Co-Parenting With a Narcissist

There is no such thing as co-parenting with a narcissist as they have no concept of teamwork or even cooperation. Perhaps the title would be more accurate if it read, “Parenting In Spite of a Narcissist”. Most often there is little to no “co-parenting” that occurs when your ex-spouse is a narcissist. You spend your time and energy undoing the damage that the narcissist has done to the children. Narcissists see their children as extensions of themselves and are simply objects meant to fulfill the narcissist’s needs. Keep your expectations low for them as parents. They don’t have “normal” maternal or paternal instincts and are incapable of putting their child’s needs first.

Stop drinking the Kool-Aid that every divorced couple should be able to co-parent. If you have a relentlessly high-conflict ex, try parallel parenting instead: different houses, different rules, and as little contact as possible.

Virginia Gilbert, licensed marriage and family therapist

7 Tips for Dealing with a Narcissistic Co-Parent

Luckily, there are a few things that you can do when you are forced to co-parent with a narcissist. They aren’t co-parenting tips per se but rather ways of minimizing the damage done to you and your children. You can’t change your ex, but you can change the way you interact with them. Here are some things that you can do to protect you and your children:

1. Minimize communication: Disengage! Communicate with the narcissistic parent only when it regards the children. Ignore emails that are just ranting, attention-seeking, or expressions of self-aggrandizement. Do address any issue that relates to your child; remember to attack the problem, not the other parent (even if he or she has attacked you). If you must respond, keep it brief, to the point, and business-like.

Example: you get an accusatory, blaming email from the narcissist but in the middle of the email it says you will need to take Johnny to his swim practice. Ignore the accusations and blaming and politely respond, “I will take Johnny to his swim practice at 2pm this Saturday. Thanks.”

Disengage from conflict: do not worry about anything unless your children are in danger. If the narcissist stuffs them with junk food all weekend then feed them healthy during the week when they are with you. In the grand scheme of things, this is minor and not worth engaging in a conflict about.

Do not engage:  Limit your communication to emails or programs such as Our Family Wizard and keep all communication brief, emotionless, courteous and focused on the children. If you feel emotionally charged, do not respond for 24-hours until you’ve had time to calm down or have a trusted friend review your response before hitting the “send” button.

Tina Swithin, author “Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle”

2. Don’t take it personally: “Projecting” is common with narcissists. They will project their own unacceptable thoughts and behaviors onto you. It can be difficult listening to negative, demeaning comments about you and not react to it. Don’t take it personal and remember that they are projecting.

Example: Your ex hostilely exclaims “You’re fat and unattractive and no one will ever want to be with you.” Remember he or she is projecting and realize that what you are hearing is “I (ex) am terrified that I am fat, unattractive and no one will want me.” It is much easier to ignore when you understand they are projecting. Create an emotional buffer, an emotional shield for yourself from your ex. Try your best to ignore, pretend they don’t exist, or focus on the good in your life.

3. Don’t swing at every pitch:  A narcissistic ex needs to connect with you – even if it is negative- in order to obtain Narcissistic Supply. So he may escalate hurtful remarks, constantly change what he says or repeat unwanted behavior to get a reaction from you (Example: consistently picking up the children late). It is common for them to ‘go for the jugular’ and threaten to try to get custody.

Ht””Pick your battles: If you don’t want every single little thing to be a fight, pick and choose your battles. Who cares if little Johnny gets too much sugar at dad’s house or little Katie gets to stay up later at mom’s house?  Let the little things go. If you find drugs on junior — time to be serious.

Marina Sbrochi, author, HuffPost Divorce blogger

4. Do not deviate from the schedule: Narcissists have difficulty with change. If you change the schedule just once, they will claim you are ALWAYS changing it and use it to their advantage (“that is why I am late”, or will arrive/not show up and retort “well, YOU are always changing the schedule whenever you feel like it).

5. Don’t always protect your children from their emotions: NPD people see their children as an extension of themselves. Your narcissistic ex may dress up the children his/her way and use them to show off an image he or she wants to portray. The children will resent this as they get older as he/she won’t listen to their preferences. This is their lesson in life to learn, not yours. Learning to cope and successfully interact with a narcissistic parent is the lesson that they have in store for them. After all, they will need to deal with this parent for the rest of their lives. As long as they are not in danger, you can work with them to minimize the emotional impact.

6. Maintain firm boundaries: It is imperative to draw clear boundaries with your ex and consistently maintain them What exactly are boundaries? They define what’s acceptable to you. They include such things as respecting other people’s property, space, or time. Time is a common boundary that is broken (Example: The ex is supposed to pick up the children at 6 p.m. every Friday but is consistently late. He or she is being disrespectful to your schedule, which is your boundary). People with NPD have a hard time relating to others, understanding what’s appropriate and understanding boundaries.  Your ex will not like the boundaries you set, where you draw the line, and even the fact that you drew a line. Understand that they are responsible, not you, for how they feel or behave when you set boundaries. They are likely to rant or tantrum initially, but if you maintain your boundaries firmly, they will succumb.

7. Use their narcissism against them: Try to make it seem like every decision is his and/or benefits him more than you. Play up to his need for public admiration (“Everyone will see you at the park with the kids and know what a good dad you are” or “Everyone knows what a good father you are, so I know you wouldn’t mind doing such-and-such”). You have to be able to say these things without sarcasm in your voice or it won’t work. Sometimes it is about the end result, not how you got there.

Resources:

  1. http://divorcesupport.about.com/od/relationshipwithyourex/a/Co-Parenting-With-A-Narcissist.htm
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/19/narcissist-ex_n
  3. http://voices.yahoo.com/coparenting-sanity-tips-dealing-narcissist-10957640.html
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About Alexander Burgemeester

61 Responses to “Co-Parenting With a Narcissist”

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  1. Lauren says:

    Overall, pretty great advice. I think about the issues raised in #5 quite a bit. It gives me pauses that we send off children to be alone with a narcissist who is in a position of authority, to endure emotional abuse that would challenge even a therapist, for years, through vulnerable developmental stages. Yes, there are lessons in there, but only if play by play dissected, damage put in context, better models of behavior explained. But that doesn’t happen, in fact the courts want you to facilitate the abusive relationship and only discuss the good. So the ‘coping’ for children of narcissists plays out in destructive ways like low self esteem, damaged relationships, drugs, alcohol, or the worst, imitating it. In the case of the abusive narcissist who degrades and rages on ex-spouse and kids equally, to what end does it benefit kids to have a relationship? Is it even possible to have a healthy relationship with someone who fundamentally lacks empathy? I feel fortunate that the advice for the ex-spouse is to cut contact. How are the kids any different?

    • Concerned mom says:

      I agree completely. Studies show children whith a narsisist parent have a high chance of developing it themselves. When my narcissist ex & I were still married I could take the brunt of his distorted thinking & “punishments”. Now, my hands are tied & the family courts play right into a narcissist hands. Soon we’ll be in mediation about our children. He has been putting them into some scary situations & also believes our son uses his diabetes meds & our daughter uses her albuterol as a crutch & has prevented them from taking thier meds for at least 6 mns. If anyone else, parents who still reside togeher, teachers, coaches,ect, treated a child like that the courts’d be up in arms! Children have less rights on a state to state basis than animals! So, how do you keep a child safe in this situation? I think the better question is, how can we protect ourselves and our children from the family courts?

      • I agree completely. I’ve only seen family court cripple and kill, never fix. It’s hurting my two little daughters and I right now. Dads don’t stand much of a chance there.

        • Jeremy says:

          You aren’t alone Chris. My narcicist ex is using the courts to destroy our little girls. No contact is the only answer.

          • Nick says:

            Ditto. Except my narcissist ex-wife is also a very successful attorney. It doesn’t cost her a penny to wage her ongoing war with me during and after our divorce. She’s living in a $600,000 house, drives an Audi, and has a combined household income of about a quarter million dollars per year. I’m literally living on about 1/8 of that, and she tried to drag me back into court to squeeze $300/month out of me because she voluntarily took a $40,000 pay cut to switch jobs. And this was only 9 months after our divorce was finalized. Basically I had to spend $6000 to try to hold/maintain the status quo of divorce that I spent $12,000 to settle just nine months earlier.

            Now she’s in line to try to become a judge. It’s unbelievable….

          • Louise says:

            Sadly i have the same My ex used the courts as a way to destroy me using my daughter as the focus – this wasn’t about my daughter despite it supposedly being about her – he was offered all the contact he wanted but his narcissist parents weren’t happy with that, so now we have my ex a narcissist living with his narcissist parents emotionally damaging my daughter – she gets asked who her favourite is and tells me openly that they talk badly about me don’t listen to her they just do what they want. His parents told me they wouldn’t return her during the last holidays when she called in tears to say she wanted to come home – they shouted at me on the phone and said i was causing her to want to come home – i hadn’t been allowed to speak with her for nearly 2 weeks, they are unable to empathise with how they would feel.
            My ex’s agenda is only to upset me by not listening to his own daughter. He refers to ‘we’ in all his emails (meaning him and his parents – he’s 42) and criticises my parenting skills, me as a parent and manipulates to make me look like i don’t encourage her. School have given me fantastic feedback and said how settled she is at school compared to when my ex and i were together. When my child returns from her visits i leave her for a while but she is aggressive, and awash with emotion and usually overtired and confused – she is 8.
            I have tried to work with him and explain when and why she is upset at times such as this week but its clear he doesn’t care. In court he said he wouldn’t take her to friends parties if it were in ‘his time’ they praised him for his honesty!!
            He has put us both in danger on more than one occasion but that gets passed off as ‘okay now’ i try to have as little contact as possible as its clear its all about him and his parents and sadly very little about our daughter. Good luck to you all going through this, i am 2 years in and learning lots about the condition in the hope my daughter will not become one!

    • melissa says:

      I completely agree!! I deal with damage control with my boys on a day to day basis! It breaks my heart.

  2. crapneighbor says:

    Oh man you hit the nail on the head
    I have battled this for 15 years and have tried my best to be a peacemaker but youre right, they have to be in complete control and dominate every situation. They pour on the charm to the outside world and it LITERALLY makes me SICK to see the way people bow down to him, AND YET. These same people who lap up his crap come to me if they see me on the streets or in a store , park or playground hand tell me how they know the truth and theyve always loved me but because he and his family pretty much own the county they are forced to be mum when it comes to me. REALLY? If i were in their seat , vyin for my job would i do the same and buckle ? I dont know but i hate HATE that he and his family have so much control and brainwash my children to the point i cant breathe for heartache.

  3. Aine says:

    Yes, sometimes it’s like dealing with an unpredictable teenager – I ask my ex to do something, he doesn’t do it, or does it too late. He picks up the child at a random hour and then makes a scene full of shouting, kicking things around the place, demanding I do this or that, calling me names. If he knows me and our daughter are spending good time with the friend of the family, he will phone me 20+ times, start talking about the child and some plans then go straight onto verbal abuse mixed with “I love you”… He feeds the child junk food and lets them stay up till 11pm… next day the kid is half-sleeping at school. He never practices spelling with the child, never supervises her doing homework, or reading, nothing.

    I’ve learned to ignore most things, do all the work myself and never criticize him in front of our daughter, but still I wish I could just take her with me far, far away and put an end to all this. My little girl is a tough cookie and very intelligent, recently she told me “I think dad may have something wrong with his brain maybe”… and she actually gave examples of his narcissistic attention-seeking behaviour. I’ve never told her anything about NPD, ever. She gets annoyed and really angry when he’s late again, as usual. How I wish true co-parenting could be possible in this case.

  4. Fightingforcustody says:

    I’m experiencing this exactly and am getting very little assistance from children’s aid etc in actually protecting my daughter. They and the courts seem to care what is equal and fare for the parents and not the child.

    The court won’t even listen to the fact that for 13 years of marriage I was denied love, affection and treated as a child and piece of meat. For 5 years I attended fertility treatments alone because he wanted a son. I was forced into a “swinger” lifestyle after a miscarriage as I “owed him” for never being able to give him one. He would threaten to take away our daughter’s Christmas, Easter etc unless I complied to his sexual desires. When things didn’t go his way he would say that I had affairs with those people he was forcing me to have sex with.

    Until our daughter could walk, talk, use the bathroom alone and get her own snacks he had little to no interaction with her that didn’t involve doing tricks to make him look like a good father to others. He never went to doctors appointments, late night hospital runs for fevers, brushed her hair, tucked her in, bathed her, brushed her teeth, read her stories. Never attended a dance class, music class, ringette game as they were all a waste of his time. He had nothing to do with her that didn’t benefit him and now that I’ve moved us out of “his” house and into my parents basement apartment, he suddenly wants her 5 days a week after school and every other weekend from Friday-Monday. She is so afraid of his personality and short fuse that she agonizes over her current 2 day and 1 night a week visits.

    Since my leaving (which involved him swearing at our daughter and me calling 911 as he threatened to shoot himself), filing for custody, and fights over payout from the mortgage on the house he lives in over the last 6 months he has managed to secure a new Lady and her 2 children exposing our daughter to this new confusing situation. No doubt in my mind he is back into swinging soon enough and back to risking her exposure to it. He is know to invite total strangers to the secluded country property (no visible neighbours) and have sex with them in the living room as our daughter slept upstairs.

    The court considers none of this history, they make everything not submittable and I have no way of forcing a evaluation of his mentality. I am forced to deal with him myself but I do so through lawyers to be safe and so far joint custody. People who know him have warned me that they are afraid for my safety and not to be alone with him but don’t want involved. I’m afraid for my daughter when she is with him and feel guilty in the sense that at least before I was with her and able to protect her. I promise though that I will fight with every cent and to my grave for her protection. He may be acting like superdad now buying her gifts and taking her out but this will pass and she will get hurt if.

    • Kelly says:

      Hi I would love to talk… We have similar situations… Courts continually working in his favor… We have a 5 year old boy who he has had no part in his life and is now using him to hurt me. Joint custody awarded, multiple affairs new girlfriend and her kids already introduced and divorce is not final…. It is pure hell-kelly

    • Larry says:

      In reading your words I felt sad this was happening to you. I have felt times like yours being around my ex. Have you had, though, then going behind your back and speaking to your own family? Picture this: they enter my 90+ plus year old father’s home where my sis lives with him and, with our 3 yr old with her, as soon as she enters she begins raging about me, while right next to our child. My sis got so angry she told her to not do that and took the child outside with her. My ex wasn’t even aware what she was doing.

      What kind of childhood did your ex have?

      The courts have no interest in getting to the truth of the matter. They don’t have the resources to dig deeper than to get basic facts, even though yours distorts and fabricates ask of his.

      Deep inside, down to their core, they know there’s this duck,v troubled

      • Larry says:

        I meant to say, deep inside they know something is missing…something isn’t normal. They live in an empty world, devoid of happiness. And bounce from relationship to failed relationship.

