Demanding Grandparents Rights is Narcissistic Abuse of Adult Children, co-parents, step-family members, and Grandchildren as a family unit. It is a prevalent form of Narcissistic Abuse, to force the parent of a child to leave a child with a grandparent when and if the parent or co-parent does not feel comfortable personally allowing it.
Whether half of a co-parenting team sneaks children to see relatives or a grandparent tries to bully their way into seeing little ones in person, the grandchildren lose while the fundamental human rights of whatever parent of a grandchild does not want to have their children exposed to drama or put in potential harm’s way are collectively trampled by every person or family member who thinks that stripping their parental and human right to raise a family in quiet enjoyment is okay.
Toxic grandparents who are narcissistic Seniors often demand access rights to have forced visitation with their grandchildren. No care or concern is given to the best interest of the child or respect given to either one of the child’s parents from them as elder adults in such situations — something that creates an incredibly frustrating dynamic to grow up in for their triangulated and affected grandchildren.
Not only do toxic seniors meddling in the lives of grandchildren place the kids psychological, sometimes physical, and feelings of emotional confidence and security in their own parents at risk, it places an incredible C-PTSD producing burden on the adult child of the toxic senior as well as on every other person that adult child knows or is associated with who resides in the family home with the kids.
Grandparents raised to believe that having access to their grandchild or grandchildren is their right are guilty of toxic thinking. Presuming they are entitled to have unfettered access to a child simply because they bore and cared for one-half of that child or children’s parental DNA does not give them moral or legal right to take control of the right to decide (as parents) who does and does not spend time with the offspring of another human.
We know it hurts. We know it stings. But fearing for the safety and well-being of a child is the primary legal responsibility of the child’s parents — not the grandparent.
That means parents are supposed to respect the adult rights of their offspring as well as the legal and moral rights of their grandchildren’s non-biologically related co-parent (or in some cases step-parent). For a toxic thinker, the idea of letting someone they dislike or mistrust having more “rights” than them comes as an insult or affront to the toxic thinker’s ego, social status-seeking need, and identity-related consciousness.
Note — failing to understand why it ethically as well as legally overstepping boundaries to treat children as property to be battled over in a custody war is a major red flag of personality disorder. Being WILLING to step over other people’s rights and the highest and greatest good of the children as well as the grandchildren is a sign of emotional immaturity, nothing more.
Whether a toxic ex strives to create a custody battle environment or a loving grandparent concerned about being known and remembered by their grandchild engages in the habit, it’s detrimental to the entire nuclear family unit. Having a child is a human right. Taking liberties with someone else’s child to override parental authority while utterly dismissing a nonbiologically related co-parent’s right to raise their child free from being triangulated in an adult drama is Narcissistic Abuse of every single person impacted by the Grandparent’s self-aggrandizing actions.
[Loving grandparents can make bad choices with the best of intentions — so be mindful, if you are reading here and are already triggering, we ask you to please really strive to hear the position being presented without striving to invalidate it. If you want to remain forever adding to the cycle of Narcissistic Abuse and enmeshed in upset, then by all means disregard the “grandchild’s perspective’ presented in this article.]
Grandparents who strive to legally or socially bully their way into the life of a grandchild do so in order to make themselves feel good only. It’s never in the best interest of a child to put them in harm’s way by striving to invalidate the rights of his, her, or their parents.
We’re simply striving to be honest from the GRANDCHILD’s perspective — not judging or badmouthing or finger-pointing or striving to MAKE or create more intensely hurt feelings or to add to the drama. What we are saying is GIVE YOURSELF PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SPIRITUAL PERMISSION TO MOURN THE LOSS OF YOUR PERSONAL WISH TO THINK OF YOURSELF AS A LOVING AND ACTIVELY INVOLVED GRANDPARENT.
We highly recommend any non-bio parent figure who has a personal interest in the safe care and emotional well being of a child consider the impact on the child’s life if and when the person oversteps lawful as well as ethical boundaries. Honor thy mother and father does not mean giving up a human adult’s right to parent their own children without being forced to hand them over like a borrowed car on-demand to any person or biological relative who demands.
When a Grandparent and their Adult Child don’t get along, it’s 100% within the PARENT’S right to enforce their boundary-setting be respected. If seeing a grandparent caused the parent to meltdown, the child is obviously going to be impacted or negatively affected by parental stress.
If the parent of a grandchild has a Cluster B personality disorder, it’s even more important to step away from seeking enmeshment. What that means is, if the Grandparent is loving, they won’t risk forcing visitation on the grandkids.
