Thoughts on this post? Share them with me on Facebook, join the SPANily or Tweet me at @angieatkinson. ~Angie

My greatest joys in life are (hands down) my children. Since the day each was born, my entire focus was making sure they were nurtured and FELT loved and valued. I was determined that they would have the ego I always wanted for myself. Name the activity and they did it. I had a simple plan: I was going to be THE BEST PARENT EVER!!

Enter the narcissist.

By the time I realized what kind of relationship iIwas dealing with, certain unintentional, unwanted behavioral changes began to rear their ugly heads.

In my case, my son (who had more exposure to the narc than my daughters) is definitely more introverted than my daughters. He struggles in the area of self esteem and confidence.

My ex had a bully side to him (shocking right?) and while he would often verbally abuse my son, I always thought I was protecting him  (and thus wiping out any negative impact of his words) by telling the narcissist, “don’t talk to him like that.” But looking back now, I realize that “sticking up” for my son was not a replacement for zero exposure.

My three daughters, on the other hand, are the complete opposite. They’re three very strong, very self aware women who don’t need validation from others.  I’m guessing this may be because they saw the toll this has taken on me and have decided they want better for themselves (thankfully).

For years, I was wracked with guilt over all this. After all, I brought this mess and chaos into their lives.

With the help of therapy and the lifting of the fog, I can now see that, yes they’ve been changed, but he never touched their spirit; he never touched their hearts.  For that I am grateful.  As parents, we do the best we can given our circumstances. Probably one of the hardest parts of parenting that no one tells us is learning to forgive ourselves.

Thankfully, my children forgave me long before I forgave myself. Have you noticed a difference in your children pre or post toxic relationship?

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