How to Cope With a Narcissistic Daughter-in-Law?

Last Updated on June 28, 2021 by Alexander Burgemeester

Often, mothers-in-law are portrayed in a bad light, with suggestions that they are possessive and reluctant to let go of their sons or daughters.

But what happens when it’s actually the other way round and you’re faced with a narcissistic daughter-in-law who seems to want to separate you from your children? How to cope with a narcissistic daughter-in-law?

If you suspect that your daughter-in-law is a narcissist, it’s tough being on the outside looking in and not being able to help your son or daughter out. 

As suggested in previous blog posts, usually the best way to deal with a narcissist is to completely cut them out of your life by ignoring them with the ‘grey rock’ method. However, in this situation, that’s not really possible if you want to maintain a relationship with your son/daughter and possibly your grandchildren. 

Unfortunately, if your son/daughter cannot see that their wife is a narcissist, attempting to reveal her and cut her out may end badly for you. If you upset her, she may use manipulative strategies to distance you from your son/daughter and you may lose touch with them altogether, and your grandchildren if you have them. 

There is no way to ‘deal’ with a narcissistic daughter-in-law in most cases, as realistically it’s not possible to remove her from the picture. Instead, you have to find ways to  ‘cope’ with her and try to stay on her good side. In this article I will discuss why coping is your best option and include 13 strategies on how to cope with your Narcissistic Daughter in Law.

How to cope with a narcissistic daughter in law

Why Coping is Really the Only Option

Narcissists are excellent at manipulating people (especially your child) and anything you say will be taken as criticism and held against you, as will any action you try to take to help your children. 

Narcissists are also excellent at triangulation, so try to avoid situations where you are alone with your narcissistic daughter-in-law. Triangulation is when a narcissist uses two people against each other to remain in control.

There will be limited or no communication between the two triangulated individuals, except through the manipulator (the narcissist). It’s a tactic used to drive a wedge between two people and play them off against each other. You don’t want to let this happen with you and your son or daughter. 

Question from one of our readers: My son’s wife is a Narcissist; How do I let him know?

It’s a highly effective strategy to gain an advantage over perceived rivals by manipulating them into conflicts with one another. Your son/daughter is already being manipulated by your daughter-in-law and will always believe her when she claims you said or did something to try and split them up.

Narcissists are experts at manipulation and you will most likely lose if you try to go head to head with them, so it’s often not worth trying. 

It’s hard when you want to protect your children and your grandchildren and speak up, help out and make them see what your narcissistic daughter-in-law is really like, but unfortunately doing so can alienate you further from your family and you do not want to risk losing contact with them. 

You need to focus on the long-term goals, which are:

  • Keeping the peace
  • Staying in touch with your child
  • Staying in touch with your grandchildren 

13 Coping Strategies Dealing With a Narcissistic Daughter-in-Law

Remember, you are doing what is necessary to stay in your children’s lives, not to please the narcissist. How to cope with a Narcissistic daughter in law? Here are some strategies you can use: 

1.Take a step back

as hard as it is when you can see how toxic the situation is, it’s important not to get involved in your daughter-in-law’s relationship as this would most likely lead to driving a bigger wedge between you and your child, and your child leaning more on the narcissist for support. 

2. Do not take sides

If your son/daughter or even your grandchildren come to you, complaining about your narcissistic daughter-in-law, listen, and only listen. Avoid taking sides as if you take your child’s side and they tell the narcissist what you said. This may cause the narcissist to go all-out to get rid of you, as they will see you as a threat (1).

As long as the narcissist does not see you as a threat, they will not try to remove you. Furthermore, if they see you as someone who can be useful in getting what they want, they will want to have you around more. 

3. Do not try to give the narcissist advice

Even if they ask for advice, do not give it to them! This never ends well as whatever you say, they will take it as criticism (2). Try to answer with general answers that can’t be taken critically.

For example, if they ask for advice about how to parent your grandchildren, a good answer could be, ‘you know your children best’. 

4. Don’t stop by unannounced

Narcissists are control freaks and will not appreciate you messing up their meticulous schedule by coming round without pre-planning it in advance. They will want to have their best face on when you do come round and will see you dropping by unannounced as trying to catch them out. 

5. Don’t try too hard to be friendly with them

If you overcompensate they will catch on to this and become suspicious of you. Keep your distance without being rude. 

6. Try to make everything seem like their idea

For example, if you want to see your grandchildren, try to make it seem like your daughter-in-law’s idea. You want her to believe she is in control, which is hard to do when you don’t want her to be, but you have to stay focused on your long-term goal of being a part of your son or daughter’s life.  

7. Respect your child’s choice

You have to understand that your son/daughter loves their partner, even though you can’t understand what they see in her. Even if you shared your true feelings about your daughter-in-law, they would probably not agree so it’s best to stay silent and respect their choice. 

8. Stay cordial at all times

Try your best to always be polite with the narcissist and avoid confrontation. No matter how manipulative she is, be cool, calm, poised and polite at all times.

9. Follow her rules

Whether you agree or disagree with her, show her you heard her and do as she wishes. Nothing will annoy her more than you disregarding her rules (3). And you do not want to annoy her. 

10. Set your boundaries

Don’t support the union any more than is absolutely necessary to maintain a relationship with your son/daughter. Set clear boundaries from the beginning.

