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How to Co-Parent with a Narcissist

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you co-parent with THAT?

You don’t.

Some primers on parallel parenting from yours truly. I’ve been dealing with the crazy for over a decade. (I should set a doomsday clock for when my kid turns 18.) Remember, I’m not a lawyer, I’m a chump. Talk to a lawyer for specifics on your situation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was time for a rerun on this. Posted previously.

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  • I would also like to add, get yo’self in some serious therapy! Nobody can handle this alone. You need help in getting through the unfairness of it all.

    Get your kids in therapy, if the narc will allow it.

    I spackled throughout the marriage and divorce because I thought it was the right thing to do, but the liar had been telling his narrative all along. Now the kids are teenagers, I rarely see them; mainly when they want something. They think the ExN and OW are sparkly.

    Don’t spackle but don’t trash the ex.

    • I wish I had a nickle for every time I’ve read a post in the forums about how the Chump tried to spackle over the divorce for the sake of the kids, only to find out that the Cheater had put out his or her own narrative that painted the Chump in a really bad light.

      This happens because Chumps want to be nice and to consider everyone’s feelings. Their Cheater doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anyone’s feelings, but they do care about their image management. Narc cheaters may have started the sabotage campaign long before Dday. About a year before she divorced her NarcX, one of my friends found out that the narc had been having conversations with their then 6-year-old about how Mommy was very unstable. Chilling, and in my opinion, child abuse.

      So tell your kids in age-appropriate ways that the divorce is due to cheating, but that you will be there for your child. You don’t need to trash the Cheater, but you don’t need to tell the kiddo to love the Cheater. That’s not going to be your relationship to manage.

      Then be prepared to parallel-parent. In my friend’s case, her NarcX was Disney Dad for months until he got bored.

      Good luck.

      • My Stbx would talk to the children about how he was going to be leaving while he took them to school in the morning. Just what the children need to be settled. Anyhow the children only told me after he announced it. We had said we’d tell them together. Instead he took the to the apartment he had rented and told them that was his new place. I won’t lie …I have very murderous thoughts.
        P.s. the Hoover is real. Today is my birthday and at 00:11 am he sends a text wishing me happy birthday. This from a man who didn’t do birthdays. I expected his text though. It’s good to know that while at 00:11am I was thinking about Anita Baker and what a great day today would be, he was thinking about me! I hope the wrong that he has done to me and our children haunts him till his death bed. Yes….just like us they will never forget the wicked they do and that in itself makes me feel good.

      • Yeah, this. I found out recently that my ex told DD (tween) on her first visitation that we should have gotten divorced several years ago so she wouldn’t have had to hear us fighting. We did our discussions behind closed doors and DD would sneak and listen, my fault of course. He’s the hero in his twisted narrative.

        What was left out – lying by omission – was that several years ago was the first time his twu wuv contacted him. In hindsight I wish that was the end too but DD was just entering school and was so young to deal with it all. He makes me sick.

      • Telling my kids the truth about their cheating, lying dad was by far the smartest and best thing I did! At the time they were 14 and 15 years old and 100% understood what they heard. The narc started a huge smear campaign behind my back with his co-workers and friends (all lies) even before I knew I was going to get discarded. And in the Divorce Letter he read to me he said something like, “And we won’t say anything bad about each other to the kids.” Hmm, that should have been a huge red flag when he read that, because he seriously had nothing on me and I had years of true stories to tell about him. And I’m not perfect, but I don’t hide my imperfections, faults and sins like him! Long story short — if I didn’t tell the kids the truth. I have no doubt in my mind that he would have figured out someway to smear me to our children and he would have no problem lying to them about me either. He’s that deceptive and would have done anything at all in order to “win”!

        When you are dealing with someone who’s disordered and capable of lying and cheating on you for over 20 years — you have to treat them like the most dangerous person in the world, that’s capable of doing just about anything to you. The other day I had the most horrendous feeling of fear in my body when I remembered that just six months before my ex went out on a date with his newly divorced whore friend, we were in Jamaica at a Sandals resort, having “the time of our lives” celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. We took out a small sailboat fit for only two people (not sure what they are called) and my ex got us so far out into the ocean (he couldn’t figure out how to turn it around to take us back to shore) that I seriously thought we were going to die. I had never been so scared in my life. And the other day I had this thought — he could have pushed me overboard, left me there and made up an elaborate lie about my death and he probably would have gotten away with it because he’s “such a nice guy” with a wholesome Christian image. I know this sounds so far fetched, but when the person who you thought loved you mask drops and you see how evil they truly are, it’s easy to imagine them doing just about anything to get rid of you to make sure their image is maintained. I think of Scott Peterson and all that he did. It’s chilling thinking that there are these “nice” people out there that are sadistic underneath.

        • I regret spackling Dancing Dick’s lewd sexual behavior to my kids when they were old enough to understand right from wrong.

          When I finally did tell them all about Dancing Dick…..they didn’t believe me because I never mentioned it in all the years they were growing up.

          So much for being protective. It only made things more confusing for my kids when the grew up.

          • I am having this problem at the moment with telling them in an age appropriate way as they are only 9,7,5 and 7 months ( yes pregnant cheater) . Even if I told them they are too young to comprehend it, but in the mean time he is playing the victim and emotionally manipulating them.

            He is the Disney Dad and the other woman is ” such a nice lady” l feel like I would be fighting a loosing battle.

            And advice would be appreciated ????

            • Being the mighty sane parent is a long game. Cheaters don’t do long term commitments so well. Disney Dad may not even keep up that facade for all that long. They children will get bigger and they will understand more as they get bigger. Meanwhile you get to parent them with your values. Important concepts like integrity, truthfulness, keeping your word, honesty, empathy etc. You’ve got this.

        • Doesn’t sound that far fetched to me (and I’m sure others reading this blog) ! All you have to do is watch a couple of episodes of “Dateline” or “20/20” in the States to see how some monsters operate.

          I attended one of Dr. George Simon’s seminars (thanks for directing me to his work Tracy) and he brought up the Scott Peterson case. There was no history of antisocial behavior in his childhood but when his wife and unborn child got in the way of his secret life with his girlfriend ? Time to kill the two of them. At the time I never understood why g.f. Amber hired Gloria Allred; she needed legal counsel and protection when the media scrutinized her and her life.

          • Oh, Sucker Punched, I would love to go to a Dr. George Simon seminar someday! I follow him on Facebook and I had no idea he did seminars for the general public; thanks for the heads-up.

            That’s so interesting about Scott Peterson’s childhood. He reminds me of my ex in so many ways. This past weekend I watched a few videos on Youtube about the whole crime and how it all played out. All the ways he acted really weird considering his wife was missing — all the lies — body language video of him when he did an interview with Dianne Sawyer (Dupers Delight, crying, smiling). I find it fascinating to watch, because I myself saw odd facial expressions over the years — the smirk, the stare, dupers delight, weird reactions to events. I saw it all, but didn’t know that it actually meant something! When I was pregnant with our second child, he turned into a totally different person — Jekyl/Hyde behavior — not normal! He pretty much came out and said he was going to toss his family away when he said coldly to me, “You and the kids will be fine financially without me.” I have no doubt anymore that he was having an affair just like Scott Peterson did when his wife, Laci, was pregnant. And my ex-husband was just like Scott. All smiley in all the family photos while he was boinking the office whore. Scott was all smiley and normal looking in all the photos where Laci was pregnant and then there were all the smiley photos with Amber. Total psychopath!

        • Oh my. Yes. This is so chilling true for me. My ex was also a good “Christian” man (who just happened to have guns and burner phones and fooled shrinks and pastors). I am genuinely grateful he did not kill me or my kids.

      • So true, Chumps bring a feather duster to a knife fight. We like things all light and airy and fair, which gives cheaters sufficient time and space to undermine us before we recognize what’s happening.

        Divorce from a narc is like fencing without rules of etiquette. Don’t bring your feather duster.

        • Martha, truth!

          Week of DD, kicking X out and my cancer diagnosis (hands down worst week of my life) he was crying crocodile tears and giving Oscar worthy “protect my image at any cost” performances to our adult son and family.

          He also was moving into apartment with prostitute (tru wuv). He spun narrative of how he had been unhappy for years and it wasn’t his fault I had cancer. He deserved to be happy; cause’ ya know…his happiness is…????. Blah, blah, blah…

          Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out if my highly aggressive cancer had metastasized to my lungs in seemingly endless doctor appointments. I couldn’t get ahead of his narrative he was putting out there.

          His deepest wish, after discard, was that I die from cancer so he could get on with his “pursuit of shallow happiness” with all our marital monies.

          Similar to your feeling that your X could have killed you out sailing. I believe I got cancer because of him and it nearly cost me my life. I’m glad your X didn’t toss you overboard and I’m so glad to be beating cancer.

          That was two years ago. I am happily divorced one-year today. I work hard every day to live my life in such a way that no matter what he says or does, my light and character shine. Every minute I have with my son and his children is precious.

          Those that matter, see through X Disney Dad/Grandpa act. He’s 55 and has a new infant with prostitute AP. Still seeking his happiness…????????

          Meaningful relationships and true intimacy take time, showing up and being authentic. Fortunately for me, the NarcPath doesn’t do any of these. Taking the long view, I’m so grateful to be alive, the sane parent/grandparent surthriving and loving life/family.

          When you breed with a disordered person, they are like poo ???? stuck to the bottom of your shoe. I decided to change shoes and do my best to stay as far away from X as possible.

          • Freenow, you’ve been through so much and I have no doubt in my mind that whatever you were going through in your life with him caused your cancer ! That is so disgusting that he wished you dead; what a horrible, wicked man. And he left for a prostitute? How much lower can he get? I’m happy you are doing well and living a good life. You sound very mighty indeed! 🙂

          • Wow Freenow.
            I too was married to a Narc and did not realize how they work. We are now divorce (90 days). I am working toward meh, sadly when you spend a long time (19 years) married to one of these clowns, it is hard to get them out of your head.
            I caught my breath when I read your statement above, his parting words to me after 19years were, “I hope you get cancer and die”. Who in the world does that?
            They are sad human beings and I am so much better without him.

        • Right! Bring your cannon. Two if they fit in your wagon.

          Narcs are dangerous and abusive people. If they had the cajones they’d be serial killers.

        • OMG, Tempest, how I do love you!
          Feather duster, I have several of them,
          Useless, every one of them!
          You made me smile.
          Thanks, I needed that!
          You’re the best!

    • Agreed my doctor just said that but the fuckwit tells the kids therapy is for crazy people, therefore he needs a TRIPLE dose. So I’m going but how do I get the kids to understand the importance?

      • You do You, Carol. The kids will see you being sane as a result and will make the correlation. My son was crying a great deal after he was introduced to the OW and because he knew I was in therapy (and it was helping me with my crying)… I used that as the opening to suggest that maybe he’d like to talk to her too (she’s a family therapist)… surprisingly, he agreed. He was 10 and wanted to not cry so much… kept it at his level of understanding.

        If they are self-harming, you mandate it. You’re the parent.

    • Key phrase: “if the narc will allow it”. My ex has sabotaged two attempts at therapy for my kids. Harder to control an emotionally healthy person.

      • X sabotaged EVERY effort I made to help our autistic, mood disordered, ADHD son get the help he needs. It became a sick sport for him.

        Fast forward to twenty-one years later, and our son is in his third rehab for drug and alcohol use. His father continues to feed the shitty narrative that our son just needs to pull himself up by his bootstraps after I tried to “institutionalize” him for years.

        Because in X’s mind, it’s still 1960?!

  • This article was a lifesaver when I was in the thick of custody (aka hostage) negotiations. My son was 9 when Mr. Sparkles left for the final OW. He took our teenage stepchildren with him and they were immediately introduced to the OW – afterall, at 17 and 19, they have the capacity to understand a love that could not be denied. (The 17 yo finished her senior year in misery babysitting her older brother who was busy getting drunk every night and failing out of community college.)

    When it came to custody, Mr. Sparkles wanted 50/50. Not because he loved our son and wanted to be an active parent (I’ll come back to that), but rather he wanted a reduced child support calculation. Yes, these fuckwits really do think that way. Guess what… in mediation… you can say NO… I’ll let the judge decide. (To be fair, Mr. Sparkles had a history of walking on out his kids, so I had that in my favor along with about 100 pages of the emails he sent sent to people online, copies of his personal ads, and browser histories. I wasn’t fucking around when it came to my son.) We settled with two dinner visits during the week and every other weekend. (NOTE: we’re now down to one dinner night and the occasional partial weekend when its convenient because the new GF doesn’t have kids.)

    I immediately reverted to using ONLY EMAIL for communications – and ONLY FACTS. This is where grey rock matters so much – you cannot get emotional… keep it all business folks… the business of being the sane parent. I used to share a calendar and every week I loaded in the activities so we both had line of sight to it and I can’t be accused of keeping Dad away from his son.

