There is nothing more frustrating than being a kind, loving, and empathic parent and knowing that your child or children’s other biological half has a personality disorder.
If you are struggling to keep your own head above water as a grown adult going through a difficult personal breakup, it’s hard enough. But seriously — when a co-parent is narcissistic, has a drug or alcohol addiction rooted in egocentrism, or they are just plain abusive in private but charming as heck in public, it leaves a human being (man or woman) feeling as if their time could be spent more productively banging their head against a brick wall.
In such a circumstance, lobbying to have the court assign your high conflict divorce or custody case a Guardian Ad Litem is absolutely one of the best parenting decisions any serious Narcissistic Abuse victim who is forced to co-parent with a Cluster B person or their toxic family could possibly make.
Co-parenting with a narcissistic person or someone capable of domestic violence is one of the toughest parenting challenges any 21st-century person could face.
Baby mamas who spend money at the salon and mall (without regard to the family’s income needs) allow their Somatic Narcissism to dominate. They interfere with a man’s ability to co-parent effectively when they are together with him, then absolutely hawk and interfere in every visitation, undermining their own child’s confidence in being with the other parent while doing irreparable harm to him as a co-parent whose fundamental human right to privacy and to parent his offspring during his visitation time as he sees fit taken away.
Men who hit the bar at 5 o’clock on their way home from work after leaving their childcare-providing wife home alone with mind-numbing children all day, who cheat, and pick fights at home to have an excuse to leave the family “cage” are equally guilty of abuse by neglect. Even if they never lift a finger to harm the person they secretly despise — namely a wife they have no common ground intellectually or morally after she’s been left to intellectually or socially dwindle while raising babies — their very covert lifestyle habits are abusive to the spouse’s they purposefully keep wholly in the dark, virtually enslaved.
These are just a few of the more common scenarios in contemporary marriages that cause partners to truly learn over time to loathe one another in the cruelest, fool-hearted, and callous ways. Children trapped living with nightmarish clandestinely warring parents many times go numb or learn that acting out in order to net gain them simultaneous attention from both parents is common.
If you think about life from a child’s point of view, men and women who put their own selfish romantic ideals above creating a truly loving, relaxed, supportive, and stress-free home environment for children and parents to mutually enjoy the benefit of “growing up” in makes sense. Parents who tough it out for the sake of the children are LYING to themselves and their own kids about the reason they stay in a troubled, toxic or deeply dysfunctional marriage.
Trust the Guardian Ad Litem in a high conflict divorce case to help sort out custody details. Let all the pertinent details come out in the wash.
The right way to parent children is to put their needs above that of adults without an adult (mother or father figure) needing to sacrifice their own personal values, morals, or integrity. If staying with an abusive spouse or partner is your thing (because you feel emotionally attached or “love them”), giving temporary or permanent custody of a child to a stable friend or extended family member is the healthiest choice for a child you could make… noting that does NOT mean abandoning them emotionally or physically in any way.
Letting a child live in a home environment where the child is happy and their needs are met is key to effective, empathic parenting. Which brings us to our point…
If you are the person who provides the most comfort and care to a child as a residential parent, step up and do your thing. If you are a more effective parent letting someone else handle the ins and outs of making sure certain things happen (like a child gets an education and has proper daily nutrition needs met), resist the urge to feel compelled to think that by letting someone else’s home be the primary residence for a child during the school year that you have lost some sort of ego competition in some way.
Many high conflict divorce battles arise because one parent or both want to “win” a custody battle.
Listen to that statement. Re-read it aloud until this concept sinks in…
If you are fighting to win property rights for the ownership of your offspring, something is seriously toxic and wrong about your thinking.
Is this assertion likely to enrage a person who displays narcissistic thinking? Absolutely!
Because narcissistic people are egocentric by nature, tending to view every social interaction as a competition of sorts.
That’s why a truly good parent would never in a million years be offended by such a statement claiming that some people do a better job parenting as a residential care provider while others truly excel at being weekend or summer holiday co-parenting warriors.
