(names have been changed or omitted in this post)
A parent who runs a home without rules… an emotional abuser who instead of having a healthy father-child (or mother) dynamic the children are treated as equals… or at least specific children are… (the golden child) whomever it benefits the father most. The father or mother placates their children with a constant flow of promises, gifts and free will. It's a home where order and boundaries don't exist… kids that run amuk and candy flows (love bombing) freely. Foul music abounds, meals are served in front of the television instead of eaten as a family, children are taken along on business trips and treated as adults, personal boats are promised to boys as young as eleven, movies are uploaded to i-phones to keep the younger children out of his hair… and fits are met with "Now… if you don't stop that I'm going to take your cell phone."
The kids leave one parents; the emotional abuser, hopped up on excitement from their week or weekend in paradise and go to Mom's (in this example) where they are met with "No, you can't eat an entire bag of M&M's in one sitting… yes, you have to brush your teeth… no, showers are not optional… no, you are not going to get a phone, you're not old enough… what do you mean the park is old hat? I'm not buying you a boat, sorry."
Rules are stated and attempted to be enforced and instead are met with much derision and anger. Now mom is dealing with kids who don't want to comply… who yell her rules are stupid and they want to be at dad's house exclusively. "Dad is more fun!" they wail and their faces glare at her as she tries to wrack her brain for what exactly just happened. Since when is life like an amusement park everyday? That mentality has become normal for them. Since when does everything have to be a "big deal"? Whatever happened to reading a book, relaxing, playing a family board game and eating supper together? Now comparisons run the gamut and she is quickly losing the race… a race she never knew she entered into… a race she believe is ridiculous and is nothing but spurred by her ex's insanity and insecurity.
Instead, she feels she's losing control, her life has become a train wreck and she's met with contempt by her son.
Here's the truth:
This father is not a good parent. He's not modeling healthy parenting for his children… his "parenting skills" in reality suck. He is sitting back with glee… basking in the gratifying joyful supply he gains by hearing how the children are acting out at mom's house… how they defy her, they scream at her, maybe even hit her and mock her ideas of fun. The truth is… he's angry she left, he's angry she has the audacity to ditch him… so he uses the children as his pawn of anger toward her. She's a great mom who is doing the best she can considering the circumstances. She is dealing with an Ex who is insidiously conveying to the children that mom's rules don't matter… that her ideas of fun are stupid and inadequate… just by having his home be a free-for-all… the two homes are at such extreme ends of a spectrum of parenting it's no wonder that she's frustrated. To a court she may appear to be the inept parent… after all, how much backlash can a dad get if he's giving in to every whim his child has? To the outside world it appears he has everything under control. But the courts need to look closer… and therapy is a must.
So what needs to happen?
The parent needs to be held responsible for his or her actions. A good therapist needs to step in who is educated in manipulation. Finding a therapist who will work with the family in getting the help they need is essential… if all else fails... for the therapist to document and finally come to the realization that the children are better off with their healthy parent… and voice her findings in court. Perhaps the toxic parent can be allowed supervised visitation until he or she realizes their parenting may make their children the happiest on earth under their roof… but if they are happy at the future expense of society and others then the children need to be removed from the home and placed with the healthy parent. We sadly learn that we cannot make someone be the parent they need to be nor guilt them into it either.
The Manipulative /Vindictive and Guilt Tripping Parent:
This parent knows exactly what they are doing… his or her behavior is calculated and purposeful. All folks go through angry and sorrowful phases of loss right after divorce. But eventually most people heal and begin rebuilding their life. Their anger subsides and in it's place is peace and a desire to move forward. Not so with the alienating manipulative parent. He or she is focused on a long term agenda to make their ex pay… example; maybe he's been discarded by his spouse and is bitter about it. This dad then uses the children in his vendetta to make his ex wife suffer and even attempt to gain full custody. He believes by convincing his children he is that he is "most fun parent ever" they will then voice their desire to live with him full time. This is essentially all about control. This dad (or mom) truly feels bad for the divorce and believes being a guilt tripping parent makes up for it and at the least makes himself feel better. Granted, he may not have malicious intent or narcissistic but his actions are still not healthy for anyone.
7 SIGNS OF AN EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE PARENT:
1. Excessive bad foods that children love; fast food, dessert, etc.
2. Too many experiences allowed for their children too early in age… the parent erroneously believes that allowing his children to have a lot of "adult-like" experiences earlier than typical for their age gives them an advantage in life… it sets them up to be more mature than their peers. However, it can actually lead children to position themselves as equals to the adults in their life… and lead them to become spoiled… and expect preferential treatment.
3. Parent provides material things that he knows mom could never afford or doesn't have the ability to provide even if the money was there. Example: Dad offers to buy son his own boat and he lives along a lake. Mom, on the other hand not only can't afford a boat but has no way to use one if she could.
4. No rules… if babysitters are quitting, if dad can't seem to keep one hired, if kids are being allowed to stay home alone that have zero business doing so… especially young children or special needs children, if children upon acting out are just given empty threats of consequences and nothing is followed through… then those are all red flags of serious issues.
5. These parents buy their children's love. They believe everything is a "deal to be made" and don't recognize the value in spending time with their children, in connecting with them and listening to their thoughts, needs and feelings. Instead, they make these big sweeping gestures through purchases or experiences.
6. These children often feel empty inside unless they have a loving caring in-tune parent to help offset the damage a parent is doing. They often don't feel heard by one or both parents or truly loved. Instead, they are given a bottomless supply of "things" to help fill their needs within. These are the children who later go on to max out credit cards, compete with the Jones' and look for love in all the wrong places.
7. The emotionally abusive parent often plays favorites amongst his/her children… they may target one child whom he/she feels they can brain-wash the easiest and then once he/she has been successful in forming that alliance move on to the other children and seek full custody. One child may be the golden child and another pegged the black sheep of the family (the child they were not able to brainwash).
Jennifer Gafford is a writer, speaker and divorce coach who helps guide parents through the pain of trying to co-parent with their narcissistic ex, and shares tips for custody and healing. She began her website gracepowerstrength in 2012 and over time her blog and audience grew to over a million views. Jennifer was married for twelve years, has two children and is very well versed in the facts regarding narcissistic abuse and the challenges involved in healing. Today, she shares daily posts and stories on Instagram for thousands of followers regarding npd abuse and believes everyone deserves a life of peace, love and freedom.