When you were finally out of the same home and away from your narcissistic ex, did you think that would be the end of it? Did you take a huge sigh of relief and feel the weight literally lift off of your shoulders? And how soon after that point did you realize that the end wasn’t really in sight at all?
A Narcissist by definition thinks that they must control and gain control by any means necessary, over everyone and everything. In reality however, it is about the perception of control. They have the adolescent illusion that their aggressive behavior will give them control over another person. And if aggression and dominance won’t work it will probably take them no more than 2 seconds to start the tears flowing to gain sympathy.
Narcissist’s appear to be leaders when in fact they are weak and have extremely low self-esteem. They choose partners who in their eyes need to be ‘fixed’ in order to easily exert their control over them. They typically do not have social friends because they have no idea how to be authentic with anyone. And they will use their own children against their ex to get what they want and feel they deserve. Most narcissist’s are emotionally abusing their children and it’s up to the other parent to do what ever they can to help their children cope.
The top 3 misconceptions of divorcing a narcissist are:
- Once the divorce papers are signed it will finally be over.
Yes, the marriage is over but a new relationship must be established to co-parent your children. The difficulties lie in your ex’s need to still exert control over you through the children. This can take many different forms. They may speak badly about you in front of the children, refuse to stick to visitations making excuses and insuring that you know you are not a priority in the kids lives. They’ll force changes last minute especially when it comes to holidays and family or friend functions. What you need to do from the very beginning is document everything. This documentation is what the courts will need to assist you in setting up the boundaries for co-parenting.
- If I can just get them to see how much pain they are causing I can get them to understand and stop.
Changing a narcissist is next to impossible. The more pain they know they are causing the more control they feel they have over you. It would need to be their decision to see what they are doing and want to change. If that were to ever happen it would need to be with the help of a trained professional who is not emotionally involved. This is not something you can do and you most likely already know this from the issues you had in the marriage. It’s best to keep your emotions out of it as much as possible and stick to helping your children cope with the constant changing moods of the other parent.
- I can’t protect my children from this abuse.
It can feel like you don’t have a way of protecting your children but you do.
- First: Document everything. Every discussion, phone call, text and email. Every visitation that is interrupted and changed. Every refusal to compromise needs to be documented. It’s best to try to get them to communicate only in writing but this can be difficult to accomplish. The other parent won’t want to communicate in writing because they lose some of their perceived control. Writing allows you to have a voice and they cannot interrupt a letter or email and talk over you or bully you. The next best option is to record every conversation but make sure to check with your local police department to make sure it is legal in your area to record someone without their knowledge.
- Second: Reach out to your community. Speak to your local police about agencies that can help, social workers and counselors. You’ll need to know what to say and do around your children to minimize the impact of what the other parent is doing.
- Third: Be the example. Show your children through example what it means to be empathetic and caring. What it means to keep your promise and follow through on what you say you are going to do. Be honest but age appropriate with the situation. Most importantly, show them that there is a better way to live their lives.
- Finally: Talk to a legal professional. There are lawyers who specialize in helping parents deal with a narcissistic ex in child custody cases. Seek out some legal advice on what you can do. Some of the things they will discuss with you are documenting every interaction in writing or through recordings for court. Courts need actual proof and not hearsay of what is going on. They can also assist you with finding the right professionals in your community who can help.
Another aspect that they will advice is to make sure your co-parenting plan submitted to the courts is as detailed as possible. This can be cumbersome and takes time but the more detailed it is the less time you’ll have to spend, after a court order is signed off on by the courts, fighting to have new items added. Include custody and access, vacations, summer breaks, holidays, taxes, other family members access, religion, communication and any other items that may be applicable to your case. This will save you time and money in the long run as well as making it easier to start the next phase of your life with your children in the best possible way.
As a child of a narcissistic parent I know first hand how difficult it is from the child’s point-of-view. Even at a young age we can see what is happening and start to form our parental allegiances. I can tell you first hand, the narcissistic parent always loses in the end. No child wants to deal with that or see their other parent hurt in such immature and pathetic ways. For me, that parent and their entire side of the family have been out of my life for over 20 years. They are missing out on having me in their lives because of my parent, the person who should have loved me and protected me, couldn’t act like a parent. My hope is that this information will help others and make the struggle a little bit easier.