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Co-Parenting With Fuckwits, Your Thoughts…

blameThere are the conscious uncouplers, the people who remain friends with their exes, the mature adults who put aside their differences for the Good of The Children — and then there are the rest of us — the poor souls who co-parent with fuckwits.

You will know us by our unpaid child support and harried countenance as we do all the major parenting alone — unless you count text messages from the ex enumerating our faults as a “contribution.”

We are the people who left cheaters, addicts, and the personality disordered. Who throw ourselves on the open grenade of the other parent’s neglect to protect our children. Who suck it up. Who comfort ourselves with the cold thought that “Hey, the kids will figure it out someday” as the Fuckwit wins the hearts and minds campaign with intermittent Disneying.

Where is the divorce resource for co-parenting with fuckwits? My agent was after me for a second book idea and that was my suggestion. So, what the hell, we’re going to run with it. I thought today, if you don’t mind the crowd sourcing at Chump Nation, I want to know:

  1. What would you like to see in such a book.
  2. How have you coped (or not coped) co-parenting with a fuckwit.
  3. What resources are out there now? Did they help? Or do you think the market could use a CL approach to the subject?

And finally — if you’ve lived through this crap, give some hope to the newbies. I made it through and this morning my son just sent me a picture of himself in a suit. I raised this young man! He turned out okay! Fifteen years in the trenches, here folks. It can be done. Hang in there!  — Tracyrinsuit

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Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • This book would be so relevant to me right now, I would give everything to bring my kids up on my own, rather than having to co-parent with someone like their mother…She can keep her money, fancy cars, big houses, vacations etc….I just want to bring my kids up as best as I can, with morals and standards.

    Their mothers actions speak far louder than her words, she’s a selfish, entitled, disordered home wrecker. My values and morals are sooooo different to hers and I pray that my kids will see through all her manipulative ways. She left home at 15, flunked school, pregnant at 16, STD’s, drink and drugs…(Wish i knew what a red flag was when I was 19).

    Fast forward 25 years and it appears post D-Day their mother has lost the plot. I cherish the time with my kids and am doing the best I can, we have a fantastic relationship filled with fun and laughter. Then this week my STBXW has announced she want to relocate 2 of my kids 80 miles away to live with a man she’s been in a relationship for 18 months, remove them from their school, leave their friends and family behind. Now it looks as though the time with my kids will be less and less, Legally it looks as though she is allowed to do this although I intend to fight as hard as I can to stop her, my kids deserve that at least.

    I don’t want to co-parent with her – she’s broken and unfixable.

    • Have you filed? If so, you can get an injunction barring her from moving them out of state. You have rights. Please, talk to your lawyer.

      • Yes I’ve spoken to my lawyer, he’s advised she would struggle to relocate 2 of my kids and leave my eldest son with me to finish high school as the court won’t look kindly on splitting the kids up. Should she then decide to relocate all 3 kids then I may not be able to stop this as she is the primary parent. The only thing stopping her doing this is her conscience…so far she hasn’t displayed that she has one.

        • I don’t know about where you are, but in many places once a child is over 12 years old, the court weighs in favor of what THEY want. I can’t imagine your kids want to move.

            • I’d still give it a go, establishing what it is that the children themselves want. At the very least it will have some weight in the eyes of the courts and social workers, and if anything will prick this charming lady’s sorry excuse for a conscience, the idea that the kids concerned do not want to go with her just might. Even if it fails, you will at the very least have done all that could possibly conceivably be done and later, when everyone looks back, the kids will know that their dad absolutely 100% did his utmost. Definitely worth a try. So exhausting, please don’t lose heart!

            • Where the age of ‘sentient’ majority is 14, at least in Scotland… that is how Kiddo and I got out. But Tracy is right, the courts must take the kids’ wishes into account. This is usually sensitively handlded by the courts, and kids can testify in writing or in person, usually solo with the judge, and perhaps a councellor from a mediation agency. Kiddo didn’t need recourse to the courts in the end, she persuaded him.

              What is truly scary is how much this puts you at the mercy of the kids, or their interests.

              Hang tough!

              • I’m 99% certain my kids won’t wan to move…their school, friends and family are all within a 5 mile radius. I have no immediate family within 300 miles so I’m pretty much fighting the daily battle with my STBXW alone. I have a good support network, on the phone, via email and of course chump nation, also my elderly parents have been fantastic despite being 300 miles away.

                But I know what a manipulative cow my ex can be, I know she will put a spin on things to convince my two younger kids that they will have the time of their lives should they move the 80 miles she is suggesting.

                If it does go to court I guess I’ll have to put faith in the legal system and the judge will see through her tsunami of bullshit.

        • MBE, please fight this. I don’t talk much about my childhood, but this is exactly what my disordered mother did as well. My older two siblings were with us two younger kids for awhile, as my mother didn’t have two red nickels to rub together/no job/high school dropout/couldn’t drive a car….and she needed the financial backing of her policeman paramour….so we all moved in with yet a SECOND character disordered/anger management fuckwit.

          My older sister/brother got smart really fast. They made my mother’s life a living hell with their “knowledge and independence”—meaning, my sister wouldn’t allow my mother to get away with shit. So my mother sent her and my older brother packing to my dad’s house. I was left with my younger brother, who was just a sensitive, caring, sweet 5 year old. I was 9.

          I don’t talk much about it, because it was the most abusive, hellish experience of my life. I’m not going to say that your ex would or would not do anything like my mother did, but one thing these people have in common…they care NOTHING about their “extensions”….a.k.a. children. And that is what kids are to these assholes.

          My mother kept cheating on THIS guy as well. She learned to drive and she got her GED and a great job at an insurance company. BINGO! Open Buffet for Cheating Fuckwits! While she left my younger brother in my care and the policeman financier worked and allowed us to stay in his house. He never let us forget that it was his house, either. My brother and I were no permitted to shower/bathe in HIS remodeled bathroom—we were to shower in the basement with a hose. My brother ended up getting infections on his feet from doing that, and my mother would not bring us to a doctor—she didn’t want us SAYING anything. She allowed her cop boyfriend to use corporal punishment with a belt and bare bottom. I recall seeing my sweet, fair skinned, sensitive little brother have his pants down around his feet, being whipped with a leather belt—for not eating a piece of liver and onions that we were made for dinner. Of course, my mother and her bf ate prosciutto and peppered crackers and gouda cheese and a fine wine (that was their dinner the night my brother got this particular whipping)—and we were made liver and onions.

          She fucked around with several other men in town while she allowed this “man” to abuse us in every way possible. My older two siblings were living with my dad—and my mother would also not allow us to communicate with THEM. We were not permitted to use the phone. Or visit (gas is expensive! driving 10 miles to their house would break her!), nor would they come and visit us—as they had a different understanding of what my mother’s bf was doing to us.

          We drifted far, far apart. I didn’t see or speak to my older siblings for two long, miserable years. It never bothered my mother. Not one bit. If you believe that this is bothering your ex-wife, from what you tell on this board—you are mistaken. The simple fact that she would even CONSIDER splitting up her kids—you need to fight this woman with everything in you to prevent it.

          This is the ONE CASE that I believe with my whole heart—-get those kids INVOLVED. Tell them exactly what is going on, what went on before—-everything. You will do them a SERVICE.

          Disordered fuckwits like your ex and my mother—they do not choose wisely. They have no moral compass from which to work. They cannot see anything other than their own wants and desires. They do not care for others in the way normal people do. PLEASE. Get these kids into this and explain as well as you can what your concerns are.

          I needed my dad to do that. My brother and I needed to be saved from this woman. He was overwhelmed with the divorce, he was working his ass off, and the laws were very different back then (30 years ago). The laws are on your side this time. Save your kids. Show them that there is someone who will defend them from anything evil, even if that evil is their mother. You don’t have to SAY that to them, but their mother is a CHEATER and a LIAR. Keep them well away from her if you can.

          I am not being dramatic when I say….it’s not just your kids’ mental health in jeopardy here. Their physical safety may also be in danger. Pick up any newspaper and read about some of these women who are just total dipshits—and how they allow their boyfriends to abuse their kids. I’m not trying to frighten you—but this is reality. This isn’t a CONTEST between how good of a parent you can be—this is about the kids. Competing with her for any reason is futile. They do not play by the same rules. You need to focus on your kids.

          These days, my dad is gone. My mother is involved with a man that she STILL continuously puts first above her grown children. My younger brother doesn’t speak to ANY of us—he made a new family of his own and wants to erase everything that was his life before age 17. I tried having a relationship with her off and on over the years, but she is a revisionist historian—she did nothing wrong, it was her “state of mind” at the time and we simply don’t understand it, we made it all up, blahblahblah. My older two siblings are so damaged—that one lives a solitary life, doing his job and not speaking to anybody—no relationships to speak of. My older sister tried for awhile, to be “normal”—she failed. Two failed, miserable marriages, HER cheating and having her kids taken from her–finally to get them back….only to have HER kids run from her when they could. I don’t know much about their life with my sister—because my sister and I didn’t grow up together. We barely knew each other.

          And that was my mother’s doing. You need to SEE what your ex wife is doing. She is dividing and conquering. Theses idiots don’t want happiness and contentment. They look on your kids having a happy, safe home….as a threat. They don’t like seeing that level of security and normality. To them, chaos is what they thrive on. Drama. Crazy. Strife.

          Don’t let her do it, MBE. Just don’t. Protect those kids with everything in you. If you have to fight dirty, you do it. Keep those kids away from danger. Good luck to you.

          • Thank you for advocating for the innocent, SphinxMoth. So many of us here had childhoods from hell. I think for those who survive, we remain passionately strong in defending the weak, even when we did not fight for our own needs and wants in our marriages/relationships. We know what it was like to have no one to intercede for us. You sound like a strong and beautiful person. Hugs.

          • Thank you for your lengthy reply…I am going to fight this don’t worry, I have a meeting with my lawyer in a weeks time to get plans in place, I owe it to my kids to fight this one no matter what it takes.

            • mbe, your kids are so bloody lucky to have YOU as their Dad.

              Please take very, very, very good care of yourself as you embark on this aspect of the path. I’m sending you a virtual hazmat suit to wear. ??, V

              • I just want to back this up about your children. My older sister and I had two narc parents who went from being on a country farm to Las Vegas city lights. We as children were dumped for them to have affairs. I thought that it was the norm to have men in the house when I was 5 years old that were not my father. They finally moved back to our home when I was 6. My father always arranged to be out of the country as a military man. At 8 years of age, they divorced. My mother always told me that I was stupid, fat and everyone else was pretty, talented and I needed to try to be better. She told me she never wanted us. We were accidents. She hated being a mother and never to have children because she did not want to raise our children. I was thrown against a brick wall for dating someone she did not like. I was taken away from her by a neighbor who protected me and had a come to Jesus meeting with her. I would starve myself to be thin. So I was anorexic and bulemic. I sought men who abused me because I didn’t know what real love was. I am so glad that you are fighting for them. I cried that I gave up motherhood because of what she said. And I was never fat , I graduated college and I am a compassionate woman.

          • SphinxMoth, thank you so much for sharing your story. A story shared becomes a powerful teaching. Always.

            I am very attracted to HOW you crafted this difficult narrative. There is major POWER in you and subsequently it (the story). A book, SM. A book. ??, V

            • I agree, that you are a captivating writer SphinxMoth. Use your talents and write a book! Thank you for sharing your difficult story.

    • I’m sorry to hear this Mickeyblueeyes. She sure sounds like a selfish woman! I’d LOVE to move back to my home state and have the support of my family. But, I LOVE my kids much, much more and would never do anything to keep them away from their father. Kids need both parents as long as that parent isn’t abusive in any way. She’s not only hurting you, but she’s hurting your kids. She sucks.

    • In Texas, if the child is at least 14 they get to choose where and with whom they live. She a total self absorbed bitch wanting to move the kids away from their school and friends. All so she can be with her long-term boyfriend (sarcasm). Sure that’s going to last a long time anyway. I would tell the kids and then let X have to force the issue. They need to learn now what kind of person she is. Don’t save face for her. Let all the ugly show! Good luck with this! It’s a crap situation for you and your kids. Hopefully, they are old enough to get some say in the matter.

    • // , The courts do tend to favor the mother in these types of situations.

      It’s a shame that your children will, ultimately, bear the actual cost of that kind of prejudice.

    • MBE — make sure that no matter what happens you provide each of your kids their own iPhones so they can always reach you, communicate with you, and that they are empowered to document anything they feel uncomfortable with (by use of video or audio if necessary).

    • You fight that! Those are your babies too! They need stability.
      Ex left me in a foreclosed house, I had no job, five kids, he was military so we aren’t even from here, our closest friends and family live across the ocean. I asked if I could move back to our home state where both of our family’s are, I would have a 6 bedroom house in one of the best districts and a job. He spent (well actually the woman he left me for) $20,000 to make sure the kids stayed if I move. If I have to stay put (I’ve got 12 more years) she can stay her happy ass too. Lol!

    • Yes, Tracy – I don’t see a speck of another human’s DNA in that young man; he looks SOO much like you! Congrats on making it through and protecting your son from all that disorder as much as you could. He looks so happy and relaxed. Well done, Mom! =D

    • Yes and looks happy too! Kudos! I think for me the hardest part was walking the fence of what to tell my kids and what not to say because I want them to be happy and not burdened. A good resource would be :
      1) how to hold an unbiased but informative conversation with children at different age levels
      2) how to deal with the self-employed ex under-reporting income. This has blocked all of my efforts to gain a financial settlement agreement. He has agreed to any contract -even in writing- but as with all bills, he just doesnt pay because there are NO consequences. Lawyers do not advocate the pursuit of justice – only money. SO if the ex is able to evade tax bills, credit collectors and judgements against, there is no basis for a lawyer to accept a case that may be a lot of work digging for information and little payoff in the end.
      3) how to deal with co-parenting with the affair-partner turned girlfriend who is shiny new best-friend to younger children.
      4) how to deal with issue of ex travelling with kids. He wants to take them from Canada to Florida to visit his mother. I just dont trust him to bring them back when he says.

      • Lovedandlost do you have a parenting plan or some form of custody agreement? He can’t just take the kids the the US without your consent or the courts. He also can’t obtain a passport for the children without your consent. My ex tried to get a NEXUS pass for our child behind my back and was told to pound sand. The government informed him that because we were separated even if I did consent and agree to be interviewed they wouldn’t give my child a Nexus pass . . . Thank god. I had the same concerns you have just be thankful he doesn’t want to take them to some foreign land where they could disappear forever that does not have an agreement that Canada and the US has on child abuction by a parent. If there is no parenting plan or custody agreement I would not let the children leave the province little alone the country.

        • Thank you hisb. We do have a parenting plan attached to the separation agreement but it does not detail trips outside the country except to visit his mother in Florida. I signed that I would not stop my children from seeing a grandparent but He did NOT honour the monetary settlement and he will do whatever he cam get away with. I don’t trust him or border security to enforce our agreement. He has my 10 yr old’s passport which is good til 2018. I will not sign a letter of consent but have heard they don’t often ask for it. I am grateful that so far he hasn’t expressed a wish to take them anywhere else. His mother usually pays for the trips south including AP.

          • I would not trust him either and border security don’t enforce it enough. However, your son does have a valid passport and you are in your right to call Passport Canada as his mom to advise them of your situation and perhaps they can flag your child’s passport in case dad decides to take a trip to see grandma without your knowledge and consent.

            They often don’t ask for the letter of consent which is mindblowing to me but I would not want to be caught at the border with my child without one and denied entry but perhaps daddy cheaterpants thinks he is above the law but again nothing a nice little phone call and note on a child’s passport couldn’t fix.

            If he doesn’t want to provide details of travel or reasonable notice of travel he can always make an emergency application to the courts but I doubt mommy in Florida would like to foot that legal bill on top of paying to fly cheaterpants and AP for some quality (expensive) delusional family time.

            I’m with you . . . I’d be grateful that there haven’t been any plans made as of yet.

            My cheaterpants thought he could call me and demand child’s passport two days prior to leaving the country. Needless to say that trip never occurred and it resulted in much anger for cheaterpants and a dialtone from mean chumpy me ???

            • Yes I will call. I have crossed the border with my kids myself with all the documents and when I showed them the papers, the customs officer/border guard said, “What’s that? ” So I’m a little skeptical. But knowing how entitled he believes himself to be, ex would try it. oh well, only 8 years left til my daughter turns 18. But until then just another shit sandwich for choosing to breed with a fuckwit. CL’s book should be required reading for people to get a marriage license.

      • Number 2!!!! “how to deal with the self-employed ex under-reporting income.”

        I am facing the same issue and have met others who have also had this issue. Would love to have that covered!

      • Good suggestions, thanks. On #4 — I think there should be provisions in any parenting plan of what happens if the person FAILS to abide by the order. Like they must pay your court costs to fight it. Or whatever consequence your attorney deems appropriate and enforceable.

        Taking your kid out of state or the country is a huge violation, IMO.

      • She sucks, Mickey. Don’t let her get to you. See how much lawyer time you can get today, so you can really suss out all the options. She sucks.

        • My heart goes out to you MBE. This is my worse fear. IME, cheating wives are truely nasty people, with little regard for the effects of their actions. Best wishes to you and your kids.

  • Oh Oh Oh – this would be a magnificent resource!

    What I so could have benefited by was guidance on the dissemination of information about the affair to my then 14 year old son. I did it all wrong and am now in the middle of an unexpected shitstorm with my now 20 year old college junior.

    He knew his father had an affair but I never went into any details. Now, almost six years after d-day my son is angry that I didn’t hold the family together. He has grown close to his dad, at my encouragement and through my facilitation, and now I am learning, to my detriment. My ex is facing some serious health issues, is very lonely (his long-term girlfriend is still married) and is just an all-around sad sausage. My sweet son is worried about his dad and pretty pissed that I cobbled out a new life filled with adventure and that I have met the kindest and coolest man who digs me for me.
    I now know that I should have been clearer about the scope of his dad’s affair (over 5 years) and how I was left alone to manage everything on the home front while his dad “worked”.

    But there seems a fine line between being the sane together parent and somehow covering for the cheater.

    It would be great if you could address the problems of co-parenting older kids. If you could give guidance on dealing with kids who are more savvy and sophisticated yet children just the same. If you could help us know what information will best serve our kids as they move into adulthood. As the chumps who work tirelessly not to alienate our kids from their cheater parent, we might not be serving anyone’s interest but our ex’s.

    • I think it is such a balancing act. I don’t have all the answers. I can just make coherent arguments and say what the issues are, and give my opinion.

      I’ve always argued that kids should be told about infidelity in age appropriate ways. Your son is 20. I think you can tell him about his dad’s affair — and he’s alone now because of consequences of his own behavior. That’s not on YOU.

      Accepting any of that blameshifting is playing the chump, IMO.

      You can feel sorry for your ex without accepting responsibility for his bad choices. That’s how I’d put it to a grown child.

      • In a similar vein…. how to deal with the Fuckwit who plays the victim after the affair and is very controlling with the kids. She does the parenting, but in her own way, without any regard for the other parent (or even the kids… it’s all about her).

        I am reluctant to tell the kids about the affair as I know they will think badly of their mother and I think that will hurt them. If they asked, I wouldn’t lie, but don’t feel like volunteering it. But it’s annoying she is playing the victim like the sad sausage she is ….

        • FSTL–if you don’t tell the children about the affair, without drama or fanfare, you may be facing the same thing as Paula in a few years–your wife is a better manipulator than you. She will try to turn the children against you with her sad sausage ploys (especially if her life continues downhill, and there is a good chance that will happen). You are especially at risk if you have daughters, who will naturally gravitate toward their mother as a role model.

          Do not gaslight your children; stop protecting your X/STBX. Cheaters are sicker than we are smart.

          When you tell your children, let them ask questions. Answer those questions only. They will only ask what they can handle at that moment, and then may come back months later to ask more questions. Good luck.

          • +1. Tempest.

            I did tell my 3 birds and don’t regret one second of it.

            It also helps the kids understand that when “mom isn’t acting normal again” that its not because of *me* but because of *her*.

            It keeps the kids from being manipulated from the disordered parent. Kids then learn about accountability without blame-shifting. Very valuable lesson for the kids to learn!

            • So true, SureCaL–there are ways in which parenting can be boiled down to a few simple strategies. Model what you want the kids to develop (like honesty), and make sure they have a moral & psychological framework with which to navigate the world.

              The simple truth of parenting alongside a fuckwit–ALWAYS expect them to be a jackass. ALWAYS. I have as little contact with my X as it is possible to have (minor daughter won’t have anything to do with him; college daughter successfully navigates holidays by herself). And yet….he refused to pay for a round-trip ticket for college-daughter for the holidays because “you spend more time at your mother’s house.” Instead of waiting to see if I would pay him back half the ticket so we could both save on a round-trip fare, he booked oldest daughter a one-way ticket. He makes 5x what I make (more if you count his investments), and he wants to score a point on me for $125. I just laugh.

              As best you can, try to think of your X’s behaviors clinically (rather than take them personally). Hard, I know, when you’re in the trenches co-parenting, but even a little emotional distance helps.

              • CL – I’m only a new chump so I have no clue yet if the way I am handling it so far is the right way, but I’m guessing there are no ‘right’ answers. But like handling a cheater there are ‘wrong’ answers.
                So yes please write the book (and fast!).
                I would like to see a lot of what NOT to do. Like dealing with a cheat there are lots of things chumps should not do (blame themselves, do the pick me dance, trust the RIC, believe in unicorns, wait six months before doing anything, ASK THEM etc.) your advice on what to do is simple – know what your deal breakers are and enforce your boundaries.
                When it comes to kids chumps are vulnerable. Caught between doing the right thing by the kids and not wanting to act like a fuckwit themselves. It’s not a level playing field. Lying cheaters have no qualms playing dirty. Chumps naturally want to keep things civil. I’m sure there is a cheaters parenting playbook – you will be able to spot the same stuff coming up time after time and give good advice to chumps to protect themselves.
                Mine are 12,17 and 21. They all know most of what happened as I imploded for two weeks and they heard a lot more than I maybe would have shared if I could think straight.
                I’m lucky as their father works abroad and has for years so I will have full custody. He will lose the right to reside in the country I live in with them. So no 50/50 parenting for me.
                They were as blindsided as I was so we feel all in it together and as I have been pretty much a single parent they are not dealing with a sudden absence.
                My parents divorced when I was 10 in the 1970’s. Then the advice was not to tell children anything. It was awful. My dad took off and I didn’t see him for years. My mom bad mouthed my dad all the time. I idealised him for years as she was dysfunctional but more harmful as I lived with her cruelty. By the time I found out for myself the kind of man he was it was a hard pill to swallow. Both narcs. I have no contact with either now.
                So I try to be open and honest. I also am not excusing their dads behaviour nor running interference. They will have to discover his neglect for themselves. Something that has already started as he has stopped texting as they don’t reply. He can’t be bothered. Devastating as I full well know but better to find out sooner.
                There are no good resources I have found out there. Your book would be sooooo life saving (again. )

            • FSTL,

              I didn’t tell my kid about her dad’s affair, but I told her that I divorced her dad because he lied to me about grown up stuff I will tell her about when she turns 18. There was no upside in my telling her given that she had to live 50% of the time with him and his girltress anyway. I felt the cognitive dissonance on her would be too great for her age.

              However, when she asks questions, I keep reiterating that I divorced her dad because of his lies. This is the hardest thing I have ever done, and often I am so very tempted to just let it rip and tell her why I left her dad, and why I have no respect for the girlfriend he imported into her life.

              But where I live that would be a risk for high court fees and countless time spent in court for parental alienation. So I keep it at the “I divorced him because he lied to me” talk for now. When she asks me if I would consider going to dinner as a family I tell her that I would have dinner with her with her dad present if she asks me to do so for big things in her life like graduations or her wedding. I am very clear that I would do so for one reason, and one reason only: because I love her more than I despise her dad.

              I also never tell her that her dad loves her. Instead, I tell her that I have found out that her dad and I have different definitions of love, and that I want to focus our time together on that unique and ever evolving love between her and me.

              That is the reality of sharing 50% custody with a cheater in my “progressive” state… I will do my hardest to endure the consequences of my choice to marry and have a child with my X. It is not by any stretch the motherhood chapter of my life I would wish, but it is what it is. It is a tough path, and when she is 18, I will have no qualms of sharing her dad’s email confessions with her and blessedly going complete NC with him.

              • Chumptitude- that is how I handle my ex as well and long for the day when both my kids are 18.

