like father like son, a step mother's observations

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violawittrockiana

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like father like son, a step mother's observations
« on: July 10, 2017, 10:02:21 AM »
I recently became a stepmother and about six months in I realized I married a narcissist.  At first I thought my stepson was.  He talks on and on, he has no empathy, he tries to manipulate you to get what he wants, he's an expert on everything (quite a feat for a 14 year old), and the list goes on and on.  I went home and some friends of mine met him.  I was discussing how hard it is to truly love such a selfish cold child and my friends brought up that he's just like his father.  I feel very bad for my step son at times (my husband is so harsh and says things like, "we won't mess up with these two" to him about his younger brothers).  I feel very sorry for him half the time and can't stand his manipulative and grandiose behavior the rest of the time.  Is it wrong to overhear his father belittling him and say nothing?  I am so overwhelmed and exhausted that I often feel like I'm doing the best I can to endure them myself. 

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WesternLover

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Re: like father like son, a step mother's observations
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2017, 08:37:40 PM »
Hi violawittrockiana!

Welcome to Out of the FOG!  This site has helped me tremendously, I hope you find answers and relief here as well.

Wow, I empathize with your situation because you seem in a bit of rock and a hard place. Defending your step-son can have a myriad of different outcomes. I can see how it's satisfying to see him to get a dose of his own bad behavior sometimes, but sadly the way his father treated him is probably a huge reason your step son turned out the way he did.  The children of narcs often feel like they can never be their true selves because their PD parent tells them it's unacceptable. The PD parent often forces the child to become an extension of them,  (almost like an appendage even "my arm, my leg, my kid") and not who they want to be or who they really are inside. I feel it's very damaging. Your step-son always having to be a bad ass for lack or a better word or the 14-year-old expert on all things is a symptom of this. Anything less than being impressive and being the best is unacceptable.  Also empathy is something that has to be taught a lot of times, and unfortunately a child will never get this lesson from their PD parent.

Another good example of how PD parents crush the identity of  the child is by putting down or dismissing anything the child personally loves. Just as an example, say your step-son innately loved painting. However, PD dad thinks it's stupid. He could say something like "who do you think you are, that fruit cake, Bob Ross? Next you'll be hugging trees and practically whispering every time you talk..."  If PD dad is into hunting he could say something like "real men hunt, shooting a deer between the eyes, now that's an actual skill..." They have totally squelched the child's true desire and replaced it with their own. It really breaks a kid in my opinion.

I'd hate to see any adult tear apart a child like that. You have to wonder at what point is it too late to help this kid?  Is there a way he still has a chance at being normal if only he gets some sort of love and support in his life?  What is his biological mother like? What is his relationship to her?

I think your step-son should still be held accountable for bad behavior, but in my humble opinion, he deserves to hear his dad is rough on him. I guess it were me, I'd probably test the waters a bit. I'm not sure if I'd do it in front of his dad just yet, because with him also being narcissistic, he may retaliate by putting you down for defending your step-son. Then seeing an opportunity to gain his dad's approval, by agreeing with him, he may gang up on you along with his dad. PDs manage to create all kinds of strange and toxic dynamics. OR it could turn out that your husband backs off a bit, but I kind of doubt it.

I would probably try to talk to your step-son alone at one point. Maybe say "you know I think your dad is a bit hard on you at times. It makes me feel sad when I hear him put you down. How do you feel about it?"  I would kind of gage his reaction from there. See maybe if he opens up to you and starts to see you as ally or someone safe he can be his authentic self with and not the grandiose front his father most likely makes him feel like he has to project. I think I would maybe test the waters with your step-son first before correcting his dad in the process of belittling him.

Or when your husband says stuff like "we won't mess up with these two" maybe say "yes, I hope are a bit more easy going with them." It is so very difficult the navigate the PD world and each situation is unique. It's something you can only learn as time goes on I think with trial and error. I hope you keep coming back to Out of the FOG.! :)

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Skippyd

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Re: like father like son, a step mother's observations
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2017, 11:53:47 PM »
I'm so sorry for you and your step-son.   That must be such a frustrating and difficult position to be in.   How long has the son been like that?  Do you know?

My step-child is a few years behind yours.   I don't see obvious PD behaviors now, but do see subtle signs that things could turn that way.   I wonder if your step-son was like that at a younger age and if it was a slow evolution or a rather sudden change to PD behaviors.   I know you haven't been married for long. 

I suggest modeling proper behaviors.  Stick to boundaries with both of them (easier said than done, I know).   Show love to the child as much as you can.   Good luck.  Praying for you. 

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violawittrockiana

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Re: like father like son, a step mother's observations
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2017, 08:40:21 AM »
Thank you for your kind and helpful responses.

His father always said that his mother was a narcissist.  He often says that he's just like her and often in front of him and too him.  Now that I have come to know his father I am quite sure that that is how he came to be how he is. 

I have told him that his father is too rough on him and infantilizes him.  He is fourteen and not allowed to cook anything.  Sometimes he is like a normal kid, but often he tells adults what to do (even strangers).  The hardest thing about him is it is almost impossible to praise him or show him approbation without it triggering him to go on and on and talk about how everyone envies him etc.   

His father crushes him regularly.  He tells him he doesn't care about his feelings.  He often masks things under a concerned parent cover, but he is crushing him.  He'll say he's just telling him because he doesn't want him to grow up a loser for playing video games.  He made him join two actives (both very expensive and were more about his father than him).  When the boy quit he was abused heartily and called a quitter and father brought up everything he quit.  I could not help but notice that each one was something the father gave to or made him try (expensive toys, equestrian, etc). 

I suspect that it is too late.  His mother left to pursue another relationship and barely sees him.  They swear she was a very selfish and unintelligent woman, but frankly I think I have a lot of sympathy for anyone that dealt with this for 16 years.

I do not know how to hold him accountable.  He lies so fiercely and aggressively that you end up praying for death before you are done talking to him.  He is so aggressive about getting what he wants.  I've finally made some boundaries, but honestly I feel so sucked dry by him that I can't even stand to hear him say my name because I know what's about to come.   

He and his father do gang up on me and that has probably infuriated me more than anything.  The irony is his father became furious last weekend because I told him my aunts think he discusses things with SS14 about me that he should not.  It cause one of the biggest blowouts we've had.  He was not concerned that I felt bad.  He was concerned about the way it looked to my relatives. 

I believe in being respectful and modeling the behaviors you want to see.  I have failed with him.  I find that he is so manipulative and aggressive that I cannot hide my dislike anymore and am often short with him.  I feel really bad about it, but it's the only way I have found to interact with him without being completely handled.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 04:31:52 PM by Latchkey »

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WesternLover

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Re: like father like son, a step mother's observations
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2017, 01:16:58 PM »
Hi Violaviolawittrockiana -

I wanted to respond awhile back, but got sidetracked - sorry!

I'm so sorry as this is an incredibly difficult situation where I would feel painted into a corner as well. On this Out of the FOG website I read something called the 3 Cs - I Didn't Cause It, I Can't Control It, and I Can't Cure It. I googled this and I guess it's a popular phrase in Alanon as well. I often find myself having to revert back to it especially if I find myself trying to rationalize and/or explain myself to a PD. I understand why you feel like you failed your stepson, I'd feel the same way. I'd be asking myself "At what point to I give up on this kid to save my own sanity? Can he really be saved? Is it even possible to somehow unwind this deep pathology?"  My guess it probably not - once they are an adult forget it, but it's still hard not to try when they are kids.

In my 10 + years of dealing with my son's uASPD and uNPD father, the only conclusion I've come to is I can only stay sane by putting up strict boundaries and having as little engagement with him as possible.  There's another room on this forum for people who want to continue working on PD relationships, perhaps I should go in there too and see if people have any insights.  Personally had to cry uncle and give up having a more direct relationship after 5 years.

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lightupthere

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Re: like father like son, a step mother's observations
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2017, 03:17:42 PM »
Have you considered telling your husband that you want to attend family counseling or if not then end the marriage? I wonder if it's time to make an black or white decision?. I've been in the position where my former h and our son formed a team against me. It's an agonizing way to live.