Parent Coordinators and Narcissism or Personality Disordered Ex’s

In my humble opinion, the role of a parent coordinator is perfect for two normal people who want to work together but have to learn how to after having been hurt from their marriage falling apart, but just don’t know how to do so.  It’s great for those ex-couples who have to figure out how to do it together but need an extra hand because their styles are so different.

Unfortunately, those who are normal but hurting usually and realistically don’t need a parent coordinator.  They love their kids and will work together to do what is right for them.  They might not be able to converse well for a while, but over time it settles out and things move on.

In my opinion, most parent coordinators are ill-equipped to handle parents with personality disorders.  Despite the fact that they SHOULD be coming from a psychology background and SHOULD have experience with it… they either don’t have that experience, or they don’t have the personality themselves to deal with nasty, combative, personality-disordered abusers (oh, and did I mentioned that they can fool the pants off anyone anyway?).  OR… here’s the other truly possible case… that the parent coordinator is personality disordered themselves.

What I can offer that in my own experience, it didn’t pan out at all well.  The parent coordinator that we had was very helpful to ME as long as we were not near a court situation.  He acknowledged that my ex had issues and told me the names (strong narcissist, definitely borderline, likely bi-polar).  This actually helped me tremendously in that I then learned about the issues.  He didn’t diagnose, however, so it didn’t ever help in court.  He originally helped me try to get what I needed from my ex for our separation agreement, and in understanding how to parent our kids.  He was fooled, though, by my ex who put on a good show about being comfortable with the kids.  I also learned that this parent coordinator had his own narcissistic father, which is what drove him into the profession.  I also learned over time, that this parent coordinator was highly narcissistic himself.

The sad thing is – when we reached court and he testified… he lied beyond belief about me, and even about consulting our daughter’s therapist (he said he did, but he didn’t).  As a matter of fact, at the point in time that he found out that my ex was suing for custody… he actually turned a complete 180 degrees.  It was completely un-nerving, and to this day is something that I don’t want to remember.  I do remember asking my lawyer about it and learning that he had done this same thing to many other people.  I asked why they didn’t file complaints or do something to warn others.  She said “I don’t know”.  And here I am in the position myself where I haven’t warned others.  Why?  Because I can’t bear to think through it, and because if we go to court again, it will be used against me to have filed a complaint against his license since he didn’t testify in my favor.

This parent coordinator was eventually court-ordered after trial to remain our parent coordinator.  It took months of careful ‘influencing’ that he needed to resign, and a victory dance on the day he did six months after court.

After that first parent coordinator resigned, I called about 25 parent coordinators in the metro area in which I live in to see if I could find one that would work for our situation.  MOST of them wouldn’t begin to consider handling a case which is possibly considered “high conflict”, or even a “contested custody or visitation” case.  (by the way… I am not exaggerating the number I called).  Some of them clearly had issues themselves.  One parent coordinator was the BIGGEST ASSHOLE I have ever spoken to, and it was easy to see that there is no way that I would go near them.  However… they had a reputation, and this was exactly WHY I called… to poison the waters so that my ex would say that we couldn’t use that person because I had already biased them 🙂

Another parent coordinator that I spoke with had an ego the size of Texas.  I was put through the ringer to even have the privileged of speaking with him for a few minutes to ask questions.  (again, this was someone I was intentionally ruling out).

There was another who I have to say I enjoyed speaking with – simply because it was reinforcing to me that I had healed and grew stronger.  This was the guy who authored the video that the court system requires every divorcing couple to watch before their court day.  This was the guy who charges $30k for a custody evaluation.  So why was it fun?   I messed with his ego… I asked him that if he wasn’t available to take our case, who would he recommend?  He stammered… and then asked “you’re asking me to name my competitors?”  I said “sure”… “it’s commonplace in many professions to rate your peers”.   He couldn’t do it.  I chuckled inside as I thanked him and hung up.  Narcissist.