        The game starts over again when they or their most recent partner end the pathetic attempt at love and they lay in waiting for the next sucker to come along and get sucked into their fantasy, drunk with joy over being put on their latest pedestal.

        But when it ends, and it always will, the THUD they feel will be painful and confusing.

  5. Jesalyn Price Homan says:

    Question. What do I do if I live with my mother and I have a child who’s seven and my mother is the narcissistic parent .I feel like everyday im trying to just survive to not allow what she dose effect me or my daughter but it dose we cant move out we have no money and I feel if we don’t find a solution to leave somthing bad will happen to me or I ‘ll lose my kid shes already tried to take custody but thing is she dosnt see what she dose and she keeps my mail hoes thru my belongings and paperwork invades my space and much more. Help ???

  6. me says:

    The hard part is having the gal, kids lawyer, question why you don’t reply to emails the ex sends. Just recently it was
    Sat… why do you want a longer visit, every other isn’t enough I need everyweek a break, but refuse to negotiate without a lawyer.
    Mon.. why do you insist on potty training I tolld you not to. I need supervised visits
    Tues this is proof you aren’t listening, you can’t have them this weekend I must protedct them from being traumatized by potty training.
    Thuts…. he isn’t answeringv my text ifv he wants to see the kids what should I do, and then she agrees to a longer visit than what she insisted she wouldn’t do on sat unlesd with lawyer witnesses.

    So dizzyijng andconfusing. I sure hope the gal sees the crazy.

  7. Deplorable behavior says:

    Hi everyone this will be the first time I have ever put any info on any blog or site. I am a 55 year old male that has been raising our son for six years ,divorce was requested in 2008 by mom , mom had son, family home , excellent job . Mom took a awful turn first lost interest in son he was three and half , then in 2009 lost family home , in 2012 lost excellent job due to undependability . So according to law I had by de facto gained custody mom was not around could not be contacted ,very little if any contact with our son to the point was doing damage for 4 years this went on. Our son has been in therapy for over 4 years and loves his time with his therapist ,and has shown a great deal of progress, academically , and I have watched him grow personally, from low self esteem, and all the other issues that come with being deserted by the other parent. It has by far one of the most heartbreaking and saddest things to watch our son to have to endure . An I’m a vet. And yes I know the majority is the father is the one that does these things that does so much damage so when a mom does it is hard to convince the broken legal system that this has happened I do think ,since I am living it that a mom could do such thing to her own child. But reality is only a very small group of women are in this group that do this type of damage with total disregard. Our situation happens to be a mom from that small group. Now in 2014 in June of this year she was just awarded unsupervised visits with our son and right from the get started in our son , about how she doesn’t care what he wants she wants him to come live with her , your father did something wrong that is how you ended living with him , your father lost the family home and all these things now because our son is ten has caused problems needless to say , her behavior imitates that of a narcissist . My son of course is in it now and it is very hard to sit and watch him be traumatized by mom . He comes home saying mom is trying to change the truth , I ask my son do you know what the truth is he says yes mom left us, so my response to this is simple take the good you can get out of the visits and do the right thing give mom a chance . Now needless to say our son ADHD, OPD, and takes medication for anxiety related to all that has happened. Of course moms point of view is its everybody else fault and I caused all her issues . It is to me one of the most hardest things I as a parent have ever endured since my parents did not raise me I endured so I have empowered our son with support such as no matter what happens bad on the visits you are always going to come home to the place where you feel comfortable ,get support and all the love , mom claims he is spoiled and I agree .Told mom I will dedicate all that I am to make our son have what I did not. With this ending have been dating the same gal whom has had five kids , one is gone to see our maker in 07 ,two more grown and gone and two 8 and 10 that I have been raising together with my son for going on six years and my son loves her . My son also loves his mom but says he doesn’t like her , the way she treats him , says he feels that mom loves her new companion more than she loves him ,doesn’t want to live with her . So for all the great moms out there kudos to you I am enduring what you gals have done for a long time and me as a father fall in a very small percentage that will have to endure the broken system , and all that befalls our children . Keep up the faith.

    • jesdangab says:

      I have been married to the most wonderful man for 20 years now. he has been divorced for 23 years. the x wife is most likely the highest form of a manipulitve and secretive narcisisst i have ever met. as a 22 year old bride i thought this was the thing that soap operas were made of!!!!
      my step daughter was 2 2/12 at the time so i have been a parent/friend figure to her for her whole life. I have watched her grow, stuggle and disappear from our lives for about 3 years. Guess what, she came back and our family relationship (two sisters) is stronger than ever.
      She has told me she needed that time to figure out what she wanted in life and she also discovered it was not the life her mother offered. there was always strings attached to EVERYTHING!!!! Our home is just that, home! a place to be yourself, good or bad, a place to relax, to feel the unconditional love that we all feel lucky enough to have.
      With a family of five we felt it important support all of the kids and had to stop directing all of our energy on one child. we had to let her go to figure it out as we had two other children to raise also. we hoped with all our hearts she would come back but that had to be her decision alone with no outside influences. She came back. The stories this beautiful and strong young woman has told me make me cry. If i had known as a 20 something step parent what she was going through emotionally and what the word narcisissm was, we would have gone through the court battles no matter what the costs.
      That being said, she has said that her experiences have made her into the person she is today.. she still has demons, she still hangs on to that 5% hope that her mother will be just that, a mom. but thats ok. this to shall pass.
      as parents, my husband and i just listen. we always have. we try to give her unbiased opinions, and worded very carefully because we dont want to come across as vindictive. although secretly we are. who wouldn’t be!!!
      She is turning into an amazing young woman and we are so proud of her. She hears this everyday from us and is starting to believe it.
      you are handling your son beautifully and it will come back to you ten fold. keep up the good work dad!!

      • amanda says:

        I too am married to a man who has a narcissistic ex-wife. His daughter is turning 14 soon and the pressure from her mom to choose her over her father is really getting out of control lately. I am terrified that she will choose to “go away” like your daughter did and hope if this horrible thing does happen that she will return like your daughter did. The worst is that her older brothers are helping her mother with the brain-washing. Thank you for posting.

    • Crystal says:

      Thank you! Im in tears because I’ve watched my children suffer for a couple years and I cant imagine the pain you’ve been through. I wish I understood the family court system but it just seems to be the opposite. Keep up the amazing work God is using you for his good!

  8. Mom says:

    Why would someone do #7?! That’s like giving drugs to an addict. It just feeds their habit and makes you part of it, and they are still controlling you.

    • Mommy Too says:

      I agree… I agreed with this article until I got to #7. There is no way I would/could do that. They would use that against me and say “even she said I’m a wonderful father so why is she doing such and such to me?”

      • Momma21 says:

        Totally agree. It made me feel sick reading #7 it’s not really moral is it . Plus if your children hear this . They may possibly thjnk this is normal . Scary stuff. I hope my boy sees through it. And #5 . This also makes me believe that the child will think it’s normal behaviour also!. Very worrying stuff. I’m going to tell him the truth, if he asks, the sugar coated truth qhicj is hes not very well. So when he’s older it will click and he will understand what I was saying. We tell our children santa exists and the tooth fairy. Hell Some say the boogie man does. Why feed them b.s all there lives . It’s time to help them understand as they go along but not slag them off too. It will help them understand I think. Seen as we have to pick up the pieces why not be brutally honest. He’s ill they are ill. End of.

