Save The Children

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If there is one thing which will often scupper an attempt to escape our clutches, it is the existence of children. On the one hand the existence of children created by you and our kind often results in you continuing to endure the relationship for the sake of the children rather than separate. On the other hand, even if you do decide that it is better to separate than stay with our kind, you are rarely able to truly escape because of the shared connection that exists because of the children. Even though you wish to escape the roller coaster existence of being with our kind, as an empathic person you behave fairly and recognise that the children should see their other parent and thus you either make provision or allow for contact to continue between our kind and the children which in turn means that there must inevitably remain contact between you and us. You may however take the draconian step of deciding that it is in the best interests of the children to have no contact with the narcissistic (although usually you only realise the other parent is abusive rather than narcissistic at this juncture) parent and cut all contact off. This then results in our kind turning to formal means through the courts to establish contact with the child or children again.

Your concerns in respect of the involvement of our kind in the raising of children cover numerous factors.

  1. You are concerned that our behaviour will affect the children so that they in turn become narcissists;
  2. You are worried that our behaviour leads to the children witnessing abusive behaviour towards you which will upset the children;
  3. You are concerned that our behaviour will lead to the children not receiving a stable and nurturing upbringing;
  4. You are worried that the children will be used as pawns between you and us and adversely influence so they are turned against you;
  5. You are concerned by our failing to provide emotional and financial support which will in turn impact on the children; and
  6. You are worried that our behaviours will effectively spoil what should be happy moments in childhood.

These, along with others, are legitimate concerns. It becomes especially difficult for you when you find that you face a battle between doing what is right for a child even though this may clash with what they want. They want to spend time with us but you see such time as toxic and having an influence on the child (who as a child cannot see or comprehend what is happening) which is at best unhelpful and at worst downright damaging. How do you deal with a situation where you need to do what is right and best for a child, even though they will not see this at the time? First of all, what must you understand about our attitude towards children and parenting?