Refuse to join in if she makes nasty remarks about other members of the family don’t allow her to get too close by stopping by unannounced and if you need to. Tell small white lies to get out of spending time alone with her – being careful not to upset her and keep it positive.  

11. Be appreciative when she does do something nice for you

This may not happen often, but when it does, make sure you show your appreciation. Definitely don’t suck up to her but if she does do something you approve of, tell her.

Whether it’s making your son/daughter their favorite meal or dressing the kids nicely, make her feel valued as narcissists crave this. 

12. Accept the reality of the situation

If your son/daughter has children with your daughter-in-law, no matter what you think of her, the children will need their mother (4). Trying to drive a wedge between her and her children or her and your son/daughter is not what’s best for anyone.

You need to accept that she will be in your life and choose to have whatever relationship is possible with her, for the sake of keeping contact with your son and grandchildren. 

13. Go with the flow

Learn to be laid back and accepting when it comes to your daughter-in-law. As long as you’re not saying yes to everything she asks of you and allowing her to run over you with unreasonable expectations for babysitting etc., just go with the flow.

Shrug off any nasty remarks and never say anything critical back – to anyone. Just get along and try to be a stable compassionate influence where you can. 

coping strategies to deal with narcissistic daughter in law

Ultimately, all of these coping strategies are about keeping the relationship with your narcissistic daughter-in-law cordial and amicable. Remember, she will have a firm grasp on your son/daughter so you are not likely to be rid of her unless this relationship breaks down.

She may even be the mother of your grandchildren in which case the best you can do is to understand that she has the ultimate say over what happens with her children.

Courts do not tend to side with grandparents unless the mother and/or father are declared unfit or have been arrested. Just try as best you can to keep your relationship workable. The key is to understand who you’re dealing with. 

Some things to Consider Concerning Your Narcissistic daughter-in-law

1. You are not the only target of her behaviour

Though it may feel like she hates you and is out to get you, the chances are she behaves this way with your son/daughter, her kids, her friends – in any situation where she feels powerless. But, in her mind, as the mother of her partner, you have power that she wants. Still, that doesn’t make this personal – remember it’s her way of coping with you. 

2. Her perception of your power is flawed

In this ‘power struggle’ she sees you as the ‘top dog’. After all, you knew her partner first so she sees you as a threat over her own power with your son/daughter. This perception is flawed, as you know, she is actually the one who has all the power when it comes to your son/daughter and your grandkids. 

3. Narcissists are very good at acting the victim

She will be extremely good at making your son/daughter believe she is the victim (5) if you ever actively try to expose her true colours, so this is not always the best action to take.

The more drama there is, the easier it will be for her to play the victim. Narcissists are manipulative so sometimes you have to be manipulative as well. No high emotions means no fuel for the narcissist to escalate the situation. 

4. Her behaviour will be predictable

Once you recognize that she’s a narcissist, it will be easy to predict how she will act. You will start to see patterns in her behavior and as you learn more about her it will be easier to know how to cope with her and stay on her good side.

Some examples may be:

She often ‘forgets’ things, like the plans she has agreed with you, to thank you for the nice birthday gift, to tell you about your grandchild’s latest achievement.

She will be able to give you good reasons for ‘forgetting’ but if this becomes a common theme, know that she is doing this on purpose to slight you. 

5. She shows up late or cancels/changes plans last minute.

For example, she might leave it to the last minute to tell you about a school play so that you won’t be able to make it. When this happens, act confused.

Ask if you got it wrong and express how terrible you feel about missing things. Don’t be accusative, just confused, and innocent. 

6. She will often disappear when you are around.

She may have to ‘work’ in another room or suddenly have to run errands to avoid spending time around you. This is probably because you intimate her and narcissists despise feeling vulnerable (6). 

Why your narcissistic daughter-in-law will behave in Certain ways

Narcissists never felt safe enough in childhood to stand up for themselves, so they learned to cope with feelings of powerlessness by saying what someone wants to hear and then doing everything to sabotage it (7).

Unless narcissists learn a more constructive way to assert themself, this is the only behaviour they know. 

They act this way because they’re insecure, have low self-esteem and want to feel powerful and important (8). She wants you to know the importance of her place in the family. 

Although it may not seem like it, she acts this way because she is threatened by you and cares about your opinion. Maybe she thinks you will criticize her or that you don’t trust her methods as a parent.

She might actually feel overwhelmed and stressed out, but this the last thing she will show you. Try to remember that narcissists are actually extremely vulnerable and sensitive people when dealing with her. 

Wrapping it all Together

When dealing with a manipulative narcissistic daughter-in-law, you have to accept that they are going to be in your life if you want to maintain contact with your son/daughter and your grandchildren. As hard as it may be at times, your only real option is to use coping methods to stay on her good side and keep the peace. 

Of course, if you have reason to seriously fear for your family’s safety, call the authorities. But only do this in extreme cases. If you try to ‘out’ your daughter-in-law to your family, she will most likely retaliate with manipulative techniques to freeze you out of the family and stop you seeing them altogether. 

If you want to continue having a relationship with your son/daughter and grandchildren, your best weapon is to understand your narcissistic daughter-in-law and learn to cope with her effectively. 

