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When a narcissistic ex tries to alienate you from your kids

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2024 | Family Law

Going through a separation or divorce is difficult for everyone involved, often especially children. When one parent has narcissistic tendencies, the situation can become even more complex.

Parental alienation, where a narcissistic ex alienates your children against you, can create a heartbreaking rift in your family. Exploring the tactics narcissists may use for the purposes of alienation and the impacts that these efforts may have on children can help you understand the steps you can take to protect your relationship with your kids.

What is narcissistic parental alienation?

A narcissistic parent prioritizes their needs and desires above all else. They lack empathy and often use manipulation to control those around them. In a custody situation, this manipulation can extend to the children, turning them against the other parent.

This alienation can occur as badmouthing, where the narcissistic ex constantly criticizes you in front of the children, painting a negative picture. Narcissists also like playing the victim, where they portray themselves as the wronged party and blame you for the relationship’s breakdown.

A narcissistic ex may also use guilt trips to make the children feel responsible for their happiness. This creates a sense of obligation to side with them. They may also withhold contact to subtly or blatantly make it difficult for your children to see you, potentially hindering your bond.

The impacts on children

Parental alienation is incredibly damaging to children. They can become confused and conflicted if caught in the middle of their parents’ battle. Children may experience anxiety and depression due to the negativity surrounding their relationship with one parent.

They may also struggle to trust their own judgment and develop unhealthy relationships in the future. Furthermore, the pressure to choose sides can lead to strained relationships with both parents.

If you’re experiencing parental alienation as a result of a narcissistic co-parent’s approach, don’t engage in the negativity. Focus on building positive experiences with your children and document your efforts to maintain contact. Then, seek legal guidance to better understand your rights and options.