I have removed this letter at the request of the original poster. But have left the advice intact.
For the record — do NOT send me letters asking for advice if you do not want them published. If you just want to write to me, fine. If you pen a “Dear Tracy/CL” letter — assume it WILL be published (if I choose it, I get many of them).
I’m sorry you bred with a monster. I really am — he is a complete and utter waste of carbon life. That’s quite a litany of woe — his neglect, his cheating absences during your pregnancies, his complete disregard for you and your child. No wonder you want to punch him in the face. I’m right there with you. (Hold him, we’ll take turns.)
But you must, must, MUST not internalize his parting mindfuck that the problem isn’t being a parent, the problem is being a parent with YOU. That you are the one that drove him to his abusiveness. That he wouldn’t have to hurt you if you didn’t make him. That’s what all these assholes say. They all blameshift and fail to take responsibility for their abuse. In his fevered imagination, he couldn’t possibly be the problem. He didn’t walk out on his wife and child for his affair partner — no, all of this is your fault. Gosh, if you just weren’t so horrible to parent with. You’re the bad guy.
Yeah, you, the one there raising his kid all on your own. Oh, and hey, you missed a spot.
You have my deepest condolences. I’ve lived this myself and I’m sure many chumps here can relate. You do all the responsible, heavy parenting and then they want to swoop in and play at it, and tell you how much you suck. I’ve had my custody challenged several times by my son’s mentally ill father (pro se) and I know exactly how maddening it is to raise a kid on your own and be told by some dead beat You’re Doing It All Wrong, while they buy the occasional taco and movie ticket. (Standing ovation! Throw confetti!)
So why does this guy, who demonstrably doesn’t give a shit about his child, want to suddenly play interested daddy? Let’s examine the possibilities.
1. He’s changed. He’s all better now. The reason is that he’s away from you. And you really did suck. This is the reason you fear. But let’s take this apart, shall we? First off, he hasn’t changed. He’s not sorry. It’s been 10 months. Is he in deep therapy? Has he been 10 months of contrite? Has he spent 10 months as a kind, attentive, parent? No. He’s shown interest in his kid for an entire WEEK. Not a very long track record, and not based on any foundation of character. Next, do you suck? You didn’t drive him to cheat and abandon you. You raise a child alone under trying circumstances. You’re there with the kid. He walked out on the kid. So, I’m going to hand the Suck Award to him.
2. He’s a nimrod and he can handle small parenting tasks like a three hour playdate, and not much else. Sounds like your child is not an infant any more and is at the cute, cuddly photo opportunity age. The zoo is not hard. Getting into a good preschool, making all your doctor’s appointments, toilet training, and tending to the ever changing food preferences of a small child? THAT’s hard. The zoo, not so much. So let’s put this in perspective — if he’s stepping up to the plate, it’s a very small plate. And it’s about as high as he can reach… which is to say, not very high. He’s a parenting midget.
3. He’s salting the mines for the girlfriend. I’m putting my money here. If this is the affair partner, but especially if it’s a new girlfriend, he needs to make a pretense of What A Good Father he is. So it’s time for the horse and pony show. If he can pull off the loving daddy act, he’ll lure in his next chump. See? I’m not so bad. That mean, mean mommy — she’s the crazy parent. Not me! I’m all love and marshmellows and trips to the monkey house.
4. He’s an NPD and he wants something. If he’s a narcissistic personality disorder, they’re only nice when they want something from you. There’s an angle here you’re missing. Something in it for them (see salting the mines for the next sucker, above). Maybe taxes are due. Maybe he’s behind on child support. Maybe he wants to change the schedule. Maybe he wants to mindfuck you about something else. Maybe if you lock enough narcissists in a room with typewriters in an infinite amount of time, they will type a Thank You note eventually. So yes, it could be chance, but more likely — you could be of use to him. He’ll try charm first, before he resorts to bullying, rage, and self pity next.
5. He’s an NPD and your kid is just reaching the Age of Kibbles. Infants don’t make good kibbles. They cry a lot and puke in your hair. They’re very needy. Narcissist hate needy. All the oxygen in the room is THEIRS, so what’s this pink little monster doing here breathing THEIR air? Unless it’s a photo opportunity or a ribbon cutting ceremony or something, NPDs do not enjoy being around babies.
And, let’s face it, the early days of parenthood are HARD. I think they’re especially hard for men. Their wives are all busy with pregnancies and then a newborn and don’t have the time and attention they used to have for them. Normal guys tough this stage out, but narcissists? They cannot bear it. I think this is why a lot of them cheat on pregnant women or young mothers. They can’t step up to the adult world of adult responsiblities. It’s not fun, fun, fun all the time. There’s not enough attention for them. They sulk. They withdraw. They cheat.
But your child is now at an age where they get happy, an age at which they just adore mommy and daddy. Especially when mommy or daddy have treats for them. They’re cuddly and imaginative and lots of fun. The kibbles are awesome. In fact just typing this makes me want to adopt some Chinese orphans (but I’ve been forbidden by my husband, because they turn into surly teenagers eventually… and we’re at the homestretch of having civilized three teenage boys… if civilization means getting them to throw their pizza boxes out…) Anyway, my point is — little kids are great. NPDs are reportedly quite the “devoted” parents until the kids cease to give kibbles and go through their own little narcissist stage of adolescence. Then the NPD drops them. Bad kibbles… all this self actualization and independence and autonomy.
Read up on co-parenting with a narcissist. That book I recommend in the box, Why Is It Always About You? has a good section on it. I’m afraid that’s what you’re in for. A guy who is going to confuse your child and be very inconsistent in his attentions. That’s going to hurt. But don’t fear — you’re doing the right thing getting out young, with your whole life ahead of you. Lots of time to build a new, wonderful life for yourself and model good things. As I say a lot — it just takes one sane parent. And you’re it.
He’ll nose dive. It’s what these idiots do. Meanwhile, you just rock on, obey the visitation schedule, and try your best to ignore whatever flavor of parent he is being this week. You’re the real parent here. I know it. Your kid knows it. We chumps know it. Now it’s time for you to know it. Forget him and what he thinks of you — you’re doing the hard work of raising your child. And that speaks for itself. (((Big hugs)))