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By February 26, 2014 8 Comments Read More →

Co-Parenting With a Sociopath: Helping My Children Navigate Through the Lies

by Quinn Pierce

quinn pierce blog

A Confused and Anxious Child

My younger son recently returned home from his father’s house looking visibly distressed and anxious.  As we began asking what was wrong, the ever increasing list of possibilities began running through my mind.  I could tell these visits were taking a toll on my son, but he is not yet at the point where he can stand up for himself to his father.  My older son, however, mastered that skill earlier this year, and it has been a source of contention for my ex-husband ever since.

And so, when my son started to explain what transpired the night before, it was no surprise to the rest of us as we listened.  Apparently, someone asked a seemingly innocent question about his brother, and when my son answered, it caused an angry tirade in response from his father, who claimed to have no knowledge what-so-ever of the information.

A Case of Convenient Amnesia

This is a common theme.  When my ex-husband wants to maintain his victim role, he withholds information from those around him claiming to have no knowledge of anything that jeopardizes this role.  Whenever we have meetings at the school or with the counselors, my ex-husband acts as though he is hearing everything for the first time, even if several of us were present when we discussed the same information at previous meetings.  During my marriage, this experience was very unnerving; I would think, “Am I crazy? Didn’t we have this discussion already? What is he talking about?”

And then I would replay all the events in my head trying to determine if things really happened as I remembered, because, honestly, he acted with such sincerity and conviction, he was very believable.

As time went on, however, I recognized the pattern and began calling him out on his lies in front of others.  That, I learned, was his second favorite reaction.  He loved an opportunity to be on stage and create drama with his wounded indignation.

Eventually, I settled on rolling my eyes and ignoring his words altogether.  This has proven to be a very effective technique (although the eye-rolling tends to give me a headache after a while, due to the frequency of use).  Usually, he trips himself up somewhere along the way.  It’s impossible for anyone, no matter how much experience they have, to remember all their lies for extended periods of time.

A New Audience

But now, my son was the one listening to my ex-husband give an entirely different version of events than what my son thought to be true.  He came home confused and upset. Not only did he have to be on the receiving end of his father’s tantrum, but he came home thinking he revealed information that he shouldn’t have.  I’m sure he was worried that I was, also, going to be upset with him.

My heart sank picturing my child in this situation.  I knew how scary my ex-husband could be when he was putting on such a performance.  And truth be told, my ex-husband probably was very angry, because I guarantee he hadn’t told his new wife any of the information my son revealed, and his cover was in danger of being blown.

His goal would have been to convince her that I was keeping information from him about his own son, match her anger about my controlling and manipulative behavior, and reinforce her loyalty to him by demanding sympathy for the mistreatment he has endured.  It’s quite an ambitious goal for one performance.  I have no doubt it left my son shaking.

Understanding Dawns

I began explaining to my son that his father most certainly did know everything before that moment.  I even showed him the emails I sent with the information more than a week earlier, as well as the response back from his father acknowledging the information.

My son looked at me with frustration and anger and asked, “Is everything that comes out of his mouth a lie?”

I hesitated, trying to think of the most comprehensive answer to explain his father’s behavior.  After a moment, I simply answered: Yes.

I think it may have been a rhetorical question, but he nodded in understanding.  I wasn’t overly concerned with reinforcing what my son already instinctively knew.  What I was concerned with, however, was making sure my son understood that I would never put him in that situation.

Attempts at Reassurance

I try very hard to make sure that there are no secrets that need to be kept from my ex-husband when my sons are with him.  I know he will try to fish for information and trick them into answering questions that are presented as ‘no big deal’.

I always send a short memo-type email that brings him up to speed on anything happening with the boys that he should know.  That does not mean that I act as a go-between for doctors, counselors, or schools; if my ex-husband wants to contact them directly, it is his responsibility to do so. I make sure all health care providers and educators know that they are to communicate with us independently, and I personally compare contact information with my ex-husband so that he cannot say he did not know who to call or how to reach that person.

