The Impact of Narcissistic Traits on Children: Navigating the Effects of Narcissistic traits in a woman and attachments

The Impact of Narcissistic Traits on Children: Navigating the Effects of Narcissistic traits in a women. Attachment styles how they help shape us into who we are now and how we behave under pressure. We often use the word Narcissism when talking about men’s behaviours but narcissism traits can show up in any persons behaviour.

NB: Before drawing conclusions, it’s important to clarify that I am not addressing women or men who are safeguarding their children from a partner with self-management issues leading to domestic violence. Additionally, I am not discussing the mental health diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder detailed in the DSM5.

In this article I would like to bring to your attention.

How your attachment style may be contributing to your view on relationships and parenting. Particularly if you are finding yourself on your 2nd or 3rd marriage, rolling through one relationship after another or over protecting your children by pushing away a parent maybe based on your own bias of your experiences as a child. Narcissistic traits can show up without awareness and when brought to your attention you may choose to fight or flight instead of learning more about your own personal development to help you, your children and your family dynamic.

Understanding one’s attachment style can provide valuable insight into relationship patterns and behaviours, offering opportunities for personal growth and development.

We often talk about men and narcissism however in this article I would like to look at women and how narcissistic traits from women show up in a relationship, reasons why they show up and how those narcissistic traits effect their children. Living with a partner who exhibits narcissistic traits can have far-reaching consequences, not only for the adults involved but also for the children within the family dynamic. It is not uncommon for these trait to be amplified after separation when there is bitterness toward the ex-partner. When a mother displays narcissistic tendencies, and the father is subjected to mistreatment while being alienated from his children “you are a terrible father” the effects on the family unit can be particularly distressing and detrimental to the children’s well-being.

Narcissistic traits in a mother can manifest in various ways, including a constant need for admiration, a lack of empathy, and manipulative behaviours aimed at maintaining control within the family dynamic and the need to be right at any cost even to her children. When directed towards the father, these traits can result in emotional abuse, belittlement, and invalidation, leaving him feeling marginalised and powerless within the relationship.

(More examples listed below)

Furthermore, when a narcissistic mother engages in parental alienation—actively undermining the father’s relationship with their children—it can have profound and lasting effects on the children’s emotional and psychological development. Children who are subjected to parental alienation may experience confusion, guilt, and loyalty conflicts as they are manipulated into taking sides and viewing the targeted parent in a negative light.

You may be stuck in anger?

Moreover, the absence of a healthy and nurturing relationship with their father can deprive children of essential emotional support, guidance, and role modelling, impacting their self-esteem and interpersonal relationships. Research has shown that children who experience parental alienation are at greater risk of developing psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, and attachment disorders, which can persist into adulthood if left unaddressed. (More about attachment styles at the end of this article)

In addition to the emotional toll, parental alienation can also have practical implications for children, including disruptions to visitation schedules, strained family dynamics, and legal battles that further exacerbate their distress and confusion. These challenges can impede the children’s ability to form secure attachments, trust others, and navigate healthy relationships in the future.

Recognising the harmful effects of narcissistic traits and parental alienation on children is crucial for mitigating their impact and promoting the children’s well-being. It is essential for both parents, as well as professionals involved in the family’s life, to prioritise the children’s best interests and work towards fostering healthy and supportive relationships with both parents.

Communication, collaboration, and mediation can play vital roles in addressing conflicts and facilitating co-parenting arrangements that prioritise the children’s emotional and psychological needs. Additionally, seeking support from therapists, counsellors, or support groups specialised in dealing with narcissistic abuse and parental alienation can provide invaluable guidance and resources for navigating these complex and challenging situations.

The impact of narcissistic traits and parental alienation on children within the family dynamic can be profound and enduring. By recognising the signs and effects of narcissistic behaviour, prioritising the children’s well-being, and seeking support from professionals and support networks, parents can work towards mitigating the harmful effects and fostering healthy and nurturing relationships within the family unit.

