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Cathy Meyer

Communicating/Engaging With a Narcissist

By November 4, 2012

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A few weeks ago I clicked "like" on a Facebook page called One Moms Battle.  It is an active page administered by a woman who divorced a narcissist. Women and men gather and tell their story, offer advice and get support. All good things if you are careful about what kind of advice you choose to take especially when divorcing a narcissist.

Just because someone has experienced or is experiencing what you are, does not mean they have good advice to give. For example, last week a woman posted about her daughter not being able to get her driver's license because she didn't have an original copy of her birth certificate. The father had failed to order a copy.

The mother asked the Facebook community what she should do; she wanted to call him to let him know "she knew" about the situation. She wanted to cover her bases in case the situation over the driver's license came up in court. In my opinion, she was making a mountain out of a molehill.  And she had plenty of women cheering her own in her belief that she could hold this father "responsible."

Below are just few of the 46 comments left that, quite frankly left me scratching my head.

"It IS his responsibility to obtain and have a certified copy of her birth certificate. It's just a fact. If you "have" to call him, state that and direct him (flatly, no emotion) to get one for his own files."

"Email him your thoughts. Remain as unemotional as possible. Just explain what he should do himself (get the birth certificate mailed to him by contacting her city of birth). Let him know in the email how you don't like getting calls from your daughter when she is hysterical and you expect him to handle situations that come up better in the future."

"Send her an email or call her and offer to order her a copy. Explain to her the process and that either Mom or Dad can access her vital records. Tell her to keep it in a safe place for future needs. When she's 30, let her know how you really feel about her asshole father."

Anyone with any knowledge knows that a narcissist doesn't follow through. They especially don't follow through if you tell them or cause them to think you need something. If you have experience in such a situation you should also know that the best kind of communication with a narcissist is no communication.

What can this mother do to keep down conflict and keep her daughter out of the middle? She can order a copy of the birth certificate, send it to the daughter and NEVER expect the narcissist behave responsibly or caring toward those who depend on them.

Lastly, whether this girl is 15 or 30 this is always going to be her father. Regardless of age it is never appropriate to tell your child their father is an "asshole." Not unless you want to turn into one yourself.

November 12, 2012 at 1:49 pm
(1) Rich Rodriguez says:

Two comments: First, you’re right about getting a birth certificate. Second, it seems that there’s a tendency to “punish” bad behavior by declaring “facts” that aren’t true. “It’s his responsibility” is a fair opinion, but it’s no kind of legal fact.

If people had to identify themselves by name and address, then speak their mind, they’d be more careful. And accurate.

BTW, has neither parent ever used the child as a dependent? SSA won’t issue a number without a birth certificate. I think that birth certificate exists somewhere. The mom’s been through a divorce; she should be able to get her own copy without going to a social network for advice.

November 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm
(2) mj says:

I agree she (the mother) is making a mountain out of a molehill. I am in the process of divorcing a narcissist and I do anything/everything possible to avoid asking him for anything. He is also P/A so it is that much harder to get anything accomplished by going through him.

In the situation mentioned, why can’t the mother contact the Office of Vital Records and order a copy of the birth certificate for her daughter OR give her daughter the information/instructions on how to do so for herself? That seems the best solution IF the goal is to help the girl obtain her DL. However, if the goal is to just stick it to the narcissist ex and complain, then her method does the trick.

November 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm
(3) Tina Swithin says:

I am the moderator of the page, “One Mom’s Battle” and with any online forum, I encourage

November 12, 2012 at 4:07 pm
(4) Pauline Gaines says:

Cathy, I agree 200% that the “no contact rule” (or at least as little as possible) is the best mode of communication when “co-parenting” with a narcissist. I think sometimes the former spouse of a narcissist gets locked into wanting justice,or some sense of reciprocity from the narcissist and this becomes a kind of addiction which can override common sense. However, the conventional wisdom around “co-parenting” can also lead exes to pursue a kind of relationship that is impossible with a narcissist.

