Once upon a time, we had several hundred different emails all asking the same question. Namely, what should a grandparent do if their grandchild is being raised by someone they consider to be morally or socially unfit to parent.
Here’s the deal. The more you antagonize your own offspring’s romantic partner(s), the worse the situational abuse and emotional neglect of your grandchild or grandchildren is likely to be due to you stressing out not simply the target but both of their biological parents.
One of the most common questions we are asked by grandparents is how to handle the social dynamic when, for instance, a daughter-in-law is behaving poorly towards their estranged romantic partner as a co-parent. But it’s not gender specific — plenty of son-in-laws are targeted for social abuse, as well.
The biggest concern on most Cluster B grandparents minds is how to take legal custody rights away from a birth parent they do not socially approve of or like. Grandparents who are NOT Cluster B but have been nurtured by their own parents and grandparents to think in narcissistic, anti-social ways tend to feel entitled to meddle, to engage in pot stirring, to smear campaign, and to undermine the grandchild’s trust in their own birth parent.
If you are reading this post and getting angry or are feeling attacked by our statement, stop reading immediately. This article is intended to help non-narcissistic, neurotypically healthy but socially misguided readers.
If you are an Empath or HSP grandparent who can plainly see your grandchild is being raised in a way that is toxic, it’s HEARTBREAKING.
But wallowing in the mire of angst is not only not healthy for your physical body, it’s truly socially abusing your grandchild or affected grandchildren by proxy.
Typically, a person who is emotionally sensitive realizes they have a duty to warn when and if a person or peer group they know is in danger. But here’s the deal.
Outing a Cluster B person is dangerous — not simply to the whistleblower but to all who are in the physical presence of the outed abuser.
We get it. We really do.
Grandparents and parents ALL tend to want what is best for their kids as well as for grandkids if we’re good people.
But there are important MEDDLING considerations to… consider… before leaping to manufacture or engage in what’s known as a power and control dynamic (with an in-law especially) that causes the youth themselves to be victimized by adults in their world actively engaging in triangulation.
First step — realize how anyone chooses to parent or co-parent a child that is NOT BIOLOGICALLY YOURS is their business, right, and legal responsibility.
Second step — acknowledge the problem without behaving in ways that are likely to incite violence in the home or homes of the affected child or children.
Resist the urge to place your need to be in control of social situations or to have your own emotional needs met at the direct expense of others. Stepping back from this one to limit emotional as well as social entanglement with anyone involved in a High Conflict Divorce is going to be essential to do both as a role-modeling parent and as a grandparent.
To that end, feel free to peruse the rest of this article if and only when you have done the self-help, self-reflective work to set and enforce healthy boundaries in your own mind relating to your place in your own offspring’s romantic life as well as with the product of them having been attracted enough to a co-parent to have had sex.
Top question —
How do you get the word out that there is a problem you are tracking without overtly causing distress in the Cluster B suspect or antagonizing?
The simple answer? Best from a legal as well as a moral standpoint to share 411 on social media discreetly — meaning in private view, away from the eyes of the concerning person — without naming the problem person directly.
Next question —
How to successfully learn how to detach while still energetically remaining involved with the social support of blood relatives or minors.
We highly recommend reading the articles related to grandparent rights and toxic family issues over on flyingmonkeysdenied.com. We are not saying you are WRONG to be concerned. It’s simply that there are ways to best help your grandchild than keeping his or her legal caregiver antagonized.
The more you meddle and strive to interfere to assert you are the Alpha Matriarch, the more likely you are to be the direct cause of the child being harmed intensely, further. Leaping to the defense of your own offspring against an in-law, romantic interest, co-parent, or someone they are likely to have abused at least one time in public or private is also NEVER a smart idea, as it makes you — the grandparent — into a WEAPON your child can use to antagonize.
You are much more likely to continue an unhealthy pattern of toxic entitlement-based thinking if you believe the WWII Generation misguided hype that they are lawfully or morally entitled to Grandparent Rights.
Before you leap to do anything ask yourself this one incredibly important question, Baby Boomers (and sadly, now toxic Gen X)…
If you had a child, how would YOU feel with non-stop, direct interference with your personal life, your child’s life, and an in-law or grandparent striving to undermine your child’s confidence in YOU in such a way the child is triangulated and forced to choose between loving and respecting their birth parent or seeking the SOCIAL (non-biological) approval of a non-residential grandparent?
