narcissist videos

When the narcissist uses your kids as pawns | Coparenting with a toxic ex



If you’re raising kids with a narcissist or other manipulator, surely you’ve had some exasperating experiences with them where they used your kids as pawns to hurt or control you. In this video I’m going to describe 9 common examples of this behavior. You’ll find a lot of these also apply to narcissistic grandparents. Then, I’m going to give you 10 tips to empower yourself in these situations and be the best parent you can be for your kids in these challenging circumstances.

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End Screen Credits:
Photography by Kelsey Smith Photography
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47 Comments

  • ladybug

    Pls do some videos for those who have a malignant narc the effects are much more serious on a child than those who are just a average narc, these predators are dangerous to children and grandchildren I appreciate your videos and other channels here but there needs to be some specific videos on for a malignant narc

  • B. M.

    Two best things ever!!!
    Second cell phone if you have a child together, turn it on once a week!!!
    Learn to Meditate 🧘🏼‍♂️🧘‍♀️to be aware ! It’s much easier not to fall in any kind of traps. Best self care ever !!! Thank you for this new video 🙏☀️

  • Amanda Gonzalez

    Mi kids do not want to see me or hear from me at all because my ex poisoned their minds saying that the divorce was all my fault and that I divorced for another man. Totally dismissing the fact that the kids know their dads behavior over 13 years.. that is the reason I divorced. The mental and emotional abuse. But I am the bad guy because I broke up the family

  • Kelsey R

    I've been needing this. Thank you so much Meredith. It's a whole other level of frustration when you're trying to raise your children to be resilient and healthy with this sort of toxicity in their world. My ex will provide any excuse necessary to not see his children (6 and 8) and his entire focus when he contacts them or myself is harassing or ranting about his child support order. From the start of our relationship the sole focus has always been his victim mentality (I was too naive to see what was going on). He will rant for hours, days, months but immediately shoot down any advice or suggestion to fix his problem. He will call my young kids and talk to THEM all about it for hours (likely bc he had no one else answer his calls that night); not even ask one question about them, or answer when they ask why he needs 'money' to see them. I worry daily about keeping them sane amidst his toxic, weak display of character and lack of empathy. He even told my 8 year old daughter on the phone he's having to pay all his money to "me" (although it's the kids' support…), but his baby momma from a few months ago is "actually paying HIM money," because she really cares about them. That is the kind of twisted I'm dealing with…

  • Healing_ Awakening

    Trolls in the comments section that act like the Inner Integration channel is completely wrong, ill-equipped and misguided about everything, but they are completely right about everything because they have all the answers/expertise/experience/wisdom/lived life, etc. but they won't come off their secret groundbreaking information!

  • Yoga Warrior

    So glad you touched on this topic. I’m living this nightmare. My husband started alienating my girls when they were very young. I never understood why my five year old would yell at me, “Your a bad parent.” At the time I would have never fathomed my husband had apparently already abandoned any sense of parental loyalty, those words were his, delivered through our daughter. I finely realized he approached parenthood, wanting to “win”, and I was competition. It took me a while to put it all together. I’m living in the house with all of them, and am now a master of not reacting. Waiting to divorce till the girls are both 18, one more year. Not a wonderful experience, but eye opening. Got one year down, post full understanding, and ending the intimate part of our relationship. One year to go, before divorce. I feel like a badass ninja warrior, taking this on.

  • A K

    Hi Meredith, Could you do a video about how to talk to kids in these situations? For example, what do you say if you know lies the other parent is saying about you? How do you change their behavior if they're starting to act like the narcs? (p.s. I just bought all of your courses and started on SANA.)

