Narcissistic Stepmothers—Taking Dad Away

There are innumerable stepmothers who are wonderful parents. They do the hard work of raising the children after an ugly divorce or a situation in which the biological mother abandoned the children.

I am speaking about the narcissistic stepmother who purposely plots her way into the heart and mind of a man who has minor children. These women are on the alert for a vulnerable man. If he is a widower, all the better. No ex-wife to get in her way. This is often the case if the man has considerable wealth. I call these gals— One Bounce Women, meaning that the ink on the divorce papers is barely dry and they are presenting themselves as prospective playmates to these unsuspecting fellows. The narcissistic stepmother cleverly solidifies her powerful new role with the tried and true method —Sex! First she is friendly and warm and very understanding of this man who is going through a tough ordeal. Next, she works her way into becoming his indispensable confidant. Add a generous measure of brilliant sexual moves to the mix and he’s bagged.

Once the marriage is legally solidified, the stepmother breathes a luscious sigh. What next—dealing with the kids. Narcissists are gifted actors. When the marriage is new and everyone is on his/her good behavior, the stepmother displays a convincing devotion to his children. She is pleasant and courteous. She pretends to be interested in their social and school lives. Children under divorce circumstances are having a very difficult time adjusting to the fact that their parents are no longer married to one another. They may still feel shocked, confused and angry about this turn of events. When dad quickly remarries this adds to their psychological pain. Father is so carried away with his new love that his attention to the children flags. Kids pick up on his dismissiveness and distancing. They feel cheated and depressed. They’ve been replaced by a woman who is practically a stranger.

As the months and years pass by the stepmother’s narcissistic attributes come fully to the surface. She is duplicitous in her dealings—warm, seductive, pseudo empathic with her husband and cold, critical and emotionally threatening to the children. She achieves this two faced role with great cunning. Because she has such a tight grip on her husband (As far as he is concerned his wife can do no wrong) the father will not believe his own children when they tell him they are being treated cruelly. The stepmother’s psychological brainwashing on her spouse works like a charm. She continues to buttress her intimate relationship with this man. He’s a keeper—too much equity there and a great lifestyle to let go of it now.

Children under these conditions are suffering horribly. Sometimes they band together for emotional support. Some kids spend less and less time at home. They are often at friends’ houses where they feel welcome.
During the teenage years, it can get very derisive. Each time the dad sides with the stepmother, the child is left standing alone. In some cases children decide to live with the other parent and find a real home there. When no other parent is available, children leave the home early and make an effort to find their way solo or with friends. I have communication with adult children of narcissistic stepmothers who remember the ordeals they endured under her watch. They lost their childhoods and the deep caring and loving of a real father. Many of them still say that their narcissistic stepmother “took dad away” from them. Some of them go into psychotherapy to mourn the loss of the parent(s) and to deal with feelings of betrayal and abandonment.

The narcissistic stepmother has no pangs of conscience for alienating and in some instances destroying the relationship between the father and his children. She has won. When the children are grown, she will celebrate again. Some of these stepmothers repeat this pattern with more than one man. When the money is no longer forthcoming and she cannot fool her husband any longer, she moves ahead to find her next male trophy. To learn about every facet of the narcissistic personality disorder, visit my

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Telephone Consultation: United States and International
Book: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life
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