Parenting, Co-Parenting and Parallel Parenting with a Narcissist

Posted by tonyoverbay

Tony covers parenting, co-parenting, and parallel parenting with a narcissist. Tony refers to the article "Co-parenting with a narcissist: tips and strategies," from Plus, he shares a listener email that discusses the importance of working on yourself outside of the relationship with the narcissist in your life via a story about "The Boss" himself, Bruce Springstein. And finally, Tony shares experiences of what NOT parenting with the best interest of your kids in mind looks like, thanks to feedback from his private Facebook group for women in narcissistic relationships.

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[00:00:07] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode twenty six of Waking Up the Narcissism, I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of the Virtual Couch podcast. And as always, I am excited to be here, and I'm excited to talk today about the concept of parenting. Specifically, we're going to talk about co-parenting with a narcissist. I'm going to introduce you, maybe to a new term, which is the concept of parallel parenting with a narcissist. And we're going to talk about the differences between co-parenting, parallel parenting. And I'm going to read some examples of what not being on the same page from a parenting standpoint looks like from my private Facebook group. For women who are in relationships with the narcissist in their lives, whether it's a spouse, a former spouse, a parent, a sibling, a neighbor, you name it an employer. But if you are experiencing that narcissism in your life, the narcissism, the narcissistic tendencies, the emotional immaturity, then you need tools. So if you're listening to this podcast, then maybe you're waking up to your own narcissism or narcissistic traits or emotional immaturity, or waking up to the emotional immaturity or narcissism in your relationship. Either way, I'm glad you're here, and before I do that, I've got two things two things that I'm really excited about. I have someone who wrote me a pretty incredible email and it is very creative, and it just makes such a fantastic point about how difficult it can be.

[00:01:26] Even when you are waking up to narcissism and you're waking up to the narcissism, let's say that it's happening in a spouse, and a lot of times the feedback will be, Hey, you're typically talking about the male is the narcissist. And a couple of episodes I've given that data of why that's more of the norm. But I have a guy that wrote me and talked about his challenges in his narcissistic relationship with his wife. She is the one displaying the narcissistic traits, tendencies, the emotional immaturity. So this email comes to us somewhere in Scandinavia. It's entitled Game Day, he says. True story. I'm standing in a rain soaked stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark, with thirty thousand other Bruce Springsteen fans or Bruce freaks for the more hardcore of us. He walks out onto the stage with the rain pouring down. It hasn't stopped raining since we took up our patch and the mosh pit at nine a.m. that morning. Patti, his wife, is on stage with him. She's clearly not happy. In fact, she looks fuming. Thirty thousand rain soaked fans scream in unison, Bruce. He waves at us. He moves to the center of the stage and he kicks right into the Creedence Clearwater Revival. Who will stop the rain? Patti avoids him. She won't engage with his attempts to schmooze you up to him through the song. She's not having any part of it.

[00:02:36] And at the end of the song, he walks across to her. He looks her in the eye and from the first row of the mosh pit. You can lip read the words as he says them short and to the point I'm sorry. She gives them a little smirk. He smirks back. They touch hands briefly before he springs back to the center of the stage and kicks in full wattage maximum amps to the song. Prove it all night, so not likely by coincidence. Mind you, as anybody who knows Springsteen gigs will attest, they are spontaneous and they have no fixed set list. Sure, there might be the general idea of the flow of the night, but he very much feeds off the crowd the mood, the intangible gut feeling of what is right at that point in time. It was clear that this was Springsteen aware that he needed to take ownership and act, i.e. prove that he was sorry. And as most of the audience of this podcast are grown adults, he says, Boy, we can only surmise how he might have proved it all night, that rainy Copenhagen night. But all jokes aside, it was on Springsteen to not just wait for someone else to stop the rain, but to acknowledge it was within his power if he acted, owned it and was vulnerable enough to admit to himself and someone else that he'd stuffed up and had in no small way contributed to the rain.

[00:03:47] And this writer says in that moment, I realized three things no one. Springsteen had his own relationship issues and he was just like the rest of us. Number two, he recognized he needed to own it and apologize if he'd done something wrong. And number three, that being able to say sorry and owning it in that exchange was indicative of something more. And this is where I love where he goes in this email, he says musically, it wasn't just by coincidence and by luck that he was on stage with the love of his life in front of thirty thousand screaming fans belting out on his nineteen fifty seven fender, the classics like Born to Run or Badlands and Looking Like It was oh so natural and oh so fun. He owned it. He'd done it hard yards over many years, learning and practicing hour after hour, day after day, rehearsing, getting it wrong, rehearsing again, going back to the drawing board, getting it wrong, getting it right, sometimes discouraged and courage full of doubt, full of confidence. He dealt with others. He'd taken on things bless their hearts, seeking advice, getting advice, wanting advice, unwanted advice, sought advice and sought advice. Constructive advice, unconstructive advice. He'd listen to his dad and others tell him to grow up and get a real job. He dealt with music execs, telling him to hurry up, produce something amazing and produce it now.

