What Do We Do As Moms When Dealing With a Narcissistic Ex?
Hi, I am Grace. The author of several books on Amazon specifically for moms who are forced to co-parent with a narcissist or are stuck in a custody battle. I help motivated mothers who are forced to co-parent with a narcissist maintain their sanity, save their custody cases, and enjoy their children’s one and only childhood. (Read my disclaimer below*)
I write for moms so they don’t feel so alone, can be validated in what they are experiencing, and can improve their co-parenting conditions with a narcissist. I am here to say . . . Yes, it is entirely possible to better a bad situation. If you are ready to learn, I am ready to teach. I provide support to moms in finding the keys to overcoming this dilemma—learning lessons, growing, healing, and changing along the way.
As Moms We Have So Many Things Thrown At Us!
If you are a mom having to co-parent with a narcissist or a mom in a high-conflict custody battle, you will find yourself having to do many, many things. We learn to become masterful, multi-tasker moms. We are juggling so many balls at once from the moment we wake up that it can feel like having a hundred jobs, all with one name: “mom.” It can be a downright overwhelming challenge, but challenges, stress, and struggle can all make us stronger. We learn to endure, be resilient, and overcome. We don’t just go through this, we grow through this! If we feel maxed out, we can simplify our lives and make different choices to better our, and our children’s, well-being. Choice is our fundamental power and it stems from having a healed mind and healthy self-esteem.
Here is a list of some things we must do as moms in this problematic/difficult situation.
- Stay stable (in all ways, especially financially).
- Stay sane (amid a narcissist’s insanity, drama, and personality disorder).
- Grieve the loss of the relationship and the family we wished we had.
- Heal from narcissistic abuse and trauma while watching our children be abused.
- Run a household as a single mom or single parent. (some attempt to add another relationship and family in the mix)
- Raise a child or children and parent them effectively (give them a happy home).
- Try to co-parent effectively, or at least follow the court order or agreement.
- Retain a lawyer, use our lawyer, and have an ongoing adaptable legal strategy.
- Change (because we know we can’t be the same person who was naive, vulnerable, and ill-equipped to deal with toxic personalities).
- Get help and support.
- Get our child/children help and support.
The Need for Our Ongoing Healing while Dealing with a Narcissist
As you have discovered, our jobs as moms in this situation are 10-fold and multi-leveled. We may have tried for years to protect our child from narcissistic abuse only to find that the family courts are not in the business of child protection but instead geared toward granting parents’ rights and leaning towards 50/50 even in cases where that wouldn’t work. As our children grow up or have to spend more time with the narcissist, we are tasked with teaching them coping skills to navigate the narcissist themselves while they are on unsupervised time. It’s a tricky situation because we don’t want to be accused of coaching or parental alienation, but we feel the call and need to help them.
At the same time we are doing all these things to keep standing, stable, and sane, we have to validate what our kids suffer when dealing with their dad. We intuitively know and sometimes have evidence that they, too, are being narcissistically abused with emotional neglect with a lack of empathy for them, being bullied and pressured into submission, being name-called, and being invalidated. It’s excruciating to witness and watch this happen to our precious children. These things often trigger us. It can be re-traumatizing to be so close to narcissistic abuse again. Sometimes, it may feel like being directly abused ourselves when our children are abused. This is why we must do our own healing work—and prioritize this. It’s one of the keys in my first book, Co-Parenting with a Narcissist: 7 Self-Rules to Stay Sane (A Survivor’s Story).
The truth is that our healing paves the way for our children’s healing. Our healing stops us from being terribly triggered into harmful reactions. Our healing removes our trauma response, which can often overshadow our children’s needs for comfort, reassurance, care, and love. One of the best things I ever did for my child was my own healing and recovery. The other best thing that I did was tell her, “Yes. You have to spend more time with your dad, but I am going to go through this with you. You are not alone.” It is a wonder how well this statement worked and still works today!
Our Children Are At An Unseen Advantage
As I have said in my many books for moms, “the only thing worse than a narcissistic dad is a narcissistic mom.” We are their safe and soft place to land with their emotions (if we have done our own healing work). This means that our children do not have a selfish mom. There’s a helpful advantage in life right there! It means they have support and a champion in life—someone stable in their corner. They have us. If we ensure we are the one healthy parent they can lean on, they are blessed. Another tool I installed was a simple, long hug. It’s almost like a transference moment of my personal power that I stepped into when I left that toxic relationship with her dad. Imagine getting a hug readily available whenever you need it from someone who loves, cherishes, respects and adores you. It’s pretty powerful stuff! This is why one of the keys in my first book is about focusing on our love for our child rather than our hate of the narcissist and our injustice.
The hope for us moms is that some of our problems with the narcissist will:
- Go away with time.
- We and our children will outgrow many of them.
- We and our children will heal from them.
The Good News For Children of Narcissistic Parents
The good news is that our children are not going backward in age. They are growing up and becoming adults, which means we will outgrow some of our problems with the narcissist. Our children will “age-out” of the family court system. Our children will gain their own rights even if we have lost ours. This means that our children will make the choices for their own lives and not have the narcissist dictating and directing them. I can’t tell you how many stories I have heard of where the grown child of a narcissist leaves the controlling clutches, brainwashing, and abuse of the narcissistic parent and never looks back. They learn to set themselves free, as we have set ourselves free. There is hope for a better, brighter future for them beyond their childhood of narcissistic abuse. It’s our job to believe in them. We have to belive in their ability to survive and make it.
Although I am not a child therapist, I wrote some beneficial FREE blogs on ways to help our children deal with narcissistic dads (SEE LINKS BELOW).
- How-To Protect Your Kids from Gaslighting and The Lies of the Narcissistic Parent
- 8 Ways to Help Children with a Narcissistic Dad
Many of my tips, tools, and strategies came from the experts I self-studied with (and under) in the field of narcissistic abuse and high-conflict custody battles. Most of my best ideas came from my child’s male therapist, a GAL (Guardian Ad Litem) himself, who knew the system. When I say system, I mean he knew the incompetence of the Child Protective Services System (CPS) and the inadequate Family Court System. What’s even better was he personally knew first-hand about having a narcissistic, alcoholic father. He was able to be a teacher and parent-coach to me, often calming me down and pointing me toward the best way to handle things. Even more so, he was able to be a reliable, healthy male/father figure for our child to learn what it is like to have a good guy looking out for you, giving you helpful wisdom, telling you relevant stories, validating your reality, and caring about you. He actually went on to be an ally, and testified in our trial, saving my custody case.
We Need a Multi-Strategy Approach to Co-Parenting With a Narcissist
Our strategies as moms for co-parenting with narcissists have to be more than one! While many experts agree that there is no such thing as co-parenting with a narcissist and that we need to correct our minds and do more parallel parenting, we still have to use this term for the courts because it’s what they want to hear and see. I found it best not to be too rebellious to the courts and the judge and learn to see things from their view and adopt some of it so that I didn’t suffer more. The courts like to hear us speak in terms of “the best interest of the child.” We need to be careful not to be too focused on the narcissist with trying to make him bad and wrong. One of the risks of trying to expose the narcissist to the family courts is that we look anti-dad and not focused on our chidlren. It’s a balancing act for sure!
As moms navigating a narcissist, we also need about 10 separate strategies that all function together, for example, a:
- Co-parenting Strategy (even if it’s parallel parenting)
- Communication Strategy
- Documentation Strategy
- Parenting Strategy
- Support Strategy (for the Co-Parenting Abuse and litigation that feels like a war)
- Legal Strategy (even if we don’t have a lawyer) (Don’t have a lawyer? Click here for my guide.)
For me, I used several support systems to maintain my sanity. I used a DV (domestic violence) counselor. a therapist who specializes in codependency, Al-Anon meetings, Al-Anon sponsorship, CODA, Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Programs, Life Coaches, Parent Coaches, and more! I discuss having a “Team of 10” in my first book, Co-Parenting with a Narcissist: 7 Self-Rules to Stay Sane (A Survivor’s Story). We need to develop and install a multi-level approach to such a complex problem. It’s wise not to rely on one person and burnt out that well-meaning friend, co-worker, or parent.
What’s important to note in my story of surthrival is that I didn’t survive and go on to thrive by doing this alone. I launched my own free YouTube education system and consulted with top experts in this arena. There was so much that I didn’t know, which became evident when the Family Courts failed me and my child. I had to learn lessons and find ways to protect my child. Sometimes, we backed up into the microscope of the family court system; other times, we didn’t use family court. It all required reasoning things out with experts (not just friends and family) as well as my lawyer (SEE my helpful blog and PDF called: Legal Strategies I Used).
Then, there came a tipping point where I could no longer protect and employ preventative measures for my child. I now had to prepare her for the real world, where narcissistic and other toxic people are everywhere. In the future, these people might be her boss, co-worker, boyfriend, teacher, etc. And she needed to know how to protect herself and her truth. This meant demonstrating as well as offering helpful suggestions for dealing with conflict. I had to help her brainstorm and watch her create her own solutions for dealing, coping, and staying safe. Sometimes we were able to think and plan ahead and come up with a “game plan.” One of our best ideas included her playing sports so that I could see her more on her dad’s added time, and we wouldn’t have to go too long without seeing each other. This really helped cut her dad’s time and influence because she had great coaches who were positive male role models in her life—unlike him.
Facing My Failures and Fears of Past Narcissistic Abuse
There also came a tipping point when I could no longer shrug off the abuse I endured for fifteen years. I had to face, articulate, name, and write it down to show a pattern of abuse and tactics for my custody case. Because what became clear was that my custody case wasn’t an average family court case. It was hostile, high-conflict, ongoing, and unsettled. It was this way for three main reasons:
- The narcissist was never happy (remember that this is a genuine personality-disorder, (NPD).
- This was really Post Separation Abuse meant to control and punish me.
- I stood up for myself and our child.
The main thing that needed to be understood was that my case was actually a DV case, even though it didn’t look like it at first. (Get my list of Co-Parenting Abuse Tactics of the narcissist here.)
Learning Important Principles for Dealing with Narcissists
One of the things that I learned was that I absolutely couldn’t get “order” from a “disordered” person. And that by organizing myself with strong, steel boundaries, I could shoot down the narcissist’s attempts at controlling me and winning it all. I practiced self-discipline in areas such as messaging him and secretly documenting his behavior. Another thing that I learned was that while we can’t fix “crazy,” we can document it and label the tactics of the narcissist. As I teach moms in my private coaching practice, if you can name the tactic and accurately label it using my list of Co-Parenting Abuse, the tactic loses much of its power to hurt us. For example, a false accusation is just that. . . false. A projection of the narcissist’s paranoid mind is just that – his projection. Calling us or our children names is petty name-calling and really a form of verbal abuse.
Coming to terms With Co-Parenting with a Narcissist
I learned to give myself and our child the gift of peace. It came from the knowledge plus experience that became my wisdom. I faced mistakes that I made in my thinking and behavior. To grow a healthy mindset and adopt a healthy “can-do” attitude, I changed how I thought about things. I changed how I did things. What I showed our child was the ability to adapt and be flexible, the ultimate way a species survives and how we survived it all. I also showed her how I could evolve, mature, and grow past all the nonsense. My evolution changed the battle and eventually ended it. Our child saw first-hand how evolved thinking while taking responsibility and seeing things from different angles was a healthy approach to conflict. I gave her the gift of seeing me go first with all that, even though reality was a tough pill to swallow. She saw me spend my time on important matters or other matters that mattered rather than be consumed by my ex—the narcissist. In this way, he exited my life. I took him off the stage, and he went elsewhere for supply. I became free once again!
I encourage you to lead with wisdom, carefully consider your options, and learn as you go. Forgive yourself for your mistakes as a mom going through something so complex and difficult. Rather than beat yourself up with self-blame simply take responsibility, and make changes for the better. You and your children can overcome this, making it better one day at a time.
Ready to get started learning the lessons that can change the chess game with a narcissist? Then, pick up one of my books on Amazon and start your learning of my survivor-wisdom! As a tip, I tell moms to read the full progression of my story and start with book #1 before book #2. Learn all that you can! Be prepared with survivor wisdom!
Book 1: Co-Parenting with a Narcissist: 7 Self-Rules to Stay Sane
Book 2: How To Fight a Narcissist In Family Court and Win
Book 3: Co-parenting with a Sociopath: Survival and Sanity Guide
Book 4: How To Survive a Custody Battle with a Narcissist: When the Family Courts Force You to Co-Parent
(Available at Amazon)
READER TIP: Read my survivor wisdom in the order written—for full understanding.
*Disclaimer: These are helpful tips based solely on the author’s thoughts and opinions. The author is not a qualified mental health professional or a crisis caseworker. Therefore, she cannot give legal advice or appropriate counsel and is not liable for any injury or harm. Please follow your doctor’s, therapist’s, counselor’s, and lawyer’s advice and 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, whereas some of these will not be applicable for 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.
FOR 1:1 COACHING:
For strategy and support calls and to work 1:1 with me, visit my 10-8 scheduler!
I help motivated mothers who are forced to co-parent with a narcissist maintain their sanity, SAVE their custody cases, and enjoy their children’s one and only childhood.
I do this by teaching my 3-Part Strategy and using what I call “skillful means.” I share my tips, tools, and success strategies.
I help moms get stable and be smart. It’s not just truth but wisdom (applied) that sets us fully free from the narcissist.
Moms who work with me get the benefit of having more peaceful conditions and watching their children thrive from all the buffers and boundaries they put in place.
I know this is painful, challenging, difficult, hard, and confusing. It’s downright a crazy-making experience to co-parent with a narcissist. I get it. I was there once, too. It pushed all my buttons and pushed me to grow. I came out stronger than before!
Please know that . . .
- You are not alone.
2. You do not have to do this alone.
I got help. Actually, I sought out lots of help and support to deal with co-parenting with a narcissist and a high-conflict custody battle.
If you need 1:1 Strategy or Support Calls, that’s what I do. You can schedule a call with me on my 10-8 scheduler here –> https://yvcxjudaltiqnqouqi.10to8.com
Need some tips and words of wisdom from me?
Watch these 2 short videos:
xo- Grace W. Wroldson – Author and Strategy Coach for Moms
Need helpful tips, tools, and strategies?
Talk confidentially 1:1 with the author, Grace Wroldson- a mom who has also been through this, survived, and now thrives.
This phone call session is for mothers co-parenting with a narcissist and/or in a high-conflict family court battle. Sessions are 1 hour.
“I share my VALUABLE survivor-wisdom, as well as my insights.
There’s more to surviving a narcissist, there is coming out stronger than before and thriving!
I provide emotional support and mentorship to make bad situations better.”
Questions?: If you want to see if my message aligns with what you need, please pick up my books available at Amazon – and read some of the “Introductions.”
Book 1: Co-Parenting with a Narcissist: 7 Self-Rules to Stay Sane
Book 2: How To Fight a Narcissist In Family Court and Win
Book 3: Co-parenting with a Sociopath: Survival and Sanity Guide
*You can also visit my YouTube channel:
I am not a lawyer and cannot give legal advice. And, I am not a therapist or crisis worker. I cannot create safety plans for DV situations. (Please call crisis hotlines if this applies to you.)
What do I do?
I am a certified life coach for over 10+ years helping moms:
- reduce stress
- shift negative thinking
- adopt winning mindsets
- create peace
- step fully into their freedom!
Get help and support. You don’t have to face it alone!
May you overcome this, learn, grow, and even come out stronger than before!