NPD behavior in teen

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Nur-Ab-Sally

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NPD behavior in teen
« on: April 06, 2018, 02:02:40 PM »
Iíve posted in other topics on this site, but this is my first time here. Iíve been divorced from uNPDxh for about two years. In the time since, there has been a lot of growth for me, coming to terms with the power dynamics of that relationship and beginning to understand how the issues of my own that I brought to the table contributed to this unhealthy dynamic between us. Going email contact only with him helped with this immensely, as well as therapy and a new career which has really helped with my confidence and trust in my abilities. It still feels that Iím constantly confronted with new realizations about my time with my ex as experiences and encounters will trigger me and Iíll have to work hard to understand and reframe my perspective on these thoughts, feelings, and reactions. Itís still very confusing at times, which only makes my concerns for my son more confusing in turn.

My 13-year-old son has always displayed some lack of ability or willingness to understand others with a different viewpoint than his own or others displaying behavior he felt was wrong. In some instances, this has turned into him feeling attacked when others do or say something ďwrongĒ to him. In the past, he would come to me very distraught, telling me he couldnít handle what was being said or done, and we would talk about the issue at length, as I really wanted to foster empathy and understanding. In the moment, he would seem to understand, but some time later, another incident would come up, but almost always regarding the current issue that heíd been having. In the past, heís taken issue with other peopleís religion, eating meat, younger kids throwing tantrums in public, babies crying, swearing, and now the topic is sexuality. He hasnít gone through puberty yet and talks often about fearing going through those changes. He says he fears not wanting to be asexual anymore (he declared himself asexual a few months ago). He talks often about witnessing some sexually graphic material online shortly after the divorce and how traumatic it was for him.

Recently there was an incident where his best friend was joking about something my son perceived as a dirty joke. My son started talking to her about suicide to her and even got out a knife and gestured with it in a way that meant he wanted to hurt himself.

Now his best friend has backed away from him, as this isnít the first time heís talked about suicide to her, and in a way that seems emotionally manipulative.

I should mention at the point that he has been in therapy for about a year now, but we are on the search for a therapist that is a better fit.

My son witnessed his father talk about suicide and depression shortly after the divorce. He also witnessed a lot of manipulative behavior throughout the years.

He was also homeschooled, which either didnít help him learn social skills, helped hide the fact that he has an issue, or both.

His best friendís mother is saying I need to cut off all ties between his father and him, as that is where he learned his manipulative behavior. I think the truth of the matter is more complex, and that cutting off ties between them could do a lot of damage and cause backlash. Not to mention that this would be a very difficult process, as there have been no recent incidents with his father. His father swears heís better now, but thatís an issue for a different topic.

My sonís best friendís mother (whom Iím close with) has also said that she feels Iím being completely manipulated by my son.

And I do feel like heís trying to manipulate me sometimes, but to what extent Iím still trying to figure out.

Any insights?

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Hikercymru

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Re: NPD behavior in teen
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2018, 05:22:47 PM »
This sounds like a very delicate and difficult situation.
Could you try to step back from your interactions with your son and pretend that you are observing the two of you, as if you were a different set of mother and teenager? That might help to analyse your interactions and the nature of them. Then maybe you could advise that other mother?
My son is 20 now and he also heard his dad talking about suicide after our separation at age 13. He closed himself off and became quite depressed but would not talk about it until recently.
It is really really difficult.
I dont really have much advice, just trying to express my empathy for you!

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momnthefog

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Re: NPD behavior in teen
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2018, 12:54:06 PM »
Welcome to the Parents Discussion,

This sounds like a difficult situation.  I went back and read some of the other posts about your son and ex.

Just some outside-looking in thoughts.

Teens are unique animals....and I mean that in the nicest way.  I've raised 7 (still have three in the nest) including four boys.   There's a LOT going on in their heads developmentally (like the toddler years) and they can go from cute and cuddly to Tasmanian devil in milliseconds.

This could be related to what was modeled by his dad, or what is modeled by society.  It could be what he's seeing on social media.  It could be how he feels given the loss he's experienced.

Regarding the suicide discussion you mentioned "emotionally manipulative."  Here is an incident that happened with an adult son who is highly manipulative.  He would talk about suicide when I was out of town and when he was at a friends.  It (obviously) really bothered the mother and I found out about it 2nd hand from my other adult child.  I confronted my adult son (19 and still lives with me) and reminded him that he could speak to me or his counselor.  He was very nonchalant about what he had said and replied that "it wasn't a big deal."  My response was that if he EVER again discussed suicide like that I would call 911....which is really the right thing to do b/c we (since we are not mental health care providers) able to understand when it is/isn't a "big deal."  And if he does that again, I'd follow through on it and let the mental health care system decide what needs to happen next.

