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How to Co-Parent with a Narcissist

narcissistegokibblesYesterday there was a call for a post on how to co-parent with a narcissist. So, here’s your article. If I were feeling flippant (as I often am), I could answer this in two sentences:

You cannot co-anything with a narcissist. You are only permitted to orbit.

Seriously, this whole notion of reciprocity and consideration, the idea of being an equal partner is anathema to narcissists. There is the narcissist and then there is supply. That’s you, the little people, the creators of ego kibbles. Since your divorce you’ve proven yourself to be inferior kibbles, so why would the Great One trifle with you? Can you be of any use to them? No? Quit that buzzing sound. Go away.

But full of parenting classes and divorce therapy, chumps will tilt at that consensus windmill. Surely we can agree that you will pick up Taylor at 3 p.m. for the sports banquet, right? RIGHT? It’s your day. Says so in the order. Taylor is so looking forward to it. This will happen right? RIGHT?

And then it doesn’t. Or it happens with that half-assed narcissist flair. What’s the problem showing up at 4 p.m., drunk, and leaving early? Why are you being such a dick about this?

Their imperious tone will infuriate you. Their willful obliviousness to obligations will make you want to smother them with a pillow. A leaden, spiked pillow laced with anthrax. Watch as they assume you’ll cover for them when they fail to show, fail to pay, fail to answer…

How do you co-parent with THAT?

You don’t.

Some primers on parallel parenting from yours truly. I’ve been dealing with the crazy for over a decade. (I should set a doomsday clock for when my kid turns 18.)

1. Give up the idea of parenting consensus. Parallel parent instead. Your house, your rules. Their house, their chaos. You don’t control it. Your only obligation is to do what the court tells you and hand your kid over at the appointed time, like a hostage drop off.

Crappy parenting isn’t a crime. Realize it has to rise to the level of immediate harm to the child for the courts to be interested. Too many video games and not enough fresh vegetables doesn’t cut it. Physical abuse? Sexual abuse? Neglect? Call Child Protective Services. Everything else, talk to a therapist. Children get introduced to affair partners all the time. It’s the rare judge who gives a shit. Remember, they see hideous cases of abuse in their court every day. Trixie wants to bake cupcakes with your daughter and buy her her first training bra doesn’t count as abuse. It’s a shit sandwich for you. Eat it and try to ignore what goes on over there.

2. If they fail to abide by the order, don’t dance. If your ex fucks up, don’t accommodate them. Let me be clear here — I’m not saying don’t switch Saturdays with them because they have an out of town wedding. (Reasonable request, reasonable accommodation.) I’m saying if they fuck up something like visitation — do NOT chase them. “Thursday’s out? How about Sunday? Could we do Sunday?” or “You’re supposed to give me the summer schedule by March. It’s May. Um, when will I get it?” They don’t get it to you? It doesn’t happen. You’re not obligated (unless your order says so) to dance for them. If they can’t communicate about when they’ll get their kids, DOCUMENT THIS, and then make other plans.

Don’t play the narcissist game of I’m So Powerful You Can Wait. If they break a court order, it’s not your job to make that shit right and cover for them. Get on without their input. They’ll probably swoop in 40 days too late and demand accommodation. Tell them to fuck off.

3. They don’t care what you think or what’s best for your kids. They only care how they are perceived. You can use this to your advantage. Whether that is how they are perceived by the court (cc-ing your correspondence to your lawyer), how they are perceived by their community or other people they deem important, let them know you have those peoples’ ears.

Some people manage to suck up to narcissists and play this game very well. You’re supposed to flatter them, praise them, tell them how handsome/beautiful they’d look playing the role of Responsible Parent. Everyone is just so excited about them and their accomplished offspring. Do our child a solid and fulfill this small obligation. We’ll throw confetti! Name a constellation after you! Send you home with a tote bag! Won’t that be awesome?

I’m awful at this. Let me know if you have any success with toadying. I find it better to remind narcs that People More Fabulous Are Watching. Or People They Fear Who Can Really Fuck With Them Might Not Look Kindly On This.

4. DOCUMENT. Always cover your butt with email. Never make verbal agreements with fuckwits.

5. Never pull your punches on support. Always dock child support through the state. Because then the state gets to be the heavy and enforces consequences when they don’t pay. Never take an IOU from a narcissist. You think they’ll do right by their kid? That’s a very iffy proposition. What’s in it for them? No, make the state be Vinny who will kneecap them if they don’t pay up. (Okay, not really kneecap them, but put a lien on their house and take away their passport.)

6. Don’t let them steal your joy. I won’t lie to you, trying to co-parent with a disordered person SUCKS. It sucks for years and years. There are going to be days when it grinds you down to a nub. But get up again. You’re the sane parent and you have a job to do. Raise those kids. These assholes will try and suck ALL the joy out of it — don’t let them. Hold your babies close and know that you’re the parent who cares, who shows up, who pays the orthodontist bill. You know and the kids know it. And the narcissist can go race sail boats or buy a new crossbow or a new set of boobs or whatever it is these idiots value. You WIN. You win the  kids. They get YOUR values, your sanity, and your stability.

It takes a long time to achieve meh about breeding with a fucktard, but it can be done. Stay the course, chumps. You’re mighty!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • If it wasn’t so painful to watch it would almost be funny. Take for example my STBX on the phone with my S17, trying to order him to go out for ice cream with her. Or asking both S17 and S13, “Hey, let’s go visit my co-worker” [aka: AP]. Yeah, good way to rebuild a relationship with your kids. Oh, that’s right, It’s my fault because I told them. Silly me.

    • What so many of these idiots don’t get is this: IF the kids wanted to spend time with the cheater (and make no mistake, the kids are cheated just as much, if not more than their sane parent), then they sure as hell don’t want to share their half-wit walk-away parent with the home wrecker.

      Do that on your own time, dumbass. Can’t spend a precious few hours with just your kid(s)? Jeez.

      That WOULD be painful to watch.

      “You WILL keep me company, and you WILL act like you LIKE IT!”

      • I should add that STBX is living with OM… and we’re no where near divorced yet.

        • I feel your pain ChumpDad. Not yet divorced either. Far as I know, my sons just know him as “mommy’s friend”. Also as far as I know, he doesn’t stay there when my boys are there (its in the order). They both seem like narcs though. Wonder how that works?

        • Hey, ChumpDad – I feel your pain, brother. My STBX, who abandonded me & D14 for 9 months before I finally filed, just had mediation Friday.

          During the session as we were going back-and-forth about custody, I used what I learned from here and said, “Ok, in talking about what’s ‘best’ for my daughter, let’s do a little mental gymnastics, shall we? Ahem: ‘My dad, who is still technically married to my mom, abandonded me and has been playing house with a married co-worker and her two small kids for the past 7 months. But it’s okay. She got a quickie divorce in March. Wait. DAD’S STILL MARRIED TO MY MOM. Pin-drop silence. She got zero overnights. I only wish that could happen for each of you’re sweet kiddos. They have enough to deal with when a “parent” craps out on their family and other loyal parent. F-tards.

        • My STBX has been living with the tramp for months now – walked out of our house and into hers. We are still married. Yes, I have had to try to answer our daughter when she asked me how Daddy got a girlfriend so fast. Of course, Daddy and the tramp refer to Mommy as his, “ex-wife,” even though there is no “ex” about it at this point so daughter is very confused. She also doesn’t want anything to do with Daddy’s girlfriend but that is, to Daddy, irrelevant. He actually told me that she is happy for him and ‘over’ the divorce. The one that hasn’t happened yet. It’s been less than a year since we told her we were divorcing and only 4 months since we physically separated but hey, she’s over it so stop being such a bitch and just let him be happy.

          • I totally got that too. my XH moved in with some MOW hood rat right away, and when i asked him to please not bring his girlfriend to the first visitation that he had with the kids. after all they havent seen him in 3 months and the divorce is not final yet (yes, i was still secretly hoping for some reconciliation like a dumbass but also i really did not think it would be a good idea for my boys to see daddy with some other woman besides mommy yet) he did not argue which SHOULD have been my first clue. he actually told me that they would not know she was his girlfriend. but then again he was always telling the kids what your mother doesnt know wont hurt her. but oh yes, the MOW was pissed, more pissed then he was. and between the 2 of them they came up with a plan behind my back where of course girlfriend was there too. and of course the little boys KNEW in a heartbeat who she was.

            i also got the “get over it” and the kids (and me) “need to accept that they are couple now” and the “he is happy now” shitline. neither one of them consider what would be in the childrens best interests. of course what can you expect from a woman who left her own children and a man who is stupid enough to believe every word she says.

        • Hang in there, ChumpDad. It’s a long, painful road, but you will come out on top in the long run, just by virtue of being a good, solid human being. No doubt your kids will see it, too.

        • Same with me, ChumpDad — STBX’s girlfriend came for dinner within a couple weeks of separation and virtually never left. She moved in 3 months later. Unfortunately, I travel every other week, so S13 has to deal with that chaos regularly. He gets zero time with his dad–the dad who flat out told our son that “I deserve to be happy, too.” Oh, and girlfriend is still married, too! It really would be funny if it wasn’t such a train wreck for the kids.

      • It amazed me at first how my ex would have the OW with him every. single. time. he got together with our boys. He only saw them about 1x a week – and sometimes for only a quick dinner at a fast food place – and she was always with him. He was obviously trying to cram her down their throats. Why? He had 6 days a week – 24/7 to spend with her and he couldn’t carve out a few hours alone to spend with his kids?? My oldest stopped going to see him (he was 16 at the time and driving…too old to force visitation). My youngest put his foot down finally and said “dad, I want to visit with just you…not her.” Ex, to his credit, did back off on having her there every second, but she is still along on the majority of their time together. I had to finally just let it go. She was, according to younger son, nice and polite to them so what could I really say? They have slowly gotten used to her being around (and her teen daughter – who my sons say typically seems miserable and awkward having to “play family” with the teen sons of her mother’s boyfriend – poor kid). Do these disordered people EVER think of their kids first? (I already know the answer…)

        • X moved into his love shack with the bimbo, her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend and my then 17-year old son. My son had no idea that Bim & company was moving in. When he asked his father, dear old dad responded, “That’s NOT going to be a problem, right?!” He scared him to death with how fast he turned on his son. We didn’t get divorced until 6 months later. But that didn’t stop the happy couple from dragging my visiting 11-year old to Mass every Sunday.

          I wonder when it will ever cease to suck for my kids.

        • I wonder sometimes if these “dads” bring the OP Into the kids lives out of fear… Fear of having to be responsible for the kids… Alone. Let’s face it … They totally suck at parenting to begin with. They can’t parent alone… We have always done it for them.They are scared shitless of being alone with the kids. Why not bring schmoopy as a babysitter and chief entertainer. Makes it easier on them. And this is all about them.

          • Amen to that, Lola. I think they are some of the neediest beings on the planet whether it’s because they “need” ego kibbles from someone to feel a sense of self-worth or because they are so used to leaning on someone for everything (laundry, bill paying, child rearing, etc.). My ex certainly fits both of those descriptions.

          • I think there is some truth to this, Lola, but it isn’t just Dads who behave this way. My ex is unable to spend time alone with our daughter unless they’re doing something that my ex finds stimulating. Otherwise our daughter is just left to her own devices, or left with friends/relatives.

          • That’s exactly what i believe. He cant bring in the girls so he brings in Mommy, sis ansd brothers with kids as he cant do it alone. They are not capable!

        • I actually believe it is more of the OW who forces themselves on our kids. after all, they forced themselves on our husbands, and convinced the husband that it better for everyone if they just leave their wives, childrens and family to be with them. i STILL have NO CLUE what kind of magic fairy dust (meth maybe) or in what world THAT even makes sense but off our husbands go into the mystical land of cheaterville with their heads so far up their asses they cant see (or dont care) how they are hurting the people who really love them. All they can hear is wonderful MOW who encourages his storytelling and validates that he is a victim for his mean old wife who has stood by him for 14 years.

          but i know at least in my case, the MOW is severely insecure. she saw what we had and she wanted it and used her succubus powers to convince my XH it was better on the other side. and stuck her claws into him. she was and probably still is worried that i could “win” him back. after all, mine was not the first marriage she destroyed by “helping” the miserable and so unhappy husband realize he deserves better then what his wife was giving him at home. the 3 other cases the husband went back to his wife. so she refused to let me talk to him (and he let her); she made sure he was never alone with me (and he let her); she made sure she was always around him and wouldnt even let him talk or play with his kids for fear he might say something (and he let her); she told my kids a bunch of lies to make her and my XH look good (and he let her); she bad mouthed me every chance she could get, when i really dont know why, i never did anything to her nor did i fight for my Husband when she took him, even to my own kids (and he let her) just trying to make herself look better then i was.

          problem is she can never be me, she might have “won” my husband but she will never have what i have. if she THINKS he was the one who bought all this stuff, she is going to find out the hardway.

          anyhow, sometimes it is the insecure other woman who is the person who is forcing themselves on our children and our weak, spineless XH who cant or wont stand up for their kids, and forget having any loyalty or respect for the XW (me). and then they wonder why i dont want my kids around her.

          *shrugs* not even trying to figure out their crazy

      • My ex thinks that he’s a “good guy” because he waited a whole eight months after I moved out with the kids to introduce the OW and her two kids to them (and we were still legally married at that point and would be for another four months beyond that). Once he got through that “appropriate” waiting period, then all bets were off. She showed up with her kids every weekend for outings that attempted to buy my kids’ love and respect, and when they had only known her (every other weekend at that) for a month, ex-cheater started talking marriage. A month after that, they were engaged, and my kids ended up knowing her for a total of five whole months before they tied the knot (which he forced my kids to dress up and witness, of course). Talk about forcing the issue!

        Now, my ex is struggling in his relationship with the kids, and he wants to point the finger at me; I must be poisoning the well, of course. I want to tell him (which I don’t), “You stupid asshat! You haven’t bothered to build a relationship with your kids; you’ve been spending the past year catering to the Owife and her children, and as a consequence, the kids hate visiting your house because they barely know you!” I guess that this is what happens when you royally screw up and have to try to save face– I must force my AP on the children and make them like her; then, I can prove that what I did really wasn’t all that wrong! If they’re unhappy, it must be because my ex-wife is a meanie, not because my kids hate what I’ve done and who I brought into their lives!

        I might have retained the tiniest snippet of respect for my ex if he had owned up to his shitty behavior, dumped the OW, and tried to focus on being a good father to our kids. However, his actions have made it clear that his genitals and his ego are far more important than his three kids, and I will have to spend the next decade helping my children deal with that as they will be forced to visit him until they are old enough to tell him to eff off. Cheaters suck, but cheaters who rub their cheating lifestyles in their children’s faces especially suck.

        • OMG – I so needed to read this post and see all of these comments, as old as they are. I have all but given up but do not know how to let go and let be that which is ultimately out of my control: telling XH that his actions and words are just not what should be heard/seen by our children. I know it will instantly start a narcissistic battle and I just don’t have the energy or want to feel that depressed any more – it’s taken over 2 years to even start feeling slightly normal again. How do you detach from the sinking guilt as you watch your 15 1/2 year old son now fight this battle with his father – all while I am still supposed to support my XH and not “Alienate” – how do I not feel like I’m letting my son down, or not supporting him? This sucks. Sucks. Sucks.

