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 They’ve been replaced by a woman who is practically a stranger.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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24 thoughts on “Narcissistic Stepmothers—Taking Dad Away”

  1. I’ve never read anything that has better described my step mother. I’ve tolerated her manipulations of my father and his side of the family for 14 years now and she has recently started lashing out at my fiancee (which pushed it too far). When confronted on her attacks (ex: for not calling or writing her on every special occasion) she claims she’s the victim and we’ve never accepted her.. My father cannot see whats really going on, so it’s hurtful to talk to him about this issue . Myself, my fiancee and my sister are distancing ourselves from this toxic woman but the sad part is my father is a good guy deep down who is now missing out on life with us and his grandchildren. We are not letting our grandchildren near this woman because she could easily fabricate lies about us, ultimately perpetuating the hurt to another generation. Its a very sad situation.

  2. This is a great article and when my wife read it to me I thought to myself this truly is the story of my life! If watching your parents divorce isn’t bad enough bring in a narcissistic stepmother to really put the icing on the cake! She had everyone fooled starting with my father. But even at the young of age of 14 I could see right through her and unfortunately no adult would ever believe me. The lady was downright mean to the both my sister and I when my father wasn’t around and sweet as can be when he was. I am 43 now and the wicked stepmother never goes away! She would attack my wife who was my high school sweetheart and thanks to my wife and her family I had an outlet away from her. Yes the stepmother had my father right where she wanted him. I ran off to the Army at the age of 19 right after high school to finally be free of her! The beautiful part was to have my high school sweetheart take my hand in marriage and come along with me to Germany. We returned home five years later and nothing had changed with her! I would go long periods of not talking to my father because of the grief she would cause. She has attacked my children, my wife, and myself in attempt to make us all look bad to my father. My father and I had a very bad fight and did not talk for two years. All over him siding with my stepbrother, who was going through a divorce of his own. My wife and I opened up our door to him only to have him go off and sleep with my neighbors wife. This to me was unacceptable but to my father and stepmother there was no problem. During that two year period troubles between my father and stepmother occurred almost ending there marriage. When I reconciled with my father the relationship was a wonderful experience for my children, wife and myself with him. He would come over alone to spend time with my family and a true bond had formed. He died in the spring of the year from cancer. The narcissistic stepmother is still alive and well! She made sure that my sister and my family were not invited to my father’s burial. We are not sure if she destroyed the latest will because all that is out there is an outdated will from 1989. There may have been a verbal agreement between my father and stepmother that she had decided not to honor, but land that has been in my family’s name for 65 years is now probably going to the step family which was against my father’s wishes! But in her words it’s mine and I will do with it as I want. So yes divorce is hard on everyone a narcissist stepmother never goes away even in the children’s adult lives.

  3. This is my Father’s wife. She started her calculated moves over 30 years ago when my Dad was still married to my Mom. She has been successful in ruining almost every holiday together. She has manipulated and tortored our family for so long it has just become a natural way of life for us. I wish the drama would end but until my Father realizes what she is doing and her true motives, I’m afraid the drama will continue. I feel as though my father now has been brainwashed so bad by her that he feels he can’t survive without her. He’s been sick for awhile and told he would die soon. She has been on top of that situation and has control over all of his finances. We love our dad more than anything and have always been close to him. He is now doing better and may hv a lot longer to live. I want so bad to enjoy our time together without her drama and lies. His wife doesn’t even allow us to sit alone and talk with him for more than 2 or 3 mins without her disrupting. If she doesn’t get her way she will keep him up for days yelling at him until he is so weak and disoriented that he begs us to give in to whatever her deal is at that time. I can’t even begin to say all of the horrible things she has done to my mother and to me and my sister. I truly believed my dad’s life almost ended early because of her. He has seems to have almost completely lost himself. I don’t know what to do anymore. I feel I am at a breaking point after this last horrible episode.

  4. This article is right on! My stepmonster was having an affair with my dad when I was only 4 years old and my sister was 6 months. Life after she moved in changed forever. It’s been a long process and I’m finally starting to figure this whole thing out. I’ve always wondered what the hell was wrong with her. It wasn’t until I was 35 years old that I finally diagnosed her with being narcissistic. She fit the entire description to a T. I have finally learned where the crack was my entire life…her. Thanks for the article and letting me know I’m not alone.

  5. My dad was dating a woman before he was divorced then when my parents split she served my mom the divorce papers! She made more money than my dad. But my dad is very attractive. He now makes a great living. And she doesn’t work. They have 2 kids of thier own, 18 and 16. I started to talk with the 18 year old about what I went through but it backfired and he told her. She has changed her tune and now pretends we are friends. For the past 2 years I’ve been going to visit for christmas. They are in NY I’m in NC. I can’t do it anymore but I’ve missed so much of my brothers lives. But she is in such denial that anything happened. Last christmas she even had the balls to pull me to the side and tell me she is proud of the woman I’ve become. Wft! I pretended to be really close with her but I feel it’s killing me inside to hide the scars she has given me. I don’t know what to do.