  1. Children are regarded as appliances by us. There is no distinction made for the fact that they are children nor that we are their parent. We see children as appliances and devices which are extension of ourselves and therefore there to do our bidding. You should never be under any illusion that a narcissistic parent loves the child. Do not be fooled into thinking that any benign act exhibited by our kind is a manifestation of love towards a child. It is not;
  2. This pervading mind set means that children will be used in order to gather fuel. This will be done directly by obtaining fuel from them. Initially this will manifest as wanting to spoil them when we have time with them so that their positive responses to this will provide us with positive fuel. We will upset, anger and frustrate children in addition to draw negative fuel as and when it is deemed appropriate. This is not done because the positive fuel has become stale (as is the case when devaluation occurs in the context of an intimate partner primary source) but is an adjunct of wanting to achieve some other aim. The two most popular aims are control and triangulation. We will provoke a negative fuel response from children in order to exert control over them, for instance, taking a toy away or forbidding them to do something that they enjoy such as watching a certain television programme or being allowed some sweets. This reinforces our control. A child is no different from any other appliance and must be subjected to our control. This control is not exerted for the benefit of the child, for instance, stopping the child from eating sweets every day because it is unhealthy, but is only done so we can establish control. In terms of triangulation, the negative emotional response will be achieved for the purposes of triangulating you. For instance, we may suggest to the child that mummy does not love the child so it becomes upset. We only care about the reaction, not the well-being of the child. We may say that the child cannot do something on your instruction, in order to both upset the child and thus gain negative fuel and at the same time smear you through this triangulation. Thus, when negative fuel is sought from a child it arises in conjunction with the desire to control and/or to triangulate.
  3. The traits and achievements of the child are up for grabs in the same way that we steal and acquire traits from adults in order to furnish our construct and make ourselves look even more appealing. Our sense of entitlement is such that the child has only won the race, come top of the class, swum that distance, secured a place on a vacation scheme as a consequence of our brilliance. We will remind you, the child and third parties that this is the case. Repeatedly.
  4. We will smear and brief against you at every available opportunity. Irrespective of the reasons why the relationship between you and us ended, we will not rise above the desire for smearing for the sake of the children. If there is an opportunity to take a pot shot at you, it will be taken. The needs of the children do not ever come before our needs. Thus if they are upset by what we say about you, we receive fuel and do not care how it affects them. If they begin to dislike you because we suggest you are too strict, we will not counter that but rather we will cultivate this position to our advantage.
  5. Just like you, children can cause criticism to us. Rather than soak it up as a mature, well-adjusted parent would, we will lash out when there is a perceived or actual criticism of us delivered by the words and/or actions of the child. This will as ever result in the ignition of fury and the manifestation of heated fury or cold fury. We will sulk with a child, turn away from them if they want support and/or shout at them. The fact they are a child is meaningless to us. The fact we as a parent owe obligations to them to behave in a mature and responsible fashion to them does not matter because our needs come first.
  6. We have no sense of responsibility or obligation to children. A lesser narcissist will see no need to maintain maintenance payments and will be content not to see work. A greater may well make such payments, not because he cares about the children but it is done to show to everybody else how generous he is and also to make you look bad if your financial contributions are not as substantial. The payment or otherwise of financial support will be used as a carrot and stick against you throughout the duration of childhood. We will only become involved in the lives of the children if we regard there as being some kind of benefit to us. Their emotional needs, education, safety etc. are irrelevant to us. We will attend a school performance not to show support to the child so they feel happy, but to show to other parents that we apparently love and support the child, so we gain fuel and infuriate you. We regard obligations as beneath us, we have no sense of accountability, our sense of entitlement means we can do as we please, our lack of guilt or conscience means there is no mechanism causing us to adopt an alternative stance.
  7. Understand that children are pawns which will ALWAYS be used to our advantage. Whether it is to bind you to us during the golden period, to make us look good to others, to draw fuel, to exert control, to triangulate, to perpetuate abuse and so forth, our interactions with our children are governed by our needs. In the same way that our interactions with you as intimate partner, or our involvement with an inner circle friend, or our dealing with a stranger are all governed by our needs first, the same is applicable to children.
  8. Attempting to curtail our involvement with the children is seen as a criticism to us, irrespective of how morally and factually correct your action may be. That is irrelevant to us. We will use the court system for our purposes. We do not wish to spend time with our children for their sake, but instead it is for our sake. We may find it boring having them but if we know the fact they stay with us one night a week upsets and angers you, we will do it in order to draw this fuel from you and therefore we will use the court system to fight. It is not a fight for the benefit of the children. It is a fight for the maintenance of our needs – fuel, control, triangulation etc.

With this mind set of ours now apparent in our interactions with you and the children, how do you deal with us?

