They don’t co-parent, they Counter-parent.
Limit contact. For your children limit contact as much as you possibly can with them, the less time they spend with the narcissist, the fewer mind games the narcissist can play with their heads, for very young children do not allow facetime, phone calls when the children are in your care and don’t call the children when they are in the narcissist’s care ( You are co-parenting with a manipulator. Unfortunately you can not do ordinary things with these people on a continuous basis, they’ll find a way to use these calls against you.) For older children, or those asking to call you to have to allow the children their own free will, to request their parent when they want—limited contact to give the children free time and headspace to learn and grow. Again if children are older, you have to provide them with the freedom of choice and hope they know their worth and boundaries.
For you. Limited or no contact. Do not react to the narcissist for what they try to do, that’s why they do what they do, for reactions, let it go, retreat, rethink and only respond if you need to do so, look for the patterns in their games. Hence, you’re no longer expecting the unexpected. You know what’s coming, find what you can to laugh about to lift you up and not allow their horrific games to drag you down.
Focus and communication. Concentrate on your children and yourself. Messenger is great as you can put the narcissist into the ignore box. This way you’re not then always receiving and reading messages from them, or have a separate email account set up. When you need to look or to message them about children, make sure you are happy within yourself so you can handle and not react to anything they have sent. You can not win an argument with these people via words. You can by staying silent they hate that they are not getting to you. Prepare for them to step up their game, stick to your own boundaries and routine, and stay strong.
Avoid conflict, especially in front of the children, and one-word answers if they say things in front of the children to get to you. Just say “That’s not how I see it. ” Then leave it be, do not engage in a conversation. Do not ask about them, and do not inform them about you, you’re not dealing with someone who cares, you’re dealing with someone who wants to take from you or get at you.
Maintain control. Never ever show them how they’ve made you or your children feel. The narcissist feels like they have won if they get a reaction from you. They will continue to get these reactions by any means they can.
Educate yourself, on narcissism, when you have the knowledge you have the power.
Be prepared, when you know you will see them, talk to yourself kindly, dance to some good music to lift yourself, remain calm and unemotional with them, think about how you want handovers to go, focus your mind on a positive happy you that will not get drawn into their games, have a reason to get out of their asap if they start acting nice. You’ve not broken the trauma bond yet.
Evidence. Get as much as you can in writing, make arrangements via messages or email; you have proof then of them cancelling plans if they ever want to drag you to mediation or court, they lie about big things, they lie about little things, they lie about lies, you need any evidence you can to prove your innocence and the narcissists’ real character.
Boundaries. Be assertive in creating good boundaries, and the narcissist will see this as aggressive, they will see your new-found boundaries as you being awkward, what the narcissist thinks is not your problem. Do not engage in conversation with them about what or why you are doing it. They will use this against you. You are creating these boundaries to provide the consistency that you and your children need to be happy and healthy.
Do not admit any mistakes to the narcissist, and don’t be too hard on yourself, we all make mistakes, a narcissist will use these against you any way they can.
Say NO, and stick to your NO.
Praise. Remember, they are like a toddler in an adult’s s body. (some are incredibly abusive, or if you’re not over the trauma bond, this isn’t advisable.
Use level up so when the narcissist treats the children right, when they turn up on time when they don’t let the children down, compliment them, when they act up, give them no attention, when discussing things use the term we.
Self-care. Put you and your children first, no matter what the narcissist is throwing at you. A narcissist will never put the children first, they will simply use them to gain empathy or attention from the children or from you.
Children can survive and do thrive with one healthy parent. Show and tell them that although they can not control what others say and do they can control themselves, teach your empathy and kindness. Do not bad mouth the narcissist to your children, as the narcissist is more than likely doing that about you to the children, do not get drawn into the narcissist games. Teach the children the right way to behave by not bad-mouthing.
Compensate for the Narcissist’s neglect of the children, as a narcissist does not have emotional connections with their children. Therefore they neglect their children’s needs and put their own first. The children can feel emotionally neglected by the other parent like they are not enough, and they can doubt themselves, compensate by reassuring the children how many people they are loved by, and what good kind of helpful people the children are. Always try to speak positively to your children.
Encourage your children’s individual interests, join clubs and activities, and be prepared that the other parent may not want to take them to these if it’s on their time, so make sure you arrange for days you have them.
Parallel parent. Have set days and times for pick up and drop off.
Do not get involved with what the children are doing while they are with the narcissistic parent. Just parent your own way when the children are with you. Minimise contact between yourself and the other parents, grey rock method.
If your children need extra help go see the doctor or psychologist, this also teaches children. They are allowed to have feelings. It validates children’s feelings. It lets them know no matter what they can reach out and be heard, they need reinforcement with this, as they’ll often feel unheard around the narcissistic parent.
If you need help asking for it, nothing wrong with asking and it’s the first step to a better you.
Grey rock/ level up.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.
Click here for Elizabeth Shaw’s Recommended reading list for more information on recovery from narcissistic abuse.