Co-Parenting With a Narcissist 101, Part 2

co-parent with narcissistIn Part I of this series about co-parenting with a narcissist, I discussed the simple facts of sharing children with someone who has a narcissistic personality. I explained that, no matter what, the situation is never going to be, for the narcissist, about the well-being of the children. It’s always going to be about you. Once you understand this, all of the mind-boggling behaviors and all of the chaos he/she continues to create will suddenly make perfect sense. Strangely enough, knowing it’s really about you is the very thing that can give you all the power. Do not let this fact intimidate you at all. As the normal parent, this is where you gain the control.

While there’s no magical formula for dealing with a narcissistic co-parent, the process to follow to take to keep your sanity throughout (see below) are, in and of themselves, fairly simple. This process  may even seem too simple to you but in order to thwart the narcissist’s obviously nefarious intentions in co-parenting, simple is what it takes and, in fact, is how we need to keep it so that you and the children can live peacefully.

Here is my five-step process for keeping the control while co-parenting with a narcissist:

  1. Keep all verbal communication (in person and on the phone) to a maximum of ten minutes and no more. There is nothing that the narcissist co-parent has to say to you or you to them that cannot be said in ten minutes. If you have to keep one eye on your watch, do it and don’t be afraid to let this other person know that the time is ticking away so he/she better make it good. Then, when the time is up, hang up or walk away. Of course, if the conversation is unusually civil and sweet, then, by all means, finish the conversation but don’t fall for the ruse. Ultimately, it’s all about what they can get away with.
  2. Keep all verbal communication between the two of you about the child only and only if it’s necessary information. Moreover, you have to be the judge of what is necessary and what isn’t and then be confident in your decision. This tip goes hand in hand with the first tip above. All communication – even if absolutely necessary – should be ten minutes maximum and no more. Give them a second more and the conversation is guaranteed to take an ugly turn.
  3. No matter what is being said, practice showing only detachment and indifference. Show the narc no emotion whatsoever even if it kills you. Shut the door and then beat the wall if you have to but don’t let the narcissist ruffle your feathers. This is what a narcissist co-parent obviously likes to do. It is, in fact, the intention. My thought here is that we can fake any emotion (or, rather, non-emotion) for ten minutes, know what I mean? At the same time that you’re training the narcissist to see that he/she doesn’t have the same crazy effect on you as before, you will be re-training your own brain via practice to understand the same thing. In other words, fake it ‘till you make it.
  4. Document everything…even if the interaction is a good one. Ten minutes of conversation at a shot is easy to keep track of. Keep a journal/notebook handy at all times OR use that parent website where every interaction such as email or text can be recorded and where the courts have access to see it all if need be. Sometimes we have to take this route when one partner is completely uncooperative. From what I hear, narcissists absolutely hate this website because they are basically forced to be civil. The truth is that, for the most part, they can’t help but be bastards and once it’s logged in, there’s no changing it. As the normal parent, this is also a vehicle for showing the court how civil you really are even when faced with nasty responses.
  5. Be the best parent that you can be when you have your child…she/he will grow up knowing that you did your best and that the other parent was the monster with the smear campaign. I wrote an article about debunking the smear campaign which lends itself to what we’re talking about. Whatever you do (and no matter how hard it is), don’t talk shit about the narcissist in front of your children ever – even if you know the narcissist is doing a job on you behind your back. Your only concern is what your children/child hears coming out of your mouth. This is the only thing that you can control…do you understand this? The children will grow up knowing the difference. I guarantee it!

It goes without saying that, like everything else in life, this process needs to be practiced to become perfect. This process is all about you standing up for yourself and refusing to give in to the narcissist’s absurdity. If you mess up sometimes and engage in a screaming match, don’t beat yourself up…simply do better the next time. Many people have followed the steps and come away successful and you can to. It gets easier as time passes because the narcissist becomes trained accordingly.

Now that the relationship is finally over, there isn’t a reason in hell why you still have to suffer. Take control, stay calm, show detachment and indifference just ten minutes at a time, and watch how the environment suddenly changes. You and your children deserve to be happy – and it is that happiness – at least from an emotional standpoint – over which you really do have total control.

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  • Countrygirl17

    January 30, 2017 at 11:46 am Reply

    This is the first time I have commented on a site. I think this site is very useful but I would love to find more information to help out the new partners of the co-parenting victims of a narcissist. I feel like my story is a little different coming from my stand point, but I was also able to help give a little advice to a friend in a similar scenario… My husband and I were high school sweethearts and dated for 5 years, he and his ex for 6 years after that and he helped raise her two kids (girl and boy with 2 different dads) until they split up. Then he moved in with me for a place to stay and she quickly married. He and I rekindled our relationship and made it public to her and the kids. So I became a part of it. From the beginning, I always felt like she was showing off to me (maybe because of my history with him before?) I just felt like she was trying to make me jealous. It became very difficult for me with the manipulative things she would do like talk about her personal life to him, invite him over for dinner with the kids, ask him for money.. I just never saw good, true intentions. But we always tried to keep things on good terms. Then I started putting my foot down on some things about what I felt was respectful and fair with me being more involved. She and I even got to know each other more and talk more. and there was still always her not being satisfied with his parenting saying he wasn’t there enough no matter how much he tried. It was always hot or cold. Hating him or liking him.. Sometimes ignoring him or randomly commenting on a picture of him on Facebook. I respectfully mentioned to her my comfort zone and to keep things about the kids, she attacked me and said I was jealous and no longer to be a part of their lives.. Once he started distancing with her, unless having to do with the kids, she got angry and made him publicly look bad, eventually ignoring his calls and texts completely. It has been over a year since he has last seen them. The daughter (now 11) doesn’t even have a father figure in her life now (oh I forgot to mention the her husband got locked up). I worry for the kids all the time!! It consumes me sometimes.. And I feel guilty for getting in the middle of things but also know I didn’t do anything. So just now, I was just about to send her a text message trying to reach out to her.. Apologize, open up about how I understand everything was hard for the kids and her, and to provide closure to her even tho she is the one that had ignored us (i am trying to take the high road here and maybe get back on mutual grounds or get closure).. I have contemplated about sending this for some time. Our hearts ache for those kids, how they feel, no closure for us or them… If I send the message could it open up a can of worms potentially? I would love more information on how new partner’s to narcissist victims can handle things. My friend went through this and it is gutt-wrenching.. They try to make us feel jealous and that they possess everything, while dangling a carrot over my husband and walk on egg shells. I gave my friend tips to pretty much “kill her with kindness” and step up and don’t let her make you feel that way. Now I am lost now that the “game” is over. My husband has decided to give up pretty much. I don’t blame him, but is me reaching out being naive or me feeling guilty to have caused this? Is there a chance for them to know there is a good man out there in this world that loves them deeply? Thank you.

    • Zari Ballard

      January 31, 2017 at 1:28 am Reply

      Hi Countrygirl17,

      Thank you for sharing your story and it is heartbreaking. However, the truth is that those children aren’t his and no amount of attention on your part (or even his) is going to change that. I don’t see any point at all in contacting her. All it would do is open up that can of worms you fear and cause you all kinds of grief. If your husband has pretty much given up then you need to too. I suppose you could continue to send birthday cards and holiday cards to the children in hopes that one day when their older they’ll come around by themselves. Other than that, you have to weigh it out and I just don’t see any good coming of it. Hopefully, the children are cared for and safe and you can hope for that.

      Although I appreciate your compassion and concern and worry, the other truth is that it really should be your husband who reaches out because technically he is the “closest” to the kids. Again, though, they are not his and I do believe that if they were his he would be going all out to try and see them. Even he has to feel some kind of disconnect given the circumstances and perhaps stepping back is what he feels is best. The last thing he wants to do is reach out to see the kids and the first time he does something she doesn’t like, she’ll throw out the fact that they aren’t his. I imagine she has probably already done that here and there.

