When a narcissist is stressed about anything in his or her life, they take it out on their primary source of supply – and most likely, if you’re here, reading this article (or watching this video), you’re it, my friend.
You know what I mean, right? Where you’re finding yourself laying in bed, tears streaming silently backward down your cheeks and into your ears as the narcissist peacefully sleeps, whether it’s next to you or somewhere else.
Maybe you called the narcissist out on something important – or insignificant (like “hey, would you mind putting your coffee cup in the dishwasher when you’re done?”, to which s/he replies “Oh, you mean while I’m on my way out the door to go to work and make money with this family while you just sit on your ass and play with the kids all day?? I wish life was so simple for me, but you don’t care! You just don’t appreciate me. God, you used to be the coolest guy/girl I knew. You’ve changed. You’re just not the girl/guy I married. Man my life sucks. Poor me.”)
And we all know a narcissist doesn’t respond well to anything less than “omg you’re so amazing…”
So, because the narcissist is so good at reeling us in and works so hard at manipulating us to their advantage, we try at first to change ourselves and we begin to tolerate things we said we never would.
So we stop bitching. We try to be perfect. We work on gray rocking with a smile. Every now and then we still react and we always instantly regret it when we do.
And sometimes, the narcissist might let it slide. At least until you start to think you’re happy again – and that’s when he will gaslight you to the point that you become brainwashed, suicidal or otherwise miserable.
You lose your ability to care about anything else. You might neglect people and things that matter to you, all in order to avoid causing trouble with the narcissist.
You grow enmeshed with the narcissist to the level that you’re no longer even concerned about your own needs – you never use up the toothpaste or toilet paper without replacing it, and you’ll go without something you need (like glasses or medical stuff, maybe) just to give the narcissist something he or she just wants- and maybe at this point, it’s just become habit. The narcissist has taught you that you don’t deserve to come first, ever.
Worse, you kinda believe it.
The worst part of all is that the cycle continues as long as you allow it, and a part of you tries to convince yourself that you’re okay wirh it because it feels easier than “causing conflict” – for which you’ll always pay dearly.
The narcissist would be happy to keep you in perpetual suspension for his or her source of supply as long as you’ll take it.
And when a narcissist has had a bad day, she’s going to take it out in ways that healthy people would not. Like mentally and in some cases physically – and nearly always at the expense of some poor empath just trying to shine a little light in the world.
I’m not going to sugar coat here – the fact is that the narcissist does this because he or she needs to use you as their own personal emotional dumpster. Yeah I said it.
See the narcissist has an image to uphold “out there in the world” – but he also needs a way to release all his pent up crazy in private. And while a normal or healthy person might like start working out or journaling or meditating or whatever – a narcissist will need to go ahead and release all the poison and refill with supply. You know, like how a vampire will get hungry and need to suck the blood of someone in order to regain strength and vitality and in fact to stay alive.
So what do you do about it? Well, ideally, you go no contact. But that doesn’t always work in real life. Sometimes you’ve got to just suck it up and go gray rock. But if you’re still in it – living with the narcissist, for example, you ought to consider your options.
Upset your whole world for a few months, maybe, or take the chance that you will feel this way until the day you die – and spend every moment until then hating your life (or just not living). YOU decide.
Never stay for the “wolf you know.” Don’t allow yourself to believe the lies the narcissist tells you about yourself – start rewriting your own story.
Okay, it’s your turn: have you ever been in a situation like this before? How did you handle it? What advice would you offer a fellow survivor? And if you’re “still in it,” tell me what you’re going to do next – or what you’re struggling with today. Share your thoughts in the comments and let’s discuss it.
We all know some amazing people who are the best step-parents they could be, right? You know the ones – they’re the moms and dads they “didn’t have to be.” But what happens when you’re dealing with a toxic step-parent? Well, that’s a whole other experience.
What happens when your child’s other parent, or YOUR parent, marries a narcissist?
I’m starting off by answering a question from two YouTube viewers named Nikki B and 57goku who ask:
“Can you do a video on narcissists and step children?”
What is a toxic, malignant narcissist?
