Sometimes we get so involved in the drama and trauma of our lives with the narcissist we forget about how it is affecting the kids. We may think they aren’t listening or aren’t damaged by what is going on because kids have amazing resilience and ability to hide their feelings. When there is tension in the house they may act out, school grades may drop, or they may withdraw and become very quiet. We assume that ; if we don’t see a change in their behaviour or personality, that they are unaffected. But there are kids who have learned how to adapt just like you, where the bizarre and unacceptable has become the norm, or maybe its all they know so to them it is normal.
The older ones may be able to discuss dad’s moods with amazing insight and even humor, so you assume they are coping well. But, if you think about it, isn’t it heart wrenching that you are talking to your children about their father (or mother) in these terms? What does it teach them about healthy families, respect, love?
A parent should never criticize the other parent to the children but with a narcissist how do you not discuss the other parent when they act in totally unacceptable ways or treat the children poorly. Do you allow the child to be criticized and not intervene in some way? Do you quietly bite your tongue until the tirade is over and then take the child aside and try to repair the damage?
When children are involved the adult has to make choices based on what is best for the child not what they “wish”, not based on what they want, but based on what is reality.
Is it ever good for a child to live in fear of a parent’s wrath? To have to walk on egg shells? To never measure up to impossibly high standards?
I’ve said that I had never been in an abusive relationship before I met JC, but that is a lie I suppose because I was married 3 times.
My 2nd marriage didn’t last 6 months. I met the guy in the gym weight training. My dad and step mom loved him, he was infatuated with me. It was a whirlwind romance, he moved into a place just down the street from me shortly after we started dating. I didn’t like how he wanted to occupy all my time but he doted on Kris, Kris loved him, he read Kris bedtime stories, Kris followed him around like a little shadow.
Kris was missing having a dad in his life like his friends had and I did a stupid thing; I married the guy thinking it was best for Kris.
Shortly before the wedding the guy’s mother took me aside and said, “You don’t need to marry him, you don’t need a man in your life, you have a house.” She was Hungarian and spoke broken English and I wasn’t sure what she was trying to tell me and the wedding was only a few weeks away.
On the night of the wedding the guy started criticizing the fact that I smoked, (he did too), said I drank too much, was irritated by Kris. But the next day he was fine again.
I had a small cabin at Cultus Lake and he blamed his moods on the fact that he felt less of a man because the house was in my name and I controlled all the finances, so I sold my cabin and we bought a bigger place and put it in both names. As you can all guess his moods did not improve.
I watched how he was with Kris, I started getting a knot in my stomach when we pulled in the driveway. We were both walking on egg shells when we got home. Then one night after Kris was in bed we were arguing and Kris came out of his bedroom with his baseball bat. The guy had never laid a hand on me but Kris had never heard arguing before and he was afraid of the guy. It broke my heart that my little 5 yr old son had come with his baseball bat to protect me. What must he have been feeling in his gut, what a brave little guy to be willing to face off with a muscle bound asshole who was screaming at his mom.
The next day I kicked the guy out. He wanted 1/2 of the house and I gave him $6500. We had agreed on $10,000 (every birthday & special holidays I had requested some home improvement as a gift now he was counting that as his investment in the house). But the house needed a new roof so I deducted the cost of the roof and he got $6500. I drove over to where he was living and handed him the cash. When he saw it wasn’t the full $10,000 he started spouting off and I told him.”You had better take it and get the fuck out of my life, you don’t want to push me.”
And he did. People have told me that when I am really angry something happens to my eyes and its enough to put the fear of God into a person. I guess that day it worked.
I never talk about the guy because we were divorced before our 1 st anniversary and I never spoke to him again. In my mind he was a glitch, a mistake that I corrected as soon as I recognized it and that was the end of it.
That is why my son and family could not believe I tolerated the abuse from JC. But there were a few things that were different with JC; for one thing and the biggest reason; I had no one but myself to protect. I was going to say the other reason was with JC I didn’t have the house, money or available credit but then I remembered Allen, JC’s son.
Actually, the reason I am even discussing this today is I got a message from Allen the other day.
Allen and his mom are on my FaceBook. We don’t chat much any more, just “Like” and “LOL” mostly. He has a great lady for a mom, she is very attractive, she was just a child when JC got her pregnant, he hit her once and her mom and stepdad took her out of there and went back east for 14 years.
When JC found her he and I had just gotten back together the last time. We got back together at the end of Dec 2008 and he found her and Allen at the end of January. I have a feeling he found her sooner but waited to have me firmly hooked as his backup in case she didn’t bite the bait.
As it turned out her and I both thought he was a changed man, he was playing both of us but she didn’t fully take the bait, she got involved with another man. Anyway, to make a long story short, Allen came to live with us in BC.