In the case of one parent having a Cluster B personality disorder and the other being an Empath or a person who — for lack of a better term — has an average IQ, mature EQ, and a personality type that compared to most humans appears to be normal, asking for the judge in your divorce case to assign a Guardian Ad Litem to protect the child or children’s best interest minus all the who-owns-what-kid politics can truly be a social and emotional life-saver for the good parent and any affected child.
A Guardian Ad Litem (or GAL for short) is a person who acts as an advocate for the child — not the parents. They spend time in your home with both you and the child as well as in the home of the co-parent.
While observing, the GAL will make notes and recommendations to the judge about parenting styles, home life environment, and truly note how the child responds to the adults and any residential family present in each unique and separate environment. When a child is obviously better off with one parent than another, typically sole custody will be awarded to one parent over the other.
But be careful presuming this is in the best interest of your child in any way. If you are a great parent seeking to have the other parent’s right to visitation and custody away because that person abused you in a marriage? Guess what? The GAL is likely to actually recommend you have parenting rights restricted or taken away.
Because like it or not, children don’t get all their genes from one parent or the other.
No one side has an exclusive right to raise a child and be a part of their life.
Unless a toxic parent deliberately abandons a child, doing things like refusing to attend “Children Coping With Divorce Classes”, not participating in supervised visitation session with the child (if court-ordered they are allowed to do so), or they flat-out put a contemptuous deadbeat parenting act [doing things like harassing the residential parent, filing frivolous and costly lawsuits to traumatize and financially incapacitate a co-parent as a rejected suitor, or refusing to pay child support or help ensure a child has all they need financially provided without being hunted down like a stray dog and forced], chances are the court will simply grant than joint custody rights.
Lather, rinse, repeat ad infinitum…
A GAL’s primary goal is to protect the best interest of the child, meaning socially, emotionally, physically, but more importantly personally. Part of a child growing up with a healthy self-identity is having their right to love and spend time with both mother and father protected, noting that grandparents — no matter how much they bitch about having a right to see their grandchildren or be a part of their lives — simply morally, biblically, and legally don’t.
Some grandparents, if toxic, will take custody of a grandchild when their own adult children are themselves struggling emotionally. An effective Guardian Ad Litem will be hip to the “entitlement thinking” based tricks of narcissistic people. Don’t be discouraged if you are a parent in a situation where primary residential care of your child or kids is awarded to a grandparent if you and the co-parent fail to be able to provide a stable and low-key, low-stress, nurturing environment for your little one or ones to grow up in… as the GAL’s ultimate goal will be to reunite BOTH parents (from a functional perspective) with their kid(s).
Likewise, if you are a parent seeking 50/50 custody but have lost rights for whatever reason, understand that cooperating with every court-ordered recommendation the judge or Guardian makes is absolutely essential to regaining more unsupervised or residential access time with your child or kids. Aspire to be a better parent during any days, weeks, hours, or minutes you have to spend with them until such a time comes that you are legally allowed to see them more and show appreciation and support for the residential parent.
Ego loss [as a noncustodial parent] is NOT a valid reason to socially, emotionally, or financially abuse any person who lovingly cares and provides for a child no matter how upset with the person on a romantic basis that you are; kids need to know they are emotionally secure and that both their caregivers are in tip-top emotional and mental health shape to care for their needs at all times. When one parent emotionally damages, socially attacks, or financially damages a residential parent, the children themselves are the ones most negatively impacted and directly harmed.
If you are the residential parent and have enjoyed sole custody rights while a former love interest has been getting their life together, be THRILLED to have them step up to the plate and spend more time lovingly co-parenting your offspring. Don’t be angry at the courts for protecting your child’s right to have memories of growing up with both parents (in separate houses, of course).