A narcissist, in general, someone with a high opinion of him/herself. In narcissistic abuse situations, this refers to a toxic, verbally (and sometimes physically) abusive person who may have narcissistic personality disorder. A malignant narcissist,on the other hand, is someone who has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) along with antisocial features, paranoid traits, and ego-driven aggression. They may also exhibit an absence of conscience, a psychological need for power, and an inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement.
Defining Narcissistic Step-Parents
How can you tell you’re dealing with a narcissistic step-parent? First of all, we’re not talking about a new step-parent who just needs to get used to his or her new family – a healthy person won’t have the issues we’re about to discuss.
We’re talking about a narcissistic stepmother who intentionally plots her way into the heart and mind of a man who has kids – or the narcissistic stepfather who gets jealous when his wife pays attention to her own kids instead of him, for example.
These kinds of narcissists are especially toxic because they get into the marriage for all the wrong reasons – often money or status – and who will let no ex-husband or ex-wife (let alone KIDS) get in the way of getting what they want.
For women, they often cement their role the way many female narcissists do – sex. First, they’re friendly and warm with both their men and their stepkids, listening to their every problem and concern and becoming irreplaceable in their lives.
When the marriage is still fresh and new and the family is still on their best behavior, the narc step-parent might seem to really be devoted to the kids. S/he nice, s/he’s polite and she generally pretends s/he’s interested in their lives.
As the kids start to become more comfortable, though, so does the “evil” stepmom or dad, and then things start to get rough.
Once they get their hooks thoroughly in place, narcissistic step-moms and step-dads will pull the old switcheroo and show their true narcissistic face – and no matter how good-looking they are, that is ONE UGLY FACE.
And often, when it comes to the “real” parent, s/he can’t see a problem with his new spouse – they can do no wrong in their eyes. Sometimes a natural parent even gets in on the deal by becoming – a narcissistic step-parent’s flying monkey – willingly or not.
How Kids Experience Narcissistic Step-Parents
Everybody takes their family for granted, sometimes, because that’s how human nature goes. But when you’re being raised by a narcissist, it’s a whole other ball of wax – and narcissistic step-parents can sometimes be even more traumatic for a kid because they may replace a “regular” parent (one who isn’t a narcissist).
As far as kids see it, there are several signs of a narcissistic step-parent – though they won’t know the label, they’ll have experienced such as the following.
Step-parent uses the kids. They will take advantage of the children and others in their lives without a second thought – s/he expects everyone, including your kids, to cater to him or her and doesn’t mind exploiting them when it suits him or her.
Step-parent loves the spotlight. You already know that narcissists want and need to be the center of attention. When a kid shines, a narc step-parent will feel slighted and feel like the kid is throwing shade their way – and this can lead to him or her throwing a bunch of narcissistic rage or narcissistic injury on your child’s head.
Step-parent has awesome moments. You might not have expected me to note this, but there are some pretty cool things about narcissists when they’re in their element. That’s why every now and then, you might find one hanging out with the kids and bonding like nobody’s business. He or she might also tell fantastic stories. That’s because a lot of narcissists have an imagination like no one’s business – their ambition and self-interest borders on unrealistic, making them perfect playmates under the right circumstances. But the flip side of that is that these times become rare or even non-existent when a narc step-parent becomes comfortable enough in the family to “let it all hang out.”
Step-parent ignores the child and is not sympathetic to him/her at all. Since narcs don’t experience empathy, it’s common for them to disregard how others feel – and this will confuse your kid. At the same time, narc step-parents will be incredibly sensitive in their OWN feelings and will expect everyone, even the smallest children, to share his/her concern. Which brings me to my next point…
Step-parent throws a fit and over-punishes your child for “disrespecting” or otherwise annoying him or her. Sometimes, your kid will be standing there in utter shock while a narcissistic step-parent rages against him for some perceived sense of being disrespected or annoyed by them. Or maybe the narc felt criticized. This will inevitably lead to the step-parent throwing off an inordinate amount of anger, right at your child – and if you don’t jump in and back him or her up – you can guarantee that you’ll be in trouble. But if you do, your kid feels betrayed by the one person who’s supposed to protect him or her. And god forbid you try to stand up for your baby – that’ll cost you BIGTIME. But you might do it anyway because you’d rather let the pain rain down on you, right?
