Single mom kissing her baby

Post-divorce Tips for Single Mothers

Single mom kissing her baby


Going through a divorce is one of the hardest experiences that we can experience in life, and it can be even harder to handle once the dust settles and you realize that you will need to care for your children and bring in all of the income as a single mother. However, as a strong woman, you will get through this, and we are here to help.

Tips for Single Moms

We have created a list of tips that can help you to get through this tough time while being present for your kids and helping them thrive, even in this new family arrangement. We will discuss moving to a new home, budgeting, and finding support so you can get through to the other side and have a happy life.

Moving out of the Marital Home

It will likely be very hard to move out of your marital home, but it may be what is best for the kids. Even if you were able to keep the house as part of the divorce, you might not be able to afford it on your own — or you may just want to get out because of the bad memories.

Whatever the case, you will want to take some steps before moving away from home. Look at your budget and determine what you can afford. If you are not yet committed to a new town or are not sure where to live, then you may want to find a rental apartment that suits your needs. When you are looking at potential landing spots, it is important to ensure that there is proper medical care nearby for you and the kids. That means a doctor, dentist, and optometrist. Call ahead of time to verify that they take new patients.

It will likely be difficult to move everything you own to the new house, so you will need to declutter. Go room by room and seriously think about the items you no longer need and donate them. You can write off what you give away on your taxes. Don’t forget to update your mailing address on all bank accounts, employee records, and insurance information, so you can keep up to date.

Keeping Your Family Afloat Financially

A major factor that can keep many single mothers awake at night is how they will be able to keep their families afloat on a single income. You can survive and thrive if you have a plan. The first step is to create a budget that accounts for every source of income you have, from your job to the spousal support you receive as part of the divorce. Then, you need to look at all of your expenses, from the required (utilities, rent) to the unnecessary (dinners out, coffee at Starbucks, the cable bill), and see where you can make adjustments. For instance, do you need to pay extra for the extensive cable package with all of the movie channels, or can you reduce your expenses by downgrading and paying for a streaming service or two for half of the cost?

If you find that a lot of your money is going toward daycare costs and babysitting, then you can ask your job if they will allow you to work a flexible schedule or work from home so you can keep an eye on your kids. Have a plan of action before you speak to your manager. Tell them how you have a quiet place to work, a suitable desk and chair, and a strategy to complete all of your work without distraction.

If you are short on funds, you can consider working a side hustle like driving for a food delivery company or working for Uber or Lyft. Side jobs will give you some extra income and let you choose your hours. That last part is key because it is essential that you schedule appropriately and spend time with your family and show your love during this tough transition.

Finding Support

This will undoubtedly be a very stressful time for you as you try to navigate a new life and make ends meet, but it is important that you don’t bring that anxiety home to your family. If you do, that stress could rub off on them, and it isn’t good for their mental health. You don’t want to keep your kids completely in the dark, but you don’t want to burden them with unnecessary problems, either.

That is why it is important to get your feelings out, and you can do that by joining an online support group for single parents. These groups can do wonders for your well-being because it is a chance for you to talk to other people in your same situation and learn how they get through the hard days. Talking to others is also essential because it prevents social isolation that can lead to mental anguish and depression.

If you are uncomfortable speaking to other people, even in an online capacity, then you should at least get your feelings out by journaling your thoughts before bed or by talking one on one to a professional therapist.

As you can see, though it won’t always be easy, there are ways that you can overcome adversity and find a way to thrive as a single mother. Consider these tips, and you will show your kids that with drive and a desire to succeed, they can overcome any obstacle.

The post Post-divorce Tips for Single Mothers appeared first on Divorced Moms.


First Holiday After Divorce

20 Tips For Getting Through Your First Holiday After Divorce

First Holiday After Divorce


My divorce became final the end of October. After nearly ten months of divorce negotiations, my children and I were about to spend our first holiday season without their father.

He had made the choice to move across the country to live with his girlfriend which meant he would spend no time during the holidays with his children.

On top of the adjustment we would have to make as a family of three instead of four, he wouldn’t be around to help his children navigate this new landscape.

I was in no mood to be jolly, but I owed it to my children to be the best mom I could be, in spite of how I felt. I owed it to myself to wring as much happiness out of the holidays as was possible, too. I did this by making sure our holiday schedule was packed with upbeat activities with friends and family.

I look back now and see that it was probably one of the best Christmases we’ve ever had. The effort we made to make it good, made it good.

Below I’m sharing some tips with you that have been important for not only myself but my children also when navigating the holidays after divorce.

20 Tips For Getting Through Your First Holiday After Divorce

1. Be patient

Even in the best of times, the holidays can be a bit hectic. However, when you’re celebrating the holidays for the first time on your own, they can feel more than hectic. They can feel overwhelming! You’ve got so much going on emotionally with your divorce that the added tasks, events and scheduling of the holidays can all be just a bit too much.

Be patient with yourself, your kids and the rest of your family as you navigate the holidays. This is new and different for everyone and a little patience will go a long way toward making your first holidays post-separation/divorce more enjoyable than you might believe they can be right now.

2. Be flexible

The holidays are about celebrating with family and friends and don’t HAVE to occur on only one specific day. Many of my clients who are celebrating the holidays for the first time as a single parent will get tied up with the idea that holidays can only happen on the official day marked on the calendar.

For example, it’s not unusual for them to think that Thanksgiving Day can ONLY happen on the fourth Thursday of November. However, with a bit of advance planning, you may decide that Thanksgiving will actually happen the Saturday before the fourth Thursday of November so you can celebrate it with your kids. Having an early Thanksgiving even has the added benefit of allowing you to avoid the crowd buying their last-minute turkey and fixings!

Think about it from your kids’ point of view too. Most kids love the holidays and having double the holidays – one with Mom and one with Dad – might be something the kids think is great!

3. Focus on others

Another way to enjoy the holiday season is to focus on those less fortunate than you. Now I get there are times when you feel like the most unfortunate person around, but you really can survive your divorce and the holidays by being willing to recognize that it could be worse.

You might want to consider volunteering at a soup kitchen or at a center that provides holiday “shopping” for needy families. I can guarantee that when you focus on providing joy for those less fortunate than you an amazing thing happens; you forget about your troubles and appreciate what you do have even more.

4. It’s not about the stuff!

Gift giving is often a big part of the holiday season. With separation and divorce, the funds available for gift giving are usually less than they were before. However, gifts don’t need to be purchased to be appreciated. Sometimes the gift of time and attention means more than any store-bought gift ever could.

5. Let happiness happen

For a lot of people going through divorce, it can seem strange to experience any emotion other than some form of upset. Divorce is an upsetting event that can be almost all-consuming. However, if you start to feel happy as a result of the holiday events, ENJOY the feeling! You deserve to be happy and enjoy the holidays just as much as everyone else does.

6. Reach out to family and friends

Almost everyone I know wishes someone could read their mind and offer help when it’s needed. On the other hand, I don’t know anyone who can read minds with any real reliability. The message here is if you need a little extra help to get your holidays to feel merrier, be sure and ask for it. Don’t wait for someone to guess what you need because there’s a chance that they might not guess correctly.

7. Make new family traditions

With divorce, so many things change. Some of these changes are not so comfortable, but some of these changes are good and might even be fun. What new family tradition can you introduce this holiday season to keep things fun?