References Used for this Article

  1. Cavaiola, A. A., & Lavender, N. J. (2000). Toxic coworkers: How to deal with dysfunctional people on the job. New Harbinger Publications Incorporated.
  2. Brown, N. W. (1996). The destructive narcissistic pattern. Social Behavior & Personality: an international journal24(3).
  3. Wesner, B. S. (2007). Responding to the workplace Narcissist (Doctoral dissertation).
  4. Kochanska, G. (1997). Mutually responsive orientation between mothers and their young children: Implications for early socialization. Child development68(1), 94-112.
  5. Lubit, R. (2004). The tyranny of toxic managers: Applying emotional intelligence to deal with difficult personalities. Ivey Business Journal68(4), 1-7.
  6. Orth, U., Robins, R. W., Meier, L. L., & Conger, R. D. (2016). Refining the vulnerability model of low self-esteem and depression: Disentangling the effects of genuine self-esteem and narcissism. Journal of personality and social psychology110(1), 133.
  7. Bushman, B. J., & Thomaes, S. (2011). When the narcissistic ego deflates, narcissistic aggression inflates. The handbook of narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder: Theoretical approaches, empirical findings, and treatments, 319-329.
  8. Hart, W., Adams, J., Burton, K. A., & Tortoriello, G. K. (2017). Narcissism and self-presentation: Profiling grandiose and vulnerable Narcissists’ self-presentation tactic use. Personality and Individual Differences104, 48-57.
Written by Alexander Burgemeester on

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. Want to know more? Read my author bio page.

42 thoughts on “How to Cope With a Narcissistic Daughter-in-Law?”

  1. So… I am to devalue myself ? I am to change who I am, and kiss the narcissist’s butt at her every mood change?
    Do you know what I did wrong, I said the word “no” with a detailed explanation. If there is not immediate compliance to their demands then we are history. I refuse to tolerate disrespect to have a place in anyone’s world. I have to be able live with myself.

    • Hi Sydney, these tips are written to find a way to cope with a Narc daughter in law. Often when you fight the daughter in law and the son chooses the side of his wife, the parents are left in pain. You are not sucking up with the Narcissist but finding ways to keep the peace. Keep her at distance but remain close contact with a son or daughter.

      You can instead decide to fight it, but some battles can never be won and end in tears.

      • Hello Alexander, Keeping distance and being non- confrontational is ok. What do you suggest when the Narc DIL manipulates to get material goods or financial benefits?

        • Hi Brenda, that is a tough question. Is she manipulating you or your son? If she is manipulating you I would suggest strong boundaries but not trying to pick a fight. If she is manipulating your son it’s more complicated. You could try to start a conversation with your son about it without trying to be too judgmental about it But be careful that convincing him to pick a side and see how “evil” your DIL is might push you away from him and choose the side of his wife/your DIL. But if he is okay with her behavior it will be hard to convince him otherwise.

          Nonetheless, it is important to create your own boundaries with her AND him. Don’t let them force you to do things you don’t want to do (like paying stuff for them). Good luck with this situation.

      • I have a daughter in law like that. I feel sorry for my son and I will always love him, but my dignity and freedom to be myself are more important to me than desparate attempts to keep my son in my life. He is a grown up man, and I have given him enough of myself. I would rather not have a relationship with him/them instead of constantly adapting my behaviour to a cruel narcissist.

        • I agree, we have given them the tools to navigate in this life. My DIL is a covert narcissist. While she smiles in my face, I have recently been informed that she has been twisting every situation into me being my sons enemy, twisting conversations and saying to my son. I love you, your my man and I’ve got your back. I only recently suspected that she may have character traits of someone with developmental disability issues and goggled this and found exactly what she has been doing and yes, her mother is a selfish witch who told her to abort my grandson and come home, her mother hates my son from all the negative conversations she’s had with her mother but that relationship remains intact. I’ve been a good mom and nana and neither of them deserves me in their lives. My concerns about her manipulating my grandchildren is coming into view now. I will focus on my relationship with my grandchildren. Those two deserve each other and time will prove things out. Do not cast your pearls amongst swine it accomplishes nothing and will drain you of your own energy and break your heart. You will be railing against an unstable situation and nothing you do will change it. Walk away, preserve your relationship with your grandchildren thru other methods. There’s cell phones and internet, game sites and social media. There are many other ways to stay in touch. 😊 Never compromise yourself for the sake of keeping the peace, it only degrades who you are.

        • I fully agree.. I always thought my youngest DIL truly valued family. Her own family has lots of problems and we are the only GP our GK’s truly have, as her Mother is a heavy drinker and not able to be present.

          This all has changed in the last 4 or 5 years.. with more problems her mother has, the more her Bi Polar Narcissistic habits are showing.

          I don’t want to be her best friend, Mom or confidant. i just want to have a relationship with my Son & Grandchildren & her too if she is open. But after last weekend I realize I’ve lost my Son & GS’s to this toxic behavior. Her own Mom told me 5 yrs ago she treated her bad & didn’t know how my Son put up with her. I think many things have happened that I’m not privy to in hindsight

          But I refuse to be her doormat, because I came from a toxic Mother, and once you know that kind of abuse, you will not allow others to heap it on you just because they can.

