Posted in Parental Alienation & Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Emotionally Abusive Grandparent

The relationships your kids have with their grandparents can be extremely especial and among the most important relationships in their young lives. Unfortunately, however, some grandparents aren’t all that “grand” when it comes to how they treat their grandkids. Worse, their behavior can take a turn toward the emotionally abusive. As more parents rely on their own parents for child care and support, it’s important to know the signs of an emotionally abusive grandparent. After all, they aren’t always straightforward.

According to Lana Adler, writer and founder of Toxic Ties — an organization that provides support and resources for people in toxic relationships — one sign of a toxic grandparent is playing favorites. While you might not think your kids notice that their cousin gets showered with praise, while they receive only criticism from grandma, they do. Child advocate and parent educator Lori Petro adds that often emotional abuse will manifest as behavior changes in your child — like aggression or acting withdrawn — before or after a visit with their grandparents. The Mayo Clinic website adds that other signs of emotional abuse include a victim constantly seeking approval or love from their abuser, and since children can easily blame themselves and feel responsible for breakdowns in their relationship with their grandparent how they behave around that individual will be a large indicator that something is amiss.

For more signs of an emotionally abusive grandparent, and tips on how to protect your child if it happens to them, read on:

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Posted in Parental Alienation & Narcissistic Personality Disorder

What makes grandparents toxic in parents’ lives?

What makes grandparents toxic in parents’ lives?

When there are conflicts between grandparents and parents, there is usually an issue with roles and choices. Parents and grandparents may not agree about all issues related to raising the children (grandchildren), and grandparents may not accept the fact that parents have the ultimate “authority” to make decisions and choices about how they are raising their children. A grandparents’ key role is to support their adult children in raising their grandchildren and to love their grandchildren unconditionally. If they don’t see their role that way, or if the parents see their role differently and there is no agreement, the relationship, (like any relationship wrought with conflict) can become very negative and even, as you say, toxic.

How can parents draw personal boundaries for themselves? For their children?

Parents need to be clear about their priorities and “deal breakers.” What are the issues that they feel the most strongly about? Is it most important that their kids stick to a strict bedtime schedule? Follow a certain diet? Be disciplined a certain way? Not receive certain gifts? There are always going to be things they feel strongly about, but it’s wise to pick your battles. Once you determine that, communicate your boundaries (or your children’s) in a very clear, concise way and be consistent. Be careful about how you communicate this- (see my tips below as they apply here too) – don’t turn it into a tug-o-war with the kids in the middle.

If the boundaries are crossed, what is the best way to confront an issue to make sure it is addressed?

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Posted in Parental Alienation & Narcissistic Personality Disorder

When to Set Boundaries with grandparents

When to Set Boundaries

Before you assert yourself with your parents, It is helpful to get clear on exactly what you find unacceptable, the reasons for this, and what you would like your parents to do instead.

There is a big difference between your parent absentmindedly lighting up in front of the grandchildren, or drinking alcohol early in the day, and becoming intoxicated and violent. If either of your parents becomes aggressive, violent or verbally abusive to you or your children, you should withdraw your children from spending any time with them until their behavior changes, or your child becomes an adult. You are neglecting to protect your child if you allow them to be with someone abusive, even if you love that person and believe they should spend time together.

Similarly, you should not allow your children to spend time with a grandparent who uses illicit drugs. Doing so exposes your child to the modeling of drug using behavior, making it more likely your child will use drugs him or herself. Children can also be harmed by accidentally or experimentally using drugs themselves, which they may be able to do if they are in an environment where drugs are taken. They can also be hurt or infected by paraphernalia such as lighters and needles.

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Posted in Parental Alienation & Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Helping Grandchildren That Live With a Drug Abuser

Emotional Impact

Children whose parents abuse drugs or alcohol may suffer a variety of emotional effects. These include:

  • Ambivalence: Children typically love their parents, even when they may dislike the way alcohol or drugs make them behave.
  • Confusion: Children of substance abusers never know what to expect, because they never know when a parent is going to be under the influence.
  • Lack of Trust: Because alcoholics and substance abusers often promise and fail to deliver, children sometimes grow up feeling that they can’t trust anyone.
  • Guilt: Substance abusers often blame their behavior on other family members. It’s only natural for children to wonder if they are at fault, even when they are not named.
  • Shame: Since it’s natural to identify with family members, children may take the shame of addiction on themselves. 
  • Worry: Once children reach a certain age, they realize that substance abuse has consequences, including accidents and run-ins with the law. They may worry that their parent will be incarcerated or die. They may also know that abusers sometimes lose their parental rights, and they may worry about losing their family.