[00:05:06] All of this had culminated in this moment in time. And the writer says I don't know for sure, but I reckon he would have been fully present in that moment. And he says all three of these realizations could be the focus of this email, but the third one is the one I really want to focus on. He said Springsteen didn't just appear on stage living his dream through coincidence or luck. He spent hours, days, months, years practicing learning, rehearsing, playing small gigs, playing larger gigs, stuffing up, nailing it, hitting the sweet spot, stuffing it up again before being in this particular moment in front of thirty thousand crazy Danes. And as he famously told a sax player, Jake Clemons, that took over from his uncle, the big man Clarence Clemons, when he passed away. You haven't earned it. I haven't earned it. We have to earn it every night, i.e. it is a constant process of improvement and dedication to one's craft. And he says, if you look at Springsteen or any of the greats in any field, you'll realize that they are only as good on stage as the practice that they've done for many years before, often in complete solitude alone, behind the scenes, in their bedroom, in the lounge, in front of the bathroom mirror. But even that isn't quite accurate, he said. They are really only as good as the practice and learning that they had done a year or two, even three years earlier.

[00:06:22] And he said, if you look at it from a Mind-Body connection perspective, practice takes months, if not years, to become fully integrated into our subconscious and our nervous system and the response to the development of these neural pathways. And he says it's a process of practice, repetition, learning the theory, learning the moves, building physical strength, building mental strength. And he says, you don't even begin by playing known songs. Well, you learn by practicing a couple of chords, a couple of notes, a couple of children's songs, and then you start to jam horribly out of sync at first with other musicians. And he said it's a long road to being able to strum a C chord to being able to fully improvise on the spot in front of thirty thousand fans, even when things go wrong or not as planned or expected, that it's a long way from learning a few chords and some music theory and putting it all together on game day. So the reality is that Springsteen would have sounded horrible on his guitar for a very, very long time. It was only through the rock star realizing that no one only one person could make you good at playing the guitar. No to that game day ability reflects what you learned a long time ago and has become an automatic and subconscious response. And then number three, and I think he's being a little facetious here.

[00:07:34] He says that as a famous pod star, Tony Overbay would say, in the meantime, give yourself grace. You're acting the best you can with the skills and the knowledge that you have at this point in time. And he said in one final bit of advice from Tommy Morello from Rage Against the Machine, who was often seen and heard on stage with Springsteen these days, he said when asked by a budding guitarist in an online question form a few years ago. My fingers hurt. Should I stop practicing as much? And he shot back or reply, No practice more so I hope you can see why I love that email because there are so many things there that only one person could make him good at playing the guitar. And then how you show up on game day really reflects what you've learned a long time ago that it's become automatic and subconscious. And in that meantime, in the interim, give yourself grace. If you are listening to this podcast, there's a good chance that you are starting to go through a lot in your relationship, a lot in your marriage. And the more that you start to bring some awareness and start to integrate these tools, the more that you start to realize it's OK for me to have completely different opinions to want to do things that I enjoy, and that's not a threat to someone else that the more you do that and the more you become differentiated, the more you become interdependent.

[00:08:48] Unfortunately, the more pushback you're going to get, the more invalidation you're going to get. So every time that you're showing up and you're becoming stronger and you are standing up and you're setting these boundaries, just know that you're going to get that pushback, it's not going to always go well. It's that equivalent to starting to strum that c chord. And yeah, you might be a long way away from improvising in the rain in front of thirty thousand fans. But that doesn't mean that you are not on the way that you're on the path. However, you're showing up right now, give yourself grace if you are meditating, if you are learning what gaslighting looks like. If you have been raising your emotional baseline through self care so that you can show up and then try to be the best you you can be, and then the gaslighting gets worse, and then at some point your body takes over, your body keeps the score. We talked about last week with my guest, Nate Christianson, that if all of a sudden that cortisol spike hits and it vacuums out all the serotonin that's responsible for empathy and you get up all in your amygdala, your fight or flight response when you come down, give yourself grace and then review the game film and see what you can practice on.