  1. Minimise the interaction you have with us. Establish a system for messages to be sent by e-mail or text. If this is deviated from by a telephone call, do not take the call but allow voice mail to pick up the call and then you can establish how best to respond thereafter and you will not provide fuel by being tricked into answering a call. If possible, prevent any face to face contact between you and us concerning the children. We draw the most fuel from seeing your emotional reactions face to face. Remove this (where practical) and you are denying us fuel. For instance, utilise the assistance of other family members or friends for the handover of the children until such an age as when they can use transport or walk between venues safely.
  2. Ensure all communications are to the point, business-like and contain no emotion. This again denies us fuel. Establish a five-minute rule so that you never immediately respond to our communications (when you are more likely to do so in an emotional fashion as we try to provoke you). If five minutes is too short, extend the time.
  3. By denying us fuel we will (initially) try to provoke you in different ways concerning arrangements and interaction with the children. Weather that storm and because we must obtain fuel we will have to seek it elsewhere. You are not a viable source so we will eventually look to obtain fuel from you less and less. You will also eventually notice that this manifests by us losing interest in the children. Remember, we are not interested in the children per se but how they as appliances can serve us.
  4. You will face an ongoing battle between your influence and our influence. This is deliberate as it is used to provoke you into confronting us about what we say about you, what we say to the children and what we do with them. We want you to engage. You must resist the need to do so. Remember, you will not make us change. We will not listen to you. We want to control you and draw fuel from you. We use the children to achieve this. Accordingly, if the children comment that we are making disparaging comments about you: –
  5. Do not confront us about the issue, it is futile;
  6. Do not seek to influence the view of the child by saying “Dad is a bad person” this will trouble the child and the response will be conveyed to us which will secure Thought Fuel for us and also provide us with further ammunition to use against you for your comment. Instead, move on to discussing something else  and the child is likely to forget about the comment. If the child persists in wanting to discuss the matter, then explain that Dad does things differently to you and then move on. Provide reassurance and listen to the child but do not, however tempting it may be, do or say anything disparaging as this plays into our hands. Your role is to maintain a positive influence for your children as often as you are able. By doing this (and starving us of fuel so the interaction will lessen) your positive influence will progressively outweigh our negative influence. The more you expose your children to a positive influence and avoid walking into our traps and playing into our hands, you will tip the balance so that they will, through the effluxion of time and exposure to this positive influence flourish under it and make their own minds up.
  7. In a similar fashion to how you must deal with a smear campaign, do not tell the children what to think, but allow them to make up their own minds. This will be difficult at first and you will no doubt find yourself on the receiving end of hurtful and challenging behaviour. Keep in mind that this is our influence (not what the child really thinks) and that as you weather the storm, the effects of your positive influence will eventually manifest. As the children become older you can present them with independent evidence of behaviour (not just hearsay and say so) so they can evaluate this for themselves and make their own minds-up. Like third parties, children do not want to be involved in a conflict between two people and they do not want to be told what to do. Cater for this and you will minimise disruption and increase your positive influence.
  8. Your approach is one of ensuring the “light side” overcomes the “dark side”. This can only be achieved by repeated reinforcement of positive behaviour and influence. If you engage in behaviours similar to ours, you enter onto our home turf and you will not only encourage us to keep going with our behaviours but you will find there is a negative outcome for both you and the children.
  9. If our behaviour is serious in terms of impact on the children – for instance violence or neglect – involve the relevant authorities. You will not be able to cause us to recognise we have done anything wrong because we either do not recognise that we have or we will not admit it for the purposes of maintaining control.
  10. If you regard it as appropriate, save messages and e-mails which exhibit our behaviour and allow the child access to them when an adult. This is again the presentation of independent evidence when they are in a position to make their own minds up. You must not engage in a popularity contest or sling mud; you will lose as this is playing into our hands.
  11. If you find yourself having to engage with us through the court system, ensure those representing you are familiar with our kind. Rely on independent evidence as much as possible rather than “he said, she said”. Recognise that we are experts at duping people and our lawyers, your lawyers, psychologists, court officials and judges can just as easily be duped. If a hearing does not go your way, resist the urge to lash out at us – it is of course just fuel – and instead continue to adopt a positive approach towards your children. That must always be your focus. We want you to engage with us and we will use children and the court system to provoke you to do this. Fail to engage and you take away much of our power.

It is hard. A narcissistic parent is a fact. We will not go away so long as we are getting what we want or believe we can do so. Prevent us from getting what we want, demonstrate to us that we are unlikely to get what we want and we will turn our attention elsewhere. This will then allow your positive influence to have an even greater bearing on the children and undo any harmful effects from our toxic influence. You will face challenges but by trying to address our behaviour, cater for it and pander to it, you will not succeed in protecting your children. I have seen this first hand.

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34 thoughts on “Save The Children”

  1. This terrifies me. Aside from criticizing his parenting, which I’ve done, and will stop now after reading this, how can I teach my kid to not fuel him, and how can I not fuel him so maybe he’d lose interest and leave us? He comes from a religious family, so for the sake of image alone, he’d want to pretend to be a caring parent, he won’t just leave leave. But if I can find a way to get him to leave us in reality, and pretend to exist, I’d pay money for it. I really don’t want to raise a broken human. And I see the damage in my kid already.

  2. Hi HG,

    What if the adult child of the male narcissist decides that she is tired of being subservient to him and “escapes” and when she returns to him (out of missing and needing him), he begins with being charming and then helps her A LOT – he gives her money as gifts and whatever else that she needs … is the narc parent “lovebombing” her as a form of manipulation so that she doesn’t “escape” again?