                Chump Lady, this book would be so helpful. It is impossible to coparenting with a narc unless you want to eat a shit sandwich every single day. The thing I am amazed by is how my ex still wants to control me. He rants and rages one minute, is sickening sweet the next all in an attempt to control. I want nothing from him other than to just follow the divorce decree. I worked hard to get as much spelled out so that we wouldn’t have to discuss. He screams I never compromise. I don’t have to make life easy for him. I did that in the marriage and look how well that turned out. He assumed I would just continue to be a chump. No more. I have found me again and my kids know it. Happy writing. Share your knowledge as it really helps to know how others have found their strength and courage in the midst of such crazy. Until you live it, you just have no idea.

              • I too long for my kiddo to turn 18, and just like you Chumpfree, my X tries to still control my life and is having difficulties with my chump recovery…

                Several books that have been of help to me:
                When Dad Hurts Mom by Lundy Bancroft (most of the messages also apply to chump dads who bred with cluster B moms)
                Joint custody with a jerk by Julie Ross
                Stop caretaking the boderline or narcissist by Margalis Fjelstad

                It is a rough road, and I can’t wait for CL’s to turn all that crazy into wisdom for future chumps and their kids to build their best post-cheater life!

          • How about you have your ex husband tell the kid… in front of you so no lies? I would make him do it. As a chump kid, it is wrong to let your child think that your ex husband didn’t blow up your world and in some degree is manipulating him. Do you want your child to partner with a charming cheater himself? These people destroy lives. I would tell your child the truth, and then be present when you make your ex husband tell his side of the story with you present. Let him see his dad for what he really is.

            • Mine is an ex Wife… but I agree on the point. I offered to let her tell them and apologise when we told them we were separating and she refused to do it, saying that there are many reasons why our marriage broke down, so it’s not the X’s fault.

              Total blameshift of course… she had the chance the end the marriage any time during her 2+ year affair, but chose cake instead. It only ended after her behaviour was discovered…

              The other thing that occurred to me is she could also try and justify herself to the kids (who are all boys…) which is probably worse than saying nothing at all.
              Also (and I have done this already) – you can make it very clear than shitty behaviour is bad. For example, I have used Tiger Wood’s as an example of bad behaviour in a marriage (ie you can’t have boyfriend/girlfriend if you’re married and it’s hurtful to do so).

              Still pondering things, but in my mind I will tell them if they ask. I wasn’t planning to volunteer anything, but also won’t lie/gaslight them if they do ask.

              • I understand your hesitation, but think you are running a risk waiting for them to ask you. And the longer the time between when the affair happened and when you tell them, the less compelling the truth.

            • There is no way you can MAKE a disordered, entitled parent do anything. You are not the boss of them, and they will make sure you know it. Furthermore, even if you compel them to tell the children, they will fuck it up in some way (typically by blameshifting or making themselves out to be the victim).

              If you want something done right when co-parenting with a jerk, you will have to do it yourself.

              • She is certainly making herself out to be the victim and yeh, I certainly can’t tell her what to do…. not just with this, but with the divorce proceedings as well where she is driving us both into the financial dirt by holding out for her entitled view of the world (in which she gets 100+% of assets and 90+% of my income – and I am not kidding….). All we’re both getting from this is huge legal bills.

                As I said, I did the right thing and offered her the chance to tell the kids… she didn’t take it.

              • I told my kids’ dad that he should talk with them. He didn’t. Surprise, surprise. So, 9 months later, when I looked at a house to rent, I told them. He was mad I did, “we agreed to tell them together!” Um. When??? I have done all the heavy lifting, talked openly, without editorialising. He has since talked with them all individually, speaking of his deep remorse, humiliation and sorrow at the pain he caused me, and that they could always ask him anything. They never have. I think that speaks volumes.

              • No, you can’t make them do anything. Tell the kids and if they are older, be sure to say they should never accept this treatment. They need to be one and done. You really can’t love enough for both partners, especially one looking out only for themselves.

          • Children of any age must hear the truth from you. You cannot expect the cheater to ever tell the whole truth about anything.
            (Partial truths are lies and very manipulative) The cheater has proven that they cannot be trusted & that they value themselves above anyone else. They use words to paint portraits of themselves that they want others to see–and they will always shed a positive light on themselves!

            Our kids need to know that they can trust one of their parents completely. Speak age appropriate truth in sincerity & love. Answer questions honestly. It is not the faithful parent’s fault that the truth makes the cheater look bad.

            Sometimes in our efforts to protect our children (&I ourselves) we cover wounds up with bandaids. Bandaids will not promote healing and growth. Exposing the truth will remove a lot of confusion and allow real healing to begin!

    • Your son is 20 and thinks this way? That’s worrying. Hope being close to your ex hasn’t taught him bad behaviour is okay. Having a cheater as a parent means you may also end up being one too especially if you internalize their people make mistakes crap.

    • My dad was a cheater. I lived with him only one year after my parents divorced. There can be a strong bond between dad and son. Give the boy all the dirt now; he may come around. Spare no detail unless it hurts the boy financially. (disclaimer – childfree chump I am.)

    • I think the time has come, at an appropriate moment, to sit down with your son, invite him out for coffee even, make it a properly formal conversation with gravity, and explain very unemotionally, what exactly happened, the time line specifically (no name calling obviously), and the fact that his father continues to participate in an adulterous relationship, and though he is clearly not at fault for suffering ill-health, his life choices have impacted his current situation, his adult personal choices. Not yours. His. It’s time to be a bit tough and explain with clear examples, why you did what you did for your son, how although you are quite aware that you are now bad cop, that you have tried very hard to be sane and present and that you hope one day he starts to see this. After that, explain that you will no longer put up with being the punch bag for his anger, that you will happily talk through whatever, that he is so welcome to feel his feelings, but you are not going to be the scapegoat. Mean it. Be pleasant and kind and just lay it out. Boundaries, not just for ex’s, for kids too. You can’t control what he’ll do, but you can hope that one day he will take a hard look at things and maybe the penny will drop.

  • Excellent book idea, and one that is desperately needed. A few things have learned with my 17, 15 and 12 year olds:

    1. Document everything.

    2. Respect the wisdom of your children. Because they are very wise. They figure things out. Be truthful with the kids about affairs, disordered behaviour, etc in age appropriate ways. Spackling the behaviour of the fuckwit parent just confuses things. Be matter of fact when you talk about delicate things, and then get back to your awesome life with your kids. Be the sane parent.

    3. Some might find this unusual advice, but…. If ex has remained with the AP and there were also children involved there, consider communicating with the AP’s ex too! In my case, I was friends with the AP (shudder) and her husband. After our lives blew up, he and I remained friends, supported each other, and now we share very helpful info. We work behind the scenes to protect our kids, and always manage to figure out when there is another lie in the works. We occasionally even manipulate the family calendars to ruin the SS Twu Wuv’s romantic plans. May as well have a little fun with it!!! We occasionally commiserate about our fucked up situation, and use a little dark humour to carry us through. Both of our divorces are now final, and when we share necessary info, we KNOW that we came out the winners.

    • I told the AP’s wife, but it’s a tricky one as you don’t want to get involved in someone else’s shit. I felt at times like I was part of her manipulations with her STBX. Once I decided to divorce, I wasn’t interested in hearing anything about my X, but was happy to provide general help and support.

      So I would be careful on that front.

      Having said that… Messing with their holidays… now that’s an idea 🙂

    • Dee, we were friends with my STBX’s AP, her husband and kids as well! Her husband was the one who called to tell me of the affair, after he’d used the info against her in their divorce in a fault state. He and I have remained friendly, sharing information that has helped me manage things on my end as I started the divorce process in our no-fault state. I would love to be able to mess with holidays, but alas, the AP has abandoned her kids (8 and 10) to be with my STBX here in our state. Quality human being. Anyway, I have older children myself (16 and 18) and think a parenting book from Tracy would be wonderful!

    • Dee, I have likewise become friendly with the other ex-spouse. Like you, we share information to untangle the lies upon lies. With three young kids involved (OW’s 2 and my 1), it really helps knowing that I can get some truthful information from somebody. And although we haven’t yet (only because the opportunity has not yet presented itself!) fucked with the calendar to ruin any special trips between the two, we do occasionally check in with each other on scheduling things – I know that my cheater is MUCH more likely to give up time with his daughter when OW doesn’t have her kids for example.

  • Please feel free to give your thoughts and advice, I will gladly take it. My boys are 15 and 17 and my ex has completely alienated them from me. It has been almost a month since I have seen or spoken to them. I have always been the sane parent. I told them about the affair and that was it, no trashing their dad, the thing he married, his family. I did not tell them about all the abuse either.
    Now I feel like I have failed and I will never see them again. My ex and his AP and family are textbook personality disordered.

    Sorry for this, I am not having a good day.

    • I’m sorry, I can’t really give an advice, but I want you to know that I am sorry you are going through this. It’s wrong that some people feel the need to use children as a way to get back at their ex.

    • Gonegirl, my heart goes out to you. I feel like the alienation that the personality disordered cheaters do is far more hurtful than the cheating itself. I am convinced it spans several chapters in their universal play book. And in my experience both the mental health system and the family court system have been unable to fix it. I’m going on 7 years of dealing with this, haven’t seen my kids in about 4 months and am doing my best to keep myself sane and healthy (cancer survivor) so they will still have a strong and healthy parent when they are old enough to figure this shit out.

      • Runningviolet, I’m so sorry that you have to navigate the alienation of your children and cancer too. It boggles the mind and heart to contemplate all that lands on the sane parent/spouse. You are a true heroine! Stay strong and beautiful. You are part of what makes CN so amazing.

    • I’m sorry, Gonegirl. It is misery heaped on top of pain to have your children abandon you after betrayal.

      Their current stance may be some show of support for their father (especially if you filed for divorce), based on fear that he will abandon them, lack of understanding about what you went through.

      I would advise sending them notes, texts, etc. every week–small, not-too-sentimental messages that let you know you still love them. Don’t expect responses back for awhile, or ask to see them. After a few, remind them that you were the injured party in the marriage, and (as gently as you can word it), that it seems very unjust that their father should have betrayed you and also won their loyalty. If no response, keep up with the not-too-sentimental messages that you miss them.

      There are no guarantees with children’s loyalty, but some mix of “still love you” and nudging them to see your perspective is probably the best strategy. Hugs!

      • Tempest
        I think this is really good advice. I had opinions about my parents when I was a teen that changed significantly as I got older and learned more about life. Probably the biggest change came when I became a parent. It’s funny how your childhood can look so different when you understand things as a parent yourself. Keeping up a loving connection will be a great way of hanging in there if they do start to realise things are not as they thought. Teenaged boys I don’t think are that emotionally sophisticated and if we as adult women were taken in and controlled by ‘our’ narc it is perhaps not surprising that they can be too. Be honest. Be straightforward and don’t pussyfoot around. Be strong about your experiences, your reality. Hugs to you in an awful situation. Good luck.

        • Tempest that’s great advice!! Never underestimate simple unrequited love (sounds corny) but by gosh these wounded little people need it. Plus, if you keep gently reassuring your kids of this, it will make the bad mouthing from your ex much less believable. My heart just aches for parents going through this. Definitely a great idea for a book Tracy.

      • I can attest to that. My narc and my highly manipultate older daughter conspired to damage my relationship with my younger. It took a lot of still loves you, as she up and moved to her father’s. It still takes that sometimes, but in the end, the parent she can rely on is me. Still working on my older.

    • Gone girl same boat here. X, being a master manipulator, not only turned my adult kids against me but used childhood grudges to turn them against each other. Divide and conquer. It’s a hurtful mess that has destroyed our family. And he just goes merrily on his way. I too would love to see this addressed in a book.

    • Gonegirl,
      Have been right where you are and anticipating being there in the future. Sending hugs and strength.

    • Dear Gone Girl,

      I am so sorry for what you are experiencing. I think gender plays a role here. Sons often seem to need their father’s approval even when they know their father has misbehaved. I suspect he tells them all kinds of lies about his behavior and yours, and the price they have to pay for his approval is to believe whatever crap comes out of his mouth. Our society serves up a lot of messages about “sticking together as men” and “the importance of not being a mama’s boy,” etc., and boys in their teens are hugely vulnerable to this.

      On top of this, your role as the sane parent also probably means you are the one with boundaries and expectations, which teens of either gender are often happy to abandon in favor of someone who lets them do and say what they want.

      I hope you can keep the door open for them, and that as they age (and the truths about their other parent become more obvious), they will come back to you.

      Having some of the same issues as you have, I could not be more sympathetic. It is a terribly hard place to be in.

  • “Breeding with a fucktard is a never-ending suckfest.”

    I remember reading this quote here at Chump Lady years ago. There is no truer sentiment. If anyone knows who said it, please cite it!

    For a book on this subject, I would include dispelling ingrained societal myths designed to keep the status quo, such as STAYING TOGETHER FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHILDREN.

    I made the humongous mistake of believing that staying together for the sake of children was best for them. I was wrong x 1000. Essentially, our kids’ childhood became a “How To” life experience on how to treat a woman like shit and how a man should expect to be central to the lives of everyone in his orbit. I now fear that my kids will never recognize or have a healthy relationship thanks to what their father and I modeled.

    It took 15 years and a career change until I finally found my backbone and filed for divorce. I won’t sugarcoat here; EVERY fear I had came to fruition. Massive, all-out attacks on my character, my self esteem and my financial stability – artfully designed to ruin and at times physically kill me – were launched by their father. He transferred his shortcomings on to me and falsely accused me of all the things he was doing; cheating, stealing, etc. I haven’t recovered yet, and not sure I ever will.

    Interesting to me now is the planned and complete commitment he had to ruining me. Had he exerted even a minuscule amount of effort on the execution of his attacks to actually respecting me, I would still be married to him. In the end, his hatred became a validation that I did the right thing by leaving.

    While every fear came to fruition, it didn’t endure. Physically leaving the orbit of such a mentally ill person literally saved my life in more ways than I could ever count. His cheating was my wake up call that I am worth more than either he or I could ever have imagined.

    By committing to remaining the steady, dependable, sane parent to our kids while he was following his bliss with his bimbo, indeed, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it is starting to bend toward justice.” X is living his miserable existence away from me and two of our three kids now.

    Sadly, our third son chose lying, theft and drugs as his path. He now lives in Clusterfuckdale at his father’s circus. Asking my son to leave – while essentially failing to rescue him from himself – was the most difficult decision I had to make. But for the health of my other two kids and me, it was necessary.

    Divorce isn’t easy on kids, and anyone who says, “Kids are resilient” are snowing you into thinking it’s going to be a cakewalk for them. It won’t. But staying together for their sake is like telling them they aren’t worth much, either. It’s going to be a hard road for you and your kids, but once you’re past the construction of it, the ride is a lot more enjoyable.

    • ChutesandLadders, your story was so familiar that I was sure I knew you–the mentally ill and disordered do seem to have a universal playbook. So sad that these scenes play out over and over again upon the innocent. Knowing how big hearted chumps are, I believe that if your ex had thrown you even a few more crumbs, you could have endured. But thankfully, we find the strength to process the truth. Physically leaving them is the path back to sanity and saving our lives. Their cheating is our wake up call.

      I am so sorry for the pain and damage your children have had to experience. I pray that healing and wholeness will come. It appears you have finally put on your own oxygen mask–good for you. With time, I pray that your modeling of sanity, resilience, and love will begin to work its way into your children’s lives and that it will be the lifeline they grab onto.

  • Congratulations, Tracy, raising such a handsome young man who sends his mom a picture of himself in a suit!! 🙂 It looks like he has your curly hair?

  • Funny you should mention this Tracy — I’ve been thinking that some type of resource is needed specifically on coping strategies for being in the same house with a cheater while the divorce process plays out.

    Those of us unfortunate enough to have cheaters who refuse to leave (entitlement, advice of counsel, general mindfuckery, whatever) have been forced to deal with our own little versions of hell that those whose cheaters just up and leave don’t have to face.

    I’ve got 10+ months of this shit under my belt (though she’s finally leaving this weekend!), and can testify that the constraints required to keep peace in the house and relative sanity of the mind while continuing to document and build the case for a judgement in your favor can be overwhelming. (CrazyDogLady — chime in here!!)

    I would think at minimum this specific topic could be a chapter of your upcoming effort.

    • UXworld
      Well you sure are mighty. My STBXH comes home for a week to sign paperwork etc and I have been getting steadily more anxious as the day arrives. Tomorrow in fact.
      It’s going to be awful and I was just thinking today how miserable it must be for divorcing parents who have to share a house full time for a while until things get sorted. This must be a nightmare to navigate.
      He might back and forth for a few weeks after this. I just don’t know how I will handle my rage. I don’t know if I will start the incessant questioning again. He will behave as if nothing much has happened and I just don’t know if I can handle it. I had to get a dental mouth guard when I found out as I was grinding my teeth so hard. I had to wear it all day and night. Now it’s only the odd night. I can imagine I might need a new one soon as I thing I will chew through this one!
      Main tips???

      • No magic formula, I’m afraid — just good old Grey Rock.

        Your exact words indicate that you believe yourself susceptible to being dragged down into the slime when he’s around. Don’t let yourself get baited into any discussion or argument, and don’t give into your need for understanding and answers. Letting him know your feelings is like junk food — tastes good in the moment but not at all good for your system.

        Be strong. Put what you’ve learned here to use. Remember that we’re all with you in spirit. And visualize your next post here and being able to say to us: “The fucker tried and tried but I didn’t give him the satisfaction.”

        • Thanks UX for that advice. I do overshare my emotions that’s true. I’m going to try not to this time around as much as possible. I used to text him a lot in the day but have managed to stop that. I had to write out the texts in a notebook at first to stop the urge to tell him things! Now I just reply to texts with a version of ‘cool, bummer, wow’.
          Fingers crossed. I liked the junk food analogy too.
          Thanks for taking time to advise!

        • Separated while living together is pure hell. I’m glad you’re almost out. I’ll consider writing about it. I guess I’d just repeat “It sucks” a thousand times until I’d filled a chapter. (I remember the 6 months it took me to get my son’s father out of the house — longest 6 months of my life.)

      • Yes, Tracy. I went through a year of having Cheater O’Mine living in the other end of our house…and the house wasn’t that big. THAT’s something a friend of mine is facing right now and it’s crushing.

    • UX, I had the same situation. It was brutal.

      He lived at home, but would spend every night and weekend with his bimbo. He assumed I would take care of the children’s needs. One Saturday, I was taking a statewide test for my teaching license. It had been marked on our calendar for months. When I came out of the test four hours later and turned on my phone, my eleven year old had been calling me wondering when I was coming home. His father had left that morning, and my son had no idea what was going on.

      Mostly, X was pissed that I didn’t take his “offer” to move out to a condo. He believed OUR “home” was his “property,” and he was damned if he would be the one to leave. It took a court order to get him out, and he even treated that like a suggestion.

      After five days beyond the deadline and a letter from my attorney threatening him with eviction by the police, I came home one day from work to discover that our basement – which he had taken over as his special bar/bedroom – was completely and utterly trashed. Think Animal House trashed. He moved out and left holes in the wall, crap on the floor, old liquor bottles smashed behind the bar, etc.

      His utter disregard and disrespect for our home was the perfect metaphor for our marriage. I bawled my eyes out. Then the next day, I took a sick day from work and my best friend came over with a sledgehammer and helped me destroy his homemade bar. It was the best day I had in almost 18 years. I had to rent a dumpster for the trash.

      Your day will come, and when she leaves, it will feel as though the air has been cleared of a toxic waste.

  • One of the reasons I keep coming back 18 months out from D-Day is that I found parenting nuggets amongst the forums. Narkles the Clown likes to tell our son that I get drunk every night I am without the kid. Never been much of a drinker. Still not much of a drinker. Never drink in front of the kid, but NArkles the Clown likes to toss it into the mix every once in awhile. I had a frank honest discussion with the child about how many times he has seen me actually drink so he can learn to spot the difference between what he sees and knows and words someone is saying. Of course Narkles the Clown has to have a nightcap nearly every night. Projection much? I digress. My point is that I didn’t rage at the kibble addict looking for a fix. I learned here to trust that’s he sucks, talk directly to my child, and trust that my kid would eventually see the difference between me and his father. I don’t stay quiet when this happens I correct the facts and move on. Pay dirt at the start of the school year when the boy stopped by my house to drop off papers he needed singed by the next morning in his words “because I know you will take care of it.”

    Many many months ago a user named @theclip had a post about how she doesn’t co-parent. She just parents, handles all the staying on top of school projects, teaching how to ride a bike, making all the doctor’s appointments….just like before the divorce. A light went off in my head. I was not the only one already parenting by myself and chances are me @theclip a not alone. There has to be a whole chapter on the times a divorce changes nothing in the parenting realm. I parented alone before and I parent alone now. The big difference is that while there is the shit sandwich of not seeing my kid every day that also means I have time for self care and some sleep….at least until the kid is a teenager.

    • Same here, nothing changed. I am almost 3 yr’s past D’day. But about six months in I asked our son, who was 15 at the time, how he was finding not having his dad around? His response “nothing has changed here mum, there’s just one less person in the house”. He is almost 18 and had never had regular visitation with his father. My 12 and 14 yr old girls,are currently struggling with, if going to dads is worth it as the step siblings get away with everything and my girls are treated as if they are the +1’s.

      • Same here Thankful.
        That would be another useful topic: kids dealing with stepparents and step siblings. My 12 and 13 year olds are starting to protest at going to their father’s on alternate weekends. Their dad immediately moved in with OW and her 2 younger girls, and he pays for everything including their private school fees. My boys describe a sick Cinderella dynamic where they are made to do the domestic chores and gardening, while the girls do nothing. And the reason is “you need to do it in return for your school fees” (a school he pushed them to go to, as OW was a teacher in their original school)
        By law I’m supposed to encourage them to go, and want them to still see their dad, but I wonder at what point can I tell them “Now you’re in high school, the courts won’t force you to go there”. And if later in life they would blame me for the inevitable distant and strained relationship with dad (even though that’s all his doing with his punitive and thoughtless favouritism)

    • Ditto. The differences for me are all positive. I parent my way but without the constant criticism (there is still plenty of criticism, I just don’t hear it daily). I no longer try to parent for 2 – I didn’t realize how tiring it had been until I stopped: I was constantly trying to fill in for their negligent father while simultaneously keeping him informed and included while he was “working”.
      Now, I just do me.
      Bonus that he is starting from scratch with archaic parenting ideas (do as I say, not as I do) that are flying like lead balloons. He screws up and I am there, as I have always been, encouraging my kids to advocate for themselves and teach them that actions speak louder than words.

      • Snap here. I am lucky. It’s always been me. No change. I bet that’s true that chumps have always done most of the parenting. What would be in it for a narc? They only want the kids attention later on when they are appropriate audience material and will be willing to work for kibbles.

        That’s why I do teach my boys (1) its actions not words and (2) reciprocity- if you stop doing what do they do?

        • My sisters say my STBX is a father from the Mad Men era. He uses our kids to make himself look good to others in conversations, on Facebook and on dating profiles. Who knows what drivel he makes up now that I no longer keep him informed about day to day issues. He texts me pictures of the kids that he takes – because he wants me to reciprocate, so he can show people what a good, involved father he is. Hahaha!
          Consequences suck dude.

    • Agree, AllOut. It was shocking to realize I had been doing all the parenting things alone. X only does things for the “attaboys” from strangers. He only shows up to things where he can be seen as the “parent.”

      In this sense, “shared custody” is a fucking joke. It is a legal right for him to stall, question, and fuck with parenting decisions that he never cared about when we were married. But actually parent? He can’t be bothered with that!

    • Agree, AllOut. It was shocking to realize I had been doing all the parenting things alone. X only does things for the “attaboys” from strangers. He only shows up to things where he can be seen as the “parent.”

      In this sense, “shared custody” is a fucking joke. It is a legal right for him to stall, question, and fuck with parenting decisions that he never cared about or weighed in on when we were married. But to actually parent? He can’t be bothered with that!

  • It might be a little heavy. But I would love to hear how others have handled similar issues. I had to spend a few days last week helping my girls identity “conditioning” pedophiles do it and so do psychological abusers in order to quell any opposition. My 12 yr old daughter is bearing the brunt of not yielding to it with her father. It would be helpful to get other people’s thoughts on this.

