When the narcissistic father manipulates the child – what is the best thing to do then?
“Tell your mother that she gets enough maintenance from me, she should go ahead and buy you those expensive designer jeans, there will still be enough left over for you to eat.”
“Would you like to go on vacation with me to Costa Rica?” (Question to the elementary school child without consulting you first).
Such manipulation is annoying, but – still – relatively harmless. They put us in a bind to explain things to the child, and the child is misused as the bearer of bad news, which good old email could do just as well.
Of course, we are pissed off – and also shocked that he uses the child for his own purposes, so that the child gets in trouble for him. The child is his shield, so to speak.
Therefore, it is totally important that you don’t freak out when your child gives you a message as he has been ordered to do. He’ s just doing a good thing and fulfilling the order.
Don’t shoot the messenger!
And of course, you don’t give him your response the next time you see him….
But it can be much more toxic. Such comments above could also slip out of the unthinking “normal” father in an ill-considered moment.
But what to make of such statements, told to you by your child under the seal of secrecy?
“You are being raised completely wrong by your mother.”
“The woman is so full of B.S., it’s unbelievable!”
“After all, this is even worse now than it was when we were together.”
“It’s not you who needs psychological help, it’s your mother! She’s crazy!”
“Your mother is getting more and more greedy. Tell her I don’t have any money left to take you and your brother to the movies.”
“She can’t get a guy anymore – who wants to be with a woman like that?”
“Soon I’ll bring you to live with me for good – you want to live with me, don’t you?”
“If you lived here, you’d get to play with all the cool toys every day, not just every other week!”
Motives of the manipulator
The toxic Ex is not in good terms with us, we know that. He is the victim of your relationship, and he also has to pay for children who no longer live with him and are under his control. Or at least he still has to pretend the perfect world for outsiders.
Because where the children live, there is also the “good” parent. Surely no ordinary court would decide otherwise? At least that’s what the uninvolved outsider thinks. But I realize I’m rambling again….
Anyway, the toxic Ex is really mad at us. We dared him to leave. Exposing him to his friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, boss, gardener.
And it gnaws at him. Day in and day out. He needs to let it out, absolutely! If there is a Next, it will have already been put on the right track. The poor thing will also feel what he can’t get rid of with the children alone.
A narcissistically disturbed personality needs energy, lots of emotions. From as many sources as possible.
Fathers’ rights groups, the Next, the children – and as icing on the cake, preferably directly from you in direct communication: by phone, by WA-message, by personal encounter (in this increase).
He doesn’t see what that does to the children. He doesn’t understand that a child is defined by both parents. He doesn’t have the empathic insight to understand that he’s abusing them by doing that, because they might start thinking:
“If the mother is bad, part of me is bad too.”
“If the mother is crazy, part of me is crazy, too.”
“If the mother raises me wrong, I’m raised wrong.”
The bottom line is that the child internalizes, “There’s something wrong with me.”
And you anticipate what that might mean for your child: Years of therapy as an adult until he figures out that he adopted this belief set at age 7 or 8.
By the way, this is also true the other way around for us mothers. If we make fun of the father in front of the children, it is just as fatal.
But you already know that.
I just wanted to mention it here again, because we always have to take it upon ourselves that the child in our highly conflictual separation from a toxic father at least needs a firm, reliable, healthy adult who also sometimes outgrows himself and responds:
“Honey, you don’t have to worry about that. I’ll take care of it.”
And write, for example, factual emails to the Ex or to the lawyer, who may please take care of it (Note: Always involve a third party where possible).
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Your lioness scope of action
You cannot stop the manipulations by the Ex. You cannot control him, forbid him to open his mouth or even stop contact.
You can only start with yourself: No power to the drama!
This means that you have to work on yourself continuously. On your (non) reactions. On your mastery. On your halo, which you will undoubtedly have earned once your child grows up and learns to bear the weight of the backpack.
In addition, you should consider organizing a child therapist for your child, so that the child gets a neutral, loyal, 3rd adult by his side and such fatal convictions do not settle in the psyche in the first place.
If necessary, you can enforce this against the will of the Ex and even have his consent replaced by the court.
This is worth fighting for like a lioness.
We must always remember that therapy for a child is not the same as therapy for an adult.
It has nothing to do with “Oh, the poor, poor child! What’s wrong with him?”.
But rather with, “Oh, are you lucky to have a professional by your side to shoulder the huge responsibility with you so that your child can still most likely avoid the pitfalls of a childhood with a toxic father.”
One more thing you should think about:
How can I empower my child to stand up for what he wants and set boundaries for himself?
Of course, this is not possible with younger children – manipulation is not yet such a big issue. But the older the children get, the more possibilities you have to strengthen them.
For example, together with your child, you could think about which of these phrases he or she can use to respond to messenger orders in the future.
“Dad, please write this to Mommy in an email. I’ll forget otherwise.”
“Dad, I don’t want to tell mommy. You do it yourself, please.”
The more innocuous of the toxic ex-partners may be so stunned by this that they actually turn it off if the child sticks with it (so two or three times he will have to insist on his boundaries like this). Maybe a disparaging “Did your mother teach you that?!”, but then he should be fine.
The important thing is to show your child that he is allowed to remain firm in his truth and dignity. Straight back – in front of the bullying classmate, the defaming teacher, the emotionally abusive father alike.
Nevertheless, it is important to remain completely neutral. You should not verbally attack the father in front of the child. Or that you even continue to talk to the child about his NPS. I have already described above what this can do to the child. Above all, you remain in the drama and weaken yourself massively.
Where possible, try to protect the child’s soul on your side – from the narcissism issue, from your high conflict case, from maintenance issues, from justifications to his manipulations.
Do you want to feel confident about managing child hand-offs with your toxic ex?
When the father freaks out and the child is afraid of him
Will you be able to prevent your child from being intimidated beyond measure if your Ex flips out easily?
Society wants children to go through something like this. Otherwise, so many family courts wouldn’t allow child visitation to take precedence over the child father’s level of violence.
It is simply unbearable for us need-oriented mothers when we have to witness how the toxic father massively manipulates the child and flips out when the child says No! – and there seems to be no one to put a stop to it.
So if you are one of those mothers for whom the lawyer has taken away any hope that you can do something against a court decision, which turns out to be extremely stressful for the child in everyday life – in other words, you have already done everything possible to protect your child from the toxic father and his manipulations …
…then you have no choice but to give your child the following on its way – with your attitude, with your comfort, with your compassion:
- I hear you and I know how you feel.
- Your feelings are right – YOU are right.
- You have the right to say no – even to adults and to us parents.
- I know this is hard, but I also know you can do it.
- I am there for you.
Protect yourself first
Who, if not you, can believe in your child and encourage him that he will bravely go his way? Against all odds? Despite this father? Despite these impossible conditions in which the children of narcissists have to grow up today?
You absolutely have to stop feeling sorry for your child. You are not helping him.
It is a bitter helplessness-release exercise, but it is essential.
You are a role model for your child – not just the unspeakable Ex! Your attitude, your dignity, your backbone – your child will unconsciously absorb all of that and model himself after it.
If you think that your child will never be able to do that, then that is how it will be.
If, on the other hand, you resolutely work on your own attitude, on your refusal to be drawn into toxic energy and concentrate on building a life full of mental strength, confidence, light and abundance, your child will also take this on board.
You yourself need a good portion of courage instead of fear!
Strengthen yourself first. Then look forward to how your child will develop.
How do you see it, dear reader? Have you found another way to help your child better deal with the ex-partner’s manipulations? I look forward to your comment below.
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