  6. Reading this was like reading the contents of my soul. For so long, I wanted my Dad to understand this and he always defends her.

    I have always felt parentless. I am 32 and have a child of my own now but I still long to have one parent in this world who loves me and I get so angry when I think of how my stepmother took my dad from me.

  7. Had been going thru this with my sons wife and her abuse of my grandchild, her step son. She would set my grandson up to take the fall ( planting evidence etc.)for her drug addiction, to the point he attempted suicde at 17. All info went through her and all though they were lies my son blindly believed her. She would make it clear that she was in control when my son wasn’t there. Called welfare and they hid my grandchild for 3 years. My grandson would stay awake nights caring for this woman who would vomit and convince my son she was dying. Meanwhile she scapegoated my grandson in awful ways. My son went to Afghanistan and tried to hide his going till last minute. I got freaked to realize my grandson was now totally at mercy to her abuse. After his suicide attempt he was ordered to go into counseling and although she tried to convince the doctor my grandson was a psychopath and by this time she did all the talking. My grandson learned long ago not to seek help, or it would get worse for him. After a talk with his therapist, with my son already deployed, I called a warning to the local police and they listened.I assume they contacted his counselor because next visit my grandson moved to his real mothers. My son holds him to blame for abandoning step mom. Well son was back 2 weeks and she accidentally took an overdose and died. Even as things are unfolding he still hangs on to denial. Autopsy should be done before long…I hope they reveal all they found……..! My grandson is doing well and showed no emotion about her death.

  8. Ok, I am wondering if the stepmothers that you all mentioned were actually this way or you saw them as this because you wanted your parents to be together…or you could care less if your father find love and happiness once he created you. My mom doesn’t have the greatest boyfriend, but I am cordial and she is very much a part of my life. You know why? Because I am grown and have a family of my own, and I not going to tell her what she needs or doesn’t need in order to be happy…that is her decision. So you choosing not to have your dad in your lives or your children lives is not due to his choice, it is due to your choice. Also, does this woman have that much control over a grown man and now you all, that would not allow your own children to enjoy and build a relationship with their father. Has this woman ever done anything for you…cooked your food, cleaned up after, got your gifts, thought about you during the time she was with your father? You know, do the things a mother would do, but she does them out of choice rather than obligation? This story is just another way that people put a negative light on the great stepmothers out here….seems there are so many bad stepmothers, where are the evil stepfathers? And even if this woman is as awful as you make her out to be, why would allow her to do just you think her intention was, ruin your relationship with your father. I apologize to those who really did face pain and hurt due to an evil stepmother, but I want one of you be in the stepmother trenches and give your life to a man you love and extend that life to each his children, receive the hurt and pain due to kids being unhappy with her because they are mad their parents got divorced (a decision she had nothing to do with yet she is blamed), make attempt after attempt to get love and appreciation from children that do not really want you there. Just this weekend, my 5 year old step daughter told me that me marrying her father made her sad and she would want her parents to marry. That hurt more than you can imagine because I love my husband and I want my family (and she is my family now) to support our love. My daughter is 11 and has always been happy for me. You think it doesn’t hurt to meet a terrific man after the worst dating experience and expect to live happily ever after only to realize your happiness becomes your stepchildren’s unhappiness. That every time you have an accomplishment like telling your husband you lost 10 pounds, your stepson quickly brings up how your husband’s ex lost 5 pounds and happy moments with your family are stolen away because it always about their mommy. I don’t think you all have any idea what it is like to walk a mile in a Narcissistic Stepmothers shoes. Did you ever think that maybe she wasn’t out to suck his blood, that maybe she just found love and was open to marrying a divorced man not considering that his own children may be the downfall to their marriage? I mean you all think this is about her happiness…did you ever consider why dad walks away. Because though he would love to see his grandkids, though he would love to see you all do well in life and accomplish your goals….having a family was his goal and having a companion by his side when you were all gone because at the end of the day, that is all he has. Realize, a man must put his wife first, even if he had his children first. You can’t build a family from children, it will never be strong enough…it starts with the wife and husband. Look up what stepmothers go through and you might change your mind. Some stepmothers do more than some bio-mothers when they don’t have to all the while facing resistance and disrespect, are not supported by their husbands like the first wife is, deal with fathers who parent in guilt, dealing with crazy ex spouse….and let me tell you, no one could pay me enough to go through the hurt and pain of being a stepmother and half of that money goes to another household anyway!