    • This is also one that weighs heavily on me. My tactics are as follows:
      I started by explaining inappropriate touching to them. I was firm about the fact that nobody should be touching their private parts – ever.
      Then we talked a bit about grooming and how people break down barriers, not just physical barriers (and had flashbacks to some of the comments STBXH made to me, but that I spackled away). I like this info: http://www.abuseandrelationships.org/Content/Behaviors/grooming.html
      We also talk about the profile of sexual offenders as people who appear “too good to be true.” I use this site as guidance: http://www.peacefulheartsfoundation.org/common-myths.html
      We also chat about news items featuring abuse and how it is most often parents/step-parents or other known and trusted people that are the perpetrators.
      I also take any learning opportunities presented to me. Last week, my son asked me what a psychopath was. I hauled out the home medical manual and read the list of behaviours. And my daughter said, “Oh, just like Daddy.” I evaded a direct answer but then referenced the assignment in Harry Potter about werewolves and how you can sometimes have a strange creature living right under your nose without even being aware. Subtle, age-appropriate, and not alienation.

    • What helped me and my kiddo was boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.

      But, equally, if her dad did something particularly shitty, I would point it out. Hell, if one of the Powerpuff girls did something shitty, I pointed it out. Not in a shrewish way, just, a – nope, that is not fair and I won’t do that-way.

      You’re doing great, Thankful! Being aware your kids need a working knowledge of good and evil that goes beyond the Disney level is important. A good folktale for a 12 year old is Bluebeard…

      I have been straight with my Kiddo. Stated I never want to see her in an abusive relationship, but because what she grew up with was fucked up twenty ways in every direction, she has to be double-double self aware and LEARN UP.

  • Good morning Tracy,

    To answer your questions:

    1. Of course we would like to see another book especially coming form you about coparenting with a fuckwit. Simply said, knowledge is power. I think it would have to include some kind of legal processes though.

    2. How have I coped with co-parenting with a fuckwit? Well 3 stages…

    The 1st stage immediately post divorce was trying to communicate gray rock with her. I was trying to play by the rules. It doesn’t work though. There was too much hovering from her. She didn’t stop crossing my boundaries and the kids boundaries.

    The second stage was, I stopped coparenting and went to parallel parenting. I know whats best for my kids and would make decisions on whats best for them without her input. I would inform her via text what my decisions were but the trick was never in the form of a question. (i.e., “I signed (kid) up for basketball or “I will drive (kid) on Saturday”). Basically, I was parenting with the pretense that she didn’t exist but would only send her a summary afterwards.

    The 3rd stage was going through the legal process in getting full custody of kids. I was recently awarded temporary full custody and continuing the pursuit of full. Her continual bad behaviors and her teenage lifestyle has directly effected the kids very negatively. Documenting everything is what allowed me to gain custody. I had no choice to go for full as its impossible to parent with a genuine “fuckwit”.

    3. The only resources out there that worked for me were *legal resources only*. To try and coparent with a genuine “fuckwit” is no different than trying to wrecko to save your marriage. It will *never* work because you are still dealing with the same disordered fuckwit pre or post divorce. They don’t change.

    For newbies, my best advice is keep doing for the kids as you have done through out your marriage. Continue to be the sane parent. *Document*. Quite honestly it becomes easier with time because eventually the fuckwit just becomes the shadow that they were meant to be.

    Tracy, your son is so debonair! He truly looks so happy. And you raised him all by yourself. You my doll, are a special soul. 🙂

    • “For newbies, my best advice is keep doing for the kids as you have done through out your marriage. Continue to be the sane parent. *Document*. Quite honestly it becomes easier with time because eventually the fuckwit just becomes the shadow that they were meant to be. ”

      Yes! This!

    • THIS. I think so many Chumps get blindsided, and their reasonableness can work against them.

      You have described the last four years of my life.

      x-Meh

    • This is my story as well. I got “temporary” full custody a few weeks ago. It has been a long 5 years getting to this stage. The “temporary” part is a legal euphemism since the judge has required the EX to clean up other legal issues, and I can’t see that happening any time soon.

      One of the big takeaways, I think, from SureChumpedAot is that it is easy to see the initial parenting agreement as the new truth. It feels final–at the time. Having custody matters “concluded” can be a relief or demoralizing, but the fact is, for many people working with the deeply disordered, the process has only begun. And SureChupedAlot’s stages are spot on!

      At the bottom of every page of the new book you should put both the page number and the rallying cry for this volume–“Did you document today?” Document. Document. Document.

      Of course, you need an entire chapter on documenting as well. It needs headings like:

      What Should I Document?
      How Often Should I Document?
      When Can I Stop Documenting? (When your kids cease being minors)
      How Documenting Will Save You Money!
      How Documenting Will Reduce Your Court Time (and Costs)!
      How Documenting Will Preserve Your Sanity!
      The Silver Lining of Documenting (It will tick your EX off beyond belief.)

    • Great comment SCaL!

      I am at stage 2, I hope to be able to arrive at the stage where I can go for temporary full custody. But my kiddo is still young and my X does not present obvious personality problems beyond being a callous POS.

      Your story gives me hope nonetheless, thank you for all you many stellar contributions to CN!

  • The STBX has decided that being a ‘parent’ isn’t as ‘cool’ as being a fun friend. Indulging the 16-yr old daughter when she goes clothes shopping – don’t let her dress like an adult at a nightclub! It’s not ‘cool’ to let an already confused teen share her discovery of her awesome body with the world when she is too young and naive to understand what is and isn’t appropriate school wear. Don’t ignore the 13 yr old boy who lost all respect for you – it might not be ‘fun’ to hang out with a young boy who can see through you but he’s your son! And stop gushing over the 7 yr old autistic boy. Yes, he is beautiful and fun – have you only just discovered this?! X has launched into ‘Dad of the Year’ mode for the first time ever. Guess who will take up nearly all the responsibility again when the ‘just-add-divorce-instant-dad’ act gets a bit too time consuming and ‘boring’?
    Years and years of ‘protecting’ the children and working to ensure they had a relationship with their dad is biting me in the rear as now the children have to discover the real man who is their father and realize all the dad times where engineered by me.
    There is more to fatherhood than being the fun parent.

  • First off, congratulations on raising such a fine young men! We’re going to need those!
    Then, I am so excited about another book and even more so because it is about co-parenting. For me, the main thing would be to emphasize that children have to be told the truth. It helps no one (other than the cheater) to lie to our kids. I read somewhere that abusers thrive on our silence.
    Now I also think there should be a special section on children who are the first to find out about a parent’s infidelity… Yuck… 🙁
    I can NOT wait to read this book!

    • Great point – I know 2 teen girls who discovered the affair through emails / texts then told the other parent. One of them refuses to have anything to do with her cheater mother.

      • Yes, I’ve mentioned after I kicked the cheater out a neighbor girl told my daughter she had seen her dad Out and getting very cozy with some other woman and didn’t know what to do. Now she understood and was so sorry.

        This was quite a surprise to me, but I didn’t have to backtrack or clarify or anything because I had decided to share the facts about the breakup of our family and not sugar coat of spackle anything.

        Always tell your kids the truth. Do not lie to your children to cover for your cheater’s horrendous choices.

  • SureChumpedALot nailed it: the whole situation becomes a whole lot easier when you stop trying to co-parent with a disordered fuckwit, and realise you have to parallel-parent.
    I had this idea when we first split that we could be reasonable adults and get along for our daughter’s sake. Go to parents evenings & events together, share daily ‘guess what she did today’ stories. But no. He’s still too busy blaming everyone else for his affairs and playing the victim because he no longer lives with his daughter. The stress of trying to get along with someone who was trying to get one over on me on a daily basis was making me ill. So I started telling him things instead of asking him things and ignoring his tantrums. Ignore bad behaviour, attention only for good behaviour. Like a dog…

    i also became friends with his current partner. She’s a lot like me, only younger and with more balls. I use that to my advantage. But it makes it so much easier knowing I genuinely like the woman who looks after my kid when I’m not there. Plus the ex HATES it. Bonus 😉

    Oh and yeah CL, it’s taken me over 3 years to work this out. A book would’ve been very handy! Do it!!

    • I was fortunate in that my kids were “mostly” grown when X’s affair was publicly exposed, although the youngest was only 12. It was an awful time for them, and I decided early on that co-parenting was not going to work. At the same time, I never denied access and I always acted cordially distant at the many school and other functions for the kids. We managed graduations, sports events, and even family funerals without drama. I maintained for my children, to show them how to remain in control of a shitty situation.

      That being said, some of my kids suffered greatly and engaged in self-destructive behavior in response to their pain. I was always supportive without being enabling. Fortunately, they are doing fairly well, now. They see their dad for exactly what he is. They love him, but are not blind to his need to be worshipped, and always the center of attention. They can actually be quite funny about some of his stunts.

      Our problem now is the he is very ill and even, perhaps, near the end of his life. I am financially reponsible for his care, but much of the emotional part of dealing with his illness falls on my twenty-something kids. It can be quite painful to see them struggle, but I also think it has made them stronger human beings, They are far more empathetic than most kids their age. I definitely recommend being honest with your children, while at the same time, not making them your confidant or expecting them to take sides. It isn’t fair to them and only drives a wedge in you relationship with them. My kids love their dad, despite his character flaws, and I think they appreciate that I have tried to be supportive of their struggle to navigate and accept with his medical condition…and the fact that he is never going to change his essential self,

      • Violet. Great post. You are obviously a woman of great strength and character. I am trying to not make them takes sides or to like it when they disparage him but I find it so hard. I really would like it if they disliked him as much as I do but I know that’s not fair. I have not managed to say positive things about him yet I’m firmly stuck in neutral now that’s all I can manage. I’m using the excuse that I’m only four months out so it too soon to be reasonable about the whole thing.

        • It is part of our divorce settlement. I was put in charge of the family trust (which really protected my kids), but he is one of its beneficiaries and his needs have to be paid out of it. Fortunately, between Medicare and supplemental policies I bought years ago, most of the costs are covered. Also, I am still considered a “high” earner and he is disabled, so guess what? My staying with him all these years makes him entitled to part of my earnings and assets. Men are not the only ones who get screwed in divorces. The whole thing definitely sucks, but I try to remind myself how lucky I am to have my own life. I could be the one having to be his home health care nurse. At least all I have to do is pay for it…sigh.

    • FYI Crymeariver, I’m thinking your purported lack of “balls” has to do with the fact that you had a child, a marriage, a family you were trying to protect. She has to be ‘bold’, it’s part of her spackling to commit to a known cheater. Do not sell yourself short- you are mighty!!

      • lol CourtneyS, I had balls when I met him, he slowly removed them over the years 😉 I hope he never removes hers! I’m mightier than ever now I’ve rid myself of that emotional vampire 😉

  • This would be an amazing book to help so many people! I would love to see a chapter on single parents who are raising special needs children and maybe one for families who adopted children and then the cheater left etc.

    My personal story, it was my ex who begged for children and my daughter was diagnosed with autism, developmental delay and epilepsy at age 3. He walked out when she was 5. Left me for the French teacher at his school. He sees my daughter for 4 hours two evenings a week and every other weekend. She’s non verbal. It’s been 3.5 years since dday. I have never had any contact with OW. I can’t begin to describe how difficult it is to surrender your child to a sociopath when she cannot speak. It’s like flying blind. He never gives details about his weekends with her. It’s his power over me.

    I would love to hear CL take on this type of co-parenting and CN. A book would be great! As a side note, I live in Canada and was able to get Child Support, Alimony and extra money for her extraordinary expenses. But she will never achieve independence and I fear for her future. I’m in this alone. At least emotionally. But I am a fighter.

    • I, too, have a child with special needs. One thing that I would like to warm other parents of kids with special needs is that you should not assume that F–kwit parent (your ex) will ensure he/she acts in the best interest of your child or even allows you to act in the best interest of your child (e.g., allow you to take your child to a physician for a non-invasive assessment that is years overdue). If I had known that my STBX was going to prevent our child who has special needs from getting the assessment that he deserves and needs, I would not so quickly have agreed to joint legal custody.

      Also, don’t count on most judges and attorneys in the family court system to give you and your children anything close to a fair settlement, although they love to throw around the phrase, ‘in the best interest of the children.’ Most of the ones I have met are self-serving, insulting hypocrites who have done as much harm as my abusive law-breaking STBX. I will probably lose my life savings in late middle age. I was dragged into Family Court so I had no choice as to whether I would get into the Family Circus, but if you can avoid it, I would suggest in most cases that you do.

    • Sounds like you have always been in it alone, even when you were married.
      When my daughter was diagnosed with ASD at age 3, my world turned upside down. I needed to educate myself and my family, start therapies, navigate the special education system…
      My STBX was not supportive. Looking back now, that was the first big betrayal. By the time the affairs started, I was conditioned to betrayal. Which is why it took 3 DDays to get to where I am.

  • I think your book is a fab idea. I am not a parent, but I will share a book thought for your consideration.

    Parenting situations will vary wildly, as will legal realities in different parts of the country and world. Therefore, I don’t think people need direct advice from you as much as they need options and perspective.

    Among your particular talents, you are great at using humor to illustrate concepts and illuminate ideas, telling stories and decoding them, and channeling your own experiences with a clear eye on what it was like when it happened to you. You can speak both to the novice and the learned on the topic at hand. That gift is both rare and powerful.

    So, rather than offering actual advice, I think you can both offer and clarify options with your signature style. So often what I see in comments is a wide variety of ideas, each of which rings true for different people. You can be the conduit for that, organize it, and offer it in a way that is applicable to many situations, a trait that is often neglected by authors because they are trying to rebrand a thought into a multimedia money maker.

    I would buy your book if it was an illustrated guide for playing pick-up-sticks, both because I would want to support you and because I love your writing style. 🙂

  • I have the ‘impression-management’ X. Shows up in the final minutes of the game and makes a huge noise so people get the impression that he’s been there the whole time. What a supportive dad! Get ready to catch the child when they see the reality and it breaks their heart…

    • I’ve got one of those too!

      Sign up to help coach so your name is listed, but never actually show up.

      Drive the car in the parade, but don’t go to the assembly afterward.

      Post social media pictures with captions like “love their dad time” when all he did was take them to dinner, but couldn’t show up for surgery the next day.

      Tag his teen children in posts when he’s actually traveling with his girlfriend! Oh what a great dad… he took them to NY!

      It’s all about being seen, and then everyone gets to tell the kids what a great dad they have!

    • Yep, shows up later every time, glad-hands the other parents, slaps the coach on the back after the game… Now, if it’s practice, or some other activity that doesn’t involve a crowd of people seeing him, he suddenly has to work late, is too tired, has to get the car inspected…

    • Mine too. He had an “Autism Awareness” license plate. When he got it, I hoped it meant that he was actually going to help with therapies/assessments/IEPs.
      Nope. Just wanted people to pity and/or admire him.

      • Yep my cheater could not sit in oncology with our daughter while she got pumped full of chemo. But could publicly shave his head and wear a shave for leukaemia t-shirt everywhere.

          • Puke worthy parenting!

            X is one of those, too. Bitches about paying for any of their health, school and sports expenses, and then reminds them and anyone who will listen that they have their smile/equipment/textbooks because he’s such a generous guy.

          • Uggh. These cheaters are all the same! The STBXH puts on a performance when he has an audience – he is the BEST daddy ever! But as soon as no one is around, he ignores his children or ships them off to his mother’s house. I’ve often wondered if people actually believe their Disney Dad Personas.

    • Mine was like this even long before we split. When the kids were small, he’d leave them to my care all day or all evening. Then when they were already in bed and settling down, he’d come play w/them, tickle them, be tons of fun.

      He knew I’d ask him not to rile them up, or to keep it short, ’cause it was bedtime. When I figured that out and let him handle it, he’d break it off in 5 minutes, ’cause after all they needed to sleep, or even that mama was going to tell them to stop.

      So he could feel like the fun dad, who plays with his kids. Without having to invest more than 5 minutes every few days. Those moments made our kids happy, but they were so few and so short. The real parenting, both the fun and the not-so-fun, were left up to me.

      And now every time he’s with the kids (a few hours once a month, by the kids’ choice), he’s taking pictures, so he can make it look like he’s still the fun dad who’s spending time w/his kids.

  • It’s a great idea for a book. Becoz chumps being chumps, we carry our kindness, good intentions and trusting nature from the relationship into the co parenting . 4 months post D Day and into the divirce process, I have been trying not malign the ex in front of the kids so as to make their adjustment to the new normal easier (I have the care and control but we have joint custody). Except that my younger kid – 11 year old girl – is on the side of the cheating ex . He has moved out to buy a new place with the OW and her 2 kids and he keeps playimg the pity story to my gal so it looks like we are having a good life in our house while he has to scrunge up money to put up the Ho in a smaller place . Except that cheater ex is a doctor earning a good income and can likely get back on his feet within a couple of years . My 15 year old is v clear in his mind tat he would not want the cheating dad back on our lives but is exasperated with the 11 year old’s naïveté and “stupidity”. Basically , an 11 y o is not mature enough to process the impact and long term consequences of the brainwashing by the narc. I have explained the fact that he cheated mummy and fell in love with another woman (still married) and he has abandoned the family to be with her . It makes me wonder whether in future , my daughter will grow up sympathizing more with the cheater dad and possibly decide to stay with him. Yet I feel that we can only control ourselves . I do what I need to do everyday – raising the kids, running the household, tutoring them, chauffeuring them – being there with th all the time . Yet life can be unfair and unpredictable . So we can only do our best and if in the end, our kids for some reason, decide to take the side of the cheater or even leave us to stay with them, there is little we can do . We only control us, not others , even our kids .

    • Alienation of the kids is a real danger. No kids with a fuckwit myself (thank God), but my husband (also a former chump) learned this the hard way. His ex took off with their 10 year old daughter with plans to marry her online love. Turns out the 10 year old was in on planning the discard with her mom. Fast forward 16 years. The daughter (and now her husband) live with mom/ex who has assumed a full blown codependent role. Dad was good enough to ask for stuff (money, clothes, phones, cars, college tuition, plane tickets) and to live with for YEARS when her mom was homeless or between meal tickets, but he was not invited to the child’s wedding or college graduation. Those were Mom’s big days. This year he got a text that said, “Happy Fathers Day. Miss you, love you.” Nothing on his birthday.

      Kids will often choose the parent without boundaries over the one who sets limits.

  • I have been co parenting my granddaughter with my son-in-law for many years. She just turned 16.

    “the mature adults who put aside their differences for the Good of The Children”

    I’ll raise my hand on this without regret. Working with chikdren I know there are situations in which both parents are selfish and self centered at the expence of the child.

    I’ve maintained a relationship with him because it gave me the opportunity to be a positive influence as her mother figure.

    Your new book will be a great resource.

  • I only had a step-daughter. I saw the writing on the wall and bailed about 8 months after D-day. I just refused to be involved with anything associated with him. Perhaps it caused her a little grief, but I had to protect myself and put myself first. I’m not sure it was the right thing to do (as a chump I would say it was not), but as a recovering sociopath abuse victim I did what was best for me. I was furious with The ClusterFuck B Sociopath during this time. Stepdaughter has 2 small children now. I had sooooo looked forward to living vicariously through her motherhood as I never had children. I will not forgive him for stealing my opportunity away to love babies. And for what? A common ordinary cock devouring dumb drunk bitch. Hmmm….I feel some anger stirring?.
    So as far as a book, the step children should be considered as well. Then how to share your kids with the whorefucking affair partners?? Thank Jesus I don’t have that problem, but I know I would seethe with rage if I had to. These chumps forced to eat that shit sandwich are heroes to their children. A book is needed in my opinion.

    • EX, I’m so sorry to hear this, it must have been so painful for both you and your step-daughter. Those fucktards mess so many people up! They’e like walking natural disasters.

  • I can only contribute that I think the “high road” is a bit overrated and can bite you in the behind. Narcs will not appreciate the gesture and may even take the opportunity to blame the chump for the failed relationship. Never let them control the narrative. I think it must be stressed that cheating/abusive behavior is not normal and should never be tolerated. I’m not saying to bash the ex narc, just state calmly and emphatically, in age appropriate discussion, that the narc is a defect and if your kids choose to love their defective parent that is all well and good, but they should never expect too much from the narc.

  • For anybody keeping the affair a secret from your child, how did you like it when your ex kept it from you? Cheating has powerful a impact on every single person in the family and the lying is probably the worst. Of course if the cheater gaslighted you he is going to gaslight the kids. You need documentation but be prepared to still see the child making you the bad guy.
    A relative of a relative was married to one of the most manipulative, mean spirited persons I know. He had his children so hostile to their mother that only when the four kids were teenagers did their eyes open. Something happened one weekend that made them question their father’s stories. Individually they all wondered if what they “knew” was real. Because one of them spoke up the others finally accepted his manipulations. They went to their mother but she was so enmeshed in believing she was the bad guy that it took a long time for her to leave. They still love their father, they just don’t buy into his stuff anymore.
    CL, since finding you I have stopped being Switzerland. I used to be one of those that said, “Oh, so that happened.”. Now I say, “look what that SORRY piece of shit did.”. It makes a difference when I talk to people. I don’t soft soap my opinions anymore.

  • The thing is : as a chump I learnt that painful lesson that life can be grossly unfair, unpredictable and people can be unbelieveably cruel . Do not dispell the fact that kids can form their own opinions and turn their backs on the chump parent in favour of the cheater narc parent . After all, co parenting with a narc is akin to playing Russian roulette with the devil. Who knows what the Narc has up his sleeve? If he was dishonest in the marriage , whose to say that he would not behave the same way in coparenting ?

    • Yup. Narc parents use their kids for their own purposes. Sometimes to show how great they are. Sometimes to garner pity for their claimed selfless service. Usually to lob a grenade at their (former) chump.

  • Your son is precious, CL! Congrats on making it outta the woods alive, haha.

    Yes yes yes, this would be the #1 most relevant book topic for me, that’s for sure. Here’s my stab at helping:

    1. Very broad legal recommendations on what’s acceptable at what age (maybe get a family law attorney to help with this?), with the caveat of course that things vary by state. Like what age the court starts to take the child’s wishes into account, what age is it okay for the fuckwit to take your kid to a bar every night, etc. What your rights are, and are not. You know, the basics. This whole topic was very daunting to me at first. I had nobody other than my lawyer to trust on this stuff, and though she was great, it would have also been nice to have other trustworthy resources than my google searches.

    2. Document, document, document. I know others have said this too, but I’ll say it again. During the battle for custody and visitation, things get frustrating. But complaining, crying, and venting to friends doesn’t tangibly help. Documenting all of the things that happen, in extreme detail, with screenshots, pictures, etc. DOES help. Your lawyer will thank you for it. I kept a simple Google spreadsheet full of the accounts of every visit and / or every interaction, and it helped her pull examples for court. Not only is documenting a good exercise for your custody/visitation (and if you’re done with that, you still need ongoing examples in case the ex gets shitty again and you end up back in court), but it’s also a super therapeutic exercise. I found that when I offloaded all the frustrations into my spreadsheet, they didn’t have to take up space in my brain and heart anymore. I didn’t dwell on them. I felt the feelings, typed out the account, and put it away. This daily exercise was really important to me being able to know for a fact that I was doing everything in my power to protect my kid from my ex’s drunk driving and God knows what else, and that worrying beyond that was unproductive. I have slept like a baby every single night since beginning to document.

    3. If there are any GOOD resources out there, I don’t know about them. Most coparenting guides seem to assume the person you’re coparenting with is a *reasonable* human being. For those of you whose ex is reasonable, mazel tov! God love ya. But mine is just not. I definitely think we need a CL approach to this: a guide to parenting once you’ve given up on reasonable, and just need to get through each day being the sane parent.

    I also gotta echo what @AllOutOfKibble said: “There has to be a whole chapter on the times a divorce changes nothing in the parenting realm. I parented alone before and I parent alone now. The big difference is that while there is the shit sandwich of not seeing my kid every day that also means I have time for self care and some sleep….at least until the kid is a teenager.” <– This was me too.

    • I second documenting! It is very important to have dates, times and examples of bad parenting for your attorney to use to build your case.

      That said, it’s important to remember that your attorney IS NOT your therapist, and every time you call, email or ask for support, you’re getting billed big bucks. Save your editorial for your therapist time.

      I also recommend social media silence regarding your Fuckwit. No Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram digs, however well veiled you feel you’ve made them.

      • Truth, truth. Thank goodness for my very positive, validating therapist during that time. Spreadsheeting for the lawyer was nice, in that I just shared the spreadsheet with her and she could proactively mine it as she needed for court material, and she would ask followup questions when needed. But other than that we didn’t spend time discussing the details or anything.

        Also a great point about social media. LOTS of the damning material about my ex was gathered from those sites. Don’t post anything about your ex at all, lest the same fate befall you. Even if you’re a literal angel who does nothing unsavory in real life let alone on social media, *be aware* at how sneakily a craft cheater can twist and misconstrue the most innocent of posts. Staying “above it all” on (public) social media also has the added benefit of helping you focus on your real life, the life you’re living now, and not giving your cheater a single instant more of your (public) attention.

