Deep Pain and Dilemmas Having Narcissistic Step Children

There are some common mantras that I hear often: “We have a great family” or the other  “We have great kids.” These are in your face comments that are thrown purposely to indicate that this person and his/her family is impeccable. These people are insensitive to other families and individuals who are having a very difficult life with traumas and tragedies. If said thoughtlessly, it is an in your face: “What’s the matter with you?” remark that I find inappropriate. You can be very proud of your family and children put pay attention to your audience. When someone shares his personal pain with you, it is time for everyone to step up and be empathic and respectful. This person is not asking the listener to make comments about their perfect life.  It is not time for this person to chirp about How Wonderful They are and Everyone That Surrounds Them and Shares Their DNA. I find this disingenuous.How dare anyone have a very difficult marriage with a narcissistic scoundrel, a spouse that pilfers money out of malleable relatives, an in-law who causes psychological stress and horrid melodramatic scenes at every family gathering and disrupts every life he/she encounters. Many who live among us are  hypocrites—intolerant, delusional, pretentious, cruel and vapid.

One of the most difficult family constellations is the husband and wife who have a blended family with biological children on each side.(Any parent who has a narcissistic child has suffered tremendously and needs understanding, respect and comfort.)  At the center of the psychological pain is the narcissistic son or daughter of the husband or wife. This circumstance can tear the family apart and destroy the marriage.The father or mother of the narcissistic child is often in denial about his son or daughter’s true nature that is highly pathological. When the parent recognizes that his child is disrupting the family and their marriage it is time to make a decision about how much contact to have or not have with this child. Some narcissistic children set out to destroy the reputation of their parent’s spouse. These spouses have expressed their severe pain over the manipulations, frontal and covert attacks upon them. They have cleverly lied to family members, spread rumors, created scandals out of whole cloth and done whatever they can to destroy the marriage. That’s how deep their hatred goes. This is self hatred that the narcissist holds deep in his unconscious and is used to project on to and disrupt the lives of anyone of their way.

There is a time of reckoning that occurs. The wife or husband of the spouse who has the narcissistic child has come to the end of their tolerance. They have been verbally maligned too many times. In many cases when the marriage is strong the couple can speak truthfully about the narcissistic child. The parent of the narcissist comes to terms with the recognition that his child suffers from this personality disorder. I have seen this occur. It is difficult but necessary if there is to be any peace in the family or among the marital partners. In many cases there is a decision to have limited or no contact with the narcissistic child. I have great respect for these couples and parents. This is difficult work that requires truthfulness and compassion. In the end these individuals know they have made the right decision, one that allows them to move forward in their personal growth and the deepening of their relationship.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.