In front of others, the narcissist let the kids do whatever they wanted. They could climb the walls, and he would just sit there with a smile on his face. Once we were alone, the narcissist raged at them, screaming about how they embarrassed him. He launched vile threats at our children to thwart future bad behavior. Some people were wise enough to sense something wasn’t quite right, but they couldn’t know how terrible it actually was when we were alone.
I once thought the narcissist was unable to control himself, but this type of behavior made it clear. He knew what he was doing all along. He managed his rage when people were watching, masking it to preserve his public image, which was always more important than our children. Even now, after the divorce and court-ordered psychiatric exams diagnosing him with narcissistic personality disorder, he presents himself as “an excellent father,” but we know it’s only for show.