When You Have to Co-Parent with a Narcissist,
Think Peace, Not War
Step out of being part of the problem and step into being part of the solution!
Let me ask you, these 10 questions:
- Do you want to save thousands in legal fees?
- Do you want to have less stress and zero personal attacks from your ex?
- Would you like to stop co-creating headaches and continued heartbreak?
- Would you like to have some peace so that you can enjoy your life?
- Would you like to see your child thrive in a healthy co-parenting environment?
- Do you want to look good to your family court judge and other professionals involved in your case?
- Would you like to stop the drama, trauma, and chaos?
- Would you like to eliminate unnecessary post-separation confusion, hurt, anger, rage, and fear?
- Would you like to move from victim to survivor to thriver?
- Would you like peace, not war?
Then, welcome to a new way! Please read my tips, tools, strategies, and valuable survivor wisdom!
It’s so much better to have peace! Let’s face it… while splitting can be beneficial children suffer often an emotional fallout. Therefore, your goal should be to reduce/minimize the damage to yourself and your children by cultivating peaceful co-parenting, not engaging in conflict. Learn how! You can!
? Stop the war.
? End the arguments.
? Eliminate added stress.
? Save on legal fees.
? Give your children peace so they can thrive.
? Spare them added emotional turmoil.
? Give yourself a respite and space to breathe.
Forced to Co-Parent with a Narcissist: When You Have to Communicate
If the family courts have forced you to co-parent with the narcissist, you have to, even if it’s an impossible undertaking. The judges and courts expect us to co-parent for the sake of our child and often don’t realize that they are subjecting previously abused mothers to more abuse. It’s ignorant of them and they actually become the second perpetrator of the abuse that a narcissist or sociopath can dish out to a target of blame.
Often, mothers are legally abused and subjected to abuse by proxy using the family courts. They are victims and survivors having to survive more. Parallel parenting can only take you so far, and oftentimes “Greyrocking” (a popular method used) a narcissist just angers them because they feel ignored. They can up the antics and branch off into other abusive tactics (See my Co-Parenting Abuse Tactics List on Blog
Quite often, it’s up to us to improve conditions. It’s up to us to go first. We have to “let it begin with us” to create peace. It’s up to us to create peace. And I can personally tell you that it’s worth it! Stop making common mistakes that lead to a bigger battle and worse war. You can learn to be business-like and distant which helps provide separation.
Disclaimer: Always consult your attorney. These are my tips. Every case is different. (See below)
Just Imagine. . .
How would it feel to have friendly, business-like, neutral-toned messages from your ex?
How much easier would co-parenting be?
How would it feel to not be in a constant state of turmoil and not feel like you have an enemy or your own personal terrorist?
How would it feel to be free of all the criticisms, complaints, attacks, false accusations, and negativity?
If you want this feeling of freedom from your ex, keep reading/listening.
Have you noticed that snarky comments or canned responses, while clever and witty, only anger the narcissist and make it more like a “war of words”? Have you realized that you can talk back now that you are not in a relationship with them, but it only adds fuel to the fire? Have you wanted a way to stand up for yourself that preserves your safety and custody case?
If you find any of these ideas hard to implement, remember your “why”s. I often had to use “the restraint of tongue and pen.” This made things easier and gave me a life outside of the family court battle and dealing 1:1 with a narcissist.
This is what’s important when you talk, text, or email the narcissist. That you . . .
- De-escalate the conflict
- Create peace
Don’t think this is possible? I say it is! Why? Because do you remember when the narcissist love-bombed you, made beautiful promises, and were absolutely wonderful? (You may have to remember way back to before the “devalue and discard” stages). I think that if they could be nice and wonderful before, they are capable of better behavior given a better atmosphere that we create using principles of peace.
Use a Parenting App for Communicating With the Narcissist—ASAP
The narcissist doesn’t have peaceful, orderly co-parenting to give you. They are conflicted and disordered. While we can’t expect order from a disordered person, we can expect guidelines to help us. Remember that NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) is a personality disorder. That’s why it is best to start using a parenting app—ASAP. An app like Our Family Wizard is so important to your custody case. Why?
- The communication is recorded and often admissible in family court
- It’s trackable communication
- A Parenting Coordinator (PC) or Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) can log in and read your messages
- The narcissist or abuser often limits abuse
- You can easily search topics and past messages to use as evidence and dispel false allegations of parental alienation
- You can print off your login history for you and the other co-parent to show proof of usage
- It takes the conversation into a business-like realm ASAP and off your phone and personal email (which is helpful to create a buffer, firewall, and shield against attacks). This is a boundary.
Know my story? I survived an 11-year high-conflict family court battle with a narcissist. I had 3 attorneys and 3 bad GAL reports against me. I was subjected to 2 psych evals and 6 CPS investigations. I was able to stage a comeback and create peace co-parenting with a narcissist.
Communicate Carefully and Effectively Using Personal Guidelines
Why do we want to take the helm (be the first parent to make changes) with communication? Here’s why:
- To make things less stressful for ourselves
- To make things less hostile for our child/children
- To create a better environment for children to thrive instead of merely survive
- To eliminate the drama, trauma, and chaos
- To safeguard our custody case
- To look good in the eyes of the courts and judge
- To reduce our legal bills by eliminating small conflicts and disagreements
- To stop being abused
- To save our sanity when dealing with insanity
- To simplify our lives
- To be able to fully move on
So, it’s important to set some principles in place to make this a safer/better situation. I was able to turn my whole awful abusive situation around by applying these principles. Keep in mind that you will often be roped into arguments and a hook will be present for you to bite. A narcissist will purposefully trigger you so you will have to train yourself to not bite the hook.