      Yes, it is very sad for you, your husband, and for the children but my thinking is that, now that there has been a separation, it may just be better to keep it that way for all involved. I’m sorry for your trouble and hope this helps. It’s just my opinion though…I’m here to support you no matter what, sister:)

      Zari xo

  • Mariya

    December 14, 2016 at 4:50 am Reply

    Hi Zari

    Thank you so much for these articles, they are really helpful in trying to navigate this minefield!

    One question, I don’t want to talk badly about my ex in front of the kids ( they are 12 and 13 years old) but I do feel they need to know how his behaviour was wrong and how sometimes the things he does with them is wrong and not their fault. Though obviously they have seen a lot of the abuse themselves, but how can I address this without bad mouthing him ??


    • Zari Ballard

      December 16, 2016 at 7:37 pm Reply

      Hi Mariya,

      Well, you’re going to have to pick your battles here with the co-parenting. I agree NOT to talk smack about him in front of the kids – even though he will surely talk about you with no problem. Ignore it. The truth is that the kids grow up remembering who the bad talker was and they will automatically gravitate towards the other parent. Now, having said that, what things does he do with them that is wrong and how important is it really? Do they come back from dad’s thinking everything is their fault? If that’s the case, my thinking is that you only say something if they say something. If they’re walking around looking sad and forlorn, find out why and then CASUALLY say, “Oh that’s just dad, you know how he is. It’s not your fault at all and he knows it.” THEN I would talk to HIM and tell him what happened and that he better not do it again. If there are things that he does wrong that AFFECTS them in horrible, negative ways then YEAH say something to HIM about it. But if it’s just things that you know you hate about him but the kids are okay when they come back and don’t seem any worse for the wear, then leave it alone. The things with narcissists is that they will always dig their own parental grave anyway and the kids figure this out on their own. If you don’t want to speak to him at all, why don’t you try that website where you can set it up so that all communications is done through the website. This way, if you ever have to go back to court, it’s documented. Narcissists usually hate it but that’s okay because they will write crazy things as if the court won’t even look (but they will) and the other partner can respond calmly and always look like the better person (which you are). Just a thought.

      But yeah, pick your battles. Kids are smart and they already know whats up and they know who is the more secure functioning parent. Don’t address it unless you really have to. If the kids complain, just say “I know…that’s the way daddy is and I know it’s not right but things will be okay. Just know its never your fault, k?” They’ll be just fine, mom:)

      Stay strong!

      Zari xo

  • C

    August 22, 2016 at 8:27 am Reply

    Thank you for this article and all you do…
    I just went through the family court system, AGAIN, because of his power struggle and happy to say the judge ruled that he has to accept (my choice) my means of communication which is email. Even though he’s never met his only son, he is ordered to share financial responsibility.
    This is where it gets interesting…any limited email I send to him (which contains his financial obligations and nothing else) I have attached a tracker to. The tracker alerts me that the email has been received and read. But it also documents the duration and views.
    Of the three that I’ve sent so far since court, all of them have been viewed on average of 75 times and continue to be even though they’re weeks old at this point. I initially did this to undermine his games and have some sort of proof for the next time we are in court (and you know they’ll be a next time).
    But…this has helped me immensely to further understand his level of dysfunction. Two of the emails contained only two sentences. They are all business like and nowhere near personal. So I don’t know what exactly he’s getting out of viewing them but the 75 times is enough proof of his still occurring behaviors for me.

    • Zari Ballard

      August 26, 2016 at 1:27 am Reply

      Hi C,

      Yes, I would say that 75 times is enough. These creatures are so twisted, aren’t they? OMG, just keep doing what you’re doing to keep it separated. Ignore this mind-boggling behavior and be glad he’s not doing it next to you the room anymore. Live your life and be happy:)

      Zari xo

    • MissLM

      September 2, 2016 at 2:35 pm Reply

      Hi C I am interested in finding out about the tracker you use? Ex N always says he “didn’t see the message” but I know he did. Returning back to Court next week for the 1827483758437 millionth time and requesting Court program for contact. Currently using Gmail. Thanks!

    • Dubs

      September 28, 2016 at 10:23 am Reply

      Yes, C and Zari… I am very interested in this tracker as well as the parent website you mentioned… any help would be great!

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