  9. Pat says:

    I have a fifteen month old son with a narc.We were never married and didn’t live together. We had an informal custody arrangement. Seeing the final discard coming for quite some time, I have tried to establish a voluntary formal agreement. He has projected, stalled, gaslighted and done everything to avoid signing this agreement. When told that this was my final attempt before court, he has started a paper trail accusing me of being violent etc….My lawyer wants me to keep playing nice but what she is not getting is there is not rationalizing with the irrational. At this point he is now threatening to take our son whenever he feels like it and disregarding any kind of agreement that we had. Our child is now a pawn……

    What am I to do until I have filed for sole custody? Am I and my son at the whim and mercy of this deranged lunatic?

    • Meg says:

      My divorced was finalized his past June on my birthday. Best present ever! Unfortunately we have two small children together who are caught in the middle. I have had a hard time accepting such evil people walk among us. It was a long and costly process. He even brutally assaulted me in a public place in front of the babies, his parents and the police with NO consequences. The only reason I was granted sole custody and him supervised visits was because I was relentless forcing the issue of him being drug tested by hair follicle. The program that supervises the visits believes that he is an angel. I have come to the conclusion I can no longer do damage control only try catch them how ever they might fall. So basically yes you are at his mercy and the courts until someone in position decides it is about the children and not the parents.

    • Momma21 says:

      I would let him file for contact. You have enough proof when it gets going. Be reasonable. Let him mess up himself. Don’t help him go no contact as much as possible. Go for supported contact in a centre. And all solisitors act like this, Don’t allow them to lead. You lead. If he’s got drink , drug , violent problem make this your reason for supported contact anything . Just make it a process others (courts) can see. So that he builds it up himself and breaks it down . Don’t worry about your child yet he/ she doesn’t know what’s going on. And look after you. Leaen to be Your own best friend . And Go get your mojo back. Look after yourself because your number 1. You’ve made a baby your amazing . And now your child is here. He wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the narc . And so we see the lessons in the blessings . Love you. Peace out.

  10. Jen says:

    #7….does not work! The first time I read that the reasonable side of me thought that could actually work…WRONG! I tried to play the ego stroke with how good he was with the kids and his response was “My relationship with my kids is none of your business if it doesn’t effect their physical or mental state so please keep your comments to yourself when it comes to my relationship with our kids.” So DONT DO #7!!

  11. Vijaric says:

    I agree with all the above. i live in a country that unmarried fathers have equal parenting rights to the biological mother. I have paper trails and voice recorded phone calls. He big talks his attorney, three cars, that I dont answer his reasonable contact phone calls etc. Of course he has no car and never calols his son. My concern is where do the lies ever end.. we have a parenting plan going through high court (his idea) but then want to deviate. Brings my son home early and then moans he doesnt get enough time with him. Wish there was more information on this in court rooms etc as this is extremely damaging to children and single mothers who are trying to maintain reasonable contact and so whats best for the child…

  12. So Tired says:

    FINALLY, people that get it!

    I have been dealing with custody issues with someone who has no conscience, empathy, or sense of guilt. My child is of course an extension of himself, and what is best for him is then certainly best for her, no matter what. Also (and I am sure that for most of you this goes without saying) nothing, and I mean NOTHING is EVER his fault. If this makes him a narcissist or anti-social, I don’t know. What I do know is that it is beyond all other human experience I have ever encountered.
    In the midst of this I have honestly gone further than I ever thought I would just to ensure my child’s best interest, all of it seems to be for not, because no matter what I do to try to make this better for my child, it doesn’t work. She is a toddler, a very smart toddler, and there is nothing I can do to make her want to spend time with him. I try to excite her by telling her it will be fun, and tell her about exciting things they will do together, I tell her he loves her and misses her but she just repeats that she DOES NOT want to see him. This is a child who is a total social butterfly and loves going to visit and outings with a variety of people. This is the ONLY person she fights spending time with. When it is time to visit him she screams and fights like the children you see on TV who are fighting with everything in them when they are taken against their will. He of course doesn’t care as it is his time with her and to him that is all that matters. As a mother I feel like I am watching my child drown and doing nothing to save her. What is this doing to how she will feel about me in the future? What will this do to her future, period?
    As for the courts (like other comments here have stated) they seem to be about the parents, not the children. It doesn’t matter what I have brought to them and showed them, he is her “father” and that is all that matters.
    Does anyone have any ideas how to protect children from these people? If there isn’t legislation, or courts, or judges, or police, or anyone who will help us, how do we change things to protect our children so they can be healthy when they grow up?

  13. So Tired says:

    I have been dealing with custody issues with someone who has no conscience, empathy, or sense of guilt. My child is of course an extension of himself, and what is best for him is then certainly best for her, no matter what. Also (and I am sure that for most of you this goes without saying) nothing, and I mean NOTHING is EVER his fault. If this makes him a narcissist or anti-social, I don’t know. What I do know is that it is beyond all other human experience I have ever encountered.
    In the midst of this I have honestly gone further than I ever thought I would just to ensure my child’s best interest, all of it seems to be for not, because no matter what I do to try to make this better for my child, it doesn’t work. She is a toddler, a very smart toddler, and there is nothing I can do to make her want to spend time with him. I try to excite her by telling her it will be fun, and tell her about exciting things they will do together, I tell her he loves her and misses her but she just repeats that she DOES NOT want to see him. This is a child who is a total social butterfly and loves going to visit and outings with a variety of people. This is the ONLY person she fights spending time with. When it is time to visit him she screams and fights like the children you see on TV who are fighting with everything in them when they are taken against their will. He of course doesn’t care as it is his time with her and to him that is all that matters. As a mother I feel like I am watching my child drown and doing nothing to save her. What is this doing to how she will feel about me in the future? What will this do to her future, period?
    As for the courts (like other comments here have stated) they seem to be about the parents, not the children. It doesn’t matter what I have brought to them and showed them, he is her “father” and that is all that matters.
    Does anyone have any ideas how to protect children from these people? If there isn’t legislation, or courts, or judges, or police, or anyone who will help us, how do we change things to protect our children so they can be healthy when they grow up?

  14. Itsalltootrue says:

    Unfortunately I am attempting to co-parent with my ex wife who is the epitome of a narcissist. I am amazed they are so many others who have the same difficulties with narcissists in their life’s. It is tiring, emotionally, mentally, and physically draining to keep up with my ex’s narcissistic and pathological ways. Lie after lie, statement after statement, it is horrible.

    What is worse is my son is in the middle. I knew something was wrong when we first had my son, I won’t reference all the details of what transpired after his birth, but lets just say he lived with me from week 2 of his life until Month 5. She couldn’t handle being a mother. Furthermore, upon us reuniting the berating and belittling ensued. It was like I was worthless. We attempted marriage counseling where the counselor told her she was a narcissist and that I should leave her. So, I decided to just leave one day. Got an apartment and left. Now, my son who is my pride and joy is being used as a pawn and my new life has been consistently interrupted because she wants to remain in control of my life by using my son as a pawn.

    I have been in a court battle over custody for over a year and a half (she reopens it every six months), spent thousands upon thousands of dollars, tried to sit down and have a civil conversation with her, nothing works with this narcissist. I love my son, but my health is declining because of all this stress, my new marriage is suffering, my finances are tight because of attorneys fees, it seems there is no end in sight. I don’t know what else to do except sign over my parental rights to my son whom I love dearly.

    Anyone felt this way or had these experiences? Would signing over parental rights help this woman understand? What can I do? HELP!

