When your ex is a narcissist, it's maddening to hear your kids talk about their dad as if he is such a good person. As if he truly cares about them and their well-being. As if he tells the truth, and is trust-worthy.
When you know the truth about their dad, but feel like a gag-order is on you for fear of what the courts might do should you tell your kids the truth, how do you navigate this tricky-as-hell situation?
Sister, notice my word choice in the title of this article. I am not suggesting you TEACH your kids who their dad really is. Instead, I’m encouraging you to ALLOW your kids to see their dad for who he really is.
Let me explain.
As much as I wanted to come right out and explain, teach, use diagrams and proof to TELL my daughter who her dad was, I knew that was not the most effective way to go about revealing the truth to her. At the time, she was seven years old and told both of us everything that the other parent did or said. After she came to me, time after time, disappointed that her dad didn’t keep his word, upset that he guilted her into doing things, and mad that he didn’t listen to her or honor her preferences/opinions, I realized I didn’t need to teach her a dang thing about him at all.
Eventually most abusers reveal their true selves to their family, friends and to their kids. They may not reveal who they truly are right away. It could take years. And you might think, “My kid’s dad is such a good con artist that my kids don't see through him at all. In fact, they side with him. In fact, they think he walks on water and believe every word he says.”
As usual, we must turn this around and look at what you can control. YOU.
This is excellent news, given the fact that you’ve likely been attempting to protect and shield your kids from the narcissist for years.
So, ask yourself this question and get brutally honest in your answer:
Is there a way (or many ways) that perhaps you are shielding your kids from the truth of who their dad is?
Hear me, I am NOT blaming you or laying guilt on you. I found it tremendously helpful to ask myself if what I was doing was working when it came to allowing my daughter to really know her dad's true colors and agenda.
I know that you and I desire to protect our kids from heartache. However, I am saying that protecting your kid from the truth of who their dad is actually harms and hinders them. I know that's the last thing you want to do!
I protected my daughter to the extreme, shielding her from any conflict between her dad and me. I was so worried thinking that the worst thing she could experience would be a conflict. This meant that I didn't share the truth of situations where he was involved, that I didn't put up necessary healthy boundaries with him, and that I would make excuses for his behavior all the time.
When I took a step back and realized that she was going to a wolf each and every time she went to be in his custody, and here I was helping to paint a picture that he was a good guy, that he was harmless, that he was a sheep. That was a lie. No, abusive fathers are wolves in sheep's clothing.
What you need to do is just get out of the way and stop shielding your kids. Yes, of course, we have to shield them on some levels on some things. But that's more of an exception at this point, rather than the rule.
Example: You have this family reunion that happens once every 10 years and you're trying to swap time with your ex and he won't agree to it. Typically, what might you do? Tell your kids, “Oh, it didn't work out. Your dad can’t trade weekends with me because of ________ (make an excuse for him).”
No, this time (and going forward), call his bullshit. You get out of the way and tell your kids the TRUTH. “Dad said no.”
You might think I'm wrong, and that's okay. But if their dad said no and for no valid reason other than to be his difficult and selfish self, why in the world would you protect him by not telling your kids the truth?
“Dad said, ‘No’.” And then let your kids feel whatever they're going to feel; anger, disappointment, sadness, disbelief. Notice, you didn't say a negative word about him at all! You just let them see him for who he really is!
For more tips on HOW around this topic - and for the complete conversation - take a listen to the original video below!LISTEN HERE
Momma Bear - you can and you must - do this for your kids! I promise it can get better once your kids hearts break knowing their father's motives and feeling his lack of love and care for them. At least they can live from a place of truth and not fantasy, learn how to think critically, identify bullying, and advocate for themselves the rest of their lives. This is sacred work, Sister. Glad you're here.
God made you for this!
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