In the end I found only two that I would possibly go near.  One sounded phenomenal.  He seemed to really grasp that he needed to see if one or both of the parents had a personality disorder, and he required regular routine check-ins with the court.  He said he found that this was the only way to drive accountability with someone who has issues.  What eventually happened is that we had him assigned as our parent coordinator – and after that he refused to answer or return any phone calls.  My only guess is that he wanted to see if we would be a good match with him before having us sign a contract to use him, and we thwarted that process by having the court assign him.

So… in the long run, we didn’t wind up using another.  It was difficult at first since there is a desire to have someone buffer me from my ex, and there is hope to build a case with a professional who would accurately testify.  What I think it did do was lower our communication further, and therefore help to diffuse my ex.  I think that the key to this was that because my ex’s narcissism is soooo high, that he saw the conversations with the parent coordinator as “being on trial” and having someone “tell me how to live my f-ing life”.    This was hurtful to my ex in a way that I can never understand, as I don’t have the same sensitivity to “criticism” or “perceived criticism”.    So, for us… this has been a decent plan and one that I could elect to use as leverage if needed, but not a route I plan to use unless really necessary.

Please see my other posting on the ‘defined’ role of parenting coordinator.


6 Responses to “Parent Coordinators and Narcissism or Personality Disordered Ex’s”

  1. Cassie says:

    I wanted to post my same story here in case others can learn. It took me 3 painful years and some divine pushing to get out of a relationship with him. He was good one moment, painfully abusive the other. I couldn’t decide if he was more good or bad. I kept thinking what if I am making a mistake.
    Waste of my 3 years, plus another 6 post divorce which went in fighting him. He dragged me to court average of 3x a year for the past 3 years all for issues which could have been dealt with outside. And the PC was equally bad, with a big ego and pushing me around making sure she is in charge where my child’s welfare is concerned.
    Qs: Can I hold the PC responsible legally for the damage done?

  2. Louise says:

    Thanks again for taking the time to reply. Such a relief to finally have my thoughts about his behavior validated and confirmed. I truly admire your strength in sharing your experience and wanting to help others, your inspirational!

    For the last 3 weeks I have cut all contact with him and will only speak to him if I really need to. With the help of your blog I can now see his behavior has a pattern and in future deal with him in a calm manner instead of getting annoyed or upset, which is exactly what he wants. Can’t change his behavior but I can change the way I react or more importantly don’t react 🙂 haha

    I’m learning now that I have to let go of the past and just see it for what it is – he didn’t love me, just wanted me there to make him feel better about himself.

    Gonna concentrate now on bringing the kids up the best I can, and making sure that they grow up to be stable and loving adults.

    Your blog is really inspiring and its a comfort to know that we are not alone.

    Take care xxx

  3. Louise says:

    Thank you so much for the reply, it really means a lot. I’m taking your advice and I’m trying not to react and that does feel empowering. Can I give you a bit more information just to see if his behavior is narcissistic?

    He is very emotionally abusive(names i have been called – fat, slut, slag, ugly, c**t etc…

    He has made up stories about my parenting skills which are untrue. I took my children to a family birthday party, we did have a few alcoholic drinks but nobody was drunk and unable to care for their children. So the next day he took my children to the local police station to enquire how to report me for neglect. Nothing ever came of it.

    Never has taken any responsibility over our break up, everything is my fault.

    He though he was better than myself and my friends (they weren’t rich enough, or lived in the right area, or spoke in a certain manner) he would not let me spend time with them.

    Conversations were very one-sided – he did all the talking, was never interested in my opinions or what I thought.

    Lacked empathy – my best friend died suddenly and after a week, my ex was asking “aren’t you over this already? You have no time for me!”

    At one point I found out he had been ringing sex phone lines and I was absolutely furious, I admit I lost my temper and I smashed a plate. He rang the police and got me arrested. I spent a week apologizing and the whole sex line issue was conveniently forgot.

    Everyone thinks he is such a nice man and would be very shocked if I told them some of the things he has put me through. Only my Mum and best friend know what his behavior can be like.

