Co-parenting with a Narcissist or Dark Triad personality type is seldom fun for anyone. According to the NJ Family Legal Blog, how the narcissist communicates as a co-parent is typically brutal on the former partner and any offspring and residential family members of either parent.
Treatment is typically worse if the abused partner in the discard pile retains custody of any child born of the marriage (or that is a product of a romantic entanglement). The more abused the parent who is given custody rights, the more likely an abusive ex is likely to target them for something called REVENGE OBSESSION.
In their article titled “Stalking the Soul: Co-Parenting with an Abusive Narcissist” they shared a list of typical things they see happening in their local “Jersey Shore” style community. Recognizing the pattern of Narcissistic Abuse in any co-parenting arrangement between estranged or divorced parties is crucial to protecting children and targeted scapegoat victims from ongoing persecution.
Learning all you can about Cluster B personality types, the red flag warnings of Narcissistic Abuse, and how to avoid being upset when and if someone with a personality disorder becomes abusive is key to protecting your child from the abuser while maintaining moral sanity. People who are unable to grasp that folks with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Anti-Social Personality Disorder have a personality type (rather than a mental illness) tend to have a much harder time making peace with their abuse situation as-is.
The NJ Family Legal Blog shares the following red flags all court officials, attorneys, teachers, and social service workers should look out for in either mother or father when and if there is any situation in a high conflict divorce that is happening already or about to take a turn for the worse imminently. They write:
Refusal of Direct Communication. The abusive narcissist refuses to have direct communication about the child – there is never direct communication because he/she just simply doesn’t discuss things. Abusive individuals evade direct questions when asked.
Distortion of Language. The abusive narcissist uses innuendo, unexpressed reproach or veiled threats to communicate. The tone is oftentimes flat and cold. Child victims can often describe the change in tone before the aggression strikes, describing it as “white.”
Lies. Rather than using a direct lie, the abuser initially employs a mix of innuendo and unspoken hints to create a misunderstanding, which he will subsequently exploit to his advantage. Lying is pervasive among abusive narcissists.
Use of Sarcasm, Ridicule, Contempt. The abusive narcissist uses ridicule to create a position of knowing. Embarrassing his or her spouse can become the sole goal and objective.
Use of Paradox. Often, an abusive narcissist will say something verbally and express the opposite non-verbally. One way to do that is to cast doubt into innocuous elements of daily life. For example: “I am so concerned about our child having the flu. I wish you would dress him for the weather and feed him healthy foods. Maybe then he wouldn’t be so sick all the time.” These feigned expressions of concern, without escalating tone of voice, can lead to doubt among even the most secure.
Divide and Conquer. The abusive narcissist is adept at pitting people against each other by either insinuating doubt, revealing what one person said about the other, or by lying to incite people to become adversarial. This can result in parental alienation (a subject of a future blog) between parent and child or conflict between the children themselves.
The Imposition of Power. The goal of the abusive narcissist is to dominate. The domination is typically underhanded and denied, often masked behind gentleness and benevolence.
People who have personality types that fall under the umbrella classification term are able to control themselves. They have the complete wherewithal to switch from charming to monster and back at their discretion in the blink of an eye. For that reason alone, judges and other court officials should not be tricked by abusive and egocentric people claiming entitlement, denying being abusive, and falsely pretending to themselves be victims.
Before giving your Abuser (or ANY abusive or narcissistic personality) too much credit or sympathy — meaning think of him or her as a monster with godlike powers or feeling sorry for them because they had a hard life growing up — understand this…
If an abusive person can control themselves in front of a person or authority figure they want to impress, they have the same ability to control their temper and do the right thing by a child by treating that little one’s co-parent with respect.
Any Guardian Ad Litem will tell you that any parent’s primary job in life is to put a child’s own needs and best interest ahead of their own. What that means is some men and women can and should consider leaving an abusive spouse or romantic partner if that person is a bad influence on or poor quality role model for the child.
A person who does all they can to frustrate, “punish”, and aggress the bio parent of a child with custody or visitation rights is guilty of emulating Dark Triad behavior. For those unfamiliar, the classification includes narcissistic individuals with clearly anti-social or psychopathic tendencies and a truly Machiavellian nature.
Most Dark Triad personalities will measure high for having traits on NPD, Malignant Narcissism, and Psychopathy. Nearly all will end up marrying and procreating then ending up manufacturing massive amounts of chaos legally and emotionally, financially harming and psychologically frustrating almost everybody.
Grown adults who play games triangulating, lying, undermining, manipulating, meddling, attention seeking, and just acting self-entitled in general can be overwhelmingly frustrating in a workplace scenario. When it starts happening at home it’s beyond crazy-making for targeted victims like the less dominant spouse and any children forced to endure listening to adults screaming, yelling, crying, or bickering.
If the person you are trying to co-parent with is pulling any of the aforementioned legal tricks, consider asking the judge to add an addendum motion to force performance compliance in reasonable time frames. Spell out things like terms to force compliance within X number of days or contempt, fine, jail time, etcetera.
Stop letting them cause you to react. Instead, sit back, observe, and document, document, document.
Speak slowly but think quickly when talking to or communicating with a Narcissist or cantankerous, plotting person. Share as much information as the judge orders you to and not a single word more.
Strive to communicate in writing. Avoid any face to face interaction when and if you can with them if the abusive person is someone you have already split with and are in low to no contact status.
Ask the court to assign a Guardian Ad Litem [a.k.a. GAL]. Understand the person will act as the eyes and the ears of the judge, keeping in mind the best interest of your child or children. That desire to do the right thing seldom if ever will mean them advocating you receive sole custody of your little ones or ones. Be mindful they are your child’s advocate — NOT YOURS. As such, think about what your situation looks like from the outside looking in — are you a stable, loving parent who puts their child’s needs above their own or are you wrapped up in “winning” a custody battle in order to prove your dominance or to get even with a former romantic interest who rejected you for some reason?
Being the best parent to have primary custody awarded typically happens due to parenting bond — not assigning custody to the person who has the most cash and bellows the loudest. If you are spending time making caustic and critical remarks to a GAL or other social service related authority figures like your local police or sheriff’s department, it might be time to consider on a very real personal level what you are saying about one of your child’s parents.
No person with a Cluster B personality type is going to be all bad 100% of the time. Most are well liked, charming, situational abusers who count on victim shame and fear to keep their dirty little secrets from being shared in the open.
Pointing out a parent’s poor choices of how to approach co-parenting is not insulting them or something that should be done to “hurt”. The reason why pointing out patterns and habits narcissistic people engage in is to A) help victims understand what is personal and what’s simply a product of a caustic person’s nature and B) because once you point out a flaw in thinking or error in judgement one can find a workaround or offer up a request for conflict resolution.
Approach co-parenting with a Malignant Narcissist or a Dark Triad from a completely gray rock perspective. Keep your child’s self-esteem and needs in mind, noting that the Cluster B parent is the person most likely to spend the rest of their natural born life failing them.