When I got divorced, my new tradition was spending Christmas with my family. We had almost always spent Christmas with my in-laws when I was married to my first husband. I’ve had fun spending the holidays with my parents, siblings, and their families since then.

8. Nix the guilt

So many divorced parents feel guilty about how the kids’ holidays will be different. The thing is different doesn’t necessarily mean bad or wrong. Different is just different. If you nix the guilt and embrace the new way your holidays will be, then your kids will enjoy the holidays too. After all, if the kids are now having double the celebrations it’s worth making sure they’re having fun with you, even if it is different.

9. Work with your ex in a cooperative manner for the kids’ sake

One of the things I always tell my clients is that their divorce is between them and their former spouse. The holidays can be a wonderful experience for the kids provided that’s the shared goal you and your former spouse have for them.

I know of one couple who have agreed for the kids’ dad to have them for the holidays because his parents are still around and hers aren’t. She celebrates the holidays with the kids at another time.

The result? Everyone’s able to make the most of the holidays!

10. Continue your traditions, but simplify them

You may have holiday traditions that are important to you, but they just are not possible now that you’re divorced. What can you do to tweak these traditions so that you can still have them?

For example, maybe you have had a holiday tradition of going skiing. If that kind of a trip isn’t possible this year, you may choose to do something else that captures the essence of the traditional ski trip. You may decide to play ski jumping on the Wii, have a marshmallow fight instead of a snowball fight, and drink hot chocolate afterward. Let your creativity flow, and I know you’ll be able to create a modified tradition this year that you’ll still enjoy.

11. Don’t spend the holidays alone

It can be tempting to crawl into a cave and hibernate during our first holidays alone – especially if your ex has the kids. However, I urge you to resist the temptation. There’s no reason to punish yourself, for that’s what hiding in a cave during the holidays is. I’m not saying that you don’t need time alone. You very well might. I’m just suggesting that instead of spending all of the holiday season alone, make an effort to go out and spend some time with others. I promise that you’ll get a different perspective on your first holidays as a single person if you open yourself up to even a little fun celebrating the holidays with others.

12. Take care of your health

The funny thing about the holiday season is that it coincides with the cold and flu season. This, along with the stress that accompanies divorce, makes you a bit more susceptible to catching a bug. So, take good care of yourself by getting plenty of rest, adequate exercise and good nutrition in addition to all the holiday goodies.

13. Give yourself a gift

This being the first holiday season post separation/divorce, chances are you won’t be receiving a gift from your ex. You probably won’t be buying them a gift either.

Since your gift giving list has decreased by at least one, why not add yourself to your list? If you do, you’ll be able to buy yourself something that you’ll truly enjoy this holiday season. (You may also want to make sure it’s not something that you’ll regret purchasing in the New Year when the payments for it start!)

14. Count your blessings

It’s easy to get caught up in what’s different this holiday season – in the negative sense.

If that’s happening to you, flip that upside down and count what’s different AND positive this holiday season. Maybe you don’t have to listen to your ex’s Uncle Jeremiah’s continual belching during the holiday meal or suffer through listening to the never-ending story of all your former mother-in-law’s aches and pains.

15. Lean on your faith

Whatever your beliefs are, you just might be able to find solace in your faith when you’re not feeling the “Ho Ho Ho!” in the holidays. For many, the holidays are a celebration of faith and spending some time remembering this might be just what you need to experience a bit more of the holiday spirit.

16. Plan ahead

The most important thing to have when you want something to happen at a certain time is a plan. Wanting to have happy holidays requires a plan too. The plans don’t have to be elaborate or come with a detailed timetable of when events must happen. But, by giving some thought to what you want to have happened and then doing what needs to be done will make it more likely you’ll have a happy holiday season.

17. Cultivate gratitude

Developing an attitude of gratitude does wonders for the way you view the world. This was one of the most important skills I developed when I got divorced. It helped me to be more positive and proactive about changing the things that needed to be changed, not just during the holidays but year-round.

What are you thankful for this holiday season?

18. Engage in more of what you love about the holidays.

People like the cooler weather and giving and receiving gifts, decorations. Whatever it is that you love most about the holiday season, figure out a way to get more of it. Once you do that, you’ll definitely have happier holidays.

19. Do more of what puts you in the holiday mood.

When I ask my clients this question I hear answers like shopping, parties, decorating, watching football, Christmas lights, and caroling. The next question I ask them is, “How can you do more of these and get even more enjoyment out of the holiday season?”

So, what activities put you in the holiday mood?

Now, how can you do more of these?

20. Be realistic

Your life is in the midst of a major change. For most people, separation and divorce bring increased responsibilities along with decreased financial means and free time. Be sure and factor these facts in this holiday season. If you do, I’ll bet you’ll find it easier to be realistic with the expectations you have of yourself, your family, and the holidays this year.


The post 20 Tips For Getting Through Your First Holiday After Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.


3 Keys to Co-parenting with a Narcissist

00:00 3 Keys to Co-parenting with a Narcissist
00:45 It’s not about “Co-parenting”
01:54 Be a Secure Attachment
03:13 Protect Reality
04:21 Protect Your Child
06:23 Just Listen!

3 Keys to Co-parenting with a Narcissist

A lot of people write and ask me how to co-parent with an extremely narcissistic partner or ex. Here, I break down the best way to nurture a relationship with your child under these extraordinarily challenging circumstance, based on my clinical experience and decades of research. I should have added here (next video) that as long as you have even minimal contact, you can still model these behaviors –*even if your child doesn’t seem to welcome you yet! Keep being a caring presence or voice even when they’re being rejecting (but model self-protection: correct them if they’re hurtful by saying something like “just tell me your angry with me. You don’t have to name-call or put me down to do that.”

Be consistent even in the face of lies and your child will see you for who you are over time as they become more independent and confident in their own perspective!



Why It's Important To Put Children First During Divorce

Why It’s Important To Put Children First During Divorce

Why It's Important To Put Children First During Divorce


I’m not one of those experts who believe that divorce has little significant effect on a child’s life. I’m of the opinion that divorce can set a child up for lifelong emotional struggles. The divorce of a child’s parent leaves them with negative emotions they will deal with throughout their lives in one way or another.

Yes, they learn to adjust to the fact that their parents are divorced, but the sadness caused by the divorce lessens with time but never goes away. On top of the regret a child feels over a parent’s divorce, there can be devastating consequences if the parents do not handle the divorce in a responsible manner.

I bristle when I hear parents say that children are “resilient” and can “handle” their divorce. I’ve talked to adults who were devastated years after their divorce was finalized, yet for some strange reason, they believe that their children are more capable of getting over and learning to live with a situation they, themselves, are finding hard to accept and move on from.

It is this belief by parents that children are resilient that sets children up for disaster when their parent’s divorce. A child’s divorce experience is shaped by whether or not parents continue to put their children’s well-being and security first during the divorce process.

Why it’s Important to Put Children First During Divorce

Divorce means huge changes in the lives of children.

It can also mean direct involvement in the conflict between parents, changes in where they live, economic hardship, broken bonds with a parent, loss of emotional security, and a multitude of emotional stressors.

Divorce means the loss of a child’s family, something that is the center of their universe.

