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27 thoughts on “Break the Spell of the Narcissistic Step-Parent

  • June 8, 2017 at 1:32 pm
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    Excellent article. My book for children, The King and Queen of Mean, teaches our young ones how to cope with selfish relatives.

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  • April 23, 2018 at 5:54 pm
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    I had to leave home because of a narcissistic stepfather several years ago.
    I am still trying to recover from the mental and emotional damage. I think that this should be talked about more, because people tend to side with stepparents and not the stepchildren.

    My stepfather came into our lives when I was about 13 and my mother was around 40 years old.
    She had divorced my father years before that, but she was on the rebound from another failed relationship and wanted proof that she was still attractive to men.
    So my stepfather came into the picture and life became even more difficult.

    Years of extreme mental and emotional cruelty, and my mother did nothing about it.
    She made excuses for his violent rages while I suffered in silence. I learned not to reach out to anyone for help because I would be in trouble if anyone told my mom I said anything about what was going on. I lived in fear of my stepfather. My mother did nothing to protect me.
    He turned her against me and took away all that I hold dear. I am married now, but still grieving the childhood I never had and trying to heal my shattered life.
    Outwardly no one knew what was going on at home. We lived in a beautiful home, my stepfather drove nice cars and all that, but I was going through hell.

    I remember trying to tell my high school boyfriend and he said “all teenagers go through that”.
    No, they don’t. It is NOT normal to grow up in a home where you are constantly afraid.
    Where you hide in your room because you hear your stepfather arrive at home.
    Where you are routinely belittled, threatened, humiliated, lied about and punished for no reason.
    Where you see your mother being abused emotionally also and can’t do anything about it.
    It was like emotional terrorism. I had no one to turn to. I couldn’t talk to anyone.
    I couldn’t seek advice.

    My mom and I have a somewhat good relationship, but she is still VERY brainwashed by this man.

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    • May 31, 2018 at 9:18 am
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      Hi MB,

      I am 17 and what you’ve explained is very similar to what I am experiencing now. Can I ask, if you could go back, what would you do differently? My mum and I have a really close relationship but it’s recently been on the rocks because of his manipulation. Apparently I’m “the one with the problem” (*eye roll). And in retrospect, yes I do have a problem, and it starts and ends with him… everyone I talk to can see it however the one person that I care most for doesn’t. It has destroyed me watching him emotionally abuse her. Only now, after years of counselling, have I been turned to a psychologist who has help me more you’d believe. I’ve come to realise that my anxiety and inability to let others in has been the result of my mothers poor choice in men. My dad exhibits many narcissistic traits that suggest he’s on the lower end of the spectrum (which my mum can clearly see) but my step “father” takes the cake for the most narcissistic. Even posting this gives me a great deal of apprehension.

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      • May 31, 2018 at 5:22 pm
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        I’m so thankful that you have a psychologist who is helping you to grow and see things more clearly. The most important thing for you is to focus on your future and moving forward. Don’t look back, just decide who you want to be and move in that direction. You can do this!

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      • June 10, 2018 at 2:54 am
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        Hi Christine,

        Thank you 🙂 I have been working on myself since I wrote this comment and have found that I have been playing the victim card a little too often. Moving forward is probably the best advice I’ve received and I thank you for the simple yet meaningful advise. I wont let somebody get the best of me and my integrity. And who I want to be? a clinical psychologist… (ironic right). I guess I will have had plenty of valuable experience up my sleeve. Thanks again for the great article and the great advise 🙂

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      • April 15, 2019 at 1:09 pm
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        Hi EM,

        I apologize for my late response. You asked a very good question. If I could go back, what would I do differently?
        Hmm…it’s hard to say because there was really nothing I could have done back then. Like you, I felt helpless in that situation.
        I am now almost 36 but when I was your age, I was in the same boat.

        However, to answer your question better, maybe I would have treated myself with more love and not been so self-destructive.
        I made a lot of bad choices because of my home life and the stuff going on around me. I hung out with a bad crowd and dated bad guys and didn’t respect myself the way I should have. That’s pretty much what I would change if I could go back in time. I was abused at home, but I also abused myself and that’s what I wish I could do differently.

        I see a lot of myself in your post. At 17, you are very wise to see the dysfunction and to want things to change. I hope it all works out for you…being a stepchild of an abusive person is tough!