  3. What if there is a court order? Could I get a restraining order against the father so I don’t have to interact with him? In doing so he will then lose interest in our child? I want sole custody but he won’t give that to me nor will he stop seeing her even though I have offered to stop child support payments.

  4. I’m sorry you had that experience T.
    That is why it is so important to protect them so they are not used as pawns. Also, the protecting parent can do much by ignoring a lot of the narcissistic parent’s attempts for fuel. Definitely
    hard to do when it is done via the children but in end; the narcissistic parent will give up and at some point the child will learn to recognize the manipulations too…if protected and shown another way.

    1. I actually plan to inform some of the empathic parents I know about such things, but most people don’t appreciate others’ telling them what may be wrong in their life and relationships.

      Once I have some success to share, I will. For now I’d suggest teaching IE to kids (not Internet Explorer;) and explain how important and benefitting it can be to their lives.

  5. Do dogs apply to “children”?? My ex-Narc and I share custody of our dogs and I think he only does it to see me once a week…This is going on for a year and every week I try to muster the energy to tell him he and his new appliance should get their ow dogs and leave mine alone but that makes me feel like a mean person??

      1. In what sense?

        I was also asked to take care of a dog but since I am not available at the moment somebody else than the N will bring the fuzzy wonder to me when he is already out of the city when I get back.

        Is this anything?

      2. I knew it was something..thank you for answering but should I tell him to get his ow dogs??

      3. Tell him nothing, you should be no contact. If need be, get someone else to tell him to get his own hounds.

  6. Please tell me HG your oppinion: it seems to me my narcissistic husband (we are in the divorce procedure) sees our children (both boys are 9 years old) primarily as an evidence of his superiority (of course it is his genes that made the kids so incredibly smart and cute and irresistible) and he tries to use their actions/reactions as a proof of how stupid and minor I am and how they can always get from me what they want. However he doesn’t spend practically any time with them and honestly said does not know them well any more – he has stuck in the time when they were 4,doesn’t really know them and he just doesn’t recognize what and how they really think and understand things happening. Actually the boys are much smarter then he thinks, they are even so smart that don’t fall for his manipulative questions and behaviours any more eventhough they don’t know about narcissoism. Do you have any suggestion for me how to act after the divorce – according to the court order, the kids’ father will have the right to see them once per week during work days and every second weekend. I’m quite sure he will not act according to the court order but will rather use his ‘father rights’ as a weapon to keep us under control. He’s just not capable of taking care for them nor is interested in spending time with them. Unepmloyed, lazy and aggresive liar I would say. I’m searching for a reasoble approach to get rid of his constant aggressive conrol. How to prevent blackmailing me with the kids while not denying him completely his father rights? I’m actually hoping of his young girlfriend to become pregnant asap (maybe she already is?) so that he would be ‘forced’ to get focused on other people and leave as alone. I’d be glad if you and readers would share your views. ps: sorry for my English … Br, good luck to all

  7. This is invaluable advice. Am going through this now and my heart breaks for my daughter. It’s hard not to go into “mother bear” mode at every turn when communicating with her father about her. But I know that will only stab the sleeping grizzly with a hot poker! Then, God save us from his wrath.
    Instead, I am trying to be silent, lay low, remain uninterested in the lines he casts in my direction (about one thing or another), and disengage when he spews his venomous comments about what he’s confident the courts will mandate re: visitation (his favorite threat to me whenever I displease him at this point). Yet, I fear the days when our confrontations must come in court or mediations. So, in accordance with your article today, I’m not doing any heavy lifting to prepare for debate or retort. Rather, I am practicing my flat stare… My dead-pan looks… My emotionless face, so as to completely difuse his very reason for being: Getting fueled up by watching me go wild and crazy right in front of him. This gas station is shutting-down!!!!!

