Once you have broken free from the narcissistic relationship the problems don’t end there and even more so when there are children involved as now you have to navigate around the problem of co-parenting.
What you really want to do is go no contact but this just isn’t possible. You will have a deep-seated need to protect your children from the narcissist as you want the toxicity you have all been living with to cease but even narcissistic parent has rights.
You are now entering the zone of court hearings, trying to get the courts to listen to the life you and your children endured and often it is hard to show evidence as the majority of the abuse was emotional rather than physical.
You will do all you can to engage the courts to listen to what you say as you are fighting for the well-being of not only yourself but your children too. Outside of any court hearing, the narcissistic parent will do all they can to make life difficult.
Here are 5 ways to help you during that time:
1. Don’t let him put the blame on you
Narcissists will never take responsibility for their actions, even when they know they have messed up big time they will always blame the other person. They will play the victim game.
They will make you look the bad person for leaving and tearing your family apart, they will tell everyone that you are stopping them from spending time with their children and that everything that has gone wrong is down to you.
They will tell some horrendous lies just to get people on their side, do not let them get to you, always remember even in times of doubt you are not to blame this is just yet another manipulation tactic on their part.
2. Talk to him only about the children
The truth of the matter is you have to communicate with your ex-partner whether you want to or not when children are involved. They will use this against you in every way they can as that is their way in to still abuse you.
Instead of talking about the children they will attempt to talk about the relationship you had, try and convince you to go back and all the time basically ignoring the children and their needs as they simply do not fit in with the agenda at that time.
Set some boundaries that any conversations are to be about the children only and if they attempt to talk about anything else cut them dead, hang up the phone, don’t reply to any raging with anger text messages. If you meet in person make sure it is a public place and that you position yourself where you can get up and walk away without them being able to prevent you.
3. Make a strict schedule and stick to it
Make a schedule way in advance of when they can have visitation including places where they will pick up the children and take them back to at the end of the visitation. You must stick to this schedule and not change it as they can use this in court against you if you do.
Engage family or friends to be the points of pick up and return, so that you don’t have to see or interact with the narcissist.
Be prepared for them to not turn up to spend time with the children as to them that is their way of controlling you still and messing with any plans you may have. Keep a record of every time they do this. If they ask to change the schedule ask them for proof of why they need to change i.e. work changes so that they can’t claim it was you who in fact changed the schedule not them.
4. Be the best example for your children
It is a sad fact of life that whilst your children are with your ex, they will no doubt be grilled by them as to what is going on in your home. They will be questioned about what they do, who they see, and most of all who visit your home, they do this to try and see if you have started a new relationship.
You are not the only parent who can impact your children’s lives the narcissist can and does. Your children may not even have been aware of the toxicity in the home as you had been shielding them from it, but once visitation starts that picture soon changes.
Spend time with your children teaching them right and wrong, what is a good thing and what is a bad thing, teach them self-care, yes, I know that sounds strange but it helps prepare them mentally without scaring them of how the narcissist may be with them when you are not there to protect them.
5. Educate your children about abuse
This is the most important thing you can ever do for your children, your mind doesn’t even want to go there, but you must educate your children on what toxic abuse is and show them that no matter what has been said to them by the narcissist they can come to you and tell you so you can help them.
The narcissist will use the children for their own end game and they don’t care about the long-lasting impact it has on them and their well-being. Being the parent that they can confide in and trust will go a long way to reducing some of the emotional abuse they may suffer at the hands of the narcissistic parent.
As hard as this is when teaching them about abuse and this is all types of abuse perhaps consider having a special word, a safe word, that only you and your children understand and know what it is for.
You have to teach your children how to name and identify different types of abuse. Give them other examples of emotional, verbal, sexual and physical abuse, appropriate for their age, and pray hard you never hear the safe word you have agreed.
Doing all this will be hard but know that in doing this you as a parent are doing the best you can in the circumstances you have been given.