You Want to Know:
Can You Create Peace with the Narcissist?
Co-Parenting Stress Involving a Narcissist*
Co-parenting with a narcissist is a stressful experience. It can feel like trying to work with a terrorist. Narcissists aren’t generally team players, and the nature of selfishness often causes those of us who deal with them to get the short end of the stick. If the narcissist is abusive (often the case), and if the narcissist has deemed you the TOB (target of blame), then you might be having to deal with tactics like opposite parenting and counter-parenting. An angry narcissist creates a lot of drama, chaos, and confusion — the realm where the narcissist destabilizes the target to win.
Pro-Tip: Stay out of fight/flight mode. It’s too stressful. Strategize instead. Focus on creating peace for yourself.
When It Comes to Narcissists, Peace Is a Win
The bottom line is that if you have peace, then you win. So, find ways to create peace because the narcissist is not inherently capable of establishing peace on their own. There’s more to just surviving the narcissist, you want to thrive too! We need certain levels of peace and sanity to do our best thriving.
Typically, a personality-disordered person gets bored or irritated when things run smoothly. If you pay attention to their patterns, they tend to go elsewhere for entertainment and excitement which is why the “Greyrock Method” of communication with a narcissist tends to work.
When the Greyrock Method Doesn’t Generate Peace
However, if you are required by the family courts to co-parent with a narcissist, “Greyrocking” isn’t always the best method and can come across as you being cold, withholding, difficult, and the problem in the eyes of the judge. Narcissism experts suggest making communication more friendly so that you’re viewed better if you are in a custody battle. This is especially true if your emails, texts, and Our Family Wizard messages can be used as evidence at a hearing or in a trial.
Know that Greyrocking may not generate peace with a narcissist because they feel more slighted and more ignored. Realize that some narcissists are also sociopaths and don’t just get bored and go away.
(If so, buy the book: Co-Parenting with a Sociopath: Survival and Sanity Guide)
You Can Create Peace With a Narcissist
If you’re forced to co-parent with a narcissist, then there are things that you CAN be doing and can stop doing to create a more peaceful situation. This should be your goal. De-escalating the conflict is an essential strategy to maintaining peace. You might even gain some occasional cooperation that you never expected to get! Remember how the narcissist used to love-bomb you? Well, that demonstrates that they are able to get along for short periods of time when motivated.
So, do this for yourself. Create the peace you need to be the best parent you can be. You may have to “let it begin with you” since the narcissist usually gets stuck on revenge. You will have to lead the way. You will have to overcome any anger, pride, and hurt first. You will have to start the process of creating peace. In all my experience and years, I have found some helpful principles that started the process (and it will be a process) of creating peace with my arch enemy. Because, after I left the narcissist, he no longer love-bombed me (because it stopped working) and therefore deemed me the enemy to destroy. This was the root cause of our conflict. Basically, if you can shut down the narcissist’s hate, you can cultivate co-parenting peace.
My Co-Parenting Journey:
How Do You Create Peace When the Narcissist Wants War?
When I got specialized consulting from a narcissism expert on my case, they encouraged me to be nice to the narcissist. This was awful to hear and felt sickening to even consider. However, the consultant reminded me that I was in survival mode and being constantly attacked. They said that when people are surviving they do all kinds of things, including “eating bugs.” I knew that I needed to “eat a few bugs” to survive these difficult/abusive conditions.
I learned a new way to speak/write to the narcissist and give some calculated “narcissistic supply” as a strategy to end the conflict. I had to swallow my pride, let go of my long-held resentments, get over my anger of injustice, and take the high road. To my surprise, this strategy worked! NOTE: Sometimes peace is only found on the other side of war. I did have to go through a lengthy, awful, stressful 5-day custody trial.
Be Nice to the Narcissist
It wasn’t until year 11 in our high conflict custody battle that we mutually called a truce. Yes, this really did happen. How did I get so lucky? Well, I no longer Greyrocked him. I no longer ignored him, which would only generate more heated buried rage within him. I no longer talked back in argument style. I learned to give just simple answers of “Ok” and say “Thank you.” I stopped defending, justifying, and explaining. I wasn’t pulled into the mud or the weeds in circular arguments or word salad crazy-making. He didn’t view me as so much of a threat. (Remember the truth threatens lies.)
I also learned to plant seeds in the narcissist’s mind for the financial benefits (and social benefits) to peace for him. I learned to explain how he would benefit from a more harmonious co-parenting situation. I sowed these seeds later. I learned that what we give out often comes back to us. (Learn more in my next blogs.)
