My Malignant Narcissistic Sister Has Turned My Adult Sons Against Me
Ask the Therapist – March 2020
Each month I answer a question from a member of my mailing list. Please join my email list & send me your question!
To join my list – and get an in depth free self help resource – go to the bottom of this page, type in your email address and download my Ebook – Stop the Struggle: 5 Steps to Breaking Free from Chronic Emotional Pain & The Dreaded Inner Critic.
I grew up with both parents being self absorbed. I am the scapegoat and believe all of my 3 younger sisters have narcissistic behaviors. One for sure is narcissistic personality disordered and sociopathic. I can say this with confidence because of my experiences with her over the years and what she has done to my own family, plus my therapist told me this is what she believes this Sister is.
I repressed something this Sister did, I’ll call her Sister B. She told me years ago, when I let her babysit my five year old Son, that she used to French kiss him. I just remembered this, but she must have told me this 20 years ago. I am 64 years old, Sister B is 58 and my Son whom I had at 17 is 47 years old. Sister B has had control over my son, I’ll call him Son C, since that point. He grew to dislike me, and will only have a relationship with Sister B and my other two Sisters, I’ll call Sisters M and L. These 3 Sisters have betrayed me and have been mean to me as long as I can remember.
The worst of it is, my Son C and his Wife C excommunicated me from their life not long after they got married. It happened after Sister B got ahold of my Son C’s wife and befriended her. After Sister B got my daughter in law to supply her narcissistic needs my son and wife said they only wanted a relationship with Sister B and her family and no longer with me. I have missed a relationship with them and their children. My oldest Grandson B is now 18 years old and his Sister is 14 years old. I have not known them since Grandson B was 4 years old.
My Son A saw all this happen, and said he’d never do this to me. His wife also told me she’d never do this to me. But they have now both turned on me. Sister B got a hold of my Son A’s wife, I’ll call Daughter in law D. My Son A told me his wife likes my Sister B better than me so now they are ignoring me in their lives as well. I have two granddaughters with my Son A and wife D, who are 4 and 2 years old this year.
My heart hurts so bad from this I can barely stand it. Sister B wrote me an email a year ago telling me both of my sons love and like her, and they do not love nor like me. I know that my sons love me but Sister B’s narcissism and sociopathic behaviors have manipulated my son’s wives such that my sons have had to give me up because of Sister B infiltrating into my daughter in laws’ lives.
Sisters M and L are not as evil as Sister B but pretty close.
I need to expose Sister B for who she is to my sons and their wives. My oldest Son C has gotten to the point of hating me. I cannot send anything to his children as it is always sent back to me.
What can I do to get my children and their families back ? I am living in a nightmare. The worst is, my sons have choices and they are showing no courage to stand up to their wives and my Sister B. This is how strong Sister B’s gotten into my daughter in law’s relationship and control over them. Of course they do not see this, they just see Sister B as this really wonderful woman.
I do not think, my Son C recalls the sexual abuse Sister B did to him. I have not told him what I remembered because he will have nothing to do with me. I told my Sister M what I remembered, thinking she was my confidant, only to find out she told Sister B what I recalled after all these years. Sister B told Sister M that I lie all the time and it wasn’t true. I do not lie, I am honest to a fault. Now my Sister B has made it a point to go see my second Son A and his family since this occurred. I have not seen my Son A and his family for almost two years.
I truly believe the evil Sister B has affected the whole of my two Sons and their wives such that I lost my family and grandchildren. Sister B shows no remorse and gloats on her conquest with my children.
As far as I know, I have done nothing to hurt my Sister B. She has verbally assaulted me over the years while all this was going on behind my back, and I finally eliminated her from my life. Unfortunately I still learn of her time with my family via a nephew who lives close to me and is close to me. He doesn’t tell me this in malice nor to hurt me, but he feels sad because my sons and Sister B have gotten together close to where we live in Florida and he wasn’t invited.
Sister B must be stopped. I have lost my whole family. I divorced my Son’s father 20 years ago, he is passive aggressive and has done nothing to help my sons see what is happening. He was angry and hurt I divorced him so this feels like his retaliation toward me. He was a lousy husband of 24 years. My sons allow him and his new wife in their life but not me. I have asked him to be a decent father for his sons sake and help them see what is going on. His new wife doesn’t want him to jeopardize their relationship with my sons, so he won’t do anything to help my sons see what is going on with Sister B.
I am thinking of going to a family attorney to see if there is something legally I can do to stop Sister B. The worst is, now that Sister M told Sister B that I remembered what Sister B did to my Son C at 5 years old, I think Sister B will , more than ever, make sure she strengthens her relationship with my second son’s wife. My second Son A was very close to me until the divorce. His shock of divorce and his dad’s retaliation toward me has weakened our relationship, yet I know Son A loves me very much. We had a relationship up until a few years ago when Sister B began to get into his wife’s life. How does she do this?
Sister B has two children. I never would have thought to try and manipulate them to want to be with me and not her. Now her two adult children will have nothing to do with me either or her husband. For me this is no loss given the situation.
The loss and pain is unbearable. I feel frozen on what to do because of Sister B’s strength, plus my other two sisters are somewhat like her as they have narcissistic traits. My three sisters are also aligned against me as the family Scapegoat. I am outside of this circle, so I have no family support.
Any help that can be offered I will gladly take and do.
What an incredibly painful, isolating and complicated situation you find yourself in with your adult children and your sisters. Your family of origin dynamic sounds both insecure and frightening, with you being very isolated while dealing with ongoing betrayals by your Sisters. What is particularly troubling is that your Sister B seems to have not only crossed a sexual boundary with your Son when he was a child, but has also succeeded in driving a wedge between you two from a very early age, leading to this estrangement. I can’t say for sure, but it seems possible that your Son C is ‘traumatically bonded’ to your Sister B, where love and abuse become fused.