If a child is raised in a happy or low-conflict family, that family is the base of their security. It is what allows that child to go out into the world and broaden their horizons because they know there is a safe place to return to.

The loss of an intact family is like a death to the child. There will be a period of grieving and a need to replace, with something new, the security they had in the intact family.

Divorce increases a child’s risk of psychological, educational, and sociological problems.

A parent’s divorce touches every aspect of a child’s life. A child’s relationships with friends will change, and their ability to focus and concentrate in school will be affected. As a result, there is an increased possibility of problems with anxiety and depression.

Divorce causes children emotional pain.

Regardless of how hard a parent tries and how well they parent, a child will feel sadness and loss during and after a divorce. Your divorce is going to hurt your children! And please, don’t fall for the nonsense belief that if the “parent is happy, the child will be happy.” I promise you unless your child is witnessing or a party to domestic abuse or high conflict, the child could care less if Mom and Dad are happy.

Some parents have a misguided belief that their children are spending time and energy worrying about their happiness. Nothing could be further from the truth, children are concerned with their own happiness and security, as it should be.

So, please, don’t project your need to divorce so you can be “happy” off onto your children. You will do them no favor, and it will free you up to ignore their pain due to a skewed belief that is not correct.

What Are The Negative Effects of Divorce For Children?

If you contrast children from intact families to children of divorce, children from divorced families are:

  • Twice as likely to have to see a mental health provider,
  • Twice as likely to exhibit behavioral problems,
  • More than twice as likely to have problems with depression and mood disorders,
  • Twice as likely to drop out of high school before graduating,
  • Twice as likely to divorce themselves as adults,
  • Less socially competent and tend to linger in adolescents before moving into adulthood.

Andrew Cherlin, a family demographer at Johns Hopkins University, said that even those who grow up to be very successful as adults carry “the residual trauma of their parent’s breakup.”

In other words, when we, as adults, make the decision to divorce, we are going against our natural parental instincts…protecting our children from harm. Some would argue that divorce in and of itself does not cause harm to children. They believe that it is the behavior of the parents during a divorce that determines how a child will fare or what the consequences will be.

I agree that, as parents, we can lessen the negative effects of divorce on our children. There are obligations that parents have during divorce that can help their children cope. The issue I have, though, is this, during my career as a therapist who has worked closely with divorcing clients, children seem to take a backseat to their parent’s needs during that time.

Parents are more focused on the legal process of divorce and their own emotional needs than their children’s needs. Until I see a change in the way the majority of parents behave during divorce I will hold onto my belief that children are irreparably harmed by divorce and suffer due to parents who are unable to parent and divorce at the same time.

The post Why It’s Important To Put Children First During Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.


man and woman arguing over a child

Co-Parenting with a Narcissist: Identify and Neutralize Your Triggers

man and woman arguing over a child


When you end a relationship with a narcissist, the ideal healing environment is one in which all contact is severed.  Unfortunately, when you have children with a narcissist, eliminating all communication is not an option.  Whether you like it or not, you must find a way to effectively co-parent with your toxic ex for the children’s best interest.

Anyone who has been in a relationship with a narcissist understands that relying on them to come to the table and rationally cooperate to make decisions for the children is usually not possible.  Especially if you initiated the divorce or breakup, the narcissist would take any need to communicate with you as an opportunity to punish, bully, and manipulate you.  It may feel like you’re facing two equally unattractive options; either continue to let your toxic ex use your child as a conduit to maintain control over you (what’s the point in even being divorced?), or refuse to communicate at all which will land you in hot water with the courts.

But there is a way to set healthy boundaries, maintain them in a responsive–as opposed to a reactive–manner, and create accountability to not only hold the narcissist responsible for toxic behavior but to prevent it altogether.

As your relationship with a narcissist progressed, your mental and emotional state was gradually altered.  The process was so imperceptible that it’s possible that you woke up one day and didn’t realize who you were anymore.

The starting point, therefore, is evaluating your own mental and emotional transformation that took place throughout your relationship with the narcissist.  As life with a narcissist becomes more difficult and confusing, you adapt to the abuse in ways that make it easier to function in your daily life.  This was actually a preservation mechanism to fool yourself into believing that you had some control.  While you needed these adaptations to keep your head above water, those coping skills consequently served to justify, minimize, and excuse the narcissist’s behavior.

In my own experience surviving a marriage with a narcissist, I used to tell myself that I was simply taking the path of least resistance in an effort to keep the peace for myself and the children.  In hindsight, I was sinking lower and lower into a manipulative and emotionally abusive relationship until, one day, I woke up and couldn’t even make simple decisions for myself anymore.

As such, the same defenses that helped you survive may have contributed to you staying trapped in a toxic relationship.  Essentially, the narcissist has conditioned you to react, and you now have to go through the process of retraining your brain and habits.

You can never control a narcissist, and you will never be able to change their behavior with love, compassion, or empathy, as they have no value to the narcissist.  You can never make them be reasonable.  You can never make them empathize with you or have compassion for you.  You can only control yourself, and by learning what triggers a negative reaction in you and why, you can alter how you respond.  By doing this, you will begin to show the narcissist that they cannot control you.

Co-Parenting with a Narcissist

If you can identify and neutralize your triggers, the narcissist will soon realize that he or she no longer has power over you when those buttons are pushed. So how do you assess how your emotional state has changed and determine your triggers?


Educate yourself about narcissism, the abuse cycle, narcissistic relationships, and healing from narcissistic trauma. Once you more clearly understand what you are dealing with, you will be much better at dealing with your emotions and controlling your actions, responding versus reacting.

In short, a narcissist is looking for their “supply.”  Whereas a reasonably well-adapted person seeks to give and receive love and affection, a narcissist has such a low opinion of themselves that they seek constant praise and admiration to bolster their deficient sense of self.  When the admiration wanes, the narcissist turns to bullying and nasty behavior because putting you down gives them gives the sense of superiority that they crave.  If you are in the midst of a divorce, or navigating post-divorce issues, you are likely experiencing the latter version.  Dismantling your vulnerabilities so they have no power over you when triggered is the first step.


“Accept it as if you chose it.”  You can’t expect a toxic person to behave reasonably.  When you accept that this is how they communicate, it will mitigate your frustration and disappointment.  Once you accept that a narcissist’s behavior is a defect in their personality, you will understand that narcissists behave as they do to elicit a reaction in you.  They know what strings to pull to get you to dance the way they want as if you’re a marionette. Accept and expect that this behavior will be something that you will have to deal with.  The key is to be neutral, no positive or negative reactions. The more you are able to keep calm and not react to their triggers, the less power they have over you.  So how do you do that?


If you think back to when you entered the relationship, there’s a good chance you were in some kind of vulnerable state.  This could be a specific life event, such as a breakup or job loss, or perhaps you’re part of a marginalized group.  Being dependent on another person’s emotional state causes you to be prone to be controlled or manipulated.  Quite often, our vulnerabilities trace back to childhood events or trauma.  This was actually the thing that likely attracted the narcissist to you in the first place.  They can see your vulnerability, and press on that soft spot to keep you in the cycle of control and abuse.  By identifying your vulnerabilities, you can start to break them down so that it no longer elicits an emotional response.