Of course, statistics also show that children of substance abusers are more likely to have such problems themselves. Still, the majority of such children do not end up as substance abusers, and the presence of loving grandparents can be a positive force working against the repetition of the cycle.

Psycho-Social Effects

Substance abuse in a family also affects a child’s psychological and social functioning. Children feel at fault or feel that they must try to fix things. When children react in this way, they often feel a lot of pressure. They may feel that they must be perfect in every way. Grandparents can help by taking any opportunity to point out that the situation is not their fault and that they do not have the power to fix it. They can encourage their grandchildren to do their best but let them know that it’s also okay to mess up occasionally.

At other times, children under-perform or act out. This is a more difficult syndrome for grandparents to handle. They can try to stave off academic difficulties. There are many ways that grandparents can support their grandchildren in school. A truly troubled child, however, will need counseling or therapy. Grandparents can sometimes get parents to agree to such measures if they refrain from tying the child’s behavior to a parent’s substance abuse.

Children whose parents abuse alcohol or drugs are often reluctant to bring friends home. This reluctance can impact their social development. Grandparents can help by sometimes including their grandchildren’s friends in outings and visits. This is a practice that needs to be developed early on, however. If grandparents don’t include friends when their grandchildren are young, it’s unlikely to work when they try to include the friends of tween or teen grandchildren. Yes, many grandparents would prefer to have their grandchildren all to themselves rather than sharing time with their friends. Still, what is best for the grandchildren should be the controlling factor.

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Posted in Parental Alienation & Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Grandparents sharing drugs with grandchildren

Drug addiction and alcoholism have no particular age preference. Addiction can affect anyone from teens to senior citizens. When the sufferer is a grandparent, the effects on the rest of the family can be devastating. Family members are often left with the question of how to help an addicted grandparent. According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, alcohol abuse and alcoholism have a yearly cost of between $40 and $60 billion dollars due to loss of production, medical care, criminal activity and social programs. “Addiction can affect anyone from teens to senior citizens.”Help is available for both alcoholic grandparents as well as those who have become drug addicts. It is just a matter of getting the grandparent into a program that is geared toward handling the specific addiction.

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Posted in Parental Alienation & Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Things Grandparents Should Never Do

Never disrespect the choices of your grandbaby’s parents.

Questionable bedtimes, meals, discipline and more? Sure, you can disagree with the choices, just do so respectfully. As long as you…

Never voice your disagreement or disapproval with the parents in front of your grandchild.

Mommy and Daddy are the last word. Grandchildren don’t need more ammunition in their battle for getting their way, and repeating words of disagreement from Grandma would be surefire ammunition.

Never secretly break Mom and Dad’s rules.

If tantrums mean Junior gets a time-out, give him a time-out. If 8 p.m. is bedtime, tuck him in when the clock chimes eight times. If Mom says only one popsicle, don’t you dare offer a second. What? Grandmas are meant to break rules, you say? Notice I said never secretly break the rules. The key is to do it loud and proud and let everyone know in advance the rules will likely be bent a smidgen — possibly even smashed to pieces — when Grandma’s in charge. Simply be upfront, not underhanded.

Never talk bad about your grandchild’s other grandparents.

Even if you’re clearly the very, very best grandma ever, your grandchild still loves his or her other grandma and grandpa. Accept it, deal with it, and don’t act like a jealous 12-year-old girl about it.

Never try to buy your grandchild’s love.

Any kid will smile, maybe even squeal with delight, over toys, gadgets, games and other goodies. But things shouldn’t make up your PDAs (primary displays of affection). It’s time and attention the kiddos want — and what they’ll most love you for.

Never pry for information about Mom and Dad.

Maybe they’re going through rough financial times, maybe the marital bliss isn’t so blissful, maybe they won the lottery and don’t want to share the dough. Whatever the case causing you to be Nosy Nelly, it really is none of your business. Don’t recruit your grandchildren for special ops in attempts to make it your business.

Never think your bad habits go unnoticed.