    I ate shit sandwiches every day. The OW had a wealthy family and at the holidays it was madness (don’t try to compete with fuckwits…kids need constancy and normalcy). She came to my son’s events. Mr. Sparkles made it a point to do all the things he promised to do with our family and me with HER. And you know what, I survived. Every day, it hurt a little less and every day they’re sparkle dimmed… until she finally caught him cheating on her.

    Parallel parenting was the key to maintaining my peace of mind (and getting my son a cell phone so I don’t have to go through Mr. Sparkles to talk to him.)

    Sadly, just like the Narc loses his interest in monogamy and marriage, the time comes when they lose interest in their kids. My stepkids and their therapy bills tell the tale there.

    You can do this. You can. Really.

    • Grey rock is key. I found it much easier once I recognised my fuckwit ex’s need to prolong every discussion and never come to a resolution.

      Our court order requires us to have a social worker, but the ex can’t stand the loss of power (and the possible finality) that comes with having an adult in the discussion who can witness her behaviour. She has used every trick possible to frustrate the involvement of a social worker to resolve children’s issues.

      She often breaches the court order, but goes crazy with even a perceived breach (and she is nuts, so perception is warped).

      If you hold them to the order (and politely tell them to fuck off when they wrongly accuse you of a breach), they will eventually abide by it. But do it grey rock, not dramatic (which will just teach them to breach for attention). I normally just point out to them that xyz is a breach, please comply with the order.

      In time, with persistent breaches, you can bring further consequences by having the order varied… so they eventually comply.

    • Mine did the same thing; asked for 50/50 so he could reduce child support. He also conveniently lost his job the day we went to court. He’s never worked full time since.

      Now he rarely sees our sons. So he got the reduced child support and the flexibility to see them when he feels like it. And I’m footing all the expenses on the days he’s supposed to have them.

  • Wonderful reminder!!!

    If you’re anything like me you did most of the parenting while you were married. You covered for your wayward spouse and spackled for them. That means this will be their first foray into parenting. They’ve never really done it before.

    Please keep in mind it’s not your job to tach them how to parent. They will either figure it out or they won’t. And the worst thing you can do with a narc is tell them how to do anything because you will be faced with “you’re not the boss of me!” and the willful attitude that goes with it.

    The accountability factor is another great reason to be No Contact, the path to the truth and the light or the low contact that is email only communication. Those emails can be printed and handed over to a lawyer, judge, jury, guardian ad litem, or other official.

    A user here taught me a lesson when she said “I don’t coparent, I parent, just like I did before.” I see now the only difference in shared custody is that I now get a break to recharge my batteries so I am not living in hyper vigilant PTSD 24/7 trying to handle everything. Does my kid eat out nearly every night he is with Narkles the Clown? Yes. Is it worth getting upset about? Not to a judge. I do more home cooked meals anyway to save money and cook with my son. Last night he did bread and salad while I handled pasta and sauce. Be the sane parent. It may take awhile but I promise, eventually, they will see the difference. They will get it.

    • Dr. Idiot is furious with me because I will only communicate with him in writing. He loses control that way. He used to try to get me to get out of the car at drop offs to hand things to him that he needed like prescriptions mailed to my house (and ambush me with some con I’m quite sure). What did I do? I mailed the crap to him instead. Every time. Giant picture of him from high school with ridiculous flock-of-seagulls hair? In the mail. Junk flyers for car dealership savings? In the mail. I will not engage with him and it makes him flail like a toddler. I also won’t make my daughter serve as messenger or be accused of getting rid of ANYTHING that is his.

      He actually emailed me telling me I was acting like a child for not talking with him and letting him come to the house (because he felt “disempowered.” I shit you not. He’s a moron.). I prepared a whole response: “I will talk with you when you stop lying. You can come to the house when you put my daughters needs before your own. blah blah.” Never sent it though. It would have done no good. If I don’t lob those balls back he doesn’t get to play with me. No response at all and I’m sure it made him crazy. That’s just a bonus.

      All the communication about my daughter is squeaky clean. I make sure there is no court in the world that could say I was badmouthing him or trying to keep them from one another. In fact, I have repeatedly ENCOURAGED it. You know what happens? He bails. Really? That much commitment to another person where I can’t do absolutely everything I want? No way.

      Print out those emails. You never know when technology will fizzle out. I have back ups for all communication including 60+ pages of text message transcripts (misspellings and all) that are videotaped as back up. Not. Fucking. Around.

      I also check my daughters texts with him and take pictures of the particularly heinous communications. He got her fucking birthday wrong this summer. At least he got the month right! Golf clap for you. I also discovered through these texts that apparently, my very mild mannered and passive 12 year old daughter recently bit him. *smile* Of course he doesn’t confront her at the time, he chooses to text about it later. I print this stuff out too and give copies to my daughter’s therapist. Side note: my daughter is aware I can see anything on her phone.

      Document document document everything from the narc. And document yourself being decent. Because you are and that’s how we all ended up in this mess.

      • Oh,! Good idea on the video for texts. Someone in the forums gave me the name of an app – Decipher tools – to capture texts. Thanks Feelingit!

        Good thought on capture yourself being decent. I’ve been logging time spent doing homework and fun activities together. Realized from your comment I also need to track “parenting” such as the week she lost privileges to walk home from school for not accurately letting me know where she was. Or loss of computer play time until all caught up on assignments. My ex doesn’t think I discipline her enough, so I should be tracking my fair and logical consequences.

        • Chumpiness, unless you’re still in negotiations/court to decide on a custody arrangement, don’t document this kind of stuff. What your ex thinks of your parenting is irrelevant! Unless you’re putting your child in danger, you don’t have to justify how you choose to parent. Judges SO do not care about this kind of thing, even if your ex takes it that far, to court. Don’t give this space in your head, or your life. If he writes an e-mail that includes both complaints about you, and info required for practical issues, reply to the practical stuff only. If it’s just complaints, either don’t respond at all, or max respond ‘noted’. He doesn’t get to control you anymore!!

      • Flock of Seagull hair!!!!!????????????

        On a more serious note, the experts on here can illuminate further but I have read that biting- if in fact she did bite him-is a symptom of extreme frustration and feelings of helplessness in a child.

        • Kennedy,
          You are right. It had to be an extreme situation for her to bite him and I hate that although I’m glad she defended herself. I’m also very glad I gave that evidence to her therapist. I didn’t mean to make light of it. I’m imagining that it was him tickling her – not age appropriate any more – and not stopping. We had major blow ups about him not stopping behavior when people said no. (Sexual predatoresque creepiness) He was always shocked and defensive about whatever he was doing when called out or if people got upset. Had to be told he was being inappropriate with female students (he’s a professor) and to top it all off, he does research in FEMINISM. Clueless hypocrite asshole idiot.

      • My son is no longer visiting his dad because the Owife is horrid to him, so he and I have been working with the counselor to help him cope with the situation. When the counselor reached out to my ex and invited him to come in for a session, my ex had the gall to inform the counselor that he thinks my son and I are “hiding behind” her and that he’d prefer direct communication between us.

        So… I am trying to help him reconnect with his son, if possible, through an objective third party who has been counseling our kids for over five years now, and his take on the whole situation is that we are hiding behind her rather than face him directly. I’m sure he thinks that he can manipulate us by speaking to us directly, and I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t want to see the counselor anymore because he hasn’t liked what she’s had to say recently (something along the lines of you and your wife need to change because you are the grown-ups here… I’m pretty sure my ex is afraid of crossing the Owife these days since life isn’t paradise anymore).

        I must also thank you, CL, for reposting this. It’s been almost five years since my divorce was final, and that fuckwit is still proving on a daily basis that he sucks as a human being. This was a good reminder to me that I should not have expected anything to be different by now and that I can anticipate dealing with this crap for at least nine more years until my youngest turns 18.

  • One thing you can be absolutely sure of (unless you’re one of the ones whose cheater disappeared and doesn’t want any contact at all) —

    YOU will be the one accused of being a horrible co-parent, of being unreasonable, of being vindictive, of not behaving in the best interest of your children.

    No Contact/Gray Rock can be hard enough as it is — co-parenting with a narcissist is the ultimate test of resolve and inner strength.

    Parellel Parenting is the only option.

  • I only talk to the ex about the kids, realised he doesn’t care about my feelings. Eventually you realise you can’t make someone else respect you. He made his own bed he can live in it.

  • I will add that we are currently filing to terminate visitation (again), because since our last commercial break, Uncle Dad’s family invested in him a new attorney that was able to get his 20 hours/month back.

    What Uncle Dad failed to disclose was the fact that he has rented a room to another of his deadbeat dad friends in his house. He has a 4 bedroom, 1.5 bath, 1350 sq foot house with 2 parents, 1 full time kid, 1 halftime kid, and my two girls on occasion. And now the deadbeat boarder. The 1/2 bath is in the master bedroom. All of the other rooms share the full bath. And call me crazy, but I don’t want my girls sharing a bathroom with a 30 year old stranger.

    Plus he called the owner of the company he was working for the week before Christmas, drunk as a skunk, accused them of taking more money out for his child support garnishment than they were supposed to, and said he was quitting on his attorney’s advice. At 10:30pm, no less.

    Support Enforcement has turned the situation over the it’s criminal investigation side, since he has purposely quit a job. The company had an independent auditor submit his attorney records of his payroll. He is just a hot mess. We find out on 2/8 if his attorney is even going to stay in the case or withdraw.

    So, no, sometimes they give you absolutely nothing to work with in terms of coparenting.

      • I just hope one of these days he becomes one of those wing nuts that just goes away. That would be great.

        Not like in a Russian with a baseball bat by the river kind of way. Although….

        Just that he suddenly just finds new people to torture. It’s not like he doesn’t have options. 4 kids by 3 moms. I’m one of a couple of choices. Move on down the decision tree is all I’m saying.

        • I’m on board for a sudden heartattack. Ends torture across the board and it isn’t anyone’s bad thing. Grieving is less damaging than withstanding emotional abuse.

          I feel for you and your kids. Peace to you. ????

          • My preferred end for cheaters is spontaneous combustion–quick, there are no perpetrators, and it gives the scientists something to ponder.

            • Hell yes! I could totally support someone who is not me going all Dark Phoenix on him. Then he just vaporizes.

              He’s an addict and a drunk. So I’m sure his liver will go out long before his heart. But heart disease, melanoma, suicide, and serious alcoholism run on both sides of his family.

              The crazy thing is that when I asked my insurance agent if I could take out a small life insurance policy to help in the event that something did happen, the girls’ child support would be somewhat protected, they looked at me like I was planning a hit on him or something. It was like something out of an Investigation Discovery show.

              I’m like, “Honey, I’ve had years to go all Wives with Knives on him. I’ve taken the high road.”

        • I was hoping he would succumb to a heart attack when the local rescue squad scooped him up during his first 5K race. He had a “midlife” crisis and decided to take up running to relive his glory days in prep school when he was on the track team.
          Darn-no such luck…

          • Ha! His only cardio is hauling 24 packs of beer from the truck to the backyard. In his defense though, it is like 75 feet or so…

            And he got kicked out of the “good” local school in high school because he, gasp!, had cigarettes and a porn magazine in his locker. So he had to go to the neighborhood school full of all the pregnant 14 year olds and the rest of the D-students.

            We live in the deep red, Bible Belt. We have the Daughters of the Confederacy suing to keep the monuments at the courthouse after they’ve been ordered to be removed by city council.

            Our school board is being sued for benching players who took a knee in silent protest at football games this past fall.

            Our first grade teachers pray with the students in class each morning. In the neighborhing parish, the ACLU is suing because the students are required to say the Lord’s Prayer after the pledge every day.

            It’s that red down here.

  • What especially sucks is when the Narcissistic Douchebag is the one who has child custody. That’s another basket of lunacy.

    My poor cousin Richard had to deal with that garbage for 14 years.

    • That is what I am dealing with right now. The Narcissist has custody of the kids. And wears them like an accessory when she goes out. After all, everyone just tells her how great she is despite the fact she moved in with her boyfriend who the kids don’t like at all. This is where the court system totally fails us as working Dads. Obviously we cannot care for our children as well as a cheater who works part time and uses child support like it was alimony for her. Then has the kids tell me how they need new sneakers, shoes, clothes, coats, etc. because mommy says you don’t give her nearly enough in child support. UGH!

  • I needed this today. I am 5 months post-separation (thanks to the advice of CL and CN), and I am so happy to have my STBX out of my house. I have essentially no contact with him, except as necessary regarding our 18 and 16 year old children. My 18 year old is away at college, and so my 16 year old, unfortunately, experiences the brunt of my STBX’s narcissism. Every time she meets with him, she comes home upset.