[00:09:55] I need maybe do a little bit more meditation. I need to find out what really matters to me. I need to raise my emotional baseline, but it doesn't mean that you have to give up. Now, if there. Days where you feel like I'm not really feeling like doing the work, then you're a human being and as soon as you feel like, you know what? Ok, I'm ready to try again. Give your brain some bless its little pink, squishy heart kind of lingo, because even then, sometimes the brain is going to say this is too hard. This is going to take a lot of work. Or what if it doesn't work? And we're not even arguing if those things are true or false. Are they productive thoughts for you to continue to do the work that's going to help put you in a better place to be a better version of you, a better parent? And I realize now when we get off my soapbox and get on to the rest of today's episode. So thank you to the reader who sent that email, and I really hope that resonated. Now, today we're going to read from a couple of articles one called custody exchange. So it's custody and then the letter X and then change. And it says it's the trusted tool for parenting schedules. They talk a lot about co-parenting parenting schedules, and they have an article that is entitled Simply Co-parenting with a Narcissist, Tips and Strategies.

[00:11:04] So I'm going to be reading from this article and inserting some commentary there as well. And then I think that every, every little bit here, I want to insert a couple of the comments off of the group. Let me read the question that I posed to the group because I really do believe that this is one of the things that I see in my practice. When someone is getting a divorce or even when you are in, we are actively parenting with someone and you want to put the kids first. But then this is one of those things early in my practice where I started to realize I don't know if people sometimes know what that even looks like. What does that mean to put the kids first? And it's not to make them the pawns or put them in the middle? Let me do a quick jag here on abandonment and attachment, and I've talked about this multiple times. This is one of my one of my passions. I'll give you the Reader's Digest version. I've gone into detail on this on some previous episodes, but we start. We're talking from the womb. We come out of the womb, a little squishy babies, and immediately our we need to have our needs met or we will die. So we express, we cry. And when we cry, then people come and meet our needs.

[00:12:13] They feed us, they clean us. And so from our factory setting abandonment equals death, and I have to show up in a way that I can get my needs met. And since that's pretty easy because babies are cute and they actually smell pretty good, then people meet the baby's needs. Now, when you start to get two, three, four or five years old, now the kid can start to express their needs even with words at this time or with the batting their eyes or being so cute. And they can say things like I want candy before dinner. And so then when a parent says no, then to the kid because remember, they are moving forward from literally coming from the womb of saying, I have to get my needs met or I will die. So when you say no, because you're being a parent, a good parent at that, and I wanted to make a joke here where you don't get the candy before dinner till you're an adult, and that's when you can eat a whole sleeve of Girl Scout cookies, hypothetically, thin mints. But at that point, you say no that child to them. They now fear that I'm not going to get my needs met. And if I don't get my needs met, then I will die. So this is where the world of attachment kicks in. So attachment is how do I show up so that I will get my needs met? Do I become the peacemaker, or do I become the star athlete, the smart kid? What do I need to do? And oftentimes what little kids do is they emote.

[00:13:32] They they throw a fit, a tantrum, and at some point they wear the parent down and then the parent says, OK, this one time, just one piece of candy, but that's it. Never again as if the kid in their emotional, immature, narcissistic traits and tendencies self is going to say, Oh, OK, you're right, one time this is the only time I'll ever ask for candy before dinner. Know what starting to happen is. They're figuring out a way to get their needs met. What happens moving forward is we've got that attachment and then this concept of abandonment. So then if I don't get my needs met, then that would look like abandonment and abandonment equals death. And when somebody is emotionally immature and we're talking about if it's the adult, but in particular a child, then everything since they are egotistical and they are the center of the universe, then if you're not meeting their needs, then it must be about them that that must mean that they are unlovable, that they are broken because they don't have empathy, they don't have that perspective that other people have things going on in their lives. The example, if it's Christmas and they don't get the toys they want, they may not know that mom and dad are struggling financially at that point.

[00:14:41] They just think Santa doesn't even love me. I must really be bad. That concept, I want that just ingrained in people. Then when they're parenting now in a relationship, or especially if they're going through divorce, that even if the parents are not making it about the kids, that it's natural or normal for a kid to feel like, Oh, this is my fault, this is something that I. So it is imperative. It is absolutely imperative to not put the kids in the middle of it as best as you can. With that said, let me read from the group. Here's what I had posted. I said I had somebody share with me a couple of examples of things that their kids have said that obviously comes from the narcissistic co-parent recently. And I said I would love to hear those examples in the comments below. And whenever you run across an example or you have examples, please feel free to share. My go to example was a seven year old coming back from a then the non narcissist parents house, saying that the narcissistic parent had told the seven year old Mommy said that you cheated on her and now mom in the scenario was the narcissist. So the dad responded by asking the daughter what she thought that meant. Hey. So what do you mean? What do you think that means cheating? And then the seven year old responded immediately and said, Well, she had seen dad cheating Candyland.

