Co-Parenting with a Narcissistic Ex
I was recently asked how I handled going to events with my Narcissistic Ex-Husband. I am not a therapist, but I have been trying to co-parent with my narcissistic ex for 6+ years and I’ve come a long way. So learn from my mistakes.
My mantra is that I never want my kids’ memories of their father to be clouded by memories of me telling them bad things.
“Daddy says you’re a Dumb Bitch.”-My Son @ Age 3
He is 6 now and still remembers that and that is exactly why I don’t say mean things about my ex to my kids. Let’s say I am a “Dumb Bitch,” my kids would figure that out on their own sooner or later, their father wouldn’t need to tell them because they would see by my actions go along with those characteristics or not.
I don’t need to tell my kids that their dad can be really shitty sometimes, they see that in his actions. They can draw their own conclusions. I never want them to grow up to resent me because they had a skewed view of their father based on my feelings towards him. I let my ex’s behavior and actions 100% dictate the children’s future feelings toward him.
You never want your ex to be able to say:
“I would come but your Mommy won’t let me?”
Even if your reason you don’t want him to come is valid, such as he will be rude, rub his girlfriend in your face, or make you angry. You don’t want him to twist it into making you look bad to your child.
Set Ground Rules
Let him know that you will not tolerate any rude behavior. If he wants to speak poorly to you, you will not respond. Even though it is the hardest thing in the world not to defend yourself, it will escalate and that never ends well. —-I know from personal experience.
Make a Plan
Will you sit together or no? Where will any other kids sit? How long will he spend with kids after?
ANYTHING with a possible option, you both need to know the answer for it before you go. Then tell your kids exactly what the plan is.
“During the performance Kid2 can sit with Daddy then after, you will both hang out with Daddy for 10 minutes then I will meet you by the front door then we will leave to have dinner.”
That way they are eased of any possible anxiety they might have about the event.
Kids’ Time with The Narcissistic Ex
When kids spend time with your Narcissistic Ex decide where you will go. I personally find it best for all parties, for me to walk away for a little. I go talk to someone, go to the restroom, or play with my phone away from kids and ex.
That way the kids don’t have to worry about upsetting me or fear that their dad will try to upset me. Also, my ex can’t say I was trying to control the situation, the kids, or him.
As crappy of a dad you might think he is, and he might be, unless he is a threat to your children, you don’t need to micromanage the 5-10 minutes with him.
I know, much easier said than done but once you give up trying to control his parenting style, as terrible as it might be, the easier your life will be.
So hand the kids off and tell them you will meet them in 10 minutes.
When Your Narcissistic Ex Tries to Engage
If he tries to engage by saying something rude.
Whatever you do, DO NOT ENGAGE.
If you must respond say:
“We can set time aside to discuss this at a more appropriate venue. Let me know when is good for you or you can email me about it.”
Then grab the kids and get out of there.
By doing this, you are letting your ex know that you are willing to listen to what he wants to say (he doesn’t need to know you really don’t) but your child’s event, in front of the kids and others is not the appropriate place.
Also, you care soooo much about what he has to say to you, you will even let him pick a time that is good for him! —Odds are they won’t even schedule anything because they don’t really care about whatever it is, they just want to annoy you/make you mad.
Depending on how well your relationship is going that day (I know too well the roller coaster of getting along one day and mortal enemies the next and back to friendly two days later) decide how to tell him your expectations and boundaries but I always recommend e-mail that way there is record. I usually text and then copy it and email it too. Here is what I would send my ex:
How to Speak to a Narcissistic Ex
With a narcissistic ex, you have to state your expectations and boundaries as clearly as possible. You also need to tell them the consequence of not respecting your boundaries.
“Hey you won’t be able to go to anything in the next 10 years (or 6 months if you have trouble following through with boundaries like I do) if it’s on my weekend and when they kids ask why, I will have to remind them of the time you…”
You also have to do some acting. Even if you have never once said anything rude to or about him in front of the kids, just act like the boundary you are setting because of HIS behavior also applies to you. He doesn’t need to know it’s because of his behavior and not yours. Pretend like you care what he had to say just to diffuse any possible conflict that could arise.
So to sum it all up: Try to spend the least amount of time in his presence as you can, DO NOT engage, be cordial, but let him know that there are (clearly stated) consequences if he cannot be nice to you for his kids.
Also Check Out My Post About How to Communicate With a Narcissistic Ex .