      • Yep… The effort my ex makes for the kids is really laughable, maybe once every 4 to 5 months of so for a few hours and even then its to babysit the howorkers kids or do somethings that the OW wants to do… My son doesn’t bother even seeing him now, hasn’t for the last year and my daughter keeps putting it off. She saw him about 2 months ago now for a couple of hours.

        • I learnt the hard way that you CANNOT co-parent with these freaks. The goal posts always change. I just totally stepped back (I am probably lucky that my kids were a little older). I let them make the arrangements, sort out if they want to see their dad. If they don’t I support their decision. The only time I ever say no is if I have plans made. He usually gives me all of about an hours notice if I am lucky. Tells the kids that he hasn’t got anything better to do so they should catch up.

      • “Half-wit walk-away parent…” LOL! Miss Sunshine, so true! Just saying your name out loud is soothing for me tonight :). Cause we should never allow our exes so much head space. Working on it still….
        “If it wasn’t so painful to watch it would almost be funny.” ChumpDad this is true as well. Even five years out I regret the choice I made. My children deserved a better father. One who could put others needs and wants first. Was not ever going to happen. Hang in there, hearts don’t stay broken forever.

    • Ok this is 5yrs old….but oh so relevant!!
      Breeding w a fucktard!! Hilarious-if it wasnt so sad. I have been 6 ways from Sunday w her. She is the epitome of a total asshole. My kids do value my values, upbringkng parenting-see im the notmal one w 100% custody of our oldestand 50% of our 4yr old. He young but he aint dumb and yes kids can tell who the responsible mom or dad is. Ti anyone on the journey w an asshole heres proof- dont give in, dont blink, dont trust them. They are looking for a chinkbin the armour to exploit you- dont play the game. If upset wait till your outta sight then curse em out.
      Dont give these souless animals anything that will calm their tortured existence. Play cool and you win!!!

  • My ex remains as manipulative as ever since we split, but she deserves some credit for mostly sticking to our arrangements.

    Early on, after I’d left the home, she tried to continue with her indentured servant treatment of me on the basis that we were “still married”. Told her to fuck off (in a nice-ish manner). She raged but it let her know that I was not going to be messed with like that anymore.

    Her level of control has slipped dramatically over recent weeks as my partner and I are now living together. This means that my daughter now spends 50% of her time with me, my partner and her kids. Ex is not pleased about this, obviously, and has reverted to cold bitch mode when dealing with me. Normally this would send me into make-nice mode, but I guess I just don’t care about her feelings anymore. Oh well.

    • …also just wanted to add something interesting I’ve noticed about my ex’s behaviour: the less in-control of a situation she feels, the more she dresses like an over-sexed children’s entertainer.

  • “I’m awful at this. Let me know if you have any success with toadying. I find it better to remind narcs that People More Fabulous Are Watching. Or People They Fear Who Can Really Fuck With Them Might Not Look Kindly On This.”

    Is it better to be “loved” or feared? I see CL takes the Machiavelli approach. Fear. Fear. Fear. That’s the way to deal with crazies.

    I supposed that is why the Hebrew Scriptures says that fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. You need to know your place. Humility is not the table. Try fear.

    • Absolutely. I got my first apology today. Monday I told my STBX that the mediation is done and to get a lawyer. I’ll sell my car to pay for it but it will be worth it. Now, she backed down of billing me for the mediator and some stuff she bought the kids (she’s not yet paying child support) I take this apology with a grain of salt. Nothing is sincere with her. She’s only sorry for herself.

      • In this case it sounds like `apology’ in her mind means, “Now you’ll change your mind about the lawyer, right? ‘Cuz I said I’m sorry?” Sounds like this is not working out the way she saw it coming; oops.

        I was in that position once, where I was trying to get him to help with kids’ medical insurance costs (covered through my work). Did what must have been an entertaining dance, crying at the end of the hour-long conversation. Finally I said, “Okay then, if that’s the way you want it,” and started to walk. He must have figured out that it was time to lawyer up, as at that point he said, “Wait, come back. What is it that you’re asking for?” In retrospect, I realize that it would have been wiser to just leave and let the lawyers do the talking.

        • You nailed it, Enough. They’re only sorry or play nice in order to get you to back off. I’ve seen it time and again in my case.

          ChumpDad, prepare for rage and self-pity when you stick to your guns. It’s a predictable pattern.

    • Oh god yes – putting the fear of death (or in this case, consequences) can work wonders a lot of the time, even with the self-absorbed types. 😀

    • “Try fear.”

      Oh. Yes.

      I had the best results when I used fear. One time during the divorce, STBX came to my house to demand the children’s presence to clean up his garage. I’d already informed him that he had to give 24-hours notice since he wasn’t willing to make a visitation schedule. When he showed up and opened the door to get them, I called the cops. Scared him BADLY.

      Another time that worked well was when I used fear of looking bad. XH decided that our oldest (adult) daughter was trash talking him. He had his lawyer send a letter that said he was going to add her as a party to the proceedings and then file contempt charges against her. Yes, it was totally crazy. I put something on Facebook about my daughter needing an attorney because her father is threatening to sue her. I also said that I was concerned about him–he might be mentally ill. Of course it got back to him. Hehe he.

      • XH decided that our oldest (adult) daughter was trash talking him. He had his lawyer send a letter that said he was going to add her as a party to the proceedings and then file contempt charges against her.

        Seriously? I’d be willing to pay an attorney just for the privilege of going to court and seeing the look on a judge’s face and studying his attorney for signs of strain in representing him as a client 😉

  • I supposed that is why the Hebrew Scriptures says that fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. You need to know your place. Humility is not the table. Try fear.


    • Yep, in spite of what my Jesus Cheater ex says, he doesn’t really *fear* God. If we lived in a world of instant karma, maybe he would. But when was the last time anyone was struck dead by a bolt of lightening for any of the things they do/say?

      But fear of other men (sometimes women, but usually he blows them off) in positions of power, that has worked wonders. Once it was explained to him by his own lawyer what a contempt of court charge meant to a man with a professional license, he became downright reasonable, although I could see that it chaffed him.

      I used to be somewhat libertarian in my view of the State and it’s imposition into marriage, but had to change my mind. There’s a whole lot of people out there who just will not do the right thing by anybody, even their own flesh and blood, unless forced to.

      • Yeah… I used to be Libertarian about a lot of things and then I realized how crappy some people can be. These days my ideal system looks more like Denmark. Go figure. :-/

  • Preach it, CL!!

    I think one of the gnarliest things for me was finally understanding that Mr Fab just plain doesn’t care about our brilliant, funny, kind, loving, intelligent and (now) bitter daughter. Nobody wants to take that as fact, but you have to.

    I never had ‘reasonable request/reasonable accomodation’. We’re talking about the guy who, after I had asked for DD to be dropped off TWO hours early to go to a party. He phones the parents of a seven year old who had given us a hand drawn invite to her 7th birthday to say it was ‘His’ day so he would bring DD. They told him to get bent, for which I am grateful, and seven year old, DD and I had a blast. Some people get it. Others…..not so much.

    We were talking about Switzerlanders in another thread-I am so grateful to those parents, who never pulled the “Oh, well, yeah, he treated you like shit, but he surely couldn’t mistreat DD.” which many, many others did. I wish people would wake up anout this. People who lead secret, double lives do not give a shit about their kids. Period. I never believed in evil until I realized the consequences of his cheating. DD knew, and in order to cope, she resorted to self harm. Which slowedwhen she finally told her Dad she didn’t want to see him on his terms, with backup not from me, but friends, godparents and her therapist. And stopped, once we left the country. Now I have sole custody-savings gone on therapy, unemployed…..but that will change, and she still weeps about how unfair it is.

    DD misses her Dad, but she has said she misses the ‘before’ Dad, not the fortysomething, potbellied, ponytailed hasbeen who thinks he is a playah, shacked up with a horse-faced, unemployable alcoholic welfare careerist. It has taken time (DD is now 15) and I still see her longing for the days when Dad was Dad, Mom was Mom and all was right in heaven. I can’t look at early pictures of her without tearing up…..

    This is something I hope helps fellow Chumps, and I say this as a daughter of a recently dead narc cheater, too, two years out from my own DDay. You do NOT owe it to anyone, not even your kids, to spackle. If you do, you will do it for life, and damn your kids to it. I was able to say goodbye to my Dad in peace, because I had already detached, and had a much better life for getting the hell away from him aged 16. My sister, who still orbited him, is now a wreck. Teenagers have enough cognitive dissonance going on without trying to maintain their illusions about people who live to exploit the benefit of the doubt. So I have been pretty straight with her about her Dad, and mine, and what the consequences of inauthenticity are.

    But for two years, it was back and forth, or as DD put it, “I get to be the kid in a suitcase”, because 14 is the age of choice. It really matters to be the safe space, the sane one. What you may find though, is that your kids take out their anger on you when they get back-which, if you have PTSD like I had, is really awful. This is where your friends can really help-we might have been falling to bits, but we had some great, regular dinner dates with friends-love, macaroni and cheese really count! DD has lost a hell of a lot because her Dad coildn’t keep it in his pants, but she HAS gained more self-respect than i ever had at her age.

    all the best to Chump Nation (and please cross fingers/send good vibes/pray-waiting to hear about two jobs)


    • Meh, You sound incredibly sane. Your daughter is where she’s at today because you are mighty. I wish I too had never had to share my children with a Narc because my kids are still hurting…. He is awful, they know he’s never going to be well again, and he still mindfucks us all. We live hundreds of miles away and he’s still…dickhead Disney Dad. I want to believe my kids are learning to set up healthy boundaries. My ex is a user and does things only because they reflect well on him. Just like my ex in laws and the rest of his disordered family. My kids this year wish for a Christmas spent in New York, thousands and thousands of miles away, because they don’t want to see their father (or his crappy family) during the holidays. (Too much of our lives were wasted spent living his lie.) We are saving every penny….
      Sending good thoughts your way re job prospects. And good wishes to you both and better days ahead.

      • Drew: Ugh! I hate dickhead Disney Dad!!! My poor kiddos – he doesn’t even do the Disney Dad think right. What do you think of when you think of a trip to San Diego? San Diego Zoo? Sea World? Or, do you think of little girls having to sleep in the same bed with their 38 year-old uncle who is along for the trip? How about having to sit at the hotel with a Grandma who makes fun of you and yells at you all the time, while your dad and his brother go out to dinner without you to troll the bars on the beach for new fish (snatch – whatever)? If he could actually even step up and be a real Disney Dad, it would be one thing, but what they are getting is truly dickhead Disney Dad. 🙁
        I hope you and the littles do get to NY for Christmas. Please go ice skating in R plaza, visit FAO S, take pictures of the giant tree, and be the Mighty Mom that you are!!

    • Definitely praying for you, Mehphista!!! Hope you get what you need/deserve after all the yuck!

  • Thanks again for the advice, CL.

    Ok, so what do you do if your 10 year old son comes home from a weekend with dad upset because dad apparently yelled at him for something that wasn’t his fault while calling my mother “stupid”? (My son was particularly upset about this as he is very close to my mom.) Do I let it be or call ex out on it (by email)? How do I tell my son to handle such situations?

    Btw, I thought that, with limited times with the kids, my ex could control his anger, but apparently he can’t. And he always said before that he was careful not to expose the kids to his “angry outbursts.”

    • Ouch, Young, that really sucks. Your son knows your Mom isn’t stupid. Your ex chose to act that way, so it is on him. I wouldn’t engage unless your son particularly asks-my DD did a few times, and watched me fail. Narcissists rage, it is one of their weapons. Focus on your son, make sure he is okay. And then go out into the garden and kick the shit out of a bag of compost, or chop wood. It is infuriating.


      • “Narcissists rage, it is one of their weapons”. You are 100% correct Mehphista, that rage is often completely manufactured and can be turned on and off just like the tears. I found one of my ex’s “journals”, in it he wrote that he uses anger to feel in control. That was written when he was in rehab for a short period and apparently trying to actually do therapy…it didn’t last, by the time he walked out of there he had decided there was nothing wrong with him.

    • Tell your son his father’s comment was out of line and rude and that your are sorry he has to hear that from his father. Then don’t mention it again. That is the truth and nothing more needs to be said. Believe me, your son gets it.

      I am very sorry you have to deal with this, but always take the higher road.

  • CL. This was painful to read. That was my life with my f ‘upd HB#2 overt narc. I had two children with him. Everything you say is true. There is no co-parenting and he would use the kids if it meant him maintaining his superior status. The man had NO conscience.

    He called me a whore to my son. Told my son mothers can be replaced by a $5 an hour immigrant. This is when he was 9.

    When I told my son at 16 he could not drive and smoke pot, he went to live with his dad because it was OK over there. There was nothing I could do.

    His father told everyone I was nothing but a loser unable to handle my son.

    Good ol’ dad allowed him to stay out all night sometimes for three or more nights without checking on him or his friends. All I could do was watch from the sidelines and make contact with my son as much as I could.
    My son flunked out of high school and when he turned 18 his dad kicked him out.

    He came back home and got his GED. Went to the local community college and kept at it, went to university and graduated at 26. His dad still influences him about women (they are only good for a screw) and my son is a very angry man. Still. I am very proud of him considering who his dad is. My only fear is that he will become like his abuser.

    That’s what I get for fornicating with a fucktard and making excuses for him being an asshole.

    The good news is my son is starting to figure it out according to my other children. He isn’t talking to me right now.

    My daughter I had with him had no problem blowing him off because of his view of women. She is in contact with him now but prefers no contact.

    You are 100% right that: “this whole notion of reciprocity and consideration, the idea of being an equal partner is anathema to narcissists.”

    I had to chew the insides of my cheeks out keeping my mouth shut while his acid vile melted me in front of my kids when exchanging them for visits.

    Best is little contact as possible, tell them how great or thankful you are, grab the kids and split. Don’t force your children to see them. It is not worth it. Your life and your children’s life means nothing to the narc unless they benefit from it. Consider yourself a single parent and you will have an easier time of parenting.

    It does get easier when they are in their late teens to twenties. You really don’t have to deal the asshole after the kids turn 18.

    By staying strong and being the “safe” parent and not going off when you have every right to, they will come to you when they have life’s troubles.

    I am truly sorry for anyone who fornicated with these people, but there is hope. Put your ego aside, praise the narcs steaming piles of poop, and then get on with your life. One day they will no longer have a hold on you because your child will become an adult.

    Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I am free at last.

    • CJ: You nailed it! “By staying strong and being the “safe” parent and not going off when you have every right to, they will come to you when they have life’s troubles.” It’s so hard to do that sometimes, but you are right. They see the difference, even when you aren’t pointing it out to them. I have one that I show every time I ask him to do something or react to something that he does wrong in a loving manner that his dad and I are definitely not the same. He has always chased after his dad – trying to win his love, but is slowing to a fast walk, the more abuse he suffers at one house and unconditional love he enjoys at the other house.