[00:15:56] That's pretty obvious that the mom in that scenario, the narcissistic mom, put that on the child. The child was not saying, Hey, did dad cheat on you? I had a couple more that had happened recently in session, and one of the teenagers said, You know, mom, I've been thinking, I want to live with you 50 percent of the time and I want to live with dad 50 percent of the time. And this person had mentioned that he had never used percentages with regard to time previously or any time before that, and that she didn't really even believe that he was aware of what that split between parents was because he's just going places when it's time to go places. Another mom had mentioned to that the narcissist the mom had mentioned to the narcissists that kids weren't taking showers when they were at his house. So could he encourage that behavior? So I believe it was. An eight year old came back to mom's house and said, Dad said, I have to shower every day now, but that's really going to raise the water bill. And I don't even think that one needs much explanation because does an eight year old, first of all, even know that there is a water bill and absolutely doesn't understand the concept of how much his showers are going to add to the water bill, even add into there.

[00:17:03] How long does an eight year old? I don't know. Maybe we're talking a minute or two, so I want to read some of those examples as well that are from the group. Here's one of them. I thought this was so fascinating. The one person said, Mom, why don't you let dad borrow the van? And she said, huh? And then she said, dad said that he asked you if he could use the van and you said no, and now we can't go to our aunt's. And then she said in reality, he asked me what my plans were for the evening, and I said I was going somewhere. She said that was the end. She said I had no clue that he wanted to borrow my van. He had a vehicle for the record, but he doesn't take care of it, and it had maintenance issues that needed to be done. So he prefers not to drive it. So I hope you can understand where we're going here with this is that when a person says that, oh no, I'm doing what's best for the kids, but then they are putting this, this what's the phrase throwing the parent under the bus? That kind of a vibe. In another example, a woman's daughter came home and said that she was going to testify against her in court so that she wouldn't get custody.

[00:18:01] And she said that mom, you need a psychiatric evaluation and medication. Later, this person's counselor had a chance to speak with the daughter and asked her if she thought that the mom was an unfit mother, to which the daughter said No, of course not. So you start to see that the narcissist will plant these things in the heads of the kids, and that is absolutely not what is and what is best for the kids. Someone else mentioned that from a child who had typically only given high fives and dance parties when the mom would get good grades going to school. Then she got a good grade on something and expressed it, and the kid said, You actually study way too much and I feel like you're not really there for me or you're neglecting me. And this person said, I really don't think that my daughter knew what the word neglect even meant. Another one, the person said that my narcissistic ex told my kids that he had signed a piece of paper so that my husband and I could get married while we were still married, and she said, Huh? She's first of all, that's not even legal. What he signed was what was called the bifurcation to end the marriage, even though they hadn't finished the settlement. And I'll turn back to a few more of these, but understanding that co-parenting needs to be about putting the kids first. So from custody exchange, co-parenting with a narcissist, tips and strategies, they say that co-parenting can be a challenge.

[00:19:20] But if your ex is a narcissist, it may at times feel impossible. Unfortunately, you know how a narcissist puts their selfish desires above their parental responsibilities and cares more about themselves and their child's well-being. And they say that you may be familiar with how they lie or manipulate or emotionally abuse in their quest for control and admiration. And they say, if you're divorcing in our sister, probably dealing with the effects of a high conflict custody battle and trying to figure out how to share custody with someone that can be so difficult, but they say, don't despair. Equipped with the right mindset and custody tools, you can develop strategies to reduce conflict and effectively co-parent with the narcissist. Then they go in to talk about the definition of narcissism. And what is a narcissistic parent? A narcissistic parent prioritizes themselves over the child instead of helping the child develop into an emotionally healthy person. And this is where I would again say the goal is to provide a secure attachment for the kid so that they know that they can go and explore and do and be and know that they are going to still be loved and accepted by the parent, that the parent isn't going to see that as a slight or that it's something against them. So they say that a narcissistic parent sees their child as an extension of themselves rather than as an individual, and they often try to live through their child and punish the child for failing to meet their unreasonable expectations, their possessive.

