Can anyone offer any advice on how to build mental boundaries when co-parenting with a narcissist.

(51 Posts)
Iwannascream8 Thu 25-Nov-21 10:50:08

I will be getting some real life support in the next few days ( I bloody hope anyway).

What can I start putting in place in my head to start to deal with co-parenting with someone who’s only interested in stepping on my boundaries? He has already made this perfectly clear he is still here and going nowhere etc etc.

OP’s posts: |
taylorwilde Thu 25-Nov-21 11:23:34

Grey stone method, give very little reaction when he tries to provoke you.

Iwannascream8 Thu 25-Nov-21 11:26:23

@taylorwilde even if he uses our daughter to do it?

OP’s posts: |
taylorwilde Thu 25-Nov-21 12:04:03

It's a little difficult to respond or give advice with so little context, sorry OP

DiscontinuedModelHusband Thu 25-Nov-21 17:35:39

I think you already know that if you rise to his bait, he'll have succeeded.

Grey rock/controlled indifference is really the only approach here.

Whatever his barbs or jabs - related to your DD or not - engaging with them will only end up with you frustrated.

Don't put yourself in situations where you need to ask him for anything, but at the same time, if you can be flexible when he needs you to change things (especially if you think he's only doing it to annoy you), do it.

This is a long game you're in now.

Keep in mind the end goal - having an adult DD who has realised what her dad is like on her own, and recognises/appreciates that you have provided the stability and consistency in her life.

Pinkyxx Thu 25-Nov-21 17:49:10

Golden rule: Never ever react / engage. Especially if they are using the children.

It's like pouring petrol on a raging fire. Remember he does it because he knows it gets to you. Ask for nothing, ever. When he cancels and royally messes up your work / childcare - say nothing. When he let's your child down (which he will) again say nothing. When he complains about your ''awful'' parenting, say nothing. When he wants to change arrangements, do it if you possibly can.

Focus your energy on supporting your child not feeding him. They will need your help to manage their relationship with him, the confusion, the hurt and disappointment it will inevitably cause. Never disparage him but always validate your child's experience. Always be there for your child, never let them down.

Finally, get counselling for yourself. Having a safe space to get it all out helps a lot. It doesn't change anything, but it helps to keep going. It's not easy, I spent the first 5 years unable to leave the house when he had contact as he would never bring her back at the time agreed. It could be a day early, hours early, or late. He delighted in effectively keeping me housebound...

Fireflygal Thu 25-Nov-21 17:49:56

Co-parenting won't work with a narcissist so you have to parallel parent. Accept that they will act in their interests all the time, never put the child first, although will say they are and they will lie. Document everything but even then you will be gaslit. Know that they will treat arrangements as optional for them but essential that you comply. Dc's father insisted on court order contact but never steps up to it..dc are dumped regularly but he expects them to follow the court order with no flexibility.

Narcissists treat children as an extension of them so they are not allowed to be individuals. This can crush children so at home I encourage their independent thoughts. I give them extra care when they come from a visit as they are usually drained from suppressing emotions.

How old is your child? It gets a little easier as they get older as the children see the direct constrasts between the 2 parenting styles.

I hope the main benefit is my dc won't fall for a narcissist as they will be more aware.

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Iwannascream8 Thu 25-Nov-21 18:19:51

She is 6 almost. Thanks for the replies. It’s just so hard to admit defeat when you have done everything but the inevitable is coming..contact will resume and the life we have made over the last years will not be the same.

OP’s posts: |
DiscontinuedModelHusband Fri 26-Nov-21 09:03:10

it's not defeat!

defeat is when you keep getting so sucked into his nonsense that you lose yourself, and your DC lose faith/confidence in you.

this is just a set-back, that's all.

long game, remember!

Ogwen Fri 26-Nov-21 09:08:24

The BIFF method of communication is helpful. Brief, Informative, Friendly, Firm. Don’t get sucked in.

coffeeisthebest Fri 26-Nov-21 09:23:50

Put your daughter's emotional/mental/psychic whatever you want to call it at the top of any list and decide very clearly what you need to do to help support her to get through her childhood without being pulled apart by her parents. Be very clear that she is absorbing every thing and she needs you to act with agency in her best interest at all times. If that isn't clear then please seek counselling. Do it for both of you.

Iwannascream8 Fri 26-Nov-21 09:25:51

Yes it’s certainly a long game…what’s the outcome of the game? Is it just damage limitation to our child? I can’t protect her by keeping her away anymore it seems, although in a way having no access to a father has its damages.

OP’s posts: |
Iwannascream8 Fri 26-Nov-21 09:31:06

@coffeeisthebest she has always been at the top of my list and the reason why I’ve done everything I have done. Her dad getting access completely undermines everything I have tried to do. He will manipulate her, I never have, never will play those games. It’s so scary knowing what she is going to go through, it breaks my heart.