    • These are great suggestions — and YES on the documenting. If there’s any one takeaway it’s that — ALWAYS be on your game in documenting what you do for your kids, how much, when — and what your ex’s contribution is. Document, document, DOCUMENT.

  • Something that would be helpful? Tips and ready phrases to help children see that it’s ok to love their defective parent even though that person tore the family apart. Children have a need to love their parents – it’s pre-programmed. As the sane parent we need to help them to see that it’s ok to love the X – just recognize what the X did and know that it was not ok. X did terrible things and acted terribly. But loving X does not make you a bad child or make you appear disloyal to the sane parent. How can we explain this to a child – dancing between ‘tell it like it is’ or ‘gently, gently’? CL – a chapter on this please!

    • This is a good point, MovingOn. I would also emphasize the need to have children in therapy when they have to deal with a disordered parent.

      Often times we spackled so much our children are unaware of the manipulation, power and control issues the other parent uses. It comes to a head one way or another just as it did with chumps.

      We are no longer there and often times it surfaces as depression and self abusive behaviors when children become teens. The mine field is still there for them to navigate.

      • Therapy for children can be like therapy for us. Some therapists are terrible and can do damage. You have to find the right one.

        • This is so true. I’ve come to learn here that so many cheaters abandon their children. The impact is long lasting.

          Children have to face father/mother daughter dances without having a parent to attend. The have to answer questions from their peers. Teachers always say, “Have your mom sign the permission slip.”

          Just as others have no understanding of how it feels to be a chump, they do not know what it feels like to be abandoned by a parent who erases a wonderful innocent child from their life.

          And years later the disordered make attempts to contact the child AS IF NOTHING HAPPENED.

          There needs to be a chapter on abandonment from a child’s perspective.

    • Yes, to age-appropriate scripts. In my first book I’ve got chapters on Stupid Shit Cheaters Say, or dumb things Switzerland friends say — I’ll try and do responses and scripts in this book too.

  • I’m not really far enough along to give any advice. The parts that I would look for counsel on:

    1) How to answer the kids’ questions: “Where are we going to live, who gets the dog, will we (the kids) be together or separate, is dad coming with us here, is mom coming with us there? Why not?” There will undoubtedly be more difficult questions in the future as we finally separate. Some day, I’m sure I’ll get the question “Why did you get divorced?” and the kids are smart enough not to buy some kind of “we didn’t get along and/or we weren’t happy” garbage. That will be the most difficult one to deal with of them all.

    2) How often do you need to communicate with your ex? I dread having to talk to her – I can’t wait to have her gone. But even then, we will undoubtedly need to communicate in some fashion regarding the kids. I’d want to know the best alternatives to communicate without having to speak with them or meet with them (to the best extent possible, at least). Whether that be texting, some kind of app or email program, or whatever. Or maybe text some type of calendar where we both insert the kids’ activities and who needs to take them/pick them up. The less personal interaction, the better.

    3) Are there alternatives to paying child support to someone and just hoping they actually use it for the kids? I’ve (personally) paid for most of the kids’ expenses throughout their lives while at the same time trying to save money for them. I’ll likely continue to do so. But now with child support, who knows what I’ll have left to also pay for extra things for them on my own (vacations, gifts, etc.). Especially, when it’s joint custody (to the extent the kids spend equal time with each spouse). I’m a little pissed that it looks like right now that I’ll need to pay for the kids when they’re living with me (which is fine) AND pay her support to help her when they’re living with her. We both have good jobs and careers, so I’m not sure why it’s my job to deal with my 50% (with no help) and also help her with her 50%. She’s fully capable of getting a better job. She’s also completely incapable of saving money and is a notorious bad spender (always on herself). Can you set up some type of joint account that we would both fund that is exclusively to be used for children’s expenses (babysitters, clothing, activities, school lunches, etc.)? Maybe fund it proportionately to our respective incomes (I’d be paying more into it than her since she won’t get a better job (her COW is her BF), but that’s fine, at least I’m not funding the whole damn thing)? Does anything like that exist? It just sucks writing blank checks to somebody that basically just spent the marriage using you and has never demonstrated any financial self-control.

    Of course, most on here probably deal with it from the other side – how to deal with a deadbeat. I’m sure there are no shortage of stories there.

    4) How to deal with your spouse when they’re with their AP and they bring them around your kids. Basically, how do you not go up to the AP and punch his/her lights out? Should I just have a tranquilizer handy, a bottle of liquor…..maybe a high powered sedative?

    I know there are no perfect answers to any of this. Writing a book like that will be a real challenge. I would imagine all you could do is write as to your experience with various situations and tell everyone how you handled things, and what worked and what didn’t.

    I would love to read something like that though.

    • Blindside,
      My STBX sometimes still travels with one of his APs. What prevents me from trying to punch her lights out, beside the fact that doing so is illegal, is the knowledge that by being together, they might spare some innocent people the trauma of dating or marrying each of these bad people.

    • I found the most effective way to interact with X’s bimbo is to not interact at all;

      no nod of acknowledgement,
      no response to her drippy letter (written by X – properties in Word are very informative!) to me begging for understanding,
      no dropping off my son in her care if dear old dad isn’t in the car at the dropoff,
      no mention of her to our kids.
      no editorial when the kids make fun of her (although I admit that I did laugh out loud when one of them came up with the moniker, “Scarol” for her).

      The only time I acknowledged her existence was when one of my sons asked me why I never talk about her. I responded, “Because she’s completely irrelevant to me.”

      Naturally, this infuriates X; but as I told him when he said something to the effect that she’s serves as his agent, “The divorce agreement states I have to deal with you. Nowhere in the agreement does it state I have to deal with your skanks.

      He tried to bring me to court over it, and my attorney said it was the best laugh he and X’s attorney ever had.

      Silence is golden.

      • @ChutesAndLadders, you are killing it on this post! I know that for some it’s really hard not to have the instant gratification of telling someone off (or worse), but really, truly, ignoring them entirely is best. This part was really easy for me because my kid was only 1 when the ex left, so I haven’t had to endure a lot of questions, and a few judicious Facebook unfriendings/blocks were all it took to ensure I would almost never end up in attendance with AP at any event. But I find myself thinking about this more as my kid has gotten older and started asking some questions. I never editorialize or initiate anything negative being said about ex and new girlfriend (not AP, a *new new* gf), nor do I correct her when she makes critical observations about them. I answer her specific questions matter-of-factly and honestly. In this way, so far anyway, our time has remained all about us, and our home pretty much unmarred by their circus.

  • Tracy, your son is very handsome in his suit. What a nice looking young man!

    As for your book, please write it! From the stories here, I can tell it would be a big hit.

    My suggestion is to include a chapter on co-parenting with a disney dad/mom. My ex was this way even when we were together. He wants to be invovled in the fun stuff and disappears when it’s time to be responsible. Kids don’t see this at all – they just see that the responsible parent is the tough parent which means they want to be with the fun parent.

    My daughter was 16 when we split and the best thing I did (unknowingly at the time) was to tell them they could coordinate their time together. Because of this, he didn’t ask for custody, nor did he want it because that would have meant responsibility on his part. She had a job, sports, school and friends to spend time with so her life was busy. When he complained to me that she didn’t have time for him, I simply directed him to her and didn’t get involved.

    Being a disney dad by nature and a narc, he resulted to bribing and guilting her into spending time with him and still does and she falls for it. His family lives out of state and he always wants her to go with him to see them (image management) so he either gets tickets to a pro game up there or guilts her into going by telling her that “grandma isn’t going to be around much longer”. This has been going on for a few years now and she’s starting to catch on to it. She’s commented on this to me a couple of times lately and I simply respond that it’s her choice and not to feel guilty if she doesn’t.

    I could go on about his passive agressiveness, projection, trianglulation, and blame that he directs toward me through her still after 3 1/2 years apart. I’m a huge advocate of no contact (that’s me!) and grey rock contact (if you have to be in contact) with these fuckwit ex’s – but I know you’ll include this stuff in your book too. Good luck – I can’t wait to read it!

      • Minimal communication and not in person. Via text or email only. Some people with really abusive exs have the emails go through a friend or family member who passes on only critical information and none of the venom.
        It is very difficult to do while co-parenting.

        • I send the long-winded, convoluted and selfish emails from my narc X to my retired mother to cull out any nugget of useful information or item requiring action. Her service saves my serenity.

          • Aack. NC and parallel parenting is for me. I had to leave, really leave behind, a cheater and am working really hard to gain a life that is my own. I simply cannot maintain contact with him and successfully accomplish that.

      • Hi Free Vixen….I like your version of grey rock contact much better than the real thing!

        Grey rock contact is used when you can’t go no contact with a disordered person, like when kids are involved or you’re still settling things financially. It a way of communicating without getting tangled up in the drama they continuously try to stir up. You only communicate when absolutely necessary, you stick to the facts, and you make it as boring as possible to them so they don’t get the thrill they usually do by stirring things up with you. You become as blah, bland and boring to them as possible so they hopefully leave you alone.

        So in my case, when ex would text me, “D doesn’t spend much time with me. Why’s that?” I don’t take the time to explain to him and involve myself but instead I simply respond “talk to her”. Hopefully others can give examples they’ve used too.

        • oh and just to clarify, I was not putting D in the middle by responding to him like this. From day one of our separation, I told both of them that they could cordinate their time together without my involvement. Never once did I say what they planned didn’t work for me or had to change. I communicated my plans to her and, when my plans involved her, she scheduled time with him around them or asked me to change mine. I’ve actually been more accommodating than I probably should have been but it’s about what’s best for her, not me or him.

          • I also love the projectile version of grey rock 😉
            ByeByeCheater, what you did sounds totally appropriate for a 16 year old, she’s old enough to make those plans with her dad.
            Even with my younger boys, I am done trying to buff their dad’s image or promote time together. When they complain about issues they are having with him, I won’t liaise on their behalf unless it’s dangerous, such as when ex sent then 8 year old to the shops at night by himself, despite him being scared. I explain that I can’t get involved unless it’s serious, but we can talk about various strategies, like picking the right time to talk, not criticising OW or the step siblings etc.

        • X usually ends all correspondence – regardless of how informative or dull – with a well-written, venomous zinger.

          NOT taking that bait is HARD, but essential to ending contact. He will always need to have the last word.

          Instead, I send them to friends and we have a great time laughing at him.

          • Not taking the bait is a HUGE issue in co-parenting. Minimal contact and learning to only respond in brief, business-like emails is a discipline that is hard to master, but it’s essential. These freaks live to mindfuck. Reactions are kibbles.

  • I’ve gotten a lot of my advice from divorce websites, about how to coparent with a jerk. That has been helpful.

  • Yes, unfortunately , co parenting with a cheater ensures that the shit sandwich goes on and on – the narc will never be out of your life . Never. But what to do ? Chumps are what chumps are – we grit our teeth and soldier on with the job of parenting singlehanded most times, putting up with the kids’ terrible Tweens and teens and have to buckle down to playing the disciplinarian . We R not interested to be mr popular . But the kids rail and rant . When I was shredding up my wedding portrait before dumping it, the kids were indignant – I had to explain that divorced people do not keep wedding photos as souvenirs . Throwing out stuff belonging to the cheater ex also made the kids question my motive – just Becoz it’s taking up space ?! So chumps must be prepared to face opposition from the kids and remain calm and keep a certain distance . Build that life of yours with yours previous kids but never take it for granted that they will automatically take your side against the narc. Life throws curve balls at us all the time . Build yourself up while raising ur kids .

  • Tracy, the pic of your son in his res hall is awesome! Love it! And he knows how to tie a tie… your young man did turn out okay indeed. Thanks for sharing!

  • My son is currently visiting his dad and meeting the OW for the first time, so that’s what’s on my mind at the moment. (As an aside, he didn’t let OW meet our son for 3 years, for which I’m grateful, but good lord woman, didn’t that raise a red flag for you?!) He comes home tomorrow and I plan to use the cool/bummer/wow approach if he talks about her, but I’d love more on “co”-parenting when the AP is involved. I’d also love more on navigating the new “love child” sibling(s). I’ve never met a baby I didn’t like and I don’t hold children accountable for their parents’ fuckups, but I’m going to have to help my son navigate this relationship with his shiny new half sister and I have no idea how to do that. And what happens when the happy couple eventually breaks up and there’s this half sister floating in space that I have no connection to and so can’t foster a relationship? Juggling the fucked your, chump version of the Brady Bunch is what I need help with right now.

  • Advice that has helped me tremendously in coparenting with the Narc is advice I read some time ago on this site from an anonymous contributor. She said when communicating with narc, always:
    #1. do so in writing (email or text); and
    #2. ALWAYS respond with a yes, no, or OK

    It takes discipline to respond in this way, especially when being provoked or projected on/lied on. But I swear if done consistently, they get bored over time because you’re not giving them a reaction, and they’ll leave you alone. The key is discipline AND consistency over time. It takes Herculean discipline. I failed multiple times at first but over time gained mastery. Once I became consistent, his antics ceased. That’s not to say he won’t try AGAIN in the future but I’m ready to provide him a canned response. It actually becomes fun after a while.
    And from my experience implementing this, I’d like to add another response option:
    #3. Silence.

    When “yes, no or OK” don’t seem to fit, then provide no response. Often times what’s in your mediated or court ordered parenting agreement will speak for your “silence.” These often have they answer to whatever you feel compelled to defend, in terms of your rights. Narcs just like to throw monkey wrenches to get a reaction. Don’t give it to them!!!

  • CL – this couldn’t be more perfect timing, as I just met with a court-based counselor/psychotherapist, assigned to the d-bag. This person is charged with “reconnecting/reuniting” my 16.5 year-old with the douche.

    When your new book happens (I know it will!), if possible, I would have been able to use a chapter called: “The Kharma Bus Canceled; Freight Train Picked-Up: How to legally protect your child when the cheater spirals out of control.”

    This situation is for the Chump who’s cheater’s life breaks WAAAY down, and the cheater ends up with felonies and in jail for violent behavior when his ho-worker dumps him and takes up with a new married man.

    1) Get the best lawyer you can afford.
    2) Initiate an emergency protective order for you and your child so the X can’t come around your home, their school/activities, and all visitation is suspended. (This took 13 months to get finalized, leaving my child free from having to see the d-bag that whole time.)
    3) Begin the process of modifying the current child custody agreement to gain:
    A) Full physical and legal custody

    B) Request all visitation suspended until a mental health risk assessments is done, and a program of anger management

    C) When item B is completed, visitation can ONLY happen in the presence of a counselor/psychotherapist who is an “expert in court- related services.” Don’t freak out yet – there are intake sessions only with the child, and if they’re old enough (like mine), they have ALL the power in what they ultimately want with the douchebag “parent.” If “I don’t want to do this; I don’t want to see him” comes out of their mouths multiple times with reasons why, the counselor/psychotherapist HAS to make the recommendation to the court that this is not in the best interest of the child. Of course they’ll explore the reasons for those feelings, etc., but older kids get it, and if you support them, they’ll find their voice and begin to protect themselves from the chaos. These type of counselors are not “for” or “against” the cheater, but are just the expert in family and high-conflict relationships. With older kids, it becomes easier to give them the power in what if any type of relationship they’re willing to have.

    D) Request that the cheater pay ALL expenses related to counseling with this counselor/psychotherapist. This is key, especially with all the money they now owe to criminal defense lawyers, courts, etc., and between their freedom and visitation, they often choose to have their money go to their freedom, leaving your kids safe and away from them for a time.

    My DDay was 3 years ago in Oct. The divorce has been in-place for 2 years next month. Between his initial abandonment and the protective order 17 months ago, and now with time spent on intakes and all this counseling he’s trying to start, he hasn’t seen the child in 25 months. Tell me it didn’t matter when I had to do MY intake and give my account of all this with this counselor/psychotherapist. Here’s how much difference it made: at one point she leaned forward and said to me, “Have you read a book called ‘The Sociopath Next Door?’ This is what you’re dealing with. He’ll never be satisfied and will ALWAYS need a new hit or fix from a new female. It’s never enough, and you’re stuck not understanding how he threw away 23 years of a life and family together. Read it.”

    O.M.G. got it the same day, and was washed over with peace in reading how f-ed up these people are! It’s not, and never has been us. One in 25 people are sociopaths and they operate with ZERO conscience, even when it hurts their own kids and families. Read it.

    Good luck with the new book idea, Tracy! I know you’ll smash this one out of the park! (((Hugs, Chumps.)))

    • BTW – if you can get item C done, what it essentially does is protect the child from any more alone-time with the douche. No more overnights (mine never had anyway), dinner dates, they can’t show up at their school activities, no texting/phone calls contact, no visits – NOTHING. Again, if they ever see the kids again, it’s ONLY in the presence of that counselor. I can’t ever pay my attorney enough for how she did this for us.

      • Wow! Yes this chapter would be vital. I’m sure you werenit prepared for a shitstorm like that. And I’m certain you are not alone and many chumps have to face these terrible situations. Thanks for sharing. You are mighty!

      • These are amazing tips. Thanks for taking the time to put it together. Yeah, a chapter on when your ex goes beyond your average fuckwit should be included. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with all that, but it sounds like you’ve handled it amazingly well.

  • Yes, a chapter about how to give your children over to be with the fucking OTHER WOMAN WHO HELPED BREAK UP YOUR HOUSEHOLD would be nice. I struggled mightily and fought that over 8 months but it happened (of course) and it was dreadful and I mishandled it for sure.

    • Oh yes, that’s one of the bitterest pills about this. This OW out of nowhere steals my spouse AND my kids! I got over the loss of spouse; after all, I’m clearly better off without that kind of partner. But I still have no found a way to accept that the OW also gets to parent my children. It’s like saying that if your children are abducted, you now have to share access time with their kidnapper.

      Any tips would be welcomed.

      • chumpitychumpchump and Hopeful Cynic,

        The only sure way to stop “giving your children over” or having the “OW parent your children” is you *MUST DEMAND* that it’s written in the divorce decree. This is *NON NEGOTIONABLE*! Make this clear to him and his attorney from the start.

        If this delays the divorce then it delays the divorce. *NON-NEGOTIABLE*

        If he fights you on it and won’t sign, fight back harder. *NON-NEGOTIABLE*

        If your attorney runs out of options then get a new attorney. *NON-NEGOTIABLE*

        If you have to hit him below the belt and play dirty, than do so. Let him become a casualty of his own war. *NON-NEGOTIABLE*

        • How do you prevent a former spouse from allowing AP from spending time with your kids with Cheater Ex? How is that legally possible?

          • My settlement explicitly states my child may not be in the presence of AP. Period. You then have to get spouse to agree to sign the settlement with that in there. You have to refuse to sign it if it is NOT in there. Not always easy, I know.

            • This warrants a longer response, but these kind of provisions put you in the position of divorce police. It’s like marriage police only WORSE. And it’s up to you to enforce this — which is expensive.

              Unless the affair partner is abusive, or criminal, or an addict or is doing something to bring imminent harm to your kids, I don’t see how a court is going to help you with this.

              It sucks. I’m sorry.

          • Hi RSW,

            There is a slew of legal verbiage that can be added in the decree. e.x., “ex-spouse cant live with the the AP” or “all decisions regardimg parenting are made be xxx”. All this can work if your goal is not to have an “AP parent your child” As for AP “spending time” with your kids, well I dont think there are many legal avenues that one can take on that unless the AP is abusive in any way.

              • Which would be next to impossible to enforce, but sending the strong message in a legal document will hopefully punctuate the issue. HE doesn’t know it isn’t very enforceable. Add it to the long list of things he doesn’t know.

        • Hahaha – yup loved this. Non-negotiable worked well for me – reality I don’t control child spending time with ex and dead brother’s widow whore during ex’s parenting time which works out to a whole 4 days a month (every other weekend) but skank attending anything related to school and extracurricular activities for my awesome child came to an end by being non-negotiable. I explained my position to my ex and he freaked and then I told him moving forward I would need it in writing in our agreement. Needless to say asshole signed off after he came to the realization that I was no longer fucking around and would scorch the earth – beast mode on his ass if he did not agree.

          After agreement was signed I sat down with my awesome kid and explained that things were changing and that mom and dad really loved him but going forward because of the quality person his aunt was she would no longer be present at his school or sporting events.

          Win for team chump – I can now attend EVERYTHING free and clear of whore who blew up my family for my child because although his dad made a choice mom does not have to pretend to have to deal the consequences of his choices although his father does – must be super terrible over there (eggshells anyone?) when child and dad have to get ready for sporting event sans whore. GO TEAM! Yay me ?!!

  • I need this book in my life. I am 3 months past D-Day and in the midst of divorce proceedings. My ex’s view on being a less than mediocre father in the past was that he was trying to get away from me! Such a monster I must have been! Now he can finally be the parent he always knew he could be. I’ve gotten used to the rules of the fantasyland in which he lives, where every failing on his part is my fault.

    At the moment every time the kids see him, they come back laden with gifts. My ex has always been the kind who is big on cheque book generosity but rarely does he truly give of his time. I asked him one simple request, the day before our son started a new school 2 weeks ago, to teach him how to wear a tie, which is mandatory uniform for most London schools. He gives me some bs excuse about how my 7 year old son didn’t want to do it and he didn’t want to push him and make him anxious. So it falls to my brother, who just happens to be at my house when the kids return to teach my son. And guess what, my son wasn’t in the least bit anxious. They stood in front of the mirror, laughing and practicing till he got it. Now I would have thought that is something a father would love to share with his son. But maybe I’m the one who lives in the land of make believe.

    Anyway at the moment the kids are with me in the family home and I am parenting the way I always did – alone, and just providing him with summary updates of what we are doing. I sort out school book medical appintments, organize trips as I’ve always done. I can’t erase him from our lives, for the kids sake. They are only 7 years old and my youngest is 2. They are too young to understand that their father preferred to run off with an alcoholic psychotherapist than fight for them. That all the new facebook posts with him and his kids, is a PR campaign to prove that he really is father of the year without me. See how happy and well adjusted they look – so cheating on their mother for 1.5 years is irrelevant!

    My biggest worry is that my ex is a hyper-anxious control freak who I’m convinced has PPD. They come back from seeing him freaking out about things which I don’t think 7 years olds should be worried about. The latest is germs. They see germs everywhere and look at me as if I am trying to kill them cause I’m not taking it seriously. So I find myself trying to explain about good bacteria and bad bacteria, while all the time what I really want to say is, ‘your father is just 2 steps away from cloud cuckoo land. Don’t listen to a word he says.’

  • Ooh – hugely relevant to me as I head into my first court mandated parenting class…… ha.

    I would like to see:

    When the other parent is a pathological liar.
    Therapists for the kids and when the disordered tries to manipulate them – finding an advocate.
    Disney Parenting
    Hiding of money and assets
    How to win in court
    The uselessness of family therapy and how not to look like the crazy one when you refuse to sit in a room with them.

    I’ll come up with more, just a bit busy right now. The Karyl McBride book on high conflict divorces covers some of this stuff but i do think a specialist book would be in order.

  • Oh, also the issue that kids who’ve dealt with a cluster B parent frequently have PTSD which cannot be properly treated while they are still in the traumatic situation – ie around the parent. If there isn’t physical abuse, emotional and verbal abuse don’t get the attention they should and the sane parent is left dealing with the fallout.

