Learning about Narcissism, Pathology and Personality Disorders at a YOUNG age

A few of the things that I think are blessings in disguise in the situation of having to co-parent with a narcissist are:

1.  My children will learn how to recognize personality disordered individuals early through experience.  I firmly believe that we are all born with a fairly high level of intuition, and that it degrades over time as we use brains and reasoning over intuition.  I hope to be able to keep my children’s intuition in tact.  I ask them regularly how they felt about something.  I ask them to “tummy check” things.  Does it feel like a red flag?  Did it feel good when their dad said that, for example?  (ever notice that sometimes, oftentimes, the awful degrading comment is said in disguise?  “oh, your mom is sooo good about making cakes from a cake mix!  Aren’t they wonderful??”).  So I ask my kids… did it FEEL good to hear that?  Does it FEEL good to be around that person? I ask that about various people – adults and children that show up in their lives.  Heed the little red flag in our stomachs.  When something doesn’t feel right… it probably isn’t.

I also let them point out and discover what doesn’t work about their relationship with their dad, and then affirm what they observe.  It’s not the same as putting down or degrading my ex.  It’s like this… my son says “I like kid food. Daddy only makes grown up food, and I hate the grown up food that he makes!!  He doesn’t care about what we like to eat.”  I don’t deny that this is how my son feels, because it is what he is observing and feeling about his dad.  If I deny it and try to tell him it’s all okay, then I’m literally lowering his level of emotional intelligence (see my books section for one by Daniel Gotman).  If I confirm how he feels.. “wow. you’ve noticed that your dad only makes grown up food and you really don’t like it.  I’m sorry that is what is happening.”.  Now, he’s felt EMPATHY (something my ex cannot provide) and CONFIRMATION that he read the situation correctly.  And… I didn’t have to say anything – they figured it out themselves.

2. My children will learn early on that not everyone can be TRUSTED and that they need to pay close attention to that.  This stems from a sad story… one which I really which my daughter didn’t have to learn this early.  Here’s what happened… I left her stay home from school one day.  She had been sad, despondent, crying a lot, having great difficulty focusing on homework.  They spent their winter break at their Dad’s, and she really took notice this year about how she felt he took that time from her.  Even her teacher said that she seemed out of sorts.

For anyone here reading this… you know that this is a breading ground for a major issue.  And silly me.. I simply forgot to tell my daughter that she probably shouldn’t mention to her ivy-league dad that she missed a day of school.  So… she did.  She tells me how she was a ‘chatterbox” with him the other night (nervous talking maybe?) and that she shared with him how she stayed home from school, and all the funny/awesome things we did that day, etc etc.  Gulp.  So I told her… flat out and honestly… Daddy gets mad at me for almost everything.  I wish that she could share things like that with him and it wouldn’t matter, but with him… it does.  It’s the kind of thing that he will use to say that I’m a bad mom, and that they shouldn’t be with me because I don’t do a good job taking them to school.

Since she is aware of us going to court and a judge deciding how they have to spend their time, it is okay to say this as she (unfortunately) has the context to understand it.    She then says “But here’s the thing, Mom… Daddy was being so nice!! When I bowled a spare, he said I was great!!.  When I spilled my drink by accident, he said it was okay., etc etc.”.

“Yes, honey, I’m sure he was being nice!  He was happy because you were telling him things that he could use to get me in trouble!”  I then had to explain that it was a hard lesson for me to understand as an grown up… but sometimes people use what you say against you, and you can’t just trust everyone even if they seem like they are being nice.

So, in short… I hope and I pray that my kids will know, without question… when to trust, when not to trust, and what the face of pathology looks and feels like.  And they will be all the smarter as a result.

 


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