          I have been there for both her and my Son when no one else has.. i dropped whatever, to keep the kids so they could have time to themselves..

          But at 65 and in my own late stage toxic marriage I can no longer handle the toxicity of a girl I didn’t give birth to.

          My husband sides with whoever sides against me, and women today believe its cool to not like MIL’s.. as a hearing impaired person who broke my hearing aids recently, I can tell my DIL thinks its beneath her to speak louder to communicate.. ices me out, and the list of other things is outrageous..

          I raised 2 good Men and I can no longer wipe their butts.. or handle a DIL who tries to act like a Kardashian..I never thought my life would be this way..when all I ever tried to be was supportive. I married a Man who came from Dysfunction, but I made my Childrens lives as happy as I knew how.. educated them, helped them as much as I could, now I’m tired.. and just want to be by myself, without a spouse who thinks I should eat garbage so my DIL can feel fulfilled..

          Sometimes we have to protect ourselves when no one else will. We need our own boundaries, and the typical GM does not want to interfere in her Gk’s lives, they just want to be there to enjoy them for what little time we may have left, and leave imprints that will make them feel they were so so loved when we’re gone.

          I believe that when the Son’s Mom is able & healthy and the DIL’s Mom is not, that creates a kind of jealousy no one talks about. I lived a smoke free, alcohol free life to be able to enjoy my 60’s.. I deserve some decent health, and it should be appreciated by a Son & DIL that I can take their kids on a weekend getaway when they need a break, but not in my case. My life will be different after last weekend, I’ll never be the same again..

      • That’s not coping it’s helping a very sick person hurt your loved ones by giving the narcissist cover and not even trying to educate your loved ones. Leaving the narcissist free range to destroy lives. I think you may want to reconsider your advice. Advising people to voluntarily continue in a very abusive relationship does not seem wise.

        • I understand what you are trying to say. But it is often not that simple. You are not helping an abusive relationship, you are doing a trade-off, where you are able to stay in contact with your family. Putting them under pressure to see what you are seeing will often have the opposite effect.

    • I completely agree with you. I have been struggling for two years trying to keep the peace and the hurt and pain I have endured has cost me way too much. While the hurt of not being able to be a part of my Sons and Grandsons life is huge the disrespect, lies being told about me, manipulations and ugly things said to me hurt even worse and has caused me to harden my heart and that is something I cannot afford to do. Peace is a very valuable commodity and enduring pain to try and have a relationship with someone that doesn’t really want it is not worth my peace. I love my son but I feel just as hurt by him as her because he allows her to do these things to me. My heart cannot take anymore. The best thing for me is to let them live their life and pray for them but protect my own heart. The hurt is just more than I can bear when trying to appease a relationship with them. It’s impossible

      • Hi Lesa,
        I have been growing through something very similar to this recently and feel exactly the same way you do. I love my son and my grandsons but my daughter in law is very hurtful and I just don’t feel I can deal with her tearing me down any more. She speaks to me so disrespectfully and has basically taken over my home. She has told my son that I am trying to break up their marriage and all I have ever done was help. Thank you for sharing. After her latest argument with me I have been torn apart, no one wants to lose their family but I can’t keep accepting being treated like this either.

        • I agree with you. If our son is so manipulated coming from a loving, supportive environment and is alienating his 4 siblings I have had enough. He tried calli g me for Mother’s Day but not his father for Father’s Day. He made a huge mistake. His father is my husband and he is not going to be treated this way Birthday gifts to our grandchildren and holiday gifts as well. It is to late to sick redemption when one of us pass away’

        • I have had exactly the same experienced with my DIL. To the extent that my cancer diagnosis was ‘put all on her and she was the victim of excessive stress’ how dare I do that to her. She has mentally and now physically endangered my grandchildren and driven a huge wedge into our family so much so that myself my husband and my son’s sibling don’t recognise him anymore. The stress her actions have put on the family are I intolerable but worst of all her total inability to empathise or interact correctly with her children, my grandchildren is so damaging to them it’s truly terrifying. I am at my whit’s end.

      • Oh my goodness Lesa. I feel your pain. I am experiencing a very similar thing myself. At the moment I cannot bring myself to leave my son daughter-in-law to it, but there may come a time when, for my own health, I may have to do what you have done. I love my son and grandson so much but, like you, the hurt that I experience that my son is letting her do this to me is sometimes unbearable. I have the added complication that my son suffers from psychosis and is on heavy medication to keep him calm. It is all so extremely tiring and heartbreaking.
        Please look after yourself.

      • I wish there was a support group for Moms of Sons.. we don’t want our grown Sons to be little boys again…we just hope to share in our Grandchild’s life.. anyone who grew up without a GM like me, can appreciate that. But we cannot live with animosity and clear cut disrespect so we can get crumbs from a grown Son, who needs peace in their marriage.

        If you have a spouse on your side, you are way better off than I am. I learned after 40 years, my husband has dome learning impairment, never picked up in childhood, and it causes him to not be able to connect the dots where human interaction come into play.

