Raising good kids is no easy feat. Children don’t come with manuals, and you must make instant decisions that affect their lives daily. Things are even more compounded when you have an ex in the picture, specifically when they are narcissistic.
Is it possible to raise a child in a split universe where one side is balanced, and the other is off-kilter? A narcissistic ex is a person that thinks of themselves first. Indeed, they will do things that will cause your children great psychological harm. Behaviors like not showing up for a visit, avoiding child support payments, and neglecting responsibilities are commonplace.
Not only did you want to sever ties with this toxic person. However, you are forever bound to them because of your children. Walking away is hard when they’re always going to be there in some aspect.
Tips for Raising Well-Adjusted Kids
You don’t want your narcissistic ex affecting your child’s mental health. To ensure that they are well rounded and can roll with the punches, here are ten things that you may want to do.
1. Don’t Make Your Child a Pawn in a Game
It’s not uncommon for ex-lovers to be in a bitter battle over children. However, you must be the bigger person and not allow this battle to take your child’s mental stability with it. Never use your child as a pawn in this dirty game.
Many people use their children to get back at their ex without even realizing it. Some examples of this would be to say, “You can’t see your father because he hasn’t paid his child support this month.” In this instance, the mother tries to make the father look less than in the child’s eyes. She is putting negative thoughts in the kid’s head about the worth of their father.
The child will surmise that their dad didn’t want to pay for their needs, but that may not be the case. Even though all the things she said may be right, it’s never good to use the child to get back at the other party.
Your child is not a messenger, and you should never give them a message to give to the other party. In many instances, the parent who uses the child’s emotions as a vise will be the one that it comes back to bite in the end.
2. Put Your Children in Counseling
Some parenting situations are high-conflict arrangements, and your children can feel the pain of these rifts. You would be surprised how this stress can affect even the youngest child. Kids often feel guilty and like they are to blame for the way their parents act.
A narcissistic ex will make poor choices, but they can also direct their behaviors towards their children. Your kids need someone that they can talk to and a place where they are safe to say how they feel. While they love both their parents, they need that unbiased third party to help them cope.
3. Use the Court System
The court is well equipped to handle high-conflict cases where children are involved. If you find that your narcissistic ex is making everything increasingly tricky, you can ask a judge to appoint a parent coordinator.
A coordinator has training in reducing the stress of the situation, and the most important thing is that they can ease some of the angst your child feels too. An attorney is needed to help get this motion put through the court system.
4. Get a Court Ordered Custody Agreement
You may feel that to raise a well-adjusted kid, you need to work with their mother or father without the court system. While in a perfect world, that would be the case; when dealing with a narcissistic person, you need the court’s intervention.
The courts will establish a parenting plan that is fair to everyone involved. It’s best to have these guidelines because it gives you leverage should things be challenging. You can file a motion for contempt if the other party isn’t cooperating, which can be beneficial in a custody battle.
5. Never Argue with Your Ex
It’s easy to want to challenge someone who is selfish and thinking about only their needs. However, it would be best if you remembered that your children could feel your stress. Part of raising well-adjusted kids is making sure they don’t see their parents arguing.
Remember, you’re never going to win a battle of words with a narcissistic ex, and you’re just wasting your breath. Save everything for a court battle. Go by the court guidelines, and don’t let them get one over on you. Keep in mind that your children are always watching and listening to what’s going on.
6. Establish Firm Boundaries
Dealing with a narcissistic is not easy, and they love to start drama. Their goal is to turn the situation around to make you look like an unstable parent. It would help if you didn’t give them any ammunition for their battle.
Communication needs to be done in writing, like through text or email, so there is always a paper trail. You don’t want them to put words in your mouth. Text messages can be used in court, and this method of communication gives you time to think before you speak. Some people find it’s easier to say things in a text than by phone or in person.
When it comes to communication with your child, there should be set times, and someone should be listening in on the conversation. The narcissistic parent may call and try to invade your visitation time, and this is usually the case when your kid has a phone.
Always leave your emotions out of the situation when dealing with your ex, and stick to the facts. If you get emotional in your dealings, then you are feeding the narcissist’s ego.
7. Keep Records
You never know when your narcissistic ex will take you back to court. These people often forget about the best interest of the child and only want to fill their agenda. Your detailed records can help you to prove to the court what you’re dealing with from this person.
Keep a file with a communication log, any legal papers, social media messages, and texts between you, your ex, and the children. Anything that can be used to benefit your case before a judge, you should keep.
8. Watch Out for Triggers
As your child begins to age and becomes an independent person, the narcissist may have a difficult time processing the feeling that they are not needed. It’s not uncommon for a narcissist to have a flare-up as their child’s growth is a trigger for past feelings of abandonment.
Another common issue is dealing with the narcissistic ex is holiday madness. Just like anxiety and depression is stronger for some around birthdays and major holidays, the same can be said for the narcissistic person. When you learn their patterns, you can take steps to protect yourself and your children from these times of emotional upheaval.
9. Ask for a Guardian ad Litem
A Guardian ad Litem or GAL is a representative that the courts can appoint for your family. These individuals are to be the voice of the child and to express the best interests and wishes to the court. If you’re in a battle with your ex, then you need this person to advocate and support the child.
A word of caution when dealing with a GAL is that they don’t always view things the way you do. They look at things from both angles and submit a report to the court detailing the child’s wishes and what they feel is the best situation going forward. A GAL is a valuable person that can stand up in court and be an unbiased third-party working for the child.
10. Take Care of You
Make sure to spend the time to take care of your needs. How can you love and nurture your children if you’re continually using all your emotional and physical reserves to fight your narcissistic ex? A custody dispute is one of the most draining battles of your life, and you need to make sure that you don’t fall to pieces.
Don’t feel that getting a court advocate or a Guardian Ad Litem makes you weak. These people help you stay strong as they are there to assist in the battle. It would help if you had a counselor that you can talk to and clear the air about things going on in your life, and you need to take a break whenever possible.
You’re fighting to raise well-adjusted kids. Though you may not see an end to the battle in sight, there will be a day you look back on all these experiences and be glad there are over.
The narcissistic ex can make your life seem impossible, but you should stop and consider how your child feels. Your kids might feel caught in the middle of a tug-of-war, and they love both of their parents.