So what exactly is a trigger?  It’s some form of external stimulation that brings up intense feelings of anger, anxiety, frustration, or sadness, often stemming from a prior trauma.  Any rational person would be triggered by physical violence, for example, but quite often, the trigger is something neutral or innocuous.  Once triggered, our limbic brains take over (this is what causes the fight, flight, freeze, or appease response).  When the limbic system kicks in, our higher cognitive functions shut down because, our brains act as if there is an actual physical threat to which we will must physically respond.  Interestingly, even a threat that we know does not put us in physical danger still triggers the part of our brains that respond to physical danger, and it reduces the higher cognitive functions so that we’re able to fight, flight, freeze, or appease without much thought.  In other words, when facing a threat, we’re not going to escape that threat by doing algebra, we escape it by out-running or out-fighting the threat.

Which is why identifying your triggers early, before your brain triggers a cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters that reduces your ability to think rationally is key in being able to keep your calm when the narcissist triggers you.

First you have to build the muscle of listening to your body.  Modern life has provided us with an almost unlimited menu of ways to avoid uncomfortable feelings.  We start scrolling, shopping, eating when not hungry, smoking, or drinking.  But avoided feelings live in your body until they are processed.  When your toxic ex triggers you and you feel the discomfort arise, identify where it is in your body.  Is your stomach in knots?  Heart racing?  Palms sweaty?  Feel it and just observe it in your body without judgment.  This means that you’re not trying to analyze why you’re feeling the way you are, but you’re simply and factually listing the physiological symptoms that are happening with your body.

Then, write down what stimuli preceded your physiological response.  Was it a smell?  A song?  In our case, what did the narcissist say or do?  Write it down in the most factual way possible, and then dig deep as to why this bothers you.  What happened in your past that gives this stimuli power to cause you hurt, fear, or frustration?  If you’re having trouble, a professional therapist or counselor will be of assistance.  Whatever it is, you have to work on your healing and releasing the past trauma so that you can no longer be triggered.


Once the narcissist notices your lack of response to the normal triggers, they will up the ante. They will work harder to get a response from you, they will be crueler, make up more lies, involve more people, and make it even more personal to you. They hate being ignored and not getting the fix they need, they also hate losing and consider it a loss when you don’t uncomfortably react to them prodding you.

Sometimes I refer to this as “scorching the earth.”  Scorching the earth refers to a warfare tactic whereby one side destroys any usable land, food, shelter, or other resources relied upon by the other side.  Once a narcissist realizes that you will no longer be a source of their supply, it’s conceivable that they will engage in heinous and vile acts because they think it will destroy you.  I’ve seen toxic people send emails exposing details about the parties’ private intimate life to friends and family members.  I have also seen narcissists set up fake social media or dating app accounts where they portray the empath in a defamatory and false light.  Many years ago, I had a client come to me with a fake Craigslist ad that contained her photo, phone number, and address (the two children were with her at the time).  The ad purported to offer prostitution services.  After several calls and texts, my client received the link to the fake ad.  This toxic person’s children were at this home that he dangerously displayed online, but that had no bearing to him; he was out to destroy.

The silver lining, however, is that the “scorch the earth” method is often a last-ditch effort and a sign that the abuse will soon wane.  This is when you can start to feel better within yourself, you are doing a good job if they are upping their game. You should feel pride within yourself that you have been able to free yourself from their influences.


Consistency is key!  There may be times when you’re at a low and want to react.  Don’t.  It will send a message that you can be triggered again and provide the narcissist with a refreshed sense of how hard they will have to go the next time in order to get their fix.  By not reacting, the narcissist will eventually learn that you can’t be triggered, and they will seek their supply elsewhere.

So how do you actually respond when they say hateful, hurtful things?

Below is a list of 30 ways you can respond to the narcissist in a completely neutral manner.  Some are assertive but again, neutral.

  • I can see you feel very strongly about this
  • You’re entitled to your opinion
  • That could be; however,
  • We see things differently
  • I wonder how we can do this better
  • I’m troubled by
  • I’m concerned with
  • I’m disappointed
  • I’m uncomfortable
  • We seem to have an issue
  • I really love our children, so I hope we can communicate in a way that allows us to continue to work together for their sake
  • I’m willing to work this out, but I’m not willing to be insulted
  • I’d like to maintain a respectful relationship with you
  • You may not be aware of how damaging your behavior has been
  • Yelling doesn’t resolve anything, and it doesn’t work for me.
  • Let’s talk when you’re feeling calmer
  • I want you to know that I find your behavior unpleasant
  • I’m not sure why you feel a need to speak to me so disrespectfully
  • If this behavior continues, I will have to take action
  • I have no idea why you feel a need to try to intimidate me but it’s unacceptable and I will not tolerate it
  • I’m happy to consider your wishes and preferences, and I would like the same courtesy from you
  • In order for this relationship to work, we both need to feel like we matter, like our feelings and opinions are heard and honored.
  • It sometimes feels like there are different ruels for each of us, and that doesn’t work for me
  • I’d like to discuss a solution that satisfies both of our needs
  • I understand that you’re upset and disappointed and I’m willing to listen to your thoughts and feelings, but I can’t hear what you’re saying when you’re being hurtful
  • While I don’t think you intend to hurt me, you sometimes come across as overly critical. It upsets me and it doesn’t help the situation.
  • I know you are used to taking charge, and that you take pride in that. But it’s not okay for you to dismiss my opinions or feelings
  • I know you may be too upset to talk about this right now. I suggest we postpone our conversation until you’ve had a chance to calm down
  • I understand you are feeling hurt and angry and a lot of other powerful emotions right now.
  • Perhaps I haven’t clearly communicated my boundaries, so I will do so again because you are crossing them.

Co-parenting with a narcissist is not easy.  But it is possible to do so with the right mindset shift and planning ahead.  The narcissist trained you over time to act and react in a manner that satisfies their need to feel adored and superior.  But with some self-reflection and a mindset shift, you can undo any maladaptive behaviors you’ve established and set up boundaries that will protect your peace.

The post Co-Parenting with a Narcissist: Identify and Neutralize Your Triggers appeared first on Divorced Moms.


3 circles with the numbers 1, 2 and 3

A 3-Step Plan For Peacefully Co-Parent With Your Ex No Matter How Irrational They Are

3 circles with the numbers 1, 2 and 3


If your stomach drops every time you see a message from your ex, or communicating with him is sucking up all of your time and mental energy, then I’m so glad you’re reading this.

To be clear, I’m not glad that you feel like he’s sucking up all of your time and mental energy, but I am glad that you’re reading this, because I know that I can help.

If you implement these three steps, you will feel the difference immediately.  I’m not saying these steps are easy, but they are simple; and, with practice, you will master this three-step process.  Once you do that, you won’t believe all of the space that opens up for you in your life.

Here are the three steps to peacefully co-parenting

First, you neutralize.

Then, you plan.

Then, you constrain.

That’s it.

Step 1 – Neutralize.

The first step in the three step process of peacefully co-parenting with your ex is to neutralize him.  If that sounds a bit sinister to you, then let me explain.

So many of my clients want to tell me that the ex’s messages are “harassing” or “exhausting” or that the messages “make me so mad.”

None of that is true.  I’m serious, and I know that some of you are really going to push back on this.

