At what age?

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Associate of Daniel

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At what age?
« on: March 15, 2021, 07:00:23 AM »
I think I've asked this before but bear with me...

At what age does a child (teenager) start to question the narcusdist?

My ds14 realised a few years ago that he needs to manage his uNPD father's emotions, but he doesn't yet seem to see his very toxic uNPD smother for what she is.

When is he going to recognise her toxicity?

AOD

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SeaBreeze

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2021, 03:16:15 PM »
My oldest began questioning my uNPDh around age 13. My secondborn first confronted me, asking why I was putting up with H, at age 10 but really began to dissect things at 12. (She also distanced herself from my ex-uNPDh - her bio dad -  around that time after his umpteenth broken promise to her.) My youngest approached me at age 11 with "Do you think Dad's bipolar? Because I've been researching some things..." Out of the mouths of babes!

As for my own experience as a child of an N parent..I always knew something was wrong with my mother, from my earliest childhood memories  on up. I just didn't realize *what* exactly, or grasp how abnormal it was, until well into my 20s after two of my children were born.

It sounds like you've equipped your son with some good tools. Enough that he's figured out what's going on with your exH. I'd suggest time will eventually tell with the Smother, too. Kids see and process more than we may realize. The best we nons can do as parent is set an example by continuing work on ourselves, while providing a beacon of normalcy (or at least near-normalcy) and support in the midst of disorder.  :bighug:
« Last Edit: March 15, 2021, 03:27:53 PM by SeaBreeze »

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ShyTurtle

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2021, 06:33:19 PM »
My ds is 16 now and has gone nc with his unpd bio dad since the fall. He reached his breaking point with the physical and mental abuse and came to live with me exclusively instead.

When asked, he makes it pretty clear that he knew something was up with his dad from a young age. The ability to be able to understand the pd behaviors and the complexities of how to safely and effectively deal with such a person hasn't really sunk in until recently though. It's tough to separate the cause and effect of behaviors when there is no apparent logic to it.

Like so many others on this forum, I was also raised by a pd parent, and although I knew something was very wrong and abusive about my childhood from a young age, I didn't fully grasp the nature of my dysfunctional family until I watched "Mommy Dearest" on tv around age 12. From that experience onward, I gradually began to unravel how and why I struggled so much over the next 30 years or so.

I think that on some level kids  intuitively have always known what's going on, but they need the brain maturity of being an adolescent to understand that they can indeed peel apart the layers between them and their pd parent, and know that their own feelings about things are valid. My kid is now learning how he can protect himself and I'm so glad - it's something that I never received. Thank goodness that we can start from where we are to change things for them!
🐝➕

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Call Me Cordelia

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2021, 08:03:45 PM »
AOD it sounds so painful to watch your son be affected by his F and SM.

For me I got glimmerings that something was wrong with my father when I was six. I had a tumultuous teenage relationship with him. I would tell him I hated him, and meant it. We had next to no relationship for my whole adult life, but did the family obligation thing at holidays or events and I did my duty phone calls. We pretended. Until I was 30-something.

14 is still very young. Even if he has a sense that something is wrong, he very likely cannot yet articulate it or even if he could, would not feel safe to be fully open about the toxicity even with himself. He is a child, and like all of us did, has that need to believe he can rely on his parents, and I guess stepmom too. And of course you canít open up that can of worms with him anyway.

As frustrating as it can be, I donít think we can push someone OOTF or even connect the dots for them. As much as I have wished I could do that for my own DH regarding his parents. And Iíve sure tried...  :doh:

I think the answer to your question is, ďWhen he is ready.Ē Same as for all of us. From what Iíve read of your posts, you are really working to give your DS a safe and loving home with you, which is the best thing to equip him to come OOTF as an adult. And to model the radical acceptance and boundaries to mind only your side of the street. In other words, you can show by your own life that your ex and his wife arenít really all that important. And can safely be held at armís length, or even farther once he is an adult.

Iím not in a co-parenting situation, but thatís how Iím seeing things from the cheap seats. Hang in there! You parents who are real parents to your kids and got out, but still have to actively fight that co-parenting battle are real heroes.

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JustKeepTrying

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2021, 10:54:22 PM »
I have adult children.  DD 28,  DD 26 and DS 19.  My DS realized something was wrong last year during the height of the pandemic when my xOCPDh refused to house him (I couldn't take him due to cancer and immune issues.). Then my ex kicked him off his health insurance and offered no financial support.  Now my DS refuses to talk to him or about him.  But it took those significant factors to effect the change.  He has been in constant counseling for the past three years - every other week and it helps.  It is never to too early to start counseling and be honest with the therapist with your suspicions on the fathers diagnosis.

As for my oldest children, I wish and regret not leaving the situation sooner - or offering a glimpse of what their father was really like.  I covered for him to point of my own health.  And they now have somewhat rosy memories of childhood.  I am sure as they grow they will realize but for right now - nope.  He is the ultimate at martyrdom and really works that sympathy card.

Get him counseling.  Find someone he is comfortable with that he can verbalize it with outside of you.  Then you can just be his Mom.

