5 Signs Your Kids Have a Narcissistic Grandmother

Updated on August 13, 2018
kalinin1158 profile image

Lana is a freelance writer, blogger, and editor who helps women to regain their power after experiencing toxic relationships.

In fairy tales, a grandmother is a warm and fuzzy creature that acts as a mentor to the young protagonist. She is a silver-haired benefactress full of wisdom and kindness (think: fairy godmother).

But what if your kids' grandmother is more like the witch from "Hansel and Gretel?"

You might be dealing with a "difficult" grandmother who has become a toxic presence in your life, as well as your children's lives. The following are 5 telltale signs of a difficult or narcissistic granny.

Source

1. She has no respect

Respect for other people doesn't come easy to her. She wants to get respect, but she doesn't want to give it.

And since she doesn't respect you, she can't stop meddling and inserting her opinion into everything - because her opinion is the only one that matters.

But it's not merely an opinion; it's a systematic campaign to criticize, belittle and denigrate you as parents. And no matter how hard you try, she is never satisfied. She always finds a reason why you're bad.

Now, this sucks for you, but how does that affect grandchildren, you ask? The older they are, the more they understand. Seeing their mother or father disrespected will surely have a negative impact on them. It might even give them an idea that it's OK to treat other people badly.

Conversely, if no one acknowledges the offensive behavior, it might teach them to silently accept mistreatment.

2. She undermines your authority as parents

She believes she knows best when it comes to your children because she raised children of her own. She believes she is a perfect mother. Or maybe deep down she knows she messed up, and now she wants a "second chance" with a grandchild.

Whatever the case may be, she will not follow your instructions when babysitting. She will belittle or mock your parental choices and passive-aggressively imply that the child behaves better (sleeps better, eats better) when with her.

If you tell her: "No cookies before a meal," she will try to sneak your kid an Oreo when you're not looking. Call her out on it, and she will act surprised, offended, or claim that she just "forgot".

The result? A child who now thinks that it's OK to disobey parental rules as long as you're at grandma's.

Difficult grandmothers have trouble distinguishing between the role of a parent and the role of a grandparent. That's why they are often the meddlers of the family.
Difficult grandmothers have trouble distinguishing between the role of a parent and the role of a grandparent. That's why they are often the meddlers of the family. | Source

3. She plays favorites with the grandchildren

In this scenario, one grandchild (or several) are deemed "worthy" while the others are not.

It can be expressed in a myriad ways, but most notably, it shows in verbally comparing the children, making unfair judgements and choosing the "winner" of the family based on some superficial characteristic.

This is a form of emotional abuse. It can seriously damage a child's self esteem, especially if it's tolerated by other family members. If you have a grandma who does that to your kid(s), for the love of god put a stop to it.

4. She tells your kids inappropriate or hurtful things

She habitually manipulates her grandchildren to do what she wants them to do ("Grandma will be sad if you won't come visit me tomorrow").

Worse yet, she may be telling them things that undermine their self-esteem, their happiness and their identity. Just like her own children, her grandkids are the extensions of her, so she will do whatever she can to mold them into something she can find "worthy" of her.

She doesn't mean harm - in her mind she's "helping" the child to become better. But it's the same relentless nitpicking you and your husband are so familiar with.

Except adults have defenses to deal with toxic people; kids don't. It can lead to confusion, anxiety, depression, psychosomatic illnesses and other serious issues.

If a grandparent is a source of guilt, shame or anxiety for your child, you need to address the situation and take appropriate action.
If a grandparent is a source of guilt, shame or anxiety for your child, you need to address the situation and take appropriate action. | Source

5. She is a "come-and-go" kind of grandma

In extreme cases of ill-being, such as alcoholism, drug abuse, criminal behavior, mental illness etc., a grandparent might be absent for obvious reasons, or come and go depending on the circumstances.

But when dealing with a difficult (grand)mother, her controlling and narcissistic tendencies (that put her at odds with people in general) can be the reason why she intermittently disappears from her grandkids' lives.

Even the slightest offense will be perceived as a huge slap in the face, and from that point on you and your entire family is dead to her. That includes your children - her grandchildren. She will cut them out of her life as surely as she will blame you for it.

This sudden separation from the grandmother can be confusing and painful for the child. They didn't do anything wrong, yet grandma seems to have abandoned them. Obviously, this is unhealthy and harmful.

Should You Cut Contact With a Narcissistic Grandmother?

Some of her toxic behavior will affect your children directly (favoritism), some - indirectly (disrespecting the parents). But inevitably she will cause them harm. It's the way she is. She hurts those close to her.

Now, a transgression or two is not grounds for cutting all contact. In fact, it's normal for grandparents to exhibit meddling tendencies or to want to spoil the grandkids. It comes from love - usually.

It's a different story, however, when these behaviors are systematic and come from someone who has a track record of being a bad parent.

Eventually you and your partner will have to ask the question: how much should we put up with for the sake of our kids having a grandma?

The answer is tricky. Most people believe that extended family connections are important, even the ones that aren't benefiting the child. Besides, it's not that easy to cut ties with your mother-in-law (or your mother) without dismantling the whole family unit. So you need to exhaust all other options before going no contact.

Have you made every attempt to communicate?

Have you made her aware of how her actions affect your children?

Have you tried limited or supervised contact? As cynical as it sounds, supervised contact can work fine for families who only see their unruly grandmother a few times a year.

But if all else fails, let her go. And don't let anyone make you feel guilty about this. Your children will be better off without her.