Swearing, smoking, sipping too much of the sauce, double-dipping, overeating, complaining about your looks, your size, your big butt in the mirror. Little pitchers have big ears — and eyes — and impressionable hearts and minds on which such things are etched, things that can be detrimental to his or her physical and psychological well-being. Yeah, even grandmas have issues; just do your best to not pass them along to your grandchildren. They’ll undoubtedly have plenty of issues of their own.

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Posted in Parental Alienation & Narcissistic Personality Disorder

A dad with full custody faces demons from the past in the form of irresponsible, but insistent ex in-laws.

Dear Goodfather,

I’m a divorced dad still trying to make the holidays work and figure out what the hell grandparent visitation rights mean. We divorced in no small part due to my in-laws. They hated me. They hate me. They thought I was, to quote drunk Grandpa at Thanksgiving, “a cuck dad raising a pussy.” Needless to say, I was very protective of my five-year-old boy and didn’t want them having him for a full week every summer at their seriously hands-off grandparenting pad. I didn’t want his uncle taking him on a four-wheeler while they were hunting (he was 18 months!). I didn’t want anyone on that side doing anything with him. They live a life that’s different from the one I want for my boy. Also, it’s dangerous! They’re unfeeling hardscrabble folk who drink hard and think there’s no better lesson for a boy than falling out of a tree and “seeing the fucked up world for what it is.”

Continue reading “A dad with full custody faces demons from the past in the form of irresponsible, but insistent ex in-laws.”

Posted in Parental Alienation & Narcissistic Personality Disorder


you ever dated an asshole, you know that people are quick to tell you to “dump his sorry ass.” But if a family member is mistreating you, they say: “Just brush it off.”

It’s even worse when grandparents are involved. As a culture, we place great importance on having an extended family. Grandparents especially are viewed as harmless old folks who love and spoil their grandkids.

But toxic grandparents are not harmless. They are manipulative, controlling, self-serving individuals who can do a lot of damage if not kept in check. Here are 10 signs that you might be dealing with one.

1. Denying having made any mistakes as a parent

Whenever you bring up painful moments from your childhood that they were a part of, they gaslight you by saying: “I don’t remember that,”  or “You always exaggerate!” People who can’t admit fault can’t learn from their mistakes. So they’ll be the same way as a grandparent.

2. Feeling entitled to time with the grandchildren

If, for whatever reason, a toxic grandparent is denied that time, they’ll accuse you of using your kid to hurt them. If you’re not bending to their will, they will go as far as demanding time with your kid ONLY, trying to bypass you and take control of the situation. If that doesn’t work, they’ll enlist relatives to harass you on their behalf.

3. Playing the victim

A toxic grandparent is someone with an overinflated ego and the lack of empathy for other people’s feelings. That makes them incapable of reflecting on their own flaws and wrongdoings. However, they are hyper aware of everyone else’s. Even the slightest offense can be perceived as an attack, and all of the sudden grandma is “sick,” or grandpa is having “chest pains.”

They act like they don’t want anyone to know, but this is very intentional. They aim to illicit sympathy and to remind everyone – kids and grandkids – that things need to be going their way, or else.

Posted in Parental Alienation & Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Safety Concerns with Grandparents

I need some advice on how to say no and to follow my gut in regards to my child. I’m a pleaser- I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings and I’ve always struggled to stand up for myself. But as a mother I want to learn to stand up for my child.

Background: All of my child’s grandparents are irresponsible in different ways. My 3 year old son is a runner who takes off and will get lost in the blink of an eye. 

Here are a few recent problems I’ve had:

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Plus, how do we assess for your “new pathology,” Karen?  You haven’t even proposed diagnostic criteria… and we’ll need to get ALL mental health people everywhere to assess and diagnose this “new pathology” of yours using  your diagnonstic criteria when you eventually propose them, which you haven’t even formulated yet.

No, Karen. Either stick with “parental alienation” (please don’t) because at least PAS has (horrific) diagnostic indicators for Carrot Rejection Syndrome and has already passed Daubert (without the Syndrome; i.e., without the diagnostic symptoms), or adopt an entirely established description that involves no new form of pathology proposal.

Why don’t you just adopt AB-PA, Karen?  Give these families an actualizable solution today, immediately, everywhere.  Today.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

via Language Has Meaning, Karen

Language Has Meaning, Karen