        I notice neither my husband or son seem to pick up on my DIL’s behavior when we’re together. She ruined my Birthday about 3 years ago, this last Christmas and last weekend when we were invited to their vacation rental hime, she knew I could not hear her getting ready to leave, rather than walking upstairs to say goodbye and allow my 7 yr old GS to say goodbye, she told my husband she didn’t know where I was when I saw her 10 min earlier.. she still did not tell me she was leaving. When I went down to say goodbye, she barely turned around and honestly, I don’g think she said anything. It might sound trivial on my part, but my Son has also become disrespectful.. if I thought I deserved it, I’d be the first to apologize..

        Sometimes we just have to know when to let our kids live their life.. so we can live ours without stress and constant turmoil..

      • I have recently been ‘blacklisted’ from my Narc. DIL who is jealous of how much my GKids love me. My heart is completely broken. She’s told my very young GKids that ‘we can’t see grandma because grandma is mean to mommy’ – a complete lie.

    • I agree, I blame my son for not being more discerning in choosing a partner. He knows his mother, he knows her character and it’s on him to correct her behavior when she’s making false accusations against his mother. My sons girlfriend I’m finding out is crazy, narcissists are unstable, manipulative and crazy and a stable, considerate sane woman cannot exist in “crazy” and if my son doesn’t see that it’s on him. Why should I allow toxicity to remain a part of my world because of his poor choices and his lack of wisdom? Nope, I don’t do crazy, drama or stupid, even if it’s my own kids. I did my part in raising him in a stable loving environment and he’s chosen crazy to spend the rest of his life in. M grandchildren are experiencing exclusion, favorism now that she has her own children and my son has allowed her to not let me see grandchildren that aren’t even hers….and for years now. No thanks, when they get old enough they will make their own observations and they are already pulling away from them. Toxic is toxic and nothing good ever breeds from it….they will go down in flames when they have no “ triangular” opponent.

    • I agree, I’m finding out that my DIL is a narcissist. The first clue is when I dressed up for Halloween and when she saw my cute cat costume she immediately went to change into her military fatigues. My son was confused and I thought it strange but now it makes sense. They are vying for position…I have been in my grandchildren’s lives since birth and they have different mothers. This sweet, innocent behaving, non confrontational narcissist convinced me that she was these things. None of my other grandchildren’s mothers have done so much damage to my relationship with my son and grandchildren as her. She has two faces, she poisoned my sons mind against me building me into this monster, but I blame my son, not her. He’s the one that has given her the power to do what she has done, while the other moms he stood up to. This one is manipulative, conniving and plays the victim in everything, however, she does not go postal, she works primarily on him. When the other mothers were dragging him in and out of court I was their best buddy but as soon as things went away with regards to them I became a target and shame on my son for not being man enough to realize what was going on and I have no problem walking away because if someone is that easily turn against you through manipulation It does not have the presence of mind to stand up for you when they know what is being said about you it’s not true then they don’t deserve you to be in their life they don’t deserve to have that relationship because they are not going to do what they need to do to preserve it I’m not gonna fight for something that the person on the other side is not willing to preserve it’s a losing battle I don’t care what you do on this page it doesn’t matter you’re always going to be on the losing end and you’re always going to end up in a heartache because it’s nothing you do is ever going to be good enough and nothing you do is ever going to be right you’re always going to be wrong and if people cannot see the good in you and they cannot see the benefit of you and they cannot Express anything but negative energy towards you then you have to get out of that because now it’s about self-preservation and there are plenty of girls out there who are looking for a mom there are plenty of people out there who have never had the pleasure of having a mom in their life and you can use that energy to be a positive influence in somebody who will value your advice your wisdom and your love and presence in their life ☺️☺️. I am glad that I found this website because I beat myself up for so long because I really really starting to believe everything that my son was projecting against me and when you expose yourself long enough to these narcissist they actually start to convince you that you are who they say you are I don’t care how strong or stable you are I am a retired peace officer and I have seen and experienced this for myself and I have always been A very strong minded person knowing who I am rebuilding myself from a very toxic family situation and only inviting good characteristics purging the dark ones away from my spirit in my mind having to separate myself from my toxic family and yet I had no idea what was happening until just today and this woman has been in my sons life for the last eight years and I had no idea why my son was crying more and more hostile towards me over the years

      • I agree with everything you say.. I saw my DIL’s behavior that seemed like a spoiled brat around her Mother & Aunt years ago before they were married.

        It was narcissistic and Bi Polar but I wasn’t smart enough to see it as mental illness. I had never been around anyone like that. I warned my Son then..

        He married her, and its on him now, but I can see its also taking a toll on my Grandsons. They see her toxic behavior.. when I tell my Son that if you want to change a child’s behavior, parents must change theirs.. he knows its true but blew up.. I believe that my DIL was born to a Mother who drank heavily while pregnant, and has a lot of mental illness in her family.

        I also suspect my Son has been drinking to cope with her.. he was raised in an alcohol free home..

        I can’t tolerate anymore and sadly will not be able to interact with my GS’s who I was very close to..