  • Nathan David Miller

    Very useful topic. While I realize the video kind of implies that the narcissists and manipulators are the fathers, it can also be the other way around, and is compounded when the children live most of the time with that parent, and doubly difficult when that parent has a manipulative partner. The level of manipulation can be uncanny. The initial response may be to give them the benefit of the doubt and to believe as much of what they say as possible. You may try to reach a compromise, try to be fair, to have more normal communication, but it is IMPOSSIBLE. This is a big mistake. Getting everything in writing and through a court is the ONLY way to proceed with these people. Number one rule, keep and properly organize every piece of communication. No matter how you think you know your ex from the past, they can show an entirely new side that will confuse, astound, appall and bewilder you, especially with a new spouse involved. The children are the ultimate losers in every manipulative exchange. It is sad for them. I believe that this is truly a form of child abuse. The ways that they can be used against you are as it says in the video both subtle and overt. Here are a few techniques, some additions to the video.

    Remember, the name of the game is to control you. Guilt, threats, withholding the children from you are the biggest ways. Claiming things that are untrue is a favorite. Do NOT be controlled by them and do NOT believe what they say.

    Overt
    1. Using the children to ask for things that the parent should be asking about directly.
    2. Copying the children in emails related to things only parents and adults (lawyers, etc.) should be discussing.
    3. Telling the children how to respond to you or what to say to you. Talk to the kids more to ascertain their sovereign thoughts and emotions, depending on their age. Children are easily manipulated by manipulative parents and sadly they probably won't recognize it until later in life.
    4. The ex telling you how your children feel and think, instead of the children telling you directly. This is used to directly influence and manipulate you, and is usually negative against you, consequently. It is always colored by the ex's desire to control you and never to give you useful information to yourself, but it will be presented in that way. Insist on talking directly to the kids.
    5. The parent using information (usually inaccurate if not complete lies) about the children to try to make you feel guilty about something. This is very common. Some people may not realize they do it. Most do, though. ASSUME they do everything intentionally to manipulate you. This sounds cynical, but it is the only way that you can make a reasonable response.
    6. Withholding natural communication, photos, etc. to you from the children but sending from time to time sarcastic or ironic communication about how wonderful everything is with them.
    7. Physically removing the children to an undisclosed location for a length of time. This is grounds for court and police involvement, and after any such involvement, using the children to blame you instead. Don't accept ANY blame if it is a proper response to their actions.

    Covert/Subtle
    1. Encouraging an attitude of disrespect toward you. This can be subtle, as in the children simply naturally adopting the manner of communication of the other parent and their new spouse, or it can be less subtle as in the parent implying through leading questions or direct speech that is disrespectful towards you. I think you have no choice but to let it go. Work on it when you see your kids.
    2. Arranging things in a way that purposefully leaves you out or ignores your wishes. This cannot be anything other than intentional, yet it conveniently could be labelled ignorance, and will always be accompanied by excuses which might sound plausible, but which are ultimately illogical, and false. You have to ignore these. Settle for your non-negotiables, and use your time with the kids wisely.
    3. Not encouraging the children to take initiative to contact you for any reason. Not encouraging a healthy relationship with you. You must always initiate any contact with the children, unless it is for something the other parent wants (see point 1 above).
    4. Using the law in any manner regarding the children against you. If it is not in the children's best interest, than it is purely against you and is nothing other than manipulative techniques.

  • L S

    Yes. Thank you for this. I have my in-laws who are very toxic people. Currently my kids and I are no contact with them. I'm "invisible" to them but my husband gets a lot of smear compaign and flying monkeys. When my kids were younger and they would go visit their grandparents they would come back home and tell me how badly grandma was speaking about me to them. Now in-laws say we're not allowing our kids to come and visit them which is totally untrue, kids who are now teens don't want to go there they feel drained and less than perfect. She criticizes them on what they're wearing, about their weight and much more. I'm kinda glad they're not talking to me anymore, but they're really pressing on my husband especially through others.