[00:20:33] They're threatened by their child's independence and relationships with others, especially with the other parent. However, when a child can't be used to serve their selfish needs and narcissistic parent can be neglectful and outright ignore the child narcissist are volatile and often have sudden outbursts of rage toward their child and others, and they actively damage their child's self-esteem and confidence in order to boost their own self-worth. They can be obsessed with controlling their child and the co-parent, and they often lie. Guilt trip gaslighting these other forms of emotional manipulation to get their way. Having a narcissistic parent is significant and long term psychological effects on children, including low self-esteem. It can lead to internalized shame and guilt and difficulty forming secure emotional attachments. But this is where I want to jump in and say, I know this can sound so heavy, and this is part of what will keep people in incredibly unhealthy relationships. But I believe that we've already talked on some other episodes and there are a number of people that that come in in the group or if you do a little bit of digging online that talk about, though that emotional relief of being out of an emotionally abusive or manipulative relationship is a higher.

[00:21:37] It's a net positive effect because at that point, then it's almost and this is the part that I think can sound a little bit. It can sound a little bit harsh. I wish that no one had to go through divorcing or being in a relationship with a narcissistic individual. Absolutely. And I feel bad that I have to say OK. But once we accept the fact that is the case, then you accept the fact that they are not going to co-parent effectively or it's not going to be about the kids. And so in that scenario, yeah, is it fair? Absolutely not. It's difficult. But once we accept it's from this book. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. Once you accept the fact that life is difficult, then the fact that life is difficult is no longer the question. It's what do we do about that? So once we accept that, OK, this is what is happening now, I can find those tools on how to work within this environment. What that example I read earlier, the one where the mom told the kid, the seven year old, that Hey, dad cheated on you in that scenario, then what normally would happen is the dad in that scenario, when the seven year old says, Dad cheated on you so often the pathologically kind person wants to protect. Still, that mom that other parent in the name of good co-parenting, which I absolutely understand.

[00:22:52] But here's what I think is significant about that is that if the parent, if the dad just says, Oh, that's silly, then we're not validating that child's experience. Let me give a little better example with somebody that is a little bit older. If you are sitting there and you're dropping off your, let's say it's your 14 year old and you're this one, it's the narcissistic husband. Let's say that he is supposed to be there at four o'clock at the drop off spot. Your 14 year old is going to spend the weekend with him and then he is not there at four. He's not there at 4:30. You text, you call. He doesn't respond, and he finally shows up at about five fifteen. And at that point, your 14 year old is very upset and as they see as he's even pulling up. And this has maybe been a pattern and he didn't communicate. And he's literally on his phone at that time that if the 14 year old says that just makes me so mad, frustrated by dad being this late and making us sit here and wait that too often the pathological kind person is going to say he's probably just got a lot going on or he's tired. And what we just did there is we invalidated that teenager's feelings, we told them they're wrong. And I go back to the four pillars of a connected conversation that I talk about so often where that first pillar is.

[00:24:01] We're looking at the teenager now. We have to assume that they're not trying to hurt us by saying that I'm so frustrated or there's a reason why they're saying the things that they're doing that we have to assume those good intentions. And then the second pillar is more of a this mindset of I can't tell them that they're wrong or I don't believe them, even if I feel like they're wrong or don't believe them because that leads to the pillar three, I need to ask questions before making comments. I need to lean in with empathy and understand that would be really hard if they feel frustrated because their dad is routinely late during the pickup time. I validate that I say I am so sorry. That sounds really difficult, and I can't imagine how that feels. So we're validating them now. This is where people can possibly cross the line a little bit if they say, Yeah, he's what a jerk he is, and you may not want to go to that place but validate the kid and say, No, this is really hard. And depending on the emotional maturity of the kid, maybe they're becoming an older teenager, maybe they're becoming a young adult. And at that point, then it can be absolutely empowering to say, I hear you, and that is so hard, and I feel like I've had to deal with some of these things as well.

[00:25:03] And I've just had to realize maybe it isn't about me and I just need to. I just need to be present. I just need to express myself for those sort of things. So we really do want to be able to validate the kids experience. And that is what is different in a parenting, a co-parenting relationship with the narcissist. So narcissist are volatile. They often have sudden outbursts of rage toward their child or others. They actively will damage their child's self-esteem and confidence in order to boost their own self-worth. Now they get on to how to co-parent with a narcissist to successfully share custody with the narcissist. You need to treat co-parenting like a business relationship. And this is a very hard thing, which I understand, especially for the the kind person, for the pathologically kind person that may find themselves in this trauma bond or this emotionally abusive relationship or this relationship with the emotionally immature that now all of a sudden we're saying take emotion out and you need to treat this like a business relationship. And this is where I often say that the tool is absolutely the right tool. But boy, I understand how difficult this can be, and this goes back to that. The letter that the person wrote at the beginning that you need to really start practicing this. This is where a daily mindfulness practice raising your emotional baseline, getting your PhD and gaslighting, learning how to get out of unproductive conversation, setting healthy boundaries.

