Divorce is never easy on anyone, least of all children who get caught in the crossfire of their warring parents. More often than not, it brings out the worst in at least one of the parents. To a certain extent it is understandable that people react in the most unusual ways, because they feel hurt, humiliated, defeated, no longer loved. When you feel like you’re drowning, you will definitely do whatever it takes to survive. Going through a divorce or a separation can bring about similar feelings. and if you’ve been humiliated, then revenge is probably on your mind as well, at least for a moment or two.
However, no matter how understandable certain outrageous reactions might be, they are never acceptable nor justifiable. Especially when they have such a devastating impact on children. I am not talking about physical violence, that is a category of its own. I am talking about psychological manipulation and blackmailing, intimidation and conditioning. That is what children are exposed to in court and out-of-court battles. When narcissistic parents split up, the reactions are that more vicious. The reason for it is simple – narcissists present themselves as perfect, on the surface they actually believe to be outstanding, despite the fact that deep down they consider themselves worthless. In trying to prevent the underlying depression and feelings of not being good enough to come to the surface, narcissists go that extra mile and do whatever they possibly can to save their reputation and their false feeling of infallibility. The narcissist will try to humiliate and devalue the other parent, present them to their children as bad persons who don’t love them, are unreliable and are not to be trusted. Saving face, coming out on top and defeating their spouse is their mission number one. In order to gain victory, no strategy is off limits. The other parent can be ridiculed, lied about, discounted, attacked, presented as the most horrible person to have ever inhabited this planet.
Now imagine what kind of an impact that has on children? When they witness their parents in an open conflict in which they are being used as a weapon. When they are cajoled by the narcissistic parent into choosing them, because why would the child choose the other parent if the narcissist is the best parent you could possibly wish for. The narcissistic parent requires children to act happy when they are with them, to pretend they prefer them over the other parent, they openly make them choose one parents and reject the other one.
Children are too often victims of irresponsible, selfish and egocentric narcissistic parents who are doing their utmost to destroy each other. Such parents rarely take into consideration the psychological and emotional state of children, not to mention their needs and desires. They scar them for life and we shouldn’t be terribly surprised when these same children then repeat the patterns from their family in their own relationships and interactions with other people in their lives.