A Valuable Lesson for Daughter of Narcissist

“Information is Power”, right?  Sharing information isn’t really something I thought very much about, however, until I met my ex and his family.  I remember myself the first day my ex and his sister told me not to tell something to their parents (also narcissistic, controlling parents).  Since my parents were the “love you no matter what” type, we always had very open communication.  The idea of withholding information was VERY foreign to me.

In the land of narcissistic parents, however…it’s a golden rule.

For my 8 year old daughter, despite all the negative things that her father does to her, she also wants his approval.  In typical narcissistic style – the negative, yelling, insulting, cursing and  hitting is blamed on her and her behavior.  She has said to me “is that the kind of father you want?”  No, of course not, and I am so so sorry that this is the father I picked for you.

When she saw her father last night, she shared some information about her schoolwork with him, having crumbled against his constant pressure to tell him how she is doing.  She shared, unfortunately, that she is in the lowest group in spelling in the class.  There are three levels – meaning of course, that 30% of the kids are there.  However, he then takes that opportunity to set his expectations that she needs to be doing better.  Sure she does… but she knows that and she doesn’t need his pressure. (Plus, I think that there may be an auditory issue there that I’ve been noticing – however – he will only ever consider that it is lack of effort and not some other good reason which is holding her back).

My daughter and I talked about it today.  I told her that she needs to learn what she tells her dad and how he uses that information.  She made a perfect score on her spelling test this week.  I suggested that she tell him she made a perfect score, and that she shouldn’t have told him that she was in the lowest group.  That way, he would’ve been excited about her perfect score and she would have felt good about herself.  Also, he wouldn’t continue to pester her as  he will now that he knows that she is in the lowest group.  From here out – it will be continued questions about moving ahead, and is she ‘promoted’ to the next level group yet… etc etc.  I asked her to have peace that she has one parent and family side who “loves her no matter what”, and know that she just can’t share information the same way with her father and his family.  We even so much as discussed that her aunt, who seems safe, may very well also tell her father & her grandparents.  So as much as she wants her aunt to be a safe person to tell – she’s not.

At 8 years young… the lessons of managing a narcissistic parent so she retains her sanity have begun.

10 Responses to “A Valuable Lesson for Daughter of Narcissist”

  1. Stassy says:

    My daughter is fourteen years old and she is hating going to her fathers house. She gets upset days in advance. He married a woman just like him and they show my daughter no attention. However, she has to watch tv with them (she hates reality tv), and has a ton of stupid rules. They criticize her and call her a liar (she is not), and make her feel like a piece of dirt. However, he lets her know that it hurts his feelings when she doesn’t want to go. She stayed with me a couple of times, because of sickness etc.
    It hurts me so much when he hurts her and makes her feel unworthy. She is not allowed to say she is hungry, or bored, or ask for food. What can I do to support her? Do I explain that her father is narcisstic?

    • Hi Stassy, It is frustrating to me to listen to a 14 year old who has to deal with unwanted visitation time. I also feel really annoyed when I hear how the parent’s “feelings” are hurt. A healthier parent would ask why the child doesn’t want to go, try to change what bothers the child, respect what the child wants to do, preferences, etc. It’s not about how the parent feels about it!

      As far as telling her he is narcissistic, my personal opinion is that there is an opportunity to validate how she feels about the situation, that the way he’s treating her is selfish in nature (e.g. making her watch reality shows). Your daughter can talk and you can affirm that this isn’t the way a healthy relationship should work. She is at the age where her interest in boys is going to grow, and teen dating is an important time to learn what a healthy relationship looks like. You can talk to her about healthy relationships, and pull some information from various websites (like loveisrespect.org). From that, she will draw her own conclusions about her father. If questioned, you can always outwardly let her know you can explain the issues that he has to deal with when she gets older (in a compassionate way) but also emphasize that she isn’t responsible for making sure her dad is happy, or feels good. He’s the adult, she’s the child.. it’s the other way around and it’s the parent’s role to help the child to process emotions.

      Do you see what I mean in that you can deliver information to her that she needs for life anyway, and it doesn’t have to be a total ‘dad-bashing’ moment?

  2. anon says:

    I’m sorry but 23 years of walking on eggshells, my mother did exactly what you described here – what this does validated him and made me feel like his misbehavior was my fault, that it was my responsibility to not speak out, to not show weakness.
    I became terminator, i was robot strong, emotional steel, and achievement obsessed.
    This exact behavior has broken our relationship, and I can even look my mother in the eye. I know she made a mistake, but it is a huge mistake and will take many, many, many years for reconciliation, because i don’t event trust the people I love and the people who love me to help me.

    On the other hand 23 years of tyranny – I can barely stand to type the word “father” without deep emotional disgust, let alone the D-word I can’t even

    • Stacey says:

      Thanks for the response. I don’t want to daddybash, but trying to explain the way he is. You make a good point though. Today she was calling her father stuoid and I corrected her for it. I do remind her that his upbringing was very difficult,and that affects his parenting, but at the same time there are certain behaviors that are wrong.

