My Narcissistic Spouse is Jealous of our Children

“Anybody who hates children and dogs can’t be all bad.”

(Leo Rosten, introducing W.C. Fields at a dinner)

Why would a husband or wife be jealous of their own children? A parent with Narcissistic Personality Disorder who has children opens up a world of damage and abuse to them. Some narcissistic parents are possessively close to their children when they are small, as their children can be a source of self-esteem.

However, as their children grow and become more independent, the narcissistic parent may feel jealous of the child (or children). Narcissists playing the “grandiose” role promote themselves as powerful figures, demanding gratitude and hero worship from their child. Nevertheless, if the child is too successful or becomes too independent, they will incur jealousy and recrimination. No narcissist wants to be upstaged or outgrown so they suppress signs of independence or any behavior beyond their command. Invasions of privacy, boundary violations, and direct attacks are the norm.

While there are innumerable ways in which a narcissistic parent abuses his or her children, there are times when a narcissistic parent is kind. This makes the abuse harder to handle for children of narcissistic parents – the child knows that the underlying tension means that one wrong move and things will go terribly wrong- the parent may fly into a Narcissistic Rage. The household learns to walk on eggshells.

When a narcissistic parent is kind, the child learns that this kindness comes with strings attached. The strings may include guilt or a feeling of being beholden to their narcissistic parent such as “If I do this for you, you OWE me.” The child is exposed to conditional love- love is given only under certain conditions.

It is hard for an emotionally healthy person to understand the mind of a narcissist and how they can possibly treat their children in the ways that they do. Sam Vaknin, a self proclaimed narcissist and author of Malignant Self-Love helps us understand what it is like from a narcissist’s point of view: (bold type is mine)

I see in children feigned innocence, relentless and ruthless manipulation, the cunning of the weak. They are ageless. Their narcissism is disarming in its directness, in its cruel and absolute lack of empathy. They demand with insistence, punish absent-mindedly, idealize and devalue capriciously. They have no loyalty. They do not love, they cling. Their dependence is a mighty weapon and their neediness – a drug. They have no time, neither before, nor after. To them, existence is a play, they are the actors, and we all – are but the props. They raise and drop the curtain of their mock emotions at will. The bells of their laughter often tintinnabulate. They are the fresh abode of good and evil pure and pure they are.

Children, to me, are both mirrors and competitors. They reflect authentically my constant need for adulation and attention. Their grandiose fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience are crass caricatures of my internal world. The way they abuse others and mistreat them hits close to home. Their innocuous charm, their endless curiosity, their fount of energy, their sulking, nagging, boasting, bragging, lying, and manipulating are mutations of my own behavior. I recognize my thwarted self in them. When they make their entrance, all attention is diverted. Their fantasies endear them to their listeners. Their vainglorious swagger often causes smiles. Their trite stupidities are invariably treated as pearls of wisdom. Their nagging is yielded to, their threats provoke to action, their needs accommodated urgently. I stand aside, an abandoned centre of attention, the dormant eye of an intellectual storm, all but ignored and neglected. I watch the child with envy, with rage, with wrath. I hate its effortless ability to defeat me.

Children are loved by mothers, as I was not. They are bundled emotions, and happiness and hope. I am jealous of them, I am infuriated by my deprivation, I am fearful of the sadness and hopelessness that they provoke in me. Like music, they reify a threat to the precariously balanced emotional black hole that is myself. They are my past, my dilapidated and petrified True Self, my wasted potentials, my self-loathing and my defenses. They are my pathology projected. I revel in my Orwellian narcissistic newspeak. Love is weakness, happiness is a psychosis, hope is malignant optimism. Children defy all this. They are proof positive of how different it could all have been.

But what I consciously experience is disbelief. I cannot understand how anyone can love these thuggish brats, their dripping noses, gelatinous fat bodies, whitish sweat, and bad breath. How can anyone stand their cruelty and vanity, their sadistic insistence and blackmail, their prevarication and deceit? In truth, no one except their parents can.

Children are always derided by everyone except their parents. There is something sick and sickening in a mother’s affections. There is a maddening blindness involved, an addiction, a psychotic episode, it’s sick, this bond, it’s nauseous. I hate children. I hate them for being me.