        My marriage is also in shambles because of it, and I’m at the tail end of my life.. would I have done things differently if given a rewind? Yes

  2. Dear Alexander,
    I mentioned earlier that this article is so very helpful for me because you provide tools. I have been at a loss with how to remain a part of my son and his family’s life, when his wife displays narcissistic behavior–a lot.
    A bad pattern has developed and I could use your help on how best to handle. According to my daughter-in-law, I do something very hurtful or wrong or bothersome to her — often. She goes on and on about it to my son. He then has to defend her, so he can live in some sort of peace with her. I am then told that this will take some time to get over, if we can ever get back to normal. I am told that, “I need to be good and we will see.”
    This is where I get stuck. Do I go overboard to try and be nice so that I can have a relationship with my son and young grandsons? Do I step back and wait for them to make the first move? Right now they are not talking to me. They live 30 minutes away and I have not been allowed to see my grandsons for over a month. Would it work to send her a card to apologize? I truly did nothing wrong and have nothing to be sorry about. But, if it will help, I will apologize again. I did in person, but it is never enough. In other words, she constantly looks for me to do something wrong, capitalizes on it, and then am excluded from talking to my son or grandsons. With this constant shaming from my son, I believe he has lost respect for me. For five years she has degraded me and now, it seems that my son now sees me no longer as he used to. I am a strong, independent woman who raised 2 sons on my own, while working and going to college. My strength threatens her. You know the rest. It hurts so much having my son’s love turn into wrath.

    • Robin, you are wearing my shoes. My son has need so brainwashed by his wife that I hardly recognize him. She manipulates him and convinces him to bully me and lie to me. Sometimes even rage at me. Then my son will cut me out of their lives…2x …this last time was 1.5 years. I grieved so much I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to live. But not suicidal…just hopeless. I was going thru a nightmare divorce with my husband of 30 years, who had been cheating on me the whole time. He’s a covert narcissist, which I had never heard of. Anyway, now the granddaughters miss me so they want back into my life.

      Like you, I am torn about doing this destructive dance again. She sees me as an object to use and abuse. I am a very sensitive person, son she knows how to hurt and punish me. It does no good to talk to my son. Deep down, he sees it, but he is like a 6’3″ puppet. Such a waste of life.

      Like the author here says, we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. There are no good options. I, too, live 20 min from them, and am close to my granddaughters.

      Maybe in a way, I finally have a say in how this goes. Maybe. I’ve worked with an excellent counselor who is an expert on bullying and narcissistic abuse. In know it’s time to let go of any unrealistic expectations, build my life with those I trust, and limit my time and exposure with and to them. I have to build a protective barrier around my heart and soul, and use my brain to have this relationship. It’s sad and takes a lot of grief work and acceptance. But I think a total break is more destructive and permanent. I have learned how to play by her rules:
      1. Then one that counts, don’t care. Just give a very little bit. She is most threatened by my heart, compassion, and empathy.

      I am determined to keep those traits to myself around her and HER family. Oh and be a sickly person who can’t go to her events…parties, etc.


    • I relate to every word, Robin. My background and experience in this is similar, I worked to put myself through college and graduate school, and my son and I had a wonderful relationship until several years ago. After his marriage with my daughter-in-law, the tides turned and suddenly she began speaking to me rudely, then raging out of the blue and not even making sense with her accusations. I was shocked when my son defended her and even began to “coach” me on how I should speak to her (because of her traumatic childhood and “sensitivities”). More recently, I’ve tried turning to professional help, and I received very positive feedback from a counselor for the letter I wrote to my granddaughter to try to make amends and “apologize” (even though I also truly did nothing wrong!) The letter did not change a thing. In fact, my daughter-in-law continues to complain to my son that I “must not care” about her, while refusing to speak to me so I can have a chance to demonstrate care. It is agonizing because I was very close to my grandsons before the situation blew up, and I hurt for them as well because I have been the only grandparent active in their life since birth. (My DIL has a restraining order against her own mother and also refuses to let my ex-husband see the grandchildren at all). So, needless to say–I understand and empathize with your stuckness. Completely not the way I envisioned life going after working so hard for so many years to raise my son with love and respect for human beings in general. I still believe in miracles, and will hold onto this hope as well as continue to seek resources. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I wish you all the best.

    • I believe that the complete opposites we are to a DIL’s Mother, the more threatened they feel. If we are happy and they’re Mom is not, thats a strike against us.. if we have a nicer home and her Mom doesn’t .
      .. Another strike.

      I’m not bending on this last episode .. I have had this rodeo once before, as I have 2 Sons that are 7 years apart.. and its a losing game..

      I have a cordial relationship with my oldest DIL but went through pure emotional turmoil 12 years ago with her and now its happening with DIL No 2..

      My husband is reacting the same way now as he did then, siding with a woman he has no DNA with.. just to be cordial with them both and see our GS’s who we are close to

      He wasn’t asked to do the things I was, and has no concern that I am treated bad.. so for me, my life has totally changed in the last week.. not only do I need distance from my Son & DIL, but need distance from my husband..

      I never thought trying to have a close family would be a challenge.. my family of origin is not close, so I thought I changed the cycle.. nope, my whole life has been for nothing

  3. This is the first article I found like this. I am a grandmother. The daughter-in-law is a step mom to my grandchildren. I helped raise my grandkids before the second marriage. I had quite a jolt and sudden loss. I wasn’t sure if she was narcissistic but time is showing such. Your article helped ground me in my sense of reality. It sure is painful especially as I can see my grandkids struggle with their coping, but your article helps me know what we are experiencing is real and not something I or my grandkids are doing. Thank you.

