Relationship Partner with BPD (Straight and LGBT+) => »»Family Law, Custody, Co-parenting, Divorce => Topic started by: phantomivy on February 21, 2020, 04:10:02 PM

Title: Co-parenting with BPD/Narcissist
Post by: phantomivy on February 21, 2020, 04:10:02 PM
First time poster here. I am deeply struggling to co-parent with my ex. Six months ago we agreed to 50-50% custody of our daughter. While he is abiding by the letter of the custody order, he is also creating constant drama. This includes false threats of legal action, creating unrealistic expectations in our daughter, and problematizing everyday realities (paying for childcare, new clothing, etc.) In his narration, he is the only one truly protecting her interests and I am unimaginative, backwards, conservative, etc. Some days my email is so full of messages that I feel like I am still in a relationship with him. Any advice from people here who have been in this situation for longer, and who have thoughts on how to separate from the drama as much as possible, is welcome!

Title: Re: Co-parenting with BPD/Narcissist
Post by: worriedStepmom on February 21, 2020, 04:28:19 PM
Welcome to BPDFamily.  You aren't alone!  You'll find a lot of support here.

I hope you don't mind if I ask some questions.  Sometimes a little background can help us figure out how to help you.

How old is your daughter? 

How strict is your custody order?  Is it very specific in when he's supposed to see D, how much money he is supposed to pay, etc, or is it more loose ("parents shall split reasonable costs of X")?  Does it have any language about communication between parents?

How do you make the 50/50 work?  Is it week on/week off, or a different kind of split?  Was one of you designated the primary or tiebreaker parent (for example, for the purposes of enrolling the child in school)?

What kinds of unreasonable expectations is he instilling in your daughter, and what types of legal action has he been threatening?

Title: Re: Co-parenting with BPD/Narcissist
Post by: livednlearned on February 22, 2020, 01:02:47 PM
Six months is still pretty fresh  :(

It can get better, although it takes effort.

Are you responding to the emails?

What's your daughter's relationship with him like?

Title: Re: Co-parenting with BPD/Narcissist
Post by: phantomivy on February 23, 2020, 06:38:02 AM
Thanks all. My daughter is 9, and we split the weekdays and alternate weekends.

About 3 months ago I asked some friends to start screening the emails for me. Many of the worst ones I haven't read myself, but I am answering about 30% of them out of necessity. It doesn't help that we still have financial/property issues to sort out as well.

My daughter is struggling. Some days are good, but oftentimes when she returns from his house she is pretty wound up.

I get that six months is pretty recent, and working with a therapist has definitely given me perspective on life. But it would be nice to know there is light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak   :)

Title: Re: Co-parenting with BPD/Narcissist
Post by: worriedStepmom on February 23, 2020, 01:42:27 PM
I'm so glad you're in therapy.  That really helped me after my divorce.

My daughter is struggling. Some days are good, but oftentimes when she returns from his house she is pretty wound up.

Does your daughter see a therapist too?  My SD12 sees one, to learn how to process and deal with her uBPDmom's behaviors.  My S10 sees one for other reasons.

It is not surprising that the transitions are hard, especially this soon out.  My ex does not have a personality disorder, but S still has a lot of trouble on transition days (we've now been divorced 8 years).  S comes back, we have dinner, and then we cuddle on the couch or watch a movie or play outside.  Something he enjoys, with no expectations of him other than to be present.  D14, on the other hand, has no issues transitioning anymore.

It was a great idea for you to have someone else screen the emails.  H uses a free parenting app for all communication, and I monitor it for him.  We found it helpful to keep a list of the kinds of responses that we are making.  Along the  lines of ... X% are due to ongoing discussions about property and financial issues.  Y% are about D's school.  Z% are about D's extracurricular activities.  A% are ex trying to change the schedule.  B% are insults/allegations/ranting.

Having all that cataloged can help you determine how to tighten up the communication.  My H realized that a good 1/3 of his texts from his uBPDex were her asking "are you really going to bring SD back this weekend".  He set a boundary that he would not respond to those types of messages ever.  He reminded her of that 3 times and then ignored all of those texts and emails.  It took months, but those types of messages have stopped.

Identifying and upholding your boundaries will be critical for you.  H and his ex have been divorced for 10 years.  Things have gotten better recently, largely because his boundaries have gotten a lot tighter.

Title: Re: Co-parenting with BPD/Narcissist
Post by: ForeverDad on February 23, 2020, 08:57:43 PM
But it would be nice to know there is light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak   :)

I've been here since 2006, I recently "aged out of the system" (https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=342983.0,all), follow the link.  Yes, it does get better, often in increments, but the light does get brighter and brighter.

Be wary of making things too equal, too fair, too nice.  Frankly, court doesn't care much how 'fair' you are, it expects some conflict and doesn't care much about that either.  It's there to walk or drag the spouses through the divorce or separation.

With BPD and similar entitled/controlling disorders, it's best not to let the other control things.  Court is generally reluctant to grant either parent full custody unless there's no other solution.  Often it's that a parent displays substantive child abuse, neglect or endangerment.  Otherwise, it's process where the court gets fed up with continuing conflict during joint custody and decides it has tried enough.

Yes, you don't want to needlessly trigger overreactions but also know you can't tip toe and avoid all incidents.  Here in peer support you will find out how to set and maintain good boundaries of behavior, what often works and what too often fails, what is important and what to "let go", long term goals, etc.