The Baby Boomers were the first generation to have their own parents use legal tricks to do things like taking custody of grandchildren in order to have some morally insane form of a “do over” parenting. After their own parents behaved abominably as grandparents, many have felt entitled to abuse their own Gen X offspring by demanding they be given legal access to children not physically born to them.
When a Gen X Cluster B is backed and enabled by a toxic grandparent, the toxic effect on the co-parent’s lives and the relationship of them to their own offspring is massive.
If a self-aggrandizing grandparent prone to meddling starts to make demands that they are entitled to things like interfering with their own offspring’s personal life, their romantic life, or their right to parent in private (free from interference), the grandchildren tend to become Cluster B conformists.
What’s worse, taught that they should have low to no respect for or trust in at least one of their parents, the grandchildren’s relationship with the scapegoat or targeted parent is not simply damaged. A child forced to live with and to depend on a parent who their grandparent claims is an unfit mother (or father) is left pervasively feeling physically uneasy, forced to live in harms way of a person accused of being untrustworthy, and no matter how kind or awesome the targeted parent might be in the child’s eyes they will be suspected of being some form of social misfit.
We have not had a single letter from a grandparent yet asking questions about how to deal with a toxic family situation where they, as the senior, express one word of insight or interest in or about the actual grandchildren and the effect alienating them psychologically and emotionally from a birth parent is likely to cause both short and long term for them. The concerns are always related to how much a grandparent dislikes their own offspring’s co-parent, how much they disapprove of the lifestyle that person chooses to lead, and how they disapprove of the way their grandchild or grandchildren are being raised.
See the problem?
Toxic grandparents are not all Narcissists. They are not all Cluster B or some generalized co-morbid variety of the same. Some are — statistically speaking, noting that one in twenty-five people meet diagnostic criteria for having a socially aggressive, egocentric personality type prone to creating social mischief.
Likewise, in a High Conflict Divorce scenario, it only takes one person to provoke, bait, and antagonize and their target to react in order to make it look like the person victimized is causing the drama by at least half. Making such an arrogant, illogical, and irrational assumption — to believe that someone NOT Cluster B is likely to present as a person who behaves socially aggressively and from a wholly egocentrism-oriented, self-aggrandizing perspective is not only dangerous to do socially, it’s downright willful ignorance.
Before presuming that your own offspring is not an Abuser or Co-Narcissist, ask yourself… as their parent… a handful of simple but painfully honest questions.
- Has your child shown a lifetime habit of being willing to lie to self-promote?
- Has your child ever lied to cover up a deed, action, or lack of action in order to avoid taking personal responsibility?
- Does your child own up to mistakes they make or are they prone to blame shifting?
- Do they show a pattern of willingness to name call, to make ad hominem attacks against other humans, or to use caustic humor?
- Has your child ever been physically violent (over the age of 6)?
- How much self-help literature does your offspring read daily, weekly, and monthly without prompting?
- Were you present to personally witness child abuse, child neglect, or reckless endangerment of your grandchild?
- Was your own child exposed to a dysfunctional home environment between birth and age four?
- Did your child witness domestic violence or were they a witness to violence someplace outside of the home (i.e. at school, with neighbors, during a sleepover)?
- Has your child ever been physically or sexually abused… or were YOU?
Once you answer the questions in private to yourself, ask yourself this…
Knowing the Cycle of Narcissistic Abuse is NURTURED, why do you feel it’s okay (meaning in any way pro-social or biologically healthy) to participate in it?
Grandparents who get really clear about their own responsibility to role model healthy lifestyle choices regarding personal behavior tend to report stress illnesses decreasing, anxiety abating, and their ability to form healthful relationships with their own family, extended family, in-laws, workplace associates, and general community increasing.
In many cases, simply validating to both the bio-parents that your job is to be their support network for the best interest of the grandchildren while establishing and enforcing healthy boundaries that limit your own rights to meddle or to violate their rights to privacy can help reset the tone of any future relationship.
Think about this.
When you have to deal with a person you suspect hates, fears, mistrusts or dislikes you — how do you act? How do you feel on the inside before, during, or after a social exposure to even thinking about them?
Chances are, if you are being honest… upset, shaky, PTSD-triggered, and posturing to aggressively protect yourself and your child out of defensive necessity is likely to be the answer.