  • Lacy Jarvis

    I’ve had shared custody of my daughter since she was 4. Her dad is a raging narc sociopath, who has smeared and attempted to destroy my livelihood and my relationship with her for the last 10 years. I finally went minimal contact/parallel parenting about 5 years ago. I use talkingparents.com for all communication so that everything is documented, dated, and time stamped. Conversations can be easily printed out and are admissible in court. It’s helped me manage the crazy-making so much better.
    I am committed to my home being a place of peace and safety for my daughter no matter what is going on at her dads. The hardest thing for me (like you said) is that she has to take the brunt of the collateral damage when he can’t get his demands from me. They hate to hear NO. He will then withhold any communication between her and I. Or only let her call for about 90 seconds while he sits next to her. She’s 14! No privacy.
    His current wife is also a master of giving my daughter the silent treatment on his behalf. So sick!!The best thing I’m doing now is teach her how to respond vs. react and to not personalize his attempts at emotional annihilation on a weekly basis. Teaching her about her internal vs. external locus of control, and practicing massive SELF-CARE. We focus a lot on that during her time with me too.
    Man, I’ve done so much counseling to stay sane through this, but. Can finally see that’s it’s all been so that I can teach HER how to navigate better than I have. And hopefully be aware enough to avoid others who behave the same way (friends, boyfriends, family members)…
    3 1/2 more years to go until she turns 18. and I can finally see the light. And my daughter is emerging as a strong and wise woman who can understand the gaslighting and be empowered stand up for herself assertively. Because it really is a life skill for dealing with manipulative people everywhere. The kids will eventually figure it out for themselves. But it’s a long process .Hang in there and never give up hope as much as they try to make you disappear from your kids life or paint you in a negative light.
    “BE THE LIGHTHOUSE FOR YOUR KIDS” Thank you Meredith. I love your videos and perspective so much.

  • MunchyMiddlevertMama

    Everything you said was so good! Some things I would add, be prepared to have to spend a lot of money to fight for your divorce and to get a decent child visitation plan. If you're planning on divorcing the Narcissist begin documenting now what they are doing because that will help solidify your position in court. Documenting is key so definitely do that but on the flipside don't put all your eggs in one basket in believing that the court is going to care about protecting you or your children. From my experience with the court they just care about what's average and if the judge doesn't care on top of that you're just going to be hitting your head against the wall. You can document all day long but if the judge doesn't choose to look through the evidence then be prepared to feel very frustrated and disappointed. Also from my experience, get a lawyer who understands narcissism and a lawyer who's going to be smart about how to get through the court system in a calm correct manner. My lawyer was very quiet but also deliver it in the way she went about things. She was also very calm and didn't get riled up when my seem to be asking his lawyer for being yucky. The 9 behaviors mentioned in your video were spot on for what my ex has been doing and is continuing to do. It took over a year just to get divorced and a child visitation plan in place. My girl's are 3 and 2 and they have a covert narc Dad and his mom is worse than him. One time my oldest came home the night before the final hearing and she was distraught because they had told her she would never see them again. And then there was another time she came home distraught because he and his mom had told her that they loved her more than I did. They've definitely made my oldest The Golden Child and my youngest the scapegoat. They purposefully keep the pacifier from the youngest and because she is a more strong-willed Child they make it their mission in life to try and break her. I would have lost all hope and sanity if it weren't for my faith in Christ.

  • Lynda

    Grandparents have NO rights and that is absolutely debilitating. It feels like you are a sitting duck for this type of abuse ..with no chance! You cannot get court help. I wish more videos were done about what narc adult children do to parents including the Gkids aspect. Thank you.

  • Nayana Ramesh

    Your video is very true. I have overcome these traits of this disgusting covert demon all through my up bringing of our children. But by the grace of God through my prayers children are doing well and they have grown up strong and courageous though sometimes I get hurt when they take his side, I being a mother I understand their love and regards for him though they know how supportive mother I have been to them. I basically, have handled these situations in a very calm way as much as I could ignoring his evil actions towards me and kids! Even to this day I ignore all his careless evil behavior since children have learnt to handle him. I'm not in contact with that demon as we live separate and children too live separate. But he keeps in touch with them through msgs. I don't let that disturb my ✌Peace.