Seems like a terribly lonely time being estranged from your own children and grandchildren whom, clearly, you long to have a relationship with. Unfortunately in narcissistic families, scapegoating, competitiveness and deliberate betrayals are common, with the Scapegoat being singled out for inappropriate blaming and shaming by family members who can collude with this dynamic indefinitely, and pass it on from one generation to the next, like contagion.
How incredibly cruel that your Sister B has been deliberately interfering with your family life for decades in an extremely harmful and divisive way, leading to pitting your sons and extended family against you. Sister B appears to have a lot of negative power over your sons, who seem to have trouble thinking for themselves and, in the case of Son A, keeping his word to stay loyal to your relationship.
Sounds like trying to reconnect with your sons is going to be extremely challenging at best. Your Sister B appears to have ‘programmed’ (i.e. brainwashed) your children to buy into the family scapegoating narrative where you are vilified, while the real culprit – Sister B – has been put on a pedestal. This can happen for a number of reasons that are strong motivators/controlling influencers: IE power, status, fear, money, etc.
It’s probably not going to be effective to attempt to turn this around by trying to convince your sons that your Sister B is the problem, especially given that your sons appear to have cut you out of their lives. In fact, if you try to confront them with the truth about Sister B’s toxic behavior, then they may dig their heels in further. People, including family members, can become extremely defensive when told they are operating under false beliefs, as it makes them look foolish, and threatens the status quo. Instead, I believe you may have to use reverse psychology if you attempt to get through to them.
Reverse psychology means that you would approach your sons in a conciliatory way, trying to build a bridge of understanding, including being open to hearing from them what their ‘problem’ is with you. This is not the same thing as agreeing that they are ‘correct’, or that you have done anything wrong. Instead, it’s a strategy designed to help you reestablish a relationship with your children. Unfortunately, in extremely polarized and estranged situations like yours, it is you who will likely have to offer an olive branch, even though you are the injured party. It will also require that you – at least temporarily – put your need to be understood and exonerated aside, and focus on trying to connect with your son’s needs and what they might want from you, at least initially, until you see whether they will let you back into their lives. I would focus on one son at a time, starting with whomever you believe you have the most leverage with. If you are able to slowly reconnect on those terms, then later on you may have a chance to do some reality testing with your sons regarding Sister B’s toxic behavior.
If your Sister B is the Malignant Narcissist (1) you believe she is, then it is going to be nearly impossible to stop her negative influence on your family. Malignant Narcissists are dangerous. They are not only super defensive, manipulative and belittling, as with most narcissists, but also enjoy inflicting pain on their targets. Furthermore, Malignant Narcissists do not believe they are accountable to social norms, rules or laws, given their extreme grandiosity. In essence, they are predators. I believe the best you can do is to focus on self protection and do not interact with Sister B in any way, including not responding to her attacks on you, while very slowly seeing if you can rebuild a relationship with your sons.
Unfortunately, unless you can establish that a crime has been committed, then I suspect you may have little legal recourse. You could try for a Restraining Order or Peace Bond regarding your Sister B’s unwelcome, harassing communications with you, but then you risk alienating your sons further by attempting to hold Sister B accountable. You sons have ‘made a deal with the Devil’ with your Sister B, and appealing to reason is likely to be ineffective, at least at this point. As hard as it is to hear this, as it’s so unfair, your early focus will likely need to be on swallowing your pride, and letting your sons know that you care about them, and are willing to be ‘responsible’ for whatever hurts – real or imagined – they believe you are accountable for. Again, this does not mean that you agree with anyone’s position that you are at fault, but you must strategically deal with your son’s ‘programming’ by your sister if you are going to have a chance at gaining any traction with them. And of course, if there’s anything you need to atone for – and there may not be – then it’s an opportunity to role model accountability in a healthy way.
Hopefully this will give you a few ideas about where to start. Wishing you all the best as you attempt to rebuild the life you deserve with your children and grandchildren.
(1) A Malignant Narcissist has two pathologies: Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder (aka Sociopathy or Psychopathy). Symptoms may include paranoid traits, aggression, an absence of conscience, dominance and grandiosity.
- Malignant Narcissism – Wikipedia
- Malignant narcissism: from fairy tales to harsh reality
M Goldner-Vukov, LJ Moore – Psychiatria Danubina, 2010 – hrcak.srce.hr
SUMMARY Introduction: Malignant Narcissism has been recognized as a serious condition but it has been largely ignored in psychiatric literature and research. In order to bring this subject to the attention of mental health professionals, this paper presents a contemporary synthesis…
- Pathological narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder: Theoretical background and diagnostic classification.
OF Kernberg – 1998 – psycnet.apa.org
Topics discussed include: clinical characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder, etiology of narcissistic personality disorder, differentiating narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder, malignant narcissism syndrome, narcissistic personality disorders …
Need help overcoming family scapegoating or dealing with narcissistic behavior in family relationships? Check out my Family Scapegoat Counseling page
Counseling is available by Video worldwide.
Glynis Sherwood – MEd, Canadian Certified Counselor, Registered Clinical Counselor, specializes in recovery from Family Scapegoating, Narcissistic Abuse, Low Self Esteem, Chronic Anxiety, Estrangement Grief and Relationship Addiction.
Photo by Aziz Acharki – Unsplash
Overcome Chronic Stress, Sadness or Relationship Problems
Join My Email List & Download Your Free EBook:
Stop the Struggle: 5 Steps to Breaking Free from Chronic Emotional Pain & The Dreaded Inner Critic
– Revised Edition