It’s very common for a narcissistic ex to withhold your kids from you in several ways.
They show up late to drop off the kids.
They don’t allow the kids to call you during their time (which is a form of physical abuse because they are physically restraining the kids from talking to you).
They brainwash the kids into thinking that you don’t want to talk to them or manipulate them into saying they don’t want to talk to you (a form of psychological abuse).
Sister, document the times he withholds the kids. Frame these instances as abuse because that’s exactly what they are. When he doesn’t allow the kids to say hi to you at a soccer game, when you haven’t heard from the kids the whole week they were with him, document it as abuse!
Then if/when you go back to court, you can verbalize this in a way that the court will understand. You can say that your children have told you that he physically won’t allow them to call you. He is withholding the children from contacting their mother or having a relationship with their mother.
In all of this, remember that everything he does is about you.
His number one goal in life is to hurt you.
He knows he’s not a good person. He hates that you have a good relationship with the kids and they feel safe with you. He hates that you are a good person who can manage life without him. He hates that he lost control over you. If he’s paying support then he hates that he lost control of the finances.
He will fight desperately to control you in any way possible. And the easiest way to do that is to control innocent children.
His desire to hurt you is so strong that he is willing to put innocent children through whatever it takes to get to you.
When he withholds the kids in these manipulative ways, it hurts. You’re devastated every time they have to visit him. You worry about what they’re going through, if they’re safe, if they’re fed. It feels like you’re not allowed to be their mother.
When you feel hurt that you’re not allowed to say hi to your kids at a soccer game, remember that it has nothing to do with their love for you. They know you will love them no matter what and they are much more afraid of his retaliation than they are of hurting you.
Your kids have been put in an impossible situation by their father and they are navigating the same treacherous landscape of abuse that you had to navigate.
As difficult as that was for you to handle as an adult, remember they have to do the same thing as children. They do what they have to do to stay as safe as possible.
I know it’s heartbreaking to see your kids reacting to their dad with fear. When that feeling comes, acknowledge that what they’re suffering is wrong and then declare what is true. Say it out loud if you’re able to. Declare what you know to be true.
Your kids love you. They feel safe with you. They know they’re not safe with their dad and that’s why they try so hard to please him.
In addition to keeping record of these times he withholds the kids from you, declaring what you know to be true will help you to hold on to your own power and not give your energy away to the ex. Stand strong in who you are to your kids. They deserve your energy.
If you need help navigating these treacherous times while co-parenting with a narcissist, schedule a free 15-minute consultation with me. I’ll help you gain some clarity and discuss your next steps. You’ll walk away knowing that you can take back your power and spend your energy on you and your kids.
God made you for this!
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