    Here are a couple of examples of his narcissistic parenting. My commentary follows in brackets:

    • Last week, my STBX mistakenly sent a text to my 16 year old that he had intended to send to his mistress. Thankfully, the text was pretty innocuous, but he did call his mistress “Babe.” My daughter received this text while she was at school. She was horrified. She immediately called her sister, who was unavailable. Then she called me. For the rest of the day, she had to blink back tears in school. My STBX’s response to her was as follows: “Sorry about that.” Then later, “You know I didn’t mean to send that to you, right?” Then, “What’s past is past.”

    [Uh, first, I would hope that you didn’t mean to send it to her, you idiot. And second, the issue isn’t whether you meant to send it; the issue is that you did send it. How about a heartfelt apology and some empathy for how she felt after receiving that text? Third, “what’s past is past”? It just happened last week].

    • We are 5 months post-separation, and according to my daughter, my STBX still often tells her that it is my fault that my daughter is angry with him. My STBX apparently routinely tells her that if I hadn’t disobeyed the advice of the child psychologist and told the girls about his infidelity, then my daughter wouldn’t be angry at him. It is all my fault that she is angry.

    [First, he is misconstruing what the child psychologist said. Second, to recap his position, it is MY fault that our daughter is angry with him. It’s not HIS conduct that is the problem; the problem is that I refused to lie to my children about his conduct].

    And it goes on and on and on. It is so true that he does not care what I say or what is best for our children. He only cares about how he is perceived. Dealing with the endless fallout from his narcissistic parenting is exhausting and maddening.

    Thanks for listening.

    • So Done… these cheaters are all the same! My ex would flat out call our daughter ‘babe’. Once she told him not to (because he’s never called her that in her 17 years), he told her it was simply a term of endearment and to ‘get over it’. My daughter also gets the “One day you will understand why I did, what I did” and condescending “Part of your brain hasn’t yet developed” “I have learned so much on how to be truly happy, you can learn so much from me”

      You are doing the right thing. These narcs always blame the betrayed spouse and basically tell their daughters that cheating and lying is the solution if unhappy in a marriage. That victim blaming is okay (If you’re cheated on, it’s because you didn’t do xyz. If you’re raped, it’s because you were wearing a short skirt)
      If their kids aren’t giving them the ‘respect’ the narc thinks he deserves (simply by being the sperm donor), then they don’t want anything to do with them.

      I hope your daughter notices how one-sided her relationship is with her narc dad. How many “I’s” and “me’s” he uses in texts. If he’s ever in a situation where he could possibly feel bad about what he’s done- his responses are “I’m sorry you feel that way” “It wasn’t my intention”
      I’m sorry you and your kids are going through this. Mine just turned 18 and is gray rock with her dad. He just makes her feel bad.

      • Postitnote Bully, Your post is completely universal for me. It is mind boggling that they have the exact same output. I guess it is true, they are special snowflakes but they are all formed from the same H2O.

      • Ditto – same stuff here. It is comforting in a way to realize its them and not you (or your kid) but saddens me deeply to know our kids have to endure this from someone who should always have their back.

        Babe! Still flinch when I hear that. He and twu wuv call each other that. They “started dating”, meaning picked up where they left off the first time, when ex still lived at home during separation. He slipped a few times and called daughter babe, and once even me. I just looked at him like WTF, but in my mind I was like “I’m going to be nice and ask you exactly where you would like me to tear your new @sshole.” Grr.

        • My 8 year old daughter literally had a mini meltdown one day, when my friend accidentally said in sentence “babe” my daughter yelled “That word is BANNED in this house,it’s a BAD word from now on,please don’t EVER say it around me!!!!!”
          I told fucktwat when we first separated NOT to call our daughter that,since that’s what him and homewrecker call each other every second, I told him,she’s not your BABE,she’s your young daughter

          • GKZ,
            My Stbx used to call me babe! That word never felt right, so I told him years ago, I’m not your babe, I’m your wife. He uses babe with daughter, granddaughters, anyone!!

            Glad your daughter calls it a “bad word”!! The term Babe reminds me of someone referring to wife as “woman, do this or my old lady, does that”!

            Hate the word “babe” because it reminds me of sick freak Stbx.

            • My abusive stbx Narc Cheater possibly bi-polar (unemployed millionaire who is actively trying to lower temp support order) calls our 12 year daughter “Love” all of sudden. It disgusts me since he is an abusive man (who falsely accused me of violence with a false police report after bruising me and made false claims about child abuse!), he is a recovering alcoholic with severe depression episodes who “massages” our children’ necks, gives “back scratchies” and has our 8 year old son sleeping in his bed 12 nights a month…courts don’t care.

              It sends chills up my spine when I hear him say “Hi Love” to our tween. Creepy creepy predator who was accused of rape in college by a classmate….has older brothers who were also accused of rape but never convicted…and a brother who sought help for psychically abusing his wife….yep, apples didn’t fall from their father’s tree. POWER/CONTROL/ABUSE CYCLE

              I’m teaching my kids to recognize the cycle and be aware of how they feel when they are together with him without ceasing parental alienation. Luckily, we all are in good therapy. My kids need coping skills since we are almost 50/50 custody…so sad that courts don’t recognize the mental health issues of narc/depressive episodes/power abuse cycle/ lack of parenting.

              • *not causing- not “ceasing” parent alienation. Validating the children’s feelings and telling the truth without blame or judgement helps make sense of their reality!

  • How about the disordered ex with joint custody, who now believes you don’t matter and wants to be the Star Parent aka succubus?

    Their alienation tactics and encroachment into your home knows no bounds. It’s easy to say ‘my house my rules’, but with smartphones the ex can constantly be whispering in the ears of the poor conflicted kids.

    Ask me how I know…

  • Thank you for this. I have been struggling to navigate co-parenting with my STBX because I have a tendency to accommodate for everyone except myself. I have been slowly trying to pull away from doing that but every time I try to hold him accountable he lashes out at me. Read the calendar wrong? It’s my fault of course! I tricked him into looking bad.

    Our stipulation papers are signed. Court date this Friday. I have primary residence, joint custody and 85% time with our daughter. I met last week with the STBX and his girlfriend to discuss the relationship my daughter will have with his new daughter. They hid news of her pregnancy for 6 months because they wanted to keep it separate from the divorce (um, maybe don’t get a woman pregnant 5 months after you leave your wife with cancer if you want that).

    I sat across these two clueless people who seemed to be looking at me to give them guidance on how to adult. It was the oddest thing. I had to tell me STBX to come over the following even to tell our daughter about the baby, to see how she reacted before forcing her into everything. I gave him advice on what to say. And them I told them after this I am out. It’s up to them to maintain the relationship between her, him and the children. They have big dreams of these girls growing up just like normal siblings, even though he only gets her EOW. Then they asked me to help them make sure they follow the rules and guidelines of the divorce! I gave them a firm no. It is not my job to police them. They have a copy of the stipulation and can refer to it themselves. Besides I know how that ends, with them blaming me for being too controlling or for tricking them.

    THIS post today is exactly what I needed to read to confirm I am on the right path. I am not going to remind him that his vacation time is due tomorrow. I’m not going to make custody changes that do not suit me. I’ve talked to him about what co-parenting is and he has ignored it for a year and I’ve made it clear that in order for our parenting relationship to improve, HE needs to make changes. Now I step away and focus on my parenting and my sanity.

    • Cancer Chump,
      YOU are the sane, loving parent to your Child. You are perfect at this, your natural role.
      They expect you to fulfill their role too. Unimaginable. The poor children to be.
      They make me think of a saying my dear late Mom often said:
      “They made their bed, let them lie on it.”

      Cancer Chump, I have read many of your posts. Your strength amazes me.
      You and your daughter are going to be just fine, you already are more than just fine!

      (the way you handled this latest happening is outstanding, just like you)

      • Thank you Peacekeeper. I don’t feel like I have strength, as there are some days that I don’t even want to get out of bed. I just keep trudging along.

    • They really are clueless when it comes to adulting, aren’t they? It’s almost like there is only so much space in their brains — and it’s occupied by duplicitous planning, lying, gaslighting, etc.

    • Hi cancer chump, because I went NC, everyone was shocked when cheater x texted our girls out of the blue about his immediate spawning with the homewrecker.

      Congrats, you have a new baby brother!

      I did not help or coach him (NC) but worked really hard with the kids on the fallout. This situation is so uncomfortable for them to process. They decided to meet the baby, but he wants them to babysit! Not. Gonna. Happen. The girls are having none of that.

      I just listen. And coach on boundaries. I did NOT want this for my children. I feel your pain. They asked me why a 61 year old man would need to have a baby. I decided to prepare them that there will likely be more than just one. (Who even knows how many half-siblings they may have?)

      Yes to parallel parenting. And maintaining NC. In every way.

      • The thing that sucks the most about it is due to my treatment I cannot have any more children and she has the same due date I had with my daughter. My daughter actually asked me if they were going to name the baby the same name. She feels replaced.

        STBX did not follow my advice in telling our daughter. He just blurted out “You’re going to be a big sister!” No mention of his girlfriend. My daughter burst into tears. No reaction from STBX. Just a blank stare and “I still love you and will spend time with you”. I had to mention the girlfriend and answer some questions. That’s what really sold me on NC. I am not going to do their job for them.

        • Yes, mine tried to FaceTime them with the newborn. They were like, “Baby? What baby?! And, mine cried, too, because they felt replaced.

          Cheaters have zero relationship skills.

          Our girls did not even know homewrecker was pregnant and had vowed never to meet her but did eventually because of the baby. They are so ashamed of their dad.

          • I wish my daughter was old enough to understand the bad choices her dad has made. At 7, he is still her hero. She’s curious about the OW’s much better house and STBX is playing Disney dad, so it’s all fun for her. I can only hope that one day she will figure him out.

            • This is my situation, too. Older girl is 5, my son is 2. Will be so lovely when they are old enough to be skeptical and start seeing the truth.

      • NWHI, your X @ 61, mine @ 55. It makes them feel powerful and creates a new kibble stream. They see their offspring as extensions of themselves; objects that stoke their ego.

        With children 35 years apart and 3 grandchildren older than his most recent child, X may not be done yet.

        I feel for the children. Stay sane and rise above the dysfunction CN.

      • Late to the game and wanted to add on the potential for mystery half siblings:

        Before you break 100% with the cheater, post DDay and during their brief ‘reformation’ period, update your will& estate docs to state alll assets to go from cheater to legal spouse to legal children and list your kids’ names. My attorney stated it most likely would not be upheld in court if mystery kids came out. However, it’s there in black and white, signed by the cheater and notarized by a legal pro.

        I wanted all bases covered after learning about a lifetime of serial cheating.

    • CancerChump,
      I’ve read many of your posts!! I have cried many times for you!

      Just wanted say, “You are a wonderful woman full of amazing strength and wisdom!! “

  • This came on the right day. I’m a few weeks away from final divorce and now deal with the reality of raising kids with a monster. She wasn’t always that way. She used to be a great mom, I thought. Now she just goes through the motions. My son said “sometimes mom lets us sleep in our regular clothes” no pjs?! He also said “Mom never does anything with us, all we do is go to nans house” heartbreak They got ice skates for Christmas, #1 most sought after gift, from her mother. She has taken them skating. I have twice. I realized that she is never going to say, good job dad. I cook, she gets them fast food. We both do homework, I check for mistakes, she lets them loose points. We share custody 50/50. If I need her to cover a day because I work, no prob but she always gives me another day, she’s not doing extra work. Me, all take my kids as much as I can get them, no exchange required. 10 years and 8 months more of this.

    • So sorry you have to endure this, B&C. You sound like an amazing Dad, so from one chump to another, Good Job!!

      Stay mighty. Know your worth.

    • Betrayed and confused,
      Omg, I am so incredibly sorry for what you are going through with stbxw.
      It must be heartbreaking for you to know your babies are with the non-mom 50% of the time.
      Just know, as your children grow older, they will know who the loving, responsible, constant parent you are and will be so much better for having you as their Dad!!

      Bless you

      Seeing clearly

  • If it is upsetting your children, then be the sane parent and ask your children to go NC / Grey Rock on your EX. Sit them down and explain to them what a narc is and the tactics that they use. You may get a bit of rebellion in the first instance, but if you’ve bought them up as sensible young adults, they’ll figure out who is telling the truth and who is bullshitting, who to trust and who NOT to trust.

    • You don’t even have to call the other person a narcissist. Just explain the concept of Grey Rock to them and be like “sometimes no response is the best response, and you can’t get tangled up in trying to make someone understand something they don’t want to.”

      • This works great with the older kids. I have two young adult daughters. One has completely banished him from her existence. The other is 100% gray rock (like a champ!). But I also have a seven year old with him. It’s so much harder when they are young. They don’t have the capacity to really grasp what has happened. It’s heart-breaking.