If you had sole custody when a child was little, by the time they are 6 years old or older they have a right to express a preference about who they spend more time living with, noting that Parental Alienation Syndrome is a real danger for children raised in sole custody situations. In a healthy home, working out a custody arrangement that suits the child’s needs and can be managed by both parenting sets without causing either household duress is key to successful co-parenting.
State guidelines vary, but think of it this way…
How relaxed would you be as a human being if you had to jet back and forth between two different houses like you were constantly living out of a suitcase, exhausted from the sheer stress of travel? Moreover, how comfortable would you be in the home of a stranger without any familiar items of your own, not fully understanding rules or communication styles, and struggling to mature and grow a self-identity of your own?
This is the problem 20th and 21st-century children of divorce face on a daily basis, forced to commute at young ages between homes. Consider their emotional well-being — not just whether or not they arrived at school on time or ate dinner promptly at 7 PM before showering at night and tucking into a strangely familiar but uncomfortable bed at home.
Are you the kind of parent better at structure and order but your partner always excelled at playing with the kids?
Let the GAL know.
Consider voluntarily working out a co-parenting agreement letting kids stay with the more organized, “timely” parent during the school week. Let the non-residential parent or their designee (including love interest is applicable) pick the kids up from school on Friday afternoon three weekends a month and drop them back off at school on Monday morning [or Tuesday if a 3 day weekend holiday].
Agree to allow the NCP (non-custodial parent) to have a good night phone call after dinner but before bed with the child or kids during the week — or better, a Skype hello. Let the child call the residential parent over the weekend, however — noting that sometimes it’s easier on everyone for the child to bond in a new family setting with caregivers and other step-family members without the CP (custodial parent) constantly helicopter parenting.
Let children have a cell phone to call EITHER parent at any time, and encourage liberal Skype chats to be allowed at the request of a child for their own comfort. Encourage kids to follow whatever house rules are in place at either home as if they are prepping to follow rules at a prep school at one place and their first after-school job at another.
Don’t make the differences in household management a point of contention. Celebrate the differences in lifestyle choice and encourage older kids to go and stay with friends for sleepovers or play dates with other kids at other homes in order to talk about and pro-actively discuss differences.
While a child may prefer one parent’s home over the other, that does not mean they don’t love both parents. Feeling hurt if a child likes a stepparent, for instance, more than a bio parent is natural — but not if it’s a game-ender for acting in the best interest of the child as a truly empathetic parent.
So the stepmom is great. WONDERFUL! So the step-father throws a mean curveball and is a great sports coach for kids even if you don’t personally like him. What a truly wonderful gift!
So the kids go three weekends a month to stay with their dad. Use the time wisely to relax and recharge, to socialize, to date, and to make new friends.
The children spend the week at their father’s house during the school year? Awesome! Focus on saving money, establishing your own home and lifestyle, and start thinking about having them help decorate their own personal living space in your home during visitation times so they know they are always welcome, near, and dear.
Ex has sole custody and moved out of town? Ask the GAL to consider asking the judge to grant you a special provision you be allowed scheduled and routine computer visitation time. The older the child is, the longer the Skype chats can and should be allowed… and the residential parent should facilitate making sure things like the computer works without ever freaking out or acting in such a way that a child would feel talking to their bio parent should cause them to feel ashamed or not be allowed.
Grandparents? Shame on you for stealing or helping to steal grandchildren. There is no excuse for estranging a child or kids (in a functional way) from either of their birth parents no matter how little you might think of them or what rights you seem to feel are entitlement-based rights you have been given. Your number one goal is stepping into a foster care situation should be to care for the little one until such a time the parent or parents can provide for the minors themselves. That is ALL. Make nice with the bio parents (including your own adult children) when and if you expect to have access to be active participants in the lives of your grandkids at all.
A smart Guardian Ad Litem should consider the personality type and agenda of any prospective guardian or caregiver, noting that many WWII and Baby Boomer parents turned grandparents might have loads of money but that their desire to parent their grandchildren is rooted in a deeply dysfunctional desire to have a second chance to have some sick sort of chance to do a cosmic “do-over”.