  4. We have just had a Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone, while our daughter-in-law’s family celebrated with them. Because of the COVID-19 virus, and the fact that her sister’s children, who go to school, we did not want to be in contact with those children, it is a long complicated story, but to be short and sweet, no time was allotted for us over these days. Your website and information are a lifeline! Thank you! The sadist part is our son is an MFT and cannot see the situation for what it is…our daughter-in-law continually tells him that I am in competition with her…I am his mom, that’s it!

  5. My situation is complicated. I met my husband 30 years ago, got together 10 years ago. My son and his daughter knew each other in high school and married in 2004. My DIL from day one always showed signs of narcissism. We got married in December of 2014 and John was in a very serious motorcycle accident in May 2015, he got a severe TBI and was in a coma for a month. I lost my father to cancer in March 2015. For years I kept my shut as to not make waves. I was exhausted and blew up one day in the hospital and all the frustration came out in a text where I told her exactly how I felt. There was not one thing in my text that was not true. Needless to say I have not seen my grandkids in 5 years and she has not visited her father. Every year I get a card for the holidays with pictures of the kids I can’t see. This year I told them not to send anymore cards. I miss my grandkids but feel I couldn’t take it anymore. How does someone deprive their children of their grandparents. We have 4 grandkids.

  6. Thank you so very much for addressing this–there is almost nothing I can find addressing this unique situation for a narcissistic (and in my case, also a borderline) daughter-in-law, when the goal is to preserve the relationship with one’s grandchildren. All the advice in books and conversation around this seems to be geared towards intimates, such as spouses, parents, and so on. I cannot thank you enough, though I do wish there was more support. Unfortunately, I have been estranged from my daughter-in-law for two years despite my attempts to “apologize” (even though what I’m apologizing for is unclear because although she rages against me it is not specific or even logical, thus I don’t even know how to make clear amends). Two years ago, I was yet naive and unaware of these disorders, but now I have eyes wide open and feel as if my life will never be the same–the cold reality of what I’m up against in order to be there for my grandchildren and son are sobering, but I am determined for their sake. Fortunately, my son has not alienated me and before Covid we made some arrangements to spend some afternoons together with himself the grandchildren. However, he has definitely distanced from me in order to keep the peace, and he seems himself to be walking on eggshells so all I can do is stay as positive as I can, each and every time we talk. I have tried two different counselors and this article validates my intuition and has been most helpful in putting things into perspective beyond my own grappling with the situation. My heart goes out to every single mother-in-law coping with this heart-wrenching dynamic. Thank you again, Alexander!!

    • Sara, so good to know I’m not alone. Everything you said is where I’m at with my DIL. I’m always in trouble for nothing. I’m so weary of her always looking for the worst in me in spite of my efforts to always make peace. Super tired of always apologizing but with one 18 month old grandson who doesn’t even know my name….and identical boy twins due in a month….it’s a battle that I feel better equipped to cope with after reading this article . I take solace in the fact that she will have 3 DIL ‘s with all boys someday. Carma is a bi***! Lol
      Sure wish we could all find a support group to help each other . Stay positive. Keep it light and surround yourself with people that remind you who you really are!

  7. It is so good to know that I am not alone. So much has happened and I daren’t mention any of it in case it will be stumbled upon and the incidents recognised. I’m getting the silent treatment at the moment and I haven’t seen my grandson for weeks. Thank you everybody for telling your stories. You are loving, wonderful people who are being chipped away at like I am. Virtual hugs to you all. xxx

  8. I’m grateful to have found this site. I have felt so alone( except for my husband) in this we are both strugglIng with our daughter-in-law.
    We haven’t been treated well for 10 years. She has always had a tight bond with her parents, especially her Mom.
    Her attitude towards us has never been fair. We are not included in any functions. I have been asked to make my sons favorite foods for his surprise milestone birthday party, only to find out we weren’t invited. Her parents were invited. When questioned about it our son said she planned the party, he didn’t have anything to do with it.
    We wanted to do something to help clean up their first home. We offered to cleanup the yard. We weeded, trimmed trees, replaced dead bushes, spread mulch and power washed the walks and drive. In the 8 hours we were there, she never once came outside. Our son was at work and she never as much as offered us water. Never thanked us, but’s raved about her Dad who helped tile a kitchen.

    They moved 2 doors down from her parents, her Mom got a job at the same school. They vacation together, but refuse when we ask them to go somewhere.
    Now we have a granddaughter and she uses our love for her as a weapon. We never get to hold her, bathe her, feed her etc. She is 15 months old and we have never babysat for her. We have asked, she says she’s not ready. WE live a mile away but still we are refused. Her Mom has her everyday, we are asked to make an appointment.
    I’m so tired of being treated so badly I am about to give up. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this.

    • Agree this is the best info I have found to confirm my situation with my Dil which is close to yours – she rages at me and is angry I don’t understand what I did because it makes no sense in regard to how she is punishing me/ over a proud of my son fb posts I can not be trusted with the news of their child. It has been a heartbreaking experience and it about broke me in a way I have never felt. Something is wrong with her…. and my son is caught and stands by his wife which hurts all the more that he allowed me to be excluded by her. And so true using my grandchild as a weapon I notice this – its awful!