      “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I am free at last.” Glad for you. I have 11 more years left on my prison sentence. 🙁

      • You WILL make it. One step at a time. My sonny boy chased after his “dad” too. You have to let them. Broke my heart. But, in the end they establish their own relationship with “dad” and we didn’t interfere. It really is the better way.

        Forge on mighty mother. May the Force be with you.

        • my boys (8 and 12) dont seem to be chasing after dad and dad has seemed to forgot the boys. the 12 yr old is over dad, hates dad, and never wants to see him again. the 8 year still will ask every blue moon but being as i have no phone number (except for the XH MOW cell i refuse to call her to get HIM to see his kids) and no address since they moved. i just tell the littlest one that i have no way to contact his dad. he feels bad but then he forgets it the next day, actually hasnt ask in about a month.

          • MrsVain,

            Big hugs for being a single mom. It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.

            My son is grown now and I felt the anger you feel towards the dad and the OW.

            What I don’t regret is allowing contact between father and son anyway it could happen, IF my son asked. It was important to him, even though it nearly killed me because of my own pain, to be in touch with the A-hole, MF’r, dickbreath, poophead.

            Every male I have spoken to has told me, “Boys need their dad.”

            So, if all you have is the OW cell phone. Call it for your beautiful loving boy and hand him the phone to ask the she-devil for his dad. After all, she also needs to know that “daddio” has other more important personal responsibilities then just her.

            Just saying….

  • Some of my daughter’s first words at 19 months old were “mummy a bitch” after my ex had her for a night.
    This is the man who swears he’s changed and wants me back. Daughter is 7 now and has just got back from skiing with him, and has bright red sunburn (which is blistering) all over her face, apart from where it’s white where her goggles were.
    Am i counting the days till I need never see or hear from him again? Yup.

    • This qualifies as abuse. Your ex should have taken the proper precautions and applied sunscreen. Skin should not be blistering. Take her to her pediatrician ASAP.

    • Get the paed to call your ex and threaten him with whatever legal consequences there are for harming a minor. That is dreadful and may easily lead to skin cancer later.

    • This is horrible, but I seriously doubt the authorities are going to see sunburn as abuse. Document it, of course, to show he’s irresponsible, but think about the kind of abuse authorities see every day that doesn’t get the attention it should. Think about over burdened foster care, and social worker loads — and then weigh that against sun burn.

      • CPS would see this as abuse and it does need to be documented. I am a teacher and once had a child with a severe (read that blistering) sunburn. Administration notified authorities. Anybody who works with children would report this to authorities as it is against the law not to. The pediatrician as a mandated reporter will. While it may not be a “worst case” it is not our position to judge. That is for the experts. Children are abused over time and cumulative records are needed when a parent consistently fails to provide a safe environment.

        • I agree to get the paper trail started or keep it going no matter how big or small the issue. I understand – mine come back with sunburns almost every time they are with my x. Hot, sunny climate with a pool in almost every backyard, plus a summer pass to a public pool (where I think they keep contracting ringworm from).

        • Agreed, a sunburn with blisters is a valid CPS referral. Document for yourself as well.

  • Agree with “do not make a verbal agreement” It is costing me alot of money because I made a verbal agreement with my ex the worst narcissist of all time..Why would I think his word meant anything….anything you need done, get it in writing and get it done by a lawyer!!!!! their word means nothing…..

  • I no longer thank my ex for anything. He should be responsible and support his kids. Nobody thanks me for paying the bills, sending our kids to college, and being the sane (okay, slightly insane) parent. Nobody needed to tell me to Man/Woman Up and be present for my kids (all the way through) because I did the work. I don’t need my photo on social media/Facebook to communicate my worth as a parent to miscellaneous fuck others. (My ex would like to think his children owe him for giving them what all decent parents should. Uh…No.). Narcs, Cheaters, and Disordered exes will never get parenting right. Hell, they will never get human right. Free at last, I am looking forward to it.

  • I don’t share any children with my narc. He has two beautiful daughters but they are far away in another country. The saddest thing I see when I talk to them on FaceTime is that the older one is already a narc herself. She bosses her sister around and yet she is also filled with fear. In short, she’s a miniature version of her father. It’s hard to watch. The older daughter will be okay. She’s always been comfortable in her own skin. But the older one, at just 16 already goes through life as though EVERYBODY owes her. Narcissism, I guess, can be hereditary. It’s sad to watch.

    • Not hereditary. Learned. Learned from her dad the narc. And he learned it from a narc in his life and so it goes…

      The good news is someone like you was in her life, hopefully long enough, for her to know there are decent people. You will be amazed at what your presence meant to those two girls.

      • CalamityJane, thanks. I’m not so sure I was able to reach the older one, but the younger one, I may have saved her life. She had no interests and was ignored a lot. I got her into drawing and now she can’t stop and she surpassed me long ago. She was an outsider and awkward and I took her to Comic Cons where she found her people! It’s so nice to know I had a positive effect on her.

        • Moving Liquid, I promise although you may not see it now, your presence saved the older one, too. She will get it one day. If you can, continue to love her. She is void of this in her current life with the narc dad.

  • Are there levels of narcs? I am very nervous with this post because I just started co-parenting and though my cheater is a narc (but seems to be a lesser version of what I have read here) and has his angry outbursts, he does comply with all the schedules and payment and spends lots of real quality time with our kids (more than when we were married). He gets them for long weekends and has spent two months with them when I went away for work. We made a written agreement that we would not introduce any partners to the kids for a year after the divorce and when we did they would only be serious relationships. I know this is not legally binding but he has complied (though we are only a few months divorced). I am scared that what you are saying is the way they become after no more kibbles of any kind are given to him. I know his self-image as a good dad is very important to him, so I still send him kibbles (like “thank you”, “please”, “you are doing a good job”), purposely, for the sake of the kids well-being. Any advice on this?

    • Yes, his behavior may change over time. But you can’t predict how or why. So, I’d advise you to continue doing what works. Just be sure to document minor violations and problems so that if escalation occurs, you can act faster if you want to.

      I think there are different flavors of narcs, and I think they also react to kids differently when the kids are at different developmental points. As the children grow and may, unfortunately, hit the sullen teenage stage, the narc may grow rageful (how dare you defy me! ) or bored (what do you mean I’m not the most important person in your world), but there’s nothing you can do to prevent any of that!

      I think the best you can do is make sure to stick with written agreements. If you move to verbal ones because things are going well, and he seems trustworthy, you can be sandbagged later if things deteriorate. Just remember that he doesn’t get second chances . . . if you find yourself thinking that he’s starting to be a jerk about anything related to co-parenting, he almost certainly is; don’t get chumped again!

    • What I’ve read about narcissism is that these character traits and behaviors exist on a continuum from healthy self-regard to highly pathological in terms of how they relate to other people. Some of the people we read about here are obviously on the very unhealthy end of the spectrum; others may display many of the behaviors but are better able to function in some contexts. Many narcissists are highly successful at work, for example, because they can be both intelligent and ruthless. If your X is a narcissist who can make agreements and live up to them for the sake of the children and his reputation, that is wonderful. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Keep your eyes open and document anything that doesn’t go as it should. The cheater in my life lived up to the letter of the law regarding child support and (so he says) often went above and beyond giving extra money. His XW is apparently a narcissist also, so their divorce was highly contentious. But he showed up for his main visistation day, for school functions, and took his D on vacation when he could. There was a lot lacking in his parenting because there isn’t a lot of kibbles in disciplining a child, but he loves his daughter as much as he can love anyone and was absolutely committed to paying court-ordered support and living up to agreements. He deeply feared the court and being held in contempt. But he was far, far from a “walk away” parents or an overt abusers. Still a narcissist, still someone who can’t “love” like normal people do, but not a co-parent nightmare unless co-parenting with another narcissist.

    • Dear Susan,

      You have already received some good replies to your query, but here’s my ‘2 cents’……..

      My child was a married man when I finally left, so I do not have experience in parenting a child thru such a situation. (If you have not already, please check out William ‘Bill’ Eddy’s resources. He is included in Chump Lady’s recommended list, above right column.)

      However, I have over 34 yrs of experience dealing with a narcissist! (and getting it all wrong for most of those years!) IMHO, I would leave out the ‘doing a good job’ comment. Not up to you to keep giving kibbles!
      Common courtesy (please / thank-you) seem fine, however. Treating him with respect is totally different than having respect for him, as we all know it is impossible to respect these types!

      As for your other question, yes, narcissism is a ‘spectrum’ disorder. My STBXH is most definitely at the milder end of ‘crazy’ as yours sounds to be.

      Forge on, Susan….ForgeOn, all ya all………

      • I would have the hardest time giving X kudos for doing the minimum of what he should for our sons. It would come out completely sarcastic, as though I was praising a dog.

    • For someone to qualify as narcissist, they must be devoid of the capacity for love (as we regard it). A narcissist will be good to his kids ONLY when people he wants to impress are watching. Period. There is no benefit to them otherwise.

      If a man truly loves his kids, it shows, and he isn’t a narcissist (in the pathological sense).

      • More common is Borderline Personality Disorder – which can overlap with narcasistic traits.

      • My XH “says” he loves his kids. but he is one of those that is ALWAYS the victim. so his story right now is he loves his kids but his xw (me) wont let him see them. or he misses his boys so much but his xw (me) is keeping them from him.

        the thing is i am actually not doing anything. after having his crazy MOW call/text and tell me off whenever i did try to get him to visit his boys, i just finally quit. (in fact, he/she told me to stop calling unless it was about the kids, but that was why i was texting in the first place) From CL i found out it is not MY job to get him involved in his kids life or schedule visits.

        but i truely believe that my XH is ASHAMED and extremely GUILTY of his actions, decisions and behavior. he is a worm. a weasel, a mouse among men. so he knows what he did was wrong and he would rather crawl into a hole under a rock then face up to what he did and admit he was wrong. i believe that the reason he hates me so much is because i am the one person who knows the truth and doesnt believe all his poor me stories he keeps telling everyone. it hurt at first especially when he would allow his MOW to call me up and tell me off, of course she THINKS she is defending him. but he knows the truth and STILL let her tell me off.

        he would rather not see his kids AT ALL then have to face me again. which is really really sad but very very good for us.

    • Susan – I can relate. My STBX initially flaked out and barely made an effort to see his kids for the first 6 months after he moved out and when he did see them, he would almost always be late or cut his visits short (an example – he regularly showed up 30 minutes late to an hour-long sporting event – got the “credit” for being there but obviously wasn’t interested enough to show up on time). In the past year, he has gotten his act together and seems to put our kids first during the time that he has them. In fact, I find it to be one of the silver-linings in this whole situation – he actually spends quality time with them whereas before I pretty much did everything & while he might have been physically present, he was emotionally absent. Does he do things differently than I would do? Yes but generally we agree on things related to them so it does make co-parenting much easier. However, the challenge with this type of co-parent, in my view, is to not let your guard down and to not let him “in”. I’ve had so many instances in the past year where he manipulated a situation for his own good and it’s been a learning curve me for me to keep my boundaries with him and keep him at arms-length. I’m grateful for my daughters’ sakes that he seems to be making an effort but I always remind myself that this could change and that I cannot trust him. Our divorce is not yet finalized so will be interesting to see if that affects how he is b/c he’s Mr. Bare Minimum – as in he only does the bare minimum necessary to get the maximum amount of benefit (see sporting event ex. above).

  • What do I do?

    Little info first, I walked out with my four children; D13yrs, S9yrs, D4yrs and a 8month baby leaving my serial cheating husband 3 weeks ago. We moved over 2000km away. Last weekend he drove interstate to see the kids and also to attend a function for his family. Read on top these narcs only do things that reflect on them, so his visit was more motivated by attending his family function rather than see the kids.

    He had the children for ONE DAY. He got annoyed at the 2 eldest bickering, as kids do, and yelled at them he’s never driving up again and never wants to see them again.

    Kids were so hurt by this. Since then I have told my X he can only call the kids once a month, I’m protecting them from his mental and emotional abuse. He’s been calling consistently since but I cut the call off. Am I being unreasonable?

    • Unfortunately, you should probably get legal advice in regard to how much contact to allow him to have. I suspect a lawyer will tell you that if the kids do want to talk with him, you should probably let him so that he cannot accuse you of all kinds of junk in court. If the kids don’t want to talk to them, let them tell him that and hand the phone back to you. Document every call–just the time and date he calls. Document any stories the kids tell you. Just the facts. You can’t protect them from his behavior, but you can make sure you have the evidence to keep custody if he tries to take it at some point in the future.

      Of course your kids are hurting, and that hurts you as well. You can’t fix their relationship with their dad–either by enabling it or closing it off. All you can do is make it clear that you love them and are sorry they are struggling.

      If counseling is at all an option, it might be very helpful for your kids to have a safe, neutral party they can talk to. In addition to their own pain in regard to their dad, they are probably worried about each other and you–and having a space to work through those feelings might be a relief to them.

    • What Eilonwy said. Get legal advice. Just because they don’t want to spend time with the kids doesn’t mean that they don’t want visitation on paper. My ex took me back to court to extend his visitation hours when he wasn’t seeing the kids at all.

    • You need legal advice. Until there is a court order, your husband has as much right to see the kids as you do. You are the one who took them out of state. The fact that he is a serial cheater will lose a lot of force in the court system if you are denying these kids contact because he was annoyed and said something stupid and mean. All he has to say is, “I was frustrated, your honor. I drove 2000 miles to see the kids and she is alienating them from me…” I can think of no circumstances other than horrific abuse where a parent would only be able to speak with a child once a month. The fact that the kids live so far away will likely mean he will be able to get full summers and Christmas vacation every year once he gets around to filing. That, in turn, will impact child support.

      Kids are not pawns in you struggle with your H. At some point, he is going to get angry about what you are doing, get a lawyer, and then use what you are doing to paint you in a very negative light. I think your last question shows that you know what you are doing isn’t reasonable. It’s also not smart, in terms of positioning yourself for the long term. You have 18 more years of this ahead. Your kids will be angry at you if they come to understand that you prevented them from having contact with dad, even if he is a jerk. So see a lawyer and get custody and support ordered by the court. And see a counselor to help you manage your own anger at what happened to you–you were betrayed by your husband. That isn’t about the kids. That’s about your pain. Take good care of you.

    • What’s your court order say about visitation? Run this by a lawyer. If you have no order, you have no obligation to him IMO.

    • If your kids want to talk to their dad. Let them. Just ask them before you hand them the phone. You should not come between their relationship with the dad unless there is physical or verbal abuse. You can moderate the call. If you feel the child is becoming upset by the call take the phone and nicely tell the dad to call back later. I doubt he will.

      You can ask your child, “What do you think about what daddy said?” or ask them how they feel, let them vent, but DO NOT JUDGE OR DISPARAGE HIM or they will stop coming to you when they are hurt by his words or actions. Kids want to love their parents good or bad.

      The children, whether we like it or not, need to develop their own personal relationship with the a-hole. They do figure it out. I have proof with my own adult kids. They all thanked me for allowing them to come to their own conclusion about their dads. They all did and it was not very different from mine. Yup, I fucked up twice.

      I had a few private run ins with their “wives” to treat my children with respect because “daddy” allowed the bitches to humiliate my kids in front of his relatives. I knew this because HIS family told me.

      That is why it is a good idea to stay close to his family if you can and not say anything bad about their “son”, “brother”, “cousin”.

      Children first. They didn’t ask to be born into our adult bullshit. Get as much information you can about kids and divorce.

    • Great advice from Chump Nation! I have an app on my phone and simply record the calls, now. Not that he calls them that often. He’s not really interested and they truly don’t want to talk to him. I have that recorded. I also have my oldest texting me “Sorry mom. Dad wouldn’t let us call you tonight. So-and-so was crying for you. She is really sad and wants you.” Be the sane parent and one who is documenting, not the one that is having to be documented.

      • Thank you everyone for your input.

        I have just spoken to a lawyer who said once a month phonecall is unreasonable. He recommended 2-3x per week and two school holidays spent with him per year. I am ok with this.

        I see I have been trying to project my hurt and anger about X to the children but your advices have been taken onboard; I won’t interfere with the relationship of the children with their father. I will let them draw their own conclusions in their own time.
        thank you all xx

        • from the way i read your post, you are not divorced yet from your husband. you found out he was cheating on you and you packed your shit and your kids and left.

          GOOD FOR YOU.

          and since you have not started the divorce process yet. i wonder at the advice of THIS lawyer. he should be on YOUR side. it seems that he is more on your husbands side, trying to give him rights that IMO he doesnt deserve.

          2 -3 phone calls a week, when your husband is only abusive to the children, saying hateful and belittling things to a 9 and 13 year old? doesnt sound like a healthy environment for the children. YOU spend a whole week trying to build up their self esteem and make them understand that it is not their fault dad is not home and in one phone he can undermine all that. and you have to start all over, and work harder. just one little sentence “i hate you and never want to see you again” can really fuck a child up. and your lawyer is telling you that you HAVE to reasonably allow this to happen 2 – 3 x a week!?!?!

          forgive me if i am incorrect (i have a 8 and 12 year olD) but IMHO i think you should at least visit some more lawyers, not just one. and document that whole visit and what your kids told you he said.

          wishing you peace.

    • Fuck THAT!!!! change your phone number and dont tell him. if he asks, tell him you cant afford a phone. Good for you and keep on doing what you are doing!!

  • ‘Specially loved the part about not letting them steal the joy of parenthood. I have fought tooth and nail to try to not lose that. Can’t say I have succeeded anywhere near as much as I hoped and worked for. A part of my ability to love was seriously damaged in all of this. Yes, even the love for my three babies has been affected if I am honest, and that is a pretty fucked thing to be aware of. 22 years of parenthood, I loved the first 16. These past six have been hard work, and I have had to live mindfully – consciously working at loving my kids when it was a natural thing before. They didn’t deserve that I lost that part of me. But deserving has nothing to do with what happens after affairs.

    • IMHO, A death (and that is what divorce is) will affect family members for a long time and the way in which many of our exes blew up our lives and marriages make it a challenge for survivors to heal. I struggle with the lies, I struggle with my story, and so do my children. We all ask the same question, Why would someone do this to someone they once loved? Why not be honest? Why ruin everything? It was not just my relationship that was harmed but our children’s as well. I always picture a wounded fox hidden in the barn. That is each of us, my kids and I, licking our wounds and trying to put life back together. It is exhausting work, but worth it. Carve out time for you and your kids. My children and I are most happy when we vacation together. Just us all together in a new place to explore. The beach is a favorite spot too.

      • One of the hardest things to come to terms with is the fact that there was never any true love to begin with. Narcs don’t love. They feed off of others, but can’t bestow love on others. What you had before wasn’t real. I know – my story too.

      • I agree that love doesn’t seem the same after going through a betrayal like this. This experience has drilled into my head that the only person who ever really has your back is yourself, and of course God.

        I don’t really want to be in a committed relationship anymore because I don’t want to compromise. I feel like I gave up so much of myself trying to keep my marriage alive… Not sure if I’ll feel differently as time goes by. In my mid 50’s it seems easier to stay single. I’d have to meet someone who made me feel very safe to even consider getting remarried.

        Funny I woke this morning remembering a picture of the day our oldest child was born. There was me in the bed holding our baby, with my husband standing next to me. On either side of us were both sets of grandparents. Everyone was so excited and proud. For a fleeting moment I thought about copying the picture, ripping it in two, and sending it to my ex. It still boggles my mind that things turned out this way.

        • Lyn, my sentiments exactly these days. I feel like I lost myself in 20 years of marriage to someone who drained me (like a vampire). Yeah, my picker was probably faulty, but to tell you the truth, I am too old to figure that all out, and go through the whole dating bullshit again. I agree, I would have to feel super-safe,but I thought I was safe with asshole when I agreed to marry him long ago! Yeah, I guess we can all say we learned what a narcissist is, and maybe we’ll recognize the red lights, and flags, and all that. But sometimes I feel that my experience has totally jaded me. This experience has really damaged my hope for any intimacy in the future. I believe intimacy is an illusion (right now, I guess).

        • I don’t really want to be in a committed relationship because I don’t want to compromise. I totally agree. I am 59, my ex is 68 and chasing all sorts of women in Thailand. He has totally put me off ever having a permanent relationship, why would I invest so much of my emotions, my physical energy in someone who only thinks of their gentials and ego. Unfortunately he will return to this house, but I have had enough and will ask him to leave which he has refused in the past.

          • Lyn, Piano Mom, Alex……I could not have said it better myself. That is exactly how I feel. I am in my early sixties.
            I have been told by a “friend” that I am being selfish to feel that way. I told her that, not having been through what I have been through, she has no idea where I’m coming from and has no right to judge me. She seems to think I should just “Stop hanging on to old stuff and just move forward.”
            I have moved forward in so many ways. I’m happy most days. I give back by volunteering. I’m creative and keep a positive outlook on life, and with most people. But I am not going to forget my precious son. I will always hold him close in my memories. And I am not going to deny my history and it’s effects on me and my family.
            In my book I don’t “owe” anyone a relationship, or my time, love and attention beyond my son and daughter-in-law, my grandchildren. and some of my close friends.

    • I wouldn’t feel bad, horses. Nobody goes through that much trauma and comes out unscathed, unchanged, and emotionally stunted in some way. Our self-protection mechanisms aren’t always healthy, but they do see us through.

      In addition to having your world crushed, there is the realization that you are on your own, you are solely responsible for your children both financially and emotionally. That is quite a burden. Life doesn’t get much tougher than that. This scenario isn’t for sissies, and someday you’re going to realize just how mighty you are for surviving it.

      • This!! So true Einstein

        In addition to having your world crushed, there is the realization that you are on your own, you are solely responsible for your children both financially and emotionally. That is quite a burden. Life doesn’t get much tougher than that. This scenario isn’t for sissies, and someday you’re going to realize just how mighty you are for surviving it.

  • You don’t co parent with a Narc.
    You constantly manoeuvre to ensure you do not say or do anything to prevoke them into a barrage of bullshit. Making you feel guilty.
    They are the kings and queens of deception so you are always on your guard to ensure you don’t get sucked into the vortex of their lies. Lies to make you look bad, lies to hide there cheating, lies to bolster there persona lies, lies, lies.

    And then there is the constant need to protect our kids from their illness and minumise the damage,
    All while trying to protect ourself from the projection onslaught of never meeting their expectation,being the cause of all their problems, while attempting to preserve our character remain sane and be a positive role model as a parent.
    People keep saying you have to co parent. I am not sure about others but I have never co parented my STBX has always left the raising of our kids to me and as my S15 said nothing has changed in our home there is just one less body here.

    I am at times sad, angry, frustrated, tired, exhilarated, happy, overwhelmed and releived. But one thing I do know I would rather live alone for the rest of my life then live with a narc. N

  • Wow. Reading this makes me so glad ex and I did not have children together and brings me so much insight on why it was so difficult to be a sane stepparent.

    There were so many turning points where I began to turn from crumpled chump to iron fist, but one of the crucial ones was when I found the celphone bill on D-Day after wasband gave the ILYBINILWY speech but insisited he would never ever cheat. He was at work, and called and asked to speak to his daughter only. He continued to shape the narrative to his daughter only. And immediately took her from the family home to stay with his ex wife so only he would have access to her. And then forced her to go on outings with this complete stranger and her kids one week after moving her. Her mom was even shocked and upset by the whole scenario.

    But my daughter. Who had lived for three years with these two and considered them family. Loved them like blood. Got nary a word from her stepfather. No attempt whatsoever to console, apologize or explain. I had to do all that. Was he ashamed? Nope. His stepdaughter was just as disposable as anyone to a narc. In his mind he and howorker had already formed a new family, and her children were his stepchildren. A loving trusting beautiful nine year old girl who had slowly given her heart and trust to him over a careful and slow courtship. She was garbage to him.
    Oh, he did offer to take her on a sleepover to his new whoreshack apartment once. She said, “Has he lost his mind? I do not want to go where that lady will ever be.”

    I stopped begging him to explain to her, so glad I did. I’m so glad she got to stay in the home she knew, never had to be exposed to his ridiculous blameshifting about why his affair was my fault. Now she tells me ” We had good times but he lied. I don’t like liars.”

    Co-parenting with a narc is even impossible when you live in the same house.

    • I’d wanted children when we got married. I come from a large family, love my siblings, and enjoyed growing up with siblings. However, it was clear to me after we got married that STBX had some traits I’d not want to see in a parent. He’d lose his temper without warning. He’d say hurtful or belittling things without thinking, and then, if called on it, would try to say that it didn’t matter, he had had a little episode, etc. He would rage on about something in the world, using extreme statements like “People at my company are all fucktards. I hope that some terrorists come in and execute them and their families.”

      I just didn’t think that any of this was appropriate around a young child, and once we got pets, I realized that STBX tended to treat pets and children the same: nice to have around if they’re well-behaved, but watch out if they don’t!

      While I have some regret for not having children, I’m very glad I didn’t have any with STBX, and I think I’ll focus on being an awesome aunt, and–if I meet anyone in the future–a super grandma.

      • It is so hard to mourn the dreams and hopes that have been taken.

        My ex was a detached, lazy parent. He would agree to parenting concepts, then backslide. He hated his own dog, and neglected and yelled at her all the time. I did the baths, walked her, clipped her nails and took her to the vet and dog park for three years. She behaved abominably, because she had never been taught differently. But she was a lovely dog at the dog park- really sociable and sweet. His idea of a walk was to stand on the porch and let her go as far as the leash. And scream at her. I am not a dog crazy person, but I have compassion for all animals, and I take good care of my dog.

        The OW is a big old dog lover. Into dog rescue and such. I wonder how long he will keep up the facade of pretending to be nice to that poor dog, and how much of her money she will spend to prevent its’ neglect.

  • The girls – D17 and D14 – refused the joint custody court order three years ago and see little of XH. We share joint custody of S11. But now S11 is wanting to live with me full time because XH has “taken all the fun out of his life.”

    Apparently, the Jesus cheater has become SO absorbed with former OW’s religion that he’s become a control freak about EVERYTHING. No meat, dairy, or caffeine. No sugar. No soda. Only religious TV shows on the Sabbath. No activities with friends on the Sabbath (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday). No shows, books, or video games with violence, magic, or witchcraft. Et cetera, et cetera.

    It would be one thing if that’s how he’d always been, but this is all new – XH went from, “I’ll eat or drink anything – at least once,” to vegan with a side of chicken. This new church is now the main source of his kibbles – he’s the only white deacon is a largely black congregation, and he loves all the attention from the ladies – and he’s involved with every activity, from giving sermons to mowing the lawn. (I wonder if they’d view him so favorably if they knew he was an adulterer?) So because it’s XH little corner of (hypocritical) heaven, he just expects S11 to follow along without complaint. S11 decided he’d had enough when XH took him to his new girlfriend’s house for dinner (someone he met at church, naturally), and fully expected the boy to be happy about the new relationship. When S11 wasn’t, XH snapped, “I deserve to be happy!”

    As opposed to his son, who apparently “deserves” to be miserable.

    The only upswing is that the girls treat XH’s sudden religious fervor with complete irreverence – it’s like watching a Saturday Night Live skit every time S11 comes over and reports something new. They’re hilarious – which makes both S11 and me laugh. Sadly, their behavior mimics what XH used to do for HIS mother when his father walked out on them 35 years ago. I can only hope none of mine follow the cheater path…

    Thanks for reminding us that it only “Takes one sane parent,” CL. S11 is my negotiator, always trying to keep both sides happy, which is why he didn’t object to joint custody – he didn’t want XH to be, “All alone and sad.” But now that he’s had a good dose of XH’s control and narcissism, he’s DONE. Sounds like I may soon be getting my entire family back – minus the kibble hoarder…

    • Red – I bet many of us here have heard the “I deserve to be happy!” line from our narc exs. Just one more thing they are entitled to.

      Wish I could have my kids with me 100%. Hope this happens for you real soon.

      • My daughter turned cheater with four little kids told her aunt that it ‘was her turn’ to be happy. I laughed! Turn? I had no idea we were waiting in line for our turns!!

        • Good Golly!! If that’s the case, some of us are LONG OVERDUE for our turns!!! LOL!

      • Oh yes! My STBX’s version of “I deserve to be happy” was related to money (of course). When talking about custody arrangements, he objected to me wanting full physical custody of our daughters (ages 9 & 11) not b/c he wanted to spend more time with them but b/c of how much he’d have to pay in child support. “I need my income to be happy!” (I wrote in a response above that he has stepped up when it comes to the kids but the impetus for that was b/c he needed to show that he actually did have the children on a regular basis so that I didn’t have an argument for full custody. Mr. “Bare Minimum” – got away with as little time with the kids as he could and then when he knew the lawyers were watching, he has them the amount that he thinks he should).

  • What I have discovered is that I could not co-parent with my ex when we were married (and make him do the right things for our daughters) and I certainly cannot do that now that we are divorced. He was not a good father then and he is very far from that now. He is way too selfish a man to be a decent dad.

    I do the very best that I can for my daughters and give them absolutely everything they need emotionally. His lack of relationship with our daughters is all on him!!!!!

    • I could never work out what the big issue was between my X and son and would often plead with X to try an work on the bond between them and I would always get the soppy eyed “I try I just don’t know how ” bullshit. little did I know that X was physically intimidating son to keep his mouth shut on what he knew while son was playing marriage police.
      Son now 15 refuses to indulge X and pretend to like him, refuses visitation.
      reason given by X.
      It is all my fault I have poisoned him against his father, I allow him to run wild and make his own decisions. etc, etc, etc.