        • Sorry JessMom – I hadn’t considered the situation from a pre teen’s perspective.
          On a positive note they do understand who keeps their promises and who doesn’t. You may be on the receiving end of their tears and tantrums when they’re let down, but you can demonstrate who has their back and who doesn’t. It’s a hard road, but in the end you’ll be the champion mum who your children will turn to and look up to.
          Stay mighty

  • Chump Lady,
    Thank you for this post.
    My Children, all Chump’s Children, are my greatest joy, my life’s work, ( labour and delivery nurse- many were as difficult for me to bring into this world, as it was for their Mom).

    Your number 6 for the win!( in my heart anyway)
    “Hold your babies close and know that you are the parent who cares”

    CL, CN,
    By your beliefs, by your teachings of your experiences and your knowledge, you have helped, and you continue to help, make the lives of innocent, Children run more smoothly.
    I salute you and thank you, from the bottom of my heart for this.
    Each one of you is Mighty in the innocent eyes of these precious Children.
    Your strength is amazing.

    CL, that you fulfill your role with such humour is an added blessing.

    • I second all of this. As the kid of a multi-divorce family, I would have given my left arm to have a parent who held me close and showed me some stability and love.

      The adult me understands how easy it would be to fall into the depression/angst trap — to let that impact how I interact with my kids. The truth is that this stuff really sucks and is thoroughly devastating. There were a few really bad days at first. BUT, I remembered my childhood … and I remembered CL’s words about being the one, sane parent. These thoughts helped me “snap back” (at least as a mom) in quick order.

      Being consciously aware of how much our kids need us is so vital for them. It’s also vital for us, I think. Being a year out, I know focusing so hard on being the one, sane parent has helped me to push forward even when I had run out of every other kind of “fucks to give.”

  • I do not look back fondly on the time I had to share my children with their father. Even while we were married, I always was the parent and he was Fun Dad. I was fortunate that he did care what his family and my sons thought of him, so that was leverage. He asked me not to tell the boys anything to make them think less of him. I told him I would not volunteer information, but if they asked questions I would not lie. The truth would suffice, and the boys were capable of making up their own minds. They know who their father really is, but since he is their father, they love him anyway. They just don’t expect much.

    I always made sure the boys let their father know about their school, sport, and music functions. That way he could not say I didn’t tell him — the boys knew they told him. If he came fine, if he didn’t, well that was on him. I somehow always managed to be there, no matter my work schedule, or (laughable) social life. He went thru a succession of inappropriate schmoopies. I never commented, the boys made plenty of observations (“Dad, she’s just 10 years older than I am, and you are like a hundred? What’s the deal.” ) They also told him, explicitly, that they did not want to spend their time with him while he had a “date”. He did what he wanted to anyway, and several angry situations occurred. Sometimes my son’s would be angry, often the date would be angry. Most of his “dates” wanted all of his attention and money spent on them — they did not want to share with the children anymore than the children wanted to share with them. Fun Dad just couldn’t understand why “everyone” just couldn’t get along.

    The outcome of all his lousy attempts at impressing his sons and his dates with his parenting skills was that no one believed he did a good job. My son’s often told him THEY had plans and couldn’t see him if he couldn’t accommodate those plans when it was his time to parent. I heard the oldest one explain to him one time that all his friends and activities were around high school timetable, and he didn’t want to go to his father’s home and sit around watching TV if his dad wasn’t able to make plans which would involve him interacting with his sons. He said, “Dad, we don’t come for the weekend to watch you sleep, or argue with whatever girlfriend you have at the moment, or sit around waiting for you to come home so we can go somewhere. Are you going to be there, and what are our plans for the weekend. If you don’t know, we don’t want to come.”
    Thankfully, we all survived. My son’s have both told me they don’t want to be the kind of father he was. They formed their own conclusions about each of us, as a parent and a person, based on their own observations. Sure, I was the bad guy sometimes — all those pesky rules and boundaries. But as they got older they started seeing the reason’s why, and I did apologize if I made an error, explaining that Mom was capable of making mistakes, too. They learned that no one is perfect, but some of us try harder and are more responsible. If my son’s do marry and have children, it will be interesting to see how they parent. I pray they will be good ones.

    • Portia,
      Your sons will be good parents.
      Look, they are already following YOUR example!

      I always love your posts.

    • Portia- did your sons ever find out about their father cheating?

      My 17 year old and I knew something was up after a few months of ex’s weird behavior (discarding me) and frequent 8 hour RT trips to ‘take care of his mom’.

      D-day happened and I told him to leave the house and tell his daughter what happened. He was very wordy and in his normal “lecture” mode.
      Before he left, I cleared the situation up by saying to him (with daughter there) “this is just another selfish thing you did without thinking how it will affect anyone else”
      He’s an alcoholic, workaholic, dui, lost job, etc. He even guilted daughter when she wanted to accompany him on a trip to ‘take care of’ his mom. He told her “no, you don’t call grandma very often and you haven’t expressed interest in visits before, so you can’t go”.
      He made her feel bad so he could be with OW. Daughter needed to know the truth.

      • Yes, my son’s knew about the cheating. They probably know more than they have ever shared with me, they saw their father acting inappropriately many times. I’m sure they heard arguments that we didn’t know they heard, at the time. They guessed we were going to get a divorce when we sat them down to tell them, and their attitude was “it’s not only time, it’s long overdue.” The only thing they asked was 1) where will we live and 2) where will we go to school. They lived with me most of the time, and stayed in the same school. They were content seeing their Dad, whenever. He had always traveled, and he could never have kept them on schedule, helped with homework, or made sure they arrive at practices with the proper equipment. Doctor’s and dentists??? Seriously??? My kids knew even then who the parent was.
        They did not understand their dad’s choice of girlfriends, and tried to keep him from his eventual remarriage, because they didn’t like her at all. They knew we would never be back together. I don’t know if they questioned their dad, or if other people also filled them in on details — they never asked me about it. I do know how they felt about the girlfriends post divorce, because they told me what they thought of them. I think they know their Dad is a user, and incapable of running his life without some woman to keep up with his details. They resist his trying to use them — most of the time they let their phone go to voicemail so that they can hear what he wants and then decide whether or not to be available. They did ask me about their dad’s cheating, and I told them that I really didn’t know how many times he had done so, but I had put up with more than I should and I had tried to work beyond the cheating. I told them the truth, sorry as it may be, that the cheating alone did not end the marriage, it was all the lies and the broken promises, and having to do everything myself. I could never count on their dad, when I needed him most he was always gone. I actually ended that marriage because I was exhausted, and I just couldn’t do it anymore.
        I wish I had been more mighty, but I just hadn’t gotten there yet!

  • Everything CL says. Sharing custody with these sorts of people is nightmarish.

    One thing I learned was to build a very clear custody agreement. For example, my EX had two weeks of custody each summer to be agreed upon by both parents, but “in the event that no agreement is reached in writing by June 1, the summer custody for the EX will be July 1-14, commencing at 8:00 a.m. on July 1 and concluding at 10 p.m. on July 14.”

    I had a version of this kind of clause written in to every section of the custody agreement the second time I had to go to court for a custody agreement–dates and times were spelled out for everything. I learned during the first year of “shared custody” that even though he had no time to parent, he had an endless amount of time to try and subvert every aspect of the financial and custodial agreements we had made. Every week was a new “negotiation” and a new set of insults and attacks and phone calls with him screaming at me and cursing me. With the second custody plan, I had a lot cleaner legal ground to just say, “no.”

    Sure, it was occasionally a pain for me to have no leeway to switch things for my own convenience, but that was nothing in comparison to the kinds of “conveniences” a narcissist will expect. And, seriously, why did I even think that he’d ever accommodate my needs? He might say he would return the favor every time he wanted an “extra” day or to “change just this weekend” or to “pick the kids up at midnight when it is more convenient for me,” but that was just the B.S. that came out of his mouth along with every exhalation.

    So, set your boundaries and just stick to them. Narcissists will still endlessly tinker with ways to muck up your plans, the kids’ plans, and everyone else’s plans, but having a legal fall back position and making it your standard-operating-procedure is helpful.

    Finally, the kids may initially complain that you are terrible for not adjusting things each week to meet the EX’s request. The EX will always be blaming you, and these jackasses are likely to propose “fun” things at times they don’t have custody knowing they’ll never have to provide them! I don’t know how often my kids were told some version of “I would have taken you to the circus last Wednesday, but since you weren’t with me, I couldn’t” or “Too bad you weren’t with me last weekend, a friend offered me extra tickets to the basketball game, but you know how your mother is, she loves to hurt us and sabotage our fun.” This kind of lie was horrible when the kids were young, but by the time they were teenagers they knew there was no friend, no extra tickets, and no intent to take them anywhere (except places he wanted to go, like to a bar).

    Eventually kids come to appreciate the schedule and the predictability you represent–they’ll still be torn in many ways, but they won’t be tortured any more. My kids knew which weekends they were supposed to be with Dad and planned accordingly (which is to say they learned to make no plans because he was so unreliable). It was hard when they initiated the request to change weekends because they knew they’d never get to the birthday party or game being held the weekend Dad had them, but I stood my ground. I’d tell them if they didn’t want to go to Dad’s or wanted a shorter time period with Dad, they’d have to work that out with him–it was his decision to make, not mine. They learned I’d come get them early if it was okay with Dad, but I wouldn’t ask–they had to be the negotiator (they were young teens at this point).

    Narcissists make everything a crisis or a betrayal or an insult. They are always playing for immediate drama and satisfaction. You have to play the long game–raising kids who understand boundaries and rules and responsibility and that these things are not obstacles to love and trust (as a narcissist will claim) but, in fact, enable them.

    And you will still always wonder if things could have been better, if your kids could have avoided some problem if you’d only done something different.

    • “Narcissists make everything a crisis or a betrayal or an insult. They are always playing for immediate drama and satisfaction.“

      Well put Eilonwy! I am learning this the hard way. Lots of good examples in hour post, thanks for sharing.

    • This helped me thankyou. I am at the stage where I have to put my foot down and be the bad guy but pray my kids will understand one day…that one day that is so far away.

  • I don’t co-anything with my XH. 17 y/o DD lives with me & I parent the same way I did before the divorce. If there’s an event that she wants him to know about, I leave it up to her to tell him. Most often she doesn’t tell him anything. She cringes when he randomly texts her. I’m sure there’s a part of her that misses him, but his discard of her trumps any desire in her to work on her relationship with him. So, she and I are on a team, closer than we’ve ever been. When I am not working & she is not in school, we go and do things together more often and have fun. She helps me around the house with chores and laundry and cooking.

    She has no desire to go and spend her weekends with her dad. My attorney’s advice to me when we divorced last year was that I cannot keep her from him. All I have to do is make her available and if she wants to go then great. If not, it’s her choice. Not one weekend has been spent with him and his Schmoopie in over a year by her choice. And she has a car, so if she wants to go, she has the means. He stopped their Thursday night dinners altogether about 4 months ago (with the exception of her birthday in November) because she doesn’t want him bringing Schmoopie. Just no called/no showed. At least he’s been consistent with that.

    He called me at work yesterday because of some insurance/tax stuff that I needed to sign. I texted her that he was coming by. Her response was simply, “Why??” I think she was really put out that he was going to be interrupting our evening of doing nothing. She was cordial, but you could tell she was ready for him to leave.

    I’m lucky. She was old enough during the process that she could see him for who & what he was. I feel for those of you who have littles and have to juggle schedules, weekends, etc. Hang in there. It gets better.

  • I was knee deep in reading CL when I was negotiating custody arrangements. I had six months of documentation of every time my ex walked in or out of the door. Every lunch, dinner, or breakfast he had with the kids, every canceled plan, documented. I was asked to provide a custody plan to my lawyer and I did. It was thoughtful regarding school custody, summer custody and “parental touches”. I suggested 60/40 during school year based on the documentation I had gathered which illustrated that x was only home before 9pm on Wednesday evenings. So I proposed Wednesday as his over night. I interviewed divorced friends who pointed out that having custody exchange after school made pick up and drop off easier and gave each parent time to have a full weekend. So every other weekend the kids go to x after school on Friday, and return to the other parent after school on Monday. There is not a time I have to see him. I have a box on my front porch for items to be left if kids forget something. My x fought tooth and nail in mediation over my proposal. I walked out of mediation on the advice of the mediator. Three days later, my custody plan was in place.

    Three years later this is how it’s worked out: Year one, my ex wanted to “trade” weekends. My lawyer advised me that if I started that process, it would never end, that custody agreements are for the good of the kids, not the parents. I don’t trade. So, the first year, x missed 14 of 28 custody days with his kids in the first three months. The second year in the same timeframe, he only missed 7 days, third year, we are down to 4. I have not traded once. Now, it flows the other way. When I have to leave town or have a business conference, I “give” my days to him. I don’t ask to trade. I don’t bargain. That’s my boundary.