Certainly there are many suffering individuals who do take their lives, but there are also individuals who see it as a way to manipulate others. 

I think you are correct that the matter is complex.....and I would not recommend cutting ties with the father since there are no issues there.

Sometimes its easier not to share our lives with others.....lest others feel "obliged" to give us advice that we really don't need.  Sometimes all we want is a shoulder or someone to listen while we talk out and through things ourselves. 

momnthefog


"She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible.  She walked with the universe on her shoulders and made it look like a pair of wings."

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Gardener

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Re: NPD behavior in teen
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2018, 09:13:43 PM »
I am new to the forum but much of what you describe in your post is what I have experienced the last few years with separating from my H when my DD was 13.  I am finally beginning to feel alive after a very long time as I find freedoms I had allowed to grow dormant over the years. 

Before the separation, we both had noticed that DD digested information and emotions differently than other people. Things would seem overwhelming to her that were normal to other people.  My H didn't want to pursue therapy as he felt she would grow out of it and he didn't want to look bad to others, but I pursued therapy through a neurodevelopmentalist for sensory processing disorder.  The exercises really helped her during the therapy time and we re-implemented them after the separation because of the stress she was under as her father had a lot of emotional meltdowns around her as a way to vent his anger towards me (often called her by my name, drove crazy, etc.) 

My DD was in both regular and homeschool during this time but I have always pushed to make sure she was exposed to numerous social situations so she could grow in her awareness of how to handle socialization skills.  We also read a lot of books, watched videos and had numerous discussions about dealing with people.  We talked about Temple Grandin who has autism and watched her movie together.  I also left books written by Grandin around the house figuring my DD would read them when I wasn't around (which she did because she asked me about them later.  I did this with books on teen emotions, too).

 I did not get her a smart phone, only a flip phone because I knew she would not be able to handle the addiction to electronics because of the sensory overload.  She is just now at 18 yrs old thinking of getting one but goes back and forth because she knows how hard it is for her to handle electronics.  They over stimulate her emotions too much as well as graphic movies and books.  She has chosen to only allow herself so much screen time, fictional books and movies a week so she can keep her emotions regulated.  Some weeks are better than others.  She has learned this through trial and error.

Going away to summer camp where she learned how to be a camp counselor and then took care of kids was the best thing for her as she had to model good behavior for littler kids.  She also became a life guard and that helped her deal with a lot of people year round that she wouldn't have been around otherwise. 

It has been a long, rocky road and we are at a tough spot right now as she has been expressing some manipulative behaviors because of new stressors but we have been trying different vitamins and that seems to be helping.  She is finally admitting to others she has a sensory problem (she always tried to pretend she didn't because she didn't want to be different and her dad was so strong about not being a weak person) but she has recently made some friends that have sensory issues, too who aren't afraid to talk about their issues.  I have prayed about this for years - that she would find someone she respects that is like her and she finally has.

I was tempted to push my DD to cut ties with her dad but I'm glad I didn't.  She chose to limit contact to where she could digest all the emotions she was experiencing being around him and that helped a lot.  When she was about 14 she read a book called The Fallacy Detective that deals with reasoning and logic.  It was an eye opener for her as she recognized patterns of thinking that her dad and others use to try and control others.  Since she read that book and has matured through different social situations she's had with other people, she is able to spend time with her dad a lot easier and even respect some of his strengths - something that shocked me since he was so mean to her at times.

I say all this to encourage you to hang in there.  I am proud of your own progress as you find your sense of self again.  But it is hard to try and rebuild yourself and your child at the same time.  I am glad that you have found this group of people who are such encouragers.  I always feel so much stronger after being in contact with them. I agree with momnthefog that sometimes it is best not to share information with others about your private life.  It is hard for them to understand and most want to judge or offer advice that can make things more confusing.  That is why this forum is good and why I chose gardener as my handle.  I spend a lot of time thinking things through while I garden and it seems to help me regain my focus when things feel overwhelming.

 I am praying that you will have wisdom and strength to know what to do regarding your son.  I recently found Henry Cloud's Facebook postings about boundaries and they have really helped me, along with the books on this site.           

May you stay strong and full of hope and joy!