Grandparents who are concerned about the welfare of their grandchildren need to understand something. From the child’s perspective, if they see you at all, it’s likely to create an atmosphere of pervasive ambient abuse at home that puts their physical safety and psychological well-being at risk.
Cluster B parents follow all the same traits as Cluster B lovers. They are petty, vengeful, have narcissistic rivals (in this case the grandparents), and they are quick to rage. They are verbally abusive in private and act like situational abusers, harming children most when there is no other sane or loving adult figure around to protect them.
If you are a grandparent who wants to be a loving support person for grandchildren who are being raised by toxic parents, consider making them a forensic psychology journal in their absence. Leave it to them in your will or give it to them in person when they are no longer living with their parent or parents.
That includes waiting until such a time that the child is not financially dependent on a toxic parent. Sometimes this means waiting until they actually graduate college and have all their student loan payments finished.
Because if their parent is Cluster B and finds out the child has a good relationship with you, they are likely to be treated in ways that boggle the mind as abuses. The Cluster B parent is likely to do things like withholding affection or necessary items like back to school clothes, shoes, books, tuition, or to refuse to interact with a child who has anything positive to say about a targeted grandparent.
Children are not born into the world seeing their grandparents as their primary caretakers. That job — to the chagrin of most men — falls on the mother who bore them. The father, as a co-parent with legal rights, contributes half that child’s DNA.
In the event the CO-PARENT does not want his or her in-laws having access to the grandchildren, even the bio parent has an obligation to respect those wishes. If they are put in the position where, say, they were abused as a child and confided it to their partner — imagine the partner’s horror being told that an adult child under the influence of their abuser is going to override their safety concerns as well as their parental right to decide who can or cannot spend time with their child?
It’s a marriage wrecker for sure to have a toxic in-law insist it is their moral right to demand. But even more, it’s truly abusing children while systemically teaching toxic lifestyle values by role modeling vertical, competitive (rather than respectful, collaborative) thinking to grandchildren.
If a child or children born of two parents find themselves in need of a grandparent as a legal guardian, it’s a different story. If a child was raised knowing a grandparent as a caregiver custodian and they express a desire to be involved with that person, both PARENTS should take it upon themselves to decide how to make it happen if and when THEY — as the kid’s primary custodians involved in a 50/50 decision-making relationship — see fit. It’s NOT within the grandparent’s moral, legal, or ethical right — in most cases — to demand visitation.
Offering to visit with your grandchildren or to babysit is loving — but not when it happens at the expense of the rights of the child, an adult child who has children of their own to parent, or when it pits one co-parent against the other. It’s manipulative, selfish, and cruel to do no matter how much a grandparent dislikes or mistrusts their own offspring or that of their romantic partner as a parent or person.
Enmeshment is a psychological concept to research for any person struggling to understand why demanding grandparent rights override that of an adult child, grandchild, or co-parent. The more enmeshed a person is with the concept that having visitation with grandchildren should be a right (not a privilege), the more likely they are to behave in ways that are abusive to their children and grandchildren without knowing it.
To do so reflects entitlement – based thinking, meaning that the grandparent makes an errant assumption that because they mean well and want to be a part of their children’s children’s’ lives that they have a right to do so… rather than the OPPORTUNITY. If the grandparent simply cannot behave in a manner that makes their own child feel loved, cared for, understood, and respected on a day-to-day basis, there’s little hope that grandchildren will be treated like anything other than GOLDEN CHILDREN when and if a toxic grandparent seeks to gain visitation or custody.
What does THAT mean?
It’s quite simple.
Toxic parents tend to strive to triangulate their children. Sibling rivalry is promoted and intense power and control struggles are the norm in households run by adults who are functionally incapable of understanding when a child is born, it becomes a human being in its own right — a whole person… not someone’s chattel or private property.
When a toxic parent parents their own children, the more narcissistic they are the more likely they are to view a child as an extension of themselves. Rather than being able to view children as independent beings with their own psychological, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, they see them as THEIR child… bypassing the rights and legitimate mental healthcare needs of the offspring entirely.
