BY CHRISTINE LOUIS DE CANONVILLE, MIACP
Her books, “The Three Faces of Evil: Unmasking the Full Spectrum of Narcissistic Abuse” and “When Shame Begets Shame: How Narcissists hurt and shame their victims” set out to to help those who have been affected by a narcissist and also to address the shortfalls in a therapist’s education, so that they become better equipped to work with survivors of narcissistic abuse. Much of her knowledge has come from her post-grad studies in Criminology and Forensic Psychology, and it is through these disciplines that she has gained her understanding of “The Dark Triad”, (Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy).
These three faces of evil are vital information for understanding the full spectrum of narcissistic abuse and the dire effects on the victims. It is her vision that narcissistic abuse becomes part of the curriculum of all Mental Health clinicians.
CO-PARENTING WITH A NARCISSIST IS NOTHING MORE THAN AN UNATTAINABLE PIPE DREAM
How does it feel to co-parent with someone who has a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)? What kind of relationship problems might arise from having a parent with NPD? How can you effectively manage these challenges? I shall try to address these questions in this article.
WHAT DOES THE TERM CO-PARENTING MEAN?
Co-parenting is a term that has been used to describe the relationship between two people (whether married or not) who have children together but, for whatever reason, they choose not to live together. However, they do agree to jointly parent the child/children, even though they live apart.
THE QUESTION IS – “IS IT POSSIBLE TO CO-PARENT WITH MY NARCISSISTIC SPOUSE?”
Co-parenting with a narcissistic parent is practically impossible, as it rarely works. When we speak of “co-parenting” we are speaking of both parents working together (focused teamwork) for the better good of the children.
It requires cooperation, understanding, and flexibility from both partners. However, with the narcissist’s sense of superiority, lack of empathy and inflated sense of self, these criteria result in their being self-focused, making it virtually impossible for them to co-parent.
Therefore, one can expect a narcissist to be focused on their own needs and wants at all times, even when it comes to parenting decisions around their children. This can lead to constant arguments over what the other parent should do, how the other parent should act, and where the child belongs.
Unfortunately, you can’t co-parent with someone who has little or no empathy, no remorse and no sense of responsibility. Furthermore, they are incapable of being in the same room with the other parent without feeling like they have to “win” or be right.
If your partner is narcissistic, then shared custody is going to be one of the greatest challenges that you will ever face. Therefore, you must educate yourself so that you know what is and isn’t helpful when dealing with a narcissist.
Knowing and understanding that there is no rational way that you can win when you’re dealing with a narcissist. When you can accept that a narcissistic person doesn’t care about anyone but themselves (not even their children), that fact alone can save you hours of painful disappointment and arguing.
WHAT ARE THE MANY PERSONAL CHALLENGES YOU CAN EXPECT WHEN CO-PARENTING WITH YOUR EX-NARCISSIST?:
1. Constant arguments over what you should do, how you should act, and where the child belongs. All this will leave you feeling like you are walking on eggshells around your ex-partner. Of course, when it comes to themselves, narcissists will not follow the ground rules or respect the boundaries you try to put in place to make parenting together easier.
2. If you allow it from the beginning, your ex-partner might try to take full control of every aspect of your family life, including your finances, your time, your friends, etc. They may try to manipulate you into doing things that make you feel guilty. For example, if you want to go out with your friends, they might try to guilt trip you into believing that you aren’t a good mother because you spend too much time with your friends instead of spending time with your children. They are still wanting to have coercive control over you.
3. They may use guilt trips to manipulate you into doing things against your will, especially where the children are concerned. For example, they might tell you that you don’t love your kids enough because you don’t give them enough attention.
4. They may lie to you and tell you that you don’t deserve anything because you aren’t a good enough parent. This is the narcissist continuing to gaslight you, even from a distance.
5. They may make up lies about you and spread rumours about you behind your back, not just to their friends and family, but also to your family. They know the less support you have, the more you will have to depend on them. This gives them more power and control over your life and the children’s lives. They still want you as their “narcissistic supply”.
6. They may continue to instil fear in you and threaten to hurt you if you don’t comply with their demands. Narcissists have an extremely high need for control and domination. So, if you don’t agree with their demands, they will find ways to punish you.
7. They may accuse you of cheating if you spend more than an hour alone with another man. They may become jealous and try to sabotage your relationships before they even get going. Even if they don’t want you, they will not want anybody else having you or their children in their lives.
8. If the children are living with them, they may refuse to let you see your kids unless you agree to do whatever they want, and they may try to turn the children against you (Parent Alienation).
9. They may get angry if you dare to disagree with them or make difficulties around access. If that happens, you can expect to be hauled through the Family Court. They have no fear of the courtroom, in fact, they like the drama where they are the centre of attention…. and of course, they will do their best to seduce the Judge, and will tell as many lies as they feel the need to. Unfortunately, many Family Court Judges fall for the seduction and lies.
10. They may blame you for everything that goes wrong in their lives. They will always blame you, and never accept any responsibility themselves.
11. They may not accept any criticism of themselves, but constantly criticize you and put you down. They may say things like: “You’re so stupid! You’re such a bad mother! Why did you marry me? I hate you!”
12. They may treat you like dirt and humiliate you in front of everyone, especially if they feel envious of you. They may try to destroy your reputation by spreading rumours about you.
13. They may deny to others that they have done anything wrong, and project they’re failing onto you. They may claim that you are the problem (the crazy one) and that you need help.
All these behaviours (and more) are very wearing on the victim, and make the task of co-parenting very difficult. It is not unusual having to appeal to the courts to intervene. Even though a court might change the terms of the custody arrangement, they usually think it is in the best interests of the children for them to see both parents regularly. Unfortunately, most Judges do not understand narcissistic abuse, therefore they do not see through the narcissist’s manipulation and deception. The same can be said of many lawyers.
WHAT WILL BE CHALLENGING FOR THE CHILDREN WITH A NARCISSISTIC CO-PARENT?
1. A narcissistic parent will not allow their children to make any decisions for themselves or express their own opinions.
2. They will constantly try to control everything that goes on around them.
3. They will guilt trips to manipulate the children into doing what they want.
4. They will lie to the children about who they are and how much they love them.
5. They will use threats to scare the children into submission.
6. They will use emotional abuse or physical abuse to keep the children under their thumb.
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The link to continue reading this article is: https://narcissisticbehavior.net/co-parenting-with-a-narcissist/
CHRISTINE’S BOOKS ON NARCISSISM IN ORDER OF RELEASE.
The 3 Faces Of Evil is an introduction to Narcissism and the Dark Triad.
When Shame Begets Shame is an extensive look at shame and how it fuels the narcissist’s behaviour.
The Gaslighting Syndrome covers the topic of Gaslighting and many related areas in great detail.