Lovefraud recently received an email from a reader who has a daughter with a sociopath and wants to know what she should do about the sociopath’s parents, her daughter’s paternal grandparents. She wrote:
My issue with my daughter’s paternal grandparents is that I don’t trust them with my daughter. It’s not because they are bad people, but because my sociopathic ex has victimized his parents over and over and over again and has no respect for what they say. His mother is his biggest enabler and both of his parents want him to be involved with our daughter (he has abandoned her) in the worst way. They pressure him about it nonstop. I fear that if I allow my daughter to be without me in their care (which is what they are gunning for right now) that they will invite my ex over, and I don’t trust what he will do. I’m scared he’ll take off with her (only to hurt me, not because he wants to spend time with her) or that he’ll begin to damage her emotionally. His parents won’t stop him because they don’t know how. He controls them and I truly believe they are scared of him.
Here’s the short answer: Your primary objective is to limit your daughter’s exposure to both her father and his family as much as you can. No Contact would be best.
To look at this further, I’ll describe three scenarios involving a sociopath’s family.
- The family is also sociopathic
Sociopathy is highly genetic. Therefore, if your ex is a sociopath, it means that one of his parents is disordered, or there is disorder somewhere on the family tree.
If the parents are disordered, they, like your ex, are incapable of love. They are incapable of being genuinely concerned about your daughter’s wellbeing.
So why would they want to see their granddaughter? Because, just like the sociopath, they view her as a possession. They want what they perceive belongs to them.
Therefore, they view access to your daughter as a battle that they want to win. If they have money, they may keep fighting until they win.
If your daughter were alone with them, it’s possible that the visits would be okay. Or, she might be neglected, abused or even kidnapped. And yes, I do know of sociopathic grandmothers who have kidnapped their grandchildren.
- Family members are engaged in wishful thinking
Some families aren’t disordered themselves, but know that there is something wrong with their offspring. This is certainly possible, because genetics is a crapshoot. The genes related to personality disorders can be passed on, even if a few generations have gone by without anyone actually exhibiting the traits.
The family may hope that if their son would just spend time with his daughter, it would awaken paternal feelings of love and he would become a normal man. So even if the family just wants a relationship with their grandchild, they may also want their son to have a relationship with the girl, and encourage him to come around when they have the girl.
And yes, you should be concerned about your daughter being damaged by her father. Sociopaths are not capable of love, even for their own children.
- Family members are pawns
Sociopaths routinely exploit everyone they know, including their parents and families.
In some cases, parents may not really know what the sociopaths are like — especially when the sociopath seems to have a successful career. The sociopaths may lie to their parents about their former partners. The parents believe the lies, and do what they can to help, not understanding the sociopath’s true, destructive agenda.
Some parents know the sociopaths are trouble, but they are enablers. The parents keep giving the sociopaths money, subsidizing living arrangements, even bailing them out of jail.
Parents may do this out of guilt, fear, or love — it’s really, really hard to turn your back on your child, even when you know that the child is disordered and is not going to change.
Keep the sociopath’s family out of your life
The safest thing for you to do is have No Contact with your sociopathic ex and his family. Even when the grandparents mean well, it increases the exposure of you and your daughter to the sociopathic father.
In your case, your ex has abandoned your daughter. The only reason to allow the grandparents to see her is if it is ordered by the court. Some states do have laws designed to enable grandparents to see their grandchildren. Here’s a summary of state laws:
If the grandparents really understood their son’s disorder, and really wanted what was best for your daughter, they would know that the healthiest thing for her would be for them to stay out of her life.