  9. And another thing! Why is it that the first wife who left the man and is making him pay child support not seen as someone interested in his money? What, since she is the first wife, she is entitled. This whole article is some BS, written in poor taste, and totally one-sided!!! Let me guess, the ex-spouse and the step kids wrote it. Now let’s get an article from some great step moms and kids that still hated who they represented (kid’s parents’ decision to divorce) or the father thanking this woman that came into his life, loved him in spite of a whole family against her love for him and that constantly gave of herself when she was hated. Yeah, I would like to hear from him. Matter of fact, I will talk to my husband about writing that today.

  10. Someone said their father is sick and the the stepmother is in control of the finances. Ask yourself this question, would your mother if still married to your father was in control of the finances, would that anger you? If you were in control of your husband’s finances, would that be wrong? So, why do you have issue with this wife being in control of her husband’s finances. Sorry but this is normal but kids feel since they came first, the second wife should have no rights. As far as I am concerned, she is doing her job as a wife…let her, just like you would allow your mother to be. Just because she is a second wife, doesn’t make her any less important and she should always be first in her husbands heart. Everyone is so mad at their fathers. Well, if I were your fathers, I would upset that you are not allowing me to be happy. I don’t partically get along with my mom’s boyfriend who she has been with over 10 years, but I don’t cut my mom out of my life. She is a big part of my life and her grandkids. Stop holding that relationship over your father’s head because at the end of the day, his wife is who he chose to spend the rest of his life with, she will take care of him, the granda just come for a visit. I’m willing to bet you are unhappy because the stepmother is not your mother and it doesn’t matter how loving she was and how much she cared, you never would have accepted her no matter who she was. Stepmothers meet a terrific guy, fall in love and extend that love to his children when they don’t have to, face resistant angry kids who are mean even stepmother is loving, husbands who don’t support them like they would the first spouse and father in guilt, kids, an ex and society who feel she doesn’t have the same rights as the first wife, and who is mother to children that are less forgiving and in some cases hate her for trying. Kids actually hate stepmoms who are too nice and the nicer they are, the more they will resist her. Do bio-mothers go through this? No! So before you judge a woman blessed to find love and happiness with a man, stop judging her until you are actually in her shoes and have the realize the happiness you found in a man ends up being unhappiness to his children. I am a mother and step mother and I go through pain and hurt when my children (stepchildren) tell us they want their dad to be with their mother, and even when they act out, always bring up their mother and tell me what she does eventhough I have been a mother longer, when they still see their mother as my husband’s wife when she did not want to be…and no matter how much it hurts, I still love them beyond that…but that is what I am required to do, even more than the mother that birthed them so I’m not the bad guy. It is like I have to pay through children to love their father when my relationship is with him and it was never a requirement of his first wife. This article and your comments are just one of the many negative views in society that stepmothers and second wives receive along with the evil stepmothers in fairy tales…I wonder why stepfathers don’t get this type of press. Do better! You don’t havea good relationship with your father because that is your choice, I would never allow someone to ruin my relationship with my mom or dad. Also, ask yourself, is your father that dumb that he allows another person to control him and brainwash him? Maybe he just fell in love with a woman. And you can you actually control people with sex in today’s society?!!

  11. This article hits some very raw nerves…descriptions align all too well with my stepmother. While there was no affair in my circumstance, there was (and is) endless manipulation of my father. So much so that he defends her, she can do no wrong. Blame was shifted to me…always. I have made a choice to leave those days behind…my wife is an amazing woman…my kids are amazing children. The last thing I want to expose them to is my stepmother and her toxic twist on life. Is this acceptable? What is the litmus test for shunning family? Is it even ‘family’ when the only bond you share is DNA.

  12. Sounds like your a bitter step mother this is a place for help and reassurance not criticizing the betrayed fkn troll….

  13. Joan, you are not alone! I am dealing with my father and his new wife(I do not call her stepmother)-because a mother cares for you! My step monster is just like yours-i swear they produce them in hell!?I have not spoken to my dad or her in 6 years due to her turning him away from me-just spoke for first time this last Father’s Day-wish I had not. The bullying, blaming, b.s. Picked up from 6 years ago-not remorseful!Toxic people they are and I am sorry sorry another person has to go through what I have! I am attending Codependents anonymous-many good books by Melodie Beattie on taking care of yourself?

  14. Wow. I’m shocked at how similar our stories are. My stepmother has tried to ruin my life and the relationship I have with my daf since I was 5 yrs old. I am now 40 and it just keeps getting worse. I’d love to chat with you about it – and find out how to cope. It would be nice to talk with someone who understands.

  15. Interesting comments- unless one experiences narcissist abuse they honestly dont believe it nor seem to be able to understand. I think kids generally want their parents to be happy and yes the kids need to grieve a lot when divorce happens. But there is no way anyone shouldhave to place themselves repeatedly in a narcissists path. The less the better.

