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Psychopathic mom pressing for more time with the kids

Lovefraud received the following email from a man whom we’ll call “Brad.” He has two children with a woman who was diagnosed as a psychopath. Brad is concerned about the kids spending more time with their mother. After the email, I’ll make a few comments. But many of you have personal experience attempting to co-parent with personality disordered individuals, so if you have suggestions, please post them.

I have custody of my two children. My son is 12, and my daughter is 10. I’m remarried too. I have had custody since 12/2007. The kids are doing great. There grades are A’s and B’s. We have a happy home.

Ok, now the question. She was diagnosed as a psychopath, by a very professional psychologist. This is one of many reasons I got my children out of that poisoned atmosphere at her house. She also lost custody to another child.

I have been in court countless times, and have had the kids counsel with a very good lady that has helped them deal with her mind games. The other day the kids had to speak to the judge, and my daughter stated she wanted to live with her mother, and my son wants more time with her. She was on supervised visitation, but that only lasted about a year. It was found out that the mother has been pressuring the kids to “help mommy win this case.” How sad! As a dad that loves his kids more than anything, it is hard to have them say these things. I guess I understand to a point that a child wants to have two loving parents. With me, it is a game of survival to protect the kids. She is beyond good at mental manipulation of the kids’ minds.

I know the local judges just don’t understand how hard it is to live this kind of life. Always on guard, always cautious as to what to say in front of the kids, so they don’t slip, and say something that will in the end put them in more turmoil. The kids are now going through another evaluation with someone that concerns me. He has several ethical issues against him through the state licensing agency. He was granted to do this evaluation since she pushed the issue that I chose the last psychologist. I did recommend her, but only through references. The psychologist nailed her to the wall with who she is! Anyhow, how do you get the judges to see this? My attorney is very good, and I understand his tactics going in to this and showing how good the kids are doing, but he doesn’t want to get down in the “mud” much. My concern is how can a judge write a court order to deal with someone like this? It never ends—her violating the court order, but the court won’t put any teeth into keeping her in line, so the game continues!

I’m just nervous about custody and my children. They are my world! The advice I could use deals with the power she has on them to still be “loyal, defending her, and wanting more time.” The control she has on them is beyond my understanding. Even if we go shopping, they want things that are the “greatest” since the mother bought them. So, hard to get this ungodly loyalty.

By the way, we have a good home, and the kids are very happy, just so you don’t get the wrong impression.

I read some of the stories, and can within seconds relate to what this was like for me in the past. You heal, but boy does it make you see things in a much more guarded light!

A safe, loving home

First of all, Brad, I want to commend you for creating a home environment that enables your kids to thrive. This is really important. The best thing you can do is create a safe, loving and supportive home for them, where they feel welcome and cherished.

It is impossible for your ex to do this, because all psychopaths are only concerned about themselves and only want to win. Your ex wants the kids not because she loves them, but because she wants to win over you.

She can’t offer the kids real love, because she isn’t really concerned about their wellbeing. But right now, as you said, the game is on, so she probably engages in love bombing. This is showering them with attention and telling them how much she loves them, even though her words mean nothing. Many psychopathic parents also buy the kids’ affection by spending money on them and letting them do whatever they want— is she is doing this as well?

Then, of course, there’s the direct pressure: “Help mommy win this case.” This creates tremendous feelings of guilt in the children. They are made to feel responsible for her happiness.

Court tactics

You are right in that most judges don’t really understand what happens in these family situations. So what do you do?

First of all, document everything: Missed visitations. Lateness picking up or returning children. Failure to give medicine appropriately. Inappropriate child care. Subtle threats to you, the children, or others. Keep a good, organized journal of anything she does that is detrimental to the children’s growth and development. That way, when you need to explain what is really going on to a judge, you can do it with dates, times and references.

Secondly, you need to be careful not to openly denigrate her to the children. It sounds like you’re already doing this, but you don’t want to give her an excuse to claim “parental alienation.”

Finally, any communications with your ex should be “strictly business.” Just the bare exchange of relevant information regarding the children.

Here are some links that may help you:

10 tactics for child custody battles with sociopaths

Our Family Wizard can help you co-parent with a sociopath

Unfortunately, you may end up walking a real tightrope in court—especially if the new psychologist recommends that the children spend more time with the mother. Research shows that often, the person who is paying the psychologist gets the report that they want. If your wife is paying this person, then the psychologist may produce a report that is favorable to her.

More time with mom

It’s quite possible that between a clueless judge and an unethical psychologist, mom may win more time. Once that happens, she’ll probably stop the charade. She’ll start breaking promises, criticizing the kids and making them feel unwanted and insignificant. She may actually become abusive.

You, in the meantime, will continue to offer a rock steady, safe environment for them. Kids are smart. They’ll know the difference.

Eventually, they’ll get tired of their mother’s lies. If you’ve given them a solid foundation and are consistently loving, the time may come when they’d rather be with you than her.

So, readers, what do you think? Do you have more suggestions for Brad?



30 Comments on "Psychopathic mom pressing for more time with the kids"

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  1. MiLo says:

    Hi Divorced from Gaslighter ~ great name

    I liked all your suggestions, I can instantly tell you are a “been there, done that” kind of parent.

    Your last paragraph – do they all read the same book or what? They cost you thousand of dollars demanding custody and/or extended visitation and once they have it – poof – gone.



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  2. Divorced from Gaslighter says:

    One thing I should have mentioned, is that people (not just sociopaths) often want “extra” time with the children if that means that their child support will thereby be reduced. Anybody facing a custody fight with a bad apple of any flavor should try to put themselves in a decent place before filing for divorce (wait until the youngest child is in school, finish your degree, get a job with medical benefits, make sure that you are already living in decent housing in a “good-enough” school district, etc.) and then try to get the ex-spouse to agree to a schedule where the kids go back and forth on a flexible basis, both parents agree to keep medical insurance in place, and both parents agree to pay for 1/2 of pre-agreed major costs: orthodontic work; musical instrument when Johnny starts 4th grade and is eligible to be in the band, etc.)

    Under this type of set-up, the ex will usually either be a decent parent (if they are capable of that) or they will fade away. If they refuse to pay for half of the orthodontic work, etc., when the time comes, it would be foolish to pick a fight with them over it. Just let Johnny know at some point that the ex went to Europe to go skiing, but couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t come up with his share of the cost of the treatment.

    But if you can de-link the custody and the money, it helps to defuse a lot of problems, because most people (not all) realize that if they can see the child whenever they want AND they don’t have to make a support payment, they are “winners” in the game of divorce.



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  3. Ox Drover says:

    Dear Divorced,

    Quote:if they can see the child whenever they want AND they don’t have to make a support payment, they are “winners” in the game of divorce.

    That is of course very true. It is all a GAME of get out without paying anything…unless the parent is a real parent who loves their kids and then they will be willing to pay a fair share of the upkeep of a kid…make their visits fair and reasonable and will keep their commitment to their children made when the child was conceived. TO BE A PARENT.

    Psychopaths are not able to do that, to keep up a reasonable parenting where the child’s needs come first.



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