  • I think your book idea is wonderful and one that will help so many of us entrenched in co-parenting – or in my case parallel parenting – with a cheater/ex/idiot/insert favorite word here. I started out doing what I had always done – trying to encourage my ex to spend time with our boys (who were 11 and 15 when he walked out for his “twu wuv” and are 15 and 20 now). His new life was far too fun and exciting to be bothered with parenting, shown by his insistence during our separation mediation that I be awarded full custody and with no set visitation schedule. I was floored that he would so flippantly give up any and all “rights” to see his boys on a regular basis, but in hindsight it was the greatest gift of the whole ugly process. As they have gotten older, his interest in them has teetered back and forth from hardly contacting them at all, to calling every night and playing “disney dad” with football tickets and the occasional fun and expensive trip (things that I can’t afford since I have to spend my hard earned money on exciting things like rent, food, insurance, clothing, college expenses for my oldest and other essentials of their daily lives). Right now I am dealing with his sudden, and very intense, interest in a business idea that my youngest son had. The ex is currently basically unemployed (he is working a day or two a week from what I have heard and living off his twu wuv’s salary as a nurse). My youngest son is an extremely bright and creative kid. He has started a business based on a part-time job he had selling local discount cards over the summer. My ex has decided that this business is HIS ticket to making money, and has convinced our son that he has to have him involved to make it a success since he is a minor and “can’t own anything legally.” My son has fully consumed the Kool-Aid and has brought his dad on board to help him run this little business. My son has invested over $1000 of his own money that he earned over the summer. My ex has invested nothing, and has incorporated the business idea and listed himself as CEO of the company. My heart is heavy knowing that his dad will run it into the ground just like every other crazy business scheme he started over the 20 years of our marriage. Or, on the off chance his dad doesn’t destroy it with his hair-brained ideas and total lack of business sense, any money that is made is supposed to go to his dad at first since he is “having such a hard time financially and really needs the help.” (my son’s exact words…parroted from what his dad is saying to him to guilt him into turning over this business). My son is headed for a painful awakening – similar to the one I had about 10 years into our marriage when it dawned on me that all the failed business ventures and lost money and stress that occurred in every situation the ex was involved in had one common denominator…the ex!! I can see what will happen – see it clear as day – and I can’t do one thing about it. My heart is heavy, and yet I know my son has to go through this to come out the other side wiser, more cautious and with a full understanding of the type of disordered human being his father really is. My oldest son figured it out several years ago, and is away at college and limits his contact with his dad accordingly. They are shouldering the consequence for my poor choice to marry someone who I knew deep in my gut was “off” in some way. Even now that I am remarried to a kind and wonderful man who is doing his very best to help me through this situation and to show appropriate support to my sons without getting in the middle of their relationship with their dad, my poor decision to procreate with such a sick person haunts me as I watch how it affects my boys. I am sure almost everyone trying to parent with a character disordered cheater feels my pain and remorse. If you can tap into that and offer constructive help and advice for all the stages of co/parallel parenting from little ones to teens to adults, it would be a God-send!

  • Well my coparenting with a FW was while married. I do recognize there are many differences but in my situation, I did get a feel for what a lot of u are going through. My FW started traveling for work about 8 years before dday. For those years, I was the Monday thru Friday parent. The parent who worked 8 plus hours a day who had to feed, bathe, homework and try keep house clean. During those years, I became something evil. My FW, from a bar stool, started undermining and tearing me down to the kids. She was out bar hoping and banging her boyfriends while labeling me psychotic and unreasonable. Then get home for the weekends for waterparks and fun. I feel for each and everyone of you going through this. I do not regret the time I had with my kids. What I do regret is being in denial. I allowed her to control and dictate to much. I was not the dad I should have been because she kept me in turmoil. I do believe if I had kicked her out, I could have been able to give them more of me! In the end, all I can say is….. they SUCK!

    • I’m sorry David. You did your best and your kids know you love them. Your wife is a superb liar. And Bitch. All of us “at home parents” got the same shit…. everything we did was wrong.

      Maybe that should be included in the book as a warning : “If you are the primary/day to day/hands on parent and your spouse bitches about everything you do then search his/her phone immediately.” ?

      • Amen to that Bev! I was actually doing great things for a few years. Then I noted a trend started and each day I became something bad. If they start bitching….. you had better search for answers.

  • Tracy,

    Your son gives us all hope that this will all be OK in the end. Thank you for this!

    Going to court today…yes, I would love a book on this topic! I need strength. I know I have it (I think?!?)

    STBX is a fake Dad, a manipulator, a lier. My children don’t want to be with their father but it seems parental rights trump children’s rights, since he’s never been physically abusive. He’s never been a part of their lives (always “working”) and now he wants them half the time. How is that fair? I would love any guidance on how to be their advocate. I am prepared for the worst, but would appreciate anyone’s experience in how they got things changed as their child became older – how they made their child’s or children’s voice(s) heard.

    Sometimes I feel desperately hopeless about this.

    • Most courts will revisit custody if the child wants a change at age 11 or 12. In the meantime, document document document. A barely-there parent is not going to maintain 50/50 custody in actuality; be ready with records to show that.

  • I didn’t parent with a fuckwit, but I did stepparent with a Chump formerly married to a disordered person and I was one of two kids raised by a narcissist mother and a father who spent nearly zero time at home, although he never “left.”

    From my FOO experience:

    1. If you are married to a disordered person, leave. I’m 65, and I’m still working on some of the damage from my childhood, particularly codependence, in therapy. We were raised to subordinate our selves–who we were, what we wanted to do with our lives, what we thought, what we did–to our mother’s needs and whims. My parents fought like wild hyenas. I never saw one sign of affection between the two. My mother bad-mouthed my dad relentlessly, even after he died, and he had no idea that went on (or so I think–who knows?) I can’t catalogue the psychological damage other than to note my struggle with codependency and that I’ve spent my life as a serial monogamist with a broken picker and high tolerance for disorder in partners and friends, and a lot of debris behind me because at some point, the raw survival instinct kicks it.

    2. It doesn’t matter whether the disordered parent is a full-blown Cluster B, a substance abuser, or “just” a liar and manipulator. It’s damaging to raise kids in an environment where the notion of truth is highly mutable and stated values (be honest) are in total conflict with how the family lives.

    3. Kids are traumatized by constant conflict in the home. And at the same time, they dread divorce. But the key (as I see it, in hindsight) is doing what has to be done to create an environment of integrity.

    4. Kids can learn to see the truth if it is made visible to them. I knew as a kid that my dad drank too much, worked too much, and was emotionally removed from our home. It wasn’t my mother’s harping on his faults that showed me those truths; it was my own observation. But my mother struggled on the social front. She often did not get along with other people and was awkward in the extended family setting. She was emotionally abused by her own mother well into adulthood. So I grew up feeling sorry for her, fearing her, and dedicated to trying to “fix” her life and make things better. I didn’t see her as disordered. I saw her as “fixable” and no one else was trying to help. So by age 6 or 7, that was my mission: avoid her rage, and make her happy. But had one person seen her behavior, witnessed this struggle and said “it’s not your job,” my life would have been different. So if custody leaves kids in the hands of a disordered person, therapy is in order.

    5. Staying with a disordered person really does nothing to keep the family “intact.” It’s already broken. We lived in the same house. My parents were married for nearly 50 years. But it was not an intact family

    From my experience as a stepparent:

    1. Even kids who have been badly hurt by abandonment of one parent and the substance abuse of the other can find their way if one parent is adequate or “good enough.” My XH’s child would have had a better start if XH had been sober, but he raised a son who is a hard worker, doesn’t drink or do drugs, and is a committed parent to his both his step and birth children. (But he’s a Chump and an angry one.)

    2. In this regard, it matter who you choose if you remarry. Not to toot my own horn, but I made several key interventions in this young man’s life that helped him turn it around, one involving helping him get into post-HS education when he was 30 and the other involving making XH stop badmouthing the mother, who was still crazy but trying to do better than she had.

    • ^^^ THIS x a gazillion^^^

      I also was a “step mom” for 5 years to 4 kids abandoned by their cheater mother (on Mother’s Day, no less. Another story, another time). Those kids, ranging from 21 to 9, all slept in the same room with their father after their mother left with her new boyfriend. They were terrified that their father would up and disappear in the middle of the night too. The thing was, the mother was cheating the whole marriage, even passed off her firstborn as my ex-bf’s in order to have a sugar daddy to support her.

      The thing that pisses me off, is that he knew. He knew all along that his ex was a cheater and liar. And he left his kids in her care while he went out and worked. He loved her. He wanted his kids to have an intact family. He kept the peace because it was “better for his kids”.

      The other thing that comes out over time—are the things that the disordered parent SAYS to these kids—and sometimes you don’t hear about it for YEARS, because of the loyalty and naivete that the children have in this situation. They want to believe their dad/mom when they say things. They want to please the parent. They want to make everything like it was before. They want to do whatever it takes in order to not cause more chaos.

      The Cheater never chooses wisely. They don’t stand back and say to themselves…”hmmmm….is this affair partner the best one to parent my kids?” They both CHEATERS and LIARS. Manipulators and thieves.

      You have to step in—and as much as it is not fun to be the bad guy sometimes—you created rules and structure. Jealousy of the AP is NEVER constructive. In fact, acting like a total jealous high schooler—“But you prooooooooooooomised to love only MEEEEEEE forever!” is NOT helpful to those kids. It’s not about US anymore. It’s about the kids.

      Co-parenting with a fuckwit—is just that. Your baggage with your ex needs to be left in a box, tightly sealed, in the darkest basement of your soul. You get therapy for you, yes. But you pull yourself together for your kids. You protect them. If that means enduring 15-20 years of being the bad guy in order to teach your kids that you are THERE for them and how to be a responsible, caring individual when they grow up, then you effing well do it.

      I ended up picking FOUR disordered fuckwits to waste my adult life on. Two marriages and two LTR. Most of my adult life. And each a carbon copy of my mother. Two cheaters and two “emotionally unavailable”. Your kids will NOT thank you in the end for allowing the fuckwit to manipulate them.

    • LAJ,
      My legacy is also two parents who fought viciously. I have said exactly: “I never saw my parents exchange a kind word.” I didn’t.

      So, I try not to wallow in self pity. I use all the cliches to rise above it. But, the terrible truth is that I wandered into adulthood barely sane and racked with depression that fucks up most good opportunities.

      Throw in a picker that was never developed beyond adolescent, vague yearnings and you have a life long recipe for lurching from one asshole to another.

      I marvel at the basic concepts that I did not know about life, even self care. I remember I used to walk around with big rat’s nests tangles in my hair in the back, with just long strands covering it, because my mother was so busy playing the victim, her machinations and her dramas that she did not tell me, a girl, I needed to brush my hair every morning.

      One of the worst (the worst?) inheritance you can give a child is to have an unhappy mother. Base it on any cliche (If momma aint happy, aint no body happy, the hand that rocks the cradle)-

      But, if you grow up with a broken, depressed mother, being at home in the world seems almost impossible.

      iPhones, status clothes, size of the house- these things mean bupkus, nothing. It is JOY and predictably that children need , and a healthy dollop of confidence and kindness that will shoot them into the world sane and with a shot at happiness.

      I don’t have children, but I know this. When I would fight with my X, my dogs would either become aggressive and hide in their beds. I felt horrible and would kick him out when I saw the confusion in their true, brown eyes. It would take a few hours for peace to settle back in the house.

      Substitute children and you realize what a sickening and overwhelming emergency it is- to remove your children from the disordered’s presence.

      • Wise words… I trying all these things you mentioned, for my daughter, but this is an excellent summary.

        Our big tough dog would come hide between my legs when ex husband had a rage attack, it was awful, felt so bad for the dog.

        Dog has passed away and we live 6,000 miles away from the raging ex.

  • Wow, you could probably crowd source weekly on different sub topics: custody/visitation, finances, communication.

    For me personally, getting my kids into therapy immediately. I am fortunate that I have insurance/resources to do so. STBX of course has the right to communicate and work with the therapists but has not. The therapists have become pseudo coparents in helping me navigate dealing with STBX. They bolster my confidence in my own parenting, which was severely shaken after 15+ years of criticism.
    Also, I think prepare yourself for the worst. Be aware of all of the land mines out there: alienation, cutting off finances, Disney dad, etc. So many of us are in shock and don’t think things can get any worse: Chump Nation can prepare us for reality.

    • My STBX constantly tries, and is generally succeeds, at preventing our kids from getting psychotherapy, even if they want it–the pitfalls of joint legal custody with a F–kwit. He claims that the only problem in the room is me as according to him I don’t appreciate/respect/love our children. Who again used the kids’ college money to buy sex? Who hits the kids with a belt?

  • I’m a little more than an year into co-parenting. Yes – A blog on this topic alone or even a book would have been great for dealing with x-wife following discovery and divorce.

    Despite continued IC, and falling into, and reading “Conscious Uncoupling”;trying to remain friends.

    Yes, it is and was a mistake to try this. Considering she probably didn’t read the book (funny as she is a teacher and a prolific reader, however, good forbid she question her ACTIONS or BEHAVIOR. The mindfuckery, the game playing; why could I not see my daughter, wants more money…..then the tears, sorry – then it was my fault, and “hovering” and more hovering…OMG! I wish, really wish I had just moved to another state, but I wanted to be near my daughters; I just didn’t think she’d play all these games when it was my time to be with them.

    * Constant daily challenges of day to day items related to money, health, other family responsibilities, a 2nd household, kids at college….. emotional damage. I keeping thinking of MEH and my Tuesday; the Conscious Uncoupling only makes me want to Off Myself sometimes – Stay NC, Stay away from X at all costs – staying friendly will fail, and delay your recovery

    * If anybody here is new to this site: Trust me!!! The advice on this site is the best! On the money!!

  • I have a big yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes

    For a CL book on this !

    The industry has touted coparenting for so long, and we know with disordered people this is impossible.

    My recommendation is to make a book with emphasis and title on parallel parenting.

    I would imagine this book would need,

    – Overview of character disorder and cheaters

    – Kind reminder that these are manipulative people

    – Pick a part coparenting with the above

    Define parallel parenting and where the key things for a chump to mastering understand when pelle character disorder and cheaters

    – Kind reminder that bees are manipulative people

    – Pick apart coparenting with the above

    – Define parallel parenting and what are the key things for a chump to master and understand when parallel parenting with a fuckwit

    – what to do and what resources to leverage when the fuck wit ( notice I said when, and not if ) drops the ball and does not follow through with what they’ve committed, or perhaps court orders

    – Key things to take into consideration to draft into the separation and divorce decree to protect your children – – visitation, restrictions, life insurance, etc.

    – how to reframe some of the fuckwittery we endure to keep our sanity and our eye on the ball

    – high-level description of no contact, gray rock and BIF F and how to leverage it in the situation

    – List of things where it is appropriate to respond to the fuck wit versus when not to, and suggested responses to protect the chomp and the children

    Tracy: feel free to reach out to me via email if you want to chat further. I myself am getting ready to take the next step and have been so thankful for this forum as it has helped me prepare for the deluge of fuckwittery

    • I just reread the above and I was doing voice to text, and I am on able to edit, so my apologies for the redundancy text and the miss spells!

  • I thought of a title!

    Parallel Parenting with Disney Disordered Parents: a chumps guide to coparenting with fuckwits

    Or
    Coparenting with Disney disordered parents: a chumps guide to parallel parenting with fuckwits

    • Maybe don’t actually put the f-word in the bonafide title. Please. I would like feel comfortable recommending it to everyone. Lol

  • I think a book on this is a fantastic idea. All the books I read were designed for “normal” marriage breakdown.
    Don’t ever say anything bad about the other parent etc. I am sorry, but awful behaviour cannot just be ignored. What message is that giving your children? e.g.
    Oh Dad never tells you if he will not be turning up for the meal you are supposed to have ? Anyone know where he is? Oh Dad came to watch but stayed 5 minutes?
    Dad won’t pay for anything?
    Dad lies to you and in fact is NOT at work but on holiday – again? Really? Why are we supposed NEVER to say ” That is rubbish behaviour”. What is wrong with calling them out on it? I do not get it.
    If anybody else behaves badly, as a good parent trying to teach your child values and morals it seems ok to suggest they don’t copy bad behaviour but when applied to an EX somehow its not acceptable.
    Who decided this? Based on what research ?? I totally disagree. Focus on the behaviour not the person and say it how it is. End of.

    • You raise some really good points here.

      It would be great to have also in the guide how do we handle situations when the fuck wit doesn’t show up, doesn’t pay, what do we say toward children?

      The guide should definitely teach us how to not spackle yet age appropriately describe the fuck which behavior to our children. This is really important as kids internalize their behavI or and then the children may think it is their fault or that they are not good enough.

    • I think there is a huge difference between “never say anything bad about the other parent” and ignoring abuse and dysfunction. And the difference is motive. It’s abuse to badmouth the other parent (no matter how bad that person is) if the goal is to get the kids to take sides or to think poorly of the other parent. It’s not abuse if it is information about the real world and how it operates.

      Abuse: “Your dad is a no-good lying dog. He’s a useless drunk. He’s having sex with that woman next door….”

      Reality: “Married people are not supposed to have girlfriends, so I am filing for divorce.” “Dad has a problem with abusing alcohol. We are encouraging him to get help. But in the meanwhile, we will see a therapist so that we know how to stay healthy. You don’t stop loving people because they have addictions, but it is important not to help them stay addicted. We need to live apart from him while he figure out what to do.”

    • Agreed. Also, honestly, chumps have it bad because they probably didn’t fully expect or anticipate a divorce and custody. Unfaithful swore to me I was the only one, and we could fix this. He was very sneaky. I believed him. Cheaters lie and betray and deceive.

      Co-parenting can be somewhat manageable when you agree to divorce one another. When your spouse is a cheater, things are decidedly different. In part, due to their poor life skills or even disordered personalities but also just because we chumps were blindsided or underestimated that their selfishness would extend to their relationship with their children as well.

  • Maybe include something on kids who have been forced to betray the chump parent. I have a good friend whose cheater father made him cover up the father’s affairs when the son was a teenager. When the father was off with girlfriends, he told his wife that he and the son were out doing something together, and this father expected his son to back him in the lie. My friend is a decent guy, but he was young and felt unable to challenge his father’s lies. The son still has guilt over this, so many years later.

    Another idea for a book: red flags in the earlier stages of a relationship. Looking back, I see how many red flags my ex-cheater was showing me when we were just dating. I either ignored them, or rationalized them away, because I just didn’t realize that they were serious warnings of what was ahead. I’ve learned a lot from this website — things I wish I’d known years ago.

  • I love this idea. Some random thoughts from me:

    The biggest difference between CL advice and general co-parenting advice is probably telling the kids about the infidelity. That was huge for me and having examples of age-appropriate ways to do this (because, frankly, I couldn’t think of any one my own!) was incredibly helpful.

    The absolute necessity of e-mailing so all agreements/decisions/problems are documented.

    The co-parenting lit talks about treating the relationship like a business partnerships, which I agree with. But the literature assumes a relationship with mutual respect. That’s not the case for chumps! The cheaters don’t respect us. Also they continue to lie and manipulate and gaslight. You can’t let your guard down.

    The special fuck-yous that happen when you try to rise above it for the children. I decided early on I was never going to miss one of my kids’ events because of him, no matter who was with him. And that’s absolutely going to continue. But I also decided to continue joint birthday parties because the kids really wanted them and it was easier on them. For the first year, that was fine. This year, he spent one kid’s party charming the married mother of one of my kid’s friends, a woman with whom he appears to have some kind of boundary-crossing relationship with. He spent the other kid’s party flirting with the single friend of one of the parents as I was stuck there watching. I’m still not going to miss school events, sports games, whatever — places where there’s more of a crowd and the possibility of distance from his asshattery. But I’m thinking the joint birthday parties are done.

    Dealing with Disney Dad. After ten years of sitting like a resentful lump on the sofa and acting as if family time were a major pain in his ass … he turned into Disney Dad as soon as we separated. He’s Mr. Fun when he has the kids and he makes sure to post photos on Facebook so everyone (mostly women) can fawn over what an awesome dad he is. (I don’t look anymore but I did in the early days.) He even used his kids as fuck-bait on his dating profile, talking about how he spends “most of” his days figuring out how to be an awesome dad and a great role model. (Not being a lying, cheating whorefucker who destroyed his family should have been top of the list but I guess he’s still mulling over how to share his awesomeness.) An ex who uses the kids in service of his ego is most definitely NOT addressed by the usual co-parenting lit.

    The emotional pain of losing your kids half the time. I seem to be in the minority of chumps on this one, but Cheese Fries takes the kids for most of his parenting time. So I’ve lost them forty percent of the time on regular weeks and fifty percent of holidays. This Thanksgiving is my first holiday without them so I’m especially raw about it. The usual advice is distraction, activity, building your own life and that certainly has its place. But, frankly, I needed to spend time mourning this loss, curled up on the couch feeling miserable, hating him, hating the situation, journaling, posting here, and feeling that black hole of awfulness. It’s taken a year and a half, but I’m at a place where I accept the pain. I don’t like this situation — still hate it actually — but I’ve accepted that this is what I’ve got and I cry and feel bad when I need to, and then I go on to the things I do when I don’t have the kids. But, seriously, it sucks.

    • BetterDays, I totally feel your pain. I’m only just beginning my divorce journey and I still cry every time my kids leave to spend time with him. This weekend will be the first time they will be sleeping over at his new place and I’m sure I’ll be in pieces again. I just want to scream to the universe that it’s not fair. I never asked for any of this. For my family to be blown apart and my children ferried from one home to the next. For me to potentially miss out on key moments in their life because they spend almost half their time with a father who never gave a shit about being present before. In the last 2 years this man never travelled with us once, claiming that he was too ‘scared of flying’ and so couldn’t handle travelling with the kids. But sure he could handle travelling to go visit his AP. And as usual I managed the 3 kids by myself. But as you say, as much as I hate the situation I have to accept it. Part of that seems to involve trawling online for new activities to take up, when sometimes I just want to curl up on the sofa and never get up again.

    • This is a very important point: “The co-parenting lit talks about treating the relationship like a business partnerships, which I agree with. But the literature assumes a relationship with mutual respect. That’s not the case for chumps! The cheaters don’t respect us. Also they continue to lie and manipulate and gaslight. You can’t let your guard down.”

      When people have demonstrated lack of honesty and trustworthiness, it is very hard to be partners of any kind.

    • Betterdays, talking about missing your kids half the time is VERY important. This one of my main reasons I didn’t file sooner. I suspect it’s some chumps’ reason for not filing at all and falls under staying together for the kids. You can survive that shit sandwich should it come to pass, and the chumps on this site have excellent advice in how to do that successfully.

    • STBX had pics of my kids in his dating profile too. Pics that I took!
      I got my lawyer to put a stop to that and it will go into the divorce decree.

  • Love LOVE the picture of your wonderful son! My DDay is 3 years ago tomorrow so I feel like I have worked through the roller coaster ride of horribleness and am reaping some rewards. I have older kids -S17 and D19 – so it’s a different thing than having little ones. They had a front row seat to the implosion of our family and they watched raptly and they learned. They watched me have a breakdown, be medicated and be pretty much non-functioning for several months. They watched their dad try to make amends – and they saw how the “amends” weren’t real. After listening to us loudly and angrily arguing, my daughter said, “I know why you are so mad at him, but why is he so mad at you?” That was a great wakeup call for me (It was pre CL) as I didn’t understand that he was following the script of gas lighting, blame shifting, minimizing, discounting, not taking responsibility. He played the victim so well I actually started to fall for it. Until I didn’t anymore. So the kids? I told them the truth. I left some of the gorier details out but kept enough in so they had a true and clear picture of what had been going on for the past 10 years. I got them both therapists which they have loved. (S17 “She helps me with EVERYTHING mom, not just divorce stuff). They needed the truth (but softened a bit) so I wasn’t gaslighting THEM! So fast forward 3 years. They’ve watched in real time as I have healed. And I tell them – remember this, life will throw you the shittiest of curveballs. Nobody gets through life without some hard times and suffering, but you can come through it and be happy again because life is a wonderful wonderful gift. Now that they understand that their dad lies quite a bit, they can recognize it so easily. And they actually laugh about it. My son says, “You know I do love my dad, because he’s my dad….pause…..but I think he’s a sociopath”
    my daughter says. “I love him – I don’t know why. But I don’t trust him and I don’t respect him. I just hate to think of him suffering.” And I say of course you do!

    • You are so mighty! Awesome and good for you teaching resilience. Life definitely includes some suffering. Dealing with that is an essential life skill.

  • First off, Tracy, your son in his suit looks completely charming! How proud you must be!

    As for parenting with a fuckwit, I decided before I even told ex I wanted a divorce that I was going to fight like hell for the maximum custody I could get and there would be NO co-parenting … only parallel parenting. I have had the experience of watching ex undercut and harm my child insidiously for 14 years with his alcoholism, drug use, neglect, and insensitivity. Ex was an athletic extrovert as a kid and he wanted his son to be his sporty little reflection. Son is extremely sensitive, introverted, loves books, hopeless at sports … could not be more different from his dad, thank God. Ex struggled to hide his disappointment in his son and chose to miss chess award ceremonies, 8th grade graduation, the county spelling bee, and on and on because it afforded him a lovely opportunity to drink, smoke pot, and contact sex partners while the two of us were out of the house.

    Now? I have 80 percent custody and I do not make any effort to obtain input or opinions on any matter. My son and I are extremely close and discuss all matters between the two of us. Not surprisingly, ex has never bothered to ask about school, grades, friends, future plans, medical issues … none of those items are relevant to him and his own good time. Fine by me … it is easier that he doesn’t attempt to insert himself as this Italian mama bear will have none of it. None.