Beware giving temporary custody to a toxic grandparent for this very reason! Letting a little one stay for a few weeks with an Aunt, Uncle, or in the home of one of their childhood friends that you trust is ALWAYS preferable to staying with a narcissistic, emotionally greedy, or socially toxic grandpa or grandma.
Ask the GAL to advocate for your kids… and really listen to constructive criticism they give you. Take notes word for word on advice — noting that when humans are upset, recall of conversation details tends to get thready. If you are allowed to tape their “next step recommendations” or write them down verbatim, it will be easier to process the GAL’s parenting plan ideas during the coming weeks and months ahead of your consultation.
Understand many GALs are volunteers who are pressed for time, are typically underpaid and overworked, and who don’t like being treated in a disrespectful manner can and should help you understand why empathizing with THEIR position in the legal justice process working as an advocate for kids is a tricky position. For instance, they might really like one parent on a personal level and not be able to stand another — but they must, for the sake of the kids, strive to protect the little one(s) right to grow up loving and having memories of being raised by both parents.
For that reason, never flame or verbally attack your GAL — even if you don’t personally like him or her. Why? Because if you get your panties in a bunch over not liking them as a court official who advocates for your kids, they are less likely to see you as a person who cares more about the very real psychological, physical, and emotional human rights of your own children over your own self-centered obsession with ego.
Is that a blunt statement to make — again, one likely to infuriate a person who has a Cluster B personality disorder or narcissistic personality type? You betcha — and that’s EXACTLY why we’re saying it here.
Better to be angry at us for posting a provocative statement now that letting you (a reader on a Narcissistic Abuse recovery site) be blindsided by a Guardian Ad Litem’s legal recommendation to curtail your parenting rights later. A win-win solution for yourself, your kid(s), your ex or co-parenting partner, the ex’s new family or love interest, your own new family or love interest, the Department of Social Services, and the court officials is the ONLY right way to think about how to create and maintain a stable home environment for children coping with a traumatizing parental split.
Being an advocate for your Guardian as well as your kids, striving to make their job easier — not harder — is a pragmatic and moral imperative. Most courts will assign one to a high conflict child custody dispute after a length of time has passed when and if there are reports to social service agencies that a child has been or is being actively abused — but seldom out of the gate or before.
For that reason, if you know leaving a relationship that your child or children’s baby mama or baby daddy shows all the social signs of having a Cluster B personality disorder, understand that following normal parenting and co-parenting and breakup advice will do you more harm than good when it comes to surviving the breakup and subsequent life in their toxic discard pile. Whether you left them or they left you does not matter a hoot if there are children involved… so step up.
Being proactive and letting your attorney and local social services agency know a bit about the domestic violence or domestic abuse problems you and your child have together been going through as a result of the abusive person’s desire to abuse can help protect your kids while truly saving your mental health for YOU.
Ask your local police or sheriff’s department to put you in touch with a local Domestic Violence Advocate. Ask that person to escort you to legal proceedings for safety and comfort.
Join ALANON and listen — not dish like you are celebrating a war story about how bad your child’s parent was so you know how to tell your story in such a way that you come across to the listener as a rational, objective, and loving (rather than bitter, hostile, or aggressive “low rent” sort of person). Stop drinking or partying yourself — even if you think you have it under control. Why? Because that glass of red wine you have for dinner to promote cardio health can and will be legally and socially used against you.
Get yourself into counseling for Narcissistic Abuse with an expert in the field — not simply heading into therapy with any old therapist who specializes in working with family issues, realizing that less than 12% of the global population is Cluster B. As such, you are NOT dealing with an average situation, and from a clinical standpoint, advice given to 80%ers is likely to end up with you permanently psychologically and emotionally damaged as well as possibly costing you your life or that of your children.