November 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm
(5) KRae says:

I read the original post from this woman and I think the point of it was missed in the above shortened version. The father (the narc) wanted to go behind the mother’s back and get the daughter a drivers license when the mother had already said no. He didn’t have a copy of the daughters birth certificate and expected the mother to get one for him, at the daughter’s request. 1. He shouldn’t be pulling crap like this behind the mother’s back but he’s a narc. 2. The mother was put in the middle, forced to be a bad guy and left with a lose-lose situation (either say no to daughter or agree to something she is opposed to). 3. The daughter was also being put in the middle and forced to bend to her narc-father’s will. 4. The narc is showing his entitlement issues, abusive personality and God-complex in this scenario which all survivors of these nightmares are familiar with.

In my opinion the mother should have told the daughter, “sorry but I’m not getting involved” and hung up the phone.

November 12, 2012 at 4:18 pm
(6) WW says:

First of all, you may be a “certified divorce coach” but you obviously aren’t a writer. Not only did your article lack any useful information, as one would expect on a site called “about.com”, but you could use an editor before you publish an article such as this– full of errors.

Second, you know nothing about engaging with or communicating with a narcissist, otherwise you would have given your experience on the subject, as well as some tips on how to do so. Your article isn’t worthy of appearing on a site that people click on to educate themselves. I certainly hope you weren’t “paid” to write your opinions about someone’s website or facebook page.

Lastly, where is the rest of Tina’s comment?

November 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm
(7) Melanie says:

You know why you “don’t get it”? Because you’ve never had to live with this personality type. If the child is old enough for you to bypass dad and give her the birth certificate, by all means do so. However I think in general you are passing judgement on a site that you’ve barely glanced over. Until you’ve lived this, you have no right to tell those of us who have how to deal with things.

Not to mention no one on that board actually suggests that you would ever tell your child that their dad is an asshole. So get your facts straight.

November 12, 2012 at 4:38 pm
(8) Kaz says:

Please go back and read the entire post again, you missed quite a bit of it and that makes your advice here incorrect.

November 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm
(9) P. says:

” If you have experience is such a situation you should also know that the best kind of communication with a narcissist is no communication.”

I feel the need to comment on your statement quoted above. If there aren’t any children involved, that may work. If one is involved in a custody case, one needs to show the court that they are open to communication with the other parent. Unfortunately if that other parent is a narcissist, they are going to attack. The narcissist will also try to prove to the courts that the other parent is unwilling to co-parent, which will seem true if there isn’t communication to prove otherwise.

Unfortunately as long as children are involved, communication has to be as well, however painful it may be.

November 12, 2012 at 4:54 pm
(10) Laura says:

A little more digging into One Mom’s Battle may have given you the information necessary to write an informative piece about divorcing a narcissist, something you were unable to do with a partially described anecdote.
To most normal people, the bit about having a birth certificate would never be such a big deal. When dealing with a full-blown narcissist, such tiny molehills not only become mountains, but sometimes can become mountain ranges. The narcissist in question in this particular story ended up verbally abusing his daughter and his ex, screaming at each that they were useless and incompetent, because they failed to comply with his unrealistic and uncommunicated demands.
One Mom’s Battle is a place where women who are divorcing, “co-parenting” or living with a true narcissist can find support from other people, who wouldn’t immediately jump to the victim-blaming in which you chose to engage. Part of educating the public about the dangers of cluster B personality disorders is teaching people to look at the real problem, not the end result. This woman was stuck in an awful position, and you’ve chosen to ridicule her because you have no understanding of what she’s dealing with.
Perhaps next time, you could do a better job researching the facts. If you’re going to offer someone advice, know what you’re talking about.

November 12, 2012 at 4:58 pm
(11) Tina Swithin says:

Attempting my comment again:

I am the moderator of the page, “One Mom’s Battle” and with any online forum, I encourage people to “sift” through information and find what works best for them. I try to moderate the comments that are posted on my page and would never, ever recommend that anyone tells their child (or adult child) ANYTHING negative about the other parent. I would never encourage or condone someone giving advice to call the other parent an “asshole”. Anyone who follows my blog knows this.

I know in my heart (and from countless testimonials) how supportive my site has been and I am disappointed that the positive comments were ignored. If you are divorcing a Narcissist, I highly encourage you to reach out to support groups such as One Mom’s Battle, After Narcissistic Abuse (ANA), My Emotional Vampire and Respite from Sociopathic Behavior. With anything, decide which advice works for you– I assumed that this was common sense to most of us.