    Recently, my x texted asking to trade weekends for a “mandatory business trip”. I was tempted, I asked both kids. My son was ambivalent. My daughter said “NO, he’s not going on a business trip, he’s going on vacation, I don’t see the point in trading”. So, after three years, he thinks he’s going to lie to me and get what he wants. I politely declined his “trade”. I will not consider it in the future.

    What I do do is maintain a detailed calendar and send him the custody schedule every three months and ask for his “exceptions”. Usually he has one or two. Then I go back and layer my plans in.

    On advice from a lawyer, I do not use a family calendar. My kids are older and have cell phones. They can manage their social plans with their father. My x is perfectly capable for signing up for all relevant list serves from the schools and getting on team calendars. I don’t text with tidbits of information about events. When my son broke his arm at camp, I texted my x from the doctor. I’m responsible.

    Early on, my JOD had to be edited to include language that if a parent did not pick a child up after an event, the child could call a friend or the non custodial parent after 15 minutes of waiting. This occurred after my eldest was left waiting at the high school for over two hours for a ride and another parent notified me of the event. I also had to have a clause added for allowing third parties to transport kids and that no adult could transport kids if alcohol was consumed. Common sense.

    For the most part, my x plays by the rules. My lawyer was no nonsense and I had documentation. To date, my x has never used his every other week dinner with the kids.

    My kids know that their father was unfaithful. As time goes by they pay less attention to that. They both prefer to be at my house but they both love their dad. I do nothing to dissuade them. His actions are still very selfish and they see that. However, they know he controls the financial purse strings and there needs to be a balance. My daughter is better about boundaries and controlling her own life, she is also more like her dad. My son is learning.

    My advice: parallel parent. If my kids come home alive and with clothes, no abuse I let it be. I listen to them if they call me when they are at his house and he has left them alone for several hours or is late, but I don’t interfere.

    • So much smart advice here! I wish I had thought to include in my custodial agreement the point that the kid can call someone else to retrieve him or her after 15 minutes of waiting. My EX was always late. Often hours and hours late. I had to wait until another parent, teacher, or coach called me in order to have legal grounds to go retrieve the abandoned kid. I hated apologizing for his behavior, but I so appreciated the many people who put my kids above their own schedules and refused to leave them alone on a curb awaiting the absent EX.

      I think the model you give for holding your ground on not trading visits is also the best policy. Like you, when I did need to travel, I just offered the days as “extras.” (But I always had to have a plan B because he’d decide at the last minute that it wasn’t convenient after all.) In terms of how this unfolded over time, my EX went the other way from yours, and I think it is the more common way–with each passing year he used less and less of his custodial time.

  • Great timing on this post! As I type, texts are pinging in as the parents in our carpool send the weekly will “ex” show up for his one night to pick up the kids (and the only time he ever sees his kids, once a week, for 5 hours if he shows). I stay out of the texting. I drive kids in every morning and pick up twice a week. My carpool buddies do more for my kids than he does. I’m no longer responsible for his actions and priorities.

    He left me and my 12 and 14 year old (for a woman half his age, after 20 years of marriage) one year ago today with a GROUP TEXT after a lovely weekend away as a family. He promptly moved an hour away to be near “work.” He’s yet to take the kids overnight (despite the every other weekend custody in the divorce settlement). I’m not quibbling over the lost child support, since I’m happy to be with my kids, and I’m not fighting with him to trade time with them for money. They don’t want to go anyways, being teens, with lives that happen here….

    I keep him posted for all the kids events, and he rarely, rarely shows. I’m tired of seeing my kids disappointed, but my daughter has a therapist, and my son surfs avidly (best therapy in the world). Nothing I can do but be the sane and present parent.

    The kids will probably take the bus today. Another day “co-parenting” with a narc.

    • Okay, so it is probably too early for you to see it as a brunch story yet, but having your EX announce his departure from your marriage via a GROUP TEXT surely entitles you to free mimosas from your audience for at least a decade, probably two. You deserve to get a lot of mileage out of that horrifying experience.

  • Oh, what perfect timing. My ex-narc fought for 46% custody (the absolute minimum parenting time/child support level). This transparent move was supported by the judge who chastised me for pushing for more time with me, calling me a poor parent who damaging our child. Luckily, a male reviewer from social services stepped in to deny the request, saying that Ex is extremely detached from our daughter. Then after years of skipping his allotted time with our daughter – time that he had battled for (ahem), he became so bitter towards her, so explosive, that she was hospitalized twice for suicide attempts and the clinical staff reported him to Child Protection. CPS suspended his visitation until he completed family therapy with his daughter (he completed the first 30 minutes of one session). So for the past two years, she’s living with me nearly fulltime. She’ll try occasional visits to her dad, but they usually end up with his melting down in a fury towards her and my racing out to pick her up. I’m doing my best to support her in every way and attend to her myriad of psychological issues stemming from her dad’s dismissal of her. As we all know, children of narcissists tend to carry an enormous psychological strain that can manifest itself as physical ailments, social stress, academic challenges – poor dating choices (DADDY ISSUES). I’m bouncing between therapy sessions, tutoring, etc. Her dad is completely off the hook (still trying to get reimbursed for hospitalizations from two years ago, but the courts seem to be impotent). I fantasize about writing a TOLD YOU SO letter to the judge, but really what’s the point (said judge suspiciously married to another family court judge 25 years his junior, so his sympathies are pretty transparent).

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m thankful to have the time with my daughter, to be able to cultivate a close relationship with her, to have the freedom to raise her in relative peace away from her dad. But his poisonous behavior still impacts her deeply. And I am the one responsible for helping her heal and rebuild. It’s been six long years of responding to her pain, finding someone to help, and then seeing her through to healing.

    But here’s the kicker: because I am the one on the line, I am the one on the receiving line of all of this judgmental shaming from health practitioners, teachers, her friends’ parents. My ex Narc doesn’t even warrant a blip in their minds. It’s my behavior constantly called into question by them. I had a breakdown yesterday at yet another doctor’s office. This time a sleep clinic (daughter’s anxiety leads to sleep problems which lead to depression which blah blah blah). After two hours of trying to recount minutiae of her sleep hygiene from SEVEN YEARS AGO by a resident, abrasive bitch attending doc came in to super-dissect and question my answers, casting shade on why the divorce SIX YEARS AGO. I thanked her for her time and dragged my kid out of there – half an hour late (thanks to sleep clinic going 2 hours over) to her appointment to her young female therapist, who chastised me for getting angry and not advocating for my daughter in a supportive fashion. Well, fuck me. Try to be the responsible parent, get kicked in the head for your efforts. Meanwhile, Ex’s only health care interactions with daughter were going to urgent care when she was 3 (because I was finishing her flower girl dress for his sister’s wedding that afternoon) and one family session two years ago during one of her psych hospitalizations.

    And don’t even get me started on the middle-aged dudes I meet on dating sites who lecture me about what a shady mom I am because I don’t ALLOW her father more time with her.

    So, I’m drinking more… living my life as a cautionary tale. Sorry for the rant.

    • Damsel, I’m so sorry you’re getting kicked from all sides! People, even professionals, are so often absolutely clueless about how hard all this is, and about how UNBELIEVABLY SUCKY a parent can be. They assume ‘everyone’ has the best interests of the kids at heart, and ‘everyone’ just needs to cooperate and be nice to each other. VOMIT!!!

      But in the meantime, I hope you were assertive with that young therapist, since she’s encouraging that; TELL HER that you are doing your very best in an extremely wearing and difficult situation, and she’s not making it easier! E-mail her about this if not! She wants you to stand up for your daughter? That also means standing up for yourself!

      And I hope that it is some consolation to you to know that your daughter surely sees how mighty you are, and takes solace in that. And CN sees that mightiness as well!

    • Bravo to you for leaving the sleep clinic once you were abused, fuck the middle-aged men on dating sites who chastise you, and your daughter’s therapist needs to STFU.

      I’m sorry you’re living with such meager support from people who should have your back. Join the forums (top R on this page)–someone is always up and willing to be supportive in the Private: General forum.

    • Damsel, I started drinking more (and then more – and then more) just to numb myself. To try not to feel anything because he never, ever stopped with his drama, his violence, the permanent chaos, screaming and so on. The drinking numbs for sure but only briefly, then everything is twice as bad the next day. Been there, done that. Please don’t go down the same route as I did because it is hell climbing back out that hole – don’t let him do that to you. Good luck. Hugs.

    • Not that Damsel,
      Omg, I don’t know where to begin, it is so utterly disgusting that the professionals that should have your back are instead hitting you from every fucking angle!

      Good for you for taking your daughter and walking right out of sleep clinic!!!

      Many of the so-called professionals Are just as guilty as narc parent in the damage they are inflicting on the children!

      Family court system in this country is a disgusting scam!

      I didn’t breed with Stbx fucktard, but sat through enough family court hearings involving kids and watched attorneys , with narc sitting ever so smugly, as the attorney berated, shamed, and degraded the mother of his children for standing up for their children!!

      I am so, so very sorry you are dealing with this!

      Please follow Tempest advice and go to Forum:General, you will get all the support, encouragement and wisdom you need and then some!!!

  • I needed to hear this today. My morning started with a phone call about band practice transportation that ended with “If you just drop the custody case I’ll pay for that summer music program he’s been asking for.” Followed by, “He doesn’t confide in me about anything so I need you to keep me informed.”

    I shut that shit down with a <> oh HELL no!

  • Oh, I needed this today. I feel so fortunate that a week after D-Day, I walked into family court and filed for custody of my kids 10&15. STBX is an “attorney” and decided to represent himself. This worked to my advantage because he believed he was so brilliant that he could do it all himself and failed miserably. He had moved 3 hours a way with a “woman” 15yrs his junior (he’s 49 she’s 34) who he had met 2 weeks earlier on Tinder. The kids wanted nothing to do with her or the rent controlled apartment they were in illegally living in and eventually got evicted from. Fast forward 9 months later they are still staying at a “friends”. Anyway, I managed to get full primary physical custody and his visitations must take place in my town and only with “mutual agreement” of both parties. I have only turned down one request for visitation b/c he wanted to take them out of town with the OW.

    He is the typical narcissist. He won’t provide a schedule. Shows up late. Accuses me of being a horrible parent who alienates him from his children, (he forgets for the first 3 months I let him sleep on the couch during his visitation bc he did have cash to stay in a hotel), yeah I have definitely gotten wiser. Everything is my fault. I should just get over it. He doesn’t realize I have and that is why I no longer remind him of events that I have given him three ways (shared calendar, email, and text). I have gone no contact other than child related issues and then it is only text or email. This makes him insane. I won’t yell or scream with him anymore. This source for his need for conflict with someone has dried up.

    My point is though, in the end, my kids still want to see their dad and I have to deal with it. So now he knows if he doesn’t give me 2 wks notice he doesn’t get the visit. My kids deserve that. They have lives. I have a life. If he can’t respect that, he gets denied. The less contact you can have the better for my situation and others like it. Cover your rear by giving it to them in traceable written form. The rest is up to them. Stop giving the energy to them and use it on yourself. Haven’t we all spent enough time tending to and cleaning up their messes.

    Oh, as for the OW, she is still around. He sprung her on them one visit unexpectedly. They met her. I hated it. I lived. After that, they asked him not to bring her to visits anymore. He had a fit of course. But she hasn’t been back since. She demands though that he only stay over in our town 1 night so the kids get cheated but I am more at peace knowing they are only away 2 nights a month.

    CL and CN, I don’t know what I would have done without these past 18 months. Thank you, Thanks you , Thank you. I remember reading about MEH, and thinking I will never get there. I’m happy to say I experience it more and more every time I have to deal with the STBXH. Love you all!!!

  • When I found out about my husband cheating on me with my cousin. I found out that he was telling her that I stole money form him. That we did not have sex for 10 years. She even knew about my losing my job and the problems I was having with Menopause. I did not clean the house and I was a sneak and a liar.
    But he failed to tell her that for most of our marriage I paid all the bills. While he had hundreds of dollars in his wallet. Called me nasty names. He was stashing cash in his parents safe. While I was paying the bills and keeping up with everything. He was sneaking around with my skank of a cousin. I guess in his twisted mind I deserved to be cheated on because I was so busy with my children and did not have time to run the streets. And as per my husband I did not give him enough attention. In his mind and hers I deserved to be lied to and betrayed.

  • This is so true. I’ve read this previous post a few months ago fresh out of separation, and man is it true. They don’t care about the kids, they care about how they are perceived. Dad of the year on Facebook but he has skipped on 2 of his 3, 8-hour visits this month (the parenting time schedule was his choice – not mine but I count my blessings). There is no co-anything with these people. He is throwing all kinds of gestures to make me dance for him, but I refuse to engage. I dance to my own tune. I asked between lawyers if he would do Our Family Wizard, but he’s refusing. They hate anything that holds them accountable.