[00:26:19] These things need to be practiced throughout your day. They need to become a part of you so that you can show up in this situation knowing what is best for the kids, trusting your gut and then treating the co-parenting like a business relationship, established detailed rules, set firm boundaries and document everything. And you also need a disconnect emotionally. Take care to be your child's emotionally safe parent and learn how to talk to and ignore a narcissist. And we're being pretty frank here, but I love that part where you become your child's emotionally safe parent. This is where I wish I could figure out a mathematical formula that says that if you stay in a relationship that you know is emotionally abusive, unhealthy, narcissistic, emotionally immature and know that you're watching your child lose their sense of self or walk on eggshells or feel like they are being shamed or put things or put on a young child by an adult. And you know, I do not like that. Then oftentimes, though, people say, I don't want to leave the kids with him in this scenario, we're going with the narcissist husband. But then I wish we could come up with again, a formula. Let's say that that has a score of 10 from what is best for the child. But then if you have time with your child, one on one outside of that, that trauma, bond or that narcissistic relationship where you are just trying to maintain the peace or you're trying to be the buffer and then when you have that time with them, let's say that is worth a 20.

[00:27:46] Then if it was that simple to have this mathematical formula, I wonder if that would help people get out of the emotionally abusive relationship sooner. They go on to say Create a detailed parenting plan. A parenting plan establishes rules for how co-parent share parenting responsibilities. Most states require a parenting plan and as a part of custody orders, and then experts will always recommend having one. And they say that a detailed, customized plan empowers you to set firm boundaries with your narcissistic ex, and it's one of the most important things you can do to make co-parenting with them manageable. Your plan should be tailored to your child's specific needs. Be strategically designed to protect you and your child from the effects of your ex's narcissism, and they say that it should have customized provisions and stipulations for all aspects of co-parenting. And they talk about communication rules between parents and between each between each parent and the child during the other's time. Shared child rearing guidelines such as discipline, bedtimes, curfews, screen time decision making rules for your child's education, medical care, religious upbringing, dispute resolution processes for when you disagree on shared parenting decisions.

[00:28:48] Guidelines for. Sharing parenting expenses not covered by your child support order and rules that parents don't speak negatively about each other in front of the child, and that they don't use the child to convey information to each other or use them to get information about each other and any other rules that facilitate good co-parenting relationship for your child's well-being. And that that second to the last one rules that parents don't speak negatively about each other in front of the child again. The example of another nine year old kid at one point saying to the dad, Well, dad, why are you and mom split up? And then the dad saying, Well, I don't know, ask your mom. I didn't certainly want this. And I remember that was a very specific one where I looked at the dad. The dad was saying it to me, like, What am I supposed to say? She's. She asked me a question. Well, she also asked you, is Santa Claus real? Is that just an excuse to say, I want to be externally validated by my nine year old? That, yeah, this is hard on me too. I didn't want this. So the emotionally mature thing to do is to say, Mom and dad still love you. We're trying to work on things, or we're going to make sure that you feel love from both of us. Another example is a woman shared that upon returning from a week at his dad's due to COVID at home.

[00:29:57] My 14 year old said, You're so much more unhappy than you were before you and dad split up. Maybe you should think about getting back together so you can be happy. But when I questioned him about it gently because I knew where this came from, he agreed that I am absolutely a lot less stressed and depressed. My words since the separation. Another example my 12 year old said, Dad says that this won't take long, he says. You'll feel good for a little bit and then you'll miss him and he'll be able to move back home. Another woman shared that her narcissistic ex told her kids that the ex was so nice because he had to give his permission for her and her current husband to get married, and that was six years after her divorce. And I really think that this one's this one's pretty interesting and it's indicative of what's happening in narcissistic relationships, she said. I'm still with the narcissist, but my children are picking up on the things that he says to me and in each one of them in their own due time, they started using these phrases with each other as well as towards me. Things like, You're too sensitive, you're always the one to overreact. They wouldn't be crying if you hadn't said something about what you did. You always think that you know everything. You really don't care about me and that those things just break my heart because those aren't the things that that kids.

