By February 12, 2014 25 Comments Read More →

Co-Parenting with a Sociopath Should Make the List of the Most Difficult Jobs in the World

by Quinn Pierce quinn pierce blog

Recently, I came across a list of the most difficult jobs in the world.  The top contenders included: U. S. President, UN Negotiator, Prison Warden, and Air Traffic Controller, to name a few.  I don’t argue that these are extremely stressful and challenging career choices, but I believe there is one that should have made the list, even if it isn’t officially considered a career, and requires financial, emotional, and psychological debt rather than income: Co-Parenting with a Sociopath.

A Daily Challenge

As if parenting isn’t challenging enough, trying to navigate the crazy-making, drama-filled world of a sociopath who has the ability to influence and harm your children requires skills rivaling the credentials of world leaders.

What’s more, the healthy parent is rarely able to take any vacation time.  In fact, that is usually when the sociopathic parent goes into overdrive trying to sabotage any plans that their ex-spouse may try to put in place.  Ironically, the sociopathic ex will enjoy disrupting schedules and making last minute trips that inconvenience everyone, including their children, as often as possible.

However, it’s really the day-to-day interactions that take the most expertise.  Learning how to negotiate without giving up control, diffuse situations that could escalate into additional court hearings, for example, and undo the negative effects of visitation on our children are just some of the common daily tasks we face.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

The last item is the most frustrating.  Every time my children come home from a visit with their father, they are out of sorts, emotionally drained, and have regressed in many ways.  It’s as if all the progress my boys make while they are home is erased after one day with their father.

I’ve learned, though, that it helps to address this as soon as they come home so they can be aware of their behavior and give themselves time to release all the pent-up emotions that build during their visit.  It takes practice for the children and patience for the parent, but in my experience, it’s worth the effort and it does get easier.

Impressive Qualifications

I may not be a United Nations negotiator, but if the UN ever needed someone to fill-in for a day, I’d be ready.  I would imagine that the training I have had negotiating with a narcissistic sociopath more than qualifies me for the job.

Honestly, who else has years of experience being provoked, attacked, accused, blamed, manipulated, and cheated by someone with no remorse, guilt, or conscience- all the while keeping the best interest of the children in the forefront which means: not responding on emotion, getting rid of ego, turning the other cheek, and taking the high road at all times”¦well, at most times, anyway.

His Accusations are a Mirror

That is the only way to have any peace in our home.  I have to keep the drama on the outside by not engaging with my ex when he tries his best to push every button he can and use his own children as pawns to get his way.  Sometimes, he may instigate conflict out of boredom, but usually, his actions are a good indicator of how his life is going at the time.  The more argumentative and provoking he is, the more out of control and unhappy he feels in his own life.

His actions are a mirror to his reality.  Just like his accusations are a mirror to his own behaviors.  My ex-husband is constantly accusing me of doing things that he is actually doing.  According to him, I am controlling, greedy, selfish, cold-hearted, and manipulative.  It’s interesting to look back and think about all the name calling and accusations that took place during my marriage.  I guess it’s his confession, of sorts. I have no doubt that he was cheating, stealing, and lying — all the things he was convinced I was doing, but none of which was true.

For the Sake of the Children

I often hear people give the well-meaning advice of ”˜putting our differences aside’ for the sake of the children.  I would argue that putting our differences aside was something I did for much too long and resulted in prolonged emotional and psychological abuse by my ex-husband.  If I want to honor my children, I can do so by differentiating between someone’s behaviors as being a choice or the result of an illness.

I do not consider a lack of conscience and empathy as a legitimate illness that requires sympathy or support.  Some may disagree as to how these disorders are classified, but I have seen my ex-husband change his behavior for the sake of his reputation, which tells me that he knows what is right and wrong, or at least acceptable, but that his children are not worth the same consideration as the strangers he tries so desperately to impress.

A Mother’s Advice

What I tell my children is that I did love their father; unfortunately, he is not capable of returning the love that we deserve.  I do not regret marrying him; I would not change that, because I would not change anything that gave me my boys.

I am not a religious person, but I do believe that there is a higher plan that we cannot comprehend sometimes, and for whatever reason, a sociopath was part of the plan in creating my children.  But they are not ”˜half of me and half of him’ as people have suggested, they are unique of themselves.

Furthermore, they do not have to be taught to forgive someone because of their relationship to that person; forgiveness needs to be asked for with sincerity and remorse.  Those are two qualities their father does not possess.  If my boys choose to forgive their father in order to find peace for themselves, then I support that decision.  I, personally, have no such need.

Drawing on Experience 

I do believe that my experiences have made me a stronger, healthier person.  That makes me a better parent, as well.  I have learned to stand up for myself, trust my instincts, and I have worked hard to heal after my marriage.

I may continue to stumble on my journey toward healing, but I also continue to get back up.  My greatest challenge as a parent is to lead by example; it is also my greatest accomplishment.

I may not have a corner office and a fancy title, but I bet there are not many on the list I read who would last even a week in this job.


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25 Comments on "Co-Parenting with a Sociopath Should Make the List of the Most Difficult Jobs in the World"

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I know I’ll likely get some flack for saying this, but when children are abandoned, that insult is what they wake up to, and what they go to bed with, every day of their lives and every night. While the absence of a parent by death can be devastating, the ongoing, deliberate and intentional negligence of that parent is a daily occurrence that they are unable to resolve and it begins to define their character.

And yes, many kids get over it, get angry at it, get determined to be a better parent because of it, but some kids, particularly those with the pre-disposition through genetics, are less likely to fare as well.

BPD kids, (a mis-statement because they can’t be diagnosed as such ’til they’re 18,) will often harm themselves deliberately. There’s a high suicide rate. They could become “cutters” and are inclined to misuse drugs and alcohol. They do risky things, and they become oppositional/defiant and “impossible” to live with. They might injure a parent or siblings, property, or all of the above.

I’m not telling you there’s a clear cut solution. I’m just explaining the down side of children having no-contact with a parent. And for those reasons, my thoughts are, if they are not in imminent risk of physical harm, perhaps seeking on-going family therapy from a competent specialist who is familiar with the issue of parenting with a sociopath may be in order before cutting the cord altogether.



Oh crap, i hit the report button, Donna, and didnt even know it till submitted my thot-to-be-comment. That report was my reply!!

In my case, though I tried my darndest to raise 5 wonderful children, their psychotic traits didn’t fully appear until they reached their 40’s and 50’s when they thretened to commit me (for remaining friendly with my son’s “ex” and my granddaughter.) That’s when my attorney and Mary Ellen O’Toole all recommended I go NC with them. They “abandoned” me through the years when I became disabled and aged. They can never loo theselves in the mirror, in my opinion!


So sorry to hear of your painful separation. To kids with these traits, having parents is all about what they can get. If having to give looms before them as a possibility, they’re history. Theirs is a very self-absorbed world.

Unfortunately, your comment about never being able to look themselves in the mirror reflects,(pun intended), your own sense of conscience. They have none. It’s called “transference.” We read characteristics into others that we possess and relate as we would feel.

I hope that your relationship with your daughter-in-law and your grandchild gives you joy, and something to hold close to your heart.

All the best-

Thanks for understanding Joyce. However, in the past year my ex daughter-in-law has been so threatened by her ex that he has forbidden my little “sunshine” grand daughter (age 6) from ever seeing her own grandma again despite her pleas. Such is the power of the psychotics intimidation!Yes, the Serenity Prayer has become my solace as is the poem “The Man In The Glass” but as a devoted mother, I keep thinking that some of my compassion and morality lies hidden in some of my children…but I guess not. Thanks for understanding.

What a terrible heartbreak. My heart goes out to you!

In some states, grandparents are awarded visitation. May be worth looking into.

My prayers are with you.


Thanks but after 76 years, it’s not worth it.

All we can do is the best we can do. There is no straightforward path in co-parenting with someone who is morally disordered. There are so many ins and outs with multiple effects. You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

There are simply things that are beyond our control, no matter how hard we try or how well intended we are. The pain of losing a child to a morality disorder is excruciating. I’ve learned the serenity prayer backwards and forwards, and looked for joy in ways that are beyond having my family.

The cruelest blow is the impact disordered moral reasoning has on our children.

Wishing all of you abundant strength and serenity.



I agree with you 100%. Co-parenting with a psychopath has got to be the most difficult experience. It makes me sick to think of their constant putting the children in the middle and using them to cause problems in your life.

I’ve thought many times how lucky I am that I am not in that situation with the psychopath I dated. I also have much empathy for those of you who are in the situation. To have to send your children for visits and have ongoing dealings with them has to be excruciating.


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