Common Step Family Problems: Triangulation

Common Step Family Problems: Triangulation

“Yours, mine and ours” makes for an amusing movie plot, but it doesn’t assure a harmonious home. With so many different kinds of families these days, you would think we’d know how to make it work, but we don’t.

It’s a challenge to be a stepparent, no matter how good your intentions are. Maybe we’ve seen too many “wicked stepmother” stories that there’s an assumption of the stepparent as being the enemy. As soon as a new “parent’ arrives in the family, the children start carving out territory.

Then the adults get in on the act. Before long, the battle lines are drawn. As the kids struggle to defeat the stepparent, their biological parent is emotionally torn between kids and new spouse.

Is Step-Parenting Driving a Wedge Between Your Family?

Psychotherapists have a name for it: “triangulation.” And even when you’re not dealing with a narcissist in the family, you might have to deal with it. So let’s talk about triangulation, shall we?

Think of a triangle with three sides. That’s what’s happening in the classic step-parenting drama: you, your spouse and kids are triangulating on every issue. It’s just constant upheaval in the home.

Kids always try to come between their parents. As early as two years old, humans instinctively know the principle of “divide and conquer.”

When the parents are divorced and there’s a stepparent in the home, the game gets more intense.

Now the kids have a strong basis to create division, the old “blood is thicker than water” principle. And it’s natural for a parent to rise to the defense of his or her child.

But when that’s a husband defending his child against his wife, the stepparent, it’s setting up a huge conflict on two fronts – spousal and parental.

The All-Important Necessity for a Healthy Family: A United Parental Front

In step parenting as well as traditional parenting, the spouses must find agreement and present a united front to the children. Even if they disagree, the couple must agree to disagree in private out of ear range of the children.

Never let the children know that they can divide you, because they will attack like hungry predators. The couple must also decide who disciplines whose children. There needs to be basic rules that can be applied by parent or stepparent.

Then the kids know that there’s no appealing for a reprieve. Break basic rules and the consequences apply equally. That also gives the stepparent authority that the parent will back up.

Step parenting is challenging enough on a good day. The couple has to remember that strengthening and affirming their commitment to each other is the best way to create family unity. The step family is only as strong as the marriage.

If you’re dealing with a toxic stepparent, the stakes change. Read more about toxic stepparents, here.

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Symptoms and Risk Factors of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Symptoms and Risk Factors of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

You might already be aware of everything you need to know about identifying toxic relationships and how to spot a narcissist – or someone who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Today, we’re going to discuss WHY people become narcissists.

How and Why People Become Narcissists

What are the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, the official list of symptoms is as follows.

  • Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerating your achievements and talents
  • Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
  • Requiring constant admiration
  • Having a sense of entitlement
  • Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
  • Taking advantage of others to get what you want
  • Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Being envious of others and believing others envy you
  • Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner


Today, let’s dive a little deeper and discuss symptoms and risk factors of NPD.

Identifying Narcissistic Personality Disorder

How do you know it’s NPD?

As you can guess from the official list of symptoms above, a diagnosis of NPD would typically be made when five or more of the characteristics are identified – but generally, the condition goes undiagnosed because narcissists see nothing wrong with their behavior.

People who are involved with narcissists and those who have NPD typically report the following kinds of behaviors and characteristics – do we see a pattern?

  • The belief that he or she is “special” and the desire to only associate with people he or she perceives are on their wavelength or who will “appreciate” them.
  • The need for excessive admiration from those around him or her.
  • The expectation of especially favorable treatment and automatic agreement by people around him or her.
  • The exploitation of others around them for their own benefit or advancement.
  • Inability to empathize with others.
  • Feels envious of others, but also feels that others are envious of him or her.
  • Acts arrogant, and may try to disguise arrogance with ethics.
  • Displays an exaggerated sense of self-importance and is typically extremely judgmental.

How to Identify Narcissistic Personality DIsorder

People with NPD are good at making those around them, especially people who don’t know them intimately, believe that they are something special. Family members of people dealing with NPD will typically find themselves trying to please him or her, and feeling guilty if they fail. They may even be afraid of how the person with NPD will react if their desires can’t be met or if they are defied in some way.

Risk Factors for NPD: Why People Become Narcissists

People always ask how narcissistic personality disorder develops in a person. They want to know: how are narcissists created? How do narcissists become narcissists? Does narcissism develop as a result of nurture or nature? 