3 Keys to Creating Peace With a Narcissistic Co-Parent
Here are 3 keys to creating peace with a narcissist. There are many more that I will share with you in future books and blogs. Take these for starters:
1. Make Peace With Yourself First
You can’t get peace from someone who doesn’t have it to give. The narcissist can’t give you the peace you crave or need. So, spare yourself more disappointment and stress and start sourcing your peace from yourself. Here are some ideas: write in a journal, get therapy, seek DV counseling, cultivate a higher self, seek a higher power, etc. You may have to write your own peace treaty with yourself first before you could ever get an agreement with a narcissist. Be the peace that you long for.
2. Make Boundaries With Yourself and For Yourself
Setting boundaries and expecting a boundary-crossing narcissist or sociopath to respect them is one way to drive yourself crazy. You set yourself up for creating resentments when you create unrealistic expectations of toxic disrespectful people. It’s best to start setting boundaries with yourself first. Do you need to make limits for yourself? Do you need to take 3 days to respond vs. react? Do you need to learn to keep strategically quiet and not divulge intel to the phishing narcissist or argue back at transfers? Do you need no-trespassing orders, restraining orders, or court orders to be in place that the law and courts can enforce? Good boundaries can be established within so that our self-discipline gets reflected in our lives. Boundaries protect our time, energy, money, and health. Make them with yourself and practice self-preservation. Peace can be found on the other side of good boundary function.
3. Set Communication Standards With Yourself First
If you’re triggered, do not reply immediately. It’s best to sort through the feelings with a narcissistic abuse expert, trusted experienced therapist, or competing domestic violence counselor. Those are the professionals to communicate your feelings and emotions to—not the narcissist. Set this rule up for yourself. Learn to make respectful, friendly, devoid of emotion type of responses to a high conflict narcissist to shut them down. Learn to write and speak in ways the courts or a judge would look favorably on you. Pro-Tip: If you imagine the conflict and arguments as one of those ridiculously bouncy superballs that bounce wildly off hard surfaces, you learn to be the curtain! Throw a superball against a curtain and it just falls down. That “curtain of peace” doesn’t give it the resistance it needs to keep on crazily rebounding off surfaces. See how powerful being the peace you need can be? It can stop conflict in its tracks.
Narcissistic Co-Parenting—The Bottom Line Is. . .
You have to start with yourself—first. You will have to set your sights on creating peace for yourself because that’s how you will not only survive but will get the chance to start thriving! We need peace to live comfortably and safely in our lives with our children. Pro-Tip: Always ask yourself, “Will doing this/saying this create more conflict?” It’s important that you refrain from creating more conflict. This way, in the eyes of the judge, you won’t be seen as the high-conflict party. This is how to step into the solution and out of the problem.
My Secret to Not Being Triggered
I learned to overcome co-parenting abuse and prepare for the attack to stop from being highly triggered. Each time that I was caught off guard or unprepared, I was launched into a ton of stress and fight, flight, freeze, and feign mode. Once I identified the tactic being used against me, I was able to better understand my dilemma. My secret to not being triggered was to make up my mind ahead of time that I was going to remain calm. Also, I took away the sting of a trigger by being able to name the tactic (look for my list). You can learn more of my wisdom in my books! Spare yourself more pain and problems by being prepared.
In case you are wondering. . . Yes! I did create peace co-parenting with a narcissist! It felt like an absolute miracle (his words). We then coordinated on her sports, dance, Girl Scouts, school, and other things so that she had a happy, fulfilling, wonderful, structured childhood. Can you imagine? It took lots of work within myself—first—to get to this place of peace. I’m cheering for you!
—Grace Wroldson, mother, survivor, thriver, Transformation Coach, and author of 5 self-help books available on Amazon
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Read my books:
- Co-Parenting with a Narcissist: 7 Self-Rules to Stay Sane (A Survivor’s Story)
- How-To Fight a Narcissist in Family Court and Win: Super-Smart Strategies for Success
- Co-Parenting with a Sociopath: Survival and Sanity Guide
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*DISCLAIMER: This information is from the author’s experience and perspective. Take what you like and leave the rest. Some situations may not apply to your case. This is the author’s personal opinion only. The author is not a qualified mental health professional, nor a legal expert. Do not use this information without the consent of your attorney and a clear understanding of how to protect yourself. Please refer to your therapist, domestic violence worker, and lawyer for advice that would pertain to your situation. The author is not liable for any harm, injury, ruling, in your custody case. These suggestions are not a substitute for any needed mental health services or legal services and cannot be solely relied upon for favorable outcomes.