If you have a child with a narcissist or sociopath, there are so many horrible things that can go wrong. Unfortunately, having a child makes it harder to escape the narcissist’s games. You can only protect your boundaries as much as possible and engage as little as possible, but I will be honest, even if you have full custody, you will most likely still have to deal with the narcissist’s controlling ways.
My narcissist ex shows very little real interest in my son, even though he *talks* about caring a lot. His behaviors show otherwise. In fact, on the rare occasions that he comes for his visitation, he seems more concerned with harassing me than seeing my son. This is evident in the way he insists that we don’t need to exchange my son with a supervisor or at the police station, and his insistence that he should just call me and show up at my home. This from a guy who says I’m lying about how abusive he is, and that I make false accusations. If he really believes I make false accusations, why in the WORLD would he push so hard to be alone with me, call me, or come to my home?! If he’s really concerned that I will falsely accuse him, shouldn’t he WANT someone to witness the exchanges? But of course, with a narcissist, nothing makes sense.
It frustrates me that, even after all the bullying, gas lighting, the smear campaign, the abuse, the ongoing attacks, and more, I cannot get completely out from underneath the narcopath’s thumb.
Even if you have full custody, here are ten ways a narcissist can and will control you through your child:
Refusing to pay child support
This is a big one. It’s hard to raise a child alone, and child care is very expensive. Many of us struggle to make ends meet while the narcissist drives new cars, spends big money socializing, and travels all over. I’m going to be in trouble if my car dies, and I definitely don’t have money for a vacation, let alone multiple trips! So while we support our kids completely alone, the narcissists leave us hanging. A child support payment is a rare treat, and yet most of us do everything we can to give our kids the best. Sadly, the narcissist will never want the best for the kids. They want the best for themselves, and there’s no way that supporting a child is going to stop them!
Playing with your time
My narcopath ex loves this. He is always late to get my son, and always even later to bring him back. I am always early or on time, because I don’t want to be the one violating the visitation agreement. I spend a lot of time sitting and waiting. Because my ex doesn’t take his full visitation time, or all of his visits, he is supposed to notify me ahead of time so I can have the ability to plan my weekends. Of course he doesn’t. Every time, I’m left hanging. Should I make other plans? Can I? Is he going to show up? How will I spend my Saturday off work? Should I go ahead and give my son lunch? Then the narcopath changes the time. I get my son ready, but narc calls to say he needs more time. Today this happened FIVE times. The whole day was all about waiting for the narc to show up and wondering if I was going to get yet another call saying he needed another hour or two.
Telling your child bad things about you
Another narc favorite. If you have a young child, they might repeat it back to you even if they don’t know what it means. My sweet little two year old came home and told me “Mommy is a crazy lady.” Gee, wonder where he got that from? When the kids get older, the do know what the words mean. Then they either believe them, or get mad that their other parent is bad mouthing you. Either way, the bully you tried to divorce is still on your back.
Making you fear for your child’s safety
This one is the worst for me. My narcopath ex is aggressive and violent, and a frequent road-rager. He gets in a wreck a year on average. I was in the car with him, (with my child,) and he’d still drive dangerously. So now I have to wonder when my son is alone with him, how is he driving? Then I have to wonder, is he going to bring my son back? My ex has removed the license plate from his car. Why? Is this so no one can track him? My ex also has a history of drunk driving and suspended/revoked licenses. Is he driving like this with my son? I can only wait and pray.
Guilt-tripping you for more time
Fortunately, my narcopath ex’s visits are limited, and he doesn’t take all of them. But sometimes, he decides he really does want to show up…on his time. If he were normal and reasonable, I wouldn’t mind. But this is a guy who manipulates and runs over everyone around him. My boundaries are barbed wire, electric fences at this point! I will not give an inch, because he will take ten miles. And so, when I don’t do what he says, I hear about how I’m tearing my son away from his family, and more. Frankly, I think he could give up some of his one night stands and show up for his visits, but he really just wants to tell me that I’m being mean to him if he skips his visit and demands a different time at the last minute.
Playing Father of the Year in front of others
Recently, narcopath went a few months without visiting my son, but suddenly wanted to visit. I figured there was a catch! I learned after the fact, that he took my son to a social gathering with a bunch of people we know. He paraded my son around as though he was the best dad ever, then he promptly left my son with an 11 year old baby sitter for the rest of the visit. He used my child as a prop to impress people, then dumped my child so he could go party. My son came home talking about how much fun he had with the baby-sitter. The first visit in three months.
Changing your child’s appearance
If your narcissist ex can’t boss you around and control you, they will do it through the only connection you have–your child. Children of narcissists often come home with new hairstyles, new clothes, dyed hair and who knows what else. I never know if my son will have the same hair when he comes home. I also wonder how well people could identify him from a picture if his dad kidnapped him and changed his hair again.
“Losing” your child’s belongings
Be sure never to send your child’s best clothes or toys on a visit…because they probably won’t come back at some point! My son had a toy he really loved, and he kept bragging to his dad that “my mommy bought me this.” Guess which toy came back snapped in half? My two year old wasn’t strong enough to do it…. This is another form of control. If the narc can’t hurt you directly, they will take and destroy the things you provide for you child.
Asking you to supply their visits
Which leads me to this next one. In our visitation agreement, it is noted that my ex is to supply all of my son’s needs–clothes, toiletries, foods, toys, and more during their visits. Does that happen? Of course not! My ex doesn’t pay child support, but he can’t bring himself to buy a pair of pajamas at Walmart for $10 either. And so, every time he shows up, he tells, (not asks,) me to bring my son’s overnight supplies. And I do it, because if I don’t, my son will sleep naked and come home in dirty clothes. (Yes, this happened before I finally started sending the bag.) A narcissist will avoid responsibility in EVERY way they can.
During the brief time I have to see the narcopath–while dropping off and picking up my son–he is up to his old tricks. My ex doesn’t like to spend any money on my son, so he always brings my son home hungry. He always says he skipped dinner because I said I’d feed my son. No, I didn’t say that, but I’m going to do it anyway because I’m not letting my child starve when the ex brings him home hungry.
The ex also bugs me to change visitation orders. I stay firm and say “no,” because I am sticking to the judge’s signed papers. The ex always gas lights me and tells me the judge’s orders are only suggestions. Umm…no. They are not. They aren’t “suggestions.” They are ORDERS. And so, on and on, I have to put up with these head games.
All these little ways of annoying me, controlling me, trying to keep a hand in my life. Narcissists like control. I’ve noticed they don’t always care what their choices are…as long as it’s the opposite of what you are hoping to accomplish. They play games simply to keep us off balance. They dodge supporting their children. They come and go as they please, and expect everyone to accommodate their wishes. The kids are just pawns to them. If the child is cute or smart, the narc will probably show up more often simply so they can show off your child and take credit. Amazing how they can take credit when they don’t pay for anything and only spend the minimum amount of time, but that’s how narcissists work!
If you have a child or children with a narc, and the narc is in the picture in any way, you are going to have to deal with their behavior at some point. All you can do is hold your boundaries and never show them they are annoying you. When they know they have bothered you, that is when they win because that is what they want.