    Today is my son’s 15th birthday … he has grown to be a charming, goofy, quirky young man. He enjoys his time with his dad and I facilitate those interactions with grace. I owe nothing less to my boy and nothing more to his asshole father.

    • ‘He enjoys his time with his dad and I facilitate those interactions with grace. I owe nothing less to my boy and nothing more to his asshole father.’

      I feel like I should print this out and stick it on a wall somewhere. A reminder that whatever concessions I make are for the benefit of my kids. I spent too many years of my life twisting myself inside out to please a man who repaid my devotion by lying, cheating and becoming a middle-aged cliché. I am done factoring his needs into my decisions.

    • Job well done Dixie.

      What’s learned in your post is that you stayed one (actually 2 or 3) steps ahead of your fuckwit the entire time. You anticipated his future dysfunction, but more importantly you acted on it by going after majority custody. So, no need for you to co-parent or even parallel parent with this fuckwit. Basically you are just the fucking boss!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Job well done as this is clearly the best for your son!

      Also, Happy birthday to your son!

    • What’s the difference between co-parenting and parallel parenting? I think I just call everything co-parenting

      • Co-parenting implies discussing what extracurriculars might be good, what classes and at what difficulty level would be good in school, what presents are appropriate at christmas, whether the HPV vaccine is a good idea, whether medication is working well or should be adjusted, etc.

        Parallel parenting means he decides what child eats and watches on tv when child is with him. That is about it! I make all those other decisions myself with zero input from him. Don’t ask. Don’t inform. None of his bidness.

        And Sure … I actually directed him to move out of state. He was considering getting an apartment in town and continuing to commute an hour to next state for job. I said “No, you can just move on over there, Sir.” I had one of those angry mad faces on … 😉

        • Love it Dixie…:”I actually directed him to move out of state.”

          Did you look him in the eye and spit out this ultimatum: “I want you out of town by sundown, or else.”

          OR…..

          “Did you make him an offer he can’t refuse?”

          Haha. Either way you got a set of brass-balls! Love this!

      • You go, Dixie! For me, parallel parenting protects me and my sanity. He communicates directly with daughters. I stay out of it. That way I cannot be blamed when they say they have too much homework tonight how about closer to the weekend for a visit?

        Also, he assumes his own parental responsibility. If he wants to make DD13’s volleyball game, he checks the school website athletic schedule. I am completely NC so parallel parenting means in the day to day raising of the kids, I do not have to endure any interaction with him.

  • I know the “experts” push co-parenting, but I’m leaning more towards the parallel parenting approach. My teen children have expressed their desire to have my ex and I “be friends”. This is hard subject because I am married (when will this ever be over) to a boundary jumper whom pushes moral boundaries while still staying within the limits of “law”.

    He’s broken into my house 3 times when I’ve been out of town. (He is still on the mortgage so technically isn’t breaking any laws, yet purchased his own home 8 months ago). The last time he broke in I refused to disarm the alarm system, when my 17 year old daughter who let him in called and said the alarm wouldn’t turn off. I told the alarm company to dispatch police because I have repeatedly asked him not to come into my home when I’m not there (he steals things when he comes over – my children have witnessed this). I thought if I could give my attourney a police report she would have something to work with.

    My children expressed how much my choice to have the police called embarrassed them because neighbors witnessed it. To make matters worse he twisted the whole thing and said I shouldn’t be putting the kids in the middle because he refused to answer his phone when I called, so I texted my daughter and told her to have him answer my call.

    So in a long winded way.

    1) How do you deal with children’s embarrassment when you are setting boundaries and help them understand your ex is not your friend but is still their parent. I know I modeled “keeping the peace” throughout my marriage, and I own that, but my children would like me to continue that for their benefit. My ex likes to use labels like “inflexible, over-reacting, etc. to describe responses to his own behavior.
    Which leads me to his family of origin …

    2) Extended family boundary issues: I have repeatedly asked that his parents be considerate of parenting schedules when planning trips to visit, but they just show up and expect to see the kids regardless of others schedules. I am usually bypassed and they call the kids to try and schedule time. I have been extremely generous when they visit during my parenting time (I want my kids to have a relationship with them) but the harder I try to set boundaries the more covert their behavior becomes. They put the kids in the middle by addressing visits with them, instead of going through adult channels. My refusal is easily twisted into “me trying to keep them from the kids”.

    3) Addressing alienating comments from the co-parent when they tell the kids you are a bad parent, have low self-esteem, all the kids qualities they don’t like are a result of you, etc.

    4) Is there a point where it is pointless to try and hold the other person accountable to agreements because it gets you nowhere? they have an endless list of excuse for everything they failed to uphold. Do you just try and protect the kids by fixing their failures, or let your kids suffer the consequences? For example: STBX specifically asked if he could be the one to go to the basketball parent meeting weeks before tryouts, never went and failed to tell me (but emailed the coach and said he couldn’t make it). 10 hours before tryouts I get an email outlining all the requirements that need to be completed by 6:00 am the next morning. I was scrambling to get copies of sports physicals and fill out paperwork. Though I am happy to report my son made the basketball team, picking up another parents consistent obligation failures is exhausting. Yes, I understand oversights happen, and plans sometimes change, but when this is a pattern that repeats over and over again it is a pattern, not an unfortunate circumstance.

    5) I know I can’t control his behavior, so the question then becomes, what is the proper balance of personal boundaries vs. the kids well being vs. who is suffering the consequences?

    • Hi Jen,

      I understand the problems you are having. I’ve called the police several times when the EX has shown up and refused to leave or vandalized my property (right before my eyes and those of the neighbors) because I insisted he leave. And the kids hate it when I call the police. The EX can destroy landscaping–intentionally driving over and through it and around the yard, but I am the “bad” parent for calling the police on dad. The EX can take stuff out of the yard, and they say, “let him have it, Mom, it is not worth calling the police.” The EX can steal a bike out of the garage and claim, “Junior wanted it at my house, even though Junior most certainly did not.” It just sucks.

      But I do it. Because I need to have boundaries. And so do you. Your response to the alarm company was great. Keep up the good work no matter who feels embarrassed. You want your daughter to know that she can tell people to stay out of her room or apartment or home. Your insistence on boundaries could save her life when she’s older. She needs to know how to use the word, “No,” You have to be the one to model it.

      Talk to your lawyer about how to insure that your EX cannot legally enter your property. Your kids do not have the right to let him in. Make that clear to them. They can see their dad. You’ll facilitate all their visits and exchanges with him, etc. But he CANNOT come into your space, just like you don’t go into his. You cannot control all of his behavior but you DESERVE to live in a space free from his encroachment.

      I’ve also dealt with the no-show dad problem. My recommendation is that you be clear and nonjudgmental to the kids when he wants to do something. When he fails to do it, do not fix it. It is very hard. You need to show the kids that if they want something done, then they have to ask you. If you allow them to depend on their dad, and then “fix” things when he lets them down, they will come to see “fixing” as your obligation and blame you for everything. The bitter pill is that you will get blamed a lot no matter what, but if your son knows dad was supposed to be at the basketball meeting and dad never gave your son the information, then your son will eventually learn he “should” be mad at dad. He will get mad at you first, because it is safe to do so (you won’t stop loving him), but he’ll soon let you know that he “needs” you to go to the parent meetings, etc.

      It is not a fast process. I think it took a solid 3 years for my kids to stop expecting their father to be reliable. But they don’t ask him for a thing now. They learned he wouldn’t come through for them. (It drives me nuts on a different level that Dad is “great” if he remembers what month a child’s birthday falls in, but I know the need for a parent’s love is powerful.)

      I made occasional exceptions to my rules about not “fixing” things, like picking up one child from the EX’s so I could take the kid to a birthday party of a beloved friend because the child said, “I’m afraid I’m going to miss it.” And we both knew that was exactly what would happen Or, taking a kid to state semi-finals because Dad would never get the child to the game on time and I wanted the child to know that I agreed that letting the team down would not be acceptable, but I learned to “cover” for the EX very rarely.

      It won’t be easy. Refusing to be the fixer meant I learned about some horrible things after the fact–the EX left a 10 year old sitting for hours at convenience stores (he told people at an extracurricular program that the child was “walking” home on the two days a month he was supposed to pick the child up, and then just had the child walk to the corner store and wait–for more than 4 hours on some occasions until he felt like retrieving the kid). I wished the child had ratted dad out and called me, but that just wasn’t something the 10 year old was ready to do. The child knew the choice was to wait for hours or Dad might lose custody (my EX has always told the kids to never reveal anything about their time together because the judge is”biased against men and the whole court system wants to take you kids away from me.” I was furious when I figured out what was happening, but that child is as independent as hell now, years later, and a heck of a problem solver. You cannot protect kids from the fuck-witted crap a disordered person will do. You cannot even imagine what stupidity the other parent will allow or enable. You just have to draw boundaries, be sane and reliable, and do your best.

      Sorry for the rant–this is the issue that I have worked the most on and still struggle with because my EX still doesn’t respect boundaries and still can be relied upon only to disappoint and manipulate his kids.

  • Great idea — here are some things that would I like to see in the book…

    – Dealing with Day Swap and Weekend swap requests
    You’re not a bad parent if you’re inflexible. Kids need a regular schedule.
    Your Ex’s trip to Bali with her AP isn’t my priority.

    – Sharing Holidays
    And how to stay cool when your ex is unreasonable

    – You forgot to drop their shoes (again)…
    How keeping duplicate sets at each home means you’re not chasing clothing/shoes etc.

    – Managing Homework
    Why wasn’t the homework done on your weekend..

    – Finances
    How do deal with an ex that cherry picks what she will or won’t pay for.
    new iPhone contract (yes), School Fees (no), School Meals (no), School Trips (no)

    – Joint Birthday Parties
    How to keep your cool (or not, in my case), when the AP turns up at your daughter’s birthday party.

    I’m sure there are many more chapters to build on.

  • Your son is darling! Not that he would like that word…shhh!

    My daughter’s bio-dad = out of sight out of mind. I consciously decided when he bailed (she was three months old), not to facilitate her relationship with him. His second wife tried, and was always kind to daughter, but they have a very special needs child and over time, his involvement with our daughter diminished. He never stopped fucking around with child support, though. As in, hardly paid anything. And college? Nope.

    Recently he ran for domestic court judge. Soundly defeated. In addition to not paying child support, he also never paid taxes. Oops!

    My daughter’s step-father (x) = he looooooved her when she was between six and thirteen. Turns out that’s his “special” age group. If you understand my meaning. Now she’s 27 and a comedian. One of her bits is called “My Shitty Dads.”

    I feel guilty for having chosen her Shitty Dads in the first place. She’s more sanguine.

    I definitely believe it would never have worked with bio-dad to pretend we were some kind of version of family. Neither he nor I wanted that and it would have been confusing for daughter.

    Your new book has a very important topic.

  • Agreed, UXWorld. Having to live with the disordered while divorcing would require a whole chapter. I only had to endure 3 1/2 months, but the crazy kept escalating. It’s a miracle we come out standing and sane.

  • I haven’t read the comments yet, so perhaps this has been covered. For me it is co-parenting with Sparkles the super mom!… That is using the kids and their school for social climbing and status… making sure they are at all the right birthday parties and she is at every event so everyone can see how wonderful she is… they are a vehicle for her kibbles. When they aren’t providing social outlets for Sparkles they drive her nuts and stress her out. It is embarrassing to watch sometimes!

    • That’s my disordered wife too, Cletus. She puts on the face of the devoted, perfect mom in public, but is an angry alcoholic bitch at home that ignores ignores and rages on the older two. She talks about issues with our older son to anyone that will listen, always casting him as the villain and noting how hard she tries – plays the self pity channel to be the victim. It’s all image management. She tells the kids she is the only one that jas their back and bad mouths their friends and me in an attempt to isolate them. Then she keeps “joking” with them that she is “The Best Mom Ever”. My teen and tween boys both know that she is disordered (they say she is selfish and “crazy”). She’s a piece of work, but she chooses friends/enablers that buy into her sad sausage act – that is, a really good person that tries so hard depth the crappy lot she got on life. What a bunch of jokers.

  • The only way to parent with a chump is to parent around them. It is frustrating, but honestly, knowing that I’m on constant damage control duty has been a relief. For years, while with my chump, I was convinced I was the bad parent, because he blamed everything on me. Now that we are apart I see which of us is the consistent parent, whether it’s convenient, fun or easy, or not.

    Of my 3 sons, 2 understand exactly what is happening. The other is now living with his dad and the GF. He’s still convinced that his dad is perfect and I am the evil one. We haven’t talked in 6 months and I’m expecting to never talk to him again. I would love to say I’m heart broken, but I’m not. He is becoming a chump and he was treating me like his dad did, and the only thing I feel is relief at being away from it.

    For me, seeing, every single day, that I was not the bad guy, has been more fulfilling than I could ever express. So I will happily continue my damage control parenting campaign with no complaints. It is 100% better than our lives before D. day.

  • YES! YES! So much YES!! A book from you on this topic would be amazing!!

    This is exactly where I’m at right now – this past week, my STBX has accused me of not communicating the kids schedules to him. Months ago, I took the time to set up a shared calendar app so that he would have full visibility to the kids schedules on his phone. Well apparently when he got a new phone (over TWO MONTHS AGO), he was unable to access the app and never mentioned it to me! So he wasn’t looking at the schedule the entire time…and now it’s my fault that he missed parent/teacher conferences and awards assemblies! I am NOT his secretary!! Other things he’s accused me of this past week (via text) – badmouthing him & his girlfriend to the kids (nope), telling the kids about his girlfriend before he did (double nope), and not telling him about my plans to take the kids out of town for Thanksgiving (WTF). He also is changing his tune about child support, as if my request for it is part of some personal vendetta! He goes silent/MIA for several weeks at at time, but myself & the kids are the ones who are poor communicators!? He thinks it would be courteous if I would pick up the phone…I think it would be courteous if he would fuck off. Co-parenting fuckwit indeed…

    Please write this book…immediately! I LOVE YOU, CHUMPLADY!!

    • Acestace: my comment is specifically for you. I could’ve written your post 6 ears ago. I had the EXACT experiences you’re facing now about the schedules, bad mouthing, child support, communicating. Well I’m your glimpse into your future and I’m here to tell you don’t do what I did. Don’t spend your precious time and energy trying to get to a pleasant state of “co-parenting.” Don’t make up for his shortcomings “for the sake of the children.” Don’t doubt for one minute that he alone chose to lie and cheat and that you are not responsible for the failure of your marriage. Every time I expanded beyond email and text to verbally communicating again with X he sued me. In 4 years he took me back to court 3 times. Last year he threatened, via my kids, to sue me again. Every time he lost. And between the two of us we wasted over 1 year of private university tuition on attorneys fees. Our oldest graduates high school in June. It’d be nice to have that money back.
      If I could do it again, I’d go modified no contact as soon as the decree is final. Text and email only and I wouldn’t regret it one bit. I’d ignore anyone who tells me I’m being bitter and should really work at having a better relationship with him. Instead I’d work on being the best parallel Mother I could be and not spend any energy on co-parenting. I’d share age appropriate details of the affair earlier so that I’m not living in his lies too. I’d call out bad behavior when it happens using a lawyer if I have to – shutting that shit down instead of swallowing another shit sandwich. I’d basically do what CL and CN have been advocating all along and reach meh much sooner.
      Good luck to you ace. Chumpnation and I are here for you.

    • I deal with the exact some stuff, acestace. It’s only been 4 months since DDay, and our daughters are 4 and 6. I have gone extreme limited contact, email only. He has gone the other extreme, texts and emails nightly around 11 p.m. with never-ending complaints about something he perceives me as doing wrong (most outright fabrications, and often I can’t even figure out what spurs the messages – maybe he drinks at night is my only guess). The biggest complaints lately are that I don’t encourage our kids to talk about and to his mistress when they’re talking to him on the phone. Yeah, not my job to facilitate a relationship with your AP! Also, out of the blue, that I don’t value him as our kids’ father or realize his important role in their life. Ok, well you’re the one who abandoned them for another family, but whatever. See why no contact, as much as possible, is necessary? His only objective seems to be for me to admit that he was right to leave me for an AP and I should be happy for him and convince our kids to be happy with his choices. One night he called my cell phone 21 times, ostensibly to talk to our kids, although he never left a message. He also asks me often for our kids’ school schedule, which I tell him repeatedly can be found on the school website. I will answer the phone for our kids’ ONE required phone call daily, and drop them off for their alternating weekends. Beyond that, even though they’re young, it is absolutely not my responsibility to maintain his relationship with his kids – it’s his responsibility how he handles the fall-out from his choices (or maybe especially BECAUSE they’re young – I have a lot of years of parenting ahead of me, so setting these boundaries now will save my sanity early on).

      I respond by ALWAYS having my phone on silent and screening my calls. I NEVER reply to his emails. I’m not going to get in an email argument about complete fabrications at 11 o’clock at night – I have more important things to do, like raise my children, pack their school lunches, read a good book, and get some sleep. I have considered a restraining order to limit his contact even further, possibly to an app like My Family Wizard and/or only communicating about the exchange of the kids. At this point, just not responding to anything that isn’t a direct question related to our “parenting time” (i.e. switching or confirming times, etc) is what works for me. He wanted to cut me out, so I’ll help him by cutting myself out of his life and all communication.

      Also, when my kids ask any questions about their dad or his choices, I answer very matter-of-factly, without any editorializing, but I do acknowledge his choices – “Yes, dad has chosen to live with another family instead of his own wife and children.” When they express their disappointment or anger about his choices, I acknowledge their perspective – “Yes, I would be disappointed about your dad using his weekends to spend his time with his girlfriend while you just watch movies. Maybe you could try to tell him how you feel, although we know he doesn’t always choose to listen.”

      I’ve also worked very hard on my own self-control to make myself focus on the thoughts and things I want to focus on. For me that meant: blocking all phone numbers of his family (who liked to blame the victim, constantly asking me to reflect on “my part” in him leaving me for another woman), disconnecting the sync on my cell phone to my email, so I only see the email when I choose to log in (it was really causing me stress and lost sleep to see his emails every night), and even telling my kids after a while of them talking about the AP that “I’d rather focus on just us in our house and our own good life together.”

      Sure would be courteous if they would fuck off – they wanted to leave, couldn’t they run away farther (like another country, or another planet)? If he won’t, I’ll be the one to.

  • You’ve got a strapping young man there! Gives me lots of hope as it is also my wish that my daughter will grow up to be a fine, strong woman.

    In response to your questions, I would like to see :
    1) More on how to gain a life
    2) In terms of co-parenting, I’m all for keeping the peace between me and my ex. When he is behaving well, I’m nice to him as well. When he is not, e.g. when he fucks up on money stuff, I document shit and go through the lawyer route etc. I’ve communicated to him that it is in our daughter’s best interests that we maintain the peace between us because she picks up on it and gets stressed. And I told him it is his responsibility to make sure he doesn’t fuck up my peace by giving me money problems etc.
    3) There seriously aren’t many resources out there on helping the chump leave the cheater right now. I really think CL is the only one and I think a lot of people benefit from someone telling the truth to them and teaching them how to have respect for themselves and leave a bad situation. So keep this going Tracy!

    Off topic but I was watching a documentary last night about Jackie Kennedy and how she is a survivor and plays up to the image of being a good wife and never divorced her husbands even when she was being cheated on badly. I wonder if she was actually happy or just putting up a good show. Alot of us have admired and looked up to her because of her style and grace but I wonder if ‘survivors’ / role models like these are actually keeping a lot of chumps stuck in bad marriages because there seems to be a societal pressure to keep putting on the picture perfection… just putting it out there…

    • Jackie K was raised in a time and a social class where a woman’s only value was as arm-candy, hostess and mother. Her financial conditions, social acceptance and status, and those of her children, were all tied to her ability to catch, please and keep a man who could provide those things.

      This power differential meant men did what they liked, and women smiled and pretended they didn’t know. (And sometimes did passive-aggressive or manipulative things in response; we were encouraged to admire women like Jackie who didn’t seem to do those things. A better class of wife-appliance.). It wasn’t a healthy system for either men or women…

      Jackie had an interesting career after her cheaters had both died. Didn’t marry again, either. Not hard to understand why.

  • I was separated and a single dad of three sons for five years and got divorced three months ago

    All in all the financial and legal part of the divorce went amazingly well without either party resorting to the nuclear option

    The same mindset I used throughout the divorce process is the same mindset I use and maintain in any coparenting.

    I have absolutely no personal discussions about my life, opinions, feelings or thoughts nor do I engaged in them with the ex when they are about her life. It’s an absolutely closed door until the end of time.

    I only state my thoughts and decisions on a coparenting issue and stick to those facts specifically, and only engage in responding to coparenting related issues only.

    My youngest is 18 so coparenting issues will likely decrease over time.

    As a post chump parent I do have to swallow an amazing amount of BS like my kids being exposed to the AP who is also a family member of mine and let my kids have their relationship with their mom despite my disgust with her life choices

    I believe I got off lucky. I’ve moved into a post chump life so at this point I feel very relieved to be rid of the ex, and we did not suffer financially or legally

    Of course, my kids lost their nuclear family so it hasn’t been without distruction, and I really want to give the AP a beat down , but unfortunately it’s against the law. That douche bag hasn’t crossed my path yet.

  • Here’s one things that I and a lot of people I know in my situation are struggling with: One of the hardest things about cheaters is how emotionally dissociated they are. Most of them are that way with the kids too. And if you try to split custody, that means that part of the time the kids are with someone who (a) never learned how to be a parent to begin with; (b) is not exactly tuned into the emotional needs of the children. Not to mention that most cheaters revolve only around their own needs because, you know, entitlement, bit and pieces or larger chunks of narcissism, etc.

    But then at the same time many will try to do impression management with the kids and be the “cool” parent for fear of losing social capital with the kids. Which brings me to my second issue: the mixed messages the kids get from the solid and the fuckwit parent. It not just really confusing, but sometimes, when you are dealing with substance abuse and addiction, sexuality (it’s forever surprising to me how uneducated and narrow-minded cheaters can be on this subject), etc., it can be downright dangerous. (Here are two examples to clarify where I come from: My poor teenager was once told that my gay friends might be coming on to him and that he should watch out— which revealed not only latent homophobia and a strange understanding having sex with dozens upon dozens of prostitutes around the world is somehow a safer behavior, but also a fantastically shitty understanding of what friendship is. Now we’re dealing with the “you can smoke as much pot as you want as long as you do well in school” message.)

    Neither of these are easy to deal with in a book, but boy would it help to have at least some printed acknowledgment of these struggles.

  • I’d like to see a chapter about how to deal / cope with your children meeting and spending time with the affair partner. The mess of emotions that your children are spending time with your ex and the affair partner, and not you. Even worse, how do we cope when our children spend time with our Ex, the AP and our Ex’s parents, as if our family has been recreated, but without us? As if we’ve been replaced by the AP? The hurt and pain if your children turn out to like the AP, and come home singing their praises. If your Ex or the AP put photos of them and your children on social media? As if they are a family unit and not homewreckers? What if your Ex and the AP now live together and when the children have them over, they are all happy, happy, energetic and having lots of fun, but then they come home to routines, depressed, stressed-out single parent who must enforce rules – what if they prefer being at Cheater’s Palace?

    What do you tell your children, at varying ages? We know we can’t bad mouth our Ex’s and must stick to the facts, but what about the AP? Can we tell the full truth to our children, providing they are of a suitable age?

    How, in turn, do we deal with the AP, if they appear at drop-off or pick up? Or they try to buy our children’s affections? Or they buy our children horrific clothes?!

    That’s a bit of a brain dump. Right now, I can’t just shrug my shoulders, or distract myself with something else. My ex is pushing for my children to meet the AP. It’s tearing me apart.

    • “My ex is pushing for my children to meet the AP.”

      In my case, my wife just took my young young daughter young daughter to her AP’S house and lied to me when I confronted her about it. Then she brought him around our house within 5 weeks of me moving out, lying to our kids that he was just a friend. Which of course the oldest two saw through right away.

      Besides not caring about the consequences to the kids (our middle one is traumatized about her AP moving in), she thinks everyone is is too stupid to figure them out. It sucks watching her her manipulate and take for granted her own kids. She’s sucks at being human.

      • I’m sorry, Forest, it’s awful, isn’t it? Her AP moved in? How did she get away with that? How can she not care about the effect of her actions on her children?! So sad.