I encourage a follow up article detailing what it’s like to divorce a narcissist and the support groups such as the ones mentioned that are critical to ones survival.

November 12, 2012 at 5:17 pm
(12) Kim Ketcham says:

I am wondering if it is ethical on your part to cut and paste the exact comments from a thread such as One Mom’s Battle to your post within About.com. As a certified Divorce coach and marriage adviser, surely you are aware that people make comments that are “in the moment”. Many of whom on FB have blocked their ex from seeing their comments and interactions and actually use nom de plumes. Had they realized their comments and reactions were going to be fodder for your next column they may not feel comfortable responding and it seems a tad opportunistic for you to make value judgements on their statements. Many of them use the thread to process their emotions before acting on them. It was once a safe place to be- now it seems it may not be anything more than a column opportunity for you.

November 12, 2012 at 6:15 pm
(13) divorcesupport says:

@KRae, I did read the entire post. Nowhere does it say the father expected the mother to get a copy of the birth certificate via the daughter. If the father did use the daughter to put the mother in the middle, shouldn’t that kind of behavior be expected? The mother had a choice, deal with her daughter and let the narcissist go.

@WW, this isn’t an article, it is a blog post. A blog post gives general and brief information regarding a subject matter. There is a link to an in-depth article on divorce and narcissism in the blog post if you wish more information. Also, I am divorced from a narcissist, have been for nearly 14 years. Over the years I’ve worked closely on a personal and professional level with psychologists, psychiatrists and attorneys on the subject of divorce, narcissism and co-parenting with such a person.

@Melanie, yes I’ve lived with and co-parented with that type of personality. Please refer to my response to WW above. And, I did more than glance at the Facebook page before writing this blog post.

November 12, 2012 at 6:16 pm
(14) divorcesupport says:

@Kaz, at the time this blog post was published I had read the entire post on Facebook. I even left a comment. I didn’t miss anything and I stand by my advice.

@P, there is a difference in communicating with the narcissist and demanding they be responsible. Even given that, rarely will anyone dealing with a narcissist find an attempt to communicate in anyway productive.

@Laura, please define “true” narcissist for me. Are all the woman who post on the page dealing with ex husbands who have been diagnosed by a professional with narcissistic personality disorder? Or, are they women dealing with an angry, irrational ex who they themselves have diagnosed as narcissistic? Also, I didn’t see where the woman said she had been screamed at by the father. The post didn’t say anything about the father contacting her in anyway regarding the birth certificate. The daughter contacted the mother, the mother then wanted to contact the father based on what she was told by the daughter. How is it healthy for this mother for others to suggest to her that she should become part of a conflict between the daughter and father? Especially if there is a history of the father being uncooperative.

November 12, 2012 at 6:17 pm
(15) divorcesupport says:

@Tina, there is an article about divorcing a narcissist linked to in this blog post. Plus there are other articles on the site about divorce, narcissism and personality disorders. I didn’t ignore the good comments on that Facebook page. There were only three that I would considered sensible. Those were ignored by the page members. The vast majority of comments encouraged this mother to go against her own best interest. If this had been a blog post about positive comments I would have highlighted those three positive comments. It wasn’t though, so I didn’t.

@Kim Ketchum, there is nothing unethical about using quotes from the page in my blog post. There is no identifying information that anyone can trace and the page is not a private, invitation only page. If someone’s ex is determined to find what they are posting where on Facebook they will be able to do that without any help from me. That page and most areas on Facebook are not safe places to discuss private matters. The only opportunity I took was to point out the danger of taking advice from those who may not be giving good advice.

November 12, 2012 at 8:47 pm
(16) Paula Carrasquillo says:

I am the follower of One Mom’s Battle who made the comment on Tina’s blog about the “asshole father.” Not only did you pull my comment out of context among the other comments, you edited it to fit your agenda. The following is the full comment I left with the first part you omitted and the smiley face emoticon you thoughtlessly deleted. This comment does not, in any way, say to tell her daughter that her father’s an asshole. If you interpret it that way, you’re no better than the narcissists we deal with everyday who like twisting our words and quoting us out of context to fit their agendas, too…

Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo: “I have this feeling the daughter has been tricked into thinking all of the drama is Mom’s fault because she only provided a photo copy of the birth certificate. THAT is why her daughter called her. In addition to telling his daughter how unprepared she was, Dad was probably saying, “Well, if your mother wouldn’t be so selfish and just hand over your birth certificate to me none of this would be happening.”