As the parent with primary placement, I let him know of important events or changes to schedules that he would not otherwise know.  Since my older son has not visited his father’s house since last August, it becomes a very tricky line of respecting my son’s privacy and not putting my son or me in a position that would allow my ex-husband to claim he is being alienated.

A Lesson Children Shouldn’t Have to Learn

The co-parenting job is a learn-as-you-go process.  I have learned what types of information I have to provide on a legal level, what is in my sons’ and my best interest to provide, and what is harmful to my children if revealed.  It is an exhausting dance, especially since my ex-husband does not care what is in the best interest of his sons, he only wants to be able to make use of what he knows, or intentionally doesn’t know, in order to benefit himself.

I tried my best to explain that none of his father’s behaviors were any reflection of my son or anything he said.  Instead of focusing on the anger and resentment, since my son will have to continue to spend time with his father until he is strong enough to say otherwise, it was important for me to give him the tools to feel confident and secure while he is there.

I know that learning how to navigate his father’s lies and finding his own ‘eye-roll’ type compromise won’t be easy.  Unfortunately, he will probably have plenty of chances to practice.

 



8 Comments on "Co-Parenting With a Sociopath: Helping My Children Navigate Through the Lies"

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  1. I’m sorry you had to learn through trial and error how to deal with your ex, but I’m sure conveying your experiences is helpful to so many Lovefraud readers. Thank you.



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  2. onmyown says:

    I feel lucky that my ex-husband remarried, moved away, and has little to do with my son. Every 6 months or so he would get riled up and threaten to come here and get involved. He was like a black cloud always hanging over our heads. Last year he “accused” my son of having ADHD and made appointments to visit with his teachers over a C grade in calculus in the middle of the semester. He never showed up to meet with any of the teachers. It was really embarrassing for my son when the teachers asked him just who this guy is and why he made such a ruckus. At the same time he was accusing me of not caring about or for my son. Ironic, isn’t it?

    Son turned 18 in October. I don’t have to deal with this fool ever again in my life, but my son feels like he does. I’ve mentioned to him, as gently and kindly as I can, that there may come a time in his life when he has to let his dad go and stop having contact with him. There’s just no way to effectively deal with him when he keeps moving the goalposts.



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  3. blossom4th says:

    Quinn,
    So sorry that your son found himself in the middle of this situation-but glad he sees the reality! I’m so glad that our children are all grown and on their own now.I’ve remained NC.There are grandchildren;the 6 yr old has him all figured out!



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  4. winifred says:

    Quinn,
    I am sorry to tell you that there are NO Winners in this tragedy, and many prisoners, especially your children! Sociopaths use children as pawns and never quit!~ I have watched my husbands sociopath ex wife destroy their children, she has devoured them and would spit them out except they are her source of income, and free ride! In the beginning she told him”he could have the children, she just wanted the house and car….until she figured out she would have to pay for these items…she has never worked. My husbands children (now 18 and 23 treat him like gum on the bottom of their shoes, that’s the nicest way I can put it on here. They have been lied to, brain-washed and alienated from him since birth and when he divorced her they were 9 and 13. They cannot think for themselves, and their mother is a victim and a saint. They have grown up learning how to use society and make the victim role work so well. My best advice to you is not to parent out of guilt, stay firm in your beliefs with them and try not to lose their respect for you, once that’s gone you have no control, just ask my husband. Everyone has always said “when they grow up , they will see right thru her”, but it hasn’t even begun to happen yet? They are her, they have both taken on her gifts for manipulation, lies,and evilness.They use God as she has to get what they want form the church, and whomever will give them anything they want for free.They have never assumed a neutral role, they have always made it very clear that they are like their mother and proud of it. The only worse thing than being with a sociopath is having children with them,it ties you to them forever, as you watch your children being devoured. God Bless



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  5. hope52 says:

    My heartfelt sympathy for you and your children’s pain. I too endured two decades of this sick and demented behavior with the father of my children. Many times when my son was younger he would return EVERY Sunday from his weekend with his father and “new” disordered wife in tears. Sobbing uncontrollably on his bunk bed late unto the night. I would comfort him and tell him how much I loved him. Fast forward to today. My ex husband’s mother passes away two weeks ago. My children are in tears. (They are now 25 and 30 years old) Their grandmother loved them and they lover her very much. She is yet another victim of her disordered husband – the father of my husband. It’s all about the gene pool ladies. However, I removed both of my children from this toxic environment and they both survived as loving young adults. At times I see my son struggle with “traits” of disorder. No one escapes completely untouched. My point? Stay the course. My ex husband showed his ASS after the death of his mother. Informing me that she was “pitiful” and “needy” at the end of her life. I could never repeat to my children that he shared with me he just “wanted to ship her ashes Fed Ex to the cemetery” but they would not accept human remains?????????????????????????? Too painful for me to hear and my kids. However, they know. They know this person to be the most evil human being they know. It’s painful to realize it’s your FATHER. Stay the course. Love your children and BE the example of love and integrity. And hopefully on the other side they turn out to be loving adults. God bless you and your children on this journey.



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  6. swimdontsink says:

    Hi this is my first time using s site like this. I am so grateful to have found it. I am 6 months out of a 5 year marriage but together for 12 years. I am like all of you here a trusting person, nurturing and caring and have just been blown away in shock at the horrors of discovering a double life – secret sordid life of my huaband and from reading info here, I have no doubt in my mind that he is 100% sociopath. we have one eight year old girl and I have other children from a previous marriage (upon reflection he too had some sociopathic tendencies.. but this man now.. is unstoppable. he went from behaving like a depressed mouse.. to a monster within weeks of us splitting up. ive discovered there has been drugs.. cocaine or meth, something like that, I have never spent time with anyone who took drugs recreationally let alone a regular user and I feel I have been sleeping with the devil. he been out of work for past 4 years but discovered accidentally that he pretended to work for the previous two of those years. I found Skype accounts belonging to him on my old email addresses and when I went to retrieve them, he had them under one mail box such as a Microsoft or outlook account, I could access them but he had ultimate control of them. then I discovered he had a secret wifi code on our home wifi system. so my and the children were on one code and he created a secondary number and he changed laptop settings to office settings so I wouldn’t know he was chatting on-line.. he was supposedly looking for work! he got loans out against my business name without my knowledge. I got information from the bank letting me know when I applied for an on-line account that this was the new pin number – yet I never applied for an on-line account. I discovered affairs all post break up. my cell phone Blakcberry was hooked up to a remote viewing system called blackberry manager, it enable him to see my emails texts and messenging service to my friends, family, solicitor. when I changed passwords on my emails, fb accounts he still managed to get into to them and for a good while wondered how.. he was the technical person in the house and he backed up my fb account with a Skype Microsoft account with my original password from back in 2010.. so he was always observing my every movement and contents of conversations.. now due to some of his activities and living in a small area I now know it isn’t just about controlling me, it was watching to see if anyone pre warned me via message on text, email or fb. im self employed and had to ditch my phone with 1000’s of contact numbers, close down my fb account, as he had the knowledge and access to my website, there are email boxes in there belonging to him that I cannot open and because he has invaded every space I have, myself, my children, my work, emails, phone, bank and family.. ive had to start again from scratch new phone and number as he decided to attach my phone number to dubious websites and activity. I have had so much fear and im thankful that I found a site that knows what I am going through and processing at the moment. I hope ive posted in the right place as ive never used a site like this before. I will pray for everyone here and light candles for your children too.. along with mine. it been like a living hell so far, but im still here. even though he never hit me personally, just before Christmas I feared he would kill me once I discovered about what he was hiding. he would not have known I knew had it not been for all his surveilence on my phone email etc. I discovered majority through his projections. 🙁



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    • chickenlittle says:

      Wow Swimdontsink, I think your husband and mine are very much alike.
      I need to get savvy about what to do to prevent him from spying on my phone, and who knows what else he is up to. He has vidiotaped me without my knowledge before and only told me about it when he thought he was going to die, and then only to keep someone else from finding it. Kuddos to you for changing your game.



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  7. chickenlittle – welcome to Lovefraud. We have more than 2,000 articles – you’ll find categories of articles in the gray menu bar at the top – lots of information that will help you. Stay strong.



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