  16. I find it extremely frustrating to see the comments about how wrong children are and how much they don’t want their fathers to be happy. I grew up with an extremely difficult life because my mom was a severe alcoholic and my parents finally divorced when I was 16 and my mom passed from her addiction this year and I am 19. Less than a year before my mother passed my dad met a woman online and within a month proposed to her. She would tell my dad not to come visit me at college because he needed to spend time with her and that I was an adult and did not need to see him often. She also called me many hurtful names to my father and yes i have actual proof that she said those things. This caused a huge burden on my relationship with my father. We used to be so close and he was a person I could lean on, but as soon as she came along he threw me away like I was trash because she thought our relationship would interfere with theirs. From the day they met our relationship has been horrible. The first thing he did when my mom passed was mentioned how she had gotten some of his retirement money from the divorce and her passing would mean that it would go to both me and my sister. On the day she died he asked me what my intentions were with the money and since, he has told me he expects me to give it back to him because he could never steel his fathers money. Except I did not steel it, it was in my mothers name and the only reason I have it is because she died. There have been so many more issues but this woman truly is not a loving person. I was excited that my dad could date again because I was hoping to have a relationship with whoever he ended up with, but she had said from the beginning that she is never going to be a mother figure to me. Her own 16 year old son moved out of the house to go live with his dad. She is horrible and so is my own father for allowing one human being to influence his opinion of his children. I have also reached out to her on so many occasion whether it was inviting her to lunch, coffee, or just texting he to see how she was and yet she still will not stop bullying me. She even posts mean statuses on Facebook about me! I forgot I was in middle school. I truly feel the pain and abandonment of all of the people who have commented. I hope the you, your fathers and step mothers can find common ground and restore the relationship.

  17. I think I may be going through this in my current relationship my current girlfriend I think is trying as hard as possible to sabotage my relationship with my teens as I was reading this article this light clicked on above my head she is much younger than me I’m 45 she is 28 and I actually see this manipulation starting now in my household my kids barely ever try to be home a I see now why I’ve sat back for the past few months and have thought wtf is going on with my family well my son turned 18 this past weekend but he’s been gone from home for about 5 months now kinda hanging out wherever he can just so he doesn’t have to be here my 16 year old daughter would actually rather be at her drug addicted mother and grandmother’s house than be here (she is not using drugs) but she feels more attention is given to her there than here and my 14 year old daughter she likes hanging out at friends house till it’s time for her to come home shower for school the next day and go straight to bed my children have never been this way I’ve been in this relationship now 9 months but as I’ve sat back to decipher this I see how she is working me and my children she does whatever I want when I want she’s clingy and needy and constantly wants my attention when I’m home from work and if my kids are home and come to talk to me I hear her sigh like it’s bothering her and when that child walks away she’ll have something to say about them and it always starts off with “I’m not trying to start nothing but……..” I think it’s time I rethink this relationship before it goes any further

  18. There are women who naturally have a gezebel spirit and are miserable with themselves and really do abuse their step children while acting as their savior to all others. When i would tell my Dad events, he would believe and take her side and then cry that “I didnt love her” even tho it was apparant she wanted me miserable. Dont speak of things you have not experienced please it hurts those that HAVE BEEN abused by step parents and its devastating but can help you grow if you can overcome. GOD gives us all different lessons. God bless

  19. Honestly, most of what you said makes you sound NARCISSISTIC. DID you seriously just say that “happy family moments are STOLEN”??? Because to ypung children its always “ABOUT their mother”??? WOW. I always allow my stepdaughter to praise he mother and am happy about it!!! That is what you DO if you love your spouse, and his CHILDREN!!! Iam a stepmother and my stepdaughter is candid about the fact that I am much more of a mother to her than her own. It took 2 years to get here. You are the only one who needs therapy. God bless your step kids.

  20. ….My 5 year old step daughter told me that me marrying her father made her sad as she wants her parents want to marry . That hurt more than you can imagine…

    ….Like telling your husband you lost 10 pounds your step son quickly brings up how your husband s ex lost 5 pounds…
    …..I don’t think you all have any idea what it’s like to walk in a mile in a narcisstistic Stepmothers shoes…

    ….and constantly gave of herself when she was hated???

    Yep go get your husband to write a letter on what a great selfless narcisstic step mother that you are?

  21. I have gone out of my way to love my new step kids as my own.( The bio mom took off and left my husband with three kids in diapers. ) Unfortunately my husbands own step mom did not want him to get remarried and poisened two of the kids ages 17 and 20, against me with out even knowing me. My mother in law is awesome though thank God. Only my 17 year old mentally disabled step son has bonded with me. He calls me mom, and tells me he loves me/ gives hugs. I still reach out to my step daughters in love. It’s not easy.

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