Narcissistic grandmothers often play the victim role to cover up their bad behavior.
Narcissistic grandmothers often play the victim role to cover up their bad behavior. | Source

You might be thinking: but what about raising resilient kids? Shouldn't they be exposed to every kind of person so they can grow into emotionally intelligent adults? And shouldn't we let our kids forge their own relationships with their grandparents? Eh, sure. Absolutely.

But narcissistic people can be dangerous. They have severe emotional deficits that produce an entirely egocentric worldview. To them people are tools, and that includes children. They're a means to an end. She might try to turn your own kids against you. She might use them as "narcissistic supply." Or she might be slowly destroying their self-esteem with her "helpful" criticism.

Children are hyper sensitive. A slightest comment or even a joke can become their inner voice, make them feel ashamed or inferior in some way. Oftentimes children can't verbalize why they feel bad about themselves. As parents, we have to hear them even when they're not saying a word.

We have an obligation to protect our kids from any harm that comes their way, even from someone who's supposed to love and care for them.

Questions & Answers

  • What do I do if my narcissistic mother manipulates my adult children and they can’t see her behavior as disrespectful to their parents?

    That's every parent's nightmare. Kids, even adult kids, are unfortunately an easy prey for the manipulator. You can talk to them, you can try to make them see your point of view, but if they've been "groomed" by your mother, they won't listen. In fact, they might become even more loyal to grandma.

    All you can do is let it be, and hope that with time they will see the truth. Because no matter how good a manipulator she is, the truth always comes out eventually.

  • My kids really can't stand their grandmother; she possibly has spent too many years teaching religion. The other day she came over for my son's bday. He did not want to hug her(he told me he does not feel comfortable). She then threatened to take his gift away, is that right?

    No, it's not right. Kids should never be forced to hug or kiss anyone, or be touched when they don't want to. They need to know that their body and their personal space should never be violated to please the adults. This way, if a stranger does it, a child knows that it's wrong.

    People from older generations don't understand that when they demand affection from their grandkids. You should have a talk with your mom/MIL about this. And threatening to take the gift away - that's just mean.

  • I have an extremely toxic mother but New Zealand law doesn't recognize emotional abuse as harmful. I want to cut her from our lives. What can I do?

    I'm not sure how to answer that question. If there's nothing you can do legally and you believe your mother is emotionally abusive, try talking to your children about what emotional abuse is, how to recognize it and how to deal with it. It might be a good life lesson they'll be glad they learned.

© 2018 Lana Adler

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    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      7 days ago from California

      Hi KidOfNarcissists,

      do you perceive your kids ever having contact with their grandparents or is it a permanent measure? That will affect how you talk about it to your kids.

      Whatever you choose to say, be honest, but don't go into too much detail or badmouth their grandparents. Kids that age are old enough to understand conflict but you don't want to overwhelm or frighten them. Just make sure they know that it's not their fault and that grandparents love them.

      Good luck!

    • profile image

      KidOfNarcissists 

      12 days ago

      I have recently set a boundary with my narcissistic parents of no contact. My children had been seeing them and it has stopped abruptly. They have started asking about their grandparents. What are some good word choices to use for a 4 and 6 year old to explain? Thank you

    • profile image

      Grandma 

      2 months ago

      Being ungrateful is a way of life for some people. Growing up does not necessarily comes with maturity, unfortunately.

      To read a one sided article, it's a disgrace

    • profile image

      linda 

      2 months ago

      Just wait until you're a grandmother...

    • profile image

      Horrible grandmother 

      2 months ago

      Hello , this grandmother thing is really difficult because they are the parents fault they are so stubborn. My grandmother is the worst . These people say that she don’t do anything to me bu5 she does and they don’t realize but when I tried to talk to her about them , it always results in a fight . This person since it’s her mother is ALWAYS on her side and even tho that women has done her bad in the past she has always defending her and later this person gets mad at me fo4 my reason which she doesn’t understand.

      What can I do to help this person understand that women is bad an to try to leave our family ? Btw this person is all welled up because her mother has cancer to her gallbladder which isn’t given to symptoms.

    • profile image

      Mattie5 

      2 months ago

      I am a 60-yr old mother of three adult children with kids of their own. I get along great with my kids and grandchildren. My husband and I live with one of our daughters, her husband and their young child. We pay a little towards house bills and provide in-home childcare for them. The arrangement has worked out very well.

      The problem arises with my Dad; my kids' Grandfather.

      My 95-year-old father and I have a very thin, very fragile 'relationship'.

      My baggage with him goes waaaay back to my earliest memories. He is a classic, "old school" Italian, manipulative narcissist. He is also just like his mother, whom I knew very well before she passed away at the age of 99. My father's relationship with his own mother was strained, precarious, and often explosive.

      The only reason OUR relationship isn't explosive is due to my tolerance and always looking beyond his behavior, and excusing it because of how and by whom HE was raised -- while remembering he is my father, and that my mother raised me to respect my elders and "always forgive family... "

      All that said- Here's the problem;

      My children have heard snippets and stories over the years of how and why my relationship with my father has evolved into the mess that it is. But my dad was ALWAYS been good to my kids (and all his other grandchildren), and I never influenced them to feel one way or the other about "Pops".

      I always allowed them to form and develop an untainted relationship with him on their own terms and based on their own experiences with him.

      But now, since my Mom passed away a few months ago, and my siblings and I are going through unimaginable grief, my dad has once again angered me, hurt me, and discounted my feelings several times.

      One of my sibs has taken over the care of my dad since my mother died. Dad moved in with my younger brother and his family and is very happy being pampered, catered to and indulged... just like he was with my mom for 75 years.