On an internet forum, another narcissist wrote: “I often feel very intense jealousy, but it’s sort of very specific. The people who I’m “closest” to, that not being on an emotional level but a possessive level, I get very jealous over. I feel as if I own them, and the more they feel they are close to me on an emotional and intellectual and connected level, the more I feel “close” to them on a possessive level. And so if then these people ignore me, or favor someone else over me, I feel sudden intense hatred for them, as if they’re being hypocritical in their own connection towards me. It’s as if by admitting they’re close to me, good friends with me, they’re signing an unwritten contract that they must give me complete attention constantly, and when they don’t, I completely hate them and want nothing more to do with them. I think it’s the closest I can feel to a normal emotion, and it’s the only way I can judge my relationships with others.”

From these writings, it seems that narcissists can be jealous of their own children for several reasons. They see their children as extensions of themselves which can lead to Narcissistic Supply (if the children are gifted, beautiful, talented or so on) or can lead to jealousy (if the child is too successful, too independent, is a competitor for all the attention or other Narcissistic Supply, gives their attention to someone else and betrays their ‘ownership” by the narcissist) or even to hatred (for being just like the narcissist himself- a mirror to his faults). Being the child of a narcissistic parent can open up Pandora’s Box when it comes to emotional damage.

References

http://samvak.tripod.com/journal36.html
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-me-in-we/201203/when-narcissist-heads-the-household
http://www.bandbacktogether.com/adult-children-of-Narcissistic-parents-resources/
http://www.psychforums.com/narcissistic-personality/topic62875.html

About Alexander Burgemeester

10 Responses to “My Narcissistic Spouse is Jealous of our Children”

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  1. Joanna says:

    I grew up with a narcissistic father who was openly devastated when my mother became pregnant with me six years into their marriage. When I was seven or so, when my parents were going through a divorce, my father had a bizarre breakdown one afternoon and confessed to me that he had been cheating in order to beat me at the card game Old Maid. It’s nice that he had a moment of conscience but truly – how sick would one need to be in order to “need” to beat a child at a game to preserve self esteem? I’m so glad that we have a better understanding of malignant narcissism now and of the effects of narcissistic abuse than we have in the past. Survivors of these relationships now stand a better chance of finding appropriate support and healing. Thank you for this post.

  2. Elly says:

    Alexander I really enjoyed reading this article. I grew up with a mother who is extremely narcissistic and childish when it comes to me living my own life. I never felt like she really loved me. She had no respect for me as a seperate person, and i never felt like she was really proud of me for anything i ever accomplished. Almost jealous in a way. It’s affected my relationships, my job, and my school. I can’t escape her jealousy towards my success, but I also can’t enjoy any success in my life. Anytime I speak up about how it’s harmed my OWN life, my family thinks I’m betraying them. I read an article recently that really helped me out on this subject. Here’s the article, it’s definitely similar and just as informative:

    http://www.psychalive.org/2013/03/the-problem-with-narcissistic-parents/

  3. neil says:

    i got my sob father back.. my only other sibling died young from a heart attack (my dad laughed his pains off as “nothing” of course, because it wasn’t him).. now he has lost both his sons and has no children because when my bro went, i realized i had my chance and revenge and therefore, healing, and abandoned him to die alone. I hope its slow and lonely whenever it happens.

  4. Susan says:

    Unfortunately narcissists believe their own lies. My husband has admitted to being jealous of our child. He had a 14 year fantasy relationship. The woman was real and she knew him and talked to him He believed she loved him. He was beginning to act on his fantasies and desired her to have children.

    • Melissa says:

      Did he start his fantasy relationship after you had your child and was it your first? I have been in the same situation, my husbands fantasy relationship was 12 years on and off … It started when my first child was 9 months old. He works with the woman who is nothing short of a vulture and has been playing him the whole time whenever she feels like it. It has been 7 months since I found out about them for the third time in 12 years and 4 months since he has disclosed everything. I’m devastated and broken and still not sure if trying again is the right thing to do. I am in counselling and he has been too.