When that same parent demands access to grandchildren, again… the more narcissistic the grandparent, the more likely they are to use the child to do things like:
- abuse their adult children by proxy using the child to pass hurtful or upsetting messages
- to make choices for the child that go directly against the wishes of the parent — i.e. feeding hamburger to an infant or toddler who has been raised vegetarian
- undermine the authority of the parent in the eyes of the grandchild
- to encourage the grandchild to keep secrets
- smear campaign against the parent while striving to encourage the grandchild to trust them instead of mom and dad
- poisoning the well — meaning telling lies or strategic incomplete truths to manipulate the child psychologically to distrust or dislike one or both of their bio parents
- to manufacture chaos in the nuclear family household before, during, and after visitation
- situationally abusing the child in the same fashion they abused their adult kids when their adult kids were little
- putting the grandchildren at risk of being physically abused
- doing things like leaving the child alone with a known pedophile or child abuser or exposing them to that person at all, to begin with
- role-modeling NPD or ASPD type behavior to the grandchildren that is frightening, confusing, upsetting, or leading grandchildren astray with behavior
- failing to respect parental wishes about what the child is exposed to for conversation content, on television, etcetera
- not respecting bedtimes or dietary habits
- failure to keep children on medications that are time-sensitive or create withdrawal issues when withheld
- lying to children
- making undermining comments about the parents
- saying things to damage a child’s self-esteem or to shame them for loving their parents
- telling them they have the option to come live with the grandparent if and when they don’t agree with parent decisions as minor children
- sending children home feeling confused about why mommy or daddy does not like or trust grandpa or grandpa — forcing mother or father to have to share intensely personal or private information with them about what they suffered as children at the hands of their toxic parent or simply keep their mouth shut and let the child grow up thinking the VICTIM of abuse is irrational, a liar, or striving to persecute
- write revisionist history around everyday events, planning decisions, and abuse issues
- fail to validate the rights or perspective of a parent, the co-parent, or the grandkids
- to encourage the children to ask grandma or grandpa for a yes when their mother or father say no
- belittling the parenting efforts of the grandchild’s parent(s)
- targeting a son-in-law or daughter-in-law for abuse by proxy by encouraging the child or children to disrespect them
- to engage in active gaslighting while self-promoting and throwing the parent or parents of the grandchildren under the bus
- triangulating with other in-laws — competing for most loved grandparent status
- disruption of the family schedule
- cause extreme duress in an anxious parent that inevitably will affect their ability to effectively parent or co-parent
- sets up a dynamic for co-parents to fight about in-law access — something that can truly break apart a marriage faster than a wrecking ball smashing into the side of a house of cards or skyscraper building made of glass
- sets up the perfect manufactured chaos for co-parents to be emotionally estranged from one another (harming them directly as well as impacting the kids as collateral damage victims held hostage to the situation)
- creating a Narcissistic Abuse dynamic where the parent is treated like a child and the grandchild is treated like their parent’s scapegoat target sibling
Bottom line, if you are brokenhearted at the thought of not being able to see or spend time playing grandma or grandpa to your own grandchildren, embrace it. The fastest way to heal is to grieve the loss of the dream of spending your senior years as the matriarch or patriarch of a loving family unit.
If your child is an ADULT CHILD WITH CLUSTER B, they are likely to use children abusively like pawns in a chess game. Black or white, it does not matter — as bio parents are the king and queen of controlling piece ownership.
If your parent is CLUSTER B, understand they all tend to value children under the age of 12 as precious commodities. They will do all they can to manufacture doubt about a parent’s sanity, moral character, and whether or not their grandchild is safe or truly loved by their birth parent or parents.
If your mom or dad does not have Cluster B but is an entitlement-based thinker (common among WWII and Baby Boomer generations), they will say things like, “But I have a right to see my own grandchild, don’t I?” or something along the lines of claiming that because they accidentally and without direct, purposeful, private, elective involvement contributed a quarter of their grandchild’s DNA that they somehow are magically entitled to override the best situational interest needs of their own adult child, the grandchild, the OTHER parent, any siblings or step-family members impacted by the drama, and the law.
If you have found yourself in such an emotionally enmeshed but errant position, stop. Stop now.
Once you know better, strive to reframe your thinking about the issue.
Chances are, you will feel guilt about not being there to help or assist. Stop. Just as you expected to have your parental rights honored, your adult child deserves to have their rights honored as well.
If you have your feelings hurt because they won’t let you see the grandchild or grandkids out of spite? Stop. Learn to observe it as a symptom of their personality type — and figure out ways to truly provide the grandkids an alternate sense of perspective.
Take the time to write down stories about the personality types and habits of YOUR family members.