      But he's still as narcissistic, selfish, and emotionally disconnected as ever. I'm ready to totally disconnect, I feel like I have to.

      But what about my kids? They feel torn. They don't know what to do. They feel loyal to me and my feelings, and they fully acknowledge how I've been hurt one too many times... But what do they do?

      Should they stay away from their grandfather -- because that's what I plan on doing? (I would never ask them to).

      What about when there is a holiday or family event?

      They are afraid how awkward things will be if they go, and how me and my husband not going will make things tense and uneasy for everyone.

      What do they say when Pops says "Why won't your mother come to see me? Why isn't she here today? Why is she mad at me?" They don't want to be in that position.

      Even if my father doesn't say anything at all, my sibs will be angry because I'm "hurting dad's feelings" and I'm being "a big baby about things".

      I'm always in that no-win situation with my family, and I know it and accept it. But how do my kids deal with this?

    • profile image

      Anthony. 

      2 months ago

      Calm-me,

      Just reading that comment of yours about your "grandmother" and your mom looking after her.

      I'ts a difficult situation to be in, but keep this in mind, there's been situations in the past where carers got ill looking after family members, and when that happened the person receiving the care thought, "Well, i guess I'm just going to have to do things for myself" Not saying that's the whole situation.

      Basically, just saying, your mom needs to keep that in mind, and withdraw emotionally a little if she can.

      { No point 2 people getting ill } get my meaning. "Tell her i said that" That might change your moms whole "mental approach" in how she looks after her.

      Lana. Good article.

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      2 months ago from California

      Calm-me,

      Try showing your mom some love and support. It’s not easy taking care of narcissistic family members. Knowing that she has a friend in her daughter will make it easier on her.

    • profile image

      Mandy Council 

      2 months ago

      This is my mother in law. I feel like you interviewed her...She told my son I didn't want him, behind my back. She told strangers I didn't want him. Abuse came out, and I can't get the department of social services, to understand our situation. They won't investigate the abuse, as in child saying she put him in a closet during snack time, she slapped my child in the face, other acts of abuse. She would demand to see my child, was angry when we missed a text from her about seeing our child. I confronted her about the abuse, in a TEXT and woman shut down. When before the abuse came out, she would lie to her son, saying I TEXT her rude thing's, and he would read the TEXT and apologize for getting mad me, as I simply did nothing wrong. She would go off on me, yell and scream, it was crazy. She would say I CONTROL YOUR HUSBAND, I CONTROL THIS FAMILY. It was insane. Thankful she is now out of our life!

    • profile image

      Calm-me 

      2 months ago

      My grandmother is narcissistic she keep fighting with my mom, My mom does everything for her managing her health, food everything still she not satisfied.

      What to do?

    • profile image

      Colleen 

      3 months ago

      I'm sort of on the other side of this i guess. My daughter got pregnant to a low-life who wanted nothing to do with her or the baby. Nor did he deserve them. I was there for them for most of the first 6 years. Kept that sweet girl 3-4 days of most weeks. She is my Pook and i am her Nammie. Things changed a little. They met a nice fellow and he moved in. My days with her were much less which was fine. But, my granddaughter started having serious behavior problems mostly while at home. So, now the problem apparently falls on me, and I don't see her now. I don't see how this drastic change can be good for her. I know it feels as if someone has reached in and is twisting my heart every day...

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      3 months ago from California

      Unsure,

      That is a difficult dilemma indeed. We know that narcissists use others, including kids and grandkids, as sources of narcissistic supply. You also acknowledge that your mom always puts her needs first. But you’re also reluctant about putting your son in daycare.

      I can’t tell you what you should do. Only you can make that decision. Trust what your gut tells you. Be mindful of any signs of trouble. And maybe look into the daycare options you have available. It might be a good idea for your son to play and socialize with other kids on a regular basis. He’s two so maybe 2-3 days a week might be a good start.

      Good luck!

      Lana

    • profile image

      Unsure 

      3 months ago

      My mother is a narcissit. I have a two-year old son, work fulltime and I am divorced. I need help and only my parents can assist me (or daycare). My kid loves his grandparents. I see what my mother does, how she manipulates my kid. I usually don't feel good arround her, as I can acknowledge how she tries to manipulate me and how she uses my kid for her own needs. How she always puts herself fisrt. It is sickening. My father is "normal" (as normal he can be after 40 years married to a narcisist). I need help, I am not sure what would be worst: 9 hours of daycare all year-round or exposure to my mother from time to time?

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      4 months ago from California

      stilllearning54,

      I just saw your comment, so sorry! The website identified it as spam for some reason.

      I think you're absolutely right, there should be a place like this! I've seen some websites here and there, and I'm also starting my own website (toxicties.com, coming soon) that I hope will be a place of support and education for victims of narcissistic abuse and other toxic relationships.

      So if you have any suggestions of your own, do share!

    • profile image

      Anonymous. 

      4 months ago

      Good grandmothers don't need to "blow their own trumphet"

      You Lana is cool, like one of my kids.

    • profile image

      Anonymous. 

      4 months ago

      Lana. The grandmother look's like "Richards Dawkins" but you know what ? You are way ahead of the game on this subject "and also" the only person i have come across yet who's explained what Narcissistic mean's and who it "applie's to"

      You look like "Mandy Harvey" Americas got tallent 2017 Deaf Singer who got the Golden Buzzer.

      Anyhow, After reading this you will either delete my post or not post it at all. Either way i'm cool, chilled. But i did notice paula posted on you're site, and that she was a little more respectful dealing with someone who know's what she's on about. Rightly so as well.

