What Does Gaslighting Look Like?

Gaslighting

In the US alone, a couple gets divorced about every 36 seconds. This amounts to 2,400 divorces each day. If you’re going through a tough time, you can at least know that you’re far from alone!

One of the common reasons for divorce is emotional abuse. Navigating this dynamic between yourself and your abuser can make an already difficult situation even trickier. However, in order to navigate it, you’ll need to first figure out whether or not your situation truly is one of gaslighting.

That’s why we’re here today to talk about gaslighting, what it looks like, and how you can get help. Read on for some help in identifying whether you’re a victim of gaslighting and what you can do to overcome your pain. 

What Is Gaslighting?

In the simplest terms, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that has to do with making the victim question their sanity. The abuser slowly and covertly will plant seeds of doubt in the mind of the victim. This will cause the victim to believe that they are misremembering things or making up things that didn’t happen.

Generally, this abuse tactic is a way for the abuser to remain in control. They make light of the victim’s beliefs and reassert that the gaslighter is stable while the victim is not.

One of the main gaslighting tactics is denying that something has occurred. For example, if the victim remembers the gaslighter saying or doing something harmful, the abuser may deny that this happens. They will convince the victim that they’re misremembering things and being a bad person that paints the gaslighter negatively.

If the abuser doesn’t flat-out deny that these situations happened, they may belittle the victim in other ways. A gaslighter may treat you like you’re blowing events out of proportion. They want you to think that your emotional reactions are too intense and that you are crazy for ‘overreacting.’

Sometimes, an abuser will stage dramatic and strange events surrounding you and your relationship. These events are meant to disorient and confuse you. Many times the abuser will also swoop in and ‘save’ you from this event that they caused in the first place. They will use this occurrence to prove that they are actually a nice person and are the only thing standing between you and more problems.

What Are Some Examples of Gaslighting?

Gaslighting comes in a lot of forms. However, the main examples of gaslighting come in the form of things that an abuser tells you. Some common examples of things that a gaslighter says include:

  • “You’re overreacting, you overreact to everything.”
  • “You just love to throw me off track.”
  • “I was just joking! You’re so sensitive.”
  • “You always are so dramatic.”
  • “No one believes you, so why should I?”

All of these phrases are red flags that gaslighting may be taking place.

Another example of gaslighting is when an abuser flat-out lies to you about a situation that happened.

For example, let’s say that your partner orders something online with a credit card that you never said they could use. They may say something like “you said I could borrow it and pay you back later, so I did.”

If you try to tell them they’re misremembering, they will become angry. You may not say anything at all. If you do, they may become angry and yell at you. This can cause you to question whether or not you actually remember things correctly.

Some gaslighting may seem like less of a big deal.

Let’s say that your partner loves brownies, so you decide to be nice and surprise them with a homemade batch. Your partner gets home and says, “I don’t really like brownies, but I do love cookies! That must be what you’re remembering. Well, next time!”

This may seem like a minor occurrence, but it’s part of a painful pattern. Your gaslighter is breaking you down and getting you to question reality in many ways. Even a seemingly innocuous occurrence like this is a big deal and should be taken seriously if you notice it.

What Are the Warning Signs?

In addition to these common phrases and persistent lying, there are also other signs of gaslighting. Many of these have to do with your feelings and behavior, but these changes are not your fault. Read on for some signs of gaslighting that you need to know so that you can better identify abuse.

You’re More Anxious, Depressed, and Isolated Than Usual

While mental health issues can stem from many factors, they are often a sign of gaslighting. This is because a gaslighter:

  • Knows how to make you blame yourself
  • Creates elaborate scenarios to prove their devotion to you
  • Tries to constantly keep you on your toes (a.k.a. anxious!)
  • Dismisses your feelings of unhappiness and guilt
  • Refuses to validate what you are going through
  • May keep you away from other loved ones (for fear that they see through their manipulations)

As you might imagine, all of these factors may make you feel alone and depressed. If you begin to notice your mental health deteriorating, it may be a good idea to assess your situation.

While worsening mental health isn’t always a sign of gaslighting, gaslighting almost always leads to mental health problems.

You Find Yourself Apologizing a Lot

One of the main side effects of anxiety is that you end up apologizing often. This is a concrete way that you can measure your self-doubt and anxiety. Much of the time, you’ll just be apologizing for existing because you’re scared. This should never happen, and it’s a sign of serious relationship problems.

If you notice that you have been apologizing persistently, take an objective look at the situation. Did you actually do anything to apologize for? Do you remember doing that thing?

If the answer to either of these questions is ‘no,’ you may be a gaslighting victim.

Many times, other loved ones will alert you to your excessive apologizing. Don’t brush these concerns off, but look inward and figure out why you are apologizing.

You’re Making a Lot of Excuses

People who are in abusive (or even just toxic) relationships often find themselves making excuses a lot. These excuses can be to absolve their partner of blame to third parties.

A lot of the time, people will say that it isn’t their partner’s fault that something happened and blame it on external factors. This happens even when external factors aren’t present. Those in toxic relationships want everyone to see only the good in their partner. When you’re being gaslit, this can lead to a lot of difficult lying on your part.

However, these excuses aren’t only things that you tell others. You also may make excuses for your partner’s behavior internally. Some examples are:

  • “She’s only late to events every single time because she is dealing with (possibly nonexistent) family.”
  • “I know that he lies, but it’s because he had a difficult childhood.”
  • “He only hurts me because he loves me.”

These are all thoughts that should give you pause.

Making Decisions is Really Hard

Gaslighters always make you question your decisions. As a result, you may find that making choices is really hard when you’re being gaslit. If you used to be confident in your decision-making skills but no longer are, take a moment to assess why this is the case.

Did someone make you feel that way? Be honest and don’t make excuses.

If the answer is ‘yes,’ it’s time to begin implementing coping strategies. This can help you to bring back your confidence.

How Can You Cope With Gaslighting?

Once you identify that you’re a victim of gaslighting, it’s important that you know what to do about it. Here, we’re going to discuss some ways that you can cope with having been gaslit. Read on for the most important things you can do to help yourself heal.

Don’t Second Guess Your Memory

Gaslighters love to make you question your memory. They love to sow the seeds of doubt until you no longer feel in control of your thoughts or your mind. One of the biggest impacts of this is that you no longer will trust your memory. This makes sense considering that they’ve told you over and over again that it’s failing you.

While it’s easier said than done, the first step towards healing is learning to trust your memory again. If you recall something happening, it probably did.

For a bit of additional validation, keep a daily journal of things that happen. When you begin to doubt something took place, look in the journal. The event will be right there and you’ll immediately have validated yourself!

Getting support from loved ones is critical in the healing process, but affirmation also needs to come from within. Next time you feel like asking another person (such as your gaslighter) to validate a thought or memory, look inward. Take a moment to affirm it for yourself instead of seeking external validation.

Practicing mindfulness is a great way to get in touch with your own mind as well. You’ve been through a terrible ordeal, so it’s only natural that you have a lot of feelings to process.

Let yourself experience both positive and negative emotions. Once you get in tune with these feelings, you can record them in your journal to become more in touch with them. This will teach you to identify and cope with your feelings and become more in touch with your mind and memory.

Stand Up for Yourself

Quashing doubt is a great way to support yourself internally. But what about showing your abuser that you respect yourself? What about eliminating all doubt that your memories, thoughts, feelings, and opinions are valid?

That will take a bit of work. Standing up for yourself is difficult, especially when you live with a gaslighter. However, it’s necessary, and it will likely show your abuser that you aren’t going to stand for their games anymore.

Some examples of things you could say include:

  • “That isn’t how I remember things.”
  • “That happened. I remember it happening.”
  • “Do not lie to me.”
  • “I remember that you said (x) on (y) occasion.”
  • “My feelings and perception of this situation are valid.”

It’s natural that you might struggle with saying these things at the beginning of your healing process. However, a professional can help.

Get Professional Help

No matter what you choose to do about the abuse, professional help for gaslighting is essential. A therapist can help you practice mindfulness and monitor your progress as you learn to validate yourself internally.

A professional can:

  • Help you hold your ground by refusing to take responsibility what the gaslighter has done
  • Ensure that you remember the facts and hold true to your truth
  • Assist you in fighting back on your own terms
  • Help you choose your battles
  • Go over your journal (if you want) and assess progress
  • Provide you with mindfulness activities

If you are forced to co-parent with your former gaslighter, professional help is even more important. A therapist can help you navigate the ins and outs of communicating with them. They also can help you to maintain your sanity when doing so.

Leave ASAP

Assuming that you aren’t already in the process of getting a divorce, you should leave the persistent gaslighter.

Pack up your things, walk out the door, and turn to supportive loved ones. Talk to a therapist. Never look back.

If there are kids involved, however, this may be more of a challenge. You still should separate, though, because your well-being is also a priority. You simply may need some professional tools to help you along.

2house’s platform allows you to communicate with the person you’re separating from about the welfare of your child. It’s optimized to help you organize the care and protect the well-being of your child while still letting you maintain distance from your ex. This distance is a good idea for most separated couples, but when dealing with someone who gaslit you, it’s essential.

Learn More

Being the victim of gaslighting is both painful and challenging. However, if you know where to look for help, you can begin to heal.

We’re happy to discuss your individual situation with you and point you in the direction of professional help. We also have many tools that help you manage your time and communication as you go through a divorce, including calendar, finance, and messaging applications.

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Maintaining Mental Health as a Single Parent During COVID-19

Mental health sigle parent

Much of the focus when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been one of the defining factors of 2020, is physical health. We’ve heard a lot about possible symptoms, long-term effects, death rates and how to best protect yourself and those around you. But what about mental health? This pandemic has meant a huge shift in daily life, changing everything from how we grocery shop to how we do our jobs, and nothing has been left untouched. As a single parent, it can be even harder trying to deal with all of the changes, uncertainties and struggles alone. If you feel like your mental health has taken a hit in 2020, you’re not alone. Find out more about how the issues surrounding the pandemic are affecting mental health and what you can do to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.

How the Pandemic Has Affected Mental Health

Both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control have noted that the pandemic and the measures people are being asked to do to combat its spread is having a serious mental health impact for many people. At the very forefront, there is the fear that comes from a new virus making its way through the human population. When the virus was first discovered, scientists didn’t yet know what its effect might be, how it spread or how long the incubation or recovery periods might be. Understandably, this led to many people experiencing fear and anxiety as they worried whether they would get infected or what would happen to the people they loved.

As scientists began to understand more about the virus, the world started to go into action to contain it and slow the spread. In the United States, this led to travel bans, mandatory business closings, K-12 schools being moved to remote learning and stay-at-home and quarantine orders. There were also areas that experienced widespread food and supply shortages. These major changes happening all at once only increased the anxiety and fear for many people, and for those who were now experiencing issues getting basic necessities, the mental health toll was even more severe. The closings also meant that many people were out of work, creating financial catastrophes — and even more stress — in the process.

Another key piece of the mental health aspect of COVID-19 is that quarantine measures and stay-at-home orders meant that many people were also suddenly extremely isolated from their support systems, such as friends, family members (who may have also acted as child care), churches and counselors. This isolation sparked an increase in anxiety and depression. For many, it was a double-edge sword, with less support but more expectations and pressure when it came to working from home and trying to take care of children and home responsibilities while also being available for video conferencing during business hours.

Even as many people have returned to work or started to adjust to life with the virus, there is still a large amount of uncertainty that looms ahead. How will this affect my co-parenting? What will school look like in the fall? What will happen when flu season comes around? Will there be a vaccine? Not knowing what’s coming down the road can be just as anxiety producing as dealing with something that is happening now, and all of this takes a huge toll on mental health.

Particular Struggles for Single Parents

While virtually no one has been left unchanged by the pandemic, single parents have been one of the hardest hit demographics when it comes to how much their lives have been disrupted. Single parents are usually the sole incomes for their households, which means if they were laid off or furloughed because of business closings, it had serious financial implications for their families. 

Single parents also rely on school and daycare for childcare, so even those whose employers stayed open may not have been able to continue working because of childcare issues. Those who were able to work at home remotely now faced the stress trifecta of taking care of children, working from home and trying to maintain the house — all alone as the only adult. 

Single parents have also faced outside pressure about taking children with them to grocery shops and not being able to juggle everything perfectly all the time. All of this can lead to chronic stress and anxiety as parents try to make sense of the information coming from the government and news media sources and try to make decisions that are in the best interests for the safety and well-being of their children. This has led many to put their own well-being, mentally, emotionally and physically, on the back burner — as single parents so often do.

