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Narcissists Use Their Children as Pawns

Posted Apr 22 2010 8:26am

Narcissists are parents in name only. They exploit their children in a variety of ways. They access which child can become a star---athlethically and academically---and work their potential to the hilt. The narcissist coaxes his child's talent not because he loves this individual but to enhance his own status and proof of his superiority and specialness. The child of the narcissist is a puppet who is taught to play the part that the parent has chosen for him. If he or she doesn't go along with the narcissist's vision, the child is labelled as inferior and discarded. 

Narcissists are game players with the lives of other human beings, even their own children. The psychological damage they do to their children is incalcuable and unforgiveable. Because the narcissist presents such an attractive facade, many believe, even experts---psychotherpists, attorneys, judges--that they have a fine character. Their extraordinary self confidence and persuasive powers combined with a magnetic charm, win over even the most astute professionals.

A painful example of the narcissist who uses his children as chess pieces occurs during child custody disputes. Some narcissists quickly dispose of their children, break any ties with them and move on to a new life with an eager partner. Others want revenge. They will do anything to wrench their children away from the non-narcissistic  spouse. They manufacture scrurilous stories about the former spouse that indicts them as  a bad inadequate parent. They will not abide by the custody agreement and must be contantly taken to court. They brainwash their children against the other parent, often with success. They convince judges that the other parent is psychologically unbalanced, even mentally ill and therefore cannot responsibly take care of the children.  Narcissists emboldened in their fight mode will continue these battles until no one is left standing, except them.

Never underestimate the power of narcissistic psychopathology. These individuals, although they have no insight into themselves, can read and act upon the emotional vulnerabilities and psychological weaknesses of others, especially family members. Since they are without conscience and completely ruthless, their goal is always to win the battle, to enhance their ego entitlements, to vanquish their enemies. The welfare of their children is never a sincere consideration in the outcome.

Study the intricacies of the narcissistic personality, recognize that these disorders are fixed and will not change, understand the many ruthless strategies they use to get what they want and recognize that they have staying power. Once they have the bit in their mouth to win, they will not give up. In cases like custody battles, choose skillful, savvy professionals who have been through these ruts in the road many times before. Show the narcissist that you are not intimidated by his theatrics and threats. Learn how to remain detached so that you can make fine discernments that lead to good decisions. Always remember that your children are the priority--not the spoils of victory. Honor yourself and acknowledge your strength and perseverance. Visit my website:

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Telephone Consultation


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