    • Hi Louise! I am so sorry that you’ve dealt with this, and would agree with your assessment of narcissistic traits. It’s all too familiar and textbook.
      Could you perhaps take a moment to pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for taking notice of the behavior for what it is? And even for being angry about the sex phone lines? Regardless of how you dealt with it afterwards – you felt that a boundary was being crossed and rightfully felt angry about it. Yay you!!
      And… may I suggest that every time you hear his voice in your head say awful things about you, that you say the opposite to yourself repeatedly? If you hear “I am fat” in his voice, say “I am beautiful”. Literally erase his words and replace them with wonderful things instead.
      I have been continually surprised at how similar that they all are, and how story after story it’s almost the exact same words that they use. If you can take a step back from it for a moment… it’s quite fascinating, and also quite sad.
      Another thing that I find very helpful is to remember that they often “project” their issues onto you. It’s a defense mechanism that they have no idea they are doing. It helps, though, to examine what is said without emotion or reaction and think of it in the respect that what they just said about YOU is true for THEM. For example – in your example of his criticizing your parenting skill, he has doubts about his own parenting skills or has possibly even been drinking/drunk when caring for your kids. But… he can’t deal with his own possible flaws, so he projects them elsewhere (which is why the breakup is your fault).
      The last thing I want to mention is that his facade – the “nice man” act… it’s just that. Watch sometime when you can do so objectively and see if you notice where he’s learned some of the ‘acts’ from. From what I’ve seen in my experiences (with me and other’s I’ve spoken to), narcissists use behaviors and actions which they’ve seen someone else use and that was well received by others. They then repeat that themselves to create that ‘facade’ of who they are to the outside world. This is the side everyone else sees which is so difficult and annoying to watch since you understand it’s not true.
      Take care of you and your kiddo’s 🙂

  4. Louise says:

    Hi just discovered your blog by accident. I suspect my ex has narcissistic personality disorder, in fact he definitely has so it’s been a comfort to see I’m not the only one going through it.

    Could I ask if you think this example is the behavior of a narcissist?….Arrangements were made between me and ex that he would look after the children overnight so I could go out with friends, he rang the other day to speak to children but I’d actually left my phone in coat pocket and didn’t hear it ringing. Once I’d checked my phone I had several missed calls and a text saying that because he couldn’t get through to speak to children that he would no longer have them overnight like we had planned. I tried to call him back but no answer, I text and said I had been making dinner so didn’t hear the phone and that it was unfair that he was cancelling his day to see children. He replied that he was a very good Dad and that I shouldn’t try to get in between him and his kids.

    It seems to me that he can do whatever he wants and I have to tow the line otherwise he makes sure I suffer if I don’t. Am I just overreacting? Or is he being unreasonable? Please help I’m at my wits end.

    • Hello! It is definitely controlling behavior, that’s for sure. Narcissist – not sure if we go by the way of the definition itself. However, that doesn’t matter – because it’s controlling and that in itself makes it abusive. He had the opportunity to control whether you were able to do something for yourself (go out with friends), and without any care about your kids, he dropped his side of the bargain so that you were stuck.
      So… what can you do about it? Nothing and everything. (1) – don’t rely on him to take care of the kids when you need it (it gives him the opportunity to control). (2) don’t tell him what’s going on in your own life Knowledge is power, and you’re giving him your power. In a normal relationship where there’s respect and equal power – it wouldn’t matter. In a relationship like this, it does. He doesn’t need to know you’re going out with friends. (3) Don’t react about it to him. Again, this gives him power. If he cancels again, on a night when it doesn’t matter to you one way or the other ;), simply say “Ok, thanks”. THAT’S IT. He gets no power because you gave him no reward for his behavior. The reward he gets is in making you miserable and hearing about it. And then… log it down. If there’s any chance you’ll ever have to go to court or what not – keep a little log in a calendar and show the days he was suppose to take the kids and doesn’t. Hopefully you never need this, but what you can do that will also help YOU is notice how you get stronger over time in the way that you deal with the crap that you’re logging. Make sense?

      Lastly… you are not being unreasonable. Please know that…. just know that you can’t change him, but you can change the way you deal with and react to him, and that’s where you get you power and your sanity!

      All the best to you!!


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