COPARENTING IS HARD
A narcissist has a special place in their toxic brain for Primary Supply Sources (PSS). As if living with a monster isn’t purgatory enough, if you’re coparenting they just love to mess with your parenting plan, manipulate the rules, miss child support payments, smear campaign you to student’s parents and teachers in your school, skip paying their share of childcare and will even let medical expenses lapse a year or more!”
The Bad Just Keeps Bubbling Up
I’ve mentioned how recovery from narcissistic abuse is a long and slow process, but it’s even more complicated when you are coparenting and still have to interface with your toxic ex. After being free for the last seven years, honestly, nothing surprises me anymore. The longer we are apart, the more bad comes to the surface.
Life with a narcissist post-breakup doesn’t mean the drama is over for those of us who were married and if we were wed a long time, the trail of drama will be a long one. Just think of what two decades of lies looks like. How these abusers can find the time to manage so many details and conceal their dirty facts and mess with you after leaving them-is almost super human! It’s even worse if we are coparents because there are so many fun ways to manipulate and push our buttons.
Learn Your Triggers
Narcissists NEVER change their approach with you. They just assume whatever worked with you when you were together will work with you now. You need to understand and know what triggers you, so you can react differently to their pokes and jabs.
Is it an insult to your character?
Calling you a certain name?
Telling the kids you’re an angry person?
Calling you fat?
Catching the narcissist in a lie?
Responding to a false panic the narcissist has created?
Anything that gets your heart beating faster and your blood boiling is a keen indicator you’ve just been triggered by the narcissist. Start journaling and record what situations are causing your triggers to fire. Then learn how to control them.
Don’t Take the Bait
A narcissist knows how to start something just to get a response or rise out of you. STAY CALM. Learn not to respond immediately, but let the narcissist simmer as they wait for your response. Wait an hour or longer if you can, until you are calm and had ample time to consider the facts and think about your response.
Remove All Emotion
The hardest lesson to learn with a narcissist is they enjoy being yelled at, called names, and your anger and spite as much as they enjoy being praised and adored. Let me repeat that. A narcissist loves your venom and anger.
It’s a sick dynamic, but it’s a true one. A narcissist will pick a fight with you just to lap up the wonderful negative praise from the moment. Like a dog digging up a favorite bone from a secret burrow, a narcissist digs up old dirt and pokes at your old buttons to eat the supply you’re giving him like a Scooby Snack.
If you are not familiar with the term Gray Rock, you need to be. In a nutshell, it is like the concept of No Contact-but for those of us who have to deal with toxic exes. Gray Rock means, you make your life as boring and uninteresting as possible for the narcissist. You stay emotionless and about as exciting as rock. The plan is the narc will get bored messing with you and go play with another target.
Never Stop Documenting
I keep an online journal and record conversations and situations with our kids. Never stop documenting your interactions and life with the narcissist. Keep a detailed record of their manipulations with your kids, and their missteps and be ready should you ever have the need to repetition the courts for your children.
Coparenting is the Perfect Setup for Game Playing
As the empath in the relationship, you care deeply about your children and the narcissist knows this. The narc knows this is your ultimate panic button and this will be the primary area in your life the narc will mess with and manipulate the most. To coparent with a narcissist means you need to be ready for your A game. Do not give the narcissist the supply they crave. Do not take the bait and do not make them believe their schemes are hurting, bothering, or driving you crazy.
As in all things with minor children, their safety comes first. If the narc is abusing your children, placing them in harmful situations or neglecting them–you need to take action with the property authorities and courts to protect them. In my experience, my narc only ever attempted to manipulate minor situations to annoy and inconvenience me.
Here are a few tricks they will play with your kids:
– Refusing to care for sick children
– Refusing to watch children for me to travel for work
– Allowing kids to eat junk food nonstop so they come back sick
– Skipping medication for a child who needs regular meds
– Allowing kids to stay up way past their bedtimes so they are tired when they return
– Allowing day-long gaming marathons on weekends (so kids can’t sleep later)
– Attending school meetings with counsellors to show up late then dominate the meeting
– Pretending to be a concerned parent with counsellors then switching the conversation to focus entirely on himself
– Taking kids to expensive doctors, urgent care, etc. not on your insurance plan and then refusing to pay his share of the doctor bill
– Signing kids up for expensive after school activities and not paying his share for uniforms, registration, etc.
– Refusing to pay childcare expenses
– Late with child support, skipping payments or scheduling payments so cash is deposited the last day of the month and funds don’t arrive until the first week of the following month (so your bills are late if you need their money)
– Working with your child on a big class project, then taking all the credit for it with teachers and staff
– Rehearsing and practicing for a school event, to have the narc show up like he’s been the one doing all the work and putting in the time with your child (not you)
– Admitting to not know a child’s doctor only to attend the appointment like he knew them for years
– Manipulating a child to not take or skip meds to convince the child they are unnecessary because having a child who needs meds reflects poorly on the narcissist (child isn’t perfect)
– Allowing children to watch adult movies and films the narc knows you will object to (Mine let my kids watch a show with a burlesque scene so my kids learned what strippers were!)
– Paying for clothing, shoes, winter gear for your children to have the narcissist store them up at their home and not return them
– Allowing children to play with dangerous tools, toys, or sporting gear (think shotguns, bows/arrows, etc.)
Set Healthy Boundaries
Narcissists know no boundaries. If you’ve been bullied or conned in the past to let the narcissist tear down or overcome your boundaries, this is not the time to cave. Coparenting absolutely must have safe boundaries with a narcissist. Your home, your life, your children must be surrounded by safe boundaries. The narcissist should NEVER be in your new home, should never know who you are with, know your new love, or have any intel about your new life. Boundaries with and about the kids must be clearly drawn.
Knowledge is Power
Learn how to be the stronger/better person in the situation. Understand what drives you crazy and learn to better deal with the situation. Establish strong boundaries and stick with them. Learn about coping strategies and how to apply Gray Rock strategies.