What your ex says does not create your feelings.  His words – which probably appear as pixels on your phone or computer screen — do not create your feelings.  Your ex, and his words, are totally neutral.  It is only when you have a thought about your ex or his words, that you feel anything, and whatever you think about him is what creates your feelings.

Here’s how this plays out.  Your ex sends you a message in an email or a text.  The characters on your phone or computer do not jump off of the screen and inject a feeling into you. They don’t. You do not have a feeling until you have a thought about the words, and the thought is usually something like, “I can’t believe he said that,” or “he has a lot of nerve criticizing me.”

Two different things are happening here.  First, he says words.  Then, you have a thought.  The words are neutral.  The thought is not neutral.

Most of us live decades of life – and many people have lived their entire lives – without making this distinction, but it is this distinction that will drive transformative change for you.

If you think right now that you’re just observing the reality outside of you, and that you have a lot of evidence for what a jerk he is, or that you can even list all of the people that agree with you, then you’re proving my point.

The more you think about what a jerk he is, and the more you want to show me why you’re right, the more likely you are to reach that conclusion about anything that he says or does.  Eventually, you won’t be able to see anything else.  There’s real science behind this.

Now, hear me on this. I’m not saying that it’s okay that he said what he said. I’m not condoning it and I’m not telling you that it’s your fault.  Let’s forget about fault and responsibility for one second.  Let’s instead ask a different question.  Does it serve you in your day-to-day life to believe that he’s creating your feelings?  Does it serve your children for you to believe that?

You already know the answer.  When you believe that he “makes” you miserable and exhausted with his messages – in fact, when you believe that he can “make” you feel anything — you’re giving him all of your power.

Stop doing that.  Instead, separate exactly what he said or did from what you’re thinking about what he said or did.  The words and actions are totally neutral.  The thoughts about them are not neutral.  You cannot control his words or actions, but you are responsible for your thoughts, and that’s the best news ever.

That’s what I mean when I say to “neutralize” him.

Step 2 – Plan

Once you “neutralize” him, these next two steps become much easier.  The second step is to Plan.

Here’s how you plan.  First, every time you receive a communication from your ex, categorize it as tactical or substantive.

A tactical communication is one in which you are making or receiving an offer that has to be acted on immediately.  If it’s not acted on right away, it will become stale.  For example, your ex texts you to say, “I happen to be passing by your house tonight. Would you like me to drop Junior off then instead of you having to drive to my house?”

That is an example of a tactical message because, if you don’t respond within a certain period of time, the offer in the message becomes stale.  So, for tactical messages, it makes sense to respond immediately and only to accept or reject the time-sensitive offer.

Most of the messages between you and your ex that are sucking up your time and energy are not tactical.  They’re substantive, which means you don’t need to respond right away.  You may not need to respond ever.

For substantive messages, you’re not going to respond immediately.  Instead, you’re going to select a block of time on your calendar to respond to the substantive messages in one sitting.

The block of time that you’ll pre-select could be twenty minutes every Thursday evening after the kids go to bed, or some other block of time monthly.  I usually tell clients to start with thirty minutes bi-weekly, and then make little adjustments until you settle into a schedule that works best for you.

Step 3 – Constrain

Now that you’ve neutralized and planned, the third step is to constrain, which means that you only respond to substantive messages during the block of time that you selected in Step 2, above.

At first, you’ll want to react in the moment to a substantive message.  Your brain will tell you that you need to “stand up for yourself” or that you “shouldn’t let him get away with saying things like that.”  Your brain is lying to you.  There’s nothing to stand up for.  He’s totally neutral, remember?  And you’re not “letting” him get away with anything.  He was never asking you for permission.

The truth is that your power is in not responding, or at least not responding right away.

You’ll want to tell me that this is really hard.  That is also a lie.

It literally requires more physical movement from you to type that immediate response than it does to not type the response.  Not responding “feels” harder, however, because that means you must allow the urge to respond without acting on that urge.  It’s sort of like not eating the cupcake when you’re trying to eliminate sugar and flour from your diet.  It’s literally easier to not pick up the cupcake and put it in your mouth, right?  The hard part is resisting the urge to eat the cupcake.

At first, you’re practically going to have to sit on your hands when you get some snarky message from your ex.  It feels better in that moment to satisfy the urge to respond, but you know that the result that’s being created from that action is not a result that’s working for you in your life.

That’s what I mean by constrain.  You select that block of time when you’re going to sit down and thoughtfully respond, and then constrain yourself to only responding to substantive messages during that pre-selected block of time.

I promise you that this process will become easier with practice.  Once you’ve mastered this three-step process, you’ve mastered a meta-skill that you can apply to so many other areas of your life.

The post A 3-Step Plan For Peacefully Co-Parent With Your Ex No Matter How Irrational They Are appeared first on Divorced Moms.


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Divorcing a Narcissist: Keep Your Expectations Low!

Man Narcissist (2).jpg

As long as you are in any type of relationship with a narcissist, you can bet the only person who will benefit from that relationship is the narcissist.


I’ve been accused, in the past, of being “disloyal” to my ex-husband when I write about my experiences with him either during the marriage or since the divorce. What some fail to realize is that when you experience divorcing a narcissist, feelings of support and allegiance toward that person are hard to come by, if not impossible.

Any loyalty I owed my ex flew out the window the day he walked away from his family. I have no sense of loyalty toward a person who left me in a truly untenable position with two children to care for and no concern for how his conduct impacted his children or me, their mother. Plus, why would anyone who takes a scorched-earth attitude toward those who loved him think he has the right to claim the protection of confidentiality?

I have to admit, though that it took time for me to realize that I owed my ex-husband NOTHING and that I had more power in our situation than he did.

I spent a couple of years capitulating, attempting to negotiate and fix the problems between us, believing that if I gave respect, I would eventually receive respect. I did what a lot of women who are dealing with the aftermath of divorcing a narcissist. I rolled over and over and over, playing nice doggy, hoping that one day he would rub my belly, begin to co-parent civilly, and we could put all the conflict behind us. You know, for the sake of our children.

What Does Rolling Over Get You?

You get nothing from all the effort you put into being civil with the narcissist. As long as you are in any type of relationship with a narcissist, you can bet the only person who will benefit from that relationship is the narcissist.

A narcissist has an inflated sense of his own importance. In his mind, you are supposed to roll over and often. You rolling over or giving in only cements his belief that he is all important and his needs must be catered to. And his belief that you are to cater to him only gets you more of the same emotional abuse you suffered in the marriage.

You roll over expecting a positive return on your emotional investment in your post-divorce relationship with the narcissist. A sensible expectation to have! He has his own expectations…you do as he feels you should do. Take it from me; his expectations will be met before yours if you continue to roll over.

Things You Should Not Expect When Divorcing a Narcissist:

1. Civil discourse.

He doesn’t have it in him, let go of expecting him to converse with you as if you are an equal. To feel good about himself, he has to treat you as if you are beneath him. Don’t buy into it!

Behind his mask of superiority lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism. He knows it, you know it but humbling himself and admitting it would be tantamount to emotional destruction for him. Take it from me; he will attempt to destroy you emotionally to keep from having to face his own emotional frailties.