  • The book…..well, my son will be 30 in 17 days and his dad and I didn’t break up because I found out about him cheating. No, we ‘grew’ apart and I blame the ‘young and dumb’ on it as well. So parenting with him was not too bad. He never really cared one way or another if my son came with him. 99% of the time my son did not want to go and neither of us forced the issue. So unfortunately a bond never formed between them (we split when my son was 1 1/2 yrs). Years later as an adult I think my son feels a little bit sorry for him (my son has a huge heart) and occasionally communicates with him. I feel sorry for my son because he never got to know or experience the love of a father.
    Side note: it wasn’t till years later that I found out his dad was having an affair. Again, I still blame young and dumb on both our parts. I should have never married: I got caught up in the fantasy of ‘marriage’ and he wasn’t the right person for me.
    It’s taken me many, many years (I’m 55) and now thanks to CL & CN to figure out and realize all the crazy things I thought about love and life were wrong. Oh well. I’m finally happy solo, though lonely. And as far as future anything….not with herpes that the last person left me with (who by the way was the biggest negative impact in my life with men).
    Back to the real reason of this post which was to say how precious your son is CL!! Well done on a fine young man!

  • I’d really like a chapter on what to tell the children, at various age stages. I know generally, the advise is keep to age-appropriate facts. But what if all that means is that our children grow up thinking that cheating is just one of those things that breaks a relationship up, like growing apart, wanting different things, incompatible values etc? I feel it’s important to convey to my children at some point in the future how awful cheating is, the impact it has and what it’s done to me. I want them to understand how terrible it is. Is that wrong of me?

    Shitbox came from a family line of cheaters – both his parents were cheaters. I worry that my children will also end up being cheaters or affair partners (or even chumps), particularly if all I convey is the facts in a matter-of-fact way, like it’s no big deal. I don’t want to alienate them from their cheater father, but I want them to know how badly he treated me and not to do the same to anyone else. How should this be approached?

    • Off, I don’t think we have to make specific efforts to encourage our kids to be faithful when in a committed, monogamous relationship, at least until they start dating.

      What we have to do is raise them to be honest and caring. That is the foundation for not being a cheater.

      And to teach our honest and caring kids not to be chumps? I think the most important skill they need is that of watching people’s behaviour, as well as listening to their words. That, and knowing that there are quite a few people in the world who may (or may not) be or do other useful or creative or even good things, but who we need to avoid in our own lives, whether as friends, romantic/sexual partners, business partners, bosses….

  • I didn’t have to coparent with my ex since he waited until the kids graduated from college and got married to announce he was leaving. However, when I was searching for resources on how to deal with adult children of divorce I found very little helpful information. Most of what’s out there is for parents of younger children.

    There are things I wish I’d done differently when it comes to telling the kids. I was in such pain that I overshared and gave too many details. I wish I had handled that better, even though it felt like I’d just been run over by a truck. It’s hard to think straight when a Chump is in that condition. Anyway, just thought I’d suggest a book for Chumps on how to tell their adult children (and one for adult children on how to handle their parents).

  • Grandparents! The parents of the Cheater / disordered person (i.e. https://www.chumplady.com/2015/11/dear-chump-lady-i-have-a-back-stabbing-mother-in-law/) when your ex’s parents enable their child’s behaviour / you can’t trust them / they minimise what their child has done or dismiss or disregard you / are two-faced / or blame you… yet still want you to facilitate contact with their grandchildren. When having contact with them is as bad as having contact with your Ex, how do you cope? Insist all contact is through your Ex?

    • OMG, the source of the crazy! “when your ex’s parents enable their child’s behaviour / you can’t trust them / they minimise what their child has done or dismiss or disregard you / are two-faced / or blame you…” add “give ‘unconditional love’ and make excuses for” …

      But as great African marxist etc therapist said ‘why are you expecting anything other than crazy from the source of the crazy??”

      Make it none of your business. All contact is through ex.

      • Yes, you are so right! I really think grandparents (cheater’s mother & father) deserve a special mention in Tracy’s new book, as in many cases, they are the source of the crazy, as you put it! And they are part of the whole parenting with a fucktard conundrum!

        If you read this Tracy, please consider writing something about grandparents!

        (Patsy, as for your additions, they ring true for me too. My ex-MIL always gave and gives excuses for Shitbox and even told me that her love for Ex is unconditional. What if he murdered me? Still unconditional? In any case, loving unconditionally is one thing, but enabling, rallying round the unmasked cheater is quite another. I know there is an argument that a parent’s love for their child should be unconditional, but is it as simple as that? What about love with boundaries? What about loving them, but still being honest with them when their behaviour is shitty, and making sure they face the consequences of their actions, and right their wrongs so that they can learn and become better people in the long run? Unlike my MIL who has always rushed to pick up the pieces, be it to pay off his debts, and at the same time, buy expensive ‘things’ and experiences for him, and pressurise me into mediation rather than going through lawyers two days after DDay.

        Lynne Namka, a psychologist, has a lot to say about narcissism and unhealthy dynamics. One thing she says is that narcissistic injury can be caused by parents spoiling their children, and not putting boundaries in place, and telling them that they are special (as in, better than other people…). I once asked my ex if he was spoilt after he was acting in an exceptionally entitled way. He snapped at me “Yes. But it wasn’t my fault!” and flounced off like a 6 year old child! So much I could say on this!

  • I think the idea of co-parenting is lovely but it’s very difficult and IMO, almost impossible with a cheater who has shown zero remorse. I believed my cheater did love our daughter but then there was the introduction to the new side-piece within weeks, new children to deal with, and not one single care given to how that might be perceived by her or anyone else. There was on-going drinking and eventually a blow up that lead to police and child protection. I challenge anyone to tell me how I co-parent with that brand of fuckwit.

    I thank my lucky stars for texting and email. I rarely speak to him if I don’t have to and there is no way I expect him to follow through on any promises he makes to me. He does a decent job of paying support and taking our daughter during visitation, but it’s the bare bones. He’s too wrapped up in himself and his new life to be a compassionate, caring father.

    I don’t think there are any books out there that deal with co-parenting with cheaters and the personality disordered. Most tell you to put it aside for the children and while I do my best not to talk negatively about her Father, some days that very difficult. And yes, she “gets it.” Frankly I put one foot in front of the other and do my best for her every day. I keep life here simple, predictable and drama-free. And I do that by going no contact. I don’t believe there is any other way to keep my sanity and be a good mother to my daughter.

    Chumplady, love that picture of your son. Awesome job!

  • I haven’t got the time to ready through all of the replies this am as I’m trying to do final edits on my book! 🙂 But I will give my 2 cents on coparenting.

    I moved back home to Australia 11 months ago after leaving ex 2 years post BD in the Nordic region. He works a very lucrative job with 6 weeks vacay + per year, and elective parental leave (on half pay). This year he took all of his holiday to travel for fun, then in Sept/Oct took a month parental leave and came to spend two weeks school vacay with the littles. He hadn’t seen them since the previous early December.

    I argued it should be the full month of parental leave (for the kids to be able to show him their schools etc), which he relented on (he wanted a week holiday either side of his kiddy visit).

    1: he tried to stiff me half child support for the month as he would be caring for them ( I argued this back because daycare and rent still required payment regardless)

    2: he disneyed them for two weeks +

    3: he tried to convince my 6yo son that marriage is a bad thing

    4: he retured my 3yo daughter with a severe case of vaginitis because he did not wash or ensure she wash herself, which took so long to recover from that we ended up in the paediatric ward to check if it was something more sinister.

    5: he notified me the day before I left for my one-week rest break (working remote, but not cooking, cleaning or wiping butts) that he is seeing someone, by email, even though he was seeing me face to face at pick-up/drop-off each day and made a big deal about promising himself to tell me during his visit (I didn’t check email until he left the country! so the intention to upset my break didn’t really pan out) The divorce was final 3 months ago so I imagine he feels it ‘safe’ that he wont be cast as an adulterer now.

    6: he returned to the Nordic region and according to my records now communicates with son only 6 minutes a week by phone and continues to miss his “scheduled” weekly Skype call when convenient to do so, with zero notice. This has been the case all year. I receive intermittent rants indicating that I’m not making enough effort to maintain the children’s interest in contacting him and he claims he would make more effort if the situation were reversed.

    Sadly, the contact was not much better when we were still in the Nordic region, he used to take the kids for ice cream 2 hours a week. He had promised to do pick-up or drop-off each day but then claimed it was too hard given his work hours and new apartment location/logistics. When I finally left after two years of this, he tried to convince me to leave them there with him, in his studio apartment, 40 minutes away from the daycare, without car access, so that they could have continuity, and was ‘offended’ that I hadn’t even considered it as an option.

    I think my ex falls within the ‘batshit crazy, high-functioning sociopath’ category.

    • The best solution for a batshit crazy, high functioning sociopath is distance. Lots of distance. And the word “no.”

  • Tracy,

    I have read your blog for about 2.5 years. I’ve contributed a few times to discussions here in 2016. I am not a parent, but here are my thoughts on a coparenting book.

    My father is probably undiagnosed NPD. My parents divorced, thankfully, when i was 20. My mother should have divorced him years before having children, and stayed in her marriage “for the children”. Aside from the abusive behavior he demonstrated, and his manipulative behavior during and after their marriage ended, i grew up watching a couple that didn’t relate to one another with love, sexual warmth, or respect.

    In many regards, i had great parenting from my mom. However, in terms of forming healthy relationships, i have gone through a lot of therapy, and still struggle with relating in an intimate context. There are good, healthy people out there, but for many years, i was either too busy trying to deal with my issues, clear that a relationship was not what i wanted or needed, and emotionally unavailable, or chose poorly, and spent time cleaning up the mess.

    At 35, i take ownership that these are my issues, and it is pointless to waste my emotional energy on blaming my parents for my choices and actions as an adult. However, they set the stage for the scene that i play out. It is a daily practice to make good, healthy choices, and to practice good skills in relating.

    Had my mother divorced my dad, there was potential to at least not be imprinted by their toxic relationship patterns. My mother largely functioned as a single mom with the stability of his income. And without her input on household budgeting, less would have been spent on kids, and more on his interests and wants. I thank my mother for her frugal, conservative approach to money.

    There could have been potential for her to date, have a healthy, happy relationship earlier, and for us to see things while growing up. However, after her divorce, she went to therapy for a few years, and married again. My stepfather is a loving, healthy man who loves and cherishes my mother, and treats my brother and myself with great love and respect. This has been healing for me to witness.

    Had the narrative surrounding single motherhood been different in the 80s and 90s, perhaps she would have made the leap. I think my brother and i would have been healthier in the long run. However, she spent ten years getting her ducks in a row, established a firm career and financial path for herself, and when she divorced my dad, it took three months from asking for divorce to final court date. Smooth as a whistle. I was 20, had my own place and job, brother was 18 in college. No custody, no significant financial wrangling. Assets split 50/50, she cut her small losses and got the hell out of there. To date, i still applaud my mother’s exit strategy.

    I think seeing a parent liberate themself from an intimately disrespectful and abusive scenario is powerful for a child. It teaches a course of action that is applicable in all spheres of life. And the child has less direct impact from the abusive or manipulative parent, either learning to abuse or to be a victim.

    It is time to change the narrative around single parenting. It is ok to have a healthy family with one parent. It is also ok to have different families than just a nuclear heterosexual couple. Maybe a grandparent helps with parenting, or an uncle, aunt, or close friend. Safe nurturing, and healthy attachments matter more than anything.

    Do it Chump Lady! You have a fine, young son. Be proud. You did it.

    • Your response the other day was masterful, Bella. Nice to see you around these parts lately. I have especially been thinking on that “fluid-bonded couple.” Hadn’t heard that before. Now they I am thinking about possibly maybe dating at some point, I’ll whip that little bit of lingo out at the right moment to show how hip I am. ?

        • Awwww. That’s sweet and weird. Just like you, Virago.

          I actually had a moment out tonight where I saw an attractive woman. I immediately checked her finger for a ring. None. (Not definitive as y’all know.) So yeah. That’s it. I was more interested in sex than the internet for a moment there. Hey, it’s progress.

          • Weird? Ahhhhh, that is what is wrong with me!

            Definite progress, Ian dear! Sex trumps (oops! Sorry, CL) internet always! V

            • I mean “weird” in the best way you sexy beast. Like in the Beowulf-weird way. Ain’t a damn thing wrong with you.

      • Why thank you, Ian.

        Have been taking a break from dating and felt the need to fortify and nourish myself reading Chump Lady’s blog. Its been enjoyable to read the perspectives and commentators here again.

        Recently started a dating a man with some attachment issues, and probably narcissistic tendencies. Thanks to Chump Lady, saw it early, and when the devalue/discard came, i told him the cognitive dissonance made me want to “shut my head in the door”. Needless to say, when the hoover came a week after the dump, i shut it down quickly, and he reacted with rage because of his lack of centrality. Just realized charm/self-pity/rage was the cycle.

        Don’t miss him, but needed to return to CN, and remind myself i am mighty, firm up dealbreakers and boundaries, and that i am worthy of respect. Its been hard. Dating has brought a lot of my issues to the fore in new ways. I have met a lot of very cool people and formed a really great social circle. Its rewarding to build community.

        Defintely feel ready for a new relationship, and real partnership. Dating has taught me a lot about discernment and identifying needs/wants/values i have in a relationship. Sure would be nice to practice though!

        Happy you are regaining an interest in scoping out attractive people. Window shopping is fun. 🙂

  • Hoo boy. I’ve been parallel parenting with a fuckwit for over four years now. My thoughts:

    What would you like to see in such a book?

    First of all, if it hasn’t already been mentioned, we need to tell newbies that they will likely have to parallel parent. Co-parenting implies a cooperative relationship between the parents. That ain’t happening with most of these narc cheaters. I would establish that from the get-go. Stay distant to save your sanity. No phone calls. No face-to-face meetings. No meeting with a counselor to see if you can be “better parents” together. All of those instances can be used as forms of manipulation. The cheater cares only about his/her image. The cheater does not actually care about being a better parent with you.

    Get everything in writing. Go overboard on the legal agreement. Don’t agree to anything that isn’t in writing, whether it’s visitation at Christmas time or how you’ll handle child care when the kids are sick. I made a lot of assumptions because I thought my ex would treat me and the kids well. We mediated our divorce, and he was still being “nice” at that point. That came back to bite me in several ways. We had several verbal agreements about things that were immediately scrapped once he brought the OW into our kids’ lives.

    Also, keep a paper trail of correspondence. If your ex tries to say that he/she didn’t agree to something, you have it documented. If your ex is abusive, you have it documented.

    Emailing also allows you to keep your distance (as mentioned above). Keep it to sterile, business-like emails, even if your ex goes off the deep end and writes some nasty things. Don’t respond in kind. I like the “gray rock” idea and subscribe to that with my ex-cheater (as long as my kids’ lives aren’t being endangered in any way). I think it’s important for newbies to remember that this pod person is not your friend and is likely looking for any way to push your buttons and to keep the drama alive. Don’t give the ex the satisfaction.

    Remind them that the person they married is gone. Don’t expect anything good from him/her. You will be disappointed over and over again. It took me a few years to learn that lesson. Even now, there are times when I am still shocked as how disrespectfully my ex treats me and our kids. It stings far less, though, and I do far less to engage him, so it happens less often. Rinse and repeat: your ex does not care about you. Your ex does not care about your feelings. Your ex does not care about what is best for the children. Your ex only cares about him/herself.

    TELL THE CHILDREN THE TRUTH. I have never called my ex and his new wifey whores in front of the children or told them the sordid details about how their “true love” came to fruition on Ashley Madison. What I did say was that their dad broke a very important promise in our marriage by dating their stepmother while we were married, and I couldn’t stay with him because I no longer trusted him. Kids need to know the truth. The ex does not deserve your attempt to manage his/her image, and that’s why the ex wants you to stay quiet. It’s ALL about preserving the image. The kids have every right to know, in age-appropriate language, why their parents’ marriage imploded. If you don’t tell them, I guarantee that they will think it’s somehow their fault, and using nebulous terminology like “we had grown-up problems” (a phrase I stupidly used for a short time) only makes them more upset because they have NO idea what those scary, family-destroying “grown-up problems” are!

    How have you coped (or not coped) co-parenting with a fuckwit?

    I have coped by coming here to read and to post, talking to a counselor who isn’t part of the IRC, and talking to friends/family IRL who are anti-cheating and solidly support me. The counselor has been very important. While I feel that I’m much closer to meh these days, I still see her from time to time just to check in. Honestly, she keeps me from feeling like I’m crazy, and she validates my anger/disappointment/frustration/whatever the negative emotion of the day happens to be. I tell her stories about my ex, and she shakes her head and reminds me that he is not happy and never will be. It’s okay to get help, especially when you’re the only sane parent. You will need it.

    What resources are out there now? Did they help? Or do you think the market could use a CL approach to the subject?

    Not much is out there. Okay, there are probably some blogs here and there (that I probably read through CL) that advise the gray rock approach, etc. Loriann Hoff Oberlin’s Surviving Separation and Divorce was okay because her perspective was of a person leaving a physically abusive spouse, so she talks about protecting yourself and not expecting anything good from the ex. Otherwise, everything is all about “Be BFFs for the children” and “Don’t tell them that your ex cheated on you.” I think there’s a market for this. We spackle cheating like nobody’s business, and we spackle the aftermath as well. “Children are resilient” and “well, that’s between the married couple” are the oft-used phrases instead of “Cheaters suck” and “Look how this person’s cheating destroyed his/her family.” You need to write a no-holds-barred guide to parallel parenting with asshole cheaters, for sure. That narrative is not out there.

    Hope this helps. Though I’ve been in the trenches for a while, I will definitely buy a copy of this if you write it!

  • So here are the waters I have had to navigate without a CL resource guide… perhaps future chapters?

    – Telling Your Child Dad is Walking Out on the Family for an AP
    – Surviving Shared Custody with the Cluster B/Disordered Parent
    – Holiday Drama (and no, they won’t acknowledge you on Mother’s Day or your Birthday)… cuz they’re Narcissists
    – Introducing the Affair Partner Before the Divorce is Even Final (and sleepovers at her house with her kids)
    – How to Talk to Your School Teachers About the Divorce
    – Helpful Distractions for Visitation Weekends, including a wine list
    – Meditations for the Sane Parent
    – Learning to Live on a Budget without Consistent Child Support
    – Explaining Why You Won’t Forgive the Cheating Parent and Take Them Back
    – Explaining Why the Court Gets to Decide Custody and Visitation and not the Kid(s)
    – When You’re the Only Sane Parent to Your Stepchildren
    – Raising A Son (Daughter) to be a Better Man (Woman)
    – Finding the Silver Linings – They are out there!

    Happy to participate in a focus group 🙂

  • First of all Tracy – your son is handsome and has been raised right! Congratulations for doing a wonderful job and sharing your trials and tribulations with us.

    Second – you need to write this book ! If it weren’t for you and CN I’m sure I would have screwed things up. Instead I learned that I needed to be the sane parent! This is THE most important thing you can do to love your children. I took all the anger and frustration from his lack of knowledge about raising his own children and funneled it all towards my kids. I had basically been a single parent throughout the marriage anyway, with him acting as the Disney dad. It wasn’t always easy. In fact it was hard sometimes, but I believe my perserverance has paid off.

    When my oldest turned 18 this year, I sat him down and told him why I really left his dad. I told him about the affair, about the abuse, about how although we had to move and they had to go to different schools, it was in their best interest. He shook his head yes. He knew all about the affair. He knew that they were better off not being raised in an abusive household. Kids are intuitive. He also told me that I’m much better at taking care of things than his dad and that his dad is “pretty stupid sometimes”. I shook my head yes. My 15 year old agrees too. He’s much more mature than his brother was at his age and talks to me about his dad’s lack of general knowledge on a regular basis.

    I think if I had said out loud all of the things that I thought about their dad for the last six years, they may have turned out differently. So hard as it was to take the high road, I believe it’s worth it.

    Another thing to pass along is that if your ex was a narc and you see those tendencies in your children, you need to point them out. My oldest tries to gaslight me. My youngest tries to avoid telling me things so as not to lie. I firmly tell then that you may have seen your dad do these things to me, but you will not do them to me or anyone else – especially when I explain the consequences of those actions.

    • Margo, your story is both powerful and tender. I am standing up and saluting you. Literally. The strength you demonstrated. The courage. The ploughing through pain. The losses. The sanity. I could not have found that mightiness in myself. I am certain.

      So many heroes and heroines in this amazing nation. Lead by another heroine, CL. The one with the very handsome son! Gonna have to build a fence around that one CL, as the girls will be swarming!

      I can’t read these responses for very long, for some reason. They ‘get’ to me. And it does not make sense because I never had children. I was a sort-of-step-Mom (MoFaux and I never married thankfully) to three teenagers. Since the ‘event’ one has ‘lost’ contact completely, one rarely contacts and one still confides in me and will be a part of my life forever. But my heart breaks that I’ll never be with him at holiday time or at the lake or other family events (where we used to sit up until nearly daylight talking and laughing). It is a crushing loss, as if you’ve lost a part of your body and there is just phantom pain to remind you.

  • BTW. This conversation is soooo well timed for me!

    Followed up with my attorney today. Filing at new year. She asked for me to prep my list of requirements for separation.

    FF is so fucked. Thank you CL and CN!!

  • Hello CL:

    I would like to see some feedback on co-parenting with young adults. I walk a fine line between them knowing that their father is a total wackjob to protect them from his sliminess( latest is our daughter’s car which he is selling for her as a car dealer and the fact that she has not seen the money and it is being sold to someone he owes a great deal of money to–do we sense a rip off?), and just staying out of it because they are, after all, adults.

  • CL: your son is a gem! Congratulations!

    Please write a resource and instruction manual with a companion website that lists vetted resources/providers such as attorneys and therapists and child therapists and CPAs knowledgeable about BPD/Narc/Devalue & Discard/Gaslighting, etc. There are little to no resources for us parents.

    I’d also like to contribute to a focus group.

    Here are my tips:
    Document everything with time/date emails sent to yourself and handwritten contemporaneous notes on daily journal, copied and scanned and uploaded into cloud-based account.
    Do not have any communications that you would not be happy to show to the Court. Keep all communications by email only and be extremely civil.

    Involve your kids’ pediatricians, school counselors, teachers, etc. in basics of what’s going on from the beginning. Focus on what the kids need as they suffer from this abuse. These advocates will be invaluable potential witnesses in litigation if necessary and will help substantiate the abuse and harm caused by the cheater/disordered parent.
    From as early as you can after DDay, find a child therapist who specializes in treating children whose parents are BPD/Narcs who have devalued and discarded– or ones who specialize in kids whose parents “act out” sexually with kids’ knowledge. This person will not only provide a safe place for child to process, they will be invaluable in substantiating the abuse.

    Keep kids’ lives as stable and normal as possible and again document everything in the method described above that you do that is parenting. Document everything the cheater does/does not do as it relates to kids and parenting tasks.

    Keep meticulous financial records summarized in an excel spreadsheet of everything spend on children. Categorize expenditures.

    One additional idea for the book: discuss evidence and best practices for “reunification” between kids and disordered cheater parent after discard occurs. Provide link to website with vetted (even social media reviewed would be better than what we have now, which is nothing) providers.

  • What would you like to see in such a book?
    First, how to deal with the duplicity of dealing with “fuckwhit” and respecting they are still parent figures. Fine line

    How have you coped (or not coped) co-parenting with a fuckwit.
    Lucky me. kids over 18. Understanding they have to boundary set relationship with xh.

    What resources are out there now? Did they help? Or do you think the market could use a CL approach to the subject?
    “When you really want to yell, but you have to speak.” Staying true to your chumpdom – but also – holding up the kids for the best possible outcome with “X”.

  • Brilliant idea! I’m a newbie, so I would devour such a book!
    what I figured out until now: my SBXH is trying really hard to annoy me, to get me to fight. My parents, who have been really supportive of me and my son, always try to restrain my reactions. They follow with: forget about him.
    It’s like his last attempt to make some contact with me, by annoying me. That’s all he has left from 10 years together. For me, it all vanished, it’s like he never happened.

    I have some really crazy revenge thoughts, words to throw at him.
    What I want to know: is it worth the effort? Is it healthy to let it all out?
    I don’t want to have regrets later for not spewing his s*t out in the open. Ugh…

    What would I like to read: Do’s and Don’ts
    Is this BIF approach of any good?

    • When and how to tell his family/friends/colleagues about his cheating, without putting your kid at risk?
      Before divorce? After divorce?
      If you shine the truth about the AP, can you be held accountable (lawsuit, fine etc) ?