Document any and all instances of mental, physical, sexual, social, legal, or financial abuse of yourself but journal and photo document the ups and downs of your child’s life as well. Did little Johnny come home from visitation crying because he was overtired and emotionally overwhelmed with the stress of travel (like a normal miniature human being tends to do under the best of circumstances)? Resist the urge to let your mind run wild about the other parent or a caregiver at their home having deliberately under-parented or over-parented your child.
Let the GAL be the eyes and ears in the OTHER home — not you. Sleuthing on social media to see what kind of lifestyle a co-parent who is estranged is living is smart parenting… but when it comes to actually having intelligent insight about what another household is like, trust the court official to do your “spying” for you.
In some [*cough MOST] cases, a child might have had a wonderful time in the home of an NCP and have a very close relationship with a step-parent or step-siblings, yet still tell the CP upon returning from a visit that they hate it there. All children want to please their parents… and coming home to a sad mother or father who clearly was left out of the fun can be a heartbreaking emotional site. To that end, many children of divorce learn how to socially manipulate and lie. The gain (in little-eyed perception) is pleasing both parents by telling the other how much they don’t like whichever is being triangulated.
Moms, Dads… and even narcy Grandparents — don’t fall for little one’s manipulative tidbits. Think of them as charming con artists who are misguided but at heart have ultimately the most shallow yet best of intentions.
Folks who act as Guardian Ad Litems are trained to look for such things as children telling tall tales between homes. That’s why trusting their judgment sometimes — even above the word of your own child without invalidating the child — is a mature and wise decision to form.
If the GAL says you are a wonderful parent but still awards joint custody, make the best of whatever the present legal situation. If they say you are only allowed supervised visitation, show up every time eagerly willing to participate in the program for the sake of your little one or ones with enthusiasm.
Parents who are bitter, angry, and have a problem for every solution are those most likely to have time with their own children limited no matter who was in the right or wrong that caused the adults to break up from a romantic perspective. Working with a Domestic Abuse counseling group in your area is the right place to confidentially disclose your hurt in an appropriate therapeutic and privacy-protected space.
Friends and family members you “gossip” to about an ex can be called to testify against you in a court of law, so be careful not to put them in an uncomfortable legal or psychological [meaning emotional] state. Narrow your conversation with the GAL to specific time and date stamped, journaled records in order to help them sort the wheat from the chaff regarding your case… and ask the Domestic Violence advocate to guide you on talking points with the GAL to bring up so you most effectively and efficiently can utilize their support service in such a way that your needs to vent are met without them having to spend time listening to countless personal factoid details that are never once going to be considered by the judge when ruling on the case.
Getting upset with the process and letting frustration boil over is never a healthy psychological, social, or legal option. If you suspect you will be found to be the more fit parent and awarded sole custody, trust your gut and let the GAL and judge decide your fate.
Worst case scenario, your ex is mad you were awarded sole custody when and if they are truly toxic and have horrible lifestyle habits sure to grievously affect their daily parenting. Big deal. Let them be mad. Your job as the better parent and truly better PERSON is to keep your wits about you, to stay as “gray rock” as you can with regard to your ex’s choice to play the fool and to cooperate with court orders no matter how frustrating and just plain stupid at times as they seem to on a practical level be.
The worse your co-parent behaves with regard to the children, the more likely they are to end up residing full time with you. But honestly — simply refusing to do things like communicate with the GAL or show up for scheduled or supervised visitations? That will LOSE a parent time with kids faster than a decent mom or pop can say, “Boo” when and if the court gets wind of the fact that an abusive partner is so impulsive and grandiose in their thinking that they put their own needs and temper tantrum fetishes above that of their children’s right to live life with stable care providers.
Having more or less money does not make you a more or less fit parent or role model; going to church no more makes a person good than saying they are a car because they are standing in their garage. Let the court observer work with the judge to approve a co-parenting plan that ensures children’s rights are protected, count your blessings for whatever time you have (or don’t have) with your little one(s) [from an adult privacy angle alone], and focus on rebuilding a healthy lifestyle for yourself as well as any children you biologically donated half their DNA to produce.