He can’t feel good about himself unless he actively tries to make you feel bad about yourself. Every email you receive, every conversation you have will be him focusing on putting you down. Your best defense against his degradation is a “whatever” attitude. If he is nasty in an email, don’t respond. If he is disrespectful face to face, shrug your shoulders and walk away.

2. Healthy Co-Parenting.

This isn’t going to happen. The narcissist can’t separate his relationship with his children from his relationship with you. In his mind, you and the children are one package. And he has no qualms about using his children to further destroy you emotionally and financially.

The narcissist views his children as objects to be used to further his own agenda. This makes it impossible for him to engage in healthy co-parenting. He is a fine father if those objects (his children) fit into his agenda or reflect positively upon him. When those objects no longer fit into his agenda…when he moves onto another relationship, remarries, and needs to focus on his step-children or suffers the wrath of his own children after mistreatment, WATCH OUT. This is when your children will begin to feel the full force of his narcissistic abuse.

This is also when you have to put your guard up. It will be your place to guard your children’s hearts against the damage a narcissistic father can do. You are the healthy parent, the parent who will teach them what unconditional love is. The parent who will teach them their value by role modeling how to respond to those who do them emotional harm. The parent who will keep them from becoming adults with fragile self-esteem and emotional vulnerabilities. You are your children’s only defense against the narcissist. On Guard!

3. Concern for Your Well-Being.

Once you stop feeding the narcissist’s ego, your needs and the needs of his children become inconsequential to him. I’ve been divorced from my ex-husband for 14 years. Our sons were 7 and 14 when we divorced. Their father has not once shown concern for whether or not they have what they need since we divorced. No phone calls or emails asking, “Can I do anything for you, son,” or, “I’m here for you if you need me, son.”

I had custody of our children, due to this, in his mind, they were an extension of me, the woman he wanted to be destroyed. They became collateral damage in the war he waged against me.

Our youngest is now 21 and experiencing health problems. The other day I called my ex and left him a message…”Alan needs you, can you call?” I got no response. I expected no response, but the opportunity came up for him to do something for his child and the choice of whether to take that opportunity was his to make. He did as I expected, but by reaching out, I took away any ability he had to blame his children or me for the distance between him and his children.

My ex-husband’s refusal to respond when his child was in need is an example of the total lack of empathy that is characteristic in narcissistic personality disorder. I’m sure that if you asked, my ex-husband would tell you he has, over the years, attempted to have a relationship with his children.

My children would tell you that the total of ten years of no contact from him does not feel like an attempt by him to have a relationship with them. The narcissist doesn’t care about how someone else perceives a situation. Their perception of the situation is the only perception that is valid. They don’t care about the thoughts and feelings of others and are unable to listen to, validate, understand or support others.

My ex-husband and all narcissists are not capable of stepping outside themselves and seeing a situation from the other person’s perspective. The world revolves around them and their feelings, and due to that, others aren’t allowed to feel, unless of course, they are expressing concern for the narcissist’s feelings.

The narcissist, my ex-husband, for example, can’t view ten years of no contact with a child as abandonment or abuse because those ten years are not about his children, they are about him. And I’m certain that a narcissist would find it highly offensive that a child would not express concern for the narcissist rather than expect a show of concern from the narcissist.

Outfoxing the Narcissist:

You will never be as cunning as the narcissist. You can’t outfox him. You may be crafty, clever, and shrewd, but you also have the ability to empathize with others, and it is that pesky aspect of your personality that will keep you from ever being able to outsmart the narcissist if you engage in conflict with him.

The only way to get one over on the narcissist during divorce is to disengage, distance yourself, and don’t feed the tiger. As I said before, have no expectations of the narcissist. But the big one, the one I struggled with myself, was the need to do something, to find a solution, to fix the problems between him and me for the sake of our children.

Few things are as emotionally painful or produce as much fear and anxiety as being in a high-conflict relationship with a narcissist. It is the emotional pain, fear, and anxiety that spurs you into action, attempting to fix the situation. After all, how are you ever going to have peace of mind and heart again if the situation isn’t fixed?

No matter how much you try to fix him, outsmart him, or stay one step ahead of him, the narcissist will always trump, one-up, escalate and create more damage in response. To stop the continued emotional damage to yourself and your children, you have to exit the stage, step out of the ring and take back your power by letting go of your need to fix the problem.

When you do that, you show the narcissist who is in control of YOUR life. You show the narcissist that no one has power over how you live your life, and the narcissist is completely out of his league when faced with true power…especially YOUR power over his ability to cause you pain, fear, and anxiety.

FAQs About Divorcing A Narcissist:

Should I give in to a narcissist to save my marriage?

You will only end up reinforcing his beliefs that he is superior to you and his needs come first if you give in to a narcissist in an attempt to save your marriage. A narcissist will never stop emotionally abusing you no matter how submissive you become.

Can I have a decent conversation with a narcissist?

You can never have a decent conversation with a narcissist because he doesn’t treat you as an equal partner. He will keep on debasing you and make you feel insufficient so he can manipulate you to satisfy his narcissistic needs.

Do narcissists believe they are superior to those around them?

The very existence of a narcissist rests upon his need to feel superior to others. He cannot take slightest of criticism because it hurts his fragile self-esteem—masked under his false sense of superiority. He will gaslight you, manipulate you emotionally just to keep himself from facing his own emotional frailties.

How to deal with a narcissist when he is disrespectful?

Walk away without falling for an argument when a narcissist shows disrespect. Narcissists show disrespect deliberately to draw you in an argument you can’t win. They feed on your frustration and will not leave any stone unturned to make you feel miserable. Don’t respond to his nasty remarks either in writing or face to face.

Do narcissistic men use their children against their spouses? 

Narcissists are known to use children as pawns against their spouses. They consider you and your children as one package and will not spare any opportunity to draw them in a conflict to harm you emotionally or financially. 

Are narcissists healthy co-parents? 

Narcissists can never become healthy co-parents because of their need to feel superior and manipulate everyone around them. A narcissist is a father as long as he can use children to his own advantage—either to feel good or make you feel bad.

Should I take steps to protect my children from their narcissistic father?

You have to protect your children from their narcissistic father, who will eventually damage their emotional health. You need to understand the challenge and teach your children the virtues of unconditional love, besides protecting them against developing a fragile self-esteem and emotional vulnerabilities.

When does a narcissist stop taking care of his family?

As soon as you stop feeding his narcissistic ego, a narcissist will stop caring for his family. A family is more like a business relationship for a narcissist, which ends when you put an end to manipulation. 

Do narcissists ever see a situation from others perspective?

Narcissists are not brought up to see the situation from others perspective. A narcissist will cease to exist if he cares for others because his only purpose in life is to manipulate those around him.

How do I outsmart a narcissist?

Don’t try to outsmart a narcissist because you did not grow up perfecting the art of manipulation. You are brought up as a normal human being and carry emotions like empathy and love. These aspects of your personality will put you at a disadvantage if you try to outsmart a narcissist.

How to deal with a narcissistic husband during divorce?

Keep your emotional health in check and remain consistent in maintaining a policy of disengagement and distance with your narcissistic husband during divorce. 

The post Divorcing a Narcissist: Keep Your Expectations Low! appeared first on Divorced Moms.



CoParenting: It Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult!


Co-parenting is a modern term in the divorce world. When my parents walked out of the divorce court, they never communicated with each other ever again, and certainly not about me. Co-parenting implies cooperation and dialogue. The former spouses are no longer marriage partners but are so in raising their children.

Society today may be more complex with so many choices, or parents like mine did not consider the need to discuss children with each other post-divorce. Custody is usually joint, which means both parents have the right to decide what schools and activities their children will attend.

Cooperative Parenting Tips For Success:

There are ways to make co-parenting easier for the parents and more effective for the kids. Consider having a regularly scheduled meeting, perhaps monthly, to discuss issues or activities of the kids. Have an agenda, just as you would for a conference at work.

If one parent veers off course into blame or other toxic areas, calmly steer them back to the discussed topic, “We were talking about Jane’s wish to change schools….”  Keep emotion out of the discussion and treat the other parent as you would an excitable co-worker. These meetings do not have to be in person if it is difficult to be in their presence. Using Skype or the phone is fine, even if they only live a few streets away.

Co-parenting is easier when both are on the same page and do not feel left out of anything. There are various online calendars and apps which let each parent view and add activities or events in the youngsters’ lives. It is easy to put dance recitals, sports tournaments, and school concerts into a schedule. This way one parent cannot blame the other one for not notifying them of something. Remember to keep grandparents up-to-date on the kids’ events so they can attend.

Some parents have a notebook that goes back and forth between homes, which is particularly helpful with young children. This is good when a child has asthma or a food allergy so both know when an inhaler or Epi-pen was administered. This also is useful for medical conditions like seizures.  If there are incidents at school or other information that needs to be relayed, the notebook is another method of communication.

An important part of co-parenting is setting up consistent rules, routines, and consequences in both homes.  Kids require constancy in their topsy-turvy world. Going to bed and eating meals at vastly different times is like having chronic jet lag. They feel more secure with a routine, which is better for their well-being. This also avoids pitting one parent against the other one. No, “Dad lets me go to bed at 11, or Mom lets me watch TV all day.” Kids realize that their parents are on the same team and are less likely to try and get away with things when rules are consistent.

Work together when dividing up holidays. Some parents have the kids for part of the day, and others trade holidays on alternate years. There may be new step-siblings to work a holiday schedule around who also have to share them with another parent. Some co-parents have a get-together with new partners and grandparents and do okay in each other’s company. See what works out best in your situation.

The don’ts of co-parenting can mostly be avoided when thinking of what is in the children’s best interest. Yes, it is hard to put one’s ego aside or not to take part in a revenge fantasy. Getting back at an ex through the children is not healthy and can backfire. One father took his sons to a show during the divorce that he knew his wife would get angry about. The boys were upset seeing an adult-themed play with scantily clad women, and they told the interim psychologist, who put a stop to this behavior. Later they discussed this and more with the Custody Evaluator. The mother ended up with physical custody, and the father was not granted any overnights with visitation.

If co-parenting is difficult, consider having a third party handle all communication between you. One woman had her friend edit out any mean comments from her ex-husband’s e-mails and then send to her. Others have used a mediator or another professional to care for all messages and communication between co-parents. There is even an online company that does this too. Co-parenting is a learning process and generally gets easier as time goes by.

The post CoParenting: It Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult! appeared first on Divorced Moms.


stage development

The Narcissists Pathological Relationship Agenda

You think you have found the love of your life….. but they turned out to be your BIGGEST mistake!

The Narcissists Pathological Relationship Agenda (NPRA) is a pattern of behaviour which is evident is the majority of their relationships, including the one with their children.  Once you identify this pattern, you can superimpose it on every single relationship the narcissist has ever been in and make predictions about future relationships and how to protect your children.

Let’s unpack some of the elements of the NPRA.




This relates to something the narcissist considers important and wants to achieve or solve.  In relationship terms this is primarily an unmet need from childhood, an dysfunctional schema or generational trauma.




The behaviours which a narcissist cannot control due to their pathology such as projection or narcissistic rage.  The behaviours are a maladaptive efforts to self regulate. 




Narcissists are by nature interpersonally exploitative and this manifests from the disorganised attachment style which has taught them that people cannot be trusted to meet their needs and so they need to use others by whatever means necessary to get their needs met.  It is why there is a push/pull dynamic to these relationships.  Narcissists desperately shift and change tactics in an attempt to meet their unmet needs, creating confusion for the partner who finds their their efforts, which previously had been wanted and welcomed, are suddenly cause for anger and criticism.  They want someone else to meet their unmet need but don’t trust them to and so will often have a “back up plan” or take control in order to try to force you to meet their need.

stage development

Unmet Needs

We all have unmet needs from childhood.  Many psychologists believe our unmet needs are our purpose, our own unique pathway to healing.  Unfortunately for narcissists, their disorganised attachment means they are unable to go within to meet those needs and instead seek external resources.


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs shows the levels of needs all human beings have met and unmet, depending upon our experience.  For narcissists, their unmet needs are usually psychological needs and although their attempts to meet those needs might appear more sophisticated, at their core they often come down to being about belongingness (an aspect of attachment) and love.

Dysfunctional Schema


Schemas relate to the basic emotional needs of a child and are broad, pervasive themes regarding oneself and one’s relationship with others.  When these emotional needs are unmet, dysfunctional schemas can develop. The 18 schemes are:


Emotional Deprivation:
The belief and expectation that your primary needs will never be met. The sense that no one will nurture, care for, guide, protect or empathize with you.

The belief and expectation that others will leave, that others are unreliable, that relationships are fragile, that loss is inevitable, and that you will ultimately wind up alone.

The belief that others are abusive, manipulative, selfish, or looking to hurt or use you. Others are not to be trusted.

The belief that you are flawed, damaged or unlovable, and you will thereby be rejected.

Social Isolation: The pervasive sense of aloneness, coupled with a feeling of alienation.

The sense that the world is a dangerous place, that disaster can happen at any time, and that you will be overwhelmed by the challenges that lie ahead.

The belief that you are unable to effectively make your own decisions, that your judgment is questionable, and that you need to rely on others to help get you through day-to-day responsibilities.

Enmeshment/Undeveloped Self:
The sense that you do not have an identity or “individuated self” that is separate from one or more significant others.

The expectation that you will fail, or belief that you cannot perform well enough.

The belief that you must submit to the control of others, or else punishment or rejection will be forthcoming.

The belief that you should voluntarily give up of your own needs for the sake of others, usually to a point which is excessive.

The sense that approval, attention and recognition are far more important than genuine self-expression and being true to oneself.

Emotional Inhibition:
The belief that you must control your self-expression or others will reject or criticize you.

The pervasive belief that the negative aspects of life outweigh the positive, along with negative expectations for the future.

Unrelenting Standards:
The belief that you need to be the best, always striving for perfection or to avoid mistakes.

The belief that people should be harshly punished for their mistakes or shortcomings.

The sense that you are special or more important than others, and that you do not have to follow the rules like other people even though it may have a negative effect on others. Also can manifest in an exaggerated focus on superiority for the purpose of having power or control.

Insufficient Self-Control/Self-Discipline:
The sense that you cannot accomplish your goals, especially if the process contains boring, repetitive, or frustrating aspects. Also, that you cannot resist acting upon impulses that lead to detrimental results.