[00:31:09] I feel like it's not a healthy thing to model someone else shared. She said that dad says that we should bring half our clothes to his house because we have too many clothes here. And she said, No, dad doesn't buy them clothes. I've already given half of the clothes to him when we separated, so all the clothes my kids have are the ones that I purchased or I had given to me because the exchange also talks about setting firm communication boundaries. I think this can be so important and it can be really difficult because again, remember any time you see that word boundary when working with a narcissist, you're basically saying, Hey, here's a target and something for you to push again. So setting a boundary is absolutely necessary, but then just know that boundary is going to continually be tested in the attempt is going to be to wear you down. That's why it's so important to have these things in writing and just know that they are going to push the boundary. So setting up firm communication boundaries, establishing and sticking to firm communication boundaries is essential when co-parenting with a narcissist because they'll use hostile and they'll use manipulative communication tactics to try and control you to keep you sucked into their toxic orbit. They go on to say setting rules and knowing how to talk to a narcissist can help put a stop to it.

[00:32:15] And your parenting plan set rules to protect you from unwanted, unnecessary and unhealthy communication from your ex. And again, this is where you'll see the narcissist just continue to break the rules, even if you set up. Here's what we're going to talk about and win that. Then there will be times and I'm talking with someone recently who out of nowhere, the narcissist starts being very, very kind. And I know this can sound like I'm being very judgmental. But this is just from patterns of behavior where I typically start by saying, OK, what's the angle? And we were able to go back and see that just about four or five days earlier, the narcissists had still been calling them all kinds of names and gaslighting and withholding support financially, all of these things. And then a few days later, they were saying, Man, you know what? You're the best and I really feel for you. And it's that just push and pull in that tug, emotional tug of war that can be so difficult. But when you then look at it and we went in and said, OK, what's the angle? What's his angle? And only to figure out that there was a custody hearing coming up in the not too distant future. So they recommend that in your parenting plan, set rules that protect you from unwanted, unnecessary and unhealthy communication from your ex.

[00:33:21] Assert that you will only discuss your child and co-parenting issues with them and immediately but calmly shut down attempts to discuss off limit topics so that response time frames and required that they schedule phone calls in advance. And additionally, do not engage in arguments and don't take the bait when they're trying to antagonize you. Because, as you know, narcissists thrive on attention. So often the best thing you can do is ignore them. Keep in mind that experts advise, and this is so good to have this validated here, experts said. Eyes against phone and in-person conversations when co-parenting with a narcissist, there's not a record of what's said and it's much harder to ignore them. You don't have time to think of strategic responses and tension can quickly escalate into outright conflict and often in front of the child. Instead, try to communicate with the other parent via text or email. Consider using a messaging service designed for high conflict co-parenting, and the custody exchange does have one of those as well because it will flag combative language before sending messages. It'll give the sender a chance to change them if the messages are sent. The hostile language is clearly marked in conversation records so it can be submitted to the court if necessary, and that's just amazing and then document everything. And I know that this is that part where someone will say, I just I hate this.

[00:34:34] I shouldn't have to do that. And absolutely true again, you shouldn't. And I am so sorry that you are in a spot where this is the podcast that you need to listen to. But we're here and you're going to get through it and you're going to grow from it and you're going to come out of this. The other side, as a stronger, healthier parent who is going to be able to not only help your kids, but then others down the road as well, because that is part of the power of things like podcast communities, articles, things that people are writing. You cannot, and I know this is the case in talking with so many people that have been in these relationships. There is a time where I feel like you can't get enough data and hearing from people that have been through it, I think is so powerful. So document everything. If you've already gone through the divorce and custody process with the narcissist, they say that you've likely learned the importance of keeping records and documenting everything. Unfortunately, the record keeping doesn't end when the final orders are issued. You never know when a narcissist might make false claims or try to get court orders modified in order to further manipulate you. So it's important to be prepared with documentation of everything related to co-parenting, and they say that this is a big task.

[00:35:39] It becomes unmanageable, but you can make it manageable and even easy. Buy their products there that are parenting journals that then help you track everything, and I love that it says oh, and they also recommend using an expense tracker to keep records of parenting expenses and payments to each other. You can also use it to request reimbursements from the other parent for shared expenses, which helps you maintain this business like dynamic and avoid unnecessary communication. And they say, be the emotionally healthy parent, and I just say amen to that. A narcissistic parent does not prioritize their child's emotional needs. This means that you have to strive to always be the safe parent and you will be the safe parent, the parent who is looking out for your child's well-being and healthy emotional development. Allow and encourage your child to express how they feel without judgment. Pay attention to how the other parents narcissism inflicts emotional damage on your child and then develop strategies to prevent it and address it when it does occur. And I appreciate they say. Of course, this is challenging because the psychological effects of having a narcissistic parent are complex, and it's this. For this reason, experts often recommend mental health counseling for children of narcissists. And they say, of course, that you may also consider counseling for yourself, especially if you have symptoms of narcissistic abuse syndrome, complex post-traumatic stress disorder that the more that you can recover from your relationship with the nurses, the better equipped you're going to be for your child.