What were your parents like? Your grandparents? What complex family drama frequently played out in your home? Were there any known medical issues? Head injuries? Accidents? Health issues? Mental health issues? Inheritable diseases? Chronic health conditions that could have affected anyone’s mood? Hearing loss? Diabetes? Eyesight problems? Cancer? High blood pressure? Allergies? Stress headaches? Migraines? Heart attacks or heart disease? Problems with circulation? Arthritis? Alzheimer’s? Dementia? Alcoholism? Drug addiction — including Tylenol based medicines or other pharmaceuticals — noting Tylenol decreases the body’s ability to process key emotions like empathy? Was anyone in the military in your family? Immigration status? Country of origin? In-laws? Education levels? Age of death? Complications with women’s health issues like endometriosis or difficult pregnancy?
See where we’re going with this?
On days you think about or miss your grandkids — DO SOMETHING NICE FOR THEM.
This is and was never really ABOUT YOU.
[A tough pill to swallow for someone who has personalized a status-oriented belief that it is…]
Take a picture of a family picture from your childhood and attach it to an email or piece of paper. Type or handwrite out all you can remember about the image. Details about furniture pieces in the background, the people in the photo, where the photo was taken and when… all these things help a grandchild get to know their ancestors as well as their family history in such a way that it provides a psychological INHERITANCE.
Did great-grandpa Jeff lose a leg in the war? How did his life experience color his perspective and affect his parenting skills?
Did grandma Maisie bake rhubarb pies every summer to sell at the farmer’s market in the town square? What did she look like? How did she dress? What was the style of the time? How did she wear her hair? Was she close with her kids — or distant?
Did great aunt Sally really used to grow a butterfly garden and is that why the vase you inherited from her had them painted on there?
Was Uncle Frank your dad’s best friend when he and your father were kids? Or did they develop a relationship after he first met your grandfather through his sister?
Little, personal details… loving details… details that in 200 years will be more meaningful to generations of great-grandchildren than you can imagine.
Write it in a pretty, bound journal in pen with photos attached. Make them scrapbooks, or set up a specific email account you send things to then leave them the account name and password in your will.
Hallmark personal items special for each grandchild with a taped note on the back. The breakfront the family brought from Pennsylvania to California goes to adult child A or grandchild B. Leave sentimental items to the child or grandchild most likely to place VALUE in inheriting it.
Avoid making hard feelings between a parent and their own child simply because you, as the grandparent, want to feel like a powerful and in control authority figure in the eyes of the grandchild.
Step-parents are giving the same warning — resist the urge to assert your own personal preference as to how a child should or should not be raised over the wishes of BOTH their biological parents. That includes respecting your partner’s EX as the primary co-parent — a tough thing to do if they abuse or neglect a child (we know) but a necessary moral psychological step to take in order to comply with the court’s PARENTAL RIGHTS assessment.
Above all else, try your hardest not to let being a grandparent become your personal identity in life. It’s a nasty emotional trap nearly every estranged parent of a Cluster B adult child finds themselves caught in time and time again.
When an adult child or their romantic partner refuses to let you see or have access to their child, understand it’s both their right and their parental decision. It’s up to you as the mature adult with emotional intelligence to realize that if the child was YOURS — meaning you gave birth to it — you would wholeheartedly expect your fundamental human rights to make parenting decisions as you see fit, free from outside privacy invasion or personal, targeted, interference.
Grandchildren who are raised by parents only know their parents. Trust us… if they have no idea a grandparent is out there who loves them or might abuse them — either way, someone has to physically tell them about all they are “missing”.
In any case, where a Cluster B person is related to the family unit by blood or marriage, any interloper thwarting the disordered individual’s petulant wishes, needs, or demands is likely to be seen by the toxic thinker as a target.
Resist the urge to put a bullseye on your neck if you are a loving grandparent. The child’s toxic mum or dad is likely to misfire and hit your beloved grandchild in the heart as a collateral damage victim by accident. Be pro-active about leaving a breadcrumb trail for them to understand the forensic psychological history of the family when and if you feel disconnected or powerless.
It might not be the ideal way to deal with things, but seriously…
Mourning the loss of the job title GRANDMOTHER or GRANDFATHER is prudent. Not risking the child be exposed to extreme levels of stress, ambient abuse, and discomfort when being grilled about what a grandparent said, did, or did not do during a visitation is the most humane and loving thing you could possibly do to show true care, love, and appreciation for grandchildren. With luck and time, by the time they are older, they will seek you out.
Then, consider yourself blessed if and when you have the chance to personally get to know them. Demanding grandparents’ “rights” is evidence of toxic, entitlement – based thinking — something that directly places the grandchildren in harm’s way while rights to have access to them is negotiated between grandparents and parents.