Generational Trauma


Trauma can be passed down from generation to generation in our cells, our beliefs, our behaviours and our culture.  The symptoms of generational trauma may include hypervigilance, a sense of a shortened future, mistrust, aloofness, high anxiety, depression, panic attacks, nightmares, insomnia, a sensitive fight or flight response, and issues with self-esteem and self-confidence.



When a child grows up with a parent who isn’t able to self-regulate, it can result in a disorganised attachment because a secure attachment is formed through consistent co-regulation with the caregiver, which leads to the child being able to self-regulate.  


Narcissists are unable to self regulate due to the breakdown of this system in childhood and so seeks out others to regulate for them (not co-regulation).  Their partner (and even children) become “regulatory objects” to them, a thermostat by which the partner regulates their own emotions in order to regulate the narcissists emotions.



Now let’s piece all this together to create the NPRA so that you can predict future behaviours. 


I will state at this point though that most narcissists have one or two dominant NPRA’s but multiple agendas will appear at times of extreme stress.


Common NPRA include sex, money, success, admiration. The key to knowing if it is unmet is that despite appearing to have what they claim to want, it will never be enough and will remain unmet and so narcissist pathologically pursues it (affairs, stealing/fraud, taking the credit for others success, centre of attention).


Inconsistencies include demands faithfulness but cheats, spends money on self but is extremely frugal with others.


Clues to NPRA are their career choice, sexual history, attitude to money, need for attention.




Job is police officer (thinks can heal generational trauma of not being protected by protecting others, fits their schema of punitiveness and vulnerability, and meet their unmet need of safety).


Pathological behaviours can include:


  • neglecting safety of family in pursuit of recognition of protection of others
  • attempting to control every aspect of their environment (including people in it) to feel safe


NPRA is to create a false sense of safety but in reality they are unable to meet this need and so keep repeating the same unsafe patterns, refusing to show any vulnerability and seeing it as a weakness in others, and punishing others who do not make them feel safe or who express not feeling safe with them.




Sexual history is promiscuity and failed relationships (unmet need for love and to belong, dysfunctional schema of enmeshment and abandonment, generational trauma of grandparent’s affairs).


Pathological behaviours include:


  • unsafe/risky sex
  • cycling through relationships quickly
  • affairs
  • uses sex to “make up” after arguments, to reward good behaviour or punish “bad” behaviour by withholding 


NPRA is to force “love” through sex.  They will measure the quality of a relationship by the frequency, nature and quality of the sex, creating an environment where consent becomes coerced because you know the consequences for not agreeing.


Predicting Future Behaviour


If you have just started dating someone and you have concerns, narcissists will reveal their agenda early on in the relationships as they will talk a lot about it and derive great pleasure from it or become angry/jealous about it.  They will also tell you in how they describe their previous relationships including the one with their family, particularly parents.  Listen and watch!


If you are in a relationship with someone who you suspect might be narcissistic please know that it is not your job to save them.  If they keep repeating the same behaviour and refuse to change, know that this is their NPRA and unless you can surrender to “groundhog day” existence of the same issues coming up again and again, GET OUT!


If you are co-parenting with a narcissist, identify the NPRA and in particular the underlying unmet needs, dysfunctional schemas and generational trauma, and help your child to build emotional security and resilience in these areas so they won’t be as susceptible to the pathological behaviours.  To protect them in the long term, heal your own attachment wounds and recognise when you are dysregulated and have the tools to regulate yourself.  This will create an environment where you can co-regulate with your child, leading them to be able to self-regulate which reduces the risk of them becoming a “regulatory object”.  We offer numerous treatment options for PTSD (which inhibits your to self regulate) as well as the Circle of Security Parenting Course, which is attachment based.


The post The Narcissists Pathological Relationship Agenda appeared first on The Nurturing Coach.


Black couple upset with each other

What You Say Matters, Especially During Divorce

Black couple upset with each other


Does this sound familiar? You have every good intention of having a civil conversation with your ex, but then something triggers you, and just like that, you’re in an ugly back-and-forth you wish you could undo, accompanied by a nasty “I know better” pit in your stomach.

Unfortunately, those heated exchanges can harm your divorce process, especially if they happen often.

Here are five of the main reasons why it’s so important to communicate well during divorce, as well as some tips on how to get there.

Here’s why what you say matters:

Divorce requires compromise and negotiation.

Clear, reasonable dialogue helps your team advocate effectively on your behalf, which usually translates to you getting more of what you want. Respectful negotiations also keep the process moving forward, which is good for your wallet and your heart.

Everything costs less.

When you show up at your lawyer’s office with a summary of the situation, key points highlighted, tentative goals identified, and a prepared list of questions, you are efficiently using your time and theirs. You hired your attorney for their legal expertise. Maximize their knowledge by being as prepared as possible.

Your children benefit.

Children suffer when their parents disparage each other, fight in front of them and share too much. Clear messages of love and support, healthy boundaries and active listening will improve how your kids adjust to their new situation.

You benefit!

By focusing on efforts to tap into your best self, the person you really want to be when you look back on this time, you aren’t dwelling on the negative traits of your spouse (and you can’t control those, anyway!). Spend time creating a mission statement for your divorce, identifying your goals, and creating messages for children, friends, and family. Doing this work upfront will remind you of your priorities and help you focus on them when you’re stressed.

You set the foundation for healing and healthy co-parenting.

When communications during the divorce process are handled well, you increase the opportunity for long-term, healthy co-parenting. Sometimes your inner strength and resilience can be hard to access, but choosing the high road becomes easier each time, especially once you see the benefits.

Wondering how to do all this when you’re stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious? Try the following:

Focus forward.

Create a personal and a divorce mission statement. There are thousands of templates out there, but this one from best-selling author Andy Andrews is my go-to. Going through the process of writing your personal mission statement will remind you of the things you love, what inspires you, and your goals for the future. It can be a touchstone, aspirational, and grounding all at once. Importantly, it can also be updated as desired. You can even create a mission statement specifically for your divorce as another way to stay focused on the big picture.

Remove yourself.

Sit quietly and take some deep breaths. Close your eyes, put your phone elsewhere and just breathe. Envision yourself somewhere peaceful: by the ocean, on a hike or anywhere that calms you, and sit still for even five minutes. Giving yourself the benefit of those five minutes can often impact your entire demeanor and give you a new, more generous perspective.

Create a mantra.

I like to say the serenity prayer when I am overwhelmed. A client of mine calls herself “The Comeback Girl” and evokes it when she’s stressed. Use whatever motivates you to push through a difficult moment.

Any challenging situation is an opportunity to decide how we want to show up.

Ask yourself: Is this communication a demonstration of my best self? What is my true intention? Is this decision-based in love?

  • How would I feel if my child read/heard me say this?
  • How would I feel if my ex/spouse/partner showed this to their lawyer or to a judge? Would I show it to my lawyer?
  • What would I counsel my child to do in this situation?


Do I have to respond to this at all? If so, what is the minimum amount of information I need to include? If you must respond, try stating, “I disagree with that characterization,” and nothing more.

Start a journal.

Just putting pen to paper can satisfy your need to vent without causing any harm.

Remember, it’s not unusual for communications between spouses to make an appearance in court, especially if they are hostile, offensive, or threatening. When the stakes are this high, a little preparation and thinking about the big picture before you respond gives you the best chance for success.

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