    • I purchased the Wizard app for both of us and told X that I would now only be communicating through it. I let him know that I would put all important docs on it and would only text if there was an emergency. It took a while to “train” him to use it, but it is wonderful for dealing with the disordered types. They can try to call or email but you do not need to answer. Just let them know what you are doing and why (my explanation was that it would make it much easier to get him info regarding DD’s school and after school clubs.)
      Mine threw more than a few tantrums about me no longer dropping everything and responding to his calls or texts, but it has calmed down. I also got sick of having to print texts and emails which you do nto tnhave to do with this app. And, courts love these sites. You can write a “journal” if, for example, they don’t show up to a visitation. The journal can be private or for professionals only. It has been worth the money.
      I really don’t think you need their “ok”.

  • I was at Meh with my Ex and the OM (now her husband) years ago but honestly the “co-parenting” thing is hard. My Ex is a serious Narc and she has always made things so difficult.

    My advice (and it’s hard) is to always take the high road even when it hurts !!

    My Ex told awful lies about me to the kids… I said nothing. My Ex told awful lies about my family .. I said nothing. My Ex did everything that she could to make my life difficult and as a Narc she feels entitled to every penny I have. She already got 95% of the stuff and money in the divorce but she honestly truly believes that I would be nothing without her and that she is entitled to everything that I have even after the divorce.

    Yet the kids and I endure. Finally when they were all in High School I told them that I would not bad mouth anyone but they could ask me questions about anything and I would give them an honest answer.
    The funny thing is they had figured out 90% of the truth on their own.
    Document document is critically important so they asked why my Ex kept saying that I was a “Deadbeat Dad” and I responded by pulling out the receipts to all of the stuff that I have paid for over the years including every school trip, band activities, scout trips etc. I also showed them the divorce decree that I was NOT legally required to pay for any of that. I also showed them my paycheck stubs where every 2 weeks her child support is automatically deposited into her account. They never knew that I paid for all of that, they were told that the OM — their Stepdad paid for it—but he’s never paid a dime for anything for them !!

    Their mouths dropped open and since that day the kids and I have gotten along wonderfully. They know the truth but I told them to play along with her while with her… ie if she badmouths me don’t get into it with her, just nod your head but inside know it’s BS.

    Luckily oldest is 18 in May and the other 2 will turn 18 over the next 3 years. Summer 2021 is my FREEDOM DAY because the youngest turns 18 and I never ever have to give my Ex another penny and I never have to see or speak with her again unless at a kid event like a wedding or grand child being born but I can handle that.

    • You are really smart, good for you. Your kids must adore you, for demonstrating how adulthood works. Party in 2021!

    • Laughing Gator,

      A fantastic job of documenting everything and keeping records ! The truth always comes out

  • It really never stops, even when the kids are grown. You just don’t have to deal with as much bullshit, that’s all.

    A month ago, cheater’s father died suddenly and unexpectedly. Cheater demanded son get across country to attend wake/funeral ASAP, but refused to help pay for a plane ticket, saying son should pay for it himself, as he “has plenty of money” (HUH?) Keep in mind that son is a full-time college student who works a few hours per week at a minimum wage job, while his cheater dad spent the past six years intentionally unemployed and living with whatever family member would take him. He currently lives with and is fully supported by a fairly wealthy woman who plans on marrying him. Still has no job, but is always claiming he is going to get one soon.

    Cheater barraged son with harassing text messages, as is his habit. I eventually paid for the plane ticket for my son’s sake, as he did love his grandpa. Do you think I received a thank you from cheater for my paying for his son to attend HIS father’s funeral? Hahahahahahhahahahh, nope. Just one text message berating me for not having son arrive on a date and time that was most convenient for ex to pick him up at airport.

    Of course, this is the same man who refused to pay for half of son’s braces when he was younger, saying that his driving son the ONE MILE home after dinner visitations counted as his share of the cost.

  • Co-parenting with a covert Narcissist is loads of fun. In my experience, when you stop hoop jumping and reacting, and begin allowing the kids to suffer the consequences of the disordered i.e. you stop rescuing the kids for your own sanity, I’ve found the disordered are superbly creative at twisting the facts…. and using your boundaries as evidence that you are a bad parent.

    (Obviously you would rescue them from dangerous situations, I’m talking about the smaller stuff… (their other parent forgot to send their sports uniform because they never put it in the dryer, don’t scramble to figure out how you are going to rearrange your day to get it to them. It’s an unpleasant consequence for the kids, but one that’s not yours to bear.

    They seem to have an ability to twist every situation to make themselves look better.

    Implying the kids are the victims of your unreasonableness:
    When it is their parenting time, the law says they are responsible for the kids; yet I’ve found that a refusal to pick up the disordered slack can be twisted (seems to be a life skill of the disordered). They feign concern for the suffering of the kids (the suffering they create) and twist it to make you the bad guy.

    “You know if i wasn’t in a meeting i would have brought you your uniform.” I’m sorry your mom is selfish and wouldn’t bring it to you- that makes me feel bad for you. She is just angry at me, and unfortunately you are the one suffering from her unforgiveness. I have to work hard so you guys have all the things you need.” I hate seeing you upset and I wish I could change the situation, but your mom isn’t willing to help”

    Of course this is accomplished through

    Context dropping: Failure to relate a fact to the outcome it produced (dad didn’t put the uniform in the dryer)

    Context switching: Reversing the outcome as evidence to support a claim (mom is selfish and doesn’t want to help)

    Feigned concern: Pretends to feel sympathy to shape a false impression. (I feel bad for your suffering).

    Twisting boundaries to use as a weapon: Failure to pick-up their slack during their parenting time isn’t presented as a boundary; rather it is presented to the kids as your unwillingness to forgive.

    Planting a seed: Sandwiching the intended message (“mom’s selfish, unwilling to help, unforgiving” )
    between concern …( “you know I care,”)
    and the intended impression I’m the hero ( “You know I’d bring it to you”);
    followed up with a little guilt and obligation (“I work so hard so you’ll have all the things you need”)

    Kids may intellectually know “dad didn’t put my uniform in the dryer”, but when these situations become the disordereds opportunity to repeat the message “moms the irresponsible parent, I’m the good parent, I care about you, she doesn’t” is a slippery slope. False memory creation in children (and adults) isn’t science fiction, it’s a real phenomenon that has been studied.

    No matter how you slice it, breeding with the disordered is the ultimate shit sandwich. It’s a catch 22 – there seems to be a way for them to twist anything to have it appear the way they want it to. It requires vigilance and a non reactive approach when your kids come to you and ask if, “you don’t help because you are unforgiving.”

    It seems the disordered love to use the co-parenting approach to discredit the parallel parenting approach. It is impossible to co-parent with a boundary jumper. They see nothing wrong with the pattern of being the recipients of giving, compromise, and flexibility when it comes to the kids, but it’s not something that is reciprocal, because of course “their time is valuable” and yours is not.

    • When XH took DD out for her birthday a couple of months ago, they ended up in a huge argument. He told her he was tired of her blaming him for everything and that I was just as much as fault for what happened and not as innocent as I claimed to be. She was like, “OK, Dad. Tell me. If Mom did something that I don’t know about I want to know what it was.” Crickets. He just looked ahead and kept driving. He couldn’t come up with anything because there wasn’t anything to come up with.

  • I needed this today – I’m deep in the throes of custody/parallel parenting issues at the moment with STBX, who has been the at-home parent (looking for work now because of the need to support the AP, who was also the at-home parent).

    Within two months of starting our agreed upon 50/50 custody (which STBX agreed to as part of a post-nup knowing that I’ve been heavily involved and present during our kids’ entire lives, and have job flexibility that allows me work fewer hours and entirely from home during my custodial time so that I’m present for them 100% of the time when they’re not in school), STBX (a covert narc who needs to be the center of the universe) then started to gaslight kid A (who has some mental health issues, and has always idealized STBX and still does despite knowing an age-appropriate version of what’s going on) about how involved I was during kid A’s earlier childhood, and what my value is as a parent to kid A going forward, and how wonderful AP would be as a replacement parent instead of me. Because of kid A’s age/maturity level/idealizing of STBX, kid A is not yet able to sort out the truth from the lies so I have kid A accusing me of lying (about things like whether I was actually there at babyhood pediatrician appointments, which kid A clearly has no independent memory of, so kid A’s perception of “reality” is entirely based on revisionist history provided by STBX) and joining in STBX’s requests for “unofficial” changes to custody allowing kid A more time with STBX.

    Add that to the condescending unsolicited hypocritical “parenting” advice from STBX (e.g. I hear you let the kids eat cookies and sugar is bad for them, but pay no attention to the fact that I took them out to fast food places for dinner four days in a row), the undermining (because it won’t reflect well on STBX if I “succeed” in parenting without STBX’s wonderful and glorious presence to rescue me), the constant accusations that I don’t have kid A’s interests at heart because I’m not agreeing to kid A spending more time with STBX (even though I based that decision on having talked to people who I believe actually have kid A’s interests at heart, like kid A’s long term therapist), and the “invitations” to come celebrate holidays with STBX, our kids, AP and AP’s kids followed by accusations of me being bitter and hostile (“why can’t we all be friends for the kids”) when I decline the invitations.

    There are days when it feels like I’m hanging on by a thread when it comes to parenting issues – I don’t think you ever get to “meh” when it comes to kids, and it will be a long time before the kids are all adults. For know, I’m just trying to be the sane parent (the one who allows the occasional cookie along with plenty of home cooked meals involving broccoli, and to hell with STBX’s crazy-making attempts to control my food choices or anything else during my time), to not take kid A’s nastiness too personally (I have to keep reminding myself that I fell for STBX’s gaslighting and spackled for STBX for years and I didn’t have kid A’s youth and inexperience and mental health issues working against me), and to remember that kid A is smart and won’t fall for STBX’s bullshit forever.

    For anyone else dealing with parallel parenting, wishing you strength and luck and plenty of other happy things in your lives to help you get through the inevitable hard times!

    • Beginning, I’m so sorry you have to deal with this deceitful, manipulative fuckwit! Is there any way to reduce how much abusive annoying crap he gets to say to you? There are a lot of people here who have finely developed Gray Rock strategies, and very strong limits on communication w/the fuckwit. And I think you’re right. your child will figure things out, over time, seeing your consistent, caring, stable parenting. I hope he ends up losing interest and leaving you to parent in peace.

  • Yes this is definitely a challenging topic. It’s another layer of the shit sandwich for chumps to swallow and smile. Cheater dad left the house telling the kids he was miserable almost two years ago. I’m guessing his plan was to pull his young schmoopie (DD14’s 20-something asst sports coach and twu wuv fuckbuddy) out of his back pocket later as a ‘surprise’. Look what I found after the divorce was final!!

    I outed them and he didn’t quite get infront of that narrative. His attempts of involving young schmoopie in my kids’ lives at his new $450k home and an upcoming trip to Hawaii is working well for him. His attempts to bring her back in to the kids school and sports lives as a legit girlfriend, not so much. The kids want him to pay for their college and he’s holding them hostage with this. They really don’t come home talking about him, never about her, and are just glad to be home and relaxing most of the time.

    DS18 started using the words ‘victim blaming’ out of the blue last summer. I wonder if they are on to him? Dr. CheaterPants was also trying to change the custody agreement to one week on/one week off and we all said ‘nah’, we’re good with how it is. He just never dreamed they wouldn’t want to spend every waking minute with him and his schmoopie.

    • I can’t believe how stupid the laws are, that parents have no responsibility for their kids after age 18, or to pay for college! It’s such an opportunity for them to blackmail, or to shirk their responsibilities! At least here in Canada, every parent is financially responsible until their child either stops being a student, or finishes their first university degree, whichever comes first, and they can’t refuse to pay for uni if they are financially at all able.

      Of course, narc ex was horrified to find this out – he thought he’d either be off the hook, or could pressure the kids w/the $ angle. Asshole.

  • When I first got divorced my daughters were 15 and 18. My oldest would not even speak to her dad let alone go visit. The youngest, by our divorce agreement, was to visit her dad on Thursday nights (over night) and every other weekend. It lasted not quite a year on the weekends and not quite 6 months on the Thursday nights. Turns out, Thursday nights just didn’t really work out for him, what with “men’s night” at the Country Club and all. AND…….he NEVER let me know of schedule changes. Here we are now, daughters are 22 and 19 and they see him next to never. They don’t even hear from him. He lives 15 minutes away. When my daughters call him…….he NEVER answers. He may or may not call them back. They may see him once a month for dinner.

    This post is for anyone fresh from divorce. Most (not all) of these disordered aren’t in it for the long haul. Stick with it……they get tired out pretty quickly!!!

    • It is so hard on the sons. My sons are grown and so disappointed in their dad and miss him. He doesn’t reach out and we guess just too involved with his ow and her son. He didn’t even call about his granddaughters birthday which hurt my son. I am so sad for them but refuse to help him remember these events. I think it is ok for now for them to see what a douchbag he is. It is so obvious who took care of things. My life has not changed except he is not present. I still do everything. I told the boys it made me look like a great parent he set the bar so low. We laughed while just sad inside!