  • Erica Johnston

    Thank you so much for this. I know my ex (&father of 3) has npd 110%. I looked at the title of this video thinking “atleast he doesn’t use them as pawns very often.. not yet anyway” but I was completely wrong. He does every single one of the things you named off. I wish having NPD was illegal and they were forced to get help especially when children are involved:(

  • Hey its me

    I experienced all of it hundreds and thousands of times my entire life. Deep conversations I had only a view seconds all view years. It's like being the alien, trash can, repair machine, mocking test target, only to get heart: He is unbreakable, undestructable, unburyable, he always stands up again, no matter how much you punish him.
    Reminds me to the movie "Rocky". Let the enemy punish him until they have become fat, lazy and feel safe that he is down. Then stand up and tell them where the music plays…

  • sitto wardi

    When before they cared nothing about certain decisions (alternate vaccine schedule, kids’s after school activities, dental exams, etc) suddenly they are taking a massive interest and act as though they now can have a voice, whereas they never cared before to have a voice! An example is now demanding that the kids get fully vaccinated…because, gasp the other spouse is negligent by not complying with APA…or another example is that they coerce and manipulate the kids do more and more sports or other after school activities like scouts or chess club even though they don’t want to because the narc spouse gets to show up and look like the super parent. Before they never cared about these events now suddenly they put on the mask of awesome parent, socially graced individual that is dynamic and involved. I hope this made sense.

  • Kyle Parker

    My son is a young adult now. He is asking questions, ie was the last affair the only one? He was shocked by his father’s affair. There were many, even when I was pregnant. How do I deal with his questions? I believe my son is afraid he will be like his dad.

  • Daniela SOS

    Hello! Great video! Pls can I ask something? I started working at a restaurant and in my third day: the owner asked me to serve 1 ice tea. So, I asked: '' Where is the ice tea? ''. Then he said: '' Its your third day and you dont know it?'' And then he turned his back and LEFT and he DID NOT ANSWER to me! So, I had to ask another person! Please is this abuse? It is disrespect right? To what level of disrespect this is? Small or big? I think it is very offensive…What is YOUR opinion? Thank you so much!!!!

  • Natalya Tucker

    One thing we did during the holiday season was to make a big decision to take the steering wheel whenever our narc had to be around. We would have a Lord of the Rings marathon or go to the movies, for example. We would prepare special snacks and delight in several hours of movie watching with little or no talking. We would take turns doing various things to give each other a break. I'd take the narc shopping so he could nap, he'd watch a sport with the narc so I could work out. We love going to public places because they are typically on their best around strangers. If we'd have to visit, we'd get a hotel and plan time together according to what works for us (nice to get on a treadmill for a while, drink coffee, and eat breakfast in peace). We would also take notes regarding how the narc played children against each other and strategize our schedule accordingly (i.e., no time alone with kids). To those who have young kids, I would strongly suggest finding a way to live farther away from the narc before trouble starts. Just some ideas.

  • M R

    My narc mother used to badmouth my father about absolutely everything. They were divorced, and actually the badmouthing was well founded, but you don't talk like that to a child. Then in the next sentence she'd say, "but, he's your father, you have to love him" (cognitive dissonance).

  • Dandelion Greens

    If anybody can give me advice on this one, I'd really appreciate it: ex and I are parents of 25yo with enough of a disability that it's more like she is still a child. She lives with me, I have full custody (but don't get me started on how he keeps trying to eliminate or reduce child support for her) but he and she get together whenever it works for them both, no formal arrangement. My problem is this: he does often bombard her with texts when he is not with her, especially when we are traveling. I try allow her the privacy of these text exchanges but, through casual conversations with her, I've learned that he is essentially invading my privacy by asking all kinds of detailed questions about what she is doing—which by default would be what she is doing with me. In other words, he texts her for, among other reasons, to get info on me. This upsets me hugely. I've tried to talk to her about what to share with him and what not to share with him, and on a certain level, she understands but it all makes her anxious and I know she feels torn by his requests for information and my needs for privacy. It's also true that, at times, my needs for privacy from him have been manipulated into the idea that I have something to hide. I don't. But I don't want my boundaries smashed through via our innocent daughter. Any advice? I just want my life to belong to me.

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