Cluster B people use this biological lever to make their targets look terrible in the eyes of their Flying Monkey supporters. They will situationally abuse with no witnesses, then deny having abused to invalidate their victim. Seeking help from family members they gaslight about what they did to bait and provoke their romantic target to a crisis, they will get kind parents to help them attack and abuse.
We wish the pattern was not so incredibly pervasive, but it’s so common among children of WWII Gen and Baby Boomer offspring, the reality an adult child who is prone to narcissism or situationally abusive behavior enactment is likely to withhold key details and to gaslight to trick friends, new love interests, and their own family into believing that their targeted ex is a loon, crazy, overly sensitive, mentally unfit, psychologically unstable, a drug addict, a career criminal, a moral pariah, a sexual deviant, a terrible parent, or whatever line of spin they think is likely to net gain them a willing ABUSE BY PROXY enabler and assistant.
[If you are mad yet reading this article, whatever you do don’t read any further.]
One of the most effective self-help, empathy recharging ‘treatments’ we advise anyone seeking to overcome toxic parent values can use is the shoe method.
If you are unsure how to proceed in the legitimate advocacy of child protection when it comes to your grandkids, put yourself in the shoes of BOTH parents — individually at first, followed by collectively.
Then ask yourself this set of profoundly meaningful and potentially life and extended-family relationship saving questions…
If someone tried to destroy your authority status and to poison the well against your trustworthiness as a caregiver for your child, how would you tend to behave in the presence of the person who pot stirs and meddles? Would you feel emotionally, personally, or socially supported by a mate who allowed an interloper to cause social tension and harm to your romantic as well as personal relationship? Would you trust a person who brought a posse to help estrange and alienate you from your own children?
It’s always a bad decision to decide that a birth parent — a person entitled to have and raise their children as they see fit — is someone to target for social abuses.
Is reaching out to protect a child from neglect and physical forms of abuse overstepping boundaries? NO. Not for ANY human.
But believing that how a child is raised is your right as a non-biological parent reflects a deeply socially, legally, and psychologically troubling perspective of entitlement thinking that borders on cruel and unusual punishment of victims.
So, knowing that A) respecting your offspring’s mate’s right to have a right to privacy free from extended family meddling and that B) the forensic character of the family and all members in it matters can truly help you make the next ethical choice related to how to proceed when and if you truly are concerned with a child’s well-being.
The HEALTHY BOUNDARY respecting rule is this…
Share concerns if the child is malnourished, being physically assaulted, or sexually abused with your local social services department. If a child has been physically or sexually abused in your presence or that you are the person who bore witness to any physical contact damage, report the abuse incidents in detail (including date, time, and place + circumstances) to your local police department.
Aside from that, keeping a scrapbook with helpful self-help articles the child can read once they no longer financially or physically rely on that side of the family is the most loving thing you can leave as a legacy.
Waiting to share time with the child until they are post 18 and not dependent on that parent for college financial aid signatures is OVERWHELMINGLY appropriate. Until then, it’s essential you stop yourself from behaving like the Narcissist, over-extending your own sense of entitlement.
We do not say this critically. We’re simply suggesting that you are willfully enmeshing yourself into a manufactured triangulation that is only likely to undermine your long-term relationship with the child for having fostered in them a sense of fear and mistrust of their own biological parent.
If the parent IS Cluster B, the focus of your article collection should be on how to overcome toxic parenting.
Self-reflecting to add family history and forensic psychology data into the scrapbook is the most loving gift to pro-socially and actively give to yourself and to your grandkids.
It will feel COUNTER-INTUITIVE AS HELL at first (to disengage and learn how to observe without feeling compelled to react). But if you keep the focus on yourself — striving to understand who in your family or peer community taught you that as a grandparent it is ethical to undermine or to meddle in a child’s relationship with their birth parent for your own emotional comfort.
Rethinking why you feel entitled to interfere and you can nip your problem in the bud in a way that is likely to greatly ease tension while allowing YOUR child to learn how to be a better, more effective, and less toxic co-parent. Being a support system for your son/daughter should NEVER leave the mother/father of his/her child feeling bullied, ganged up against, or mobbed.
Back to the example of a son allowing his mother to attack or somehow sanction and jury against his mate.
Back off if you are a person triangulating.
