Co-parenting with a psychopath means being stuck with your toxic ex for life. So, how are you going to survive this ordeal and take care of your and your kid’s well-being?
We throw around the labels of “psychopath” and “sociopath” quite carelessly these days and often even use these terms interchangeably. But, Psychopathy and Sociopathy are distinct behavioral traits with serious psychological implications.
Irrespective of the clinical definitions and the differences between these personality disorders, people with psychopathic and sociopathic tendencies exhibit the following tendencies:
- A profound lack of empathy
- Skeptical of others’ intentions
- No depth of character
- Callous in nature
- Little to no rationalization power or the sense of right and wrong
- No remorse after exploiting or hurting others
- Being egocentric and feeling that they can never be wrong
- Poor impulse control
- Delusion of grandiosity
- Lying or being deceitful to serve their interest
Psychopath or sociopath, whatever label you assign, it is discernible that living or sharing child custody with a mentally unstable partner who exhibits the above-mentioned behavioral signs is nothing short of a personal hell.
You have every right to leave behind a deranged romantic partner or spouse to begin a new life. However, when you have kids with them, it becomes a different story altogether.
Barring some extreme cases, courts generally don’t fully override the custodial rights of a parent. So, if after a long-drawn legal battle you are subjected to the plight of co-parenting with a psychopath, you need to come up with a strategy to keep your sanity and protect your child’s emotional health.
Psychopaths make the worst parents, as they are quite adept at shrinking responsibilities. They are also selfish as hell, so their child’s needs will always come second to their own.
However, they might genuinely believe they are doing the best for their kid and have a right to remain involved in their life. So what is the best way of co-parenting with a psychopath, if there’s any?
10 Things To Do When Co-Parenting With A Psychopath
The following tips to co parent with a psychopath will come in handy when trying to raise a child with a wack job.
1. Stop Giving Second Chances
Stop handing out second chances to those who clearly don’t deserve them. Your psychopathic ex had their chance to get it right and they blew it. They hurt you and your children time and time again.
So, when they apologize for failing to show up at your child’s soccer match, don’t believe that they are being sincere. Talk to your kid and gently make them understand not to get their hopes high next time.
2. Avoid Them As Much As Possible
While co-parenting with a psychopath, try keeping the communication to the bare minimum. It’s best to communicate through your attorneys or through writing, even if it seems inconvenient or time-consuming.
Psychopaths are master manipulators and can leverage phone calls or face-to-face interactions to get under your skin and rile you up over even trivial matters such as when they will drop off the kids.
3. Don’t Attempt To Change Their Ways
While dealing with a sociopath or a psychopath, always keep in mind that you are not responsible for their reformation.
Whether therapy or other medical intervention can be effective for curing their dark nature is a debatable matter. But, opting for treatment or changing their questionable patterns is a decision that THEY have to take on their own, without any coercion or pleading from your end.
Don’t waste your time, energy, or other resources trying to change them. People who are biologically devoid of empathy or conscience, are not capable of changing.
4. Safeguard Yourself And Your Child
Psychopaths are vindictive in nature, so if you have walked out on them or have hurt their fragile ego, they can try to ruin your life out of spite. When co-parenting with a psychopath, be aware that your loony ex can use your child as a prop to get back at you.
Don’t let your child get caught in the crossfire. Don’t try to make them hate your ex or their new partner. If you suspect that your psychopath ex is badmouthing you to your child or manipulating them with gifts and whatnot, take preemptive measures such as consulting a child psychologist.
5. Keep It Private
If you are co-parenting with a psychopath, you need to be aggressively private about sensitive information. Psychopaths are experts at using your personal information against you. So, don’t let them know your plans and never share your bank details or any other personal data.
If your ex doesn’t have the legal right to visit your child, refrain from sharing your address or contact details with them. As mentioned earlier, keep communication to the basics and preferably via your lawyers.