    • Deb
      Im sorry to hear your circumstances. I am living with the exact same
      Scenario. Her mom has full access and I have so many restrictions that I am unable to develop a bond or even FaceTime with my 18 month old grandson. Especially hard when these babies were born in Covid and limited access to family. It’s heartbreaking but take what you can get . Don’t give up. Your grandson will need your positive energy in his life and will someday be old enough to recognize the toxicity. Do NOT let DIL rob you of your joy!!! Sending virtual hugs.

  9. This is an article I wish I found months ago. My dil is pregnant. I thought we were all getting along & everything was good. They were coming over for dinner & playing board games. Then I find out she is expecting, we are so happy & we cheer for them- i find out her parents have known for 4 months before they told me. I am so hurt. The situation escalated to the gifts I reserved she removed our name from & they sold the clothes in their resale store. Trying to sell the stroller I bought off the registry because she did not think I had any intention of giving it, I was not invited to her shower, asked over to see the babys room, I was excluded in every way – this meant so much to me. Very hurt. She smiled & said, “its not my fault she is weaker than me, I have to do what is best for the baby & me “as my mom told her my worst fear was not being able to see the baby. Just feels so evil. – Personal attacks on me as I tried to repair – more & more hate came from her & my son stood on her side because she is his wife. Lots of petty reasons for being angry & hate pouring from her in texts to me. Baby is due now tomorrow & only God can fix this. It felt like I was blindsided – this is the most pain I have ever been caused by someone I love. I missed all of this experience with my son. I told her she is a horrible person – she smiled at me & told me to have a nice day.
    It has been a horrible experience. And what matters to me most, I lost – a relationship with my 1st grand child & my son. 💔

  10. Because I didn’t contribute money when asked for by my daughter in law I’m cut out of their lives including the four grandchildren. My son was never a money hungry person before. I had learned my lesson about loaning them money so I decided to not ever again. It’s unbelievable how if I want to see my grandkids I would have to give money to the parents.

  11. Same with me and my husband we had to give money to see our grand kids thats not it should be I rather be left alone …. He was old enough to marry her his old enough to take care of himself and her and leave us alone

  12. Hello Alexander,

    I wish I would have found this article a year ago, before calling out my DIL. My narcissist daughter in law has frozen me out of my daughter’s life. She first set a trap for me on FB outright calling me a child abuser, which is not true, and anyone would think this inflammatory. Telling my daughter how toxic I am as a mother etc., trying to paint me as the narc. When I called my DIL a narcissist in the last phone conversation with my daughter, and tried to show her the signs, I was cut out. It is incredibly painful, and we have not spoken in a year. Prior to this relationship with a narc, my daughter and I were extremely close, and now I feel like I will never speak to her again. What can I do? Supportive people in my life keep throwing out platitudes. She will come around just give her time….etc. (it’s nice that folks want to be helpful, but that is not a helpful thing to say to someone who is in so much pain.) I feel like she won’t come around until eventually the narc moves on to a new target. I realize this may be years or months, however long. What can I do to appeal to the narc, and get her to try to let me have a relationship again with my daughter? I am blocked on all social media, and my phone number is blocked. I am absolutely devistated. Any advice would be appreciated.

  13. Actually it’s your daughter that has to stand up to the narcissist. The narcissist will always humiliate you, play games with you, make you think everything is ok and then cut you off. It’s called gaslighting. The best you can do is educate yourself about narcissist. She will make you feel confused and sick. The truth is you need to take care of yourself, grieve. Do not say anything that can be used against you. These people are evil and there isn’t anything you Can do. It has to come from your daughter. I m sorry. They are expert manipulators.

  14. Wow! I can’t believe I found this article and have read e.v.e.r.y. comment – prayers for all of us going through this difficult, heart wrenching situation.

    I’m sorry for each person here who is experiencing this pain and anguish, but so relieved that I’m not ALONE!

    My DIL has been manipulating and using my GK as pawns since the first one was born (almost 8 years ago). There was a major break in the relationships over a year ago and I’ve not had any (1 or 2 quick phone calls I think my son ‘snuck’ in) real contact.

    Your mental health and well being are important, if your boundaries cause a rift in the relationships, take comfort there will come a day of reckoning. My DIL just about a month ago, took the kids, wiped out the bank accounts, took the children (and his birthday dog) – all while he was on a business trip. She has been hiding/keeping the children from my son, filed a divorce and protective order using false information.

    Fortunately he has an outstanding attorney who recognized her as a narcissist and we’re both learning – excellent materials out there on the covert, passive-aggressive narcissist – google it to help yourselves.

    I kept wondering like ‘why did everything seem so good in the beginning and what did I do wrong’ – then realized, it was the ‘love bombing’ that a narcissist uses, was googling it, and then tried DIL narcissist and came across this article. So helpful…boundaries…have healthy boundaries, even if it means the relationships are paused or terminated.

    May each of you find healing in and through this difficult situation.

  15. It’s amazing how similar all our lives are when a DIL with NPD is in the picture. Been at it for over a decade and have concluded that only GOD can take her down. I ask Him for strength to endure the pain of all this and to protect my innocent grandchildren from all the drama of her Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personna. It’s not the life I dreamed of, but it’s the life I’ve got. Coping, is all that’s left. Looking forward to heaven…..a place free from people with NPD.


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