When your preteen child is stressed about your toxic Ex


​Are you familiar with this situation? Your 11-year-old son – in the middle of prepuberty – was the most ardent and loyal admirer of the child’s father not long ago, and now he comes home more and more often and is mega frustrated and disappointed.

What’s going on?

You ask, of course, and find out what the child’s father has said or done.

Either he’s not sporty enough for him – so on his days of contact he does sports and bicycles until he can’t walk anymore.

Or your son is no longer interested in cars – and yet the father spends every free minute in the garage tinkering with his own vehicle and gives free rein to his disappointment that the son does not share this passion. Well, at least the neighbor’s boy is more interested, so he can really blossom and show the other kid everything.

His own son, on the other hand, stands by and learns that the other boy is “better” or that his father “prefers” him.

The boy, on the other hand, totally loves to read, preferably comics. Or he likes to play with his friends online and virtually on the smartphone – fun that the father can’t understand at all.

In any case, the son loves to withdraw for a few hours and immerse himself in another world.

How does a toxic-narcissistic child’s father deal with his child’s prepuberty?

At this age, the child develops his own interests and becomes more and more of an independent personality.

A father, if he has a narcissistic personality disorder, has a big problem with this. While the elementary school child adored him and put him on a pedestal, he now has to deal with the fact that the child gives preference to other pursuits and preferences.

After all, what he does himself is the only true, good and right thing for all times?Are you having déjà vu right now?

Do you also remember the love-bombing phase of your first months in a relationship?

Wasn’t it similar then: You adored him – and vice versa – but as soon as you developed your own ideas about your free time activities or excelled in a different field than he did, the good mood was gone.

And he started to devalue you, to criticize you, to ridicule you up to aggressive banning and controlling you.

And now he does the same with the child in prepuberty.

He criticizes the child as he used to do with you. Or he makes him feel that he does not meet his demands (anymore). Or he simply wants to impose “his” thing on him.

But the child is no longer 8 years old. In the two or three years before puberty, the child goes through a fairly elementary developmental step. It understands more and more (even if not everything) and feels on the other side that there is something wrong.

It knows that it has a “right” to be itself. At least that’s what it gets to hear – at school, on TV, and hopefully from you, Sweetheart!

With a toxic narcissistic father, however, it’s different. There the child feels that he is not allowed to be the way he is or would like to be.

Of course, this is not said directly. But it is clearly expressed with gestures and corresponding looks in the eyes.

On top of that, the narcissistic father lacks the ability to empathize, i.e. he cannot put himself into the child’s emotional situation and current stage of development and empathize with what is going on.

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​How do you best handle the situation?

If you find yourself feeling a sense of satisfaction and relief, let me tell you that it’s perfectly normal and understandable.

You think: Now the child is learning what type of father he really is!

Especially if you had to strongly hold on to yourself in the years before, when your child still thought of the father as the absolute superhero, I am the last one who would criticize you for that!

Nevertheless, please realize that this is only about the relationship between your child and his father.

And that your child is probably suffering from this and is internalizing a lot of wrong beliefs about himself!

Therefore my credo: Focus on the child!

No, it is not yet so far to experience what the father has done everything with you and how he has always criticized you!

It is also not so far to break off the relationship with the father completely, in order to grow up now only with you in a peace, joy, pancake environment and to puberty happily before itself.

Unfortunately, you cannot take this developmental step away from your child.

He has to go through it.

You have your empathy – so you give your child what he needs and wants most now, but doesn’t get with the father: that is, retreats, peace and acceptance of his interests, and without criticizing the father in front of his ears and eyes.

What you can do about it: Whenever you notice that the child, frustrated, is saying a new belief, pick it up right away and break it down into its components.

Ask, “What makes you think that?” or even “Do you know other kids who think that, too, but it’s not true for them?”

During this time, be sure to keep in mind what the child is good at and what he or she is especially capable of. Maybe you even start a success diary, if he currently has the feeling that he can’t do anything and is just stupid.

Should you restrict the visits now, when your toxic Ex is acting like a father bully?

In a high-conflict parenting relationship, it is your job to make sure that the child-father relationship can be lived. Even if this is currently experiencing a downward dip.

You make the visits possible and keep the agreed rhythm from your side.

The more often you have been in court, the more important this point is.

Because as long as your Ex did not get physical with your child, you would only cause more harm – namely a new, negative energy spiral.

On the other hand: If you live a life free of litigation and your child does not want to go to your ex’s house next weekend because he or she is still really pissed off, then I would actually pause the contact.

Personally, I would never force a growing teenager to have contact.

Do you want to feel confident about managing child hand-offs with your toxic ex?


​How can you support the father-child relationship from your side in preadolescence?

This is a trick question.

Since we cannot live a real co-parenting with a toxic ex-partner – and we often had to learn in the past that this does not work out, and parallel parenting is the only viable compromise – we do not need to make the effort to repair the relationship between the two.

That is the task of the child’s father, if he is already dismantling it himself.

Of course, it goes without saying that you can’t do the same thing and use the opportunity to really badmouth the child’s father.

You are simply staying out of the relationship work of the two.

Now you should definitely stay clear and reflective

You take up your child with his thinking and behavior, which he expresses with you, and act accordingly.

But at and with the child, and not against the father!

Yes, I know that this is not easy.

How tempting it is to finally have an internal confidant in the family who has experienced the emotional narcissistic abuse first hand and with whom you can now exchange ideas…!

But beware. Your child is not your friend. It is still not an adult, even though it has certainly become much more mature than it was a year ago and you can already have much better conversations.

Please don’t let this lead you up the garden path – your child is definitely not ready for such conversations – give him at least another 10 years. Really.

Now you definitely need to be very reflective, because you’re not helping your child at all, in my opinion, if you pour too much information over them at this point.

You’ll find other moms in the countless moms groups on Facebook and elsewhere to talk to about this. Maybe you’re even a member of my Brave Moms Club, in which case you can chat with other club members and pick up tips in the “raising kids” subgroup on the topic of pre-puberty. Or discuss and get rid of the déjà vu aspects you’re having right now in the everyday group.

The really “interesting” time with your pubescent child is yet to come.

Brace yourself for an exciting time of detachment for your child. Today the child is still frustrated by the father, soon he could turn around and turn violently against you.

Feelings of victory simply won’t last long.

In summary

You have your own relationship with the child that you can work on and that will change over the coming years.

Focus on mutual trust, on loving and understanding your teenager, and let the child’s father manage the ex’s relationship with the child himself.

It’s out of your hands anyway what your ex will still say and mean to your teen.

No matter how well – or emotionally – you may talk to him today.

What’s your current situation, sweetheart? Where is your child currently in his relationship with your Ex? Please leave a comment below and you’ll help other moms, too.

Thank you so much!

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