Surviving Co-Parenting Therapy with a Narcissist*
20 Things I Did to Skillfully Deal and Cope with Court-Ordered Co-Parenting Therapy
Co-Parenting Therapy with a Narcissist
My story of how I effectively dealt with co-parenting therapy and the parenting coordinator in a high-conflict family court battle with a narcissist. This is my survivor-wisdom…
(Please, take what you like and leave the rest. It may be useful for another time.)
As a protective mom, in so much fear, I wanted to eliminate the “threat” to my daughter (which, originally, in my mind, meant eliminating the narcissistic father from the picture or giving him only supervised visitation), but I learned I couldn’t do this in my custody case. Which meant I had to learn to cope and co-parent.
As part of the family court’s remedy, I endured seven additional months of traumatic, narcissistic abuse (AKA: court-ordered co-parenting therapy). I was forced to relive all I dealt with while being in a relationship with a personality-disordered narcissist. However, there were some truly beneficial things that came out of my experience. My philosophy in life is to let the bad things push me to do good things. With this perspective, I allowed this experience to make me stronger, wiser, and more skilled than before. I want to share with you 20+ super-skillful things that I implemented to make it a “growth experience” and come out better than before.
How do you start co-parenting therapy with a narcissist?
#1. Be Ready to Create Mutual Goals
First and foremost, your co-parenting sessions ought to have mutually established goals to work towards in the following weeks and sessions. This is a MUST. If your first session only dives into the past and doesn’t set ground rules and come up with mutual goals, then perhaps you need to find an experienced/different therapist for this endeavor. Or an expert/consultant to educate the current therapist assigned to facilitate your co-parenting therapy. I have discovered, you may too, that there is no way to sort out the past with a narcissist who has selective memory, is paranoid, is pathologically jealous, and lies.
So, I encourage you to be proactive here and come up with three suggested mutual goals to offer your other co-parent at your first session. Don’t go in emotionally defeated that he is so disagreeable. Allow the therapist see his uncooperative nature and his inability to agree to simple terms. Makes it kinda difficult to co-parent with hey???
You can be proactive and come up with 3 reasonable mutual goals, that are logical, filled with common sense, and things that a normal person would happily agree to. (Don’t defeat yourself ahead of time by saying that you know the narcissist WON’T agree to your ideas.) Offer these up, and allow the therapist to see how the narcissist operates. Go in with an open mind, looking-to-coperate-attitude, and sincerity. For example: Having goals such as 1.) Working together (maybe for activities to start) 2.) Having consistent communication (daily, weekly, monthly) on a parenting app –or agreeing to use only texts and no calls. 3.) Sticking to certain topics in all communication (schedule, health, activities -ONLY) 4.) Responding to the other co-parent with a simple “Ok” when you received the message – so you know the other parent got the text or email.
BTW: Much of this can be solved with the use of Our Family Wizard (OFW) read receipts and using OFW to do all co-parenting communicating.
NOTE: Come up with goals you can measure and track the progress of. For example: 1.) Used OFW 2-times per week, OR 2.) didn’t get any phone calls -only texts, OR 3.) worked to get our child to soccer on different parenting days, OR, 4.) notified mom/dad that child was out sick from school and why – and received an “Ok” back. See how you are able to track things being done by setting goals that are specific?
Don’t allow the narcissist to make these co-parenting sessions a battleground by jumping into a fight with him. Take the reins, be a business-like leader, and organize these sessions around accomplishing goals, milestones, time-frames, tasks, jobs, etc. Stick to your list of topics and goals. Be ready to gently and skillfully steer the conversation and be ready to redirect back to these goals often. You should not be there for a battle, be there for business! (The business of co-parenting, that is.) As a certified life coach and strategist, I teach moms and help them practice finding the words to do this in my 1:1 coaching sessions and support calls. (Schedule time with me here.)
1.a. Be Ready to Ask The Therapist to Establish Ground Rules and Safety
In all of the parenting journey sessions I have been a part of, with classes and with groups, we set ground rules for establishing our safety. These include; confidentiality, no gossip, and giving everyone a turn to speak on a topic. This same setup can be asked for in co-parenting sessions. You can ask for some ground rules to be established before participating safely. We did this and when he broke the rules, the therapist could see the narcissist couldn’t respect rules and boundaries. This was helpful in getting him to expose himself to the therapist. We chose the following ground rules: no interrupting when we are speaking, we each get a chance to speak on the topic, no bringing up the past or significant others, not discussing therapy or what is said in therapy with our child, no yelling or raising voices, no finger pointing and blaming, etc. You can come up with ones you know the narcissist can’t agree to or abide by that are generally accepted things in any negotiations or communications (that the therapist will approve of).
To learn all my tips, plus my bonus tips please purchase this:
20 Tips for Super Successful Co-Parenting Therapy With a Narcissist
*Disclaimer: These are helpful tips based solely on the author’s thoughts and opinions. The author is not a qualified mental health professional, court professional or 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 may vary and some of these will 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.
P.S. What came out of my 7 months of co-parenting therapy with a narcissist?
Well, I shut the narcissist down in so many areas (using gentleness and skillful means). This stopped much of his spewing of lies, fabrications, and false allegations. I won all of our child’s activities back that he unilaterally canceled because he was looking pretty bad to the therapist on that account. I put in some mental stop-gaps (with neutralizing statements) where he was going too far in his mind about me as a made-up-monster-mom. Most importantly, I stopped being his target of blame. I redirected his anger toward me. I explained how he was causing much of his own problems that he was continuing to complain about to the courts. (He wasn’t happy with many of the legal outcomes.) I also stopped being a push-over/speechless doormat and gained confidence in speaking to a toxic person armed with wisdom and new words. He didn’t want to mess with how mature, stable, and sane I had become. His instincts were to back away as I stepped into my strength and kindness. My self-education on narcissists paid off. My healing from narcissistic abuse paid off. The narcissist, like a scared/stunned animal, retreated from co-parenting therapy with his tail between his legs and ended our ongoing sessions with a lame excuse, leaving the therapist to write a bad report on his uncooperative nature to our judge. This newer report on our record stopped his next advances (filings of motions) in family court. The exposure of his behavior, by him, helped my custody case, as well as my personal dealings with him going forward. Without implementing all the 20+ tips I explain in my INSTANT PDF, my experience could have been a total failure, but using these tools it was a great success!
Other Resources for Moms = My Books Below
*Available at Amazon & Audible
Learn all that you can! Be prepared with valuable “survivor wisdom.”
(Note: Read them in order # 1-4 for full understanding.)
Book #4: E-Book – How-To Survive A Custody Battle With a Narcissist
—Grace W. Wroldson, mother, survivor, thriver, certified life coach, and author of 5 self-help books available on Amazon
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