[00:36:58] And ultimately, that is I want to talk very briefly and then we'll wrap this thing up. Parallel parenting, they say when co-parenting doesn't work, even with the best tools and strategies, successfully co-parenting with a narcissist can be next to impossible if they refuse to cooperate or compromise. And in this situation, you may consider parallel parenting as an alternative, and I was not familiar with this concept and parallel parenting. Your interactions with the other parent are extremely limited and each of you parents without involving the other. Now what does that look like? They have an article that goes into parallel parenting, and it really they and this is for really high conflict couples keeping tensions to a minimum. It's in the best interest of your child, and they say this might prove difficult if you have a contentious relationship with the other parent. So parallel parenting allows feuding parents to have significant roles in their child's lives without interacting much with each other. But here's what can be tricky Parents choose how to raise their child within their household and only collaborate on major decisions like child's health care. That goal ultimately is to prevent conflict, allowing the child to have a positive relationship. But before going this route, consider the what parallel parenting entails, and it can be difficult. They talk about the pros and cons the pros No exposure to spats that hearing arguments between parents can negatively impact the child's mental and emotional well-being.

[00:38:16] And since parents rarely, if ever in a parallel parenting situation, are around each other, there are fewer chances for the child to witness these conflicts. The cons, obviously, then, are the varying rules. So since each household has its own set of rules, the child may feel confused about what is and isn't allowed, and the child may challenge a parent who doesn't permit something that the other parent does. And I would recommend I'll put this in the show notes of the article on parallel parenting. Again, I'm just at this point. I'm only reading because I'm not familiar with parallel parenting, and I can appreciate where it says that that. Is probably something that's going to come from incredibly high conflict divorces. I hope that you'll learn a little something today that the first of all, I feel like I'm doing the Hey, what did we learn today? Today, we learned that it's important to to give yourself grace in the beginning that Bruce Springsteen's story that you're doing your best right now to start to be differentiated, to start, to stand on your own two feet. We want you to get back to trusting your gut to find your own true sense of self and purpose, because that is normal. That is emotional maturity. You are an individual that is in a relationship.

[00:39:25] A healthy relationship are two autonomous individuals that are coming together to have shared experiences to look at each other with curiosity, to say, Tell me more about that and not have that be a threat to the emotional immaturity of another human being. So it's important. But then if you are waking up to the narcissism in your relationship, whatever that relationship looks like and you're starting to stand up for yourself, and it doesn't even have to be the I'm mad, I'm not going to take it anymore, although that certainly can be the case that even as you're simply starting to maybe dress a little differently because you want to listen to some music that you've always wanted to or take on hobbies that you've never had before in an emotionally immature relationship that is going to be a threat to the other person because they are going to have that deep, deep insecurity of abandonment, that abandonment is so equal to death that for that emotionally immature or narcissistic person, they must have control, they must have that power or else then they feel like they will lose everything. So then in a healthy relationship, you explore the way you want to dress, explore the hobbies that you want and do so. And then it will most likely cause some invalidation coming from your spouse, and that can be what is so difficult. But again, you deserve to be whatever version of you that you want to be.

[00:40:42] You're the only version of you that's ever walked the face of the Earth from your nature, your nurture, your birth order, your abandonment, your DNA, your rejection, all those things. So you have your own set of values. You have your own truly your own core set of beliefs. And what a gift that is to bring two people together and to be able to take a look at what those are. And if you haven't had a relationship like that, then it is understandable why that may seem like this land of who knows what full of pots of gold and unicorns and all those things. But it is real and you deserve to have that kind of a relationship. You deserve to be able to pull up into the driveway and be excited to see your spouse or be excited when you hear them pull into the driveway or to have a relationship where you truly can share your deepest desires, your thoughts, your insecurities and have somebody say, Man, that would be hard. Tell me more about that. Tell me how that shows up, and what can I do to help? I'm so grateful you're here. Please continue to send your stories, your examples. They are all being read. They're all being used. I see you. And if you want to join the private women's Facebook group, thank you for all of the positive remarks and comments and

[00:41:47] I will see you next time on waking up the nurses.

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