According to some researchers, NPD may be developed when a parent fails to act empathetically toward the sufferer during his or her infancy. This is common among those born to very young parents or those born to mothers who suffer from postpartum depression or psychosis.

Kids who don’t feel safe during childhood or who suffered from a lack of affection and parental praise may also develop NPD, as can those who were neglected and emotionally abused.

Related: Researchers Blame Mom for Narcissistic Kids

Those who live in unpredictable situations and who feel they cannot rely on their parents are also at risk, as are those who are learning manipulative behavior from their parents.

When this happens, the child gets sort of emotionally “stuck” at an early stage of development and while they may later understand logically that others exist and have real feelings and needs, they may not ever fully embrace it emotionally. While a “normal” child will usually develop feelings of empathy for others around them by the time they hit kindergarten, those suffering from NPD never do–leaving them to become adults with the empathic capacity of an infant.

Want to know more? Get a more detailed explanation of attachment theory and how attachment style creates narcissists (as well as codependents) in this video. 

Here are some other videos you might like to watch to better understand narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder:

More on Narcissistic Signs and Traits: The Truth About Narcissists & NPD – Understanding the psychology of narcissists and self-help for those who have been in relationships with narcissists.

Learn how narcissistic personality disorder is diagnosed. 

Are you dealing with narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship?

Need support in your recovery from narcissistic abuse? If you’re dealing with a malignant narcissist or someone with narcissistic personality disorder, you’ll definitely heal faster with the right kind of support. Which one is right for you? Here are a few options.

Still not sure? Take our narcissistic abuse recovery program test and find out which option is best for you!

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Do you know someone with narcissistic personality disorder? Take our self-assessment to gain insight into your situation.

Estate Planning: You MUST Do These Things Before Getting Old

Estate Planning: You MUST Do These Things Before Getting Old

Estate Planning – You MUST Do These Things Before Getting Old!!!

Before you get too old. Do your kids a big big big favor and tell them elderly-couple-holding-handsa few simple things that will make life easier for them and yourself.  Don’t wait until it is too late to take care of your finances.  Start now!  

After spending the last few weeks trying to help my husband sort through his elderly parent’s finances I have come to realize that we must take care of this stuff before we get old and not after.  Countless calls to a lawyer and many grey hairs later I am ready to share with you my list of things that you should do before getting old.    

Estate Planning

~ Where your money is – What bank? Do you have more than one bank? Put their name on your accounts. (Yes, all of them!)
~ Who to contact for life insurance – Also, how much is the policy worth? Does it have a cash value in case you have medical expenses and your kids can draw against it?
~If you have long term care and who it is through – How much does the policy pay per day? Who do you contact in order to get it started? How long is the grace period?
~ Where your annuities are located – Put your kids name on the annunities and your IRA.
~ If you have CDs at the bank – How much are they worth and what bank.
~ Where your investments are and who to call to access them – Do you have more than one investment? Maybe stocks and bonds?
~ Where the car titles are and where the deed to the house is kept – Put your kid’s names on the title to the home as well as the car, boat, motorcycle, and that piece of land you bought and never got around to building on.
~ Write up your will and decide on a power of attorney and give a copy to the bank, your doctor, and lawyer.
~ Give your kids copies of your insurance cards along with doctor information.
~ Have a living will? You should!

estate-planning

Don’t leave your family to spend night after night trying to decipher what’s what in your life and where to go next for answers. You might not realize how much of a hassle all this can be but save your family the trouble. They are already going through you being sick or dead don’t let them do all this stuff too!!!!

Help a New Mom: Can I Still Breastfeed My Baby After All THIS?

Help a New Mom: Can I Still Breastfeed My Baby After All THIS?

Did you know breastfeeding isn’t for everyone? Well, believe it or not breastfeeding is not as easy as it looks! And this new mom could really use some help from some of you more experienced ones out there. 

My Crazy Breastfeeding Attempts, Tongue Tie and ‘Helpful’ Nurses

Human-Male-White-Newborn-Baby-CryingWhile I was pregnant, I was so excited to breastfeed and have that bonding experience with my son.

Well as it turns out, in the hospital my son was having trouble latching on to my breast.

No one even mentioned that there was such a thing as a tongue tie.

And it kind of pisses me off, because if they had, I could have had them clip it in order to have that bonding experience with my son.

Instead the nurses told me to start supplementing, because he was losing to much weight. And being kinda new to this whole mother thing – I did what they said. 

