I am the father of a wonderful 5 1/2 year old boy who has been physically alienated from me without reason for almost one year. My case is not full blown parental alienation syndrome due to my weekly phone contact and the deep emotional bond we share. Even with a police enforced court order, his mother still refuses physical contact. I am seeking full custody and sole guardianship of my son through a very stagnant and out of date colonial court system.
As the mature and conscious parent I realize the deep love my son has for his mother, I am fully aware of the need to maintain this relationship upon gaining custody of our son. The duty I have to him is to help him break the legacy of poor partner choices which runs through our line. But how do you do it with a severely narcissistic individual who is unconscious of the emotional strain that has been placed on the child? How do I help my son understand the situation?
The short answer is You don’t help him understand the situation, not when he’s this age. He is much too young to understand what you’re talking about; he’ll only know you don’t like his mother. Anything you say to your son about his mother will only confuse him and probably alienate him from you, since he loves his mother. A “mature and conscious parent” puts his child’s needs ahead of his own need to be liked and understood by his child. At this point you can tell your son you want to see him and you look forward to the time when it will be possible. That’s all.
Even when your son gets older, anything one parent says to him about the other will only rebound on the parent who says it in the long run. If a child feels that one parent’s love for him is contingent on his rejecting the other parent, he may say what the parent wants to hear, but underneath he will be angry and resentful. He needs to have complete freedom to come to his own conclusions. If he complains about his mother to you, as long as her behaviour isn’t actively abusive of him, you need to just listen with empathy and help him figure out for himself how to handle it. You can hopefully expect the same from her.
If she is really “severely narcissistic” as you say, your son will come to recognize this in his teens through his own experiences with her. He doesn’t need you to tell him anything about her (or her to tell him anything about you) he needs you to allow him to find out for himself without either his father or his mother feeling a responsibility to teach him the “truth.” He already knows that you and his mother were poor choices for each other in his teens and young adulthood, he will want to avoid making the same mistakes you made because he is aware that it deprived him of a two-parent family. You don’t have to spell this out to him. Just give it time, keep up your weekly contact with him, and things will unfold as they should.