      Son 15 makes his own decisions, yes to a point but considering everything he has faced in the last 12 months including dealing with his youngest sister being diagnosesed with cancer. I think he has a right to, he is doing well at school, behavour has improved to the point he was named prefect a few weeks ago and has just returned from a two week mission trip with the school to Uganda working with orphaned kids.

      NARC Narc narc when are you going to realise your kid is almost an adult and if you want any part in his life you need to sort your shit out …………… hahahahahahahahaha who am I kidding!

  • I am in the unfortunate position that my narc ex is also the mother who has majority share of the child care. She abides by the clauses in the court order but not by the spirit in which the order was written.
    At this moment in time she has banned all forms of communication between me and her citing that I am the unreasonable one. I can’t even notify her that I am running late due to bad traffic or tell her that one of the boys is poorly. She is actively avoiding any contact with me and has done since she left. I never ask to reschedule and I only ever contact her with child related queries. Her reply is always vitriloic and full of untruth and hate. I find it tough.

    • Wish my STBXW would just stop contacting me. While I can see how it is tough for you, most of the emails/texts I get seem to be attempts at starting a conflict in the name of communicating about our kids. I just ignore those and communicate about what is needed. Just because she doesn’t want communication from you, doesn’t mean you must not communicate messages like the ones you describe. Let her ignore them if she wants but you are doing the right thing.

      • I agree. Send the emails or text if you are caught in traffic. Document. Make sure they are professional and polite, with nothing extraneous. If you do need to switch dates or need to ask for an extra day (due to work conflict or a family wedding, for example), give her as much notice as possible. If she won’t work with you–go back to court to modify the order to include contact rules, if you don’t have them. For the most part, you won’t even need an attorney for that. Just an opportunity to be heard by a court mediator to ask for reasonable accomodation.

    • Oh yes and isn’t life all about them? Let it go. You know you are the sane one and lucky to have escaped an unhealthy relationship. We have no more control over the disordered than we do the weather. Your ex is just impossible because you no longer wear rose colored glasses, you know who she really is and she’s going to do what most Narcs/disordered do. Control the narrative. It’s no longer our job to control Crap. It’s like paying attention to The National Enquirer. Relevant? No. It deserves to be ignored.

      • they are so focused on THEIR life and THEIR happiness. and yet they seem so incapable of being happy on their own. I did everything for my husband and kept the house, yard and vehicles (and children) going. all that little fucker had to do was go to work and come home AND HE STILL managed to fuck THAT up.

        and i am guessing that my XH has NO CLUE on just how much of HIS relationship with his own children was because of ME and my efforts to have one big happy family. the reason my children respect him is because i taught them to respect him. the reason they adored him is because i covered up all his assholeness from them and turned on the spotlight to the few things he could or did do right. i was always the one who disciplined my children, he was never seen as the bad guy. although he did stick in a few “do what your mother says”. some mothers tell their children “wait until your dad gets home” usually for a spanking or so dad could handle the childs bad attitude. but i would tell my kids “wait until your dad gets home” so they can tell him or show him what they did that day, or so they can ask him to fix a toy that broke (and i probably could have fixed it myself) and of course we NEVER did anything fun without dad, we always waited for dad to go to the park, swimming pool (until we got our own) bike riding, movies, out to eat or whatever.

        so i did so much for him and of course my children loved him so much. i completely believe that he STILL thinks it is my job to keep the children respecting and loving him. even thou he continues to disrespect me and is super hateful and of course doesnt understand anything i am saying is in the best interest of the children. and of course what his new MOW girlfriend says is always more important and valuable then what i say. (fuck 14 years we had and they have 6 months?)

        of course i also do not have a current phone number or address. but yep it still my fault that he is not seeing his children.

        actually i am blessed. really really blessed. because my XH has completely abandoned me and the children. and i dont have to deal with any kind of craziness. just dealing with being absolutely nothing and of zero importance after 14 years. but that is NOTHING compared to the stories i hear from you all.

  • I was one of the people yesterday asking for this post. I guess it’s less about co-parenting, and more about dealing with his Narc fallout from visitation. Because he’s not a co-parent, he doesn’t take care of them when they are sick, do homework, buy them clothes, cook them meals or any of the daily grind – he’s a DisneyDad/UncleDad as they say around here. He doesn’t pay support, and the state doesn’t care.

    He brings them back from visitation late, having one of them call me at the agreed upon time to tell me they will be late. Last year the holidays (which in our order we are supposed to split the day) were all screwed up for me because he played the late return for one, and then early return for the other. He wants to switch days a lot or get them extra for “DisneyDad” things. When I say no, he does something to screw me over, like suddenly not be able to take them during his scheduled time when I have plans so I have to cancel or get a sitter. Anytime I try to draw any boundary, he either ignores it and just does what he wants, or does something to get back at me.

    The oldest hates going to see him and is grouchy for days before/after and apparently during according to the youngest. I would love to not send the oldest anymore, but have spent the last several years watching my cousin (who lives in the same city as I do) spend many thousands of dollars in a legal fight with their ex because they quit making their oldest go on visitation. They are still battling this out in court. I know he would do this too, and I know he’d get money from his family to do it.

    Sorry to just emotionally dump. I’m just so tired of dealing with this chaos. I too, have a doomsday clock set for the day my youngest turns 18 so I no longer have to deal with him.

    • Dump all you need to, Kira. Its what we’re here for. Mine are too young yet for me to think about setting a clock (12yo twins), but, like you, I do think about a time when there is no reason to have to have frequent contact with her. Best to you!

      • Thanks, TwinsDad. Only 8 more years for you! Which I know sounds like a lot, but it’s not forever, and I know sometimes that’s what I need to hear. It’s like this now, but it won’t be like this forever.

    • He doesn’t have a job? You can’t garnish his wages? It’s hard to play Disney Dad with no money. Sometimes what happens in family court has a lot to do with the mediator or the judge you draw. If he is in violation of the order (consistently being late, dropping dates, etc., document it and go back to court if you need to. This isn’t divorce any more; you don’t need an attorney. You need boundaries. Get the holidays “unsplit” if it isn’t working. Tell him you will pick the kids up or ask the court to specify that you pick them up. Get advice and don’t assume the courts will do nothing. You may find that to be true, but you will learn things in the attempt. This is “you aren’t the boss of me.” behavior, including the failure to pay support.

      • He works under the table when he does work, LovedAJackass, and then switches those up pretty often from what I’ve learned from the kids. But yes, he was claiming to me that he had no job at all, telling the kids how poor he is, and then taking kids to fun activities that cost money. I don’t mean “DisneyDad” as lavish trips or anything, just that he’s all about whatever fun thing it is he wants to do, but the not fun aspects of parenting he wants no part of.

        • By Dismey dad do you mean what my STBX does – he never sees his daughter, has essentially no communication except that he wants to take her on an extravagant ski trip
          over part of spring break and an extravagant trip to Europe
          for a week in the summer ? Like that makes up for being AWOL the remaining 50 weeks of the year and we should all
          marvel at what a fantastic father he is for those 2 weeks?

    • All of this is so familiar, Kira. I have almost all of the custody, and that is a blessing, but I can pretty much count on 2 out of 3 exchanges being a problem–and often, he will make our kids complicit in the issues. “Hey, Mom, Dad said I should call you. We are at the movies, and we won’t be home for another hour. Don’t make him take us back yet, Mom, please–Dad promised all weekend that we could go to the movies with him, and he’s finally brought us. Don’t ruin it, okay?” (All while I am sitting in my car in his driveway having arrived at the pre-determined time for pick-up). And it doesn’t matter if I give “permission” or not. He won’t bring the kids back until he wants, or pick them up until he wants, etc. The phone call is just a chance to let me choose between being a patsy and being a villain.

      It is a form of baiting me. He’s asserting power, and even if I shut down one avenue (perhaps with legal help), he’ll just ramp it up elsewhere. Short of gaining full custody and a restraining order to keep him from the kids (which I don’t have reasonable grounds for and the kids wouldn’t want), he will continue to be able to mess with me and the kids until they come to the decision that they won’t be a part of his circus any longer.

      I wrote a very long rant about all of this and then cancelled it out. I’ve learned to limit (most of the time) my impulse to word-vomit about his marital behavior, but I’m still no where near “meh” in regard to the ways he treats the kids and screws with the custody agreement.

      All I can say, I guess, is that I totally understand your frustration, Kira. I hope you (and anyone else) will share what you do to limit the damage and come to terms with your own powerlessness in regard to sharing custody with a narc.

      • I’ve had this exact problem before. Here’s my solution — don’t be in his driveway. Send a single sentence email that states his failure to show up at the appointed time means he gets to drop the kids off with you. PERIOD. Don’t try to build consensus.

        And when he comes home from that movie and doesn’t find you waiting there? He’ll figure it out.

        Doesn’t waste your time.

        I used to have do drop-offs at a city mid-way between our two towns. Guess how many times in 4 years he made it on time or ever? Once. I just said this isn’t working, come to me, and he did. He knew he couldn’t be on time if his life depended on it (the power game is just too delicious, and he’s too disordered). So he drove to me.

        This is what I mean by “Don’t Dance.”

        • Mine is supposed to drop them off at me, and I get, “Mom, we’re just now leaving the house,” (which is an hour away) and it’s 10 minutes til when they were supposed to be back. Or like the great holiday debacle, he TELLS me (because that truly is how it is presented, him telling me) when he picks them up that morning that he wants to keep them until X time now, I say, no, that’s not what we agreed on, I get them at Y time. I get a call at 10 minutes until Y, “Mom, the other relatives are running late, we won’t be back until X time.”

          I cried on that holiday because he completely messed up the entire day for me (I don’t want to go into all of that on here, but my example was just the tip of the iceberg.) And as the holiday season nears, I start worrying that I’m in for more of the same.

          • Oh Kira,

            Big HUGS to you girl.
            My X pulled that shit less than a month after dday when I asked if he would like our kids for part of Christmas day only to have him agree and then imply that I would have no plans and because his brother had invited them all up the coast the following day that he would just keep them and bring them back the following night. He even had the hide to ask me to provide two of our camp beds so the kids could sleep on his mothers loungeroom floor. I have no family except for my kids so spent christmas night with friends. SHITTYEST night of my life and he only did it because he felt he was entitled.

            I too now ten months down the track am getting the late return and the bullshit excuse only we have nothing in order as I had to focus on our daughters health and mediation has been stalled as a result. and as i was reminded last fortnight there is nothing in writing. So I requested something from him this week via text as to when he will bring the girls home so he could be held to account typical response- nothing.
            So am now carefuly wording a statment withdrawing my support of him having the girls on a fornightly basis till mediatin is complete. I too am dealing with a narc who is umemployed and telling a different story to the different players in game.

            Stay strong

        • While I agree with CL in the don’t dance, X’s inability to tell time makes it nearly impossible to make plans. That does piss me off, I’m left waiting for him to pick up and drop off. On his “time”, I can’t buy theatre tickets or plan outings because the drop off and pick up times are so variable.

        • Mine does the same thing with being late all the time. And often I will get a call at the exact time they are supposed to be home — my STBX will have my daughter call to say that they are running late and will be home in half an hour. (He lives half an hour from my house.) Truly the man is late for pick up and drop off Every. Single. Time.

          I know it’s a control thing. He’s all about control. No one is the boss of him!

          • Mredoriangray,

            Mine does the exact same thing – phoning to say they will be late at exactly the time they are supposed to be dropped off. He always deals in later, sometime after, when I can, when I get off work, once I’m finished running errands. I watch my kids “pine” by the window waiting. At least DD understands that this is his shtick. She has a hard time with the AP/now wife because she likes her but knows that the pink cow was her dads AP. Pink cow actually bakes and cooks with DD while her dad merely trots DD out when he needs the “I’m such a great dad”circus.

      • Thanks, Eilowy, and sorry you’re dealing with that too. Get the countdown until their 18th birthdays started!

        “And it doesn’t matter if I give “permission” or not. He won’t bring the kids back until he wants, or pick them up until he wants, etc. The phone call is just a chance to let me choose between being a patsy and being a villain. It is a form of baiting me. He’s asserting power, and even if I shut down one avenue (perhaps with legal help), he’ll just ramp it up elsewhere.”
        ^^^ THIS exactly.

        • Kira,
          can you tell your kids that you can’t take their calls until the visit is over? You should gently explain to them that adults are responsible for their own communication. If your kid keeps calling and calling the whole visit, pretty soon they will realize it isn’t fun. This sets up a bad example for when they are adults. Tell them “you are the kid. It is your father’s responsibily. We had an agreement that he will be back here at 4 pm. See ya then.”

      • Here’s what my therapist taught me about people like this:
        1. You can’t control his crazy but you can get the kids out of the middle. Don’t take phone calls from the kids when he is late or let them relay messages. Just tell the kids, “Don’t do that any more. I won’t answer.” Then stick to it. When they are due at 7 and it’s 7:15, and your kid is on the phone, you know the game is on. If it’s an emergency, XH will call himself. It’s just a game, so don’t play. Ignore the late/early arrivals, but document. If they’re late, they’re late. Say nothing to the kids about it. Don’t ask about the movie, etc. If they start to spackle once they’re home, tell them “I won’t discuss this with you. This is adult business.” That gets the kids out of the middle. They will come to understand that they are being manipulated in time. Let him figure out how to fuck with your life when he has to call you and all you say is, “You are in violation of the visitation and custody agreement,” and hang up. Just state the facts–no heat or anger. No arguing or negotiating.
        2. Hold to the visitation schedule on your part. If he is pulling this crap, if he asks for a schedule change, tell him via email that you won’t consider accommodating his schedule by making changes because he does not adhere to the rules as it is (send documentation). Just say “no.” Of course he will have a tantrum, but you don’t have to listen to it. Hang up. Put the email in a file and read it on Tuesday.
        3. Don’t tell the kids your plans for his visitation days so they can’t tell him. And don’t tell him yours. If you aren’t picking up the phone to re-negotiate the drop-off time, he’s left with a dilemma if he wants to drop them off early. And no reaction if he’s late.
        4. If he’s late picking them up, give him 15-20 minutes (whatever would be reasonable, given weather, distance and the custody agreement) and if he doesn’t call or pick them up or wants to move the time back unreasonably, take the kids to the movies or to church or the mall or grandmas. Wherever. Document that he did not show up or call by sending an email. Don’t pick up his calls or respond.
        5. You might end up missing a few social events until you get the boundaries worked out, but stick to it. Know that he will not change but that you can mitigate the impact on your life by knowing he won’t change rather than reacting to his baiting. He will bait you. He will try to use the kids. He will be late, early, absent and demanding. (duh!) But you can be very “chill” about it with the kids. “Yes, I know your father thinks the rules don’t apply to him. That’s very inconsiderate, isn’t it? I hope you learn differently from his example. But we won’t let that spoil our day.” My mom was a narcissist. When my dad was dying, I was studying for my Ph.D. comps and told her and my dad that I was taking one day to prepare instead of going to the hospital. I had been driving 150 roundtrip every day after work and both weekend days to see him. On the “study day,” my mother called and told me her water heater broke, so it was up to me to go to the hospital. Of course. She couldn’t just order a water heater and go herself in the evening or ask a neighbor to sit at the house to let the water heater guy in. No. Nothing would do but to interrupt my day. If that happened today, I would just not answer the phone, but call the hospital to make sure Dad was OK. Problem solved.
        I watched the Jackass narcissist and his narcissist EW do this dance. It got better for him when he stopped allowing the daughter to mediate these issues by phone (which also stopped his abuse of that, as well.) At some point messing with you will lose its charms when there are documented and visible consequences.

