Divorced Tennessee parents who are coparenting with a narcissist may face some particular challenges. One woman had just had a particularly good stretch of time with her children when her ex-spouse phoned her and said the children would not be returning to her because they were afraid of her. Initially, she did not take it seriously because he had said similar things so often before. He had a pattern of stirring things up before a court action, and she had recently filed yet another motion to pressure him to pay support.
However, he then told everyone in their community, including teachers, his attorney and child protective services, that she was abusive. Even though she had 50/50 custody, she faced losing access to the children. The effect on the children was significant as well, amounting to two lost days of school with stress-related illnesses. That same week, the charges were declared to be unfounded.
There are several things parents can do to help protect themselves against a narcissistic coparent. Parents may need to document all parenting rights. Therapists, police and other professionals may also be helpful if a parent faces false accusations.
Some parents may deal with a very difficult coparent even if the coparent’s actions do not rise to the level of alleging abuse. Because courts tend to take the view that children generally benefit from contact with both parents, a parent may have to put up with some unreasonable behavior from a spouse. However, that parent might want to try to create boundaries in the parenting agreement to help prevent some of these behaviors. If the well-being of children is genuinely at stake, parents may want to talk to an attorney about what their options are. For example, parents might want to document any injuries and see if the other parent can be required to have only supervised visitation.