At first everything was great, JC played the role of perfect father. Allen was in teenage boy heaven, he had the father all teenage boys dream of. He was cool, played guitar, they liked the same music, JC dressed cool, had a bit of a laid back dude kinda way about him. Had a Harley, a really dressed out semi, and a stock 1970 Impala with low profile tires; that rumbled along and a JC could smoke the tires for a full block. He let Allen drive the semi, they stayed up all night listening to music and polishing the chrome on the semi. JC let him smoke, spent money on him like there was no tomorrow. What more could a 14 yr old boy want? All his buddies thought he had the coolest dad around.
But he wasn’t with us long before JC started criticizing the kid, it didn’t matter what the kid did it was never good enough. Allen was ADHD with a bit of OCD mixed in to keep it interesting but he was a good kid. You just had to know how to relate to him. I would have him ride with me and pay him to work. If he worked hard he got paid cash if he didn’t work we still had fun; I bought him lunch but he got no cash, before long he was jumping out of the truck when we pulled into a job site, he knew what to do and did it. He got excited about different things we’d find, he was eager to help. I was building a pond in the yard and he helped me, we always had a lot of laughs. We talked about God, work ethic, what he wanted to be when he got older, he even surprised me by cooking supper a few nights.
I kept a supply of greeting cards that said, “thanks, way to go, keep it up, congratulations”. And would slide one under his bedroom door once in a while when he did something noteworthy.
JC had lost interest in parenting pretty quick after Allen arrived and Allen stopped idolizing him. He was a resilient kid, I would ask him how he felt about things his dad said or did and he would just say, “That’s dad”.
JC stopped coming home some nights, refused to buy groceries, Allen and I bonded even more through adversity. Him, me and Kato.
I never criticized his dad to him and never discussed how his dad treated me but I knew Allen saw it. I think JC’s plan was to have Allen come out, force me out of the relationship and bring Allen’s mom out to BC. But his plan backfired, with his son and his sister.
I found a letter he had written Allen’s mom saying he had been waiting 15 years for her so another year or two didn’t matter. He said, “You never expected I would be raising our son someday and look where he is, and I’m doing a good job of it, even if I say so myself”. Not one word about me. ( do they not realize people are not stupid? She knew he was living with me and she talked to her son regularly. She knew the truth. How can you say you were waiting for someone 15 years when you were living with a woman for 10 of those years?)
Then came the day Allen ate JC’s donut and JC called him a “Fucking pig!” and punched him, started pounding on him. I stepped in between them and Allen ran out. JC yelled after him to never come back.
I went out and found Allen at the neighbors where he had just called the cops. He and I were interviewed separately by the cop and our stories matched exactly. I overheard JC talking to the cop and he was his usual calm, lying self; blaming it all on Allen.
Allen refused to press charges and the cop told me to call if there were any more problems. Allen asked if he had done the right thing calling the police and I reassured him “Yes!! He did exactly what he should have”. He said, “I just want Dad to know he can’t do that. I just want him to stop being mean to you and to go back to the dad I met. I don’t want him to go to jail.”
He went back to the neighbors and I went in to see how JC was. He seemed calmed down, a few hours passed and I saw Allen at the patio door. He came in like nothing had happened. I thought, “good kid, no attitude.” JC came flying out of the bedroom screaming,”I told you to not come back”. And pushing Allen backwards. I got between them again and I guess my eyes did that thing that they do because when I told JC to back off or I was calling the cops, he did.
Allen was crying and JC told me I was babying him and I told him to ” shut the F up and leave us alone”.
He did. I packed Allen, called a friend and asked them to pick Allen up asap. The friends called when they were almost there and Allen and I walked out to the road to meet them. They asked if I wanted to come along and I said no. Allen and I hugged and said I love you and that was the last time I saw him.
I called his mom; explained the situation and arranged for her to book a flight for him to go home.
I have always felt bad. I know I did the best I could and I have never blamed myself but I always thought, “How sad for Allen, to meet his dad after 14 years and he is everything and more than you ever hoped for and then have it end like that.”
So, back to the other day while I was in Facebook, a message came in from Allen asking how I was. I told him about being published and he asked what I wrote about and I said domestic violence. He said he’d like to read it.
He told me he’s got the most awesome girlfriend, still lives at home with his mom and little sister and he has a job working in a warehouse.
Then he sent another message that brought tears to my eyes.
He said,”I still miss you and think about you and Kato. I want to thank you for all you did for me. I’ll never forget it.”
So, all I have to say about children and a narcissistic parent is this; if you can’t do the right thing for yourself. Do the right thing for the kids. And the right thing is to never allow anyone to hurt them, even if that person is their parent.
Do the right thing for your child, we owe it to the kids to protect them; we brought them into this world. That makes it your duty to protect them.
There is life and light after the narcissist, I promise! Hugs Carrie