The following passage was taken from “Divorcing a Narcissist” under the chapter of “Tina’s Tips” :
Co-Parenting with a Narcissist: The number one piece of advice that I can give you is to be a healthy role model to your children. Do not ever speak poorly of your ex-husband or your ex-wife. As an adult child of divorced parents, I can testify to how damaging this is to a child. Regardless of how you feel about your former partner, this is still the parent of your child. I have witnessed the damage that words can do in my own children who are subjected to their father speaking poorly about me personally. Do not ever put your children in the middle of adult issues.
Do not argue or fight in front of your children. In my case, there have been multiple one-sided arguments where Seth would yell at me or speak strongly to me in front of the children. I can still visualize the fear and sadness shown in my daughters’ faces when Seth acts inappropriately during custody exchanges.
I have learned to ask my local law enforcement agencies for a “Keep the Peace” if I feel that Seth is escalated during our exchanges. Make sure that your children understand that Police Officers are not “bad” they are peace-keepers and protectors of the law. Explain their purpose for being at the exchange. I am thankful to have multiple friends locally who are in law enforcement so my daughters do not have a fear of police officers.
Just as it is important for you to seek counseling, it is equally important for your children to be in counseling with a therapist who understands your situation and narcissism. A knowledgeable therapist can help a child to sort through their feelings and to find their voice. A child can learn to set their own personal boundaries which is an important skill if you are the child of a narcissist.
Narcissists in general are often consumed with perfection, outward appearances and generally lack empathy. In today’s society, these are common characteristics that are all around us. I use day-to-day opportunities to counter these issues with my daughters. Here are a few examples:
- If you see a “Lost Dog” poster, use this opportunity to discuss the feelings surrounded with this sad event. The dog must be feeling frightened and the family must be feeling worried or sad.
- We often carry “care packages” in my car from our church filled with a variety of essentials. We give these packages to homeless people that we pass and then discuss how fortunate we are to have a home.
- I often talk about the fact that differences make each person unique and therefore, beautiful.
- Remind your children that mistakes are learning experiences so there is no reason to feel badly about them. Let them know how adults should behave toward them if they make a mistake and how to respond if the adult chooses instead to behave in a negative way.
- I try to find the positives in each situation and I model this to my children. My daughter was recently disappointed and my heart filled with pride when I heard her say, “Let’s look at the positives.”
Click the link to purchase Tina’s new book, “Divorcing a Narcissist- One Mom’s Battle.” You will find insight, red flag reflections and strategies on how to survive (and thrive!) while divorcing of co-parenting with a narcissist. Tired of panicking at the site of a new email from the narcissist in your inbox? Learn how to decode the emails and see them for what they are. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal.