Co-Parenting With A Sociopath: Keeping My Children Safe

by Quinn Pierce

If I were to make a list of the events that have occurred in my family over the past month and asked an ordinary person to explain the motives and reasons behind my ex-husband’s behavior, that person would have a very difficult time making sense of the whole situation.

However, anyone who has had a relationship with a sociopath for more than two minutes would understand his every decision.  Unfortunately, I would not only fall into this category, but I may be considered an unwilling expert on his twisted thought process and vengeful nature.

The Calm Before The Storm

I often wish I was over-reacting or being paranoid when I sense that my ex-husband is planning something with the hopes of hurting me as much as possible, but I’ve learned that the calm before the storm very rarely ends without the actual storm.  For that reason, his periods of a calm and quiet demeanor are more unsettling than his drama-filled predictability.

Recently, the storm he unleashed took a new level of destructive behavior and shed light on the fundamental lack of empathy he embodies.  It also reinforced his callous disregard for consequences.  In fact, he has shown that no one is safe from his malice, especially his children.

Dangerous Manipulation

The most dangerous part of his ability to manipulate and mistreat others is his ability to enlist unwitting victims to do the dirty work for him so that he can continue to remain one step removed, even appearing as the victim at times.

I’ve stopped trying to explain the true motives behind his actions, because I find that I end up sounding ridiculous saying things like: He doesn’t need a reason, he is a sociopath or He doesn’t really care about seeing his boys, he only cares about hurting me.

People need to make sense of a situation, and that is precisely what one cannot do when analyzing the behavior of a sociopath from the outside looking in.

Keeping His Hands Clean

Recently, my ex-husband convinced one of my son’s health care providers that my son, who is in the process of being tested for Non-Verbal Learning Disorder, should be committed to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation.  Despite the facts that clearly show my son is under the care of several specialists who are diligently trying to figure out what is causing my son to have school-based phobia preventing him from attending school, my ex-husband played the role of the desperate and fearful father trying to help his son.

Need For Control

What prompted this act? Simple, my son does not want to spend time with his father who is a tremendous source of anxiety and stress for my son.  Therefore, his father feels slighted, he blames me for the embarrassment of people knowing his son is not staying over on his normal visitation schedule, and he does not like the amount of say I have in the decision making process-especially since I work in the field of education.

In other words, he is having a major tantrum.

What is most upsetting to me is the fact that this man who claims to love and support his son is causing severe harm to my son’s emotional health.  But he isn’t doing it himself; he is convincing others to file complaints against me while taking steps to impede my son’s treatment.  And this weekend, the storm made landfall.

Desperate Acts

Ten minutes before pickup time, I received a text from my ex-husband stating he picked up my younger son from school on a day that is not his visitation with the explanation of: “It’s well within my rights”. I disagreed.  I immediately went to the police station where I reported that my son was taken out of school without my consent.  They referred me to the state where my son goes to school which is different from where we live, even though it’s only a few miles away.

While at the second police station, I learned that this was a civil matter, not criminal, but right at that moment, a call came in from the state’s child services reporting allegations against me of child abuse.  And with that, my world started spinning out of control.

Luckily, I had enough evidence to show the case workers that their information was reported in error, to say the least, but I know the battle has a long and exhausting road ahead.  It seems like every day is a new obstacle and an unexpected turn- all because my ex felt as though he was losing control of his children, and therefore, losing his ”˜good dad’ façade, while I became a sympathetic character- something he could not tolerate.

Cold Calculation

These incidents showed me how dangerous a sociopath can be when they gain the allegiance of a person with authority in any capacity.  He will manipulate and use these individuals with his well-rehearsed and calculated lies until he eventually becomes the puppet master to the unwitting.  The sheer magnitude of the lies is enough to cause these individuals to eventually lose credibility in their own professions, but he is not concerned with consequences to others.

He has nothing to lose by getting someone else to take actions on his behalf.  If the person is later discredited, he will leave them among the ruins of those who are no longer of use to him, and he will move on to the next plan.  And there already is a ”˜next plan’, I’m sure.  Sociopaths rarely take any steps without having an entire map drawn, complete with contingency plans and escape routes.

Picking Up The Pieces

In my ex-husband’s world, everyone is dispensable and every one is a means to an end.  This includes family, friends, strangers, and even his own children- leaving me to pick up the pieces as my children’s lives are shattered once again.

But, in the end, he has overlooked one important fact- unwilling or not, I am an expert on his twisted thought process.  And his predictable unpredictability no longer catches me off-guard.  In fact, I never let my guard down, thanks to him.   So, in a sense, he taught me the very tools I will need to protect myself, and thereby my family, from even the most unpredictable weather.


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23 Comments on "Co-Parenting With A Sociopath: Keeping My Children Safe"

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Thank you so much for sharing your story. It helps all of us to hear we aren’t alone. I filed for divorce in June and it has not progressed at all. Thank God he is living a thousand miles away from me and our child for whom I have custody. He has turned my two older kids totally against me. I have a restraining order against him too – which we all know is nothing more than a piece of paper to them. According to him, I went through menopause, had a personality change and psychotic break. I, of course, am responsible for all our problems. The funny part of his story is that I actually did go through menopause but did so unbeknownst to me and him!! I only learned about psychopaths and that he was one in the last two months. I believed his lies for 22.5 years!! I was a perfect victim. I’m living in a house of cards – I know it’s going to crash and I fear in bankruptcy. I don’t believe the lawyers truly understand my situation. Where do you get your strength to deal with your ex? I could really use people to talk to who have been there, done that and those who are currently going through a divorce with a psychopath. I have so many questions – at times it gets really scary. I have no job and no income. All my eggs were in his basket, exactly where he wanted them. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
I’m Victim 2. His first wife of 5 years was Victim 1. I learned the truth about their marriage three weeks ago – up until then I had believed his version of the story. He already has Victim 3, with whom he texts obsessively. He doesn’t give me enough credit to think that I can look at his cell usage, well he’s wrong! And she can’t be very bright because she sent me a friend request on Facebook. Don’t worry, I didn’t accept it but I took a picture of the request before she finally withdrew it two weeks later. It’s dumb luck that she had her business card on her page with her phone number otherwise I wouldn’t know all that I know. And one can learn a lot from Facebook. Anyway, I feel sorry for Victim 3 but hopefully she won’t figure him out until I can get away. Then I’ll introduce her to Lovefraud and let her put the puzzle pieces together.
Thanks, Victim 3

I found the Love Fraud website while I was looking up information on the behavior of sociopaths and narcissists.
The reason being that my daughter was married to one, and is in the process of divorcing him. Unfortunately, they have two children together, and he has been manipulating the children for the past 10 months.

My former son-in-law’s behavior made no sense until I realized that he was indeed a narcissist and/or a sociopath.
The story of the relationship between him and my daughter sounds classic to what I read on your website.

He was abusive, manipulative, and (according to him) always without fault.
He always manages to be both the victim AND the aggressor.
He continually lies and cheats without any remorse or regard as to whom he is injuring.
He went so far as to accuse my daughter of domestic violence (without any evidence or anything ever even transpiring) in order to get her out of the house and into a defensive position.
He moved his girlfriend into their home as soon as my daughter was out of the house, actually treating her as if she was the children’s “new mommy.”
He continues to treat the children as if they are his possessions rather than have any true regard as to how he is harming them.
He continues to lie to the court (though recently, the judge seems to have become aware of his deceit.)
He continues to do everything in his power to gain control of the children, even to the point of being found in contempt of court for not allowing the children to see or speak to their mother for several weeks. Unfortunately, he continually emotionally manipulates the older child, trying to gain her pity.
In the meantime, he seems to think that it is his right to keep ALL of their marital assets, and material possessions—even though my daughter made MORE money than he did, every year.
Unfortunately, his parents seem to aid him in all these efforts by hiding assets, and going along with whatever he wants them to do.

It has been a nightmare!.
We have tried writing to lawmakers regarding the problems with today’s domestic violence law. In our state, anyone can swear that their partner or spouse is abusive, and the police will march in and escort that person from the home, regardless as to whether there is ANY proof. It is the absolute antithesis of being innocent until proven guilty. Here you are guilty until proven innocent.
My daughter had a very successful career and was an adoring mother with NO interaction with police or violence of any type—there was no evidence of domestic violence on her part. Her husband coldly and calculatingly planned all this with no regard to the pain and anguish it caused both her and the poor innocent children. Unfortunately, I had very little feedback from lawmakers—some did not even bother with a standard reply.

The courts seem to be overly proactive in insisting that it is best for children to always have BOTH parents, and both of them have equal say in what goes on with the children.
I don’t need to tell you what kind of damage this causes. This puts my daughter in the position of having to continue to fight for the emotional well-being of the children.
Recently, my daughter’s attorney had a firsthand interaction with her Ex where his behavior made my daughter’s attorney able to finally see what this man is capable of doing, and now the attorney seems to be taking my daughter’s case very seriously. Still—it will be a long haul . . .
There needs to be changes made in the law to protect those who are falsely charged with domestic violence.
As far as divorce goes, the courts seem to have an “everybody lies” attitude which does nothing to protect the innocent.
There has to be a balance between protecting those who genuinely need protection from domestic violence, and those who seek to manipulate the law for their own benefit.
Children need protection from parents who are sociopaths and/or narcissists. It would be best for lawmakers and judges to truly put the children FIRST!

4myDaughter good for you educating yourself to help your daughter. Moms are awesome. Mine has been incredibly supportive and a wall I could lean on through my toughest times. You will find this site to be a solid resource towards educating yourself as to the unfortunate reality of dealing with people with deeply disturbed character. Based on some of your comments about how manipulative he is I also highly recommend you go on and read some of the articles on some of the tactics covert manipulators use. There’s a whole series of articles on manipulation tactics. Really opens your eyes to an entire arsenal of insidious deceptive things they employ to keep you off guard and to maintain power over you. Take care.

Hello. I am not sure if this is the appropriate place to post this. The sociopath in my life is not a problem for me directly. She is, however, a very big problem for my stepson. He is a senior in high school and has been accepted to college. Therefore, we (his father and myself) are working with him to arrange for financial help in paying tuition etc. His mother, on the other hand, is acting as if she is trying to help. That is definitely not the case. Just recently, she sent my husband a barrage of text messages ranting about how upset Jr. was when he came home from his prior visit with us. The thing is, he was very happy when he left here. She lives about 15 minutes drive from us. She claims that we got him very upset with the things that we told him before he left. We’re thinking she made it all up. She can’t seem to stand the idea that Jr enjoys the time he spends with us. Funny thing is, she didn’t bother to contact my husband until later on the following day after the visit. I guess she needed time to work up a good story.
I think she is beginning to go into panic mode because she is losing control of Jr. She only calmed down about losing control of my husband in the last year or so. That was a HUGE accomplishment in itself. Now, we have this stage of her psychosis (if that’s what it is) to deal with.
I guess what I’m looking for is some advice on how to help my stepson to safely extricate himself from her clutches. He is planning on attending a college that is less than 30 miles from home and will be living in the dorms. That will begin in September of 2014. So we do have a little time to figure things out.
His mother has told him that she expects him home on the weekends. We find this a bit excessive and have advised him that home visits need not be every weekend.
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks much. Daisys Mom

I appreciate all the advice about having no contact with the ex that I see on here. But when there are children involved that is not possible.
We have three kids and live almost 100 miles apart. My eldest is in band and the football team has now won the second post season game. That means the last two games were not scheduled in advance and the location of the game last night was not announced until this past Monday. My ex has the kids this weekend. The game ended up being scheduled 25 miles towards where my ex lives. So I made arrangements for him to pick my eldest up after the game from there instead of at her high school.
Over the week I sent my ex three emails about this. The first asking if he wanted me to do this. In the mean time the band director ok-ed it and I sent my ex and email saying this. Then a third one asking if this was ok again. He never responded. I guess I should have cancelled the whole plan. But I was being nice for my kids, because my other two kids are in elementary school and driving 100 miles after an away game would mean it would have been pushing 1am when they got to my ex’s house. I was trying to get them in bed a little earlier.
Last night he played games again. He didn’t actually go to the game and I do not at this point know where she was picked up from. Because after I received a text from my son saying they didn’t go to the game, my ex has apparently taken their phones away. The kids have not responded to texts or phone calls since 8:30pm last night. My oldest has not even commented about my posts to her about winning the game.
He calls and texts the kids 10-20 times a day when they are with me, but when they are visiting him they are only allowed one phone call a day or he takes their phones. When he had custody I was only allowed one phone call with him listening in. When I tried to prove it in court. I was told one phone call a day was reasonable. So I can be mad he does this, but I can apparently do nothing about it. He bought my eldest an I-phone so he owns and pays for it. But I am the one who pays for my son’s phone.
I am furious at the moment. But I guess I will have to wait until this afternoon and try and call my ex’s phone directly so I can talk to my kids today. GRRR!

Victim2. I am going through the exact same. I filed July 08 and now the divorce is getting ugly. Like you he plays the victim, I am the crazy bitch from hell. I was married for over 20 years. My new motto is “bring it on”. Like you I fear losing my home, he does not support me and our son. He goes on cruises with his new girlfriend. But you know what. I am staying strong. I was called up on the waters, the great unknown but my faith will stand. Be strong, keep you head above the “waves”. Don’t check his phone records. You are hurting yourself. Who cares what he does. Have no contact and think only about yourself and your children. Good luck.

Raising a child with a disordered parent is a mine field. No matter which way you turn, there are incendiary devices just waiting to explode. They will lie about everything you do, and everything you don’t do. They will pretend they did things they didn’t, and they will also pretend they didn’t do things they did.

My son is now 33 years old. His father and I separated while I was pregnant with him. He’d tripped me and I fell down a flight of stairs. I called our Marriage Counselor, who was a psychiatrist, and he asked me why I wanted to spend my life with a psychopath. I didn’t. I knew what I had to do, both for my own and my unborn child’s protection.

Given this history, you’re probably thinking, yay, she got out and got the baby away from the degenerate. Sorry to disappoint you.

His support was meager and when my son was six, he stopped seeing him at all. When my son was 18, he fell into the hands of (what I later learned to be) a psychopathic psychiatrist who was a staunch advocate for father’s rights after losing two children of his own….and blaming it all on their evil mother of course.

Through the influence of his doctor, my son sought out his father, and, just like he’d fooled me, he fooled his father-starved child. He and the good doctor convinced my son that his disappearance from his life was all my fault. Of course, the fact that my ex is now the boy-toy of one of the wealthiest women in the world added to his charm and made him considerably more believable.

Here’s the piece that I feel is important to raise for you all, that I learned the hard way. No matter which direction you go, there is no clear path. All you can do is the best you know how to do. Ultimately, your child will grow up to be an adult and knowing you did your best will be the only peace of mind you will have with the choices you make.

Here are a few things I wish I’d known and done as my son was growing up:

I wish I’d understood what psychopaths were all about. You folks now have that advantage.

I wish the therapists I took my son too as he was growing up were more informed about psychopathic parenting. You have the ability to find one who is.

Keep a diary of every contact with the ex or soon-to-be ex. Record visitation, expenditures, record everything. Don’t keep it on scraps of paper. A journal is more meaningful both in court and to your children.

Don’t think your life and your children’s lives will be saved if he’s not in the picture. Instead, they could feel abandoned and learn how to be abandoners.

Provide hugs and warmth to the full extent you possibly can.

Recognize which of your children is being turned into a “golden child” and which is becoming a “scapegoat.” Help them understand what is happening.

Be mindful that your children can be at-risk for developing disordered moral reasoning. If your child has low empathy and is impulsive by the time they are six years old, get professional help for them. If you wait, it can be too late.

Do everything you can possibly do to make their father financially responsible for your children. Do not think that you don’t need him to do his fair share. You have no idea what the future will bring. What you have today can be gone tomorrow.

If he hides his income, get a forensic accountant, on board, even if the cost is a struggle for you. Make sure your attorney requires him to submit his passport. It could be a real eye opener for the court. He can’t be vacationing in Aruba while he claims he’s a pauper.

Attempt to have all contact either by email or through your attorney.

Wishing you and your children a safe journey through the minefield.


Very interesting about handing over the passport. I know for a fact that he was in the Bahamas with the co worker/mistress/deputy girlfriend. All the while he is claiming he has no money and is very poor. My son is 19 and this state does not include him in the divorce. He is a full time college student and can support himself . My soon to be ex stopped paying his tuition or any support even though my son lives with me. Basically my husband is an ignorant little boy who cares nothing for those whom he has been enlisted to provide and protect. He is a selfish piece of nothing who does not deserve to be in a child’s life. He will never realize and know that he left his child who trusted him and loved him more than any other person reasonably should. Because he is a narcissist, his own rationalization so and reasonings blind him to anything but a life of justifications and attempts to forget his wrongful deeds. Both, my son and I came to the conclusion that he never loved us. His hatred for me as his wife was greater than the love for his only child. We accept it now, we will recover and we keep the no contact, over 5 months now. After the divorce we will both change our last names so we are not a “part” of his evilness anymore. My heart goes out to the ones with minor children. Stay strong.

I’m so glad to hear that your son understands. Nineteen is a point in a young man’s life at which the abandonment of his father will be seen for what it is.

An important awareness for him is that his father is incapable of meaningful attachment. As a narcissist, all he is capable of feeling is personal wants and needs, but not love.

And by all means, your attorney should be summoning his credit card and bank statements as well as his passport. Keep in mind that it’s very easy today, with all our modern technology, to doctor copies, so insist on originals. You won’t be entitled to keep his passport, but you’re entitled to knowing his lifestyle and expenses.

All the best!

Thank you jm short. Yes my son understands my soon to be ex’s intentions. He lost total control over us, except for controlling all of his money. I am proud of my son to finally stand up to his so called “father” and let him know it’s over. They never had a good relationship because my husband was never there emotionally and mentally for his son. My son was and still is an excellent student, a person full of love and faith. Just the total opposite of my husband. But he constantly criticized him and made him feel worthless, just like he treated me as his wife. We are both thankful he moved on to his next “victim”. We are no longer at the receiving end of his abuse. The divorce has made him my biggest “enemy” ever and even though he is out to destroy me, I am standing strong. I will do my best with the help of my attorney to prove him otherwise.

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