    • I have found what annoys these types the most is if you ignore them. So I never respond to attempts to get a rise out of me. I never respond to anything unless I have to because it involves the kids. Instead, I spew forth my rage in an email and send it to one of my best friends, or my mom or sister, instead of him. Or I just leave the email in draft form and never send it. This helps me vent but gives him no satisfaction – remember, any kind of engagement, good or bad, is what NPDs thrive on. This is my biggest learning in the 4 years I have been dealing with parallel parenting (co-parenting is not possible).

  • I got so, so lucky. X simply threw some clothes and his computer into his car, sent me an email, and drove away. At the time, I thought it was horrible; how could he just abandon our family after 23 years?

    I’ve seen him twice in the almost 5 years since and two of our three kids have never seen or spoken to him in all these years. I have primary custody and get spousal and child support through wage garnishment. Now I know I am incredibly fortunate. I don’t even have to pretend to parent with a fuckwit. We “share” legal custody, but the sharing is meaningless because X makes zero attempts to be involved. I occasionally email forms when necessary (like getting a passport for a recent school trip) and he eventually signs and returns. I just build in extra time to account for his fuckwittedness.

  • I have a major regret. My children’s father is a narcissist. He told them if you don’t like your mother’s rules, come live with me. My kids were somewhat older when we divorced. When they became teens, my oldest son tried to play my ex against me and wanted to live with the parent who was easier. I refused to let him play that game with me, so my oldest son chose to stay with his father. No rules, no discipline. My son is very intelligent, but barely graduated from high school. Now he is still living at his father’s family compound and working for the “family business” in the oil field service. He’s in his thirties, but has never had a real job. I wish I would have fought harder to hold him accountable. I love him and he is a great, kind person. We have a good relationship, but he is stunted in his personal life

    My idea for your book would be to how to not let the children play one parent against the other when dealing with a narcissist.

    • 2old4drama, you brought up a subject that I haven’t really be able to articulate regarding breeding and parentting with a fuckwit. In one of Saferelationshipmagazine’s podcasts, Jennifer says, ‘It is their disorder, and it is going with them where ever they go. They can’t turn it on an off like a light switch.’ She was saying this with regard to ‘Is he happier with the OW now?” But I think that whole concept of disorder needs to be expanded, It is theirs and they take it with them where ever they go. Somewhere in this whole discussion we think they are really only disordered with us, and they can be decent parents. I always resisted this idea but couldn’t articulate why. The why is, they are just as disordered as parents as they were husbands. I was married to a covert narc, and I had assumed that he would be a good dad. But really he couldn’t. They triangulate the kids, they gaslight them, they rage at them, they manipulate them, they do all sorts of image management to them and with them. It is all there, just in a parental form and I believe it is just as damaging. I would like to see some of their behavior placed within the framework of the narc playbook. I think if we chumps took a little time to think about this, we would have a better understanding of what kind of shit they will do and how to better cope with it and help our children cope with the floating iceberg that is their father or mother as the case maybe. Also, we need some sort of framework to help us decide with regard to our kids, what is normal development, what is narc induced behavior because they are witnessing so much disorder, and what part of them, if any, is part of their genetic inheritance. Each of these aspects of their growth need to be managed differently.

      • RMOB, Thank you for your comment. I can surely relate. I’m sure my children’s father cheated on me, but that wasn’t why we divorced. We married when I was 18 he was 19. We had three kids and I couldn’t take anymore criticism by the time my youngest was three. I was thirty four when when we divorced. He owns a business and doesn’t really keep auditable books. I was lucky enough to be able to get a degree and have a career where I could support my kids without his money. I guess you could say I took pride in that. I know CL advocates holding the narcissest accountable for child support, but in my case, it just wasn’t worth the cost of fighting him in court and putting the kids through all of the fighting. I received one child support payment. Maybe my pride was a poor example for holding people accountable. All I know is that fighting him and dealing with all of that drama wasn’t a price I was willing to pay. I have two very successful kids who are self supporting with college degrees and one one lost sole who I feel I let down. My children’s father is a very ugly and mean person.

        An aside, I’m on CL because my second husband was a financial (and probably physical cheater…can you say crabs?) and my current “spouse” had an affair with a co-worker. I clearly need to fix my picker.

  • Congrats on your son growing into a young man!

    As for the book, I suggest a prologue or Chapter 1 (or at least a paragraph) where you implore chumps who haven’t yet conceived to (1) STOP having sex with their cheating spouse, or failing that (2) wrap it up or otherwise practice contraception.

    My wife and I were trying to get pregnant when she started cheating. I wasn’t smart enough to do #1, but I sure as hell did #2.

    And today, I’m able to say that I barely escaped “breeding with a fuckwit.” I know I’m very lucky, and I count my blessings.

    But I’ve seen too many letters on this site where spouses suspected cheating but the had kids months/years later. Or at a minimum kept rolling around with their cheating spouses, hoping the “normalcy” of marital sex would return the “wayward” to the marriage.

    Having kids doesn’t make cheaters faithful. Neither does pick-me sex (even though I tried it.)

  • So glad you are writing this book! You are a spectacular writer and an inspiration!

    We definitely need something on co-parenting when the other woman/ex’s affair partner insists on being involved and playing “Mom.” Loving my kids and treating them well is the least you can do after blowing up my life, involving yourself in the business of my divorce, coaching the ex on how to make sure the kids and I get less money and weighing in on our custody/visitation and my parenting is another thing. Would love to see something on basically having to coparent with two fuckwits instead of one because ex settled down with the affair partner.

    I’m sure whatever you write will be super awesome! 🙂

  • First counselor I saw (yep, first) after D Day asked ” So, are you upset that you don’t have kids to help you get through this?”. I replied “Fuck no!” Glad as ever I didn’t have kids with him. I feel for those you having to go through a situation like this and have to also be mighty for your kids. Respect.

  • I agree about a chapter on dealing with the AP who controls the EX. The darling in my life is truly evil. (cheated on 2 husbands already, broken up the lives of 9 children in total now).
    Ideas about dealing with the fact that a really truly awful person is having time and impact on your own children.
    She is rich and obsessed with money and designer clothes and already I see her affect on my middle son who suddenly out of nowhere is very “brand” conscious. (yet father not paying child maintenance).

    • Yes, this concerns me too. Both ShiTBoX and the AP are very materialistic and into designer labels, and not just for themselves- but for showing to other people, too. Latest purchases or wants all over social media. Very shallow.

      When we were still together, I heard ShiTBoX say to my son (2.5 years then), “did you hear that person in the shop say that they liked your clothes? It feels good when other people say you look good, doesn’t it?”

      I kid you not. It still boggles my brain, what he was trying to teach him, and why. I asked ShiTBoX why he said that to him, and he went mental at me! He accused me of “eavesdropping on a private conversation with his son”! What is that all about?!

      • I should have made that first be clearer, they like designer labels, not just for their own taste, or personal preferences, but for showing off to other people.

  • Sadly, too much for me to write.

    … but Tracy… there’s so much for you to write and you do it so very, very well.

    Thank God for you and other chumps. There is ‘safety’ in numbers from an emotional support perspective.

    Write another book. Please.

    Hugs to all chumps out there.

  • Agree it is the “showing off” which is all important.
    I realise now my ex was always like this, I just did not take is seriously.
    Actually it is VERY important to him. Plus he has got much worse with his current influencer on board.
    I just do not want my sons to turn into him!

  • My kids are chumps. They first yelled at me for not throwing him out immediately after Dday. Now after months, and having even more evidence of indeniable serial cheating with neighbors, shop assistants, friends’ wives and prostitutes, he is love bombing my kids. Successfully, very successfully. So sweet, generous and charming now, after neglecting them for 24 yrs. I’m stunned.

  • Beautiful photo, CL. He is a very lucky young man to have you as his Mom. No wonder you fought so hard. Young people NEED some source of sanity. So many adults told me this in my work. Even if it was the person who ran their convenience store. That person could be a touchstone for them. No matter how difficult the journey, sanity can be preserved by solid, sane example.

    I support wholeheartedly the notion of another book, T. Especially on this matter.

    I am not a parent. And not even a ‘real’ step mom, as never married my fuckwit.My perhaps lame suggestion is that those of us who had the not-real-step-parent role get a mention. We are in no man’s land. I just took the role of respectful, supportive, engaged person. Heh! Just a person. I had no support from MoFaux. He just wanted me to make it work and be fast. No collaboration or ideas, of course. (God, he was so hopeless. WWIT?) Full of criticisms, though.

    He did not establish any boundaries with them as to what was permitted in terms of treatment of me. Fortunately two did not require any guidance. But one of them was, I see retrospectively, a covert narcissist. smiling and hugging me but taking opportune moments to increase my discomfort and smirk when it affected me negatively. EXACTLY like her Dad liked to do. And she was the only one to give MF grandchildren, so he was particularly avoidant in addressing her conduct. She taught her first born to be so blatantly defiant and rude to me that it embarrassed other family members!!!

    So, I witnessed this generational cluster B behaviour, taught by example. And it was dreadful, to put it mildly. Affected my health very adversely. And such a core area in which to have difficulty. so any guidance in that area would be profoundly useful. I realize it might seem peripheral to all that has been outlined herein. Just my two cents. And it felt good to get it off of my chest. ? Sorry to rant, V’

    • I’m so sorry. My heart goes out to you. They hurt their kids too and your daughters behavior shows how he hurt her. (((Hugs)))

      • Thank you, sadlady15. You are very kind. Yes, he hurt them all and this was her way of dealing with it. He continues to demonstrate that his selfishness is endless. I will never figure out why the hell I stayed with such a person!

        Stay the course and live well and deeply!

  • I haven’t found any good books about co-parenting with jerks. Some things I would like to see in a book: the art of “Gray Rock” communication, helping your kids deal with your ex’s new partner, finding and using available resources to recover unpaid child support, planning and preparing for future legal battles like enforcing parenting plans and suing for college funds, self care for the single parent/managing the emotional roller-coaster that comes with co-parenting with a fuckwit, giving your kids enough information to process and deal with the situation but not overloading them.

    The single biggest thing that helped me and my daughter was using our state’s child support payroll withholding system from the very beginning. My lawyer wasn’t very keen on doing it, and it did cost $500 more in legal fees to have my lawyer process the paperwork, but I pushed for it and it took all the pressure off me. I don’t have to worry about collecting child support, the state does it for me and if he wants to reduce it he has to go to court and prove his income. I am certain if I hadn’t done this in the very beginning my ex would skip payments or send less than he is supposed to, or call me making excuses about being broke. I don’t have to deal with ANY of that nonsense. My lawyer said the state makes mistakes often, and I might not get the money but it’s been almost a year and there hasn’t been a single issue. I get the full amount of support every two weeks like clockwork. I wish this service was available and required in every state in the country.

  • God I have been asking for a separate thread for Breeding with a Fucktard for a while. I don’t think that we have explored enough of what it means to breed with a fucktard and for me, being the ‘sane parent’ advice is cold comfort when you and your kids have been through either undeniably horrible time, or as I did, with a sly and manipulative covert narc. I could not welcome this more. So I am very much in favor of this, because there have been moments, when I thought my kids have been damaged permanently. Also Cluster B has a very strong genetic component. How in the world do we manage that. So this is very good.

  • Communication expectations (no contact except essential, kid-related – email/text 99% of time), schedules, ‘relationship’ expectations (“we are co-parents, and NO, I don’t want to meet you for coffee to talk about things”).

    Communication expectations: I have had to clearly repeat the line I have drawn about what ‘no contact’ means, and what/how communicating about the kiddo means (text and email 99% of time).

    Schedules: It’s in the MSA you idiot! We do our 50/50 joint custody schedules 6 months at a time, and have the two major-to-us holidays on an e/o year plan….its not tricky. Because he works in the performance/classical music industry, his work is evenings and weekends, so, we (mostly “I”) flex on what the 50/50 looks like during the season/academic year….my ex seems to think I’ll flex on everything…yeah, NO! I am communicating clearly, with no emotion (I try to use a “just the facts ma’am” tone with all texts/emails/calls).

    “Relationship expectations”: I know many of you get this from your cheating ex…”can we met for coffee to talk?” – or – “Can’t we just talk? You can’t just ignore our 16 years together” – or – “Can’t we just talk and connect like real people?”

    My response (in my head and to my friends): “UUUUHHHH, NO. You and the one who cheated on me, you fucked me over, you betrayed me….I’m not ignoring anything, I’m simply not into giving you anything anymore. You don’t get ANY of me. Co-parenting with you is sucky enough so shut the fuck up. I DO NOT WANT TO PROCESS OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU. That is what my therapist is for …get your own!”

  • I think this book is such a great idea and will help so many of us. From my experience (divorce finalized a month ago…I was “soontobeexofidiotletterwriter” when I was still married to my ass of a husband who actually wrote to you after he hacked into my emails and saw I had written to you a year and a half ago), my biggest challenge is that although we are now over, I still struggle with being a chump in my relationship with him as a coparent. He is extremely inconsistent with visitation and support payments, and always has a sad sausage story about why he isn’t carrying his part of the deal. He is always promising that he’s working on getting back on his feet and will be the “best dad in the world” soon. And although he continues to try to bully and gaslight and is still a lying asshole, I find myself wanting to believe that he will be a good dad, and I want the kids to have a chance at a good dad, so I give him more slack than I should. How do I unchump myself without feeling like I’m hurting the opportunity for my kids to have a relationship with their dad? Does that make sense?

  • In my case, DD is Autistic, so my EXH#2 (AKA The Evil One for the newbies) is NOT a co-parent at all. He does pay his child support (it has to be drafted from his paycheck— Newbies, make sure you see the signed garnishment order before you sign the divorce papers if applicable in your state/country— otherwise, I’d never see a dime), and he does honor his every other weekend obligation (i.e. visitation), but as far as long term visitation— summer, every other Thanksgiving week, Christmas week, he shirks it off citing work.
    Newbies, co-parenting with a Fuckwit is exhausting…18 months oout, and I still find myself (slap me around, ChumpNation) offering him extra time with DD, he accepts/agrees, then cancels at the last minute. He has his OWife and her two kids full-time, so DD is more like a visitor than a daughter…he made an ass out of himself last year at DD’s school, so he doesnt contact them to check on her, he doesnt pick her up from there, he doesnt even ask me about her progress. ..
    A book about co-parenting with a Fuckwit is an awesome idea!!!
    A few of my suggestions:
    If you are the non custodial parent, do NOT count on your Fuckwit for any information about your child (ren)— stay involved in their school (s), join their PTA’s, email/contact their teachers, etc. on your own— you do not have to ask your ex permission. Get their extra-curricular activites schedules, show up if you can. I was lucky in that my job allows me the time to do that stuff, but i understand those whose work schedules arent flexible to accommodate. .. stay involved.
    Stay no contact with your ex if your kids are older…my parents divorce and its aftermath was brutal for me as a kid growing up, constantly afraid to contact my dad or demonstrate any real kind of love or care towards my dad or my mom would blow up on me. As I got older, it was easier to contact my dad on my own despite my mom, especially after going off to college. ..
    If you have young children with your fucktard, then limited contact is best. I do not speak to the evil one except for every other weekend. It was hard for me to deal with the discard at first not just towards me, but to our daughter as well, but you truly just get used to it, speaking for myself only of course.
    Co-parenting with a Fuckwit is almost an oxymoron, you can’t unless you make strong boundaries and stick to them.
    If your Fuckwit is ordered to pay half of everything pertaining to your children’s expenses on top of child support like the evil one is, set up some kind of routine or schedule to get the half. I haven’t asked for his half of any of DD’s co-pays for prescriptions or doctor visits, but i need to,. I did mention it to him last weekend, i didn’t give him receipts or anything, but he did agree that he owes me that money. Ill probably never see it, but I’m going to start alerting him to it. ..
    My special snowflake Fuckwit just changed jobs, so if your Fuckwit has trouble keeping jobs, stay on top of your paperwork. I did contact his new employer about the standing order for child support, and the payroll clerk informed me that when he was hired, he had to go through e-verify, and the child support order is linked to him on that too.
    Pick-up, drop-offs should be at a neutral location. Public places are better just in case your Fuckwit like mine tends to blow up and act a fool occasionally, so you have plenty of witnesses for the police report.
    Document, document, document.
    I use an app on my phone called text to email that sends your text message threads to your email as a pdf. I know some people like me that use it and actually have their pdf’s sent straight to their lawyer or a third person. Also, I have saved every cell phone and tablet since he left for authenticity in case the judge ever wants to see the actual messages on my phone itself.
    No matter what, stay the strong, sane, stable patent. Yes, they do figure it out who their Fuckwit patent is, it’s a sad day when it happens, but it will.
    I have a friend whose ex only takes their teen daughter on the fun trips and special occasion stuff, doesn’t come to her games, doesn’t call just to say hi, I love you, etc. He is a total Disney dad, but she sees him for only that and knows she will never have a real dad, and she’s OK about it,. She has her grandpa, her uncle to be her dad. It sucks for my friend, but her daughter is old enough now to handle it and she has brilliantly.

    EXH#1 & I really did co-parent very well, no matter how angry I was at him, no matter how much I hated him, no matter how much his OWife at the time would dig at me and try to bait me, I hung in there and did right by my boys— I was there at the ballpark, school events, extra visitation, you name it. The one thing I advise with you newbies is to get everything in writing in the divorce decree/visitation/custody agreement and do not sign until it is what is fair, and best for the kids. I didnt and EXH#1 screwed with me constantly over the first few years with it. It has been 14 years since EXH#1 and I divorced, and I am proud to say that our boys did come through just fine, because as they tell me, “we knew we always had you, Momma”. Their teachers would compliment us regularly because they could never tell whose weekend was whose — they were that well-adjusted. It wasn’t easy or fun, but I survived what I thought would kill me and you will too!!!
    Hugs,
    Molly

  • Great work Tracy in raising a fine young man, a testament to your innate resilience and courage, as is this place we call CN. The world is sadly lacking in resources for dealing with all manner of experiences with a NPD. The ex got the benefit of my fundamental belief that children need both parents, I had no idea about narcissistics and how they triangulate. He played it very well indeed. After 8 years of 50:50 custody, in which I had to go scorched earth to get a parenting agreement in place, my wonderfully bright, kind, empathic child is getting counselling to deal with all the crap that was heaped on her young shoulders as the “dumb” one in the golden child triangle. If I had known this would happen I would have made him fight me rather than handing him the 50:50 on a platter. These fuckwits only do what’s best for them. But in the end I know deep down that she will be ok, as will the golden child, because they have a kickass mom who’s got her mojo back, thanks to you and CN. Some great chapters already mentioned, it took a while to get there but parallel parenting is the way to go, esp if you are in the shared care situation. I was lucky, I have a well paid job so I don’t need his child support – I take it and use the $200 month to pay for the handyman, gardener and pool man to help with the things I can’t physically do. The kids view my home as their home and his place is Dad’s house. It’s been a hard 8 years but the kids & I will be ok – CN has helped so much in that healing journey. A book for parenting in your wonderful style will be a great resource.

  • I guess that I am one of the lucky ones. My ex walked out of a marriage and parenting. We don’t speak, which is just fine with me. I was ALWAYS the parent at my house anyways, so my children have really not been affected that much. I figure if they want to share info with the ex, they will. So far, they haven’t cared to do so. Works for me.

  • Tracy,

    I love the picture of your son!! You must be really proud! I know that my three kids are the only reason I don’t regret my terrible marriage. Seeing their shining faces every day reminds me it was all worth it (and that’s really saying something because it was horrible!!), and I am guessing you feel the same way.
    In terms of your book, I think it would be great to have something laid out about mediating (or going to court for) a divorce settlement and how custody plays out. All the different options laid out, like the different kinds of legal custody arrangements, how much/how little visitation is allowed, etc. Also, all the things you need to remember to put in the divorce decree (like who pays for kid’s health insurance, car insurance, cell phones, extra medical expenses, etc.). I am in the thick of this right now and trying to figure it all out and make sure I don’t overlook something, and a checklist would be a life saver! I wish the book was available now, because I really need it and would love to have it for this upcoming battle.

  • Thinking about the horrible mistakes I made, I would say:

    try your hardest not to lose your shit.

    Don’t make sarky comments, don’t criticise their other parent, don’t go on a rant about how bad he is, don’t overshare. Don’t lose your emotional composure.

    This needs a double dose of Saint in the Face of Extreme Injustice. Especially when you are trying to control your own emotions and keep yourself together.

    I very sadly realised that all that did was relieve the pressure for me for the grand total of 3 seconds, whilst frightening them, making them feel terrible about themselves, and letting them know that I was deeply unsafe and couldn’t be trusted.

    Don’t do it, newly minted chumps!

    And … had I kept my MOUTH SHUT and my composure serene …. he showed them who he was, anyway, without any input from me, a thousand miles away when it happened.

  • 1) I’d be looking for a blend of wisdom gained through experience and good humour that has become your hallmark
    2) To the extent I’ve coped at all it’s by focussing on the needs of my son and realising that the way I’m tempted to behave isn’t in his best interests
    3) There’s definitely a need for such a resource written by chumps for chumps by which I mean written from the perspective of the betrayed partner. Advice from the Chump Perspective is simply more credible.

  • What a great idea for a second book, CL! I’ve scoured the bookshelves at my local library for books on co-parenting with a fucktard. I found a couple of books that I think were pretty helpful:

    Co-Parenting with a Toxic Ex
    Divorce Poison

    Both books talk about parental alienation. Both have helped me to identify things my ex does and says to my kids that I feel put them into loyalty conflicts. However, neither book deals with the impact of trying to co-parent with a cheater (In my case, my ex has married her 4th AP.)

    I would love a book that talks about how to co-parent as a chump. I find myself still doing chumpy things sometimes as a parent and want to do better for myself and my kids. I will try to provide more feedback on this as I think of things.

  • Another issue to be addressed:

    How to deal with the EX when he comes back round to “love bomb” the kids having neglected them for years.

    Advice?

  • Please, please, please write a book on parenting with a fuckwit and please include after divorce. I would love to hear about parallel parenting with an ex and maintaining the best parent I can be with the frequent onslaught of fuckupedness to remain connected to me because we have a young child. I was gas lighted and helped the gas light for way too many years by my ex who I know now had so many partners I dissolve into embrassment. I walked and endured false accusations of alienation, non compliance to Orders etc and kept walking but my heart gets pulled and my sanity crawls when my little one is experiencing the fuckedupedness too.

  • Just a note, although we’re already on to the next blogpost, I think you should call the book “Coparenting with Fuckwits”. That would fly off the shelf!

  • Hi Tracy, have been sitting on my thoughts for a bit, and haven’t read through the comments yet so my story may not be anything new. Just in case, here it is:

    I’m the sane parent. My daughter’s father is probably juggling a few psychiatric diagnoses. He started aggregious alienation (indoctrination) before I left him when she was three. It was the reason I left. He continued to act crazy throughout the divorce which took years. Lawyers, counselors, teachers, family all assured me that it would all be okay because I was sane and it only took one sane parent to make a kid okay.

    My daughter is not okay.

    Maybe she was born with a certain predisposition towards mental illness. Or maybe having a crazy father actively turning the screws her whole life has warped her natural sanity (nature vs. nurture). Or both. We will never know.

    But everything I did to try to save her had either the opposite effect or barely delayed the inevitable. She actively destroyed her life with me and almost herself to get back to her Dad. It’s like she’s in a cult. The Peter Pan and Wendy cult. And I get to be the crocodile (or was it an alligator).

    This may be a whole different scenario than what you’re looking for, Tracy. But sometimes there are monsters under the bed and our sanity cannot lull them away.

    Thanks for all the work you do. You helped me save my own life.

    -NMN

    • Yours is a very valid POV. Google “callous unemotional traits.” There is a genetic aspect to the Cluster Bs. I don’t know if you’re dealing with nature or nurture here. I think it’s essential to have boundaries, even with our own kids. And especially if they’re being abusive or going along with the alienation.

      And gosh, it’s just hard to know what the deal is. Kids’ brains aren’t even fully formed until they’re 25-ish.

      I think children idolizing the disordered parent is a real thing though. A very, very sad thing.

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. It’s just heartbreaking.

  • I took the road less seem to travel. After picking my daughter up hours late and calling out the last minute, I thought enough is enough. Honestly, the guy is a mess and has nothing sustaining to offer my daughters. He tore them down and had no idea how to rebuild them or sadly no desire. That mess along with all the other emotional mess was left for me to clean up while he wines and dines his AP and her children. OAN-what’s different about him…he donated sperm…I wouldn’t want my daughters around a guy who mistreats women and carries on like we owe him