    • Larry says:

      I have 5 girls under the age of 13 who have a professional covert narcissist with a BA Cum Laude in Psychology. She left me 2 years ago because I would’t feed her NARC needs. She declared herself my trophy wife. No intimacy after the wedding but plenty before. No affection, no support, no encouragement just me me me. Laughed at peoples pain. Could not produce what she said she could. Flips whenever it fits her needs. Smear campaigns against me, lies lies and more lies, strange and childish e-mails, accusations, courts, courts, and more courts. She is not winning. The judge sees through her. Hopefully my unconditional love, affection and sincerity will carry my daughters through. I am a True man of God who believes in His providence and power. So you too reach out to the Lord and watch Him work miracles.

  15. ruthieB says:

    This is an excellent article.
    I am currently dealing with a narcissistic ex and despite my best intentions I seem to get embroiled in his ‘games’.
    We have three children together, which means we will be ‘co-parenting’ for the foreseeable (when it suits him) and these strategies will be helpful to have in my armory.
    The most frustrating part is that there never seems to be any come back on him. He behaves in any way he chooses, with no reprisal.
    How can I learn to deal with this?

  16. Tom says:

    I hung in there for 26 years of marriage, always thinking I couldn’t have a failed marriage like my parents, mistakenly believing that was best for my kids. Now, a few years later, my struggle is with how much damage I caused my kids by hanging in there so long.

    We have one son in college and she keeps her hooks in him in various ways, mostly guilt, but also controlling various financial aspects of his life. Our middle son will be in college next year. When she moved her boyfriend in 60 days after the divorce and had the kids keep it a secret because I “would be upset”, my middle son began fighting going back to his mothers. One day he left my house to go back for his days with her (we had agreed to split time equally) and he showed up a few hours later very upset and saying he wasn’t going back. I still don’t know fully what happened that night but she’s basically washed her hands of him, turned his former bedroom at her house into a game room and she has nothing but degrading comments to offer about him. He’ll give her a half hour her or there for a meal every other week or so but he’s 18, he’s doing fine in school, he’s enjoying less conflict and he’s a good, loving kid and she’ll never acknowledge any responsibility for how she’s made him feel, the tears I’ve seen him shed as a result or that he’s a good kid despite him having the gall to disagree with her.

    The real concern is with the youngest son, a freshman in high school. After the oldest moved away to college and the middle son moved to my house, she began a systematic effort to buy the youngest. She has no parameters and he’s had incidents that should not have occurred as a result. When I address those situations she’ll typically egg me on as she did in our marriage, when she’d prompt and push and demand certain restrictions and discussions with the kids, and while telling me we had to stick to the plan she constructed and expected me to enforce, she would go behind my back and say these things were my idea and then give “breaks” or buy the kids, bad mouthing me all the way. That sort of dysfunction is bad enough when you are in the same house. It creates an even larger conflict and bigger concerns when a kid knows he or she can play one of you against the other, or run to the N’s house when the response and circumstances at your house are not to their liking.

    There is NO, and there NEVER will be ANY co-parenting or partnering for the best interest of the kids between yourself and someone who didn’t respect you enough to be your partner in those endeavors while married. It’s not logical to think an N ex-spouse will somehow treat you better after you are divorced than when you were married, regardless of whether they know, should know or in some cases may admit they appreciate the impact of failing to do so have on your kids.

    So, what do we do? I have no magic answer. What I’ve settled on doing is to provide a consistent, peaceful home where my kids can grow, where they can get constructive, supportive parenting without psycho ranting and raving. I do my best to avoid reference to my N Ex. I try to avoid her input and impact on things that may occur at my house or with my family, although by her nature that feels like I’m defending the goal in a soccer game with 5 balls being kicked at my head at once. And I avoid being concerned about or commenting on things that happen at her house.

    I will close with this one thing I did try. She moved her boyfriend in less than two months after our divorce. Over time I sort of figured that he’s not going anywhere and he seemed okay so I asked him to talk to me. We had a good talk. I just wanted him to know that I would appreciate him stepping in should anything happen with my youngest son at their house. It’s somewhat unorthodox but I can’t expect anything close to honest or timely information about things of concern from her. So far he and I have been able to have some valuable dialogue, so it was worth the chance in so far as it provides some assistance with my son when things go awry between he and his mother.

    If you share kids, I don’t care how old the kids are, it’s never going to end completely. You just have the advantage of time, distance and much more control and you adjust to use that advantage to play defense, to protect your kids, avoid as much conflict and controversy for them as possible and keep the N Ex at bay.

    • Momma21 says:

      But… you don’t know this man and you’ve asked him to , ‘step in’ does this include punishments etc… I had this with my father he said this to our new step dad. He beat my brothers. The face value of this remark can have dramatic knock on effects if not careful . Esp if this new bf I’d sticking around. Wish your children all the best.

  17. Lou says:

    I have 2 children with my ex narc.
    The problem I have is that up until recently the arrangements with the kids worked ok, I went NC and ended it. He has a new partner whom he has moved into his home.
    He recently started sending me random rubbish messages, emails that were nothing to do with the kids and I didn’t respond to them. As a result to this he now refuses to interact with me regarding the kids.
    He has them every other Friday night and I have to wait all Saturday afternnon/ evening at home for him to bring them back, I get no message at all regarding the time it’s just what suits him! I know he wZnts me to be angry and text him so he can ignore me! How can I deal with his childish behaviour??

  18. A says:

    I think #7 is just pointing out that you CAN NOT reason with these people. You can try and try and make the most rational suggestions and try to spell it out but they literally cannot see things that are not directly in their own agenda so at times it IS necessary to speak their language to get the result you need that is best for your kids.

  19. anotherMGTOW says:

    Funny how these articles always refer to he and him. My ex and her mother are both arch narcissists and sick sad control freaks, even when they know it has damaged them. Despite claims I know more women are cf’s and narcissists because women have evolved to use manipulation as a primary defence. Chew on that ladies

  20. Jenn says:

    I have just been reading/researching what the heck is up with my ex and biological father of my 6 year old. I have come to the conclusion he is a narcissist. We have a court agreement he never follows but tries to improperly use it to his benefit. Mediation with a narcissist… forget it! And the sad thing is he always seems to get the sympathy of the (impartial my a*s) mediator. Trying to make things far with a narcissists through mediation when the mediators focus is on what’s best and fair for both parents is a waste of time. Really it’s about what’s best for the kid, or it should be. But they have no background in the crap they’ve put you or your child through and have no idea how damaging it is for the child to spend large amounts of time around this person.
    I want to know does anyone else narc ex want to see the child a lot, more then what’s agreed upon? But he seems to get his mother to look after her. She still goes over there and cooks the meal and bathes my daughter but my ex wants her every weekend. I guess as long as I don’t have her that’s what makes him happy? He had no interest in her till we split up then he would harass, badger, and threaten to be able to see her. But then get his parents to watch her. I think also it’s something he uses as control over his parents to do what he wants and to give him money so that the grandparents can see her. Also she is the only good thing in his life he has really done so I think he uses her to make himself feel better. Also when we were together he used to try and get between myself and my daughter. If I was changing her diaper and she was crying he would come and try to take her from me, or I would try to touch her while he was holder her and he would move away so I couldn’t. It was when I felt like he was trying to sabotage my relationship with her that I called it quits and broke off the relationship. And it’s been a s**t show ever since.
    Got worse after I got married and has another baby girl. He can’t stand that and that I’m happy. That both my daughters have a wonderful father at home who would die for them.
    Things keep escalating. recently he text me very short notice the night before that he wanted to pick her up from school the next day because it was his moms bday. We already had plans with other family member and I didn’t want to disappoint our daughter and court ordered 7 days written notice wasn’t put in the court order so he could disregard it when ever he wants so I told him sorry no we have plans and the notice is just to late to change things. He threatened to just go pick her up from school (not on his court ordered day) and we made the school aware, I told him is he tried the school would call the police. He tried anyways. My husband got there first and drove past him leaving the school and narc just getting there. He raced home and got daughter in the house as fast as possible. Narc sat outside of our house texting me to send her out and refusing to leave. I told him I’d call the police if he didn’t leave in 10 min. We ended up having to call the police and I raced home from work. Things seem to be escalating.
    Anyone else have a narc they are trying to co-parent with that seem to be more wanting to take the kids away as often and as much as possible? Seem like the majority want nothing to do with the kids, or at least when they reach a certain age cut them out.

    • Momma21 says:

      I agree refuse mediation if he is a narc due to emotional abuse that he inflicts. You have human rights. This is for people going by uk law. Don’t be fooled nothing will come to it at court if you refused to be alone whilst this takes place.

    • DrMommy says:

      My Ex took my daughter full custody when she was 2.5 although only worked his job 6 days a week. It’s a split 50/50 now and he is super rigid with his time. T*t for tat. I live 3 minutes away but still couldn’t see her on Christmas even though they spent the whole week of vacation just the 2 of them with a short visit from some family. He thinks he’s the primary caregiver, so delusional. Every doctor and dentist appt he wants to go to, even though he never went to the pediatrician with us when she was anemic and not gaining weight. (He is a vegan and I had to raise her as one) . It’s a nightmare. She’s 3.5 and goes back and forth on this crazy schedule because he can’t go without seeing her for more than 4 days. Such a f*****g co-dependent, he never even touched my belly when I was pregnant. It’s goes on. I’m a Christian and I pray to not want him dead… on a daily basis.

  21. Kris says:

    my xN and I have a beautiful 2yr old little boy. We were never married and the xN was in prison when my son was born. He wasn’t released till my son was a year old. We’re together off and on for 4 yrs but I’ve known him close to 20yrs. He was on probation for domestic violence from a previous relationship. He violated his probation which landed him in prison for 17 months. He’s had 11 felony charges 9 of which were domestic violence. Which I knew nothing about till his probation violation. He is also a drug addict. Mostly meth , and recently started smoking crack. He’s been addict for as long as I’ve known him. We lost touch found each on fb and BOOM!!! He sucked me in convincing me he’s changed and has grown up since then. He became so intensely jealous, controlling, and possessive. And so verbally and mentally abusive. I didn’t think a person could be filled with so much hate and yet be so sweet and protective all at the time. It never experienced anything like it before. He would accuse me of cheating on him almost daily ( which of course made a lying cheating fat smelly dirty w***e) and I would work so hard trying to convince him it’s not true only to have to start all over the very next day. It’s even worse when he’s on meth. He hullucinates and becomes convinced Can hear me hiding in the walls or thinks he can see me in the next room having sex with another man. Even when he was in different state than I was he was still convinced I was there hiding. He would text me all day and night telling me he could hear my voice or see me or see my car. And torture and punish me for 3-4 days straight for something I never even did. He cheated a lot too. He has a threesome, took pictures of it and sent them to me while I was pregnant as punishment for stuff I didn’t even do. Theres so much more abuse from him than just that to mention. He has 2 other teenage children that have had to witness him being high and delusional as well. He has no visitation rights with my son unless he takes me to family court for it. Which he will never do cuz that costs money. And he needs his money to support his drug habit. So it’s up to me to deside on the roll I want him to have in my sons life. I STRUGGLE WITH THIS DESISION EVERY SINGLE DAY. I’m in constant battle with myself about what’s best for my son. On one hand I don’t want my son growing up seeing his dad high and the crazy effects of it. I don’t want my son to see how mean abusive his father is to me and grow up thinking it’s ok to treat me like that or anyone else. I don’t want him growing up being in and out of jail his whole life like his father. His other 2 children have also started using drugs as well. In fact he has actually done meth with his daughter quite a few times. And that scares me. I’m scared to death of the influence he will have on my son like he’s had on his other kids. They have seen exactly how destructive and mean he is yet they adore him anyway. Now mind u he is a very loving dad. And never once has abused his kids other than occasionally choosing drugs and w****s over them in the past. Both of them do have serious issues mentally as a result of his behavior. I WANT BETTER FOR MY SON. HE DESERVES BETTER. I want him to grow up respecting women. I want him to do good in school, go to college, get married and have the happy life he is meant to have. So Than I believe keeping away from his dad is the best thing for him….then the guilt starts to sneak in. Every child needs their father. Especially a little boy. Is it wrong of me to deprive my son of having a father? What do I tell him when he is old enough to asking questions about who his dad is and why isn’t part of his life. Will my son blame himself and wonder why he wasn’t worth his dad fighting for visitation? Will he blame me and hate me for the choice I made to keep him from his dad? Or will he understand I was trying to protect him? Sometimes I think there are things a father can teach his son that a mother can’t. I see kids with there fathers and it saddens me so much to think my boy will never have that. Am I scarring my child for life or am I doing the right thing by keeping him away from his dad? To be honest I don’t even want my son knowing his dad’s name or knowing his siblings or anyone in that part of the family. They are all nothing but trouble…I’m not even sure if that’s right either. I realize I can’t keep my son in a bubble and shelter him from the pains of world. But I can do my job as his mother to do my best at raising a well rounded healthy happy boy. I have aloud him to meet his dad and took him too see his dad maybe three times. And I have told his dad that if he gets clean and can prove to stay clean and get psychological help with proof and have a stable home home than we could discuss limited visitation. Of course he refuses and accuses me of using our son against him…and whines to anyone who’ll listen about how mean I am him from kid and how that makes me a horrible mother. And tells me my son will hate me for it. So u can see how I am constantly arguing with myself about what I should do. I just think I believe co-parenting can exist w this type of person. I don’t what to hurt my son though either. Any advise is welcome. I AM TORN BIGTIME.

  22. Kris says:

    I just submitted a long heartfelt comment about this topic and my own struggles with it. I’ve spent hours days weeks researchin this topic and NPD. This was first time ever posting and sharing my experience . I filled in necessary requirements. My name and email. I hit submit. Why didn’t it post?

  23. Fiona says:

    I have a narcissistic ex husband and 2 children. he married a younger woman – 16 years younger to be exact and unfortunately she feels the right to share her thoughts about my communication with my ex. Now of course, she cannot stand me and said she will never communicate with me ever again. This was because I told her (fairly yet firmly) not to get involved me my ex and my conversations via text. silly me actually did react (maturely) to his blasting text messages which I know I shouldnt do. Now I have to deal with a terrible ex and a terrible new wife. I feel very bullied. what do i do?

  24. Richard says:

    This page is a breath of fresh air! I have all the problems that you ladies are experiencing but would like to point out that I am a man! My ex wife is horrendous to me when all I have ever done is been supportive to her after she kicked me out of our home (with no explanation as to why!) I would cut all contact if it wasn’t for my beautiful daughter, who is only 4. I need to be around so that she has balance. I, too, feel bullied by my ex. She actually made me cry today :(. You all have my deepest sympathy and, because I CAN empathise(!) you can have that as well.

  25. Jeannie says:

    Re: #7 I believe that kids, when old enough to understand that their narccisistic parent’s (father in my case) behavior is irrational, confusing, mean or unfair; need the other parent to validate their feelings by acknowledging the facts about the situation. Then, come up with coping strategies for self-preservation while trying not to make matters worse.