Step-parent isn’t present much. Since a narc needs so much “narcissistic supply” from people both inside and outside the family, the kids will often feel like other parents hang with their families more than theirs. And the kicker? A narc step-parent is also more likely to make the natural parent spend less time with their kids because, as always, they want all of the attention on themselves – and they resent anyone or anything that stands in their way.
Step-parent only interacts with kids on their terms. A narc step-parent won’t be bothered with learning about what your kids enjoy – they’ll only do things with them if THEY enjoy those things. If the kid enjoys them, great. If not, no problem for the narc. And if the kid has the nerve to complain – out comes the old narcissistic rage or narcissistic injury.
Step-parent never gives kids what they really need. Even if the narc step-parent provides for your kid on a material level, your kid will feel deprived on a whole other level – the emotional one. If the kid needs attention and affection (which every child does), the narc may give it but only sporadically – and only when it benefits the narc.
You need to help your child come to terms with how they’ve been hurt by this step-parent and how they can move forward.
You have to understand that your kid may have suffered on a level you can’t fully understand.
How do the kids deal with a narcissist step-parent on their own?
Sometimes, they’ll band together other kids and team up “against” the narc and emotionally support one another – or older kids will begin to protect the younger ones, taking all the pain on themselves to prevent it from raining down on them.
Other times, they’ll spend less time at home and they’ll eventually leave home earlier than they might’ve.
What are the effects of a narcissistic step-parent on the kids?
Narcissistic step parents can have profound effects on your kids. For example, each time their natural parent sides against them with a step-parent, the kid feels like they’re left standing alone and they’ll have feelings of betrayal and abandonment.
A lot of adults who had narcissistic step-parents report that they felt like their parent was “taken away” by the step-parent or that they lost their childhoods and the deep care and love of a “real” parent.
Some go into psychotherapy and mourn the loss of their parent and to deal with those feelings of abandonment and betrayal.
How does this affect the narcissistic step-parent?
Sadly, the narcissistic step-parent will feel little guilt for alienating and sometimes even completely destroying the relationship between parent and child – because, as they see it, they’ve “won” the attention game. And when the kids are adults, the narcissistic step-parent will celebrate.
Worse, some will repeat this pattern with multiple families.
What does dealing with a narcissist step-parent do to your child?
As your child grows older, they may even be at risk of becoming a narcissist themselves. While that applies more to men than women, women are more likely to BECOME VICTIMS themselves. In either case, you don’t want that for your kid, right?
How can you protect your kids from a narcissistic step-parent?
Start by helping yourself. Let me explain what I mean.
First, recognize that emotional abuse will leave scars you can’t see – but the long-term effects are REAL, and the pain goes on long after the relationship ends.
Recognize your own feelings – you might have a lot of guilt, or intense grief, disbelief, or even just plain old pain. You might feel really ashamed of allowing your kids to get tangled up with your narc spouse (or ex-spouse). And you know that when you were being abused by the narcissist, you were probably not as good of a parent as you wanted to be.
Maybe you were just emotionally unavailable, or maybe you just know that your kids heard and saw way too much in the way of arguments and abuse – and in seeing the state you wound up in when all was said and done.
And recognize that your kids might have seen you as helpless or crazy – or maybe just totally powerless.
If you pull the old “self-sacrificing parent” deal and end up not taking care of yourself, you’re providing a not-so-awesome example of how to lay down and take it. I’m sorry for the harshness, but please know that it’s tough love.
You have to heal your kids by healing yourself. Period.
Finally, be an ear for your kids – listen to their concerns, their fears, and their successes – and validate them appropriately. Don’t overcompensate; you won’t be doing them any favors – but DO be genuine with them and ensure that you actually validate them on an emotional and psychological level whenever possible. Make sure they know that YOU KNOW that they are REAL people who have REAL value – you feel me?
Question of the Day:Have you dealt with a narcissistic step-parent, either as a child or as a spouse? How’d you handle it, and what advice would you offer someone who is dealing with it right now? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below this video. You never know whose life you might change by doing so.