      Girl's to loud, Make's a lot of noise without saying anything. "Big Mouth"

    • profile image

      stilllearning54 

      5 months ago

      As a human being who has been through the unbelievable, I can very much relate to what you have said. I believe the biggest obstacle for victims of narcissistic abusers, is that by the time we figure out that we have been abused, the abuse has gone on for years and years. We fight just to be believed, question our own judgements and sanity before we figure out that the way we have lived is not normal. The people we trusted to protect, love and take care of us, used that very trust to abuse us. Then the battle begins. The world expects parents to love and want what is best for their child, so the abusers use this to their advantage as well and the victims are viewed as they must have done something wrong to deserve the treatment they receive. It's an uphill battle albeit an isolating one, all the way. We need a place or organization where we can all safely go to learn and heal. It needs to be a place that does not encourage revenge, retaliation or getting even in any way but a place that supports understanding, forgiveness of our abusers as this is for our own wellbeing and understanding but also supports no contact. It has taken me years to get to the point where I am now and I have still have years to go, in the healing department. It's hard to undo a lifetime of abuse that is unending. I wish I had had a place I could turn to in my earlier years. Do you have any suggestions? I know of one good place online that is a wonderful beginning but I'm not sure if it's okay to list it here, please advise. Thank you.

    • profile image

      Dabby Lyric 

      5 months ago

      Thank you Lana!

      I should write a book about all the mess that I've gone through.

      It's Awesome that we can talk so openly about these situations.

      Thank you!

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      5 months ago from California

      Dabby,

      you're absolutely right and your story is so important to share too! I'm glad that you've been able to let some of that pain out by writing about it. It will take time but you're on the right path :)

    • profile image

      Dabby Lyric 

      5 months ago

      Thank you Lana for that quote!

      My pain is so deeply rooted that it will take time to detox from the from the toxins.

      Side Note:

      For those of you who've decided that you don't 'fancy' the new member in the family, suck it up! If they have not done anything to hurt anybody, stay the hell out of their business and get some of your own! What you do will come back and bite you in the butt and you will not like it at all!

      Peace

    • profile image

      Dabby Lyric 

      5 months ago

      To Finally Accepting the Distance...

      My heart goes out to you! A lot of what you said hit home for me. I truly applaud you for speaking up and out about all of this. These types of abuse in dysfunctional families are sadly common and I have no doubt that you have helped someone out there who has been suffering in silence.

      I went through a horrible situation in my marriage and I thank God that I am away from it now. I actually have an article about it here. It's titled 'Surviving Toxic-In Laws.' The situation was way wore than I portrayed.

      Side Note: For those in romantic relationships, PLEASE be honest with yourself and your mate!

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      5 months ago from California

      Finally accepting the distance,

      Thank you for your heartfelt message. I think it’s so important that you share your story and encourage others in a similar position to embrace their own path, their own choices when it comes to their family dynamics (including dysfunction, abandonment, abuse etc.)

      You have a powerful voice and a beautiful message.

      I’m reminded of a quote I’ve read a long time ago: “The wound is where the light enters you.” Use this pain to channel your light, to connect with others. It might bring you the healing you seek.

    • profile image

      Finally accepting the distance 

      5 months ago

      Thank you Lana for your response.

      I won't divulge into more personal information but reading your perspective and interpretation of what I've said thus far has been empowering and very comforting.

      Again, I am so sorry for talking SO MUCH in your comment section, but I truly valued the insight I found here today.

      Thank you for being such a beautiful and inspiring light in such a confusing time.

    • profile image

      Finally accepting the distance 

      5 months ago

      In response to Dabby Lyric-

      It is a complicated situation filled with more emotion and trauma than I can truly describe here. Coping with it has proven to be an even larger battle than it was to acknowledge the trauma. Seeking education, therapy, distance, and reading this page (and several others in the passing months) has helped significantly with redirecting my life and emotions.

      To be honest, even after 15 years of always standing alone in my own defense, it's difficult to truly feel like I'm not to blame. The veiled insults, the crazy making, the way she infantilized me and worshipped my children, and the way she counted on me wanting a relationship with her were all power plays to keep me under her thumb. How she gets away with it speaks volumes about the rest of my family ignoring it. My family has long toted the idea that family bonds are unbreakable. They strictly enforced the whole "blood is thicker than water" and family first for so long that it has allowed them to continue dignifying and accepting the family who have committed heinous acts against women and children (including but hardly limited to, extreme shaming, molestation, rape, and even murder) while denying the victims any room to speak. I was one of the victims from the ages of 5 to 16 and my shame in being one has long been a tool used to keep me silent.

      Appearances are everything in this family, I suppose. I often hate telling anyone about my childhood because it always ends with an open mouth stare and people simply not knowing how to respond. Our family is so respected in their religious community that my voice has become condemnation to their ears. Throughout my childhood this behavior was so normalized and brushed under the rug that I thought everyone else dealt with the same problems.

      Our family values their outward image so much that it has become easier to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear than it is to address the rampant dysfunction. This is easier when the victims are all isolated and left to feel as though they somehow brought their trauma upon themselves. This is how I felt for years. I am the product of years of conditioning, and only when I had children did I develop the strength to reach out and validate what I have always known was wrong.

      Her demanding access to my children without my presence there to monitor her behavior, is enough to know that I have taken flight from someone who doesn't respect boundaries or the authority of anyone else- let alone the law. She is the matriarch, and she will do anything to get her way- including destroying the children she once claimed to love so dearly.

      I'm honestly sorry for disclosing so much personal information, but I feel like I have to share this to help any others who have been placed in a similar situation. You're not alone. It took me 30 years to get to this point and I still have so much recovery to seek. I just want people to know that as terrifying as embracing this change can be- it is so necessary and so important for not just the individual but for the community they function in.

      We make the world what it is. Our voice, our struggles, and our silence are all integral parts of what creates our environment.

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      5 months ago from California

      Finally accepting the distance,

      Thank you for sharing the story, and before I respond, I just want to compliment you on how intelligent and articulate you are in communicating your feelings and everything you had to go through with your mother. Great job!

      This is truly a gut wrenching account...It’s almost inconceivable that a parent would act that way towards their own child. But narcissistic people are those special snowflakes, aren’t they? Always a victim, never a villain.

      Everything is backwards in their world. A child wants to have a relationship with her father? “She’s trying to hurt me and is now the enemy.” A child wants to have a relationship with her mother? I’ll try to control her and berate her every chance I get. A child wants to distance herself from the toxicity of that relationship? I’ll turn it around on her and call her sensitive and dramatic. She wants to protect her children? I’ll start a smear campaign saying that she uses the children to hurt me.

      This is all very twisted, especially demanding to have a relationship with grandkids only. In what world is this OK? In a world of a narcissist. Stay away from her and from her flying monkeys. You’re doing GREAT. You’re hurting but I don’t feel much animosity towards your mother in your words. Mostly just pain. You’re a very kind person and I’m sorry you have to go through this. But you’re doing the right thing for yourself and for your family. Stay strong, and stay positive!

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      5 months ago from California

      Hi @ilive4rain,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry you had to go through this.

      Judging from what you said, I totally support your decision to disconnect from your mom for the time being. I know it’s painful but you have to act in the best interest of your child. Narcissistic people have a way of making kids (and adult children) feel inadequate and ashamed even when they didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just the way they are. Your daughter is still very young, she doesn’t need this. Maybe when she’s older she can choose whether she wants a relationship with her grandmother, but right now it seems that she’s better off without her.

      You have nothing to feel guilty about. You’re doing a great job of being a better mother to your daughter than your mom was to you. Keep it up!

    • profile image

      Dabby Lyric 

      5 months ago

      To 'Finally Accepting the Distance'

      Lord, I'm so sorry for your pain and hurt. It's such a betrayal when those who claim to love you do their very best in trying to destroy you!

      The WORST thing you can do is use kids to further your cruel intentions against their parent(s). It's Disgusting and when said parent(s) stand against it, you're told 'put the kid(s) first...you always think of yourself!

      My daughter is only 2 but she'll learn how toxic the family is. She will start asking questions. Questions that nobody really wanna answer. I hurt for her!

    • profile image

      Finally accepting the distance 

      5 months ago

      I am a child of divorce. When my mother left my Dad, she expected all of her kids to leave too. Of me and 3 other, older siblings, I was the only child who did not comply- I was the youngest. Both of my parents moved on and started new families, and I was often left as a second thought to the new families they set up for themselves.

      My mother has persisted in using guilt and manipulation to beat me down about attempting to have a relationship with my father over the past 20 years. As he hasn't always been the most impressive human being, I tried to understand her discontent- however it boiled over into an expectation of control over me and my adult life with my children. She has (in 10 years since the birth of my first child) tried to force me to plan two birthdays for each of my children so she doesn't have to see my father, embarrassed me at my own wedding by flipping him off just for saying hello to her (after trying to demand that he not be invited), demanded that she always get to see my children regardless of our constant fighting and my choice to distance myself, and continually denied any and all of her culpability in how chaotic my own childhood was. While my father was verbally abusive and a drug addict, she was always more covert and emotionally abusive, using her love and support as a tool to gain my compliance in her fight to make my father miserable post divorce. She wasn't particularly an addict, but she did drugs and drink with my father up until the divorce when she then turned into a born again woman who claimed all of those things were bad and that he forced her to do them. Basically they became arsenal to use against him since he had a record of rehab, while she kept her habits close to the chest and hidden.

      In recent years, I have placed a significant amount of space between her and I, as adulthood has revealed to me that her ideas are not as clean and innocent as she once jaded me to believe. As an adult, hearing her justify her selfish vindications against my father almost 20 years post divorce has shown me monumental truths about how selfish she was during their marriage. When she left my father, she left him for a man half her age who immediately moved in, and she has since told me I should be grateful she didn't move out of state with that man when he asked her too. She has said that I, "should be grateful she chose to stay and raise me instead of whisking away to a tropical state with him." I was 12. I never realized that was a valid question to any parent, let alone that a 12 year old me should have had to be grateful for my parent deciding to be a parent and not a flake. Even after the relationship with this man ended, she was fast to move in another man she worked with immediately after, and together they established the most ironic fortress of control and complete indenial about their roles in their divorces. Together they became a powerhouse of self-proclaimed victims to their exes, and both fed off of the mutual belief that neither of them did any wrong in their previous relationships.

      My father has been silent in his opposition to this, as he was never truly an active father after meeting his new wife and taking on her daughter. He stopped trying for a relationship when I moved out at 18, only coming around for the grandkids when he chose to. Even in his absence my mother continued to drag me through the mud about being his daughter and how he treated her- as if it was my fault. The past 15 years since the divorce, my mother made me the enemy she projected her anger towards my father onto. She has such a strong need for others to see her as a victim that she has championed me as the plague of her life. For years I have trudged through this hoping for recovery or a silver lining, but eventually I just became content with knowing that I would never have the kind of healthy mother-daughter relationship my friends had with their mothers.