    My kids were 9 and 5 when I left him. They’re now 15 and 11. My eldest suffers emotionally not having a father who’s capable of loving her. She understands more about why that is, but it breaks her heart nonetheless. Now my son is entering that “road.” I’m trying to help soften the blow by educating him about narccisist behavior and how to respond. It’s daunting. We need more resources for teaching children how to cope.

    (I, too, lost faith in the family court system when the court mediator, who saw us over the past 3 years, recommended co-parenting counseling. Narcs don’t co-parent!)

  26. Anna says:

    I couldn’t agree more with the last comment. My kids are 11 and 14, and I have tried to coparent, to ignore, and to protect my kids from their dad’s continuous lies. All I succeeded in doing was confusing my kids. Now all communication with my ex is through text or email, and I take a picture and save ALL texts (even if they seem innocent at the time because you never know with a narc). And now I show my kids those texts. I hate doing it, but I think it has at least cleared up some confusion for them. They used to think that I was part of the crazy making. Now they see the truth, and as other posters have said previously, the kids are going to have to learn to deal with the narc as a parent for the rest of their lives. I hate that I can’t protect them from him and that I even must “expose” his irrationality and lies to them because I know he’s their father, but I can’t let him write the narrative and lie to the kids. That’s worse for them in the long run, in my opinion.

  27. Jay W. says:

    I wish this article was not gender-specific, as I’m dealing with a soon-to-be-ex NPD – but it is very helpful to the point that I may include some of it in my daily affirmations.

  28. Beth says:

    Sounds to me like we all need to form some type of support group and also fight the courts for more fair children’s rights. I am going through the exact same thing and no one is willing to listen to let alone help. Beth17202@yahoo.com

  29. Momma21 says:

    May I just say reading through these comments . I have seen quite a few threads that explain to ignore your child when they talk or ask things about the narc.
    Now this has a number of knock on effects that leave your child confused sad depressed and deprived. So if one parent is a narc and the other is ignoring the child’s questions issues about the narc , ignoring the child because it is there lesson to learn is quite brutal to say the least. My advice Is to tell the child that the parent is ill. If he is inconsistant late says things he shouldn’t say to the child . Allso If things that raise higher concern should go to the police or courts. And please. If you believe your child is even around drugs or not being looked after properly.. stop contact . You have the rights to your child and if you don’t look after them properly and something goes on in there care which you knew or you had inclination of this your child will be questioned about being in your care. People’s actions have long term affects on children . Even yours and how you deal with it.

  30. MamaUK says:

    Thanks for the interesting post & so good to hear your comments as for the first time I can relate my experiences to those of others. After 8yrs of marriage I seperated from my narcisist husband a year ago and I’m raising my 2 young children alone…for the first 4 years of my marriage I lived with my husband and his elderly father (even more narcisistic than his son) and it was a nightmare. I was caught between these 2 men and knew something was wrong but didn’t understand what it was…they had lived alone and supplied each other then I came in and everything changed! (The father raised his son alone from a young age). I was so focused on dealing with my father in law that I hadn’t even noticed my husband was a narcisist until many years later after his dad had left. Thankfully life has seeped back into me over the last year & I was able to allow myself to heal…the BIG turning point was discovering NPD & relating it to my life & realising it wasn’t me!

    My question to you guys is this…I have 2 sons aged 6 and 3yrs…the older boy was a big focus for his father & grandfather & I know if we stayed he would have continued the family tradition of narcissism …but now I see the father training him to be just like him, controlling him, punishing him if he doesn’t follow his instructions (not physical but with holding his emotions/love or being angry) etc & I can see some traits coming through.

    So from your experiences how would you suggest I
    (a) stop this toxic effect from father to my sons?
    (b) how to I heal the effects already there on the kids?
    (c) is there anything I can do to protect them
    mentally/emotionally?
    (d) advice around divorce process with ex

    Sorry for the long post…but any advice would be great ! Thanks

  31. Rachel says:

    I am so glad I found this website. My husband has a narcissistic ex, who is very difficult (and that’s saying it nicely) and won’t leave us alone (always trying to pick a fight and/or belittling our parenting style/choices).

    However, the question I want to ask relates specifically to bullet 5. Recently, one of my stepsons told his dad that, when he was younger (he is 15, now), he thought we were extra nice and extra tidy. He added that he thought this because he saw the meanness and manipulation of his narcissistic mother and the mess that goes on at her house as the norm. We were shocked by these statements. Now, my question, how can you let a CHILD deal with this by themselves? Won’t things like these make them have an unrealistic view of the world, leading them to have lower expectations of what they really deserve?

    Finally, do you have any resources on how to support children affected by the behavior of a narcissistic parent? Especially, resources targeted to tweens (10-11 year-olds)? Books, short movies, other websites? Anything really. We just see the kids dwindle year after year. They have both been to counseling (about other stuff too); the oldest hasn’t found a counselor that he likes, and the youngest won’t talk to any counselor openly because he is “afraid his mom will hear” him (his own words). Personally, I can’t a child deal with something like this for themselves, I just can’t.

    Thank you in advance for any advice.

  32. tdeshong says:

    I’ve just been reading some of the cmts above. I was married to a narcissist and had 2 children. We divorced when they were 2 and 3 yrs old. They are now 15 and 17. We have been to hell and back as anyone dealing with a narcissist has. Hang in there. Karma is a real b***h and if you hang in there and treat yourself and those you love well, you will eventually see vindication. Be firm in your boundaries, do not respond to their drivel, provide unconditional love to your children, and most of all, take care of yourself. It took me years to get to where I am today. Our children are damaged, of course, but they are well rounded and recognize their father as unable to love them the way a parent should.

    • plshelp says:

      My husband has a narcissistic ex, they have a 5year old son together. I love my stepson very much, and he is very attached to me, the problem is she is obsessed with proving I am “a bad person” to the point that my step son has asked me to not wear lip stick around him because it might rub off on him and his mom gets “really mad” she takes my husband to court over random things trying to get full custody, and all she ever can focus on is me. Please help

  33. Noel says:

    This is very accurate. I raised two kids while having to deal with the incessant antics of their narcissistic father for 17 years post divorce. I put my kids into counselling as quickly as possible and kept them there for as long as possible to help ensure that their emotional well-being was in tact, as it was difficult to manage the personal attacks – I wanted to be sure that my kids weren’t falling through the cracks and relied on their therapist to keep a close watch for anything I was missing. It wasn’t perfect by any means, and my ex of course was against counselling and often bad-mouthed it like he did for every decision I made. We split when the kids were really little and he devoted a lot of energy into making sure the kids would always protect him whenever the authorities were involved – he was physically abusive as well as emotionally abusive. Authorities were involved on several occasions, but the kids were either afraid to tell of anything happening in dad’s home or they wanted to make their dad proud of them for following his direction. It was very difficult to work through.

    And then there was the 16 years worth of court battles. I saw very early on after our split that there needed to be a court ordered schedule in place. My ex demanded that I have the kids ready for him whenever he pleased and if I didn’t, he would break things in my yard and leave nasty phone messages etc. I quickly put processes in place to get a court ordered schedule, hoping this would alleviate that dilemma, and it did to a certain extent, but then came the 15 years of being accused of alienating the kids from him. He spent all of his access time trying to convince the kids to see me the way he saw me, which was all negative and controlling and abusive and a horrible mother, and you name it, I was to blame for everything…. and he worked over time trying to convince the kids to be upset and angry with me for every decision I made in my home and on my access time. His 2nd wife and his mother both participated and fuelled his antics throughout the years, too; and so it was like being group bullied, while trying to raise two kids on my own b/c obviously he was not at all focused on raising kids… only using them to attack me wherever he could. It was really sad and very difficult to watch, as I felt very powerless to do anything about it or to change it.