    • That’s so true!

      (For info, I’ve been separated since 7/16 and divorced since 5/17.)

      I was so sure that my cheater would still be a committed dad. It really seemed that he cared for the kids, even if he didn’t care for me.

      We’re still on a 50/50 schedule, and he mostly does his part. But still, I get the impression that he cares for the kids ONLY AS LONG AS they are convenient. He is totally digging the 50% of his life that he gets to focus solely on the OW. When the kids are with him, I make sure to Facetime with them every day (well ALMOST… of course there are some exceptions when plans don’t permit). But when they are with me, they hardly ever hear from him, except maybe a text now and then, usually about a video game they all play together. An actual conversation on the phone or Facetime happens maybe once every month or two. About a third of the time, he doesn’t make it to school events.

      I still won’t let myself imagine a scenario where he gives up some of his parenting time so that I have the kids more than 50% of the time.

  • This post just reminds me how happy I am that my youngest is 16 and a half (the other two stay are 18 and over and with me 100%, having no interest in going to his place). I only have another year and a half.

    And my youngest is mostly just with me. She’s gone a few times to his place. But I don’t ask her questions about her dad, because she’s asked me not to. So I don’t. And I don’t suggest she go visit him, either. If she wants to, she’ll make the arrangements. No way I’m going to offer that shit up.

    So very glad they’re not little.

  • Oh yes… I remember these days. Early on I tried to play nice. Do the ‘right’ thing!!! I offered the ex every second weekend. Nope cant do that because of my shiftwork. Ok.. well how about you let me know your shifts and we’ll work around that.. nope. Well how about you pick them up from school on your afternoons off and spend time with them, take them to their sports… haven’t got time to do that. So once every couple of months when he had nothing better to do, he’d invite the kids over. I had to be taxi of course. Drop them off and pick them up because he wanted to drink. He’d come out and abuse me about whatever he could… I didn’t say hello to the OW. I was 5 mins early… this lasted abuut 2 months. I said after the last time he abused me to my kids that they could see their father whenever they liked. They were 12 and 14 at the time but they were to arrange it with him and he was to pick up and drop off. I was totally done. That was over 7 years ago now. He has seen them once in that time about 6 years ago. I find it amazing when I removed myself from the picture and he had to actually step up and be a father, he just didnt. Both the kids get a single text message saying Merry Christmas on Christmas day now and that’s it and have for years. Im so glad I never had to coparent My kids are amazing. So very proud of them!!

    • Ugh, I can’t understand what goes on in the mind of someone who abandons their own children. But then again, I gave up on trying to understand cheaters long ago!

      It’s good that you don’t have to co-parent. Maybe he’ll show up and make a scene at major events someday, like their weddings. Still, it must be nice to not have to deal with him on a regular basis.

  • This is a very timely article. I have been at meh and completely NC with X. Divorced 9 months. He has seen our teen 6 times in 3 months — 10 hours total — all dinners out. He pays less than 5% of his gross to child support (our State has a ridiculously low cap for high wage earners). He makes 8X what I make. I had to spend/borrow $200K and go through a week-long trial to get what I got as he was unwilling to agree to anything. He got his ass handed to him by the judge.

    He spent most of the holidays taking young homewrecking golddigger to Europe — including taking her to Disney Paris the day before Christmas. He chose to see our kids once the entire month of December. But, I provided them with all the family traditions: house and yard decorated, inside all decorated as ususal, lovely traditional feasts, tons of Christmas presents under the tree, stockings hung, extended family visits… the whole nine yards. All while trying to work my incredibly demanding new career.

    I got a letter from my lawyer yesterday — X apparently hired his lawyer again and they are demanding my tax return for 2017 and the offer letter for my new job –an obvious plot to try to even further reduce the minimal child support he pays (he makes $80,000 per month and pays $1100!). The letter “offers” to provide his tax return, which claims is already done, and demands mine — X has never once in 26 years completed his tax return before October! He is a K1 partner and the K1 forms are never available until the fall. What a douche bag!!!!!!! I sent my lawyer my W2s, which indicate I actually made 20% less than the support was based upon. Take that, asshole.

    Then I got a nasty email from X stating “thanks for alienating ‘MY’ kids!” WTF???? He was caught on Christmas 3 years ago by the kids, red handed. He assaulted our oldest trying to wrest the sex letter from her arms, he threatened the kids if they told me what they discovered, he then told the kids that he “hated every minute of being a father and our family lives”, the kids kept catching him lying and continuing to see the whore, he blamed them for his unhappiness and stress, which he said “MADE” him cheat, he disappeared for 8 months (I hired a PI who discovered he was paying $5K a month for a downtown studio apt with slut), and he didn’t show up for our son’s surgery or when our daughter was arrested for a MIP. When daughter tried to commit suicide, he was golfing and refused to leave the game early to meet us at the emergency room (she was taken by ambulance). It goes on and on and on. . . . . Just last summer when our youngest was finally willing to do an overnight with him and slut, he chose that moment to move from a 2 bedroom into another studio apartment. When she protested, he said that slut demanded it and the issue was not up for conversation!

    I alienated them? Even if I was all powerful and inclined to further harm my precious children, I could never in a million years cause the kind of alienation that he behavior has caused!

    Evil personified.

    • MotherChumper, your ex is the incarnation of evil, he even makes my ex look good by comparison. I feel bad for your kids, having this asshole in their lives at all, they deserve so much better. His accusations of alienation are mind boggling! And you are SO mighty!!

  • The hardest part for me was knowing that once my ex could no longer get kibbles from me (having become the Queen of Gray Rock) that he would turn to our teenage kids as his main supply or use them in attempt to try to hurt me. It’s also difficult to keep in mind that our kids are not processing things in the same manner that we are. They have different emotional investments in their relationships with us (their parents) than we do with our significant others. There will be times that they experience happiness and joy with their other parent along with times of disappointment and heartache.

    It IS a giant shit sandwich to eat, but it’s often necessary to set our feelings of jealousy, anger and hurt aside in order to help our children cope with the fallout as we maneuver the divorce ropes with a narcissist. The kids will be fed word salad. They will suffer emotional consequences as a result. Be open and available to them and validate all of their feelings.

    It totally sucked to hold myself together and keep my cool while my ex was blatantly using our kids as tools and bad-mouthing me to them and anyone who would listen. (His mother also joined in which added fuel to the fire.) Some narcs want to destroy you after you cut off the kibble supply. The kids would come home to me an emotional mess – disappointed, angry, sad, confused, etc – often directed at me. And as much as I didn’t want to hear about what was going on while they were with their dad (his girlfriend, her kids, my ex-inlaws), I knew I had to suck it up and listen to it in order to help them when they were struggling to make sense of it all. I did NOT want them to become doormats nor feel like they couldn’t talk to me because they didn’t want to hurt my feelings or that my hearing about their activities would make me upset.

    One thing I did that helped (although not an easy feat with teenagers) was to sit down with the kids to check everyone’s emotional state regularly and discuss ways we could help each other. Often we discovered that there were misconceptions at the root and we could clear the air. We had rules to keep our discussions calm and make an effort to understand each other’s feelings without being critical. I also did not share all of the gory details of the divorce or try to dissect their father’s emotional state with them when they started prying too deeply. (That was my opportunity to emphasize paying attention to actions vs words.) I didn’t say anything that I didn’t want to get back to their dad.

    Those were our “home therapy/damage control” sessions. (Note: I was literally over and out as far as my ex was concerned. I was not struggling with feelings of love for him. I was all business about getting a divorce. His narc BS was the source of most of the emotional turmoil. He pulled every stunt in the book.)

    Our kids are young adults now. I’m happily living in the land of Meh. I can testify that the narc stuff doesn’t go away – they don’t change. I thankfully don’t have to deal with it anymore, but my kids do because they have chosen to maintain a relationship with their dad so sometimes I hear about the drama. They understand “it” now and know their dad is is all about himself. They came to the realization on their own that he used them to get at me during our divorce. They have learned how to deal with much of the narc crap, but I think it still stings them at times. They certainly don’t hold him in high esteem as they did when they were young children. I don’t think those feelings of being gypped in the dad department will ever fully go away for them. I do feel badly about that because they are such great kids! However, his issues haven’t dampened their ability to live full and happy lives on their own as adults. They know they can rely on me when they need a parent. 🙂

    So the moral of my long story is to say CL is right! Stay sane, be the rock, be a model of strength and courage, keep your head high and teach your kids how to take charge of their lives. I can only imagine the struggles that those of you with small children will endure. My heart goes out to you! I wish CL had been around when I was running the gauntlet!!! It was SO validating to find this site while I was still in the throes of trying to unfuck the mindfuck after my long, painful divorce. Please know there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

  • As so often happens, CL’s knack for timing came into play today for me.

    Check out the Forums (General) for Kunty Kibbler’s latest invective towards me — it’s a perfect illustration of narcs expecting everyone and everything to accommodate them and whatever it is they want or do.

  • This is one of Chump Lady’s best posts. The advice in this post is spot on. I am thankful every day that I read it and followed it when I first found CL.

    It has been seven years since I left the Narc and parenting with him has been a nightmare. Here’s a few things I want to reiterate:

    1. Be the sane parent. This is THE most important thing you can do for your children. I was always there when they needed me. I was there for everything and anything, and the kids never doubted that they could depend on me. Unlike their dad who was hit or miss with plenty of things.
    2. Have a good therapist. This is extremely important when you have a Narc. My therapist talked me down more than once. Dealing with a Narc is crushing to your self esteem and makes you question your every decision. Having a wonderful therapist helped me with decisions and eased my self doubt, which in turn made me a better parent. She also taught me about boundaries and how to handle him.
    3. Get the custody agreement and abide by it. I did everything according to the agreement. Everything. This was so dickhead could not say that I didn’t do what I was supposed to. Also, hold the Narc accountable to everything in the agreement. This is the one time when you can actually wield the control over him. He won’t like it, because he believes it doesn’t apply to him. Ha! Ha! Jokes on him. I had a copy at home, one in my desk at work and one in my purse. He’d call and want to do something and I’d whip out that agreement and quote directly from it. Oh how he hated that – it was definitely a way to control him for a change.
    4. Document everything. I have copies of all of my emails and texts printed out as well as on their very own flash drive . A few years back, I asked him to swap a weekend in March for a weekend in May via email. It took 2 weeks for him to acknowledge the email. Then he avoided answering it. Then he wouldn’t agree to the swap unless I agreed to some outrageous things that he wanted. I told him to forget about the swap. The weekend I was supposed to go away, he came barreling in my house to take the kids. I had to call the police to come and get him out. When they arrived, I had the custody agreement to show it was not his weekend, as well as the emails. Needless to say he was escorted to the curb.

    I’m still dealing with his BS now. Super dad wants to take care of our son who needs ACL surgery and son doesn’t want him involved. So now dickhead won’t tell me what the doctor said yesterday at son’s visit. 7 years later he still needs to control me. He also needs to do image management with the new girlfriend. Look at me I’m such a great dad! What a joke. Thank goodness the kids can see him for who he is.

    I really want to believe there’s a special place in heaven for those of us that have to deal with these types of losers.

  • In my case, part of my documentation is using an app called text-to-email. It uploads the entire thread between you and any one, emails it to you in a PDF. And it’s free.
    I’ve also saved all of my old phones, so that if I am ever challenged on the validity of those PDF s, then I can produce the actual phone with those very same messages still on it.
    No, you can not co-parent with a narcissitic sociopathic person… Ever
    Side note, I’ve actually been called “ridiculous” for taking this route with exh2 instead of chasing after him for his back-child-support, being more involved with Autistic DD, etc. Nah, I’ll pass, I don’t speak fuckwit

    • Ooh, that sounds useful!

      My phone suddenly died on me a couple of months ago, and with it, I lost my looooonnng text thread with my ex, dating back almost two years to when we were still married. I had recently re-read it, and it was painful to re-experience the emotion and pleading in those texts. From that standpoint, I was a bit thankful that it was lost. However, there was also some worthwhile stuff that would have been nice to have kept, just to have a record to refer back to in order to show patterns and so on. But oh well, it’s completely lost.

      I always prefer email for our co-parenting communications, but my ex is bad about reading his email and responds to texts more quickly. I’m going to find this app and download it. I’m glad you mentioned it, or else I’d have never known it exists!

      • JustAnotherStatistic,
        There are ways to retrieve deleted texts if that’s all your phone did to them. You can look it up online if you really need to get them back for legal reasons. Good luck to you!