      I tried fostering a relationship with my mother and my children and for the past 10 years have tried working through our arguments to the detriment of my own well-being. Over the years, my mother has purposefully usurped my authority with my children by arguing with me in front of them, gaslighting me about what I've experienced in childhood, degrading me with insults veiled as jokes (ie: i'm pregnant and she keeps telling me how fat I'm getting- when I rejected the insults she retorted by saying "oh get over it, you were too skinny before anyways") and has consistently referred to me as being "dramatic" because I react to her antagonism. She is phenomenal at finding the exact cut downs to make me feel lower than anything else in the universe. Things really took a sharp downward turn when I identified her splitting up my own two children, one male and one female, and playing favorites with my daughter while degrading her younger brother. Comically, he flipped his sister off at grandma's house once, and grandma keeps referencing THAT moment as an explanation for why he is so "disobedient and disrespectful". (He was there when my mom flipped my dad off at my wedding, and she walked around that evening openly bragging about what she had done.)

      Where this post unfortunately swirls together is in regards to my own children. The next generation. In recent years, I have chosen to distance myself from both of my parental homes because I am tired of being the only child trapped between warring parents. Remember, my other siblings stopped trying 15 years ago. Neither side will acknowledge my mental anguish, so I have chosen to remove myself and my family from both familial units- for the safety and security of myself and the family I have created. This decision has culminated into parental alienation, and I no longer feel it's advisable to have my children be alone with my parents. Or to be around them period. My father has accepted it, however my mother has turned to enlisting the help of my younger siblings to try and force me to allow her to maintain a relationship ONLY with my children. Some radical part of her actually believes she is entitled to them, and that it is acceptable to bypass myself and my husband completely and still play grandmother while actively hating us. She has resorted to using extreme guilt- "You're using the kids as pawns to hurt me!" and, "I only want to hear from/about them, I don't want your drama in my life" and, "You only get one mother" and, "I will always love you but" statements. Oh and the best two, "You're just like your Dad, go tell him now that you and him can be close because you've crushed my heart" and "I'll make sure no one contacts you when I die. "

      I realize all of this is deeper than I will ever be willing to dig in her psyche, but being actively involved in her life has become toxic for me and I have realized after so long that it is my responsibility to break that cycle.

      The most alarming part is her belief of possession over my children. She recently didn't call to wish me happy birthday but had my younger sibling text me guilt messages two weeks later about making sure my children will call her and wish her happy birthday. I didn't. Because I didn't, I received lengthy texts from 3 people (mother included) about how "shitty" my life is and how all I am doing is using my children to hurt her.

      In hindsight, this is my fault because I didn't stick up for myself sooner, but what girl doesn't want to be close to her mother when she has her own children? It took me so long to identify the toxicity that has always been present that it has caused irreparable damage to extended family. It has created a rift where my mother is demanding that people take her side- and the current situation very much resonates with the events that transpired when my parents first got divorced. I have enough friends and family from my husband's side and through our travels together to not feel as defeated or isolated as my mother wants me to. I have learned that the only way to protect my family is to sharpen the knife I cut the ties with.

      Beware of that point. That is the point of no return.

    • profile image

      Dabby Lyric 

      5 months ago

      Oh God, I'm so sorry ilive4rain! I can fell that familiar pain and I hurt for you and yours!

      You are doing the right thing I protecting your Child!

      I don't understand why some people fell that they are 'owed' time with a child, no matter their relation. When you make it your life's mission to intrude, berate and destroy one or both of parents of that child, you forfeit ANY claim that you think you have! How the heck can you treat a human being like crap then have the audacity to ask to have their child overnight, let alone see said child?

      Take care and stay strong! Your daughter will appreciate this decision!

    • profile image

      ilive4rain 

      5 months ago

      My mother is highly narcissistic with diagnosed borderline personality disorder. She was incredibly abusive to me as a child, and has apologized incessantly for it, even though her ability to control her behaviors and inappropriate emotional reactions is severely limited. I have gone through extensive therapy and treatment for PTSD ver the years and have worked very hard to overcome.

      Our daughter is now nearly nine years old and since she was born, my husband and I have practiced controlled, scheduled and always supervised visits with my mom, who lives 2,000 miles away. In the beginning, she was terrific with us and our daughter but over the course of the past three or four years, her behavior and overall affect has become increasingly overbearing and domineering. Because of this, her visits have had to be reduced from two to three times per year to just one. She is especially hostile to my husband who has never tolerated her abuses.

      She just left from her latest visit and I am now convinced it will be the last one. As our daughter matures and becomes more and more self aware and independent, my mother has become more resentful of her autonomy. My daughter too is now too old not to witness my mother's hostility toward her father and observes my mother's facial expressions (apparently filled with rage) when I am not present or looking.

      As my mom and daughter said goodbye this last visit, my daughter had given her a kiss and hug but my mom wanted more affection than my daughter was willing to give. She sneered and hissed "I'm not going to hurt you, you know!" at her in a way that was obviously an attempt to shame my daughter for not being controlled by her. It disgusted me and hurt my child deeply.

      It may seem small to some but to me, that was the final straw. I will not be culpable in my daughter's emotional abuse by allowing my mother more chances to harm her. In the past I have thought about disconnecting from my mom and experienced great guilt. But this time, i have no guilt about this, but I do have terrible sorrow. I feel like my mom has died.

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      7 months ago from California

      Futuremom,

      I think you did a great job communicating with your MIL in a respectful but firm manner. You let her know that you don't support favoritism, be it favorite grandmas or favorite grandkids. I don't think you were harsh at all.

      What you said about your mom also being your baby's grandmother...I mean, that's so sweet and so true. I never thought of it that way. And I do believe your mom will be watching over your baby, and will be a part of your baby's life, always.