    Again, I kept my kids in counselling for as long as possible, and I stuck to the schedule and court ordered rules. I crossed all my Ts and dotted all my Is. I never told him how to run his home and I only stepped in when I feared the children’s safety, which was usually on the heels of them coming home with bruises. He lied in every single court document he ever filed during the course of the entire 16 years; lies designed to spiral things emotionally out of control, but I remained completely focused on what I felt was in the best interests of my kids at all times. When we went to trial for custody at 7 years post divorce (b/c I could no longer tolerate his antics to control my time and decisions that I made on my time), he had nothing on me. He actually made stuff up for court to try and paint me as the controlling abusive ex-wife who was trying to alienate him from his kids. The only evidence of this was of him and his wife doing that to me, and not the other way around. I won custody and moved away to be with my 2nd husband.

    The antics continued over the years. He never got better. I admit that in the beginning, I thought that it was just the regular adjustment period that a lot of divorced couples go through… usually that can last up to 2 – 5 years in some cases. This guy never stopped.

    Given all the circumstances of my life, I felt I did everything within my power to manage a really bad situation. I did my best to teach my kids to cope with a bad situation and tried to help not see themselves as victims. I continue to encourage counselling (when they’re ready) to help them address any lingering issues that could negatively affect their adult lives. I admit to feeling cheated of being able to relax and enjoy raising my kids, now that everything is finally over and done. I didn’t have time to feel that way during the years of battle, and I certainly would never want to impose such feelings onto my kids either… I was very careful not to impart a victim mentality onto them. I always did my best to teach them to work through or around things and to see the positive or the lesson in things. I admit that it was easier to do this b/c my ex was constantly promoting victim stances and negativity… it was obvious that my task was to ensure they didn’t fall prey to that… I didn’t want my kids to grow up being as angry and hostile and resentful and hateful as he was. I watched him working this mentality into them, and so yes, most of my time was devoted to countering those messages for the children’s emotional well-being. It was very difficult.

    I had a lot of very wonderful moments and experiences with my kids, either on our own or with the help of family and friends. I will forever be grateful to them for providing those memories for me and my kids. The turmoil remains in my mind to this day… I find myself wondering how different things could have been between me and my kids if we hadn’t needed to cope and deal with their narcissistic father. I spent years wishing and hoping he would get the help he needed, but everyone who surrounded him were enablers. In later years, my daughter told her lawyer that she felt she didn’t have a childhood. I feel bad for that, but I also know that it could have far worse than what it was.

    • Noel says:

      I actually need to make a correction to my above statement. At custody trial, he tried to paint me mostly as an unfit mother and tried to lean heavily on my bout with post-pardum depression following the birth of my kids from years prior. Accusations of alienation and brainwashing of the kids etc., came during the next 8 years following custody trial, which was incredibly ironic considering that’s what he had been doing all along. And so yes, very heavy projections of what he himself was doing was a real issue at play for all the years. He devoted a lot of time telling the kids what to think and feel in every situation. It was horrible, mainly for the kids, but for me, too. It’s amazing how a person can just so non-chalantly do that to his own kids without a care in the world, other than for himself of course.

    • Heather Karls says:

      Hi Noel, I was married to my narc for 15 years. I moved while he was at work with my then 6 year old son. A year prior to leaving I found a great therapist, I was so broken but knew I had to get my son out. I did it alone, no one believed what was happening behind closed doors, my own family believed I was just going crazy. I guess I probably looked that way. Much of what I talk to my therapist about now is my ex’s impact on my now 9 yo son. Until the past couple of months I’ve been able to provide the support he needed. We have had a very open and honest relationship based on mutual respect. Lately my sons been coming home from his dads and saying things I know didn’t come from his head, he’s angry and spiteful with me from the moment he walks in the door. This is not my child….this is his father. Its so incredibly painful to watch his reality be shattered and replaced with lies and suspicion. I have done my best to teach him his feelings matter and are never wrong. That he has a right to think for himself and express his thoughts. I’ve taught him to be truthful and empathetic, other people have feelings to. Its like these traits have just disinigrated into thin air. I know none of this is his fault…his father is a masterfuly brilliant and covert manipulator. How can I continue to validate my sons feelings when they aren’t based on reality? I know it’s time for help. I have PTSD from my ex’s abuse….it’s absolutely ridiculous to believe my son is unscathed. I have no idea how to find a therapist who KNOWS Narcissism and the utter destruction it causes. More importantly, how it effects a growing mind. How did you find a therapist for your kids? Did it help at all, did it make a difference? Did you receive advice about how to support them? I hope this message finds you. My experience is that unless you’ve been in some sort of close relationship with a narcissist you can’t fathom the damage they cause.
      Thank you…. Heather

  34. Over It Already says:

    As a parent just now going through the thick of it, I can say that this is all pretty great advice. I appreciate what you had to say about communication. A vast majority of our communication is via email, and I am amazed at how long-winded they can be. I was encouraged by our parenting-coordinator to just look for the questions, and not to dwell on the hurtful soliloquies my ex goes on. Any advice on getting the ex to respect your boundaries? That seems to be the biggest problem I am currently facing.

  35. Heidi says:

    My daughter just turned one. Her dad and I were never “together” but I want a FAMILY so I’ve been trying to force something-anything. He insists I keep her from him when we’re not together, but never Tries to see her. He verbally abuses me every chance he gets. Suggests only discussing baby, brings up his hatred of me or his new girlfriend or starts with the name-calling and, if I respond to ANY of it, accuses me of discussing other than Baby and threatens to block me (which he does on a regular basis) or take me to court to get custody (he’s been threatening court since before he before he believed I was pregnant). I want my baby to know her dad but the last time he asked me to come over to discuss Baby stuff, he got angry and threw me into the side of the house then threatened to kill himself then told the cops I was trying to rape him
    His family agrees with him that it’s MY fault he snapped and believes all of his lies. I want him to have supervised visits (or none!) but don’t trust anyone who can stand to be around him and can’t help thinking it’d be easier to cut all ties before she’s old enough to remember him </3

  36. DJ says:

    Really? With the being late? There are much more destructive, life-altering things the NPD parent does to cause greater damage than being “late.” I’m sorry, but that sounds like a victim-mentality there?

    The important things are “Parental Alienation,” not abiding by court orders, etc. Not being late to pick the children up on Friday, especially since this article seems to be directed at men, more than likely the ones WORKING to pay the ex-wife for whatever… What if there’s traffic, 6 pm is really cutting it close when you get off no earlier than 5 pm, then you have to drive across town in one of the busiest cities in the country.

    Blaming the other parent and calling them a Narc for being late is simply trying to create this victim identity in yourself so you can feel better about the dissolution of the relationship, come on?! That’s ridiculous. Get serious. I didn’t hear anything about false abuse allegations, stealing half of another parent’s income to the point the other parent is living well below the poverty line yet still tries his or her best to fulfill the SAME EXACT MINIMUM LIVING REQUIREMENTS the “custodial parent” must provide. All in an effort to create a sense of abandonment in the children from the other parent so that the children are forced to identify more with the parent who, for lack of a better term, kidnapped the children from the other parent.

    There’s a big difference between someone actively trying to destroy your life and someone who’s simply an inconvenience. A lot of people are late, it’s just a trait some people have, or a lack thereof being on time. It has NOTHING to do with NPD. Get real.

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