6. Never Engage In Verbal Duels
Co-parenting with a psychopath can be extremely triggering, but you have to remember that it’s futile to argue with them or try to make them see reason. They are incapable of perceiving right and wrong and any power play will only escalate the conflict.
So, what to do when co-parenting with a psychopath? Avoid the following:
- Blaming them for their misdeeds
- Confronting them
- Giving them ultimatums
- Threatening them
- Playing mind games to outsmart them
- Psychoanalyzing their behavior
7. Be Practical
Psychopaths have no empathy, and so, they do not care about your struggles or pain. They might however fake care or concern, but while doing so, they are only fishing for intel so that they can turn those vulnerabilities against you.
Therefore, while co-parenting with a psychopath, do not feel tempted to share your feelings with them. Talk about your parenting struggles and any other issue you might be going through with trusted friends, family members, or a licensed therapist.
Also, when they try to push your buttons, do not let them get to you, and always maintain a calm and composed demeanor.
8. Don’t Succumb To Their Charm
This brings us to our next point, which is being on guard against the charm of a psychopath. Psychopathic individuals can use flattery as a means to get control over you. So, be wary of this type of behavior when you are co-parenting with a psychopath.
9. Be Skeptical, Always
A psychopath can tell you all kinds of sob stories to appeal to your sensitive nature and to justify their wrongdoings. They will try to make you sympathize with them and ultimately get you under their manipulative control. So, be skeptical and take everything that they say with a grain of salt.
10. Keep A Backup Plan In Place
Sometimes co-parenting with a psychopath can become even more challenging because the other parent becomes obsessed with you. They won’t simply let you go or live in peace. To make your life a living hell, they might do the following:
- Tarnish your reputation
- Try to get you sacked
- Drain your financial resources
- Threaten to harm you or your child
It is imperative that you keep a backup plan ready to combat such demeaning actions. Besides the support of your loved ones, you might want to seek professional help, both legal and psychological.
Here Are Some Signs You’re Co-Parenting With A Psychopath
If you are in doubt whether your co-parent is a psychopath or just a simple mean person, look for these signs:
- The other parent is physically or emotionally hurting your child
- They behave as if the abuse never happened and expect the kid to “get over it”
- They always play the victim and never take accountability for their actions
- They manipulate you, your child, or others to get their way
- They shrug off their financial responsibilities
- They always make excuses for not showing up
- They ignore the practical and emotional needs of their child
Dealing With A Psychopath Is No Joke
The term “psychopath” immediately conjures an image of a killer lurking behind the bushes with a knife, ready to kill a bunch of sorority sisters. But the reality is much different than what we think. Psychopaths and sociopaths can blend well with their surroundings and pull off an image of an upright citizen with elan.
This makes it very difficult for their victims to gain support from others, as the emotional abuse dished out to them is not easy to prove in the short term.
If you are going through the struggles of co-parenting with a psychopath, consider the following options in addition to the points mentioned above:
- Pay attention to the mental health of your child as it can be a very confusing and hard time for them
- Follow the terms of the court ruling to the letter, even if the other parent fails to do so
- Document your visits to your kid and also the lack thereof
- Keep written or electronic proof of every communication with your ex, including any police report
- Stay in touch with your lawyers as they can give you the accurate legal solutions to protect your parental rights
So this is it on how to co parent with a psychopath. Let us know your kind feedback by commenting down below.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is considered co parenting?
Co-parenting is a post-separation arrangement in which both the parents jointly share the custody of their children and participate in their upbringing.
What are some strategies when coparenting with a narcissist?
Abide by the court ruling, establish a parenting plan, keep documented proof of every communication, lay down strict boundaries, and seek legal help when needed.
How do I deal with a sociopathic family member?
You can avoid interacting with them or keep your communication to a minimum. Don’t try to confront or change them. Always be safe around them and document your communications.
What triggers a psychopath?
Psychopaths get triggered when they are threatened or challenged, or when their self-created image of grandiosity gets questioned by others.