  • My 60 yr old husband & his 38 yr old MOW took my youngest daughter 20 yrs (who had been estranged from us) to his mistresses house and then to coffee date to introduce their wonderful gravity defying love for each other. All before I knew about them. MOW was then facebooking my daughter whilst she was volunteering in Nepal for photos and updates of her and then her dads visit. God bless my daughter, wrote and told her to stay out of her life. Three months after all of this ‘clusterfuck’ (2nd daughters term) I caught my STBXH with his MOW in our food truck in the local swamp – yes fitting location, she was naked. When the shit hit the fan, my youngest daughter was so betrayed by how they had compromised her and spoke up about what they had done. Fast forward 12 months, he hardly speaks to his 3 glorious young women. We no longer even need to mention him. Who? What did you say his name is? They understand who & what he is. His 2nd daughter graduated with 1st class honours. He didn’t know didn’t go. His 1st daughter announced her engagement. He didn’t know didn’t go. We all just did Christmas together. He spent Christmas on his own and did not make one phone call. What does that say about the lives he discarded! He also hasn’t purchased his viagra since August! What does that say about his sex life with the love of his life! (He needs double viagra for each feeble attempt!). Trust me folks; they eventually live the lives they truly desired and it is empty. But of course they have their own reflection in the nearest mirror to fill their lives with the one who loves them!

  • Co-parenting is really awful.

    I like the term parallel parenting. I haven’t heard it before. Even nearly 2 years ago, when we were first separating, my ex kept saying to me that we’d still be a “family” and should do “family” things together. I hadn’t found CL yet, but I knew that this “family” stuff didn’t sit well with me. I put my foot down and said that no, when we’re divorced, we won’t be a family. We’ll be two families: me+kids and him+kids. And that’s how it is. The only time we’re more blended is at school events, like a parent-teacher conference… if he bothers to show up.

    I suppose that we’re cordial, but strained. Even in meh, I’ll never let him back into my life on any level. It’s all about the kids. Period.

    He mostly fulfills his responsibilities, but I still can’t depend on him. The kids also know that I’m the one to ask when they need something for school, when they need new shoes, etc. They know that, if they come to me, they’ll be taken care of, but if they go to him… well… not so much. He’s fun to hang out with. It’s not uncommon for them to not shower or brush their teeth when they are at his place. It’s gross. At my house, they’ll say, “Mom, you make us shower EVERY day.” I answer, “I sure do. I insist on it because I love you.” They know that they’ll always have clean clothes and clean bedsheets and that I’ll stock my refrigerator with foods they like. I’ll wake up early enough to bring them to school on time in the morning, and I’ll be there to pick them up after school and listen as they tell me about their day.

    The one point that bothers me about co-parenting with a narc is our switch days. When the kids are involved, it’s like the CL says, like a hostage handover. But on school days, one brings the kids to school and then brings a box of some extra kid stuff (like their electronics, laptops, and other things they can’t bring to school in their backpacks) to the other person’s house, leaves it outside the door for that other parent, and texts that other parent to tell them that the box is there. When I’m doing the drop-off, I get the box to his place consistently between 8:10 and 8:30am. However, when he drops off, it’s at 8:30am about 80% of the time. Sometimes it’s at 9:00 or later. Just before the holidays, it was as late as 10:30am one morning! I work from home, so he just assumes that I do nothing but sit around the house. But I DO have a life and make plans to meet people for coffee in the morning, work from my co-working office, go to the doctor or dentist, etc. It’s such narc behavior to be unreliable with the timing of this box drop-off, especially when it should just be like clock-work right after bringing the kids to school!

    Sorry to vent… That box thing seems so trivial, but it happens so often and gets under my skin. And of course, I can never let him see how much it bothers me. When we were married, he accused me of being too scheduled, which still makes me self-conscious about stuff like this. But seriously, this isn’t about being scheduled; it’s about being responsible and being respectful of other peoples’ time. Only narcs don’t take other people into consideration like that.

  • Ok so I have to admit I am still having a hard time trying to make sense of what my ex narc says. He claims that he doesn’t have money and he is behind in alimony for the last three months. His last three payments combined weren’t even for a quarter of what he is supposed to pay me monthly. Yet he is in Jackson Hole Wyoming on a ski vacation as we speak. i don’t know what to believe. Can someone knock some sense into me?

    • Skylar — Actions, not words. *Repeat this phrase to yourself multiple times a day!*

      His actions are showing you that he has money.

      But, honestly, even if he didn’t, it’s his responsibility to figure out how to get it. Talk to your attorney. Hold his feet to the fire (that should warm him up after his little ski fun).

      • I have to admit I feel like the walls are caving in on me. trying to figure out how to pay for everything including my kids school. And so bitter he is off skiing like nothing is wrong

        • This is why lawyers exist, and courts, and court-ordered direct payment to you before he receives his salary.

          Check around, many jurisdictions have services that will help you get the money he owes you. Not your problem anymore, what he has or doesn’t have or how he budgets.

      • Yes, actions not words!

        It’s like how, during my marriage, my ex would promise the kids that he’d take them to the park. That promise would earn him some brownie points/kibbles, but then he’d never actually take them to the park. Narcs are a lot of talk and not a lot of action unless it directly benefits them.

        As for payments, yes, check what’s available where you live. I don’t get alimony, but for child support, my state has a clearinghouse. It was all automatic as part of the divorce. It comes out of his paycheck and goes directly to the state clearinghouse. From there, it goes into a special bank account that only I have access to, with a debit card and everything. It’s not possible for him to squirrel out of paying. Surely you have something similar where you live.

      • JessMom,
        Yes, actions not words!! Stbx scorched earth policy he’s using right now-my new attorney said after reviewing a small amount of the extensive documentation I have, “it’s because he knows any settlement won’t be in his favor “!

        Stbx philosophy is :”what’s mine is mine, what’s yours is mine”!! I loved the statement my new attorney also made: “ I will educate him on Community Property laws”!!

        I no longer cringe when Stbx tells me “I wish you would just hurry up and die already “!!

        All those years since I developed illness and haven’t been able to continue the career I loved, he would laugh when I would try walking up the stairs, would thoroughly enjoy instigating an argument where I would stand up for myself and would say, “good, you’re upset, now you will have another “flare” and be sick for days, I love it when you are sick and can’t wait for the day you die “!

        I pray Karma is out there

    • He is telling you the truth as he sees it. He only has the money to spend on the things he values and are important to him. And right now it’s a ho. He would prefer you to minimize yours and the kids’ needs to pretty much nill so he can be happy. And surely his happiness is the most important thing, right?

      You are looking at life through your lens with your values. He doesn’t see life that way. The further along you get in the process and start reading Dr. George Simon, “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s they don’t agree”.

      He is a shit. Self centered, absorbed, greedy shit. Do not let him off the hook. You have to advocate for the kids and for yourself (which is also for the kids).

      My mom let my cheater dad walk away and he was never held accountable financially. He went on to marry a young schmoopie and have 2 more kids. My mom barely scraped by but us 3 kids never went without. And we as adults have supported her financially, some of us it puts in a real bind.

      You must hold him accountable for your kids future. He will always be self centered and entitled. And when everyone isn’t on board with his ‘all about him’ narrative, he will discard all. It’s so sad but true for many a chump and the kiddos.

  • “If I were feeling flippant …”

    When you use the subjunctive mood, it makes me have a big lady crush on you.

  • Another perfectly timed post. Got a card from a narcissistic former female friend yesterday, despite my going No Contact with her last year after she injured me gravely, and making it really clear that I meant No Contact.

    She did semi-apologise eventually last year, which I accepted, but she’s not allowed to come back into my life to mess with my head any more. So of course she tries to.

    She told me in the card that I was one of the most gifted women she knew, and that she considered herself privileged to know me.

    On the surface, that’s nice. But this is her MO – this way, she doesn’t have to say something that actually matters, like: ‘I miss you; I miss our friendship; I’m sorry I screwed up; I would love for us to patch things up because you are a terrific friend; what can I do to help this happen?’ It’s like if she flatters you enough, she doesn’t have to apologise.

    Sorry. Yet more image management. I tore it up and threw it away. I am also now looking at whether I can upgrade the Enterprise’s standard-issue shields to something more like a Klingon cloaking device.

    BUT: bonus points to Lola, because I drafted about six really angry emails to her before realising that this card was bait. So I deleted them all, unsent.

  • If you are dealing with a disordered person, you MUST read “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker. It is worth every penny and every minute you spend on it.

  • Oh, how they’re perceived instead of child’s best interest, is so true. During the first 3 years of his life, I couldn’t leave our kid with the ex for even a measly 2 hours.
    Ok, fast forward, the kid’s 5, a bit more independent and ready for K.
    The ex is suddenly “interested” in my son’s education and decides to fight me over where he’s going to school. He lives in another town. Son was with me, in Pre-K, for two years. The school I wanted him in is one of the top in the State, with a curriculum, I knew, would benefit his personality and teach him the discipline he needed; and also in my neighborhood. Ex lost that battle, and as a result, my son is one of the top in his grade level.
    So yeah, though my ex fought me tooth and nail to put our kid into an average school, in a town he ended up moving from anyway; he now brags about our son’s abilities and praises the school I chose, when his previous reasons for being against it, was because they wear uniforms. Smh.
    Even worse, my ex didn’t move from that town to be closer to where his kid has been attending school…no, he moves to a completely different town and lies about it in mediation, in order to get me to agree to him having the kid 4 nights a week, and three weekends. I was an emotional wreck during this time. I felt so guilty for divorcing him and becoming a part-time parent, even though there was continued evidence of OW. I was afraid to even hire a lawyer and go to court, because my ex in-law’s are lawyers. My ex had me convinced that it was in our son’s best interest for him to be the more custodial parent in our joint setup, because I had more time with him when he was a baby. I had a shit lawyer, layed over in mediation, gave my ex as much joint time as possible; and he still wants more time.
    Now he’s such an “involved” father, at the expense of our first grader, traveling 150 miles to and from school, in the middle of the school week. The kid is exhausted when I get him back. Since my ex won’t listen to reason, going to have to find money, to hire a better lawyer, to attempt to hold him accountable in mediation. He’s such a snake, he’ll probably lie about something else or find some loophole, like his multiple residences, to keep the status quo. I just keep documenting things, like when my son suffered a concussion in his care, and the ex didn’t tell me about it; or that my son was over 2 hours late to school because they went swimming, after his dad had him all weekend, to take him swimming. Guess I can’t say much about junk food and video games, but at least at my house, my son has a creative outlet and we play board games together. Also, I’m the one who shows up to his school day and week night assemblies. I think he appreciates that.

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

    Seriously, this whole notion of reciprocity and consideration, the idea of being an equal partner is anathema to narcissists.”


    And EMC: A snake that won’t listen to reason. Yep.

    For the first year my stbx turned our daughter against me as it was all my fault he left and was forced to move with 22 y.o coworker who ‘saved’ him. Two years later our daughter sees through him and said he’s an asshole who only thinks of himself and everything is everyone else’s fault. He did not like her speaking her mind and drove her back from a camping trip in the middle of the night. For one thing.

    She told him she’s through with him and his response is to not pay for her phone anymore.

    Yesterday she tried to reach out to him asking if he knew why she didn’t want to speak to him.

    He said it’s because he yelled at her. She’s so disgusted with him. But she does understand that he is incapable of rational thought and/or discussion/reason. When she tries to talk to him he turns things around on her.

    She is barely a teenager and I have said it, as well as a few other observers: She is acting like the adult and he is acting like the child.

    Her counselor was going to help her compose a text to him today. But she is hesitant to do it because she realizes that no matter what she says he will deflect and project and rationalize, etc. She will not be able to get closure or an understanding. He does not have the capacity. It would be setting her up for only more frustration to try and text him a thoughtful message.

    My main concern was that she knows not to take it personally. It’s not a reflection of her. It is him and his inability to be a grown up human. She says she understands that. Thank goodness.

    I still beat myself up for giving her a worthless father figure.

    • Don’t beat yourself up nomorecamping, your daughter sounds like a strong young lady with a good head on her shoulders, who won’t tolerate nonsense from anyone. Unfortunately, sometimes parents can teach their kids how not to be, and this may be the case with her father. I hope that there is some sort of retribution and growing closeness and understanding for you, with your daughter, in knowing all the crap that’s involved in dealing with him. I wish you peace and blessings on your journey.
      P.s. Not sure if your moniker is a reference to your post, but I know I would die if I could go camping no more 🙁 Can’t wait for the Summer 😉

  • I am really late to this read. My husband’s ex-wife is a narcissistic “fuckwit” as you so lovingly put it. She also has a case of the bi-polars….so yay us!! I just wanted to thank you for writing this article. My husband gets so worked up, and rightfully so, over the stunts his ex-wife pulls, dragging my step-daughter all the while. My step-daughter is 9 and her mother has been extra saucy lately, so I googled “Co-parenting with a Nacissist” and vwahlah I stumbled upon this article. It is painfully accurate and you have given some great advice. I will be sharing with my husband and hopefully he can gain some wisdom from this! Thanks again!!

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