    • profile image

      Futuremom 

      7 months ago

      I don't think my mother in law is narcissistic, however, I noticed she likes playing favorite with her grandkids. She has already two grandkids from my oldest sister-in-law, the oldest grandkid is already over his 20s and the second one is less than 4. My brother-in-law (youngest one) and his wife had a baby this year, and for us, after many years of trying, we are going to have our first child. I know my MIL is over the moon knowing that she is having two new grandkids.

      My mother passed away many years ago, I only have my dad. We come from a different culture too. When I was little I never got the chance to meet all my grandparents: the two grandmas passed away when my parents were younger and not even married, another grandpa died when I was 3 and we were in another country, so I only got to meet the other grandpa but never got the chance to interact much. Yet, I still respected all of them. Just hearing the stories my parents would tell me about them made me admire and love them more.

      When my sister-in-law had her baby this year, it was bit of a scary time because they had to do an unplanned surgery. Her dad is the only one alive as her mom also passed away recently. So her dad was there for her and I believe, who would have her chosen to be her with aside from her husband? While we were in the waiting room, once her dad came out to say goodbye to us, my MIL made the comment "That is not fair! I should have been there too!"... I was shocked because, though the tone was not angry, it was a bit childish like whiny -and it was going to be our turn to be with her son and the other daughter in law and the baby. Now I know my child will have three grandparents alive: My dad, my MIL, and my FIL, however, these two last are divorced and they do not communicate at all. That is also the odd behaviour in this family. For the sake of equality and sanity, we haven't stopped talking to my FIL.

      My dad, who is also closer to the 80s, live with us when he is not traveling, for his age, he still very active and prefer traveling than staying at home. There is no question that he will get the opportunity of his life to be closer to his grandbaby than I was to my only one grandfather who was alive back in my childhood.

      Yet, recently there was this weird text message after I innocently mentioned in a conversation she started that my baby has also already adopted "grandparents" (friends from my parents, my aunts from afar who have been so excited for us once we told them the news about our baby). Her comment was "I am grandma #1". That hurt me a bit because I don't want to think that there is #1, then #2, etc. I am not sure if it was ok but at that moment my response was "everyone will get their fair share of love and respect from our child", and that even though my mother is not with us, she is also my baby´s grandmother. Thank goodness, things ended up well as she apologized. But I just now wonder if I was too harsh on her? My husband and I talked about that that our baby will be exposed to a broader culture and not just to the people in the US. I personally do not want to impose competitiveness or favoritism. A friend, after I commented about this worried that if I am putting her in an awkward situation, said that it sounded more like she is insecure and somehow wants to get such attention. Thoughts?

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      8 months ago from California

      McKenna,

      thank you for sharing this. I can't imagine how hard it must be to have a narcissistic mother and to re-experience her abuse (to a degree) with your own kids.

      But at the same time, you grew so much from this hardship, and you evolved. Seeing her as a grandmother helped you heal the wounds from your childhood. And that's an amazing gift. You finally saw her clearly. So proud and impressed by you!

    • letstalkabouteduc profile image

      McKenna Meyers 

      8 months ago from Bend, OR

      Lana, this is a topic I've never seen covered, but it's certainly been an issue in my family. In my naivety, I thought my narcissistic mother may change and be a good grandparent to my sons (at least, that was my hope). Surprise, surprise, she did not! She kept true to her life-long pattern and never spent the time to get to know them. She once gave them toy robots for Christmas when they were 16 and 13!

      While this was painful at times, it was also helpful to me. I finally saw her true colors and no longer blamed myself for her lack of love and attention during my childhood. She's been consistent, and I just needed to finally accept who she was.

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      8 months ago from California

      Jen,

      I feel for you. I know it's frightening. The damage narcissistic mothers inflict is both real and severe. I'm sorry you had to go through that, and I'm sorry your daughter has to deal with it too, for now.

      The thing about narcissistic people though...they give themselves too much credit. They overestimate their knowledge, skills and power. Even though your mother threatens to take you to court, she won't be able to take your daughter away from you unless there's some serious issues you didn't disclose (drugs, crime etc.) You are the mother. You have the power, not her. Get your daughter back as soon as you can and don't let this woman near her again.

      Meanwhile you might want to join a narcissistic abuse support group. It can help you find strength and healing. Plus, no court in the world will give a child to a known emotional abuser.

      I believe in you, Jen. Identifying narcissistic abuse is half the battle. You've already come so far. You just need to go a little further. Don't let her intimidate you. Whatever she thinks she can offer your daughter is nothing compared to the unconditional love, care and protection you can give her. Good luck! :-) I hope this situation will resolve in the best way possible.

    • profile image

      Jen Naay 

      8 months ago

      Lana,

      My daughter and I are experiencing this currently and it's all about to explode. I am a single mom, struggling financially. Over a year ago, I had my daughter stay with my mother while I gained financial stability. Over the course of her time there, so much toxicity and narcissistic behaviors have been expressed from my mother, my daughter is begging to come back to me. I have discovered just how damaged I am as well, being raised by this woman. It's frightening. My daughter called me on night scared out of her mind because her nana left her alone for two hours after an argument ensured and then came home and glared at her until my daughter broke down. I was livid. I am trying to get my daughter home to me this summer, after she completes 7th grade. My mother claims she will take me to court since I am a single income household and that I do not possess what she feels her granddaughter needs to grow up proper.

      I'm scared Lana. Scared of this woman and her power. Scared I will fail like she says I will. Scared I won't be able to save my daughter from her grasp.