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Lauren17

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2021, 12:24:21 PM »
My oldest DD started questioning things when she was about 15. It came in the form of, ďWhy is Dad acting so stupid?Ē  Itís a fine line to walk, trying to answer those questions and not alienate the other parent.
Youngest DD is just now moving into adolescence. Sheís made some comments that make me wonder what she sees and thinks but she always clams up if I ask about it.
This may sound unkind, but I think the kids realize it when they become emotionally more mature than the PD.
I agree with what Cordelia says about not forcing anyone OOTF. And I remind myself I was in my 40s before I realized something was wrong.
Iíve cried a thousand rivers. And now Iím swimming for the shoreĒ (adapted from Iíll be there for you)

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athene1399

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2021, 06:26:36 PM »
SD had just turned 19, or was just about to. The final straw for her was when BM called her names and kicked her out over something silly. Like SD recognized it as an overreaction and then was able to reflect on how BM had manipulated her and treated her poorly in the past. SD is no longer NC with her and I fear she is being manipulated again, but that is another story.

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Stepping lightly

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2021, 11:20:05 AM »
I think there are a lot of factors involved in when/if kids start to understand.  I know my DSS was the SG for years and didn't really see it.  He was treated horribly, but then one day BM pushed it too far. She instigated an argument with DSS and pushed and pushed him, then called the police on him.  DSS was different after that, IMO that event clarified BM's behavior to him. 

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Penny Lane

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2021, 04:17:42 PM »
I've been thinking about this a lot lately, the fact that the progression Out of the FOG is not linear.

You've seen your DS make some movements in the right direction. My DSS started clearly articulating things when he was about 10 or 11 maybe? And on and off since then.

But it's not really a straight line. Like sometimes he will explicitly say that things are not OK at mom's house. Then a month later he's hiding it from us to keep her from getting into trouble. Then radio silence on that front for awhile. Then two months after that he's pulling DH aside to share that she lied to him and he doesn't understand why. Sometimes he wants to process it, sometimes he's upset but doesn't want to talk to us about it, and sometimes he wants to ignore it. And then you have like Athene's case where her DSD went NC and then came back. Definitely not a linear journey there even though she has seen the PD parent with clear eyes.

It's frustrating to me because I just want the kids to come OOTF and to figure out what they want their relationship with their mom to look like. I've had to come around to, Out of the FOG isn't a binary state, it's a winding journey. Even as kids seem to get an inkling that something is wrong around adolescence (and this makes sense to me; I read in a book about teen brain development that this is when they begin to assess their parents with more objective eyes) they won't necessarily understand the full impact of it, maybe for years or even decades.

I do like to think that your son and my stepkids and the children of everyone on this board have an advantage, which is that they are with a healthy parent for part of the time so they have something to compare the PD behaviors to. They can see that the PD way is not the only way.

Hang in there. I'm alternatingly frustrated that it's so hard for these kids, and hopeful that we are all giving them the tools they need.

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plainwords

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2021, 07:51:14 AM »
This is a tough one isn't it? You want them to see it so badly so that they don't continue to get hurt by them.
Unfortunately, I didn't really realise my mum had a personality disorder until I was in my 30's. I knew that something wasn't right, but what? I didn't know.

My son is 11 and last year was at the point of cutting contact with his dad. The rules at his dad's house were getting unbearable and after an incident where my son cooked dinner and tidied up, washed the dishes etc with the help of his Step Mum, while his dad sat there and gave out orders, he really lost his temper. He lost his temper as straight after this incident, he wanted to go and play with his little sister in the garden. His dad wouldn't let him, insisting that he read a book (one picked by dad) and he didn't want to. Dad lost his cool and so did son. Dad did not tolerate his son losing his temper with him and Step mum had to intervene.

However, his dad seems to change his ways for a time (I suspect talked out of it by step mum, as I think in my own relationship with him, it was generally me that brought him out of a temper by trying to reason with him) and then retreats to his old ways and so my son continues to change his mind about his dad. One minute, they're not getting on and the next they get on brilliantly. It is kind of like what my relationship was with my ex. Highs and lows and I just don't want my son to think that this is the way relationships are. I hope he can see that he has a consistent relationship with me and can hopefully model this with other friendships and relationships.

Yesterday, I received a call to say my son had been in an incident of bullying. It broke my heart. My son has Aspergers and he can struggle in social situations. Anyway, I informed his dad and his dad called our son. My son ended up getting incredibly frustrated on the phone to him. His dad was asking questions about the incident. Who said what, who did this, who did that. He then asked to speak to me as he said that my son wasn't giving him any answers. The point was, his son was getting bullied and his son wanted his support, not an interrogation into what happened. So frustrating. If he'd have offered support, he would have probably got the information he wanted out of my son.

I hope, in time, my son will be able to equip himself with the skills to manage his dad so he doesn't have the affect he currently does on him and so that there are no highs and lows.
My daughter is 4 and loves her dad to pieces. Hopefully, with time she'll learn too.

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Associate of Daniel

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2021, 09:41:35 AM »
Thank-you, everyone for your support, suggestions and stories. I'm sorry there are so many of us going through this with our children - and that so many of you experienced it as children yourselves.

