My covert good guy narc is killing me with his fake “I’m an awesome person and an awesome dad” act. Mine never raged, he controlled in small insidious ways. By the time the devalue was over and he left, I felt two inches tall. He is just so dang skilled at doing it in imperceptible ways. He is just as good at faking being an awesome dad. He was never that awesome when we were married, but now he does everything in his power to show the world that he is an awesome dad. He tries to be the one to sign them up for every activity, he even has his girlfriend helping out in our kids’ classroom. I see through the fake because I know how he can turn the switch on and off and because I saw him parent for years before he was trying to win a popularity contest.
I am so scared that somehow he will manipulate my kids against me. My kids are the most important thing in my life. All of my decisions are based on what is in the best interest of my kids. It is as if he is trying to get to me through our kids. I hear chumps on here talk of how their teens moved in with the cheater because the cheater showered them with gifts and no rules.
Please, please address these narcs that blow up families and still manage to come out looking like Mr. Awesome to the rest of the world.
It sounds like you have young kids, if they’re still at the age where people come help out in the classroom. Don’t worry, by the time they’re teens, all the shiny, small-child adulation will wear off and your ex will probably discard them too. Teenagers are terrible kibbles.
Meanwhile, I have some advice for living with the shit sandwich of Mr. Awesome Impression Management Dad.
1.) Narcs love a triangle. Don’t be the hypotenuse. Let’s work from the assumption that your ex isn’t into the kids, he’s into his new starring role as Awesome Dad. The kids are props. He’s making the girlfriend do the pick me dance to prove her worthiness, to “win” over the kids, to demonstrate she’s a better mother than you. (BEHOLD MY FROSTED CUPCAKES!) No adult person wants to volunteer in a classroom, and sit in a tiny seat, and show infinite patience to small, irrational, sticky children, and construct things from pipe cleaners. The only people who willingly do this (or sit through 8th grade sports banquets) are parents. Her attempts to be a parent come from a place of insecurity, an insecurity your ex most likely encourages and triangulates with. If you can’t ignore her, pity her.
Your ex is also trying that pick me dance shit on you — let’s compete with the kids for the Awesome Parent award! K, do NOT dance. These are your children, not props. You are the Sane Parent. Sane Parents do not dance because Sane Parents know their worth.
2.) Be the Sane Parent. I’m not gonna lie, sane parenting is not always fun parenting. It’s not always popular parenting. (As I tell my son, “This is not a Democracy.”) It is, however, meaningful parenting. You are the authentic parent. You’re the person who shows up, day after day after day. You are the parent who tells the truth. (“No, a box of sugar-coated marshmallows is NOT a proper breakfast. I don’t care what your father feeds you.”) You are the SANE PARENT. Do your job. Raise good kids who share your values. There are no guarantees. Maybe they’ll grow up to be flaming narcissists who rob banks. Nonetheless, you still must to do your damn job. Every day.
You don’t control what happens on your ex’s time, so let that crap go. Will he try to manipulate the kids against you? Oh sure. And guess what — he’d be doing that if you were married to him too. That’s why you must…
3.) Be awesome. The best defense against all your fears is to invest in your own awesomeness. Right now your ex has an advantage over you (because he’s incredibly shallow) in that he appears “happy.”
Children, like most people, would rather be around happy than a collapsed heap of brokenhearted resentments. You have every right to your grief, (this shit takes time), but the fact is you need to build a life for yourself.
Just because you’re a Sane Parent doesn’t mean you’re a chump. Make yourself a priority.
My kids are the most important thing in my life.
Great. Show them how much you love them by being the Sane Parent. You love them so much you won’t let them be undernourished, dirty-faced, back-talking brats. You love them so much you’ll sit through that sports banquet. You love them so much you won’t pick me dance to be their mother — you ARE their mother.
And remember YOU are an important person too. Your needs matter too. Don’t do so much for your kids that you lose sight of yourself. This is how chumps are made, and people take advantage of you. Have boundaries with your kids. (Sane parenting!)
All of my decisions are based on what is in the best interest of my kids.
That’s great. Document everything you do in their best interests for the court. If he challenges you, you have a record.
It is as if he is trying to get to me through our kids. I hear chumps on here talk of how their teens moved in with the cheater because the cheater showered them with gifts and no rules.
He probably is — and all children, not just teens, enjoy gifts and no rules. Look, I enjoy eating sugary carbohydrates, but I have to rein myself in. If you’d like to gift me some sugary carbohydrates, I probably won’t say no.
Who teaches children limits and consequences? Sane parents. Children WANT limits and boundaries. It makes them feel secure. They want to know someone is awake at the helm. Sane parents who teach boundaries means that kids will have boundaries as adults and not live in chaos.
You can give your kids gifts (or sugary carbs) too — but it means something, because you also give them the life skills that matter.
Relax K. Do your job, and let go of the shit you don’t control. Single parenting is hard enough. ((Hugs))