I am increasingly convinced that STBX has narcissistic personality disorder. I don't want my daughter to live through what I did -- trying to meet his needs only to find that they were unmeet-able and have him criticize her for failing. So far he has shown few signs of directing his narcissistic behavior at her (she is 28 months old) but there have been some signs. For example, when he was depressed and she came in the same room to play, he would ask for a kiss. If she did not want to give one, he would say "OK DD, leave then." These are VERY small incidents so far & fairly rare. Meanwhile the disorder was on full display toward me.
We have split up & are divorcing. Everything is still to be determined re visitation schedule, residential schedule, & legal decision-making authority. I still have a chance to set things up so they give DD the best chance to have a healthy relationship with her dad. Any thoughts or suggestions? I have read not very good prognoses for narcissistic PD but if there is anything we can put in place that will mitigate its effects on their relationship, I want to take those steps now.
Of course, this is not a diagnosed disorder (that I am aware of). He is in individual psychotherapy as of recently, & we are thinking of seeing a specialist in toddler development about the impact of conflict btwn us on our DD, & I am considering asking that he be required to attend therapy oriented toward battering spouses. However, it seems to me that if he really is a narcissist, other approaches to therapy are likely to be only minimally helpful.
Will anything help???? And is there anything I can do for my DD apart from her dad to strengthen her to withstand the impact of his narcissism?
I grew up with a narcisstic dad who also had bi-polar and it was hard.
You are right - their needs come first and if you don't meet them, they don't want you around. They don't generally care about children (or anyone) the way they should.
And, you are also right, that it is hard to change them. The disorder is so ingrained. However, going to counseling is a good first step and means that there is some hope.
I would just make sure that you model what a normal and healthy relationship is, so that your daughter knows that what she has with her dad is not normal. They can still have a relationship and hopefully by only seeing her occasionally, he will be on his best behavior. She will realize that he has mental issues and so not take the things he says to heart so much (hopefully).
NPD is extremely difficult to treat because the nature of the disorder is that people don't necessarily believe that anything is wrong with them. Whatever discomforts, losses, failings, etc. they experience, they are blamed on others.
As for having him be required to go to a certain kind of therapy? My understanding is that only a judge can mandate treatment, unless there is some situation where he is at serious risk of hurting/killing himself or someone else, in which case he could be "committed". Doesn't sound like that's the situation though, and he's got a right to refuse any and all treatment.
I can't imagine what you're going through, but it sounds like splitting up would be for the best. People with NPD aren't generally family oriented people, and often blame their family as their source of pain.
first of all,
most people with npd actually do not even set foot into a therapist's office, because of their grandiosity and feelings that everyone else is to blame but them. you also might want to look into borderline personality disorder, there are many overlaps and some people have both npd and bpd.
anyways, dh's father has npd, and although he was a good dad in some respects, it was always quite a shallow relationship. also, he had/has an extremely authoritarian and controlling style of relating to his children, which made dh evolve as a peacemaker personality. sil, otoh, has numerous serious psychological issues, and was estranged from her father for quite a long time.
i commend you for doing what it takes to protect your dd from being exposed to your dh's issues. mil and fil are now divorced, but mil is quite saddened and regretful of not being able to protect her 2 children while they were growing up.
btw, npd fil has gone on to marry a bpd woman...omg...
I grew up with a narcissistic mother - her behavior still causes me pain in many ways. I think had my other parent been more hands-on and provided me with a strong, secure loving base, and a safe place to have all my feelings, I would have done better over the years. It's a hard thing to accept, but you will ultimately have to allow them their relationship, for better or for worse. I'm sure you know to not bad mouth him at all. When she's older and ready, you can let her talk to you about her feelings. The key for you will be to let her go through her own process of relating to him and coming to her own decisions. You can't control what she'll experience or how she'll deal with it. But you can be a safe haven for her where she knows she can have all her feelings without judgment, without co-opting, and without retribution. That's the opposite of narcissistic parenting, and it's the best you can do.
Wow, you all, esp. the PP. It is extraordinary to come here and find the degree of insight and compassion that I am coming to count on at MDC. These words -- about how it probably will be problematic for her, but they are going to have their relationship, & I need to make sure I don't participate in that but remain available & safe for her to process her love for and issues with her dad, if they emerge -- are so wise. I am grateful for your responses and will bear in mind your advice as I move forward.
OMG, that's my mom. And my kids and I have lived with her and her husband for four years since my divorce.
I just tell her off, mostly. Its tiring to have to listen to that ... And my daughter (7) keeps begging me to move. I just don't feel like we can afford it. Another topic altogether. *sigh*