      • I’ve had this as well. I drive 2 hours to pick up the kids only to get a phone call about 5 minutes before I am due to pick them up to say that they weren’t there and he would bring them back when he was ready. Or get a text message 15 minutes before (after we haven’t heard from him for months) to say he is on his way to pick the kids up. That he had nothing better to do so he thought he would see the kids. I have even had friends coming over for dinner, he texts and says he wants to see the kids that night. I said sorry I’ve got plans. He gets off the kids what plans they are, rings these friends (who were mutual friends… not any more) and says, the kids are coming to mine for dinner tonight so why don’t you come over here. They did..

        I’ve totally put my foot down about arrangements. He never gives me any notice, I say no. Although in the last 18 months the visits are getting less and less, probably once every 4 or 5 months now if that. I offered for months and months for him to have every second weekend etc but he would not be in it. So that is just too bad. If the kids want to see him, they can but I never make any arrangements, change my schedule anymore.

    • Doomsday clock – love it! I have often said that I literally cannot wait until the day my youngest turns 18 (he is 13 1/2) so that I no longer have to get that knot in my stomach when I see an email or text from my ex. I am not even able to respond to his emails – he blocked me after I disagreed with him over some school issues re: youngest (I wanted to have separate meetings with the special ed adviser re: some issues he was having that semester – he has a mild learning disability. I wanted to discuss privately with the special ed teacher how the divorce drama was affecting son’s focus on homework). I haven’t blocked him because I need to have some record of his responses to financial issues. I am only “allowed” to text him, and per his latest edict to me he deletes any text that is over 10 words. So, I have to keep all questions to 10 words or less. It is crazy making at it’s finest!!

  • Thank you for this CL. I really needed this today.

    Throughout our marriage, STBXH was an abusive narc who demanded that everyone cater to him and his needs ALWAYS came first, even before the children’s. He spent literally no time with our sons, and they learned to scurry off and hide in their rooms when he came home or upstairs from his lair.

    Fast forward to the present; STBXH is living with his schmoopie and trying hard to present himself as an involved father. Although he maybe only manages to see the boys once a month, he insists on being kept abreast of all of their activity as is his “right”.

    Youngest S14, fractured his ankle recently and was wrapped and on crutches for the first week until he got his walking cast. I was able to drop him off at school, and arrange pick up after school (he normally walks) for most days but had to ask STBXH to pick him up on two occasions. (I should mention here that STBXH does not work and lives 3 houses down from the school). All went well the first day, but he forgot to pick up on the second. Knowing how STBXH reacts to even a hint of criticism, I was very careful to be diplomatic and not chastise him. He, of course bypassed being defensive and went straight to attack mode.

    Now I’ve got him contacting the school and demanding explanation for every absence or late assignment. It doesn’t help that Schmoopie is a teacher who transferred and is now teaching at youngest son’s school with access to all of his records. Both of my sons have been struggling with severe depression and anxiety since D-Day and have missed a fair amount of school as a result. And now we are all under scrutiny because STBXHs fragile ego can’t take the hit, so he has to do his best to cut me down to size.

    I am currently working with my lawyer to try to get the terms of his involvement and “rights” defined so at least I have a legal boundary to work with and enforce, but it is exhausting.

    • Schmoopie has no legal right to records or information regarding your children, even if she is a teacher in the building. This is a huge violation of professional responsibility. Go see the principal and tell him you will report any privacy violations. Have a meeting with the principal, and the school counselor to discuss your sons’ treatment plans (I am assuming that if they are in “severe depression,” you have them in private counseling. Ask their therapist(s) to coordinate with the school. Be pro-active. Make sure your attorney is aggressive about enforcing the school boundaries. Schmoopie has no legal standing. None at all. I know it’s exhausting. But you are mighty in defense of your sons, and yourself.

      • Thanks LAJ.
        I’ve only got suspicions regarding the files. STBXH confronted me with information that would only have been in son’s file, but backpedaled and claimed he called the principal to get it when his source was questioned, so no proof.

        He does however like to give me reports regarding son’s day to day activities (who he is hanging out with, whether he looks happy or not) as witnessed by schmoopie. Youngest son is rightfully bothered by the surveillance and we will likely be changing schools once we move.

        Thankfully, the boys’ psychologists are fantastic, and in contact with the schools. Although STBXH demands that he be privvy to all communication, citing his “right to know” as the counseling is provided under his VA benefits. It’s all an attempt by him to control the narrative. He doesn’t want people knowing what he really is.

      • Word to that. Several years ago my daughter’s dad put her in a daycare where his Sasquatch White Trash Girlfriend formerly worked, and was friends with several teachers. SWTG attempted to make parental decisions and insert herself into the notification process as a guardian. I wrote a letter reminding the director that SWTG had no guardianship rights in regard to my daughter, and that discusssion of her health or education with her would be considered breach of confidentiality. It stopped.

        • Yes, I think a letter to the principal expressing your concerns about “surveillance” and confidentiality will stop things immediately. You don’t need proof. You can just say that you are concerned that there has been a breach of confidentiality and if it continues you will ask for an investigation or make a report to the state department of education. There are FEDERAL laws about student confidentiality. Your psychologists might also mention his/her concerns to the school counselor, as anything they tell the school counselor falls under patient privilege. Ask for the schools’ confidentiality and privacy police in writing. Schools hate to get involved with custody issues. My guess is that Schmoopie might be driving the bus in this case, which will likely end if she thinks her job is on the line. You don’t need proof to sit down with the principal and say you aren’t having any of this nonsense regarding files. You can write a letter or have the lawyer write a letter saying you want to be notified, in writing, any time someone else requests information on your children as child custody and support are being litigated. And that no one on the school staff should be “reporting” on your children to your husband about their day-to-day activities. Even parents who are teachers know that level of involvement in a kid’s life is counterproductive. With schools, if you show that you know your rights and will hold people accountable, often they will stop illegal behavior.

        • i LOVE LOVE LOVE the Sasquatch white trash girlfriend…!!!! SWTG!! i would have to change that to SMTG (mexican) but i really love it

          i call my XH MOW Chewbacca OOmpa Loompa Troll so i guess COLT hahaha

  • My STBX is good about sticking to the visitation schedule and paying support. It’s very important to him to “look good” to authority figures. He does not like it at all when my lawyer is involved in anything and I’ve taken CL’s advice that if I have a dispute with my STBX around $$ or my kid or settling anything related to the divorce, I go to my lawyer and he sends a letter. I find this is much more effective than me trying to get my ex to “understand” my concern. Forget that. It’s expensive but well worth it as the lawyer documents it and my cheater pays attention.

    As for “co-parenting” forget that too. I tried for months to get my cheater to understand how difficult the separation and introduction of a new girlfriend was to our child. Nothing changed. It wasn’t until he got a notice from the school that he started to pay attention and I got my kid help. (This too went to the lawyer.) Seriously these people will throw their kids under the bus.

    I put everything in an email or text. I don’t pay too much attention to what goes on over at his place. I can’t because as CL says, there’s no controlling it. My child is seeing Dad for who he really is. In fact, I’ve found the less I say anything about my STBX or his side of the street, the more my child has noticed things. And I’ve stopped trying to make it OK for my child to be over there – it’s a losing game. (Of course if I knew there was abuse going on there, I’d be on it.)

    It really sucks to co-parent with a cheater. I hate it. However, I love my kid and I know that she understands far more than I give her credit for.

    • I also go to my lawyer to communicate about legal issues with my ex. Last year I needed to get confirmation that a life insurance policy still had me listed as the beneficiary. Apparently my ex told his lawyer that he’d already sent me the confirmation, which was a lie. Luckily my lawyer said we needed physical proof, not verbal confirmation. My lawyer didn’t even charge me and it made my life less stressful. I’m all about reducing stress when it comes to dealing with my ex.

  • I’ve seen a couple of posts from Chumps that were/are Step-Parents. I am exactly 2 years out from “declaring” divorce. The moment I did this my ex cut me off from my 3 step-daughters 15, 14 and 12, at that time. I had been their step-mom for 7 years, and I’d say, their primary parent during that time. Once separated, if/when the girls reached out to me, he would punish them, it was a very, very painful for all of us. Divorce has been final for 15 months and I moved to a different state 10 months ago. The middle D16 lives with the EX full time, the youngest D14 has always lived primarily with her mom, and the oldest D17 was banned from his home last december after they got into an altercation and he punched her in the face (literally). She used to be his “favorite” and her fall from grace with him has been devastating to her. She admits to goading him because she wanted his girlfriend (who left her husband for my EX and has 2 small children) to see “who he really is”. 6 months after being “banned” from his house she attempted suicide.

    She’s doing much better these days and she and I have been able to keep in touch freely as she is no longer in his home (and, thankfully, her mother is allowing it). She reaches out to me mostly when it comes to her Dad saying, “Nobody else really gets it. You and I know who he really is.”

    His latest stunt is this: D17 wants to come up to visit me. I speak with her mother and we work out details for the last week of Winter Break when kids are usually with her. I don’t have high hopes as I know he will likely not allow it. At first he forbids it, then changes his mind and says she can go (with a bunch of “conditions”), I buy the ticket (with “trip protection”, of course!), on Sunday he calls to tell her that he is making plans with the girlfriend to take middleD on a trip for Thanksgiving and would she like to go?? D17 has been cautiously having visitation with him again over the last few months and was excited at the opportunity to travel someplace new, so she said yes, she’d like to go. He called her back 3 hours later to say it wasn’t fair that she already had a trip planned AND go on this trip (as the other 2 are not coming here), so she had to choose – Go with him for Thanksgiving or to me for Christmas. She was stupefied, could not believe he had set her up like that. She replied that I had already purchased the ticket so she would be keeping her Christmas plans, and hung up on him.

    Boy was I hanging on to the high road by a hangnail that day.

    I have begun to wonder if I am supposed to just let go of them. Is my presence in their lives a hinderence? Is it holding me back from moving forward with my life? Intellecually, I say I am over here, getting on with my life and simply remaining open if they reach out to me. But, is that true? Am I holding on when I should let go? One day at a time, I guess.

    I am so excited to have D17 come to visit, as is my mom and sister who live near me. We survived onslaught #1 of him trying to blow this trip up, we all know there is more to come… I’ve got fingers crossed that the “trip protection” will not be necessary at all.

    My heart goes out to all fo you that have to parent day to day with these awful, awful people. Thank goodness for CL and Chump Nation!
    Wishing strength and peace to you all.

    • FLBright, I also struggle with how much to let go of my ex’s family. They were also my family for 36 years and I loved them. As time goes by and I get more involved in creating my own life, though, I’m able to let go more and more. I’ll stay in touch with his family members who stay in touch with me, but I’m not going to chase after any of them. I’m done with trying to keep one-sided relationships alive.

    • It’s simple – be there for them when they need you, but don’t become their chump. You can have a lasting relationship with them. just let them know that you care for them and will be there for them, but don’t want to complicate things for them. An x-step parent can even be the sane parent.
      DIFFERENT PEOPLE lyrics – No Doubt
      Things can be broken down
      In this world of ours
      You don’t have to be a famous person
      Just to make your mark
      A mother can be an inspiration
      To her little son
      Change his thoughts, his mind, his life
      Just with her gentle hum

  • The hardest part is the craziness disordered parents inflict on their children. My son said for years that he would eventually sever his relationship with his dad. He turned 18 a few months ago, and went NC shortly afterwards. This was preceded by several bouts of insanity from ex, including:
    Repeatedly telling son how ex felt sorry for him that he was Jewish, that all Jewish people are on antidepressants and that ex loved son unconditionally except for him being Jewish.
    Ex read a post son put on Twitter saying how stupid a local crime was. Ex took this to mean that son might have committed the crime, called son frantically to ask about it, didn’t get an answer because it was 6 AM and son was asleep, so ex called the police to ask if they had son in custody and also called every friend’s parent he knew to ask if son was in trouble. That particular incident was the final straw of many, many such crazy stunts by ex.

    Since son went NC, ex has texted/messaged/called every day or two with increasingly manipulative, blaming and self pitying abuse. A few:
    Ex claimed that he was having heart trouble and “probably going to get it checked out.” Son did not reply. A day later, ex left a 4-minute voicemail saying how son was a horrible person, ex had gone to the ER with heart problems and son did not call. This turned out to be a TOTAL LIE, son looked on Facebook and during the time ex claimed to be in the hospital, he was actually at an amusement park posting selfies of himself on rollercoasters and then traveling the next day.
    Ex told son he was obviously on drugs and that was why he wasn’t replying to ex’s texts.
    Ex told son that he obviously “wished ex was dead.”
    Ex has repeatedly told son that he is immature, uninformed and brainwashed and that is why he does not see the truth about the great things his dad is doing.
    Ex has repeatedly told son that they need to talk about their relationship so son can “hear the facts” about his dad and how his life is very inspirational.
    Endless, endless messages about how awful son is, how sad ex is, how ex knows he will restore their relationship so he can “bring son to the Lord.”

    On Monday, I had to go to court with ex because he petitioned for reduced child support, not that he has been paying it anyway. We were there together for over three hours and NOT ONE TIME did he ask about our son, not even a simple, “How is son doing?” That right there told me all I needed to know — he does not give a fuck about son, it is all a control issue and game to ex. He cannot stand that son cut off contact, and it is all bullying to try and get a response.

    Son blocked ex yesterday, along with unfriending him on Facebook. Everything about my ex has been a nightmare, but the stress he causes our son is the worst. Some of the things he has done are truly unbelievable, such as insisting son watch a video he made of himself having a threesome with two women, or taking then-13-year old son to spend day with a guy who did considerable prison time for having sex with boys under the age of 13.

    Sorry this is so long. My ex is a living nightmare. I would actually be close to meh, but the stuff he has been pulling on our son makes that impossible. I could list about 1,000 more awful things he has done to son.

    • “NOT ONE TIME did he ask about our son, not even a simple, “How is son doing?” That right there told me all I needed to know — he does not give a fuck about son, it is all a control issue and game to ex.”

      YEP! Daughter had an outpatient surgery done after father attempted to do his own sort of medical procedure to correct the problem himself (no, he is not a trained medical professional). When I told him that I had the procedure done, his was response was all about not getting his approval for the procedure, how much school did she miss that day, and how I planned to deliver her to him for his “parenting” (as if parenting ever happens) time. His concern was all about himself and his property.

