Sunday, August 1, 2010

Can Narcissists Share Parenting?

In my last blog, I asked the same question about borderlines. Borderlines and narcissists seem to be the most common high conflict personality disorders in high conflict divorces – especially in family court custody battles. (Sometimes a high-conflict parent has traits of both.) They often have a hard time sharing, but for different reasons. Sometimes they can share parenting with a reasonable parent, with clear structure and clear consequences. This often requires clear court orders, which I will address in my next blog.

Narcissists see themselves as superior, so they often have a hard time sharing parenting as equals. I have had cases as a family law attorney with narcissists showing no interest in having custody of the children and almost no interest in parenting at all, until something goes wrong in their lives (such as a divorce, loss of a job, loss of a new relationship, business deal gone bad). Then, to cope, they suddenly see themselves as perfect parents and want custody of the kids. Or perhaps they re-marry and their new spouse says “You should have custody.”

Then, they start a custody battle and sometimes win the battle. Then, they often lose interest again and have someone else raise the child for them, such as a girlfriend or new spouse. In one case I had, the father took an out-of-town job during the weekdays and left his teenage son home alone. Fortunately, the boy on his own initiative returned to his mother (my client) and lived with her again.

On the other hand, there are narcissists who start out with custody. They see themselves as owning the children and increasingly have difficulty sharing decision-making and care of the children with the other parent. Sooner or later, they find something they think is wrong with the other parent and go to court to reduce that parent’s time with the children.

When the judge doesn’t do exactly what they want, they often feel insulted and sometimes take matters into their own hands. Sometimes they run away with the children, so that they can have total control. I just heard from a father (one of my former clients), who recently reunited with his son at age 18, after his mother ran away with him at age 3. I don’t know if she was a narcissist, but I know that she wanted total control and didn’t like sharing. For more about why a parent may do this, including personality disoders and attachment issues, see my new book “Don’t Alienate the Kids!”

If you want to see a good example of a narcissist before, during and after the divorce, just watch the movie “The Squid and the Whale” from several years ago. You can see how the narcissist’s alienation starts well before the divorce, and that the problem isn’t intentional behavior - it’s his personality. This is just how he is, without even thinking about it. Sound familiar? Please don't forget my new book"Don't Alienate The Kids".

Have you shared parenting with a narcissist? If so, because I value your opinion, Please leave a comment, what worked or what didn’t work?

54 comments:

Peter G. HIll said...

In my case the narcissist is the mother. I wish you had written this as more gender neutral. Most parental alienators happen to be mothers by and large. You make it seem it is only a male problem when it is both and mostly the moms.

Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. said...

Dear Peter,

Thanks for commenting. I'm sorry to hear that you have had to face this problem.

I agree with you that we need to be gender neutral. After representing fathers and mothers about equally in family courts, I believe that alienation is a mental health problem (primarily personality disorders and traits), rather than a gender problem.

When fathers have been my clients as the Target-of-Blame, the mothers seem to have more borderline traits. When mothers have been my clients as the Target, the fathers seem to have more narcissistic traits.

Perhaps that's why my blog about narcissists seemed to emphasize the male side of the problem, although I included a tragic case of a possibly narcissistic mother kidnapping a child for 15 years. Generally, from my experience, when a parent has kidnapped a child, the parent has had strong narcissistic traits.

Historically, I have seen more fathers as the Target of alienation, but the last few years I have seen a lot of both - and it seems to be increasing. I wonder what others have seen.

The more that we can get legal professionals and others to see this as a mental health problem, the more effective I think we will be at reducing and preventing alienation.

Best wishes,
Bill

Peter G. Hill said...

I believe it is a mental health problem too and have supported adding it to the diagnosis at its recent revisions. Parental Alienation has not been added yet. I would stick to more gender neutral writings in the future, if I could make any suggestions.

Anonymous said...

Hello Bill,

Recently Theresa Riggi killed her three children in the mist of her custody battle with her husband.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/08/07/earlyshow/saturday/main6752460.shtml

After reading your website and some of your books, a HCP may be in play in this story.

Anonymous said...

"with narcissists showing no interest in having custody of the children and almost no interest in parenting at all, until something goes wrong in their lives (such as a divorce, loss of a job, loss of a new relationship, business deal gone bad). Then, to cope, they suddenly see themselves as perfect parents and want custody of the kids"
This is what I think is happening in my case. Long story, but in short: I got out of a (very short) relationship with a narcissist before giving birth to our child. I had to get out of this relationship, felt something was very wrong with him, and after reading a lot, found out he fits the narcissist 'profile' perfectly. He never showed any interest in the child, i've been raising the child alone, all going very well. Then, after years he demands visitation and courtcase after courtcase follow. He is escalating everything, not trying to solve. He got the courts to give him permission to legally recognize the child, so he is successful too. (Just as described in edcourses 'It's all your fault"...) He never paid childsupport and still will not, and he's allowed not to as he does not have any money.
Anyway, now I am faced with a courtordered mediation to establish (the possibility of granting) visitation rights and to get 'the parents' back in touch and mediate between us.

Obviously, I want nothing to do with him in my/our life, but I have to face this situation and deal with it.
Besides this, I do feel that my child has a right to know who his biological father is. But I am sure that allowing him access to our lifes in some way will be harmful. Its difficult.
I do not know what would be the best approach for me to take in this mediation. (A child development psychologist/mediatior will be the court mediator).
How to 'expose' him, should I fight it or stay reasonable, and most importantly, what is best for my child?
Court and mediation is focussed and intent on getting some kind of contact going between father and child.

I want to stay reasonable and want the best for my child, but I am so worried that i will 'loose' in the mediation.

Not sure if anyone here can help out or can refer me to another blog/forum?

Thanks a lot,

From Europe

Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. said...

Hi Anonymous from Europe,

I hope this response is in time to be helpful. As a California attorney I can't say what the standards are in your country, but the problems are the same. You should work closely with a lawyer or get consultation about how to approach your mediation.

Overall, most family court systems want children to have a significant relationship with both of their parents. This usually means both parents will have regular contact, although it is usually an unequal amount of time. In my book, Don't Alienate the Kids!, I suggest ways for parents and courts to include a difficult parent in the child's life, so that the child doesn't grow up guessing about that parent (fantasizing that that parent is "all-good" or "all-bad"), which often happens. By having a relationship - even if time is minimal - the child learns that all people have positive and negative qualities, and how to deal with them.

If you approach the situation as supporting the other parent's relationship (perhaps with limitations, given that parent's past problem behaviors), you will probably have more success with the mediator and with your child. Generally, it is helpful to seek to get parenting skills training for the other parent, rather than to seek keeping that parent out of the child's life. An all-or-nothing approach usually backfires with the mediators and the court.

I hope that is helpful. It can be a very distressing situation, especially when the difficult parent has been absent and then decides to jump into your lives. But generally, teaching your child to deal with him will work better-even if he has a limited relationship-than fighting about any relationship at all. (And sometimes Narcissists back off after they have received some recognition, so don't assume he will be actively involved forever - he may come and go for long periods of time.)

Best wishes,
Bill

Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. said...

Hi Anonymous from Europe,

I hope this response is in time to be helpful. As a California attorney I can't say what the standards are in your country, but the problems are the same. You should work closely with a lawyer or get consultation about how to approach your mediation.

Overall, most family court systems want children to have a significant relationship with both of their parents. This usually means both parents will have regular contact, although it is usually an unequal amount of time. In my book, Don't Alienate the Kids!, I suggest ways for parents and courts to include a difficult parent in the child's life, so that the child doesn't grow up guessing about that parent (fantasizing that that parent is "all-good" or "all-bad"), which often happens. By having a relationship - even if time is minimal - the child learns that all people have positive and negative qualities, and how to deal with them.

If you approach the situation as supporting the other parent's relationship (perhaps with limitations, given that parent's past problem behaviors), you will probably have more success with the mediator and with your child. Generally, it is helpful to seek to get parenting skills training for the other parent, rather than to seek keeping that parent out of the child's life. An all-or-nothing approach usually backfires with the mediators and the court.

I hope that is helpful. It can be a very distressing situation, especially when the difficult parent has been absent and then decides to jump into your lives. But generally, teaching your child to deal with him will work better-even if he has a limited relationship-than fighting about any relationship at all. (And sometimes Narcissists back off after they have received some recognition, so don't assume he will be actively involved forever - he may come and go for long periods of time.)

Best wishes,
Bill

Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. said...

Hi Anonymous from Europe,

I hope this response is in time to be helpful. As a California attorney I can't say what the standards are in your country, but the problems are the same. You should work closely with a lawyer or get consultation about how to approach your mediation.

Overall, most family court systems want children to have a significant relationship with both of their parents. This usually means both parents will have regular contact, although it is usually an unequal amount of time. In my book, Don't Alienate the Kids!, I suggest ways for parents and courts to include a difficult parent in the child's life, so that the child doesn't grow up guessing about that parent (fantasizing that that parent is "all-good" or "all-bad"), which often happens. By having a relationship - even if time is minimal - the child learns that all people have positive and negative qualities, and how to deal with them.

If you approach the situation as supporting the other parent's relationship (perhaps with limitations, given that parent's past problem behaviors), you will probably have more success with the mediator and with your child. Generally, it is helpful to seek to get parenting skills training for the other parent, rather than to seek keeping that parent out of the child's life. An all-or-nothing approach usually backfires with the mediators and the court.

I hope that is helpful. It can be a very distressing situation, especially when the difficult parent has been absent and then decides to jump into your lives. But generally, teaching your child to deal with him will work better-even if he has a limited relationship-than fighting about any relationship at all. (And sometimes Narcissists back off after they have received some recognition, so don't assume he will be actively involved forever - he may come and go for long periods of time.)

Best wishes,
Bill

Anonymous said...

Dear Bill,

Thank you very much for your reaction! I really appreciate it. It is not too late at all, although the first mediationsession took place before your reply. It is very reassuring and comforting, because the approach you are suggesting is the approach I decided to take. Eventhough personally, I would not mind never having to deal with this man ever in my life, this is not about me, it's about my child. And as I mentioned, I think it is very important for him to know who his 'father' is. (Eventhough it is not an issue for him now, he's 4). You are exactly right.
Still, as you say, it is extremely distressing having to allow him 'access' in my life. And it remains a difficult situation. Especially because I know he is a 'difficult' parent, with a lot of narcissistic traits.
That is my main concern. And in law, lawyers, courts and judges there is no place for this concern. There's not even a place for expressing it.

I can hardly believe it, I am afraid to say it, after all that has happened (all negative), with all the stress and fear (and money) and worries it has caused me, but this mediator is incredible! She seems to see right through it all. She's neutral, ofcourse, but she seems to understand and assess the situation perfectly. I was so worried and scared that the mediator wouldn’t, and that she would be taken in by his deceitful charm.
Although I am careful, I think I might be very lucky that she was put on this case.

Thanks again, Bill, I will keep reading this blog and keep your tip about parenting skills training in mind for the next sessions.

Best regards!

Anonymous said...

Hello. I'm glad to find your site and hope you have some suggestions. The story is long, but I will try to hit the highlights. We have been apart for 4.5 years, divorced for over 2. My ex (who is the father) is the narcissist. I had no idea what that meant when we were married, but felt like I was in the twilight zone for much of the marriage, which is exactly where he wanted me, I now realize. He was/is a master manipulator and very skilled at making me think something was wrong with me when we would argue and he wanted to persuade me to agree with him ("What's wrong with you? All I want to do is love you?" for example.) He has harassed and manipulated our child for years, but doesn't see it that way. Our child has said in the past, "I wish you'd married someone else," "What's wrong with Daddy?" "I hate my father," "Daddy, you don't get to know everything!" (in response to his father's inappropriate questioning about me -- "Where's your mother?" "When does she get home from work?" "Who does she go out with?" "Oh, your mom has to go out of town for work until XYZ day? Wow, that's a long time! I'm sorry; I know that's hard" (even though our child was simply communicating information and was not saying he was sad that I had to travel). I filed papers to try to get full custody. We have been moving toward the court date, albeit slowly, (he's been deposed) and then he suddenly moved to our city after being a plane flight away for the entire time we've been apart. He has been unemployed for over a year and a half, but did not move here until about two weeks ago. I have seen things worsen since he's been here in terms of his expectations, control, lies, etc. He has since filed his own papers. My question (after my apologetically long lead-in) is how can I best manage my ex, who obviously doesn't acknowledge his S.O.P., in our regular interactions (with our son and with me)and how can i ensure my attorney "teases" out his manipulative, unhealthy ways in court? I did not have the best representation when we went through this years ago, but I also don't believe she saw the true person so she could not anticipate how he would twist the language in our court order to his benefit and, even worse, how he would interact with our child. I can now at least see this person for who he is and I rarely fall for his tactics, but I know how he is and he can be charming and draw people into his web, especially when they don't see him over time and in different situations. Any advice/resources would be much appreciated. I wish everyone on site well. I imagine we are all the same in that we had no idea we'd find ourselves having to seek out this kind of information!! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hello. I'm glad to find your site! We have been apart for 4.5 yrs, div for over 2. My ex is the narcissist. I have seen him harass and manipulate our child for years. Our child has said, "I wish you'd married someone else," "What's wrong with Daddy?" "I hate my father," "Daddy, you don't get to know everything!" (in response to his father's inappropriate questioning about me. I filed papers and we have been moving toward the court date, albeit slowly. He suddenly moved to our city after being a plane flight away for the entire time we've been apart. He's been unemployed for 1 yr-plus, but didn't move until 2 wks ago. (Typically didn't see our child as much as order allowed before now.) I've seen things worsen already -- expectations, control, lies. He has now filed his papers. My questions are: how can I best manage my ex, who obviously doesn't acknowledge his S.O.P. and how can I be sure my attorney will expose his manipulative ways in court?

Any guidance would be much appreciated. I wish everyone on this site well and imagine you, like I, had no idea you'd have to seek out this kind of info! Thanks!

Renee said...

Bill,

I am in so much pain lately. I am a single mother of a 3 year old. My daughter's father moved away when she was one and simultaneously filed a paternity case. My new lawyer said she has never seen someone wreak so much havoc from so far away. We never married nor lived together, he didn't sign the birth cert for 1 year and barely parented, but we have been embroiled in the court system for over 2 years. I cry when I look at my daughter sometimes because I do not know how to get her out of this mess. He tells her inappropriate things and tells me it is because she needs to know the truth about me and that all the blame for this situation is assigned to me because everything is my fault. He moved because I forced him, he didn't sign the birth certificate because of something I did and the restraining order I had to file was only for me to gain a legal advantage. According to him I lie, twist and distort everything. Before him I was known to all people as really kind, generous, loving and compassionate. Now, I have no idea who I am. I am seeking therapy so no worries .. I am being treated for post traumatic stress disorder from all this. I am saddened that my daughter doesn't have an actively involved father a wartown and exhausted mom. He is keeping me hostage in the the state as well even though he moved. I want to get closer to family to get support and he has made it clear if I try to leave the state (my daughter's residence) he will ensure a huge court battle.

Basically ... coparenting with a narcissist has been hard -- every time I get it -- he changes the rule. And basically everything that is wrong is due to something I've done. I want to fix things and I know I can't ... it kills me.

Renee said...

Bill,

I am in so much pain lately. I am a single mother of a 3 year old. My daughter's father moved away when she was one and simultaneously filed a paternity case. My new lawyer said she has never seen someone wreak so much havoc from so far away. We never married nor lived together, he didn't sign the birth cert for 1 year and barely parented, but we have been embroiled in the court system for over 2 years. I cry when I look at my daughter sometimes because I do not know how to get her out of this mess. He tells her inappropriate things and tells me it is because she needs to know the truth about me and that all the blame for this situation is assigned to me because everything is my fault. He moved because I forced him, he didn't sign the birth certificate because of something I did and the restraining order I had to file was only for me to gain a legal advantage. According to him I lie, twist and distort everything. Before him I was known to all people as really kind, generous, loving and compassionate. Now, I have no idea who I am. I am seeking therapy so no worries .. I am being treated for post traumatic stress disorder from all this. I am saddened that my daughter doesn't have an actively involved father a wartown and exhausted mom. He is keeping me hostage in the the state as well even though he moved. I want to get closer to family to get support and he has made it clear if I try to leave the state (my daughter's residence) he will ensure a huge court battle.

Basically ... coparenting with a narcissist has been hard -- every time I get it -- he changes the rule. And basically everything that is wrong is due to something I've done. I want to fix things and I know I can't ... it kills me.

Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. said...

Dear Anonymous (December 3rd):

I've been traveling and very busy the past few weeks, so my apologies for not responding until now. You describe a difficult and common situation, namely dealing with a likely narcissist who was relatively uninvolved for years, and now suddenly highly involved. All-or-nothing thinking and behavior is common.

It's not unusual that a potentially narcissistic co-parent who has had personal set-backs (such as unemployment for a long time) would seek active contact with the child as a way to feel good about himself after a long period of disinterest.

In terms of managing him, I would suggest two books I have written: "Don't Alienate the Kids!" and "Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist." They have many tips for communicating and negotiating with a narcissist on a regular basis. It can be hard to resist responding the same way that he does, but it will make your life easier to practice some of our techniques, like BIFF responses to hostile emails and EAR statements for conversations in person. Both EAR and BIFF are in the Don't Alienate book. The Splitting book focuses more on strategies for court and out-of-court decisions.

I hope you find this information helpful.

Best wishes!
Bill

Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. said...

Dear Renee,

I am sorry to hear that you are in so much pain in dealing with the potentially narcissistic father of your child. I am glad you are seeking therapy to deal with the situation, and I hope it helps you get some distance and perspective on dealing with the other parent. It can be very stressful (as you can see from all the comments), but there are strategies which may help reduce the stress.

First of all, it will help to learn phrases to tell yourself when he is pesonally attacking you and criticizing you. Remember this phrase: "It's Not About You!" Personal attacks are a reflection of the inadequate skills that a high conflict person may have. Most people don't say everything is all your fault, and most parents don't involve their child in adult matters and conflicts.

So try to avoid reinforcing in your own mind that what he says about you has any validity or perspective. What he says is not about you - its about him and his lack of problem-solving skills.

In your legal case, pace yourself and focus on getting factual information to your lawyer and the judge. Sometimes it takes many months for the court to get an accurate picture of your situation, but then things eventually get easier. For some tips about dealing with your court case, you might want to read my book "Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist," which is available at this website.

Best wishes,
Bill

Polly said...

Bill,

I bought your books Splitting and It's Not Your Fault and have been trying to apply your recommendations to my divorce and custody situation as it evolves. But right now I could use some guidance from you.

Negotiations have pretty much stalled. My Narcissist husband insists on having sole legal custody and has "offered" me 50/50 shared physical custody --though I've been the primary caregiver and these are two little girls aged 6 and 3.

I am very concerned that conceding sole legal custody to him will "cement" his thinking that he can do anything he pleases. He is a naturalized US citizen and has a lot of wealth in his home country. He's already started an alienation campaign with the 6yo (i went out for groceries the other day and he told her he wasn't sure I was ever coming back, and that I love my job and my parents more than my kids).

He has threatened that if he wins in court, he'll see to it that I only get supervised visitation. He's been physically and verbally abusive, but I have yet to involve authorities because of my own sense of denial and that reasonable part of me that doesn't want to see a successful professional and a loving (if a bit disordered) father throw it all away with criminal charges against him.

As you point out in your books, sometimes giving the narcissist a little "win" is enough to get them on-board. I feel like my narcissist will never be satisfied until I am destroyed financially and emotionally. I've given in on the property and money fronts already as much as I can realistically afford to - hoping that I can still retain my right to make decisions on my children's future.

Long story short, do I give in and give him sole legal to avoid a court battle that I cannot afford? Another tidbit that concerns me is that he is a child of divorce himself and his mother was really "kicked to the curb" in the divorce and has always been treated as an idiotic outsider and not respected as his mother (and an educated professional).

Do I fight like blazes for full custody or can i hope to keep the dragon happy with morsels like sole legal?

I cannot thank you enough for the favor of a reply!

Anonymous said...

You fight! fight! And practise E.A.R., I can tell you - thank you BIll Eddy - it works wonders! It is unbelievable how simple things become when you do. Even if you do not mean it, just pretend Empathy, Attention and Respect. It is unreal. It is difficult, you have to act, but if you do, it works! It does. It is unreal.
XXX
Anonymous from Europe

Anonymous said...

The narcissist I have is the father. He almost lost his job in 8/09, moved in with his mother, who was diagnosed with lunch cancer in 12/09. He filed for custody in 2/11. Believe it or not, a Social Worker said he should have custody because the child is male; however, leave him with me. We go to trial, the judge said use an outside source for therapy. This person finds nothing wrong with the child and it's suppose to be over, but the father is mad at the courts for not choosing someone who would find something wrong with the child. Now we're back to trial. The lying is over the top and he hops attorney's. It's been a challenge now that mommy has died and there's an inheritance involved. He wants that money and doesn't want to continue paying support and he's mad at the courts for not giving him what he wants. I'm ready for trial again in 10/2011 as I have the proof and ready to take him down!

SusieB said...

I really relate to this, my now ex husband and I moved abroad with our infant daughter, when his Narcissistic behaviour became unbearable we split up, he tried to control me using physical and mental means and when he did not succeed he kidnapped my daughter ( aged 4) and took her back to the UK ( our home country) leaving me stranded abroad with no money etc. He has since been found but the authorities despite my pleading feel that she is in no danger etc so have told me to return and fight the matter in court, easy said when you have no money and no one to help you, I have tried emailing, phoning, sending friends to his house but he refuses me any contact. No one seems to be able to help me, I am just desperately trying to get the money together to return to the UK to fight him. He never wanted to help look after her before, he then changed to say he wanted her and that she was his etc now I hear he has a new girlfriend, he works away all week and my daughter is being cared for by the new partner. It breaks my heart but one day I am sure this will turn around, I just hope that no damage has been done to my little girl as I hear he has been telling her that I am evil and that I dont want her etc. Thanks for the interesting site.

Anonymous said...

My heart breaks after reading all of these comments. I too was married to a narcissist and was like all of you, emotionally drained, wondering what was wrong with me, until I started studying about the narcissist personality that my ex has. I realized that I had to "out fox the fox" (read Bill Eddy's books)and I eventually won, but it was not easy. Please stop being the victim, pull up your bootstraps, and get ready for war (for your children). If you are weak, broken and emotionally drained then get counseling during this process...Churches offer free counseling...get a support group or Church family to begin supporting you up so that you gain strength.
Use a narcissist's weak points to your advantage. For example, they do not like to spend money on anyone other than themselves....when in negotiations, waive fee's such as educational, medical, etc....(although they have to pay child support for the "child" you can tell them that you will pay a portion back to them for let's say traveling expense) IN LIEU of you getting perhaps a reasonable visitation schedule. (The narcissist often fights just to win and pump their ego....if they win much time with the kids, it is often to lessen child support or to have power, but they tend to neglect the kids when in their care) so offer them the material world in lieu of you having more time with your kids.
Get your focus off money and onto the kids. In America we have government sources in order that you dont remain homeless....work less, stay at home with your children, be there for them and live off less....work less....your kids need you as their narcissist other parent will not be there for them emotionally. The N. is a sick, mental disease and you need to see it as this and do all you can to protect your children while in their care, which means, fight for your kids, and be there for your kids....dont just dump them at daycare and school and go off to work...they need you as you are the healthy one.
One reader mentioned that her ex had a new wife who wanted to fight for the kids....put yourself in the mind of that new wife or girlfriend....she does not want money going to your child....she also will most likely become jealous of her husband spending time with your child over her.....she will also realize that child will always be distant from her and never call her "mother" because she has you, that child will also remind her of you and her ex's past with you, so her desire for custody is only to make your ex think she is supportive of him.....most likely she will be very jealous and envious of your child. Again, use that to your advantage....she is not going to want money going from her pocket to yours, so use that as a negotiating/bargaining tools.....fight for more TIME. When you have time with your kids, sit on the floor and do puzzles with them, take walks with them, love them, take them out to eat....get rid of video games, tv, movies, and all other things that distract human relationships and make zombies out of us as all kids want is "YOU" ...your time, love, support, energy, care and to be there at their level just enjoying interacting with them. The media causes people to space out and NOT interact with each other....relationships are the most important thing in life...first with God through Jesus, and second will humans....remember that key principle and it will keep you centered.

Anonymous said...

I have two narcissist's father's. I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water. Im a single mother of two beautiful daughter's. They are ten years apart, I thought for sure the second time around I was going to make it right. Devasted when I found out that I made the same mistake twice. Ive been in and out of courthouses numerous times. Child support court which now I have my eldest daughter 70% of the time but since he decided to be a stay at home dad to his children he now has, hedoesnt have to pay me. This past year alone I have had the cops at my door investigating child abuse by the same father who no longer afford his daughter. Social services in my home, checking my two year old for bruises. All because he doesn't want to pay. My two-year olds father taking me to court calling me an unfit mother because he wants half custody and alienate me from our daughter. The same guy who crashed my car while I was driving 3 months pregnant with our daughter. The.same guy who left me when he found out I was.pregnant and ended up cheating on me. Than to have that girl email me and bring heraround our daughter when his visitation is for 6 hours a week. I ask him to keep her longer he cant or he is busy. The only reason I haven't gone to a.mental hospital is because I cant leave them with their father

Natalia said...

I have found that my ex seems unable to let go of our relationship/the idea of our relationship. It has been six plus years and he is still making comments about how he wants to be with me, it is so difficult, etc. I suspect that this is related more to commingled borderline traits. His focus seems to be almost entirely on getting even with me and doing whatever that is which will hurt me the most. He also has strong traits of oppositional defiance disorder.
Strong, clear court orders are essential, as he will twist whatever is written to justify or "interpret" that his actions are aligned and mine are "contempt of court". Everything is a competition to prove his ability to be a great father, although I know that he truly detests the effort it takes to parent and having to take care of our kids.
There are other principles which I find helpful - such as disengaging, reacting without emotion, remembering that he has a very poor memory in general and that it is mostly focused on perceived slights. I think that it is helpful to basically have the least amount of contact as possible, and only address issues which are critical in safety to the kids.
I am still evaluating if there are specific things I can do which would help him let go - I suspect that if he believes any of his faults will be made "public" he would back down.
I've also noticed that any comment made about our kids is a personal affront to him. The request to have our son psychologically evaluated caused a deep reaction in him and a desire to get even with me. He definitely cannot seem to separate himself from our children.
For our kids sake - I agree with the post which read to ficus on giving the kids a healthy parent. I also wholeheartedly rely on having a strong faith in God to help us through this situation.

Anonymous said...

I am to the point of giving up or passing out , whichever comes first . My husband cares only about himself and only the kids of it makes him look good. He is a phony in public and also a cheater and liar.
He's also an alcoholic. If he's got the car on his own and a nickel he will be drunk. I have to barracked the door.
I have nowhere to leave to and have just started being concerned about his relationship with my 4 yo.

Anonymous said...

My ex had a breakdown following the birth of our son. It all seems to be related to the relationship he has with his mother. I had counselling for years and took lots of advice, guidance and self help. Yet - when I finally got away from him and he brought about court proceedings - I am totally slammed in court. It's like the punitive behaviour at home all over again - this time in the court room with a Judge and often Barristers that know NOTHING about psychological abuse and the behaviour patterns of a Narcisist! In order to get somewhere I believe I will have to attend a psychiatric analysis myself. Having spent years throwing myself at mental health professionals for a diagnosis for myself, believing that I'm the one going mad! Is it possible for the 'victim' to be 'labeled' with mental health problems as the projection from the narcisist is so strong?!! When will it ever end! He's just going to sue me over and over and over again until there's nothing left of me!

thesouless boy's mom said...

I have a one year infant who was born 8 Weeks early with him. Since the first time he saw him the ex was not happy. Instead of asking how he was, he asked why his name wasn't what my ex wanted. He started lashing in emails about how I controlled everything in our relationship including how much time he spent with my other kids. In March nearly a year after we broke up, he filed a restraining order on me on behalf of him and all my children. The court overtutned the order the next day after a hearing which showed it was frivolous. He continually files petitions that abuse my children or that my older son is dangerous. He sends me emails weekly with "coparenting" demands which are unreasonable and then scolds. He also sent a custody proposal demanding how i should parent in my home. When I rejected it, I got a nasty response about how I tefuse to cooperate with copatenting and that I need to change for our son because he needs a father as well as I do. When it was brought to courts attention, he blamed on need to tell what structure is needed in my home because I abuse and neglect my kids.

Anonymous said...

HThe problem is the courts, My husband has been divorced from his ex for ten years. Numerous custody battles later. Nothing has changed. She continually uses the courts to harrass us. They share 50/50 . She is constantly looking for a reason to fight and doesn't care if she uses her child as a weapon. We have tried to tell them what is happening but she pretends to be a victim and perfect parent during the court cases. She is constantly leaving the child home alone while she runs to the bars, drops him at freinds houses so she doesn't have to deal with him. She is very good at using people and getting negative advocates. In our state their is no legal age at which a child can be left home alone. So I guess it's all right to go out all night drinking leaving a child at home who stays up all night till she gets home because he is to afraid to go to sleep. When he fails in school because he is to tired to do his school work , it will of course be blamed on the father .She says, He must not be helping him with his home work, Oh look another excuse to go to court! There must be REAL consequenses applied to these people. But, how do you get the court to see what is happening? They are determined to see it remain 50/50 regardless of what this child is going through. They have ignored the opinion of the childs therapist and school.

Anonymous said...

Bill, how do we get your books and program to the courts?

ian chase said...

I have recently split from my BPD partner and we have a 2 and half year old, we weren't married.
My ex is in total denial re her issues but she suffers from anxiety and depression and I believe has BPD as she has low self esteem, no empathy, struggles with relationships, is very aggressive and hostile, everything is black or white, she is inflexible and unreasonable at times.

She stops me seeing my son when we fall out apart from two and a half hours a week.

I apparently don't deserve to have my name on his birth certificate so we are in court.

I am now made out to be a liar and bad parent and face a battle to have quality time with my lovely son.

My life is in ruins as I no longer see my elder son due to the choices I have had to make due to my BPD partner..

The prospect of shared care at 45 when we live 45 mins away is filling me with dread.

As she hasn't been diagnosed but I feel after 5 years and many hours of research I know her mental health state better than a psychiatrist.

I want to help her as she can be nice as well as very nasty.

Life certainly is tough.

However reading some of the above posts shows I am like many other poor souls.

Chasey...UK...

Anonymous said...

my sons are 16 and 12. I left their dad after 23 yrs of a marriage that was void of compassion and full of shame and crazymaking interactions. It was not until i went to a shelter and learned why my life seemed so unreal. The things I was accused of he did. The fear and manipulation he used was so subtle yet so effective. I actually started believing I was the one who was mentally ill and dysfuntional. He used that in court. Thank God the judge ordered an eval on both of us. That was worth every pennie. I am not at all mentally ill and he had to change his entire stategy to get custody. my 16 yrs old ran away from his dad eventhough he intially wanted 50/50 with both of us. It has been a living hell. Dad actually got the parent consultant's hands tied due to a legal oversight the pc made. guess the pc crossed him and he is under fire just like I am. This divorce is worse than the marriage. There is just no way out, not for the boys or me. How is it that the narcissist always wins? I am doing everything I was taught, brief business like interactions, no fighting words, cooperate with mediation yet I get all the accusations and always have to defend myself or the kids. and anyone who crosses him or blocks him is fair game to him, I am broke, and tired. How do you deal with that kind of stress.

- CS said...

Help, help, help. My husband's ex-wife has primary physical custody of their 2 children, they share Joint Custody (we live in Virginia). We have struggled for a year and a half with trying to maintain a relationship despite Mom's unwillingness to allow dad (secondarily, myself) to be active in the children's lives.

Both the children and dad have asked for additional time together (the order awards dad one day a week and every other weekend, a few additional weeks in summer). Mom just says "No" - no one gets an explanation...the kids have asked, Dad has asked...no luck with the time or understanding why.

Mom has also not allowed dad his ordered time - and we currently have a pending show cause to address this -- we also are currently working to dispute an upcoming hearing in which mom is requesting the court remove visitation time - citing dad's not interested in the children's schooling...I can provide numerous examples of Mom's behavior... could go on and on...

We have an attorney, our house attends counseling, to our knowledge mom does not attend counseling -- and Mom immediately stopped attending coparenting counsling as soon at the order was signed, Mom refuses have dad involved in parenting decisions - but calls/ emails for additional financial support, only...(child support is provided timely always, have records of this too)

Mom constantly insults the children when they return from dad's - where did you get those ugly shoes, am sure you went to that dance looking like a whore from dads house... mom will not address dad's questions about why 1) can not take his kids to sports practices 2) cannot have extra time with the children 3) and has recently been offering consolation items - you can not go to dads on your day off, but - you can go to Tims and stay overnight... it all is making us sick... why can't we all love the children and make things good for the children...

Help, we need resources to help us...advice is welcomed...

Anonymous said...

It is hard to say if it is the more of the mother's or more of the dad's out there, why does it matter? What matters is this is something that happens on a daily basis. I am an ex wife of a narcissist and sadly I have been both emotionally and mentally drained by my ex husband. During our marriage he would embellish about events that took place while he was overseas (army soldier) on tour. He would belittle me in public in front of anyone and put me down. He wanted nothing to do with our children until his new girl friend came along and he took me to court so he could have primary custody. He wore his uniform and his lies were unbelievable and the judge gave the kids to him. My case was not even in family court and there was no home or psycological evaluations done at all. He even admitted to drinking and that he felt it was ok to get drunk sometimes in front of the children, this didn't even help my case. It just didn't matter because whatever lie that comes out of his mouth he has no emotions so it is easy to fool others. Out of knowing him for over thirteen years I have never once heard him say he was sorry for anything even when he was wrong. He has denied my son medical care and still today is doing the same. Now I am moving closer to where my children are and I just don't know if it is a good idea to be ten, twenty or thirty min away. He has a history of physical abuse while drunk and I just don't want to push him to the edge. It has been nice not living near him but now that he has my babies I feel that I must be there for my children. He will never get help and I bend over backwards to compromise with him with nothing in return. If I only knew then what I know now.

Tiffany Mccall said...

Dear Bill,
I just finished a custody trial over my 6 and 8 year old child. The PRE (Parental Responsibilities Evalation done by a psycholoist) found my x to have significant phsychological concerns and reccomended I get sole decision making. The schedule was kids with him, Sun, Mon, Tues night and with me the rest of the time. He is a police officer and recently changed shifts and now has weekends off. We did our divorcie ouselves and he is extremely difficult to deal with. Fights about everything,wanted to changed schools, recreation, traditions, etc. I have learned that he shows signs of narcisissim, anti-social behavior and norderline personailty which the PRE hihglighted.
The judge made us keep joint decision making, rotating each year who had the final say on recreational activites. Then she gave him Thurs, Fri, all day Sat and Sat night. They return to me Sun at 8 a.m. for the rest of the week. Then a rotating schedule week by week in the summer. Should I try to appeal? It's a crazy schedule, but the judge did not make any changes due to his psychological profile. :-(
Thank you,
Tiffany

Ndassa said...

Dear Bill,

First of all let me thank you so much for taking the time and effort to have such a fantastic blog.
I came to the realization that my ex is a narcisist. We have a child together and frankly the custody battles he has started were at first heartbreaking. I suffered from panick attacks and just did not understand why he was lying, accusing and blaming me for absolutely everything that went wrong.
Funny thing is that I read your book 2 months ago before we went to court the first time. My story as the majority of your followers is a long one and it just emphasizes again what it is like to deal with such characters. It is never ending and the conflict can drag on for a very long time.
Just recently I came to the following conclusions:
1. This is a marathon, not a sprint. I am pacing myself and just this realization helped me deal with my panick attacks
2. At the end of the day we have a child together. She has the right to get to know her father. Luckily I do not ever have to say anything 'negative' about him. His actions speak louder than words and when she grows up she will make up her own mind
3. It is better to seperate from such characters than to endure a relationship for the sake of the children. At the end of this, I am emotionally sane again, I have my freedom back and I can have a normal relationship with my daughter independent of him trying to control every area of my life and blaming me
4. Without God and my family the road since our breakup last october till now would have been much more unbearable. So I advice everyone to seek help, you cannot deal with this alone. For the sake of your child(ren) get the help, talk to people and read about this online. We are not alone here.

Bill, I am so happy I have found your blog.
I am a victim of parental alienation syndrome and after having gone through all the negative things my mother had to say about my father and making sure that for 90% of my life I had no relationship with him, I broke free from her and now my father is my rock.
So if it is any encouragement to parents going through these high conflict battles, let your children have a realtionship with the narcisit parent, let them decide alone what they want later in life. You will be blamed if you intervene and stop them from contacting each other. Once the child grows up and figures out the parent's behaviour as we know it to be, you would have done your child the biggest favor and sacrifice.

I am praying that my ex will soon run out of energy, money and interest so that I do not need to spend money on lawyers and use that money for better things.

At the end of it all having children comes with sacrifice. I as a mother am willing to sacrifice my 'freedom' so that my child can have the fair chance of building a relationship with her father. The rest I leave in the hands of God.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. I too am freaking with a narcissist. He manipulates the G.A. L. and everyone. He brings pictures of out daughter to court, which I think is private. He was convicted of stalking worth his ex wife and spent time in jail. He had not learned his lesson and is not able to see his children from that relationship. I am so irritated. I have read Co-parenting with a Jerk, but I think I need your books as well.

DeeDee said...

like many others on this blog, i to am going through his horriffying situation. Only Im the Grandmother of my daughters twins. And I along with my daughter has benn broght into the problem. My story has a narcissits mother involved along with the son. so we are two for two. It is also way to long of a story, 2 and a half years worth. And getng worse everyday. I did ot realize until yesterday about being a narcissist. I had them down as sociopaths. We are down thousands of dollars mainly bcause of the court system which I blame. None has seen the light ever. And continuously Caters to them. For instant Wednesdays is his time 3 hours for dinner. Who sees them the grandparents he will not come. Where is this getting to know the father. And it was granted. every time they get what they want they become stronger in power. They have tried everything to in there power to make us look bad. they even brought in cps, how terrible is that. I myself have not seen these people in over a year and they claimed I ripped the hair out of my grandchildren head. He has even gone to the cps worker with a tape making the kids hit hemselves and asking them who does that and they say mommy. The cps worker told him you are going to get yourself in to alot of trouble. Did they listen they shrugged it off and did it again. Did anyone in the system acknowledge it no. It was never brought up. Cps found it unfounded. The referee in court did nothing. They also were awarded to pick up children at daycare, there is an order for the faher to be there at 4:PM . who shows up at 3:45
His parents, school would not release the bcause the order stated the father, what did they do, they threatned the school and callled the cops. Then they subpoenaed my daughter two days later . went to court two weeks later , Referee did nothing but say . Pick up at precinct and now parents are allowed to pick them up. and Wednesdays They have visitation, not the father. I don't get it. We are now in pretrial, Forensics and we all have to go. What are the odds they will see through these people. My daughter never denies him visitation, when the children are sick and need to be she has a makeup date for him and yet never asks if she needs anything for them. He just accuses her of preventing visit. and then subpoenas her. My daughter has saved every text and every bill and every doctors note, hospital notes. her book is bigger then the bible. Not to mention in arrears with child support about 2000.00 as of know. So what could possibly come of this?

Anonymous said...

Deedee,
I am reading your post in complete amazement.
It is shocking indeed how the court system favours such people. I think it is because of their way to bully other's into doing what they want.
At the moment I am learning alot about HCP and am dreading the long and winding road I will face with him.
It is fortunate for me that he is acting alone and as in your story having to deal with a whole army of HCP's is not easy.

If I can give you any word of encouragement and to your daughter is that their persistent bullying is going to be temporary. Just focus your attention on bringing up the twin girls as best as you can.
One thing that is helping me get through this everyday is realizing that any comment, threat or action he makes towards me I should not take personally. If I can master that I think I will have more peace in my heart and with that peace I can be the best mother I can be to our child.
So if that helps, do not take their pathetic accusations, remarks seriously, just think about how stupid it is for him to make his children videotape themselves only to try and prove a point that is absolutely ridiculous. Think about how low he has to get to do that, think about how you can use your time more preciously to do better things.

I believe that once HCP people realize that they can no longer get the reaction that they so desperately want from you, they will get bored very quickly and move on to other pointless things.

Do not give them any reaction, just continue to document what they do and from what I have heard, in due time, HCP people will get their own in court. It may have taken me 3 years to finally realize what sort of person my ex is, but it will not take that long for other's to see him for who he truly is.
A leopard cannot change his spots.

Good luck to you

Anonymous said...

My experiences in being married to and divorcing a NPD (possibly with other psych issues as well) echo those of many above. The patterns are usually very similar even if the details are different. We ended up with shared (50% 50%) parenting of two teenagers. I am not sure whether that was the right answer or not, based on how it has turned out. I offer two points of view on this.

First, as a protective parent (narcissistic emotional abuse and some other abuses, not physical or sexual abuse), on the one hand, you want to limit the amount of time that an abusive parent spends with the children, and reduce the time spent "modeling" bad behavior. But in his case, pre-divorce, he was often a fun and involved dad to the children, although subject to periodic rages, yelling fights, and neglect. So, much of the time, he was a good dad, and they wanted to spend time with him. I wanted to be fair to them and him, and supported shared custody. I was not sure I was right at the time to do so, and I still am not sure now that I made the right decision. The court did not care about his narcissism or the other results of psych testing.

Fast forward to after divorce. He ignored the children far more, used them if necessary to try to damage me, and generally showed his colors now that he is on his own with them. He did a lot of hurtful things to them, both things that interfered with their lives in important ways, or neglected or rejected them in important ways. They have caught on to who he really is, and how he acts. No alienation on my part was there or necessary for them to see. He did it to himself on his own.

The problem is that one of our children really suffered emotionally, and it affected her schooling in multiple ways. She is thinking of dropping out of school. As far as I can see, this is a direct consequence of her father's treatment of her. Now that she is of age, and finally able to get therapy, things are getting better. But significant damage was done, some of which can't be undone.

So, second, maybe I should have asked for more custody to minimize the children's exposure to him for their well-being. I am not sure this would have been possible anyway, given that the court did not seem to care about his narcissism or narcissistic behavior, or even emotional abuse or neglect of important parental roles.

I honestly do not know which was better, shared custody, or if I should have fought harder for more custody. A case could be made for either side. And if I am honest, and looking at this only from the children's point of view, I am not sure that getting a divorce was the best choice for them. It definitely was needed for me, as the problems were much greater with me and interdependence with a narcissist is asking for trouble. But the kids don't face that, except indirectly, and the divorce was long, messy, and totalled our finances. So, really nobody won. I am left depleted and stressed, unable to move on at the moment, so they also did not get the stronger mother I thought I would be able to be for them.

I'm not sure whether our divorce and our custody resolution was best for them or not.

As far as co-parenting, for some reason I seem to be luckier than most co-parenting with narcissists. More or less, we don't fight, and have not been back to court. But I tried very hard to be fair and maintain some respect on his side for the kids, so that helped smooth things. But years later, he still tries to wreck any special times I have with the kids, and inconvenience me whenever possible. There is ongoing harrassment. He will go on waves of attack, even up to passive threats. Unfortunately for me, he always stays on the legal side of the line, so there's not much I can do about it. It would cost money I no longer have to try. And if I did, would I be hurting the kids? So, I just let it happen and deal with it all as best I can.

The frequent recommendation of no contact is not possible with co-parenting.

Anonymous said...

I have found that having as little conversation with my daughter's father has worked best.. We have been in and out of court over the last 3 years and he constantly finds reasons to txt me and it's usually to try and get a negative response from me or to upset me. I've learned to either not respond or to kindly ask him not to harass me. Everything is always my fault. He has some visitation with my daughter and she is always complaining about having to go there, I constantly reassure her that she is loved and cared for. I can't imagine how he treats her when he's so aggressive to me.

Anonymous said...

Dear Bill,

By way of background, I was married about 7 years to someone I have been told suffers from some combo of Complex B Disorders. I suffered emotional, verbal, psychological and financial abuse. There is one child.

The divorce took almost two years costings hundreds of thousands. We have shared custody but I have residential. The court awarded him most of our estate and pretty much 50/50 time. His old girlfriend he talked to throughout our marriage just moved in.

And now, he's filed several motions against me in court that need to be responded to and, I am told, we will need to file our own motion.

I thought with his new house and girlfriend he would leave me alone and lose interest in his visits. Instead, he's picking up the child early because girlfriend likes to play "family" and now he files these motions. I don't know if it is for show for girlfriend or if it is because I have refused to talk to him (email only) and have not given in to his intimidations.

My question is, how can I stop the courtroom antics of him and his attorney? Is there a way to establish the game being played so that my child and I can have some peace and I don't have to worry about responding to some frivolous motions every 6 months?

Any help is appreciated.

Jones Nicole said...


I have been in bondage ever since my ex leave for another woman, It was really hell for me and everybody told me to forget about him but i could not because i love him so much, Things get worse until my friend introduced me to this great spell caster Dr. Kasee who have save so many life and relationships and i contacted him through his email (onimalovespell@yahoo.com) i explain everything to him and he cast a spell for me immediately after three days, everything turn around and my boyfriend come to me on his knee begging for forgiveness that i am the one and only woman in his life now. i was surprise i have never seen such a miracle in my life. I am so thankful to this man and i will forever publish his name Dr Kasee contact him today on onimalovespell@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Dear Peter,

I am a mom of an 11 year old. I was separated from his dad when he was 5 and divorced in June 2010. When we separated he told me he would punish me. this day, he calls friends, boyfriends, my mother, my son's religious school, to tell them how horrible I am. When I learned to deflect the anger with the help of a high conflict divorce parenting coordinator, he started taking his anger out on our son. He dragged him down the stairs by his ankle (then told him he was just kidding), regularly humiliated and fed on our son's anxiety and fears and abused him. It's not considered abuse, just bad parenting. When our son's pediatrician suggested he get a full psycho educational eval, her fought it, claiming I was a Munchhousin's mom. When my son was diagnosed with clinical anxiety at 5 and an auditory processing issue, he fought harder, started intimidating doctors including my son's allergy doctor. He told me I was stupid not to realize that the doctors where just paying each other referral fees to help me show that our son was special needs. Our son isn't special needs, he just needed simple allergy treatments and anxiety help and Auditory Processing therapy. Ultimately the court gave me sole decision making on a temporary basis. After years of litigation to get permanent and continue therapy for our son, and I exhausted my finances, he sued me for child support. I could not afford to fight so I now pay 100% for our son and have sole decision making for all needs. This does not stop him from ignoring the legal agreements. He has decided and has a lawyer who says he can do whatever he wants on his time and that if I don't like it I can take him to court. He now refuses to even communicate with me. Just communicates with our son. He refuses to administer medicine, to return medicine, to let me know when he can't watch our son. The court can't help me because I can't afford it. He makes me out to be an alienation mom, but shares all kinds of terrible things about me, telling our son I drank wine when I was pregnant and went in a hot tub and that is the reason he has struggles now. Our son is smart. He says he thinks his dad is cruel and doesn't ever want to go there again. He is torn because he loves his dad, but feels "small" and bullied. Our son even told his dad "Don't say to me "who do you think you are??? when I don't answer a question. It makes me feel like I am no one and I am SOMEONE." Our son was 8. He keeps asking me when he can stop going back to his dad. He hates going there. When his dad does get time with him, he makes our son feel so bad that he asks to come back to me. I don't know what to do. I am exhausted. No expensive court order matters to him. I have sole decision making but people/schools/religious institutions hate confronting him to enforce it. He won't help him with healthcare of any kind. He twists his version of "caring for his son" and makes it so hard to do anything good for our son. What do I do? Isn't there any resource to help?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant dear Bill, not dear Peter.

corene Trevino said...

In my case (my husband's) it is the mother whom is the narcissist. She gave up the children in the divorce. Later when she found herself alone, no money, and us in a state of transition; i.e., weakness, she wanted to parent. But she only wanted one child, the female. They also have a son in which she did not want at all. We were moving to Alaska for the military and she had had a long visit with their daughter and she had to sign some papers for us to take the children out of the state, so she bargained. She got to keep their daughter but would sign for us to take Alex. Later when my husband deployed again, she came for Alex for the first time in 4 years. She saw him as money, a means of love, and attention. She even thought if she had both children that she and my husband share, he would go there on leave and they would be able to get back together!
I fought her in court, but I had no rights as a step parent. Alex is with her now and she has gone to the extent of having him gain weight because she and Elizabeth, the daughter, are overweight. SHe said he was too thin. She fed the tabasco sauce by the spoonful, resulting in them vomiting. She has had another child and leaves Elizabeth, 11 years old, home alone to babysit the child and Alex, 8 years and whom is autistic.
George is allowed to call once a week at 6:30 on Sunday. They are coached and ask strange things about their marriage, divorce, me, and say things like "I used to be so happy when you were married to mom" They were 1 and 4 and George had been deployed for the one year before the divorce. They divorced because she left him and moved to another state to live with another man while he was in Iraq.
Whatever we want, she demands the opposite.
Elizabeth is 11 and 200 pounds and the mother is around 350-400. Alex is 8 and did weigh 60 pounds, George is in the Army and is a very strong man at 195 pounds. She said that Elizabeth takes after George! Alex takes after her because she was always so small. When? Does she own a mirror or is it just small so she can't see all of herself at once...
EVERYTHING is a put-down on George. Everything is his fault or mine. Someone called child protective services on her this year while she has had all the children and she thinks I did it. I am in Alaska and she is in Kansas. I can't see anything to report.
She lies and says the doctor said Alex is not autistic, but has ADHD and insisted that he take medication. In truth, she went to the Dr month after month for 6 moths until he was medicated, (he has never needed medicated). The Dr even noted that she felt pressured into it.
She said he could read and was doing "great" in school. Dr noted mother had said the he was "unable to do any school work, made no friends, and she was 'fed up' and just needed help with his behaviors".
We have gone to court 4 times and she always makes us the "bad guys". I just don't know how to save Elizabeth. She tries so hard to earn her mother's love, even willing to lie for her. I do not know if she acts like she doesn't like her dad for her mother or if she has turned Elizabeth against him.
Shared parenting? No. Manipulation.

Anonymous said...

I was with a narcissist husband for 19 years, we have 2 children.
When I moved out he started bullying me out of my time with my kids by not keeping the verbal agreements regarding drop off times etc. I was aware he was bad-mouthing me to the kids, but never thought they would take all that so seriously.
Now 2.5 years later my 14 year old daughter lives with him full time and I have not seen her in 5 months, and my son (10) who still does a week with me and a week with his dad talks to me so disrespectfully and misbehaves so often that I believe he believes all the things his dad said, like I am a lousy parent and a bad person who lies.
I have trouble coping with all the conflict my ex has given me. My ex told me he would make the kids hate me if I left and that has been his way of getting back at me. Before I left he was completely uninvolved with the kids.
Losing the love of my kids has been the worst thing that could ever happen to me and I have difficulty coping.
As my ex is trying to get full custody of the kids and have me pay child support, my spirits are very low.
I think daily of taking off and just abandoning the kids who, once loving toward me, now want nothing to do with me. I have my son with me this week, and cried myself to sleep last night because he has been so horrible to me.
I am afraid if I walk away that I will never see them again. Should I let them go?

Anonymous said...

How do you deal with a high achieving narcisstic husband who left the home, moved abroad, doesn't give an address, is emotionally abusive when things don't go his way, to myself and the children ( we have 4, aged 21, 17, 15 and 13) ?
We went to mediation but never signed the agreement. I am finacially dependent on him and don't dare to argue, because he could just disappear and I wouldn't have anything left then. I am middle aged and finding it extremely hard to find work. I am at my wit's end. As he took me to Ireland ( I am from Belgium) and I have no money to return home, it means I have no relatives no support at all, apart form some really good friends.
He doesn't see there is anything wrong with what he does, and I know he really doesn't. He hasn't got deep emotions, only for himself. It is a very very sad disorder, but to be a victim of it is horrendous.
One son refuses to talk to him, I sometimes wonder if he took the best decision. The others try but find it very hard, and when they don't act as he expects, with nothing but regard for him, he gets very angry. It can be scary at times.
I worry for my daughter, who is constatnly put under pressue by him.
Has anyone here had a similar experience, and how did you deal with it? What would your advice be,Bill?

Great blog, by the way .

Anonymous said...

Year SEVEN of shared parenting with a narcissist. Contrary to most advice sources, I communicate OFTEN and IN LENGTHY DETAIL regarding our child. I respond with FACTS to all his false accusations. I detail situations, circumstances, issues pertinent to our child that I know he would rather not have any role in resolving. In short, I communicate AS IF he is a mature and responsible co-parent until he shows his hand in some form of passive-aggressive action that is transparently inappropriate. At that point, I step in as the parent who has the legal "last word" on any issue pertinent to our child's health, as broadly defined. All communication is via emails. I have a detailed record of 7 years' worth of pathologic behaviour on his part. In contrast to his public image as a high profile and well respected leader, the large volume of mundane details in these communication paint a vivid and convincing picture of an unfit parent.
Every story is unique. I believe sincerely that if I hadn't taken the route of regular and detailed communication with my ex, I would not be in the position I am today--ready and able to mount a strong and convincing legal argument for reducing his custodial status to a minimum.
This has been my full-time job for the past several years. My child has flourished despite the presence of a narcissistic father; I have had a good break from the rat race out there, and soon, I will be the sole, responsible parent in legal terms, as I have been, unofficially, all along.
I am stronger, more emotionally mature, and spiritually aware as a direct consequence of learning how to communicate regularly with a narcissist without losing my sense of self in the process.
Perhaps my story is unique...perhaps not.

Rachelle Rand said...

I am so glad that I found your book and site. My narcissist is the father and the step mother appears to follow his control. I am still learning how to deal with them after ten years. I realize that I can not make them change but I can control myself and how I respond to him. My only wish is that the continued court action would stop and he would put the focus and money in to his relationship with his daughter. She is the child not property. Peace is all I ask for.

Anonymous said...

Can a therapist testify in court to overrule a narcissistic mom's refusal to allow her children to go to therapy? My boyfriend's ex seems to resist any attempts to help the kids, and they need it badly. The ex is also somewhat resistant. I think they both are afraid of accountability. But, the ex is the one who would likely absolutely refuse. I think the therapist I took my boyfriend to for relationship counseling would testify that the children need counseling.

Anonymous said...

Dear bill,

Since you have an understanding of narcism, I am writing you this because I really need some advice. I am married to a narcissist. We Are separated right now and getting a divorce. He is cruel and has no feelings. He was very abusive physically and emotionally when we were together.and he very sickly took pleasure out of hurting me. We have a three month old daughter together. I finally left him a month before I gave birth because I didn't trust him around a baby. And I also left him for the sake of my own mental well being. Long story short, because of my situation ( I am American do not live in the US, and the legal system is different where I live) I have full parental rights and he has none. He wants to be a part of my daughters life, and I don't know what the right thing to do is. At first when I left him, I thought the right thing to do would be to let him be apart of her life and that it would only be fair for her to know who her dad is. So I meet up with him often so that he can see her. But she is only three months old and he is already talking about how she is " too fat" and trying to find faults in her. Which infuriates me and makes me so sad. I am so so afraid that as she gets older, he is going to brainwash her and turn her against me and make her feel bad about herself. I have the ability legally and financially to just move to a different country, take my daughter with me and just cut off complete contact with him, so that she never even knows him... Should I do this? Would this be wrong? Or should I continue to let him be apart of her life? Please help, I am loosing so much sleep over this. I love my daughter more then anything and justi want what's best for her. I want her to have a father, but like I said, he is a narcissist. He has no feelings. He abuses, lies, manipulates, and takes pleasure out of seeing people suffer. I don't know what to do.

Anonymous said...

My husband is in a relationship with a woman who has narcissistic and borderline personality traits and I work as a family counsellor so I'd say the best way of dealing with these types of people is to set very firm and clear boundaries with them (in our case we have had to stop paying for everything and making her share the financial responsibility even if this means that the kids go without some things). Another one I've found useful is empathising with them and their feelings (even if they are just projecting their own stuff on to you, acknowledge how they feel and you will find they loose their steam. Third one is DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. People like this are generally extremely cunning and get away with a lot . ..however they also tend to be quite unstable in a lot of ways and will slip up...make sure you document it!.

Anonymous said...

Hi
I need advice.I live in Mississippi. I have an 8 year old son. My ex husband who is very unstable has not seen the child in 5 years. i have remained in the same house, same phone number, etc.
We have not received a call, email, card, gift, or visit in five years.
Now he suddenly wants to see the child and is taking me back to court. This is not healthy and my son does not want to see him. I have engaged an attorney, but I am really worried.I do not think this disruption in my child's life is healthy or right.In my opinion when he left voluntarily for five years he lost his rights. What can I do , if anything? Lisa

Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. said...

Hi Anonymous in Mississippi - We are no longer monitoring this blog. The current blog is at www.highconflictinstitute.com/blog and you can follow us there.

However, you may want to read Bill Eddy's reply to a very similar question posted on Sept. 11, 2010 to "Anonymous from Europe" on this thread.

Thanks for commenting.--Admin for Bill Eddy

Anonymous said...

Well in my case it is the dad. I rarely see anything regarding moms being narcissistic. It's also a proven fact that men are more prevalent to narcissistic tendencies than women. The amount of control even after leaving is unbelievable. Our daughter is now in therapy because he uses her to get back at me. Very sad if you ask me.

Karen said...

i don't anyone can truly understand what a narcissist is, until they have lived throught it. I was with my narcissist partner for 12yrs. Now, even 11 years later, he still finds ways to indirectly harasses me, control me. Whether its though the kids and or friends that we once had. I could write a book on what i went through. If you are going to court to fight a narcissist in court. GOOD LUCK. they do NOT want to loose, its about control. Be prepared for the fight of your life. My ex dragged it out for 6 years. It was all about winning, and having control. It did not matter, who he hurt, the kids or otherwise. I clearly have gone to hell and back. Has it affected me in my life now. Yes. Am i jaded yes. Why? they don't stop. it will be quiet, could be for days, years etc, and then, out of the woodwork they will re-appear making havoc once again.
i would not wish this on my worst enemy. RUN and RUN fast if you encounter a narcissist.