Kids Of Divorce and The Narcissist Family

My college kids are having a tough time navigating their relationship with their dad who is mostly absent.  It doesn’t help that his mommy has stuck her narcissistic snout into their relationship often and as her son’s biggest fan, feels the need to berate my kids into feeling sorry for their dad because he works and is too busy to text them (her excuse as to why he’s so absent).  She’s manipulated the kids to the point that they are tired of feeling put upon and guilty – even though they have nothing to do with how their dad acts with them.  It’s his narcissistic choice to be absent.  Because, believe me, they want their dad in their lives.  It is he who has chosen to leave them behind.

But it’s coming to a head here because the kids are beginning to see behind the woven lies and manipulations, but there’s still that thread of it’s Dad, that keeps them bound to him and his family.  And I get it.  I understand because I stayed quiet and didn’t stand up myself many times because his mom in particular was so adept at manipulation.  Having been raised by narcissists and then married into a passel of them unknowingly, I’ve finally opened my eyes to truth and my kids’ eyes are beginning to open as well.

Of course, I just want to lay it all out on the line, tell them what I know, what my experiences were and help them to put the whole damn relationship to bed once and for all.  But it’s not my place to do that so I listen as they talk with me.  I advise gently, but I don’t cross the line because it has to be in their time that they choose how to deal with the whole mess.  They’re not little anymore.  They’re becoming men.  But as their Mom, it’s hard to watch.

I remember my ex-MIL telling me that I was acting like my old self once after we had talked long after her son left us.  My response then (and still is), I haven’t changed at all.  I’m still me – authentically Janie.  But, I didn’t understand what she meant until recently.  I was being nice (because that’s who I am) so she took it as I was back under their control as I’d been for more than two decades of marriage.  But really, my being nice has nothing to do with it.  I can play the game, not as well as she, but I now know how to let her think she’s on top of the relationship situation so that she’s comfortable.  It keeps the peace.  I keep going back to that line – Do I want to be happy or right?  I always choose happy because I already know I’m right and she’ll never admit it.  So why waste my breath?

I can’t compete in the narcissist world and I don’t even want to try to understand it.  Because the rules change, the lies continue and the shred of truth is absent most of the time.  And I don’t want to live that way.  And I don’t deserve it…and neither do you!


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29 Responses to Kids Of Divorce and The Narcissist Family

  1. LA says:

    Oh I can so relate to this post. You write all the things I often feel.


  2. I too had the same ex-MIL. Fortunately, she has been out of mine and my son’s lives for 2.5 years now.


  3. Trust me Janie the day will come when your children will tell you they know exactly who their dad is,they won’t like him but they will still love and accept him! Meanwhile it’s a shame that he and his family can’t emigrate, but not to England please 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Create Space says:

    You are doing everything you can! Just try to fit in lots of self care and your boys will follow your example. Hope college situation has improved for your son. Xx


  5. I admife you but I feel I was left to figure things out and I paid a high price. I try to warn my college kids what they are up against. Both my youngsters have studied psychology and it was one of them who first announced to me,
    “Dad has NPD. Every now and again they go into denial about things. He pulled a particularly cruel stunt last year. I watched their devastation for a week before I announced, ” He is an A##hole. He did itbdeliberately. I knew he was going to pull this stunt and I can prove it was not spontaneous if you want me to. I had worked out over a year previously that he was in the process of discarding them.. They recovered quickly after that. Don’t even get me started about my in-laws.


    • janieleeds says:

      I admire you as well! Good for you. Healing begins once we allow truth to emerge but it has to be in the kids timing and not ours which you did well…and to be able to prove the truth is the icing on the cake…even though it’s devastating to them. Good job Mom!


  6. I was really grateful that they had been given the opportunity to study psychology at school. It revealed the truth to me too. I know they know what he is on one level but like all of us they go through different stages and need to remind their brains, whom they are dealing with.


    • janieleeds says:

      Exactly….that’s the scenario here too. And it’s easy to forget when we love someone and know their essence of goodness so when they behave badly, we forgive and forget…but when we begin to see the pattern of narcissism emerge (once we’ve opened our eyes), we can’t shut our eyes again and that’s the painful part.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you that means a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Moref'd says:

    So many questions! Are all your children in college? I wonder why you still have a relationship with the ex-MIL? Do you still speak with the dad?

    Narcisism is a mental illness, one of three that aren’t meant to be trifled. You can’t beat a narcissist in a game because they aren’t playing a game. The advice i received from my therapist was to draw boundaries and keep them. I don’t on the phone with my ex, we don’t text, and when she tried to pass a message along through my daughter i tell my kiddo that ill email her mom. Unless there is a grave emergency (i.e. hospital) we ONLY speak through email. Furthermore i have special email address that is dedicated for her and when she emails me some bullshit about how she thinks she should be able to call her daughter everyday i dont even respond.


    • janieleeds says:

      Yes, kids are in college. I don’t have a relationship with her anymore (MIL). I was speaking to my ex occasionally, but no longer. I email the ex when necessary. I keep it short, to the point and it’s all business. Gone are the niceties. In the beginning I tried to be kind, but received too many lies.. I hold no more anger. Instead, this is a business relationship and I keep it that way. Sorry about your ex as well. It’s hard to manage sometimes.


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