So here at the start, unless you have documented poor behaviors that could lead to full custody for you now, try to get the best (or least bad) joint custody order.  Can you propose a need for the court to grant you Decision Making or Tie Breaker status?  Can you get as much parenting time/authority as possible?  Even if you end up with equal time, can you at least try to get assigned Primary Parent?  The primary parent handles school.  Often our ex-spouses move a lot and the last thing you want on your mind is having to keep moving to follow your ex around whenever ex moves.

Remember, you are the more stable parent.  Over time the court should notice that, it's the best strategy of all.  You have your children's interests at heart and you are the one most capable in raising your children.

In most cases Mothers get subtle unwritten preferences in court, so take advantage of them.  Don't feel you have to be overly fair, your ex sure won't.  And as I wrote above court often doesn't notice how nice you are.  We have a saying, The one behaving poorly seldom gets consequences and the one behaving well seldom gets credit.

Title: Re: Co-parenting with BPD/Narcissist
Post by: Turkish on February 23, 2020, 10:20:13 PM
It's good that you have friends that can screen emails. 

We have to tool here that might help. I've found that it can work verbally as well. 

2.03 | B.I.F.F. Technique for Communications (https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=134124.0)

Brief, Informative, Friendly, Firm.

Ignoring those messages which need to response as you have been doing is the right thing to do. The upside to this downside is that you have documentation should it ever end up back in court. Hopefully, some of his aggression well fade after the financial matters are settled.

Title: Re: Co-parenting with BPD/Narcissist
Post by: livednlearned on February 24, 2020, 08:10:04 AM
In his narration, he is the only one truly protecting her interests and I am unimaginative, backwards, conservative, etc.

Often this is the most primitive form of projection. He (sort of) recognizes there are qualities present that are unpleasant but his sense of self is so devastatingly arrested he cannot truly recognize that he's responsible for the traits he despises in himself.

So he projects them onto you, where he can single them out and despise them from a safer distance. Someone on these boards once recommended swapping out the pronouns. "You are so backwards" to "I am so backwards."

It would be nice to have an email program that could do that for us  *)

Some days my email is so full of messages that I feel like I am still in a relationship with him

I found the toughest part was tightening my boundaries to the point that there were times my son was impacted. I couldn't deviate from the order even the tiniest bit, no matter what it was (wanting to swap dates for a family reunion, wedding, etc.) because of the turmoil that went with it. I didn't expect my son to appreciate that, though, until I saw him take pride in me having a backbone. More than wanting x or y for himself, he wanted to make sure someone was being assertive with his dad, otherwise he was truly on his own. It made him feel safe to know I had boundaries even when it wasn't convenient for (then) S11.

Do you feel comfortable being more specific about some of the communications? The devil can be in the details on a lot of this stuff. The boundary language is next level in my experience.

Title: Re: Co-parenting with BPD/Narcissist
Post by: Quicksylver on February 25, 2020, 06:32:58 PM
The communication (and the sheer amount of it) can be really overwhelming. My partner and I were bombarded constantly and it felt like we could never escape the anxiety and fear that came with it. So I've been there and relate to what you're describing.

It really does get better. Your ex is likely in a bit of an extinction burst. In my experience, BPD reacted super badly to any kind of boundary -particularly any that threatened the amount of control she used to have in our lives (our new custody agreement really limited her parenting time as well as how often/what methods she could use to contact us). It helped me to see that this behavior is normal and does taper after time (as long as you stick to the plan).

The main thing that helped us was waiting at least 2 days to respond to any non-time sensitive emails. At first we were responding right away in hopes that we could soothe whatever drama BPD was drumming up. That actually really back-fired. BPD seemed to crave that constant interaction with us and would invent the most ridiculous reasons to email us.

I started small -with just waiting one day, then built on it from there. Now we wait as long as a week (we now send a weekly check-in email on Sundays and only respond to truly time-sensitive issues during the week).

The other thing that helped was turning off the notifications for the email on our phones so it wasn't constantly jolting us out of our days (and it's never like a pleasant surprise). I was also way too anxious to have access to the email for a while so I had my partner change the password and not tell me what it was. We'd log into it together for a while -until it no longer felt like I had to check it all the time like a nervous tic.

If nothing else -try to delay your responses as much as possible. That above all else really turned things around for my family. We also really worked HARD to use B.I.F.F. (brief, informative, friendly, firm) when we communicated with her. Sometimes I would have to write a draft and then wait a day or two to make sure I wasn't reacting from ego or anger. I started channeling my anger/ego into venting with my therapist, friends and this website which helped redirect all that frustration (and frankly hate) that would only make matters worse.

BPD really seems to thrive in fights/conflicts. It's almost a love language for them. Remembering that was helpful in keeping my partner and I from taking the bait (which she still tries to lay out for us by the way). But we are now only communicating with her maybe 1-2 a week, which a year ago I never would have believed was possible.

Best of luck to you

Title: Re: Co-parenting with BPD/Narcissist
Post by: KingofTexas37891 on March 15, 2020, 06:35:33 AM
I suggest to build an emotional distance to him. Do not communicate with him via text or email. Suggest to use a co-parenting app:  TalkingParents App

Title: Re: Co-parenting with BPD/Narcissist
Post by: Breakingfree9 on May 24, 2020, 12:08:22 PM
I’ve been on and off this site for 10 years. As my D16 becomes an adult and tries to exert her independence, uBPDxw’s behavior gets worse.
Thank you for the responses. I’ll try BIFF more often. I always find something helpful to get me through these difficult times.