  3. JenelleMarie says:

    I will admit at first reading this went against everything in my gut as a mother, almost screaming at me. But it is SO true and you are dead on. Sigh. It’s the very last thing we want for our children. But we are forced to be proactive and teach our children adult coping mechanisms and sometimes I personally struggle with this the most. I fear of creating enablers in my children, but how you had a convo with her about safe adults that really is a GREAT tool to bring this full circle. Quite frankly we can’t protect our children from the ‘bad’ people that will come into their lives, and if they are able to decipher young who is healthy/unhealthy or bad/good hopefully they will steer clear of those similar to their dads.

    Also, in regards to contact. Are you all forced by court order to maintain contact via text? We do not have anything in our stipulation except that I would maintain open communication for him and the children so I stopped texting a few months ago. I have to say, it has been the healthiest thing I have done for myself. He has learned that he may only contact me via email (i wont always answer my phone for him and usually let it go to voicemail and then will respond via email asking what he needed if he left a message about something of importance) and i blocked his phone number from being able to text me. He has become MUCH more careful in how he harasses me (though he still does it, just not as much and now it’s in email) and i no longer feel as if i am constantly at his beck and call of gunfire (he would text at any hour of the day and night before). May be worth it for others if they are able to legally.

    • I agree that it stinks to have to provide this instruction to my kids. I actually thought my daughter would have learned through her own experiences to be careful about what she shares with him. She actually works hard to do her homework at times that are not with her dad.

      Re: texting… gosh, no – there isn’t anything in our court order on how we have to communicate, other than we are ordered to use a parent coordinator (by name, but he stepped down with some encouragement 🙂 My ex is a non-communicator and uses that for power. He wasn’t the kind who did the really long nastygram emails. He was nasty in email (or text) but didn’t do the stereotypical long winded insanity. It seems a lot of narcissist types harass through communicating frequently through any means possible. However, my ex hardly ever checks email, and his voicemail is perpetually full from creditors calling him. Even when it’s not full – he doesn’t check voicemail either. In the past, people trying to get in touch with him would call me because of his lack of response. So, for me – text is the best bet to get him to answer me regarding our kids.

      It sounds like you have a process that is really working for you. I also agree about letting phone calls go to voicemail, as it gives the chance to learn what they are calling about and think about the response rather than getting caught with a request to respond on the spot.

  4. Heather says:

    So my experience is that this runs in families and NONE of the ones around my kids are emotionally safe to expose vulnerability to. They are all personality disordered.

    Have you been familiarized with Brene Brown? She is sort of the antidote for narcissism. She’s a researcher on shame/vunlerability. Very brilliant and down to earth. Of course real human relationships are based on the ability to be vulnerable and NPD/axis 2 people can’t do that. So of course their kids can’t do it with them…

    My four year old came back to me the other day. She cuddled next to me and said, “You’re the one who takes care of us.” I said, “Doesn’t daddy take care of you?” She said, “Sometimes.” My oldest daughter (age 6) goes up to her and says, “I’ll take care of you when daddy doesn’t.”

    I don’t know what else to do. I feel this is the best we can be. When I ask for phone contact, he manipulates it so that the girls have to feel bad to talk to their mother. He’s so toxic. Bleah. I can only hope that someday the girls are strong enough to say they don’t want to overnight there.

    • My two children have had that same conversation and are very aware that they are taking care of each other while they are there. At this point, they are also aware that they are care-taking their father (role reversal). My daughter is even made to help fold his laundry. We also have the same thing with phone contact – and had a recent weekend with a big blow up at the kids where they had to fight hard to be able to call. They have their own phone with them, but are too scared to sneak in a call. We’ve also had instances where both their father and his father (different times) have taken the phone out of their hands and either yelled at me or hung up on me. It is truly a matter of trying to mitigate the best we can now vs. repair more later. Thanks for the tip on Brene Brown – I’m going to look her up!

  5. Jenni says:

    I’m fairly new to your blog and love it. I was that 8 year old daughter and now have a 10 year-old one of my own. The desire for paternal approval is so overwhelming for us girls, sometimes. Then, if you marry someone who is similar to your father, that need for approval transfers very nicely to a new person and, often, intensifies.

    Do you have any posts about attempting to reduce contact? Could use one right now. 🙂 Thanks.

    • Hi Jenni – that’s one of my daughter’s therapy goals – to avoid an abusive relationship when she’s older! I can pull together what I’ve read about reducing contact and post over the weekend. The biggest I can think of now is to consider what emails or text even need responses. Do what you can to force contact into email and not the phone or in person. Keep a third party around you when exchanging children so the third party has contact, not you (ask a neighbor or friend. neighbors are easiest). If you need to respond to an email – answer only the question that needs a response and ignore all else. If you feel you must respond and there’s no particular question, simply write back “email received. no response necessary.” Also – I use “back up to gmail” – an app on the android phone (not sure if it’s available on iphone) which sends a copy of all my texts and MMS to me in email, automatically archived. That way, it is there as evidence since text is phone based and can be lost. More soon…

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