    1. i would highly recommend you read hg, other articles on court. i went through and still going through similar. at my first hearing, i was not prepared for what my daughters dad would accuse me of. our judge granted him every thing he wanted. i was publicy distraught, and he was given positive fuel by all of his social media friends. i found hg work after that. what i would recommend, even if you can not afford a great attorney to fight the narcissist, find one with in your budget who can atleast be your middle man. my ex always hires the most expensive attorneys. i hired one that was sort of in the middle, but highly recommended by a friend. my attorney was the middle man who worked out what we were going to court for, before it went before the judge. did i get justice, no. but i am staying much away from talking about court at all. i stick the mundane conversations with the narc. it is hard. but, my goal everyday to to be the positive influence for my kids

  8. Thank you for this post – your clarity on situations is quite frightening at times – Your knowledge about these things astounds me and at times it is very difficult to comprehend that you are in fact one of them. I have two children with my ex – luckily my children live with me permanently and see their father in holidays only. When we were married he paid very little attention to them – however since the divorce he phones them at least five times a week – he spoils my daughter tremendously ( golden child ) she makes him look good – she is quite beautiful and does really well at school and sports etc. She is 14 and they chat often – he takes her on expensive holidays all over the world and is being a better father than ever to her. However my son is seven – and sees his Dad only about three weeks a year ( he refuses to fly) so he misses out. But he receives so much less – my son has ADHD / anxiety and battles in school and this is seen as a criticism of my husband. We thought my son had dyslexia and my ex was adamantly denying that it may have come from him – it became quite ridiculous. The diagnosis was all my fault and bad parenting in his eyes. It was shocking actually. Luckily we live on different continents, different hemispheres so it makes it easier. He has just recently remarried and I do wonder whether all this attention on the kids is for the benefit of the new wife ? It’s difficult to know whether it’s genuine or not but what you have written here is clear. It’s a mindfcuk. It was a punch to my stomach when my psychologist told me I had been married to a narcissist for 17 years. I thought he was borderline only so was a bitter pill to swallow but has taught me so much. Your blog is helping me so much so thank you. My new partner will be moving in with me and my children in two months – will this cause an injury to my ex? I am concerned about the backlash.

  9. That #3 – “…the child has only won the race … as a consequence of our brilliance”.

    I couldn’t believe it when at our father’s birthday dinner, my sister did a toast. She basically said that if everyone thought that she was great, it was because of her dad.

    WTF???

  10. I just went through hell today w my ex regarding him seeing the kids. Thank you for explaining with out sugar coating and your being brutally honest is much appreciated. I have followed your advice thus far without implementing my own logic, judgement or reason and I can’t deny the power I regained in my life; it has been truly priceless. However I struggled when devising a game plan with my children. This is tremendously valuable.

  11. This is why I never had children. I was once a child pawn. It messed me up to this day.

    1. t., I can not even imagine. my daughter is a pawn child. As much as i love her, I often regret having her because I have already seen the pain her father has put her through. The experience is much like trying to land a plain that is going to crash. I am trying to land the plane so that there is less impact. its hard.

      1. ANN, just love her hard and she’ll be ok.
        Unfortunately both parents didn’t want me. I was the product of an affair. Nice one, huh? I might have been better off if one parent loved me.
        It sucks at 52 years old the old wounds are still there. I know it’s why I pick narcissists.

      2. T,

        It really must have been a hard life with parents like that.
        But what can you do about it now – it was their immaturity at play, not yours.
        I’d tell you to congratulate yourself for hanging in there! And to accept yourself and know that their mistakes are not your responsibility. Focus on your good traits and appreciate them in yourself with three times the power of yourself. Let the other two stare!;)

        Btw how is the volcano situation now in Hawaii? I hope you remain strong!

      3. Hi SN,
        Thank you. What you said helps me get out of my head!
        And the volcano is scary. I’m safe where I am, but people were evacuated on the other side of the island. The lava is still spewing out. It just split the earth open, swallowing homes, thank goodness people got out in time.

      4. anm,

        I’m sorry to read about your children being hurt like this. However, I think you’d be able to make the child’s existence more pleasurable if you exchanged regret for gratitude that she is here in this world, regardless of how her father behaves.
        It’s important for children to feel the support of having somebody in their life who accepts them no matter what.

        I hope it gets better for you soon!

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