Ever since I have been trying to get my supply up. By pumping pumping pumping.

In fact I even purchased three different pumps in order to find the best one for my breast.

I was also eating lactation cookies, staying away from caffeine. The whole nine yards. None of it was working. I was devastated that I was only able to feed my baby formula.

That’s when I decided to…

Stop concerning my self so much about it, and to try to believe that it might just come naturally, And instead of pumping, to actually put him to the breast to feed. And just see where that got me.

So as of now, I’m working hard to get my supply up and still having that skin to skin mouth to breast time, regardless if he is getting any milk or not. So far, so good. 

I could really use some advice – can anyone help me out? Have you had to try to re-lactate before? How’d you do it? What tips can you offer? Thanks in advance.

Share your breastfeeding experiences down below!

Are you married to a narcissist? 12 easy ways to know for sure

Are you married to a narcissist? 12 easy ways to know for sure

How do you know if you’re married to a narcissist? How can you tell if your spouse is a narcissist, or if they’re just unwittingly submitting to their own trauma? Can they heal, or is your marriage doomed to be toxic forever? Married or not, if you’ve ever been in a sexual or romantic relationship with a narcissist, you might already understand that they often seem to be more interested in sex and pleasure than actual emotional intimacy.

It isn’t quite that simple, though, because some narcissists – specifically those of a more covert and/or cerebral nature, actually tend to reject sexual experiences, and are less likely to cheat on a partner – but more likely to slide under the radar of even their own victims.

Narcissists, Intimacy and Sex in Marriage

In fact, narcissists and those diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) “are more likely to philander and dump their partners than people who view important parts of a relationship,” according to psychologist Ilan Shrira.

“Narcissists have a heightened sense of sexuality, but they tend to view sex very differently than other people do,” said Shrira, whose 2006 study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. “They see sexuality more in terms of power, influence and as something daring, in contrast to people with low narcissistic qualities who associated sex more with caring and love.”

That’s why some narcissists tend to bounce from one relationship to the next—and most often, the relationships don’t last long and they don’t involve much emotional intimacy.

Lack of Emotional Intimacy and Connection in Toxic Relationships

“Even when they’re in a relationship, they always seem to be on the lookout for other partners and searching for a better deal,” Shrira said after the study. “Whether that’s because of their heightened sexuality or because they think multiple partners enhance their self-image isn’t entirely clear.”

Narcissists typically have an inflated sense of their own level of importance and they expect people around them to admire them and cater to them.

They often appear to have an overblown ego and can be very charming if they choose to be.

12 Signs You’re Married to a Narcissist

According to authors Steven Carter and Julia Sokol in their book Help! I’m in Love with a Narcissist, there are ways to know if your significant other is a narcissist.

@coachangieatkinson##topsigns You’re ##marriedtoanarcissist ##narcissisticabuserecoverycoaching ##toxicrelationships ##toxicrelationshipcheck ##queenbeeing ##npd

♬ original sound – Angie Atkinson

They are as follows:

  1. It feels like you’re the one doing most of the “work” in the relationship.
  2. Your partner does things to sabotage the relationship and prevent it from moving forward—but doesn’t want to let you go either.
  3. Your partner could have a history of troubled relationships and/or addictions.
  4. Your partner has episodes of excessive and often unjustified anger— sometimes even infidelity—and he or she somehow makes it all your fault.
  5. You feel emotionally exhausted, often completely drained, by how hard you have to work to make or keep your partner happy.
  6. The relationship is mostly focused around your partner’s interests and activities. When it’s not, there will be an ugly argument or outburst.
  7. You feel controlled or manipulated by your partner’s moods to the point that you might feel like you’re walking on eggshells all the time, a slave to his or her whims.
  8. You might find yourself covering up, explaining, or apologizing for his or her behavior.
  9. Your partner might make one-sided decisions that impact your safety and well-being.
  10. You might feel unsafe by some of the actions your partner takes.
  11. Your partner will refuse to see your good intentions, always blaming you for every situation, always making you admit you’re wrong, even when that’s not the case.
  12. You sometimes find yourself desperately trying to remember the times when your partner showed love for you, acted like you could do no wrong—often this is in the early parts of the relationship.

Narcissistic Abuse in Marriage: Recovery Support & Resources

If you feel you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional who is trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist. You have to decide what to do from here – if you’re not sure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation. It’s totally free.

More Free, Helpful Information & Resources to Help 

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