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    • June 10, 2018 at 4:02 am
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      This is Samuel, I am glad that I am not alone. I am not where you are at in life MB, but I am going through the same stuff you talked about in your comment. My Mother was exactly the same age. She was turned against me. I was the enemy because I am related to my “evil” father and Grandmother. My Grandmother noticed it the first time she met him (Step-Father) and I caught it early thanks to her. My Mother is completely brainwashed and justifies him no matter what. I don’t suffer from brainwashing, but the emotional damage and abuse is brutal. My Mother’s side of the family became the “bad and underside.” All because of my Step-Father’s marriage to my Mother. In the beginning all was well, he was charming, “our savior”, and very giving. My Grandmother did not think so and we are very close. She told me the things she noticed, it was all true. She figured everything out in 3 days, I figured it out in 3 years. I always knew it though thanks to the support of my Grandmother. I will hopefully be moving to my Father’s house this Summer and all will be reviled in the day of court judgment. They (Mother and Step-Father) will experience my true joy over their loss. I will finally be set free of their spewing hate and Narcissism! Thank you for sharing!

      Reply
  • July 27, 2018 at 6:03 pm
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    I wish that I had read this five years ago. My first wife died after a long struggle with cancer. Ten months later I married a lady that very closely resembles the narcissistic that you described in this article.

    The divorce will be final soon. I still love her very much but I finally realized how deeply my two daughters have been hurt and reluctantly took care of getting her out of the house.

    My oldest just turned 17 and the youngest is about to turn 13. They are remarkable young ladies and my main reason for posting this is to ask, how do I help them heal and grow up with minimal ill effects from this mess that I created?

    I have apologized and they have been very gracious towards me but I’m still worried that they have problems because of this There has been zero contact between my daughters and ex since the night of the Blind Side breakup and the girls don’t want any.

    I know the best thing for me to do is be healthy myself and set a good example… that’s not easy when you still love your ex and, by the way, she has redeveloped anorexia. I can never let her back into the house, the way things are, and I don’t know if that dynamic could ever change. I sure would love for it to change and the last line in your article left some room to think that maybe there is hope. Was the hope, that you mentioned, hope for the narcissistic to change or hope for the family to heal?

    Can a hormone imbalance mimic the symptoms of narcissism? Can someone with suicidal thoughts and anorexia truly be a narcissistic?

    Actually, I did know that the girls were sometimes hurt but I though I could fix things. I thought that she would come around if I could just keep her happy and, after all, there were some very good times mixed in with the bad. But even in the good times I had to be careful not to be be too affectionate to my daughters to keep my wife from getting jealous.

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    • July 27, 2018 at 7:07 pm
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      My hope is for both: the narcissist to change and the family to heal. Yes, a severe hormone imbalance could look narcissistic. And yes, it is typical for a female narcissist to be both suicidal and have anorexia.

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  • August 2, 2018 at 11:15 pm
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    Great…you describe the chaos we’ve been experiencing and then end with there is hope and healing with early intervention…so, we’ve been in therapy for years and we’re still a mess.
    I don’t want to divorce. I feel so weak and pulverized I can’t see a way forward.

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  • August 3, 2018 at 11:58 am
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    I have a narcissistic step mother, when my dad and my natural mother got divorced dad became heart broken, and desperate because he didnt know how to raise two girls on his own, I was 3 years old when my stepmother came into mine and my sister’s lives. Everything seem ok at the start until she became pregnant with her own children. Immediately after the birth of her children she treated my sister and I more hatefully, once she shoved a sandwich in my face just because I didnt like the cheese and when dad came home, she told him her point of view what happened. He didnt bother to ask mine, instead punished me for upsetting her. Eventually I got tired of it all and moved out, at least 2 years later, I heard she had been sleeping around on my dad with at least 8 different guys, when he called her out on it. She put her oh pitiful me face on, and dad fell for it. And she continues sleeping around on him, as a adult now I tried to convinced my father that she is not good for him, but he wouldnt listen to me, instead vouched for her, and allow her to continue tearing my father and I relationship apart. And he was too blind to acknowledge that she is doing that to him, currently my father and I are no longer speaking, because every time I tried to covince him she isnt good for him mentally or physically, he will always choose her over me and my sister no matter what we say. Now I am not currently speaking to my grandmother, cause she says she hates it when I put my dad down, I kept trying to remind her that I wasnt trying to put him down but I speak the truth, I get that people have the right to live with the person they love. But my father thinks he is love with this woman, and she doesnt love him at all, if she loved him she wouldnt be sleeping with over 12 guys since they have been married, had my father depressed so bad he almost committed suicide and ended up in the hospital because she threatened to leave him, if things dont go her way. This woman is evil, if I have ever not seen the face of evil. She may not be hurting him physically but she is emotionally hurting my father, and making him unhealthy and turn him agaisnt his own children to fit her needs.

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  • October 2, 2018 at 2:12 pm
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    Thank you so much for this article, it perfectly describes the chaos my family has experienced over the past 25 years. My father has been with my narcissistic stepmother since just a few months after my mother died by suicide, and he continues to struggle with their relationship. She has convinced him over the years that their issues are mainly due to me and my two brothers, and that my father is ultimately to blame because he “never taught us to properly respect her.”

