Be the parent your child needs. You have the power to give them what the narcissist is unwilling or, most likely, unable to offer them, so take advantage of the opportunity.
And Evaluate your own parenting style. I know I had to do this myself, and I saw many areas that I need to improve. I grew up in an abusive and dysfunctional home and really had no idea what healthy looked like, so if that’s you as well, learn about what healthy conscious parenting looks like.
Children need structure, but evaluate if there are areas that you need more or less of it.
Be a teacher to them. There are tons of educational books, shows or videos that can help you with this. So, let’s say the Disneyland parent gives them nothing but junk food, you may want to teach them why healthy foods are important and what they do for the body. And involve them in choosing healthy food or creating meals.
Teach them about finances. Especially if they have a parent that just gives them money and lavish gifts. They need to learn the value of money and how to manage it properly.
Teach them to think for themselves. Narcissists love to take away their child’s ability to have independent thoughts. They want control over their child mind and have the ability to plant toxic seeds. This is how they turn children against the other parent. So, it’s important children learn to have their own opinions, trust their intuitions, and be able to think for themselves so they can make decisions without relying on someone else.
Listen to them, really listen to them and ask good questions. This was one area I had to improve. I would lecture and just give my thoughts instead of really tuning into my child and trying to understand their perspective and then helping them challenge unhealthy thoughts and experience growth in their thinking. This is a powerful tool I didn’t learn until I was much older, so teach it to your children.
Stay in tune with them, don’t dismiss red flags and let them know you are always there for them if they want to talk about anything. If they feel you judging them instead of helping them work things out, they are less likely to come to you.
Also, put other healthy adults in their life, especially of the sex of the disneyland parent. If the Disneyland parent is a mother, it would be good for them to see examples of healthy women in their life and vice versa, if the Disneyland parent is a father, put healthy men in their life. They need to see how healthy people operate, and they need to see this in both women and men. They will naturally compare what they learn, especially as they get older and start making choices for themselves.
If you are in a relationship, understand they are going to learn a lot from that relationship as well so make sure you are showing them what healthy intimate relationships look like.
One of the best gifts you can give your child is live by example. Make sure you have focused on your healing because your energy is going to show it. They are little humans but they are intelligent and pick up on things. They need a parent that is healthy, has their best interest at heart, wants to prepare them for adulthood, shows them how to love yourself, how to have boundaries and enforce them, and how to be emotionally healthy and express themselves, and how to communicate. If you give them this, you greatly improve their chance of having a healthy adult life despite what the other toxic parenting is teaching them. They may go down a different path for some time, but our childhood has a way of influencing our adulthood and they will most likely compare what they saw growing up and change their route when it’s not working out for them.
And one last thing. You can be fun too and you should! It would be good to show them that it’s okay to have fun and it should be a part of life. Think about things you and your children have in common and plan time around those commonalities. This could be things inside and outside the home. Mix it up with events that you would spend hours together and maybe something you can do at the end of each day together, even if only for 30 minutes or so.
Ask your children, what ways they think you could have more fun together. Find new things you guys can experience together.
Going into nature is an excellent way to calm and create connection. Ask that electronics be put away, expect one to take photos and find ways you can enjoy nature together.
And then put these photos around the house and create scrapbooks with your kids of your “fun” memories together.
I hope this has been helpful, and you have some ideas put them in the comments.