The latest drama has left me in a quandry.  I don't know whether to feel relief or not.  Certainly I'm angry.

Background:  ds14 lives with his uNPD father and uNPD smother during the week and sees me on weekends.

It was the other way around for the 1st 13 years of his life.

He compartmentalises the situation:  This is what I do with Mum, that is what I do with dad.  He doesn't like mixing/sharing.  So school is now what he does at dad's, not at mum's.

But his homework load is getting larger and he's stressing himself to get everything done before coming to me on the weekends.

I've been encouraging him for ages to spread the work out and bring it home to do at my place.  But I've not had any success.

A few days ago I received another manipulative email from uNPD exH wanting to arrange an earlier pickup time for this Sunday. I either had to let him pick ds up 3 and a half hours early or drive him back to his uNPD father's place by the usual time.

I chose the former as I have a commitment that would stop me from getting him back and I need the extra time to prepare for said commitment.

All good.

Yesterday I received a further email. UNPD exH wants to pick up ds even earlier -7 and a half hours earlier - because ds has too much homework.

Side note:  I don't have a computer for ds at my place yet.  It's on my list.  These things aren't cheap, especially when the pds earn about 8 times more than I do.

Long story short:  uNPDs refuse to allow ds to bring the computer to my place.  Pretty standard behaviour by them.

But here's what happened:  They sat ds down and said... you can't take the computer to mum's.  Do you want to pass year 8? Do you want to hand in your assignment late? No? Well you'll have to as we say and ckme back from mum's 7 and a half hours early.

(Ds is a model student and doesn't like falling behind. He's also not going to fail a whole year by handing one essay in late.)

They basically said that the only way he could hand his essay in on time was to forgo a chunk of his time with his mum.  They could have just let him bring the computer here.  I'd already told them several weeks ago that I'd pay for repair etc if anything happened to it while it was here.

They projected their own guilt onto him and manipulated him.

And he doesn't get that that's what happened.  I so want to tell him to look up the word "manipulation".

I'm really angry but also pleased (?) that they did that to ds. That sounds mean and I of course don't want ds to experience that from his uNPD father.

But hopefully it will start to open ds's eyes to what they really are.

It's been really hard to keep my mouth shut since hearing this from ds.  I'm really, really angry and want to tell ds that he's been manipulated and used as a dumping ground for the pds' guilt.  But I guess I'll just have to keep my mouth shut as usual.

AOD

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Poison Ivy

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2021, 12:59:51 PM »
I'm sorry your ex and his spouse are doing this stuff. It is indeed very manipulative.

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mamato3

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2021, 01:48:32 PM »
My son was 4.  His father called him the golden child. He always saw through him.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2021, 02:06:52 PM by mamato3 »

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Stepping lightly

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2021, 10:51:31 AM »
Oh AOD,

My stomach was in knots for you reading your last update.  The way they back everyone into a corner is so infuriating.  If this not anonymous and  I could set up a Go Fund Me to help buy you a computer, I totally would.  They are taking advantage and manipulating poor DS.  I am so sorry!

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plainwords

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2021, 05:47:45 PM »
Are there any schemes at the school to help with getting a laptop for school work?

« Last Edit: March 22, 2021, 08:09:05 PM by xredshoesx »

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lavalove

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2021, 11:46:06 AM »
This is from my own experience.  I was 4 when I figured out that something wasn't right with my uBPD mother.  Never felt right about my uPD father who also has undiagnosed depression.  My mother told me that as a baby and infant I cried when my father held me.  Therapist suspects that a lot of triggers now are a response to things that happened while in utero or before my living memory.  In these instances I describe my reactions as colors and sensations because they happened when I was still too young to associate with words and feelings.  For reference, my earliest memories are from events that took place when I was 2 years 6 months and 2 years 9 months old.  One important a-ha is that we start to 'read our environment' even before we are born.  Another is the importance of letting kids (and adults) know that we believe and validate them when they express that something doesn't seem right. 
« Last Edit: March 23, 2021, 12:45:59 PM by lavalove »

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athene1399

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2021, 02:49:33 PM »
I am so sorry, AoD. BM would create situations similar to this, ones where ďif SD wasnít spending time with dad then x would get done and she would not be stressed outĒ. And they are refusing to recognize that if DS were allowed by them to bring the computer to your house, then he could do his homework and there wouldnít be a problem.

Hopefully he does start to notice the pattern.

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Associate of Daniel

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2021, 05:35:41 PM »
Thanks, everyone.

The computer is on it's way.  As it happened, mine died last week anyway.

I didn't think to ask the school but I'll look into that next time.

It remains to be seen as to whether ds will use it for homework, or if he'll still try to get everything done at his uNPD dad's house.

For now though, the dust has settled and holidays are in another week.

AOD

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plainwords

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Re: At what age?
« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2021, 11:24:20 AM »
That's great news AOD. Hopefully, it gives you and your son some breathing space from the manipulation. Hopefully your son will be able choose where he does homework now.  :thumbup: