Hello from Andrea

Greetings! I am Andrea, the author of Narcissist-Free.com. In July of 2014, I experienced a horrific discard and spent a full year trying to hide my anxiety, fear, grief, anger and longing while working full-time and raising my son as a single mom. Unless you have experienced emotional abuse, it is very difficult to understand what targets (aka victims, survivors, thrivers) endure. After a year of franticly searching for ways to make the pain and obsession go away, I found exactly what I needed to heal. I started this site in October 2016 (which also happens to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month) to give others the opportunity to heal with the help of the same authors, experts, bloggers, thrivers that I have met along the way. These amazing people fashioned, shaped and guided my recovery. May these same folks guide you too on your journey of emotional wellness.

Blessings,
Andrea

It’s nearly impossible to co-parent with an ex who is toxic. Things are often misconstrued, taken out of context or insinuated as an insult. Divorced parenting is hard enough. When you add in an angry, vengeful narcissist, you have a recipe for disaster. Often the kids pay the price when they see and hear their parents up in arms.

I’ve learned through the years that it is useless to argue or explain myself or fight back. I have also learned that at times it’s better to cooperate and let go of the anger instead of constantly holding them accountable to be the responsible parent that they just can’t be. (For example, if they want to give up one of their nights with the kids, it’s OK to take your children an extra day. If they cannot make it to a basketball game your child plays in and ask you to go in their place, just do it! If they cannot pick up the kids from school at the time they need to and you’re able to do him a favor, just do it! A favor can go a long way with a reasonable narcissist. But I digress…)

I’m not perfect at this, but I have learned there are five words that save my sanity when I have to co-parent with the father of my child. They are simple but require a level of humility and maturity to accomplish.

 


.

OK.

 

 

OK is the first word, and it works unbelievably.

. . . . .

Ex: I’m going to be 5 minutes late.

You: OK

. . . . .

Ex: Johnny & Janie asked if you can pick them up after school today so they can go to the book fair. (Or more likely: You need to pick Johnny & Janie n up after school today so they can go to the book fair. They will likely boss you around and won‘t be vulnerable enough to “ask.”)

You: OK

. . . . .

Ex: I’m busy this morning. I’ll get back to you later. (In response to a question quick question you might have texted.)

You: OK

. . . . .

Ex: The kids left their hat and boots here. (It’s snowing and this is a huge inconvenience to you!)

You: OK

. . . . .

You: Can I keep the kids an extra hour on Sunday because my parents are coming to town.

Ex: No.

You: OK

. . . . .

Get the idea? Keep it simple. Even if I fall behind as a result of my ex’s lateness, it does us no good for me to get on his case. It will only bring drama to the co-parenting situation. He cannot get here any faster than he said, and my getting angry with him doesn’t make matters better — it makes them worse. If he’s continuously late, I have options, and one is to accept this and plan accordingly.

When he says he is busy and cannot chat, I need to respect his boundaries and let it go.

When my parents miss seeing the kids because he’s not flexible, that’s fine too. I can’t have everything.

The worst thing I can do is explain or try to convince my ex to help me out, especially if I do not EVER help him out (see the second paragraph in this article). This is why we have to co-parent, even when we see them being nasty and mean to us.

Continued fighting and heated communications only bring drama when trying to co-parent with a narcissist.

When some things just don’t work by saying OK, the solution may be my next word.

 


.

No.

 

 

What if I cannot pick up my kids (as requested above) and need my kids to take the bus home from school? Here’s how toco-parent in this situation.

Ex: Johnny & Janie asked if you can pick them up after school today so they can go to the book fair.

You: Can you put Johnnie on the phone?

Speaking directly to the child circumvents the triangulation and gives you an opportunity to discuss the issue with your child. But what if the children are not old enough to understand or are not available to chat on the phone?

 

Ex: Johnny & Janie asked if you can pick them up after school today so they can go to the book fair.

You: No, I cannot.

Boom! End of story.

 

But, you ask, what if he gives a rebuttal?

 

Ex: I don’t think it’s fair. I took them last time.

You: (Radio silence.)

 

You see, you do not have to answer questions. No is a complete sentence. (That’s the 6th word, but more on that later.) It takes practice, but it is possible, and it gets easier with time. Here is another example:

 

Ex: Can I keep the kids an extra hour on Sunday?

You: No. Sorry.

 

Ok, there’s the next word.

 


.

Sorry.

 

 

 

It’s not easy, but there are times you will need to say it.

Ex: You’re late again!

You: Sorry.

. . . . .

Ex: You forgot to the kids’ snow pants!

You: Sorry.

. . . . .

Ex: The kids are tired. You kept them up late again!

You: Sorry.

 

Please note: Only admit you are sorry if you feel you did make a mistake. Do not get defensive and do not engage. Keep in mind a narcissist will use anything against you down the road. Be very careful when you apologize. Keep it simple. Don’t admit to the mistake. If it is ever brought up in court, you can say the apology was used to avoid further conflict

You can also use Radio Silence when the narcissist sends accusations your way.

 

Ex: The kids are tired. You kept them up late again!

You: (Radio Silence.)

The above examples also offer another option. If we believe a fight is about to ensue, we can choose not to respond. When we get triggered, it is best to stop reading the texts and take a few deep breaths. Find something else to focus on for a while, and the anxiety will recede. We are less likely to lash out in anger or defend ourselves when we are calm. We need to co-parent without emotion.

It is also important to realize that saying you’re sorry may invite more insults and accusations your way. When and if this happens, do not respond. It is important to not engage.

 

 


.

Thanks.

 

 

When your ex-spouse communicates information about your children, it is appropriate to say thank you. Any favor done for you can be responded to with an acknowledgment. People, in general, like to feel appreciated, and narcissists are no exception. I am not saying you need to kowtow to the narcissist or lay out the red carpet. Be sincere. Thanking others is what healthy adults do, and we are learning to be healthy again. Expressing gratitude is needed when we co-parent although, I do understand there will be exceptions when co-parenting with a narcissist. Trust your instincts.

We do need to set limits with narcissists. I know we need be careful how much we let our guards down. I am not asking anyone to let his or her guard down. You need to be aware that you are dealing with a narcissist at all times and never ever let yourself forget that. However, the more you act like you respect the narcissist, the less drama you will have in your life.

 

And lastly…

 


.

Sometimes the narcissist will ask you for a favor, sometimes he or she will send a photo, sometimes they will give you a heads up (like a normal person!) and sometimes they will compliment you (for reasons which will all know why). There will be times you will have to say Yes or OK or Thank You … and then there are times no words are necessary. That’s when

is a perfect response when trying to co-parent.

. . . . .

 

I have counseled countless women in alcoholic and narcissistic marriages for the last 18 years. I have applied these techniques in my co-parenting relationship as well. In both instances, I found more success in doing so. I am not perfect and by no means am I without mistakes myself. I have lost my temper, overreacted, and added drama where there didn’t need to be any. First-hand I can tell you that we are happier today with a lot less drama in our lives and can co-parent better than in the days when I fought with him and tried to put him in his place.

If you have questions, ask in the comments below and I will try to answer.  I know every co-parenting situation is different.

 

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