    • OMG this is so horrible. Sounds like your son is busy just trying to be a kid and he forced into all his father’s drama. I would tell you son that it is all drama, not his fault. He needs to grieve the loss of having a normal dad, which he doesn’t. But let him know his empathy will make him and awesome person, and he should be very quick to commiserate with any other kid who had a nutjob parent. sometimes people don’t believe you. You sound like you are handling as best as it can be done, and he ramps it up. It was here on CL I found out about the no contact protective shield, and as a chump kid it has done more than anything to ease the burden of a narcissistic parent.

      • I’m still processing the “threesome video.” Just when you think you can’t hear anything worse…

    • Showing your kids porn is child abuse. Showing them porn with you in it is way over the top.

      Hanging out with a convicted pedophile is very strange behavior. It sounds like your ex may be a pedophile himself – or want to be one. He may have abused your son.

      At the very least, your ex was behaving seductively towards your son. This also causes psychological damage – nobody wants that kind of behavior form a parent.

      You’ve probably talked to your son’s counselor about this before, but if not, it would be a good thing to discuss. At some point in his life, your son will probably have to deal with sorting through this part of the horror.

    • I hope you have disclosed the above to relevant authorities and that your son has had professional counseling. My sister and I were sexually abused by men my biological father knew and they were into children. Your son’s age at that time is a huge red flag. Our walking nightmare sold us for pocket change when he had us for visitation. When we flew home we told Mom and new stepdad (aka Dad) that under no circumstances would we be returning to visit and had them write a letter stating our wishes. I was nine and my sister was ten. Our parents never inquired why and we didn’t tell. Most children don’t. Two weeks later idiot showed up at our elementary school to kidnap us but we knew Dad was at work with Mom and the man on the playground looking for us was evil. We hid. Your son probably hasn’t shared all he knows. Cutting that nightmare out of our lives was the best thing my sister and I ever did, but it has changed us. Your son is very brave but needs all the support he can get.

  • Glad, your ex is so mentally ill I’m glad your son has gone NC. That must be the only way to stay sane with that kind of emotional manipulation going on. Ugh. I’m so sorry for what you and your son have had to deal with.

    CL, there are some true nuggets in your post today:

    “They don’t care what you think or what’s best for your kids. They only care how they are perceived.”

    This is so true. My ex apparently told his mom he was worried about what people would think if he left me. Her answer? He shouldn’t worry about what people think, he should do what HE wants. I read about this conversation in his journal before I even had an inkling he was planning to leave.

    Later on I discovered another document where ex was outlining all the ways he planned to break up OW’s marriage and have her to himself. It didn’t matter that she had two small children and a husband. Ex wrote “It doesn’t matter what society thinks. I don’t have to follow society’s rules. I can follow my own rules.”

    On another note, I will admit that in order to get the settlement finished so I could move into my house, I used the ego-stroking technique. This is how it went:

    Me: I know you’re really busy (oh Mr. Important One) so I’ll be happy to close our joint bank account. That should make things easier for you (since your time is soooooo much more valuable than anyone else’s on the planet).
    Ex: OK

    Gag. The last time I did that I kept telling myself “Just do what you need to do to get this settlement signed, then you’ll be FREEEE. You’ll never have to suck-up to him again.”

  • Thank you, need that, over and over again. Especially #6! I really do hope my boys get my integrity and values, I’ve become terribly allergic to lies and deceit.

    They still feel loyal to their dad, but on a deeper level they know he’s not trustworthy. I’m the one that always has their backs, can be relied on, the stable factor.

    Really hope they will both see him for what he is, choose differently in their lives. But I’m also hurting for them, because when they do, they will lose the love and respect for a parent. It’s a no win scenario.

    • You put all of this so well. I keep babbling whenever I try to talk about these issues. I seem to think I can talk my way out of the “no win situation” if I just keep working at it. But, I can’t. You are right.

  • Thank you for this post. It’s brought much light to the current situation that I have. To come to acceptance that this is how it will be till the kids turn 18. That you can’t control what happens when they are with their dad and only do damage control once they are back. That verbal agreements mean nothing, found out the hard way, after I planned my daughter bday party and wasband said that he will pay for half. Emailed him that week if he was still gonna pay half of the party and he responded that he doesn’t even have money to buy his daughter a birthday present. He showed up at the party ate the food, played games with the kids and when it came time to pay the bill he was no where to be found. It should not surprise me but I still have that 5% hopium that he will have a change of heart. I don’t know why I set myself up for it.

    I know now just that I should not expect anything other than the child support from him and that’s how it will be. No more hopium for me, I’m quitting cold turkey.

    Chumpites have me in your thoughts, have a meeting with my lawyer tomorrow about the drafting of the final settlement offer for my divorce. Wish me luck. Thanks guys .

      • Same here, invited him once, because S9 at the time really wanted his dad to be there.
        ExH decided to cut MY cake and present it to MY guests (suddenly he knew how to dispense cake, hah!), that made me so sick that I never invited him again.

        Helped by the experience that my inlaws never invited me back to any of their birthdays, so no reason to party with any of them….

    • My XH throws parties for our girls if their birthday falls when he has them because he is the hostess with the mostest!

      He held one for our eldest daughter six months after D’day, two days before her actual birthday he contacted me demanding via text that I provide her and her siblings to him for either lunch or dinner on her actual birthday no concept that I may have made plans as it was my weekend. He didn’t know I had found out about covert party plans for the following weekend that he had not bothered to tell me about and had sworn our girls to secrecy over. Chumps me changed my plans and as a reward I was treated with utter contempt and disregard the day before. That was my wake up. I told ex I was not giving up my time with the kids, deal was off. I even called a member of his support crew ( aka church eldership) and told them. Next day a couple from church show up to collect D12 on XH’s behalf so daughter didn’t miss out on the lunch he had gone to all the effort to organise. WTF? Total disregard, when I don’t comply XH doesn’t call daughter to wish her a happy birthday. No he goes to Facebook for kibble by claiming that due to my changing plans at the last minute he was not going to get the chance to wish her a happy birthday on the day. During the week that follows the BS escalated, the day before the party he calls me and offers an invitation. I talk to DD and explain I don’t want her day ruined by the issues between dad and I so it was best I not come. Also I had to get her older brother to sporting events. Yes I am the family taxi XH does not assist with any of it.

      When our daughter turned ten in the following October having been diagnosed with leukaemia in the January I was not missing being with her to celebrate for the world. The comments made by people as they expressed their surprise to see me there was astounding. The guest list was comprised of those he needed to impress and a few of her friends.

      In his submission to court in the following May he stated he throws parties for our children because when we were together I wouldn’t let him (let’s not acknowledge he can’t hold down a job which restricted the affordability to do so) and the ones he has held since separation I have refused to attend.

      Yes even the kids birthdays becomes a weapon in their arsenal of self promotion.

  • There is no co-parenting with a narc, as CL said. I’m dealing with this crap right now. I pay for everything other than two small things. Ex pays me a very small amount of child support that doesn’t even begin to cover the costs of raising the kids. Now he is trying to get me to take on those two small things and in doing that he is fucking over the kids.

    What will probably end up happening is that I’ll get sick of the bullshit and tired of seeing my kids stressed and upset and will end up taking on the extra costs because it will be easier to do that then to keep the stress going. And ex knows this about me so he’s basically playing chicken with me. Sad thing for him is that he is losing at least one of his children because that kid has had it with good old dad.

    • Nord: I’m right there with you. Barely any support, and what he should pay for the other things based on court calculations, he doesn’t. He would rather pay his lawyer $350 and hour to fight me to not have to pay his portion of anything even when his portion would have been less than the lawyer’s fees. So sad. The kids understand what is going on and think he is an ass!

      • As someone who has a 20 YO and a 9 YO child, I can tell you it gets easier. As a child grows to maturity they begin to value the peace and dependability of the sane and stable parent who actually provides.

        When my 20 year old son moved back in after my ex and his daughter left, he’s been deliriously happy for every meal, every pair of shoes, every bit of chore money. The couple of years he spent with his deadbeat dad from 17-19 not wanting to follow rules and be ‘free’ with good old Dad turned out to be terrifying and depressing, he said. He owes me thousands of dollars I will never see.

        I’ve never regretted actually taking up the slack for either of my kids. It might be tough, but it’s also freeing to have the slacker have no say in how I run my home.

  • No co-parenting is impossible.

    Only parallel parenting is possible, and that’s a challenge. My child’s life with Dad is a complete mystery to me. Child says very little- half my kid’s life is now unknown to me. Several times I haven’t known their address, and can’t afford to keep going back to court to get NarcDaddy to provide this basic information.

    On the other hand, I continue to provide the emailed updates that were agreed upon by both parents in parenting plan, updating dad on child’s activities and life when with me.

    But NarcDaddy has New Rules: he will no longer read the agreed upon email messages (nor acknowledge any information conveyed in them.) I am supposed to ‘guess’ the correct way to communicate with NarcDaddy, which is not email. All this conveyed in emails to me, of course.

    It’s so much easier to just pretend that my child is at camp every other week, and easier to buy doubles of everything- sometimes several times- to avoid having to contact NarcDaddy for any reason.

  • Ex and I have two teenage daughters, and he got 1/3 custody (in retrospect, I’m sure he did this to save money on child support). He would have sleepovers with his crazy girlfriend and loudly have sex with her with the girls home (remember, they are old enough to know exactly what is going on). The whole divorce thing has been tough on the girls’ mental health, but he fought me all the way when I tried to get them counselors and a psychiatrist. Last year was especially hard–he finally consented and even facilitated home teaching provided by the school system. But–now he’s back with original OW and Disney Dad went by the wayside. A few days after he returned from his trip to a tropical island with his Facebook high school beau, he angrily threw my girls out of his house. He dumped their suitcases and trash bags full of their possessions on my front lawn, then sheepishly popped his head in the door and said “goodbye.” This was all because one of the girls was sick and could not go to school, and the other daughter tried to defend her little sister. Whatever anyone wants to say about co-parenting or parallel parenting, I am sincerely sorry I ever trusted this man with my kids. I also think he has a gambling and possibly a drinking or drug problem, but that’s a subject for another post. I am just so sorry I allowed myself to believe he was developing a relationship with the girls. All he was really doing was taking them places and posting about it on Facebook–it was all a show with him as the star. When the girls really needed him to be there for them, he couldn’t take it…he disappeared. They are devastated and frankly, though I am not forbidding them to see him, I think it borders on abuse to encourage them to go back. He pulled a similar stunt a year ago and they eventually went back to him. What a mistake.

    Sorry this is so rambling. I disagree that co-parenting is always the best option unless there’s clear evidence of abuse. I did have some concerns that I brought to my attorney and the authorities but no one would listen. It’s my kids who have to suffer because my ex and society failed them.

    • Do Not encourage your girls to spend time with their father, that is no longer your job and the less you spackle the better off your entire family will be (ex not included!). Your daughters are teens and should be allowed to dictate when and where they spend time with dear old Dad. My family court recognized this. Your input is logistics. Do they need to be dropped off? Picked up? Let them run the calendar. I talk with my children about healthy boundaries and it helps if I remind myself that they are learning. Living is all about learning how to treat others, and if they are not happy with how others treat them then they will come up with a good solution to handle it. Let them choose whether or not to have that relationship. I am sure once they grow into themselves they will do what is best. Time helps here too.

    • I never encouraged my children to see their parent and nobody should. It should always be their decision to see the smuck (unless there is abuse involved) and fuck him if they didn’t want to go.

      In cases of abuse, and screwing his screaming girlfriend within earshot of the kids is sexual abuse in my opinion, I would inform dear ol’ dad and the girls that they would no longer be able to spend the night at dad’s house unless smoopie was not there and then let HIM get the court order or tell smoopie it will have to be another night. If she is a live in, NO OVERNIGHTS. Children should not be subjected to two pigs rutting.

      Doing this is just being a mom.

      As far as him trying to be a “star” with his adventures, who gives a fuck. The girls already know “dad” is a jerk. Let the kids have the meager sense of fatherhood they can get out of him. In the end, as long as you stay the mature adult, they WILL GET IT. As for him, anyone who doesn’t realize the great wealth in having a child is lost. Because if you do have children, there is no greater joy to a loving parent.

  • I must say I read how it doesn’t necessarily get better on the other side of divorce and I start to feel myself crumple. A lot of the time I really want to believe he’ll morph into (back into?) decency if he’s got to solo parent, and then I think of slutbag around my kids and lose my mind.

    Shit. He really does suck, doesn’t he. This shit is so exhausting.

    • It’s certainly no walk in the park but remember you get to control what happens when the kids are with you. And at the end of the day – would you rather stay with someone you don’t trust & clearly does not respect you? Who lies & cheats & probably steals from you? It’s hard to model good parenting for your children when you have a spouse living under your roof who is (at best) not being a good spouse or parent.

  • man…you guys are breaking my heart. To have to deal with these horrible people when you have kids with them…they want you to still dance the crazy. I have no idea what herculean strength that must take.

    The only comparison I have is this one: One hundred years ago I bred with a fucktard. (Okay I exaggerate a little) I was 16 when I got pregnant by him. He denied paternity, beat me up when I was three months pregnant and never paid me a dime of child support. Ever. I had to go live in an unwed mother’s home and be treated like a stinking piece of shit. Against all odds I kept my child. When my daughter was four months old he called me and said he wanted her for the weekend. He was already married to a new sucker. I was young and craved a child free weekend with my friends. I dropped her off on Friday evening and went to pick her up on Sunday and she was still wearing the clothes I left her in. She had a terrible diaper rash. I don’t think they even changed her diaper the entire time. (I had packed plenty of clean clothes and diapers for the weekend) Even at 17 years of age I knew that mother fucker would never lay eyes on my daughter again if I had a thing to say about it. When she was five I got married (not to the cheater) and I insisted he adopt her. We were in our early 20’s and poor. (This was 1976) We scraped together $1,000 for the adoption. That’s how much it meant to me to make sure that sociopath would never lay claim to my daughter.

    • Syringa, it’s amazing what we do to protect our children. So many of our exes are truly crazy and I think sometimes those who abuse just become more controlling and abusive when there is money involved. My biological father never paid a cent towards our expenses either and we were poor. Like canned food, wild hair, and no underclothes poor (I heavily related to Frank McCourt’s biography when it came out) but I recognized how great an upbringing that was too. I am resilient, and I bet you are too.

  • It’s sick but I think many cheaters are jealous of their own children. I definitely think a lot of other women/other men are. They think the kids are taking time away from them or something. They are Competition.

    • I agree with this completely. I’ve heard ex’s father say some pretty messed up things (he’s also a cheater) about his views of his kids, which basically adds up to he wants to still be the star of the show and better than his kids.

      Ex is this way as well. Anything the kids take an interest in is put down by ex. My older kid gets it and says dad is a sad old guy who needs to be the centre of attention and has no interest in anything that isn’t about him. Younger one still wants to believe dad is normal.

      • According to my cheater, I drove him to the massage parlors because “I chose the children over him”. An example of this treasonous behavior is when I would interrupt him verbally abusing one of the girls and take him into another room to privately talk to him about how he simply cannot say these things.
        His new gin & tonic has 2 small children. Observers have told me they are very clingy with her (understandable since she just divorced their father to be with my Ex) and even this early on have seen him grab one of her children forcefully and drag them into a room to yell at them.