1. Send her an email or call her and offer to order her a copy.
2. Explain to her the process and that either Mom or Dad can access her vital records.
3. Tell her to keep it in a safe place for future needs.
4. When she’s 30, let her know how you really feel about her asshole father. :)

November 2 at 6:45pm · Like · 3″

November 12, 2012 at 11:21 pm
(17) Me says:

Ma’am, I think that your blog post was successful in proving that people should not take advice from those who are not giving good advice – by pure virtue of being bad advice in whole. What your article did in a few short paragraphs was take a large, complex, emotional issue and reduce it to a limited, biased, inaccurate smattering of opinion.

I did see that you linked to larger, more in-depth articles in your blog, but that does not excuse the blog itself. If I saw that a person wrote a blog post that said, “It is an active page administered by a woman who divorced a narcissist.” and said that they claim “It is an active page administered by…a narcissist.” would that be an accurate portrayal? Would it be all right if I included a link to the full blog – which I know half of my readers at least would not ever read?

If you are a professional in the mental health field, you have an obligation of neutrality and objectivity. You do not have the luxury of choosing the comments you think will best prove your point. In doing so, you have committed an ethical violation that in a paid setting would have opened you up to a lawsuit and sanctions.

I see that you have gotten a lot of negative comments on your article, and I’m sure that’s difficult to hear. At the same time, though, when so many people – who have not only looked at the posts you mentioned but who belong to the community you wrote about – disagree with what you wrote, it would behoove you to consider their words carefully rather than dismiss them out of hand.

I think that many the people who posted comments were not angry at you personally, but frustrated that you wrote about something near and dear to our hearts without really knowing us. Your responses to a lot of comments make it appear as though you don’t care about us, either. If that’s true – if you don’t care about what is true for us or what we feel and know and experience – then you have no right to write about us.

November 13, 2012 at 7:33 am
(18) Heidi says:

I personally follow this blog and know from personal experience that you cannot reason with a NPD. You just don’t get it lady!

November 13, 2012 at 8:30 am
(19) Stacey says:

Another person who has no idea what it’s like to deal with someone like our ex’s. How lucky for you, Cathy.
They come in all shapes and sizes, but their mental issues tend to be strikingly similar. We need support and to know we are not alone. Part of what a narcissist, sociopath, passive aggressive does is makes you feel crazy and alone. A place like One Mom’s Battle lets us know we’re not alone. If you ever had to be in that situation, you would understand.

November 13, 2012 at 8:34 am
(20) Stacey says:

Also, your suggestion that mom just take care of the whole birth certificate issue her self, or give her daughter step by step directions as to how to do it….? Really? So Dad, even though he’s currently responsible for the child, has NO responsibility here to take care of this himself? mom has to do it? That’s absurd.

November 13, 2012 at 8:52 am
(21) Patricia Scanlon says:

It is very strange that the author chooses to write about this issue AS IF she were superior to everyone else on a forum devoted to a topic–dealing with Narcissists–that every single EXPERT on the topic describes as a phenomena you cannot share with people who have not experienced it themselves, as the most oft repeated description of N behavior is “crazy making.” Had the author grasped the purposeful TRIANGULATION and MANIPULATIVE SET UP that the post describes, then the comments would not have been as confounding to her: she missed the point of the post ENTIRELY. WHy? Because, having not experienced the verbal abuse tactics of triangulation and the manipulative set up, she looked, exactly as all the courts do, AT THE MOTHER (the one being purposefully manipulated–as big a violation of personal integrity as exists on earth) and she did exactly what all enablers of abuse do: she blamed the victim and REFUSED to look at the ABUSE at all.

November 13, 2012 at 2:11 pm
(22) bertha says:

People are clear that you should not engage with a narcissist but every court order (and people who don’t realize father is passive aggressive) demands that you communicate with the other parent. It’s a catch 22. If the mother just did everything on her own, she would undoubtedly be labeled a martyr. It’s the children that suffer and there needs to be laws that protect them in the case of divorce.

April 27, 2013 at 11:24 pm
(23) decorating says:

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