Helping children cope during visitation with a narcissistic parent

Once upon a time, there was a very naive mother.  Naive mommy didn’t know that her soon to be ex has strong (very strong) narcissistic and sociopathic traits, and didn’t quite grasp that he really couldn’t co-parent (or co-anything, for that matter).  Naive mommy looked up best practices for parenting through divorces and sincerely hoped to implement them.

Yeah… right.

Many years later, the naive mommy (yes, that’s me) realized the depth of what she was dealing with in her ex.  However, there are still parts to be gleaned from what I researched way back in my hopeful stage.

Here’s an article on staying connected with your kids if you are parent who parents from a distance.  In my situation, there are three things which we use from their list, although 2 of them haven’t been implemented as solidly as I would like.

1. Give the kids their own phone

My daughter has a phone which she takes with her and her brother to their dad’s house.  It infuriates my ex, who wants to control and/or eliminate any contact with me during their time with him.  Nonetheless, we stuff it into the very limited amount of things he allows them to tote to his house and it is there as an emergency.  She has instructions to call 911 if his behavior is frightening them, and to do this by retreating to their rooms and calling from there.

2. Keep a journal

I have started this with her in the past, and she just picked it up again this weekend.  The point in the article is to have the kids write something while they are gone, and that the parent has one as well and writes in notes for them while the kids are gone.  When you are back together, you can read each other’s journal.

3.  Have the child have a reminder or momento.

A long time ago, I sent with my kids some pictures of us doing fun things together.  Like #1, this also infuriates my ex, who said it is “unnecessary”.  He brought it up with our parent coordinator, who said “I don’t think it’s important, really.  As a matter of fact, I think it causes more anxiety in the children”.  It was a delightful moment, really – because I said to our parent coordinator “do you have pictures of your son and daughter on your phone?” (as I’m looking directly at the pictures he had of them in his office).  He momentarily forgot our conversation and started to light up, saying “sure”.  So I asked him… “Does this cause you more anxiety?”  (LOL)

So, my kids sometimes carry pictures with them.  At the suggestion of my daughter’s current therapist, they also bring with them a bear from Build-a-Bear workshop which has my voice recorded into them.  They made up what they wanted me to say, and we recorded it and tucked it into the bear’s paw.  Since the suggestion from the bears came from the therapist directly, my ex couldn’t say much or block it.   The kids still see his frustration, but stubbornly ignore it (yay kids!).


One Response to “Helping children cope during visitation with a narcissistic parent”

  1. Emma says:

    your build a bear workshop idea is hilarious!! (I can just imagine how well it would go down). I love that you are so creative – out of necessity, yes, but you should feel proud of the ways around him that you find to help your kids.

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