If you are finding it tough to navigate the challenges of separation, from handling your emotions, self-managing and anger to adjusting your behaviour in this unfamiliar territory, seeking support is essential. Going through such a trying time can feel overwhelming, with obstacles that test your inner strength. Fear and anxiety may understandably cloud your ability to be your best self, particularly when it comes to caring for your children. Remember, it’s perfectly okay to ask for help during moments of uncertainty and distress.

If you find yourself giving up on Family counselling after one or two sessions, you maybe letting your fears, anxiety or even ego get in the way of your children best interests. Separation/divorce is not easy, family counselling is challenging for all, your view will be challenged but dragging a family through the court process can have long term irretrievable consequences on a family dynamic that need to co-exist in this big world.

Separation or divorce isn’t an easy journey, and family counselling can be demanding as differing perspectives are brought to light. However, resorting to lengthy court battles can have lasting and irreparable consequences on the family dynamic, which still needs to coexist in this vast world.

  5 narcissistic traits that women may display during a separation/divorce:

1.    Lack of Empathy: Narcissistic traits in women; they may show a lack of empathy towards their partner’s feelings and needs during the divorce process. They may prioritise their own desires and agenda without considering the emotional impact on their spouse.

2.    Manipulative Behaviour: Narcissistic traits in women may use manipulation tactics to gain advantage in divorce negotiations or to undermine their partner’s position. This could include gas lighting, playing the victim, over sharing adult conversation with children putting down the other parent or using guilt-tripping techniques to get their way.

3.    Sense of Entitlement: Narcissistic traits in women may exhibit a strong sense of entitlement, believing that they deserve special treatment or privileges in the divorce proceedings. They may demand more than what is fair or reasonable, showing little regard for their partner’s rights or needs.

4.    Lack of Accountability: Narcissistic traits in women they may refuse to take responsibility for their actions or mistakes during the marriage, shifting blame onto their partner or external factors. They may deny any wrongdoing and portray themselves as faultless victims in the divorce process.

5.    Control and Power Struggles: Narcissistic traits in women they may engage in power struggles and attempts to control the divorce proceedings, seeking to maintain dominance and superiority over their partner. They may use legal manoeuvres or leverage financial assets to gain control and exert influence over the outcome of the divorce.

Attachment Styles:

What is your attachment style and how were you parented; it just may leave some clues!

Dr. Bowlby’s attachment styles your attachment style is shaped by various factors including early childhood experiences, relationships with primary caregivers, and later life experiences. Attachment theory, developed by psychologist John Bowlby, suggests that our early interactions with caregivers shape our internal working models of relationships and influence how we relate to others throughout our lives. There are typically four main attachment styles: secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant.

1.    Secure Attachment: Individuals with a secure attachment style tend to feel comfortable with intimacy and are able to trust others easily. They have positive views of themselves and their partners, and they are generally able to communicate their needs effectively. Secure attachment often develops in childhood when caregivers are consistently responsive to a child’s needs, providing comfort and security.

2.    Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment: People with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style often crave closeness and fear abandonment. They may be overly dependent on their partners for validation and reassurance, and they may exhibit clingy or needy behaviours in relationships. This attachment style can develop when caregivers are inconsistently responsive, leading the child to feel anxious about the availability of love and support.

3.    Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment: Individuals with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style tend to value independence and self-sufficiency. They may have difficulty trusting others and may avoid emotional intimacy in relationships. This attachment style can develop when caregivers are emotionally unavailable or dismissive of the child’s needs, leading the child to learn to suppress their emotions and rely on themselves for comfort.

4.    Fearful-Avoidant Attachment: Also known as disorganised attachment, this style combines elements of both anxious-preoccupied and dismissive-avoidant attachment. People with a fearful-avoidant attachment style may desire close relationships but also fear rejection and may struggle with trust issues. This attachment style often develops in response to inconsistent or abusive caregiving, leaving the child unsure of how to approach relationships.

Your specific attachment style would depend on your early experiences and how you have learned to cope with relationships throughout your life. For example, if you had a nurturing and supportive upbringing, you might exhibit a secure attachment style, feeling comfortable with intimacy and trusting in your relationships. Conversely, if you experienced neglect or inconsistent caregiving, you might develop an anxious-preoccupied or dismissive-avoidant attachment style, impacting how you approach relationships in adulthood.