  5. Tom V says:

    My father was never around when I was young, unless my mom felt the need for actual discipline in which he beat me with a leather belt until my legs were black and blue. The few things we did do together ( hunting) was always more about him showing off his 4×4 and two boys (both of us under 12) to the guys in the club and I remember how he would put me in a deer stand and just leave once the hunts started. As I grew older we fought and I grew closer to my mother. My MOM was there for Tball, Boy Scouts, school, etc. My brother went on his own and to this day us favored by my dad ( I feel because he isn’t around). He never came to anything I did. My dad was fat, I’m not. My dad failed Army boot camp, I am a USMC combat vet. My dad limped through school by cheating and became a security guard in the end, I’m a year from my degree in Soc Sci Education. It all boils down to the obvious in the end. The writing is on the wall so to speak. What’s and is I spent 36 years of my life trying to please him, and all it ever did was make it worse. H

    Now, I sit in the hospital watching him lay in bed, exhausted from seizures. He rips the cable from the wall trying to call the nurse. “Dad, what’s going on, I’m right here”. ” I don’t want to bother you for the bedpan” he says. I ask him to please just relax and am told ” I’ll get you some day you s.o.b”. He has no idea that his life is in my hands and all I’ve been trying to do us protect him here. Thousands of hours, dollars, countless sacrifices, and this is my life, father and son. The youngest still not around yet highly praised between seizures and naps.

    Everything I’ve done in life was made with him in mind. How do I continue? I put my nose down like it’s another 25 mike hump in the grunts, say “I love you dad” and be here for him. My reward is knowing that I’ll be able to live with myself when he is gone, knowing I have always done the very best I could as a man.

    It’s 4am and time for another check of the vitals. Hang in there with me folks, I needed you and found this blog. Thank you for allowing me to vent beside you.

  6. Kelly C says:

    Narcissist ruin everyone’s life. They torment their parents, while pretending to care for them. They torment ex spouses, especially if children are involved. They make it impossible for their ex to bond emotionally with children. They are able to manipulate the children into believing that “dads” new wife is the reason that they are not a happy family together – even if they are the one who cheated not once but many times – that was the reason for the divorce.
    Personally we have a broken family. I am not close to my sweet step children because of the lies their mother has told them about me. In the beginning I tried so hard. Now after almost 8 years, I have given up and accepted there is nothing I can do to ever have a healthy happy relationship with them. So after accepting that, I thought the best thing for me to do is step back, and hope that my husband can have a close relationship with his children. It’s sad but a narcissistic sociopath in ones life – will truly break your spirit.
    My spirit is not broken, but I am human and have emotions and I do feel a sense of sadness that because of this women’s control issues, and enjoyment of hurting others (even if it is uhelathy for the kids emotionally) that we will never be a real family. I just want now for the kids to at least have a good relationship with their dad. So I am not involved like I use to be.
    It’s been a long hard road for me and my husband and my young daughter. She sees her step brother and sister as so cool. And wants a relationship with them so bad. But she is afraid that they will reject her. She is aware of their mothers hatred for me and for her.
    Anyone who hates a young innocent child, who did not ask to be in this life like this – is truly the definition of evil.

  7. Jungle says:

    My husband had a few divorced before he married me. He cheated on his wife several times. In short, nowadays, he tries to hide his narcissism. He tries to dominates me. And I’m figuring out how to divorce him before he ruins my self-esteem and spirit.

  8. Jayde says:

    My husband was all sweetness and light until our son turned teenager. Now he says we are sleeping together as I give our son more attention than him. He has forbidden us to be in the same room together. I’ve tried getting him help but unless he self-refers then no one wants to know. I’ve tried getting help from domestic violence charities but they said I was to blame. Not sure what to do now!

    • Patty J. says:

      Oh my Lord. Please leave him before you are emotionally ruined. Your husband is mentallly ill; if he won’t get help save yourself and your son. Most importantly – set an example for your son about what an emotionally healthy woman will not tolerate from her husband. Otherwise you are telling your son that his behavior is acceptable – and that bodes very badly for his future relationships.
      Please don’t stay because leaving will be difficult financially. That is the worst reason.

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