        I’m hearing the engine of the karma bus….

    • NotJuliet – You are totally on to something. My ex often acted jealous of our kids (they were 2 and 5 when he left) – and any time I spent with them. He HAD to be the center of attention at all time, and often complained and said stuff like, “When will it be MY turn to pick where we go to lunch?” Like letting a 5 year old get a Happy Meal on her first day of pre-school is such an extreme f’ing sacrifice. Ugh.

      He learned that shit from his crazy mom. When we found out I was pregnant with a girl, he was alarmed. He said that his mom had told him that NO woman wants a daughter, because then she has to compete with her daughter for who the dad loves more. That is some seriously pscho messed up shit.

  • Sorry about my rambling….

    What to know the MAJOR difference between a cheater and a chump?

    Chumps can feel joy. We know joy. Cheaters have no concept of joy.

  • I’ve read stories here that raise the hair on the back of my neck, as well as my hackles. I’ll just add that the greedy, grimy, disgusting hand of my Ex managed to reach out and try to spoil my vacation with my daughter–Big Surprise!.

    Apparently the life ins. that I must maintain with him as beneficiary (to cover college loans) lapsed–my auto payment did not go through don’t know, fixed it. Some how, however the agent emailed HIM, not me, and he waited until I was out of the country to email me the info. What a maroon.

    So, for a day it had the desired effect, triggered the hell out of me and I curled into a ball and couldn’t even go out for food (my PTSD primarily manifests in agoraphobia–really fun in a county where you barely–I mean BARELY–speak the language….) . So but I said I will not let the bastard get to me, I will not.

    Lovely daughter came home from a wicked long day of work and gave me food bless her and said, “Mom he’s just gaslighting you.” Christ, but I love her so.

    We can be lucky in the good ones, hold them close, and let the assholes free fall into darkest oxygen free space. They can be and are space trash. Sorry, universe.

  • How to deal when the narcissist has custody? Seriously. DH hasn’t been allowed to see SD3 since July because crazy town saw us in a jewelry store. It’s ridiculous and we’ve got 15 more years of this. I know someday SD will see it wasn’t her dad’s choice but how can he deal with it until SD is old enough to make her own decisions….

  • “They only care how they are perceived” So very true. My exH never expressed any concern that a protection order would keep him from contact with his children – his reason for fighting its renewal was that he “would look bad to people if they knew”. Chilling.

    If it wasn’t scary, I’d laught about your comment regarding non-payment of child support and passport revocation. After paying next to nothing for over 6 years, exH got his passport revoked last week for non-payment, and was creepy enough that the Child Support agency caseworker called to “warn me” about how angry he was. Absolutely NO thought or consideration that he’d left 2 pre-schoolers and an at-home mom with only $80 so that he could travel the world and buy expensive cars for multiple slunts (love that word); nope, now he can’t travel abroad several times a year (despite having the courts declare him indigent to have his support amount lowered…but that’s another story…). They really have absolutely no ability to comprehend how selfish they are.

  • 7 years with my soon to be ex. my 4 year old girl has more self controll. threats to leave every month after she got pregnant. 3 months ago started going out and showing up at 4am. bars close at 1:30, said she slept over freinds because she had pjs on and stunk like 10 gallons of perfume. finally i get fed up and say make up your mind stay or go. so she moved out 3 days later.(apparently she had been telling other men she was in an open relationship for over a year.) new BF is helping her set up her apartment day i move her shit in there.(lies and says it wasnt her boyfreind but i have seen pics of them all over facebook at country concerts she is going to with her girlfreind. called her out on that) now this guy is showing up at my 4 year olds soccer games with her even on my weekends 4 weeks after her ass clears the door. she asks me if i would like to halloween with her and my daughter. i say ok its an hour long around the small town. then she says her new BF is coming. so forget that little akward for my 4 year old, and me. so after this i decide to announce on facebook that we submitted our divorce paperwork to the courts. she goes ballistic on me because that is “not facebook appropriate” (fuck facebook your showing up to my kids shit with your new dude) i guess that was messing up the narrative she had created for everyone else.
    At least ex is good to my daughter when she is putting on her act for this new guy. but it sucks behind closed doors. supermom is her facebook persona, but every weekend night she does her makeup and dresses infront of the mirror for a few hours, finds her tightest ho gear and is strutting her shit for everyone to see. i do have some solice in the fact this poor bastard is going to get the wrath of god for messing with this siren. she already has this guy coming over every night even if my daughter is there. soon she will alienate him from his freinds and family, and he will begin to recieve the rage, faking ilnness, threatening suicide, threatened with knives hit with golf clubs. ect ect
    coparenting is a joke. at least i have my superior higher moral authority hypocrat in my ex. nothing i do is good enough. my food isnt 100% organic (she takes our kid to mcdonalds every other day, cant make dinner while your shopping) i let her watch too much tv, i dont spend her time productivly (aparently only doing math and learning to read is permitted). as soon as my girl goes back to ex she is grilled about everything we did, who was there, what they did, ect. its pathetic. calls me up screaming over dumb shit, then tells me to stop argung with her, then later in the conversation will talk about how she misses us, all i can do is laugh in her face and try not to let it bother me. but it does, i am a reasonable person tryin to reason with an entiltled 5 year old in an woman’s body. basically there is no coparenting with these sociopaths, they dont give a shit about an agreement, whats good for them is all that matters, give them thier money and tell them to fuck off, i will no longer put up with your bullshit. and if you wont follow the agreement i will be there with agreement in hand and a cruiser see you in 15 mins

  • Oh the Narc, or in my case the passive aggressive narc.
    Last year after d’day XH had a relationship with a guy, there was always posts on fb about them having dinner, going to remote places just the two of them (to practice their photography) on one of the rare occasions when our son attended XH’s church in the hope of getting time with his father, he found himself the third wheel on an outing with this other guy. S15 at this point was so disregarded by his father that neither XH or male companion noticed my son taking photos of the interaction between them.
    Fast forward 5 months and daughters then 10&12 come home and tell me they have spent the whole weekend of there fort nightly visit with dad at their friends place swimming ( only going home to sleep) because XH was now making moves on a woman who is best friends with their friends mum, yep asshat used his daughters to form a relationship with a woman. Within months he insisted our children give girlfriend Mother’s Day presents, brings her to court with him, takes her on a holiday to our only family holiday destination ( just the two of them) even bring her with him on the only driving lesson he has ever given our now 16 yr old son.
    Being a Jesus cheater XH does not live with girlfriend even though all of his stuff is shared between her house and his mothers ( majority at her house ) Even yesterday she took a day of work to attend court with him and sat willingly outside while he was interviewed (this was for the purpose of a report to the court as XH wants visitation with our girls every second full week rather than every second weekend as it has been since visitation began last May) he boasted about how he is going to get his own place close to the kids school but not with his girlfriend! because that could only happen once they are married, WTF you admitt you are not married, don’t live together, but omit to tell the court that you force our girls to spend every waking moment of their fort nightly visitation with you with her and her kids. If narc wanted a real relationship with his kids rather than just the show of one he would have gotten a place already and focused on them rather than managing other people’s perceptions of him. My XH is shitscared of not being seen as the upright Christian, the moral person to whom all around him should seek to emulate. XH didn’t cope parenting full time, my biggest anguish with him was his lack of engagement with us as a family. Everything needs to be on his terms. Being PA ex never has deliberate angry outburst, instead it just permeates around him like an aura.
    Just yesterday in his interview he painted a picture opposite to the truth, to have himself seen in a positive light. I know this as everything was fully disclosed.
    He claimed it is not him, it is me. I don’t communicate properly, ignoring him etc, according to him we got along fine till I instigated legal proceedings.
    I commented on my concern that due to undiagnosed mental health issues he makes poor parenting decisions eg leaving our girls and his girlfriends two young children at his anual church camp while the two of them went to the shops, knowing that a convicted pedafile was at the camp. His response ” it was ok there are people in the church who’s job it is to keep an eye on him”. WTF? Does he really believe this is acceptable parenting. I am now praying the judge we get next month is not blinded by his sparkly persona.

  • It helps to read articles like these. My husband has a narcissist ex that is smart enough to look like the perfect person on the outside. Top security clearance in the air force, etc. But she’s a nightmare to coparent with. Has tried twice to get my husband out of his daughter’s life. I normally don’t think it’s appropriate to share this kind of thing, but if tour wondering if your ex is a narcissist, here’s something to use for comparison. I typed this up for family to try and get ideas how to help my step daughter.

  • My ex-narc fought for over one year just on custody issues for our one son. In the end, he got the usual. We got joint custody but I had physical custody and he was supposed to get weekends and the usual holidays, etc.

    Well…turns out that after all that fighting and tens upon tens of thousands of dollars of attorney bills, our son never even spent one night at his place. He would pick him up to go out for lunch once in a while, then it turned into nothing.

    He eventually stopped all communication and from the age of 16 to now, my son is 23, there has been ZERO contact. My son and I don’t even know where he lives. Apparently he got re-married, but we found that out through a mutual contact.

    In the end…there was no desire to co-parent. His only desire was for control during the divorce and to make my life miserable…which he succeeded in doing. My son suffered some issues, dealing with the fact that his father had no desire to be a parent, but he has done good in accepting the fact that his father is what he is and I give him a lot of credit for that, because basically he grew up without a father.

    I’m the one who still has anger towards him for being such a piece of shit parent, but thankfully my son carries none of that anger…he turned out to be a real good kid…caring, kind and loving. Definitely no thanks to the narc.

    I haven’t learned my lesson though…I’m involved with another one now who is killing my soul daily…but I guess that’s another topic for another day….

  • I find myself having to reread this article. Thanks chump lady. Mostly it is the control I feel he still has over me. On talking parents he will accuse me of leaving our child sick at school to purposely inconvenience him because I knew they would call him to pick him up. How dare I not keep our sick child home instead, how dare I put his health at risk like that, how dare I not get him medical attention, how dare I not communicate that he was sick to him so he would know…. um because he looked fine when he woke up and displayed no symptoms. Yet when the school calls him and tells him he shouild take our son to the doctor he states he will not that since the mother dropped him off sick the mother will take him… yes, I’m the unfit parent, sure…..

    And then I hire a nanny to care for our son so I can go to wortk as I have no sick time, and I’m an even worse parent because he refused to care for our son on his day off as it was not his custody time and now he has to pay half of the extra Child care… how dare I not miss two days of work and not get paid while he sleeps in and then goes to baseball games with the woman he was cheating on you with while you wait until 3pm for him to pick up your son for his custody time… how dare you hire a nanny without his permission and expect him to pay half?

    And he used to call me a psycho nut job. And then after he tells you off, he asks to accvomodate his schedule change request or he will forward your response to his attorney if you don’t agree as proof that you are trying to alienate him from your son.

  • The father of my six-year-old daughter likes to say that I am a narcissist. That I emotionally abused my daughter. I don’t have a wonderful relationship with him he is very frustrating person at a huge stress in my life. I take care of my daughter on a daily basis I make sure she’s fed I make sure she’s close and has everything that she needs I put her in her swimming lessons I set up events I am part of her School parent Council. And I am always there for her as a parent should be as I want to be and I love that. I love the relationship her and I have she’s my everything my whole world. Her father likes to kick me down and say that I don’t want her to talk to him I don’t want her to see him when I encouraged her to call him when I encourage her to go visit him she doesn’t want to sleep at his house. He he’s unreliable he’s gone times where he hasn’t shown up to pick her up he gets her super excited and then doesn’t show he says he always has surprises and gifts for her every time he wants to have her or see her he doesn’t pay child support and I haven’t gone after him he barely pays $100 a month for my daughter’s daycare expenses and sometimes I have to send her with food to his house. And I always have to send her with clothes cuz he doesn’t have anything for her at his house. During the summer months he’s non-existent because he’s always have festivals. I don’t appreciate these comments to make me feel like I’m a bad parent when I feel like I’m the only one who’s doing right by my daughter. And I can’t take it anymore and I don’t know what else I can do

  • I couldn’t read all the comments but the article made me laugh my ass off. Thank you for saying all that I think but can’t say *yet* because I still have kids under 18 with my narc.

  • Thank you for this article . This helped me and bonus –
    Made me laugh 🙂
    Thank you so much

  • Jesus Christ. From what I gathered from the comments there are a lot of people who could use a good hard look in the mirror. Way to screw up your kids super moms! I’ll give it to you, being a resentful lunatic, all the while trying to appear like some super mother, who’s parenting is far superior to your ex, is impressive. However your crazy shows in other ways. Look at how you’re all talking and behaving. Not to mention congratulations on breeding and mrrting such shitty people… ever heard the saying water rises to its own level….? Think about that one. How is it you were with these people and married for all that time, but missed your ex and all these behaviors? Or do you just procreate with crazy people? Or did you just get bitter someone moved on to another relationship, and then the ex became crazy? You should be ashamed of yourselves. This is coming from a mother, and a child of parents who had an affair and a messy divorce. Fucking GROW UP!

    • Wow, that’s pretty harsh notyourbusiness . I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you haven’t had to deal with a narcissistic or hugely self-involved ex. While I can’t speak for everyone, I do know that in my case my ex hid his negative side very well. And that’s not to say that there weren’t red flags because looking back there were some here and there. But these types of people very often are amazingly manipulative and often choose partners who have a great deal of empathy and don’t tend to easily judge people. Other people who knew my ex reinforced they thought he was a good guy. They weren’t aware of his past restraining orders or charge. My ex gave me partial truths of his past which made it seem like he was taking accountability but years later I learned the full truth. The verbal abuse started about 2 1/2 years in, just after we had our daughter. The physical abuse happened 1/2 year later and then I left. Point being I don’t think most people choose “crazy” like you say. I’m sure there are people out there who think they can change a partner or think he’d never hurt me because I’m different etc, but I also think you’d find many people who felt duped or never saw their ex’s true colours until a long way in.
      I never believe myself to be superior to my ex when it comes to parenting because I think we all want the same thing at the end of the day, for our kids to be healthy and happy. But I will say that co-parenting with a self-involved ex can be hugely difficult and draining, both for the parents and the child. He will change his nights often sometimes not making up the time, he will often drop her off late (lost track of time) and not give me a heads up until he’s supposed to be dropping her off. He will not pay child support for a year and a half because he’s not working but then go on a trip with the insurance money he receives. Twice. Then call me once from there drunk stating what a bitch I am. He will disappear for a couple of weeks because he’s not feeling great in the head but not tell his daughter that he’s going away, missing his time with her. And then he’s hurt and confused when she doesn’t want to go with him. In my case the self-involvement intertwines with mental health issues (depression, anxiety) so I’m mindful of that and try to be empathic to what he’s going through. But it’s also draining and very often unfair to me despite the boundaries I’ve tried to enforce. But like you say I “chose” him so try to deal with it the best I can, have a great counselor lol and try to keep my daughter out of it as much as I can.
      I loved this article. It made me laugh and put a bit of humour into a topic that is too often negative. Thank you!

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