OP’s posts: |
unicornsarereal72 Fri 26-Nov-21 09:40:50

Then you have to empower her. She has rights. The right to her own body space. (My ex likes to tickle). The right to say no thank you. Etc. and just keep having those conversations. You are empowering her to be a confident women further down the road.

As for ex. Don't engage.

If he wants to know about school he can go directly to them.

Money through CMS

Contact is on x day at x time. If he doesn't show up go out. He gets to come again on x day at x time.

I know how hard this is. I had to take really hard line. And took a lot of angry messages/calls. Just stand firm. See it for what it is a toddler tantrum.

50ShadesOfCatholic Fri 26-Nov-21 09:43:46

Email or text only, no calls unless emergency.

Don't engage beyond essential information.

Remember they cannot "get it", they won't change.

Triffid1 Fri 26-Nov-21 09:48:52

This is the ex who disappeared completely for 2 years? Hopefully any co-parenting is going to be limited by the court anyway?

But agree with others - try not to rise to the bait, ever. That's what he wants as it feeds the narrative that he is the one who is hard done by. It's bloody hard though.

coodawoodashooda Fri 26-Nov-21 09:51:59

Ogwen

The BIFF method of communication is helpful. Brief, Informative, Friendly, Firm. Don’t get sucked in.


This but BIF. No need for friendly. In fact the idea that we've to be friendly to someone who tried to drive us mental makes me furious.

coodawoodashooda Fri 26-Nov-21 09:54:30

Also remind yourself that it is helpful for your children to find out they are horrible. And enjoy any rest you do get.

Iwannascream8 Fri 26-Nov-21 09:56:52

But what about the thoughts about the treatment they are going to receive. When you know they won’t get fed, shouted at etc and they going to be scared.

OP’s posts: |
coodawoodashooda Fri 26-Nov-21 09:58:56

Fireflygal

Co-parenting won't work with a narcissist so you have to parallel parent. Accept that they will act in their interests all the time, never put the child first, although will say they are and they will lie. Document everything but even then you will be gaslit. Know that they will treat arrangements as optional for them but essential that you comply. Dc's father insisted on court order contact but never steps up to it..dc are dumped regularly but he expects them to follow the court order with no flexibility.

Narcissists treat children as an extension of them so they are not allowed to be individuals. This can crush children so at home I encourage their independent thoughts. I give them extra care when they come from a visit as they are usually drained from suppressing emotions.

How old is your child? It gets a little easier as they get older as the children see the direct constrasts between the 2 parenting styles.

I hope the main benefit is my dc won't fall for a narcissist as they will be more aware.


I really enjoyed reading this post.

AllInTentsWithPorpoises Fri 26-Nov-21 10:11:35

Lots of excellent advice above. Also, learn his patterns. Your narc might not be the same as mine but mine follows this pattern every time. And once I realised that, it has been easier to see it for what it is, to notice when things start ramping up and to then act accordingly. Its not always easy and sometimes you do get sucked in before you know it but it does help and it makes it easier to then step away once I do realise what is happening.

calm > tension building (you can feel it but you don't quite know what) > incident/s > steps back and watches the damage > hoovering/ niceness to get on your friendly side again

coffeeisthebest Fri 26-Nov-21 10:13:23

Iwannascream8

*@coffeeisthebest* she has always been at the top of my list and the reason why I’ve done everything I have done. Her dad getting access completely undermines everything I have tried to do. He will manipulate her, I never have, never will play those games. It’s so scary knowing what she is going to go through, it breaks my heart.

Ok, let it break your heart and also get very, very angry on your daughter's behalf ( you made need a therapist for this) because she needs your fierce protection, not your submission and sorrow. And also, acknowledge that you acted for yourself and for her. That's why you need utter clarity going forward, he is manipulative and you can see that clearly so need to act with clarity and fairness to the best of your ability. A therapist may help as you pull yourself out of the FOG. Get out of there and move forward, stride forward in fact with your daughter at your side. This won't be the last time she experiences an abuser (sadly) so learn from this as to how to set very clear boundaries.

PraiseBee Fri 26-Nov-21 10:53:22

50ShadesOfCatholic

Email or text only, no calls unless emergency.

Don't engage beyond essential information.

Remember they cannot "get it", they won't change.


Do narcissists not know they are narcissists then? Or is there a range? Are some aware of their behaviour?

AllInTentsWithPorpoises Fri 26-Nov-21 10:59:57

@PraiseBee I think they know, they just don't care. And they get a kick out of the reactions and reeling people in and out.

PraiseBee Fri 26-Nov-21 11:02:58

AllInTentsWithPorpoises

*@PraiseBee* I think they know, they just don't care. And they get a kick out of the reactions and reeling people in and out.


Ok. When I read these threads and people's excellent advice of how to deal with such people, I do end up thinking about whether narcissists are on auto pilot with their crap behaviour or if they plot and plan.

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