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Showing posts with label CO-PARENTING. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CO-PARENTING. Show all posts

Friday, June 19, 2015

HOW TO CO-PARENT WITH A NARCISSIST!

The most widely repeated advice the former ex of a narcissist will get is "Drop all contact with the narcissist."  The website "The Path Back to Self" states the following in regard to the "No Contact Rule":

"No contact is initiated as a way of breaking the psychic emotional bonds between you and a narcissistic partner, friend or family member. If you have been involved with a narcissistic person for any length of time you will undoubtedly have a strong attachment to that person. This attachment needs to be weakened which will happen much more quickly once you engage the rules of “no contact.”

This is just one of the many websites on this topic.  If you google the terms online, you will get page after page of informative articles, blogs, and youtube videos all stating that the only way to free yourself from a narcissist is to cut them off completely.  

So how can you co-parent with a narcissist and yet cut off all contact at the same time?  

Doing so is a very tricky dance which you, as the victim co-parent, will sometimes execute effectively, while at other times you may just slip up, or fall flat on your face.  

Before embarking upon this subject matter, let me just mention how appalled I am that any family court judge or family services counselor would recommend that you are required to co-parent with a narcissist.  The problem is, however, family court in general just does not care how you co-parent.  They just want you to shut up and do it; from their perspective co-parenting conflict with a narcissist appears like white noise.  

Family Services workers, judges, and attorneys either don't get what the problem is or they simply don't care--one or the other, but the outcome is the same--you are stuck dealing with a hurtful, damaging, manipulative ex who will attack you, harm the children, and then turn around with a big smile and say "Who me?  What did I do?" and there simply is no way to stop such a person.  

As the opposing attorney in my case once said, clearly having immense insight into the character of her client, "You can't stop a bully." Why?  Because those in the legal professions really like bullies--they relate to bullies and feel comfortable with bullies.  They fear and have contempt for their victims.  This is the outcome of a field of endeavor which is fundamentally build upon the principles of oneupmanship.  

So, again, how do you deal with co-parenting with a narcissist.  

Well, first of all, shut the fuck up.  The primary mode of a narcissist is sneering, sarcasm, belittling, needling, harping, wounding, lying and outright attack.  Most folks respond to these provocations with elaborate justifications of their behavior, defensive clarifications, and threats that the narcissist will get what they deserve one day, all in great detail.  

This is just plain foolish.  

Any victim who responds this way will next see their letters and emails included in the stack of correspondence which the opposing attorney will use against him or her in the next court hearing.  

In addition, I can assure you, no victim will ever win against a narcissistic onslaught. In fact, I consider the belief that many victims have that they can persuade the narcissist to see the light as a subtle form of grandiosity, one that is equally damaging and just as mentally ill as narcissism itself.  You will never persuade the narcissist he is wrong, you will never be able to make her see the wisdom of your insights.  Because from the perspective of the narcissist, it has nothing to do with questions of right or wrong as it does for you.  In fact, the verbal abuse the narcissist metes out in his correspondence with you is purely for the fun of it because he or she enjoys torturing you.  

If you are immensely persuasive in one aspect of your discussion and so shut down the abuse there, the narcissist will quickly open up another avenue of discussion where the torture can continue.  So like I say, stop trying to win over the narcissist.  Just stop.  Because you are never going to succeed. 

Second, simply let go.  This means letting go in regard to believing you have any control over the narcissist, particularly because the narcissist has armed himself with the power of the Court and is not answerable to you in any way whatsoever.  

And of course, in this regard, the bottom line is that you cannot control any other person in your life.  If people are willing to respond to your requests and suggestions that you believe are good ones, so much the better. But you sure can't make them.  Further, you can't even be sure your perspective is necessarily the correct one.  Are we clairvoyant that we can always know what is best in every and all situation?  

No.  

I certainly think, for example, a college education is central to a young person's success and I believe that as a parent I play a central role in making sure my children obtain one.  This attitude has been engrained in my family for several generations and it is extraordinarily powerful in regard to my understanding of the world.  But if I were to think about this assumption critically, am I totally right about it 100%?  

No.  

There are many highly successful individuals who have decided to forgo college altogether and done well nonetheless, and many people of excellent character are out there today who have found a way to fund their educations themselves without help from their mothers at all.  So, if things aren't going the way I expect them, if my cultural assumptions end up being violated because my narcissist is a self serving, selfish SOB, so what.  

Be creative, let it go, and open yourself up to other possibilities.  In fact, it is often when life destroys some of your most cherished assumptions that creative doors to other possibilities open up.  Don't be so stuck in having it your way that you give your narcissist endless opportunities to continue on manipulating and torturing you because they know what matters to you deeply.

Of course, there is a darker side to this.  When I placed my children in the hands of my narcissist, they frequently returned to my care suffering from medical neglect.  The immediate response to that is rage, hurt, pain, tears, and a desire to call your various medical providers immediately, file a motion off the top of your head, rush to court with an ex parte motion for sole custody, anything to protect your children.  However, as you know, if you are the long time victim of narcissistic abuse that I am presuming you, my reader, to be, no one will do anything to protect your children.  Acting quickly, rushing forward to put your life and your body and soul between yourself and the abuser will only result in further and even more devastating abuse because, as you know, most narcissists have DCF and the Court fully convinced you have Munchausens or are otherwise overreacting about medical matters related to your children.  

Instead, what you are going to have to do is carefully and cooly document the problem with a medical provider, inform all person's included in the children's care, i.e. the GAL, the family services evaluator--of whatever incident occurred and you have to wait until the system arrives at that point where it will take steps to protect your children.  

Meanwhile, you have no power, no influence, no control, so just give it up to the extent that you can.  Sure, I know you will be tempted to admonish the narc perpetrator in this situation, but guess what?  He or she will not change in regard to their behavior and while you are begging them to behave more responsibly, they will simply enjoy every moment of your anguish and take the opportunity to stick the knife in even further by giving you more details on how they medically abused your children in the past and intend to continue doing so in the future.  So just spare yourself that by directing your expressions of concern to the people who actually have the power, and hopefully eventually the willingness, to do something about it.  You can also hope that if you simply stop responding, the narcissist won't have so much fun carrying out the abuse and will eventually stop.

In my case, the accumulated record of abuse eventually led to a situation where the Court ordered my ex to behave properly or else face consequences, and, finally, my children became old enough to defend themselves effectively.  You can only hope something similar happens in your case, but if it doesn't there isn't much you can do about it.  Meanwhile, you document, you report, and hope for the best.  

Third, limit your communication.  In my experience, which is not inconsiderable, the vast majority of people with narcissism experienced some severe injury to their self worth in the past which fuels their vicious behavior.  These are people who deep down feel incredibly vulnerable and insecure.  So attacking them in any way, calling into question their parenting abilities, calling into question their good judgment, calling into question their love for their children.  Please.  Seriously, just don't go there.  The only result you will get from that is narcissistic rage where the narcissists will do everything possible in their power to attack and hurt you.  There is simply no point to it and it will get you nowhere.  

Also, do not explain yourself.  Do not apologize.  You are not required to explain every detail of why you chose to make a parenting decision.  You do not have to trot out your latest insights from reading "Parenting Magazine."  Just no.  Why should you?  Does anyone have the right to put you on trial either as a parent or a person?  No.  

Further, you do not need to answer questions just because your nosy, exploitative narcissist ex wants to get more information he or she can use against you in court, or because he wants to humiliate you by forcing you to make a humiliating concession, or because he or she loves to drill you for answers as a means of showing how powerful she is.  

Just no, you are not obligated.  

Your communications should be limited to the facts necessary for both you and your narc ex to co-parent.  For example, "Charles, I will be at the drop off location at our regular time today of 7:00p.m.  See you there."  No more, and no less.  How about another, "Millie, Tom's baseball game will be from 2:00-4:00pm, Saturday, at the Johnson baseball field.  See you there."  

There should be no emotion, no defensiveness, no judgment in anything you say to the other parent.  

If you doubt the truthfulness of any statement the other parent is giving to you regarding a crucial matter, request backup documentation.  

No matter what the other parent says to you, no matter how needling, no matter how false, no matter how infuriating, you respond in a neutral, conversational, fact based, polite manner.  

And it wouldn't hurt you to say something like, "Thank you for your cooperation."  or "I hope you are enjoying the very nice weather."  

There are other approaches to dealing with co-parenting with a narcissist.  

For example, I highly recommend programs like "Our Family Wizard.  

Another option is to hire a therapist, mediator, or teacher who can monitor your email exchanges with your ex and give you training and guidance on how you communicate with your ex. 

Also, it goes without saying that all communications need to be in writing, i.e. email, text, fax, or letter.  That way all interactions between you and your ex are on the record. 

The point is you need to use these steps I've recommended to reduce the friction between you and your ex for the sake of your children. Otherwise, the kids will be caught up in your arguments and end up being irreparably harmed through being caught in the middle, through parentification, or through a loss of respect for authority.  

My recommendations here are by no means comprehensive.  There are many other techniques and approaches you could use, but I think the ones I've listed here are the most basic and the most useful for you to be aware of.  If anyone has other recommendations or approaches, please comment below.  I think everyone would benefit from tapping into the general wisdom regarding this issue.