Sadly, HE has put YOU in the position of acting as HIS Flying Monkey, abusing the mother of HIS child willingly and willfully as an ABUSER BY PROXY. You are likely sitting there most days worried sick that he’s being alienated or disenfranchised as a parent.
Think that one through.
Why… why… are you brokenhearted and offering to bait, to provoke, and to smear campaign against her?
It’s our PROFESSIONAL experience that not only is HE likely to be gaslighting you, but that your son — if he was drawn to marry the Narcissistic female — was doing so because he was raised in such a manner that for some reason he feels comfortable socially abusing the wife of his child by siccing his mother on her in an incredibly covert, passive-aggressive, utterly socially destructive manner.
If you are a father of a toxic daughter, triangulated or a parent aggressing a son-in-law… same advice.
To involve yourself in the triangulation SHE has manufactured shows a loving intent but a grossly under-educated perspective about #HIGHCONFLICTDIVORCE tactics.
We wholeheartedly recommend you put the plan on hold to leap to his defense for at least 30 days… and that you do the personal work to self-reflect about entitlement based thinking, co-narcissism, and to educate yourself about the Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse.
We’ve got a TON of incredibly helpful bookmarks on our YouTube channel for just this sort of family dynamic as it is overwhelmingly common.
We are sharing the intellectual steps to emotional recovery here with you because we suspect you would not want to place your grandchild at further risk of harm or to allow your son to manufacture more chaos for himself by manipulating your kind nature in an attempt to get even with his former romance partner.
Love that grand-baby and KEEP JOURNALS. If their parents are Cluster B, they are likely to end up resembling Baby Jack Jack from “The Incredibles” during their toddler years, followed by developing stereotypical personality issues in youth.
When your son (or daughter) tries to get you emotionally hooked into the drama, go gray rock. You can support them by being a listener who helps ask questions to steer them towards healthier thinking using the Socratic method, but when it comes to ‘telling’ your adult children and their love interests what to do or how to live, that’s being toxic, meddlesome, and socially abusive.
Observe what the adult child seeking your support about how to aggress an estranged love interest says while keeping in constant mind WHY he or she is likely to be saying it.
Be self-aware about letting the emotional desire their pleas for assistance provoke in you exist, then let them wash through and PASS. There is no reason or excuse for striving to grasp and cling to them… but it is crucial to avoid repressing or ignoring them.
Allow LOGIC to help you be loving while you emotionally detach. Then, give it the next 18-24 months to really just be. Sit with the emotions and when each new level or layer of insight is revealed or wave of new complex emotion washes through you, observe and look up the key terms.
At the end of the mindful cool-off and daily research period, not only are your personal relationships with others likely to be better, your grandkids are likely to benefit from you having been willing to ease off on applying socially destructive pressures.
Resist the urge to meddle in the romantic and personal affairs of others — your own biological children especially. It’s the most efficient way to prevent stress illnesses like high blood pressure, erratic heartbeats, and other life-threatening personal illnesses from forming in yourself or your family members.
And please — understand one very important final note.
We’ve ALL made the mistake of thinking it is our “right” to meddle in another person’s business when and if that person or peer causes us emotional concern or displeasure. So understand this…
Are you on the hook for past behavior? Yes.
But how you choose to behave from this moment forward now that you KNOW — and WE know you know…
That’s the true test and measurement of your personal nature as well as of character.
Once you know better, choose better. Validate if your posturing socially caused or contributed to your child’s DIVORCE or the decay of their relationship with their mate. Accept personal responsibility by validating what being targeted for social abuse must feel like from the target’s perspective and stop whatever it is you are doing that appears to trigger, upset, or produce duress in them.
The more socially supported and stress-free a caregiver is, the more likely they are to be a better parent. If that means Grandma or Grandpa has to let go of their desire to be the sole authority figure in an extended family dynamic?
SO BE IT.
Parent and GRANDPARENT alienation are common social issues, so please don’t be ashamed or embarrassed if you made presumptive entitlement-based thinking mistakes that have already led to socially harming others.
Conversely — BE MINDFUL.
If you read all the way through this article about Grandparent Rights reflecting toxic thinking and you know in your heart of hearts that you yourself have not engaged in any behavior that would cause or promote triangulation of affections in your child, their mate, or your grandchild or grandchildren, reading up on the Cluster B personality type and HANDLING advice we have posted can tremendously help give you further insight about High Conflict Divorce and Narcissistic Abuse tactics.