to them. The truth always out itself. As you know, from being in a relationship with a narcissist, it just takes time.
“When a child is being manipulated by a parent, often they don’t stop loving their parent, they stop loving themselves.”
Limited contact is the best approach if safeguarding is too big, no contact.
Don’t fight the reality. It’s exhausting. Just think or say, ok, this is happening. I’ll do my own personal best. It’s ok in time. The children will see it clearly.
The narcissist may suddenly get involved with what school the child goes to. Yes, look into the school. Don’t just say no because it’s what the narcissist wants. If you’ve already looked into the school and don’t like it, then yes, it’s a no. If not, go in with an open mind. You know and care about your child. You know what’s suitable. They do not. So stick with your choice. They may want their children to do activities with them. I believe that’s good as they can not directly speak one on one while at the activity. Although I remember the put-downs, my ex gave their older son on the way home if they didn’t play how the Narcissist wanted them to. All because this was an embarrassment to the narcissist, then sometimes the narcissist would give their older child the silent treatment because of this. The only way for you to counteract this is by making sure you also take them. ( not you and the narcissist take together, you take one week the narcissist the next, or they do an activity on a Monday, you do one on a Friday. When you take them, tell them how proud you are. Really lift their spirits when you go. Do not mention if they play bad, because of the narcissist the child might mention it to you then go with “ oh I didn’t notice that because of how well you did this, well if you think you made a mistake, that’s fine, we all make them don’t worry about it for too long, instead think what you could do within yourself to improve you for you. Could you practice more? I think you did amazing and it’s great quality and to know your own strengths and weaknesses. Just make sure you remember what you did well, and don’t let others put you down for what you didn’t do so well. That’s for you and you only to work on.”
If you were going away with the child or days out. The narcissist will resent this as they are trying to stop you from having anything fun in your life. They might say to the child things like, “ you can not go on holiday and leave me. I’ll be lonely. Why don’t you tell the other parent you don’t want to go” I’ve had something along those lines. What I’ve learnt is don’t tell them. Don’t let them know. Just do it or tell them once you know the child will not see them again before you go “ booked a holiday we go on Sunday so kids will not be with you this Monday” leave it there. The kids will travel with a clear head and enjoy. Yes, you can feel guilt doing this. Remember how many times you tried to be upfront just to get burned. The narcissist doesn’t take your or your children’s feelings into account, so you have to, even when it feels wrong.
If they drag you to mediation, this is why it’s vital you do as much communication about contact via messenger or email, including the ones where you explained why and given them chances. Because the first thing they do is twist everything they do onto you. Then you can simply hand over the written evidence and watch the narcissist squirm. This is great if you’re finding communication too difficult.
Also, remain calm and polite in your response. Remember, when you use these as evidence, they’ll look at both sides of those messages. Don’t panic. Most of us have sent some reaction ones, now is the time to learn not to react and just to respond.
It’s very heartbreaking for you to see your children go through this. They can never have a good relationship with the narcissist parent by being you and being strong. Your children will get through it.
My ex narcissist played a few games from bringing our son home, who was five and singing ‘All of the Lights ‘ by Kanye West. And said his other parent wanted me to listen to it. Google the lyrics. They are not the best. In fact, it’s quite a good story to the narcissist’s actual life. But instead of ranting about it to the ex about what are you thinking? Wasting my breath and falling on deaf ears for them to do it all the more. I spoke with my son and asked, “ do you like that song?” “ How have you learned the words so fast? that is very clever of you”, turning it into a positive and telling my son he’s clever. Now it turned out the narc had played the song on repeat all day, so I went with “ you can not control what others do or even listen to, but if you’re listening to it. You can decide if you like it for yourself or not. Then if you like it great if not. You’re entitled to your opinion. You can decide if you want to listen in your free time or not bother, if they’re listening and you don’t want to, think about your happy place and things you enjoy. As you can control your own mindset,” so It taught him to help think for himself. So thank you, narcissist. Without you, I may not have done this. All situations are different. It’s about age-appropriate answers, not always age, sometimes ability, and some 10-year-olds think like 15-year-olds and some like 5. The children are all different.
For us, the mind games with the children got too dangerous, lots of different tactics played, the final one was when our son came home to say. “Daddy says I don’t have to do what you say and to pour boiling water on your face.”
It has now been over a year since they last visited their dad, they are happier and are no longer suffering from tummy aches, happy to go out, no more anxiety or depression, the narcissist who couldn’t post a Christmas or birthday card to his own sons, has managed to come to our car a couple of times since, breaking the court order, luckily the boys aren’t affected by these attempts, and carry on being who they are.
He did take me to mediation. This was before the Children’s service stopped contact. He wasn’t responding to messages on seeing the boys. By the time he did, the professional working with the boys recommended no contact unless they asked. Which they did and was the last time they saw him due to what was said to them.
It’s incredibly hard as narcissists counter parent and don’t worry about the effects it has on the children. Stay strong, keep doing your best and keep going.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.