homekeeping 9

“But dad, I don’t want that kind of putter.  I know what I want and I’m paying for it with my own money.  I’ve researched this putter on the internet.  Dad, I know what I want.”

As they drove away without a new putter, Will’s stomach started to act up.

Once they arrived home from that day’s dad visit, both kids unleashed.

“He doesn’t know anything about golf.  Why is he telling me how to spend my own money?”

“Why do we have to go to his office for visits when he only sees us two times a week?”

“I’m never going on another one of these visits.”


Something happens when a boy straddles those years between the teens and being a young man.  If you get out of his way, he’ll become strong, independent and forthright.  He will test boundaries.  He will assert himself.  He will stand tall and speak his mind.

It’s a beautiful thing to see.

I saw Will texting back and forth with his father.  He put the phone down, looked at Jenny and said, “I told him that we aren’t doing any more visits until they start getting more comfortable for us.”

Jenny said, “What’d he say?”

Will said, “He sent a text that said, ‘ok‘.  That’s it.”

Jenny stared at her big brother with wide eyes.  In an uncharacteristic move, she jumped up and ran over to give Will a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

Will said, “What’s that for?”

Jenny said, “For saving my life.  Geez.  I couldn’t have done that.”


A week later, the kids received a text from their dad inviting Will to go on an all-day fishing trip.  Will declined because Jen wasn’t invited.


Almost two stress-free weeks later, I found the kids in a conversation about what to do for Father’s Day.  They asked me for suggestions.  I offered up a few.  (You may be thinking that I suggested that they totally ignore their father on that day.  Those accommodator grooves run deep.  I suggested taking him to lunch or ice cream or making some cards.)

They agreed on a plan and Will texted his dad and told him they’d like to take him for ice cream – their treat.

The narcissist called back and said, “I have plans with your older brother.”

I heard Will say, “Ok, dad.  Bye.”

Jenny said, “What’s the plan?”

Will said, “He’s doing something with Andrew.”

Jenny said, “Were we invited?”

Will said, “No.”  He paused to put down the phone and said, “That hurts my feelings.”

Jenny said, “I know.  It’s like you want to be with him only you can’t stand to be with him.  And when he doesn’t want to be with you it hurts.  I guess he wants to spend Father’s Day with his favorite kid.”

Will said, “Yeah, kinda like last year.”



Will stood up for himself.  He found the courage to make a request for more comfortable visits.  The narcissist heard that as a criticism.  He will not be criticized by his son, therefore, he will dismiss both Will and Jen and align himself with the child that sources him in the manner he prefers.


For the time being, the kids won’t have visits.

You may be thinking that we are cheering and high-fiving.  We have done a few fist bumps, but the kids are hurting.

As Jenny says, “It’s good to be done with visits, even if it isn’t forever; but it still hurts that he doesn’t want to try.”




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  1. Damn that’s hard. I can only imagine how proud you are of Will for standing up for himself and Jenny that way. Can commiserate with how they’re hurting as I see it in my adult husband when he tries to deal with his mother in the same way. It sucks that there are people in our lives we have to do this with, but it’s going to be so much better for Will & Jenny as adults that they are doing this now. They’ll know they deserve better and they won’t settle for less. That’s the best thing a parent can give their kiddos IMHO. Big hugs to all of you for getting through Father’s day with all that going on :-)

  2. Thanks, Jenn,

    The biggest lesson in all of this for me is the slow realization that this will NEVER change.

    There are no exceptions when it comes to narcissism. There is not a one of us who can break through to them. It’s futile to keep trying.

    Sad, but so damn true.

  3. It all makes my heart hurt for them. Even though they know, it still hurts every time. Mine got in the car last night after seeing our stuff on the ex’s sidewalk (I had to deliver some of it) and burst into tears. He said he wanted to get home so he could play some Mario alone in his room and wash away the weekend. :(

    Please tell Will I am very proud of him standing up for himself AND his sister. It was very brave and I hope that my son can do the same for himself one day soon. xx

  4. Z,

    I read your comment to Will. He smiled and said, “That’s pretty nice.”

    Tell yours that we know how good it is to be allowed a safe place to be able to decompress and be ourselves. He’s so lucky to have you.

  5. I tried to explain this to a friend once, and put it this way: You never stop wishing they could be the parents you want them to be, even if you stop expecting it.

    My heart aches for them, but I am pleased also to see them state their wishes and draw their boundaries. These are invaluable, lifelong skills. Good for you for teaching them.

  6. Sprung,

    I’ve been saying that over and over in my head… “You never stop wishing they could be the parents you want them to be, even if you stop expecting it.”

    Thank you so much.

    It’s could to see it in writing and know someone knows exactly how we feel.

  7. Hugs to Will and Jen. It is not fair for kids to have to navigate such a father. We understand this so painfully well in our lives too. All I can gather is that this will somehow make all of our kids stronger and wiser. I still wish it were not so.

    It is so painful to long for a father’s attention and when or if you get it, that attention only does more damage.

    I am wishing all three of you peaceful and happy summer days!

  8. Lynn,

    It is my hope that in addition to strength and wisdom are kids will be blessed with a depth of compassion that will make their world a sweeter place. Lord knows they all deserve that kind of sweetness.

  9. Jesse,

    Yes–compassion–absolutely and our kids certainly deserve the sweetness of a kind environment.

    Thinking about you and yours!

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