Write Like You’re in the Public Eye or in Front of a Judge
Set some standards for your communication. A helpful idea if you are very triggered and traumatized by anything the narcissist says is to write as if you are writing to the judge, not necessarily the narcissist. Make your messages:
- Respectful (even if you don’t respect him)
- Adult (remember you are being viewed as a parent, no teenage/childish or highschool-like conversations)
- Mature (even if he’s acting immature)
- Nice (even if he isn’t nice to you)
- Civil (even if he’s not)
- Brief (even if he’s on a long tangent and off-topic)
- Kind (kindness can go a long way, even with an enemy)
Always ask yourself these 3 questions when replying:
- “What if a judge read this?” (Would you be viewed as high-conflict, unstable, or emotional?)
- “Will this add to the conflict?” (Would sending it escalate things?)
- “How do I create peace?” (What could you say that’s neutral and not triggering?)*
This doesn’t apply if there is child abuse and neglect that needs to be addressed. Typically, this needs to be addressed using your lawyer, the child’s doctor or therapist, and CPS.
Write Short, Simple, and Stay On Topic With the Narcissist
Was it brief, to the point, friendly, and on-topic? That’s what you need to be doing, even if he is not. After a while, you may notice that they change tactics since you have. This can be helpful because it may limit the amount of abusive remarks (personal attacks). Know that if they are continuing with attacks and personal stuff, you can use this in court to demonstrate that they are the hostile, bitter, and the angry conflictual party.
Make your replies:
- On topic
- Only about the child
Remember that the more we defend and justify ourselves, the more we tend to look guilty. If you are being falsely accused of something, just make a 1-sentence statement that you deny all the allegations. That covers everything previously spewed. Establish this boundary with yourself and spare yourself giving the narcissist “supply” by triggering you into fear. If they don’t get a payout and their attack falls flat, they have to find a different hobby and past-time than bothering you. When you respond while utilizing these personal guidelines, you are training them how to treat you (with your responses). This adds up over time and creates a new normal. I stopped going toe-to-toe with a narcissist and learned how to side-step him. I took a leadership role in leading us to greener co-parenting pastures, so to speak.
NOTE: Be sure to use them in a way that makes sense. For example, don’t say “Ok” to something you are not okay with! Don’t say “Thank you” to an insult or use it sarcastically. Something like, “I have received your message” is better.
Stay Calm When Replying to the Narcissistic Co-Parent
What you give out comes back to you. Keep this in mind. After a full year of implementing this more peaceful co-parenting, I finally got the same back. It took persistence, patience, and resilience.
To stop the transfer of angry energy, your responses can be limited to:
- “Thank you.”
- “Thanks for letting me know.”
These are simple and basic and give nothing for the abuser to push against.
I learned to save all my defenses and truth for my attorney to hear. I learned to document the long list of “accusations” and “attacks” on separate documents with dates, times, and quotes of what was said. This shows the history of abuse, and you may need this later when requesting things from a judge. I also learned not to trigger my abuser into fear and paranoia. I started off this new method with a “heads up” message so that the narcissist wasn’t so paranoid about my change.
Keep in mind, your goals are to:
?Stop the anger
?Stop being the TOB (target of blame)
?Stop the ego battles
?Stop the opposition
When you stop being part of this… this will bring you towards peace.
Standing Up to a Bully? Retaliation From the Narcissist
If you are set upon standing up for yourself, you need to be prepared for backlash. I call this “boundary backlash.” It’s important for you to have discernment about when, how, where, and with whom to stand up to bully. This usually is your lawyer standing up for you in court (not your friend helping you write an email). You have to use wisdom and not react emotionally. Emotional thinking and reacting will lead you back into trauma, drama, and chaos. You need to switch to offering strategic responses.
Work on creating a more peaceful co-parenting situation so that you can thrive and have free time to enjoy your life instead of being in a constant war of words. You will cut down on legal bills because you will have less of the nightmare to bring to the table and less stress. Your court appearances can be less stressful, too, if they are not bogged down in ego battles. Less stressful communication means healthier co-parenting. While it may never be perfect, you can make a bad situation better!
When you implement self-boundaries and what I call “self-rules,” your time and energy are freed up to work on strategies such as:
- Keeping your kids safe
- Keeping your kids healthy
- Supporting your child
- Parenting your child
- Loving your child
- Being present for your child
- Providing the extras for your child (sports, dance, and self-esteem building activities)
- Finding ways to afford a long court battle
- Creating ways to save money
- Seeking out the right support (a new/better lawyer, therapist, DV counselor, life coach, narcissist abuse expert)
- Documenting bad behavior (neglectful or abusive)
- Safeguarding your case against Parental Alienation claims
? Hear/watch how to de-escalate communications and not be part of the problem and conflict of a personality disordered person.
You do deserve peace!
It can/does begin with you!
Please note: I realize that some peace and protection can only be found on the other side of “war” AKA family court battles. Take what you like from this and leave the rest for another time.
[Read my Blog: To Fight or Not to Fight a Narcissist in Family Court?]
—Grace W. Wroldson, mother, author, survivor, and thriver of 5 self-help books available on Amazon
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- 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
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*Disclaimer: These are helpful tips based solely on the author’s thoughts and opinions. The author is not a qualified mental health professional nor a crisis caseworker. She cannot give legal advice or appropriate counsel and is therefore not liable for any injury or harm. Please follow your doctor’s, therapist’s, counselor’s, and lawyer’s advice, as well as your own good common sense and intuition based on your unique case—to see if these tips could be helpful. Child custody situations vary and some of these may NOT be applicable to your circumstance. Furthermore, court orders may dictate otherwise. Please use your own good judgment when reviewing this document. This is for personal self-help ONLY. These were created from the author’s own lived experience and not based on any laws or rules of the courts. This is copyright protected by the author and is not to be sold, distributed, or quoted without the author’s written consent.