    • profile image

      Kbronne 

      9 months ago

      Oh my goodness this sounds just like my daughter's paternal grandmother! All except number 5. I have tried to work with her regardless but now, 7 years later, have decided to cut her off. Several times I have tried to cut back her visits due to lack of respect or familial alienation (she hates my daughter having a relationship with any of my family members) and each time she has called cps and tried to obtain custody of my daughter! She's crazy and I'm so fed up. I'm currently going to court, yet again, because she filed a guardianship, not grand parent rights, but another attempt to take my child from me, all because I lowered her visitation time, not even cut it off, just reduced days spent at her house per month. I have spent THOUSANDS of dollars defending myself in court against her. I want her out of mine and my daughter's life permanently. This can't be over soon enough. Even my ex, her son, cut ties with her over 2 years ago and has been insisting his mother not see our daughter. Again, I've tried to be fair, but that is over. She obviously has NPD and it's been causing a lot of issues with my child. Since she's been cut off my daughter has been doing great, in school and at home, where as before I was concerned I would end up having to home school because of serious issues in class. Years of headache, stress, anxiety, and serious financial strain. I'm done.

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      10 months ago from California

      I'd say, rather fortunately! I wouldn't wish it on anyone, Larry. Especially on you :)

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      10 months ago from Oklahoma

      Always a joy to read you. Unfortunately, we again don't have any experiencial overlap:-(

      My kids don't have toxic grandparents.

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      10 months ago from California

      Paula,

      you're right, I'm describing the same toxic individual. And while I had a glimmer of hope in the beginning, now our relationship is worse than ever. She's punishing us with silent treatment now. It's been weeks and I had a lot of time to think. I'm truly starting to believe that my daughter is better off without this type of grandma in her life.

      Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment and for stopping by, always a pleasure to hear from you! I know without a doubt that you are a wonderful mother and grandmother, your family is lucky to have you

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 

      10 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Lana....EEK! The list for toxic grandparents is frightening but I am painfully aware they exist. I'm quite pleased to say in no uncertain terms, I've not ever experienced these poisonous individuals.

      My own grandparents, which we were fortunate to have even beyond our childhood were simply wonderful.....like the Fairy Godmother you mention.

      I'm also extremely happy to say that now, as a grandmother (in fact, GREAT grandchild #2 is on the way) I score 5 stars! That scoring by the way, would be from all 13 of my "babies" from age 26 down to 4 yr, old twins, as well as their Moms & Dads.

      I can't help but think that you're coming from the same situation involving the toxic mother-in-law you wrote of, not too long ago. I have no problem believing a nasty MIL would also be a nasty Grandparent. Miserable is miserable...all the time with just about everyone.

      A small part of me pities these witches but not too much. This sort of thing is all self-induced. They simply will never learn and never change. The LOSS is theirs!!

      I help & love & babysit & spoil & do what I can to be of assistance. Raising them is NOT my job, thank you, it's their parent's job. My comfort comes from knowing what totally wonderful, loving and responsible parents my own sons and their wives are. They need no info from Grandma & I don't offer unless asked. Even then I am ever so careful & respectful of their roles as parents.

      I can't understand what it takes for grown women who are finished raising their families to realize they need to butt out, shut up and just relax in grandma mode! It's an easy, comfortable thing to do.

      If my grandchildren were kept from me, I would shrivel up and die. I'm certainly not going to rock the boat!! Like I said, nasty witch-type grannies are the ones who suffer. It's a raw deal for the kids but as they mature, they will understand.. Paula

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      10 months ago from Orlando, FL

      While I am sure many have had to deal with toxic grannies...I am thankful my children and grandchildren never had the experience.

      Bad granny!

    • kalinin1158 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lana Adler 

      10 months ago from California

      Thank you Nell. I agree, a horrible person shouldn’t be a part of a child’s life.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      10 months ago from England

      My son didn't even see his grandma, she was a horrible person. But my mum, his other one loved him to bits! some are good some are not, this was interesting!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 

      11 months ago from Beautiful South

      I'm so glad I can say that I never had any experience with this. I've had two wonderful mothers-in-law, and my own mother was so ill during my kid's growing up that she didn't interfere. Now, the kids' own toxic father was a different story. I certainly feel for any parent who has to go through this.

    • profile image

      Dabby Lyric 

      11 months ago

      Amen!

      Hi Lana, I feel ya on this 120% because this IS my life right now. I just wrote a Hub called Toxic In-Laws about my story.

      It hurts to be in this situation. My babygirl's b-day was yesterday and it was spent intimately with my hubby and me. It hurt because she turned 2 and there was no party for her this year. I'm on the outs with Mom-in-Law and a few others. We thought it inappropriate to have a party so we enjoyed her day peacefully!

      Thanks for this!

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 

      11 months ago

      As adults we get to choose who we spend time with.

      Just because someone is blood related doesn't mean they get a "free pass" to upset you and disrupt your life.

      "Friends are the family you (choose)."

      There's nothing wrong with eliminating toxic people.

    • bluesradio profile image

      Marc Lee 

      11 months ago from Durham, NC

      Was fortunate to have awesome grandparents......

    • profile image

      Nanna18 

      11 months ago

      Unfortunately for all of us there are disagreeable people in all of our lives. How we deal with them is a large part in how our children learn to deal with similar situations. We cannot protect our children from all negative things in life, we can only help them to try and understand why people do what they do or say. I have found that if I don't know how to try and remedy a negative person in my life that I feel is damaging a family relationship I visit our pastor and look for spiritual intervention. A lot of times having a person outside of the situation can truly help turn a negative into an positive.

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