    My siblings and I have chosen to limit our contact with them and now have families of our own, but when we do see our Dad he frequently wants to have very long conversations about how to better our relationships with his wife.

    My question is this – do I share this article with him? He’s highly intelligent, but I fear he truly does not understand that he has no power to change the situation without her making great strides in therapy, which I do not believe they attend currently. He seems to think that if he – and his children – do everything exactly right, she will finally be happy. I hate to see him spend the final decades of his life fighting this uphill battle. Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

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    • October 2, 2018 at 4:41 pm
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      This is one of those…you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t…scenarios. So do it only if you will be able to maintain a relationship with your dad. Good luck.

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  • October 17, 2018 at 8:58 am
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    I felt as if you were a fly on the wall in my home when I read this. I remarried 11 months ago and things have quickly spiraled. I want to end the relationship, but I don’t know how to explain things to my young 9 year old daughter. She has completely bought into his re-telling of our past and how he has rescued us. She views him a god and thinks that he is the only person who can help us. She calls him her person. She thinks he can do no wrong. I tried to leave once already and she became enraged with me. I told the kids (I also have a 7 year old boy) that the conflict is a grown up issue and very complex and confusing even for me. I told them it was not their fault. And I said that I am not okay with some of the ways that their step dad and I interact. My daughter blamed me and insisted if I just listened to stepdad things would get better. She said that he just loves us so much and he knows what’s best for us. He has driven a divide between my daughter and I, my daughter and son (step dad blames son and so now daughter beloved son is the problem) , and my daughter and my parents (the other people he blames). She believes the lies that her brother is the worst child in the world and is trying to manipulate everyone and that his diagnosis is an act (he has Aspergers). As far as the grandparents are concerned he has convinced her that they hate her and only love her brother. He openly labels them as toxic and now so does she. She has been completely triangulated.

    How do I help her see what’s happened? What is the best way to respond to her rage towards me?

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  • November 21, 2018 at 1:37 pm
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    Hi Christine.
    Thank you for this very informative article. I am beginning to understand a few things now that have worried me for years. I could not understand why I could not understand. Lack of knowledge, no doubt.
    I am married to a woman for 40 years that was brought up from the age of 4 by a Narcissistic stepmother. I starting to discover that she is very damaged. She and the Narcissist are both old and treatment will not help anymore. They both will deny it anyway. There is absolutely nothing wrong they would say and just classify me as mad. My wife has developed into the keeper of the Narcissist and that causes a lot of friction. But I understand everything better and will be able to handle and except it easier now that I know. This cannot be discussed at home and she does not know I am even reading this. Will just fly on the horse.
    Thank you for your time.
    Ignorant.

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  • March 28, 2019 at 1:25 pm
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    Hi Christine, I believe my daughters Step-mother has NPD or at least what you described is exactly in line with everything my 17 year old daughter has told me. She doesn’t want me intervening because she is afraid of her step-moms reaction. she is bullied, controlled, manipulated and nothing she ever does is right. and my daughter is a VERY well balance teen. She has begged me not to say anything. And she doesn’t trust that her dad has her back. he agrees with everything her step-mom says. I am guessing he is completely brainwashed.
    my question to you, are there online support groups my daughter could join. She would like to to speak to a counselor or therapist but is afraid her step mom will find out (and trust me she finds out EVERYTHING). She even spies on her with cameras in the house.
    anyhow, let me know if there are some kind of support groups she could join. thanks

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  • October 7, 2019 at 11:40 pm
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    My granddaughter is 17 and moved in with me and grandfather about 8 months ago.
    Her mom and dad divorced when she was very young. She has been able to split time between them her whole life 50/50.

    At about 6 years old stepmom became pregnant. Things began to change more dramatcally. My granddaughter asked for 3 years to live with me. At the time shocked and said that your Dad would not allow that.
    But at 16, a blow up occured at Christmas and she moved in with us. While at home she was not allowed a car or few friends over. She was no longer supported in sports, school, horses, ROTC, school dances. sSwas lied too and about. At that time her am was taking her to support groups and a psychiatrist. She was put on medication for depression. He step mother would attend meeting and did all the talking. She told the doctor that she was a danger to herself and others. My grandchild was never able to voice her concerns. She asked to.move yeah after Christmas. I agreed. I found another counselor to see while she was discontinue the use of cymbalta. She suffered for 3weeks of side effect and anxiety. But she keep going. Now she has a car, has a job, that she loves. And goes to school everyday. She is a squad for ROTC and plays in the band. She seems to be doing well and is veryresposinle. She has already signed up for early enlistment in the Navy. She wants to.be far away. Since this has all.happened, I have become the bad guy, by taking her in. She is happy, making new friends, and learning more responsibilities.

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    • October 8, 2019 at 7:19 am
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      I’m thankful that you could be there for your grandchild. Of course you become the bad guy to the stepmom, you proved her wrong.

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