Tips for Taking Care of Yourself

It’s clear from all sides that COVID-19 has had serious mental health implications for many people. However, it also looks like this virus is going to be around for at least the near future, so how can single parents continue to take steps to protect their mental health as we continue to see what the future will bring? These four tips can give you a starting place to start prioritizing your mental health on a daily basis.

1. Take an Inventory of Responsibilities

No matter what your children may think, you are not Superman or Wonder Woman. You cannot do it all — or at least not well — and realizing this is the first step toward less stress and better mental health. Carve out some time to have a meeting with the CEO of your family (that’s you), even if it has to be early in the morning before the kids wake up, late at night after they’re in bed or on your lunch hour. Make a list of everything (yes, everything!) that you have to do. Don’t forget things that may not be every day such as scheduling car maintenance or having a quarterly performance review with your boss. Consider organizing the list by home, work and child-related responsibilities, so you have a big-picture overview of everything that is on your plate right now. If this seems overwhelming, that’s because it probably is! But in the next steps, we’re going to discuss how to start trimming this list back into something more manageable.

2. Remove and Delegate Whatever You Can

Chances are, as a single parent, you already had a lot on your plate before a global pandemic arrived on the scene. If you feel like you’re running around trying to keep a million plates spinning, it might be time to let a few drop — even if that means that they shatter. Take that list you made from the above step and see if there is anything you can delegate to someone else or remove altogether. 

For example, if you have school-aged children, they are more than capable of helping with the household chores. Small children can dust baseboards and wipe down surfaces, while older kids can do dishes and laundry. This might seem small, but it could be enough to build some space into your life. You may also find some things on this list that you don’t actually need to be doing. Maybe you have a standing call with your sister on Friday mornings that is just a rehash of everything COVID that is doing more harm than help. 

3. Recognize That Your Self-Care May Not Look Like Someone Else’s

Self-care is a buzzword of the 21st century, but it is actually something that can make all the difference in your life. It’s easy as a single parent to always put your own needs and personhood on the back burner, but this isn’t healthy. It’s important to make time for yourself to help you recharge so you can better be there for the rest of your family. 

Social media and society would like to tell you that self-care should be hour-long bubble baths, expensive massages or a new painting hobby. However, this isn’t necessarily true. What you’re really trying to do with self-care is to come out of it feeling like you have a little more clarity and energy. Maybe this does mean a bath or massage for you, but it could just as easily mean watching your favorite TV show with snacks you don’t have to share or writing short stories for fun. 

4. Remember That These Are Extraordinary Times

No matter how hard you try, there will still be things that fall through the cracks or days where you feel like you can’t keep going. It’s important to remember that this is a major, once-every-hundred years event, and it’s OK — and totally normal even — to be struggling. As long as your children are healthy and reasonably happy, you’re doing a fantastic job, and that’s something that deserves to be recognized and celebrated.

What Is Parallel Parenting?

Parallel parenting

When two parents are working together to raise their children even after their romantic relationship has ended, we call this co-parenting. It’s a term you will hear quite a bit in family court, in divorce support groups and from mental health professionals. However, while co-parenting might be presented as the accepted default, it’s actually more of a gold standard, best case scenario situation. If you feel like you are having difficulties navigating co-parenting, it could be that this just doesn’t work for your specific set of circumstances, and you may need to consider other options, such as parallel parenting. In this article, we’ll explore what parallel parenting is, how it differs from co-parenting, what situations it can be helpful in and how to start implementing it in your life.

The Difference Between Co-Parenting and Parallel Parenting

While co-parenting and parallel parenting both refer to working with an ex to parent your children together, the two terms are not interchangeable. At its core, co-parenting refers to a partnership. Co-parents are able to talk to each other about issues that are coming up and collaborate on decision-making and what’s in the best interests of the children without it devolving. Co-parenting can be a challenge in the beginning for anyone, but it’s something that often comes more naturally with time and as the parents get more space from their relationship and redefine that relationship in terms of a business partnership or even as friends. 

Parallel parenting, on the other hand, refers to the two parents coming at the situation from a place of mutual respect but they don’t interact much beyond visitation transitions or when something absolutely must be decided jointly. Parallel parenting focuses mostly on the idea of “you do what works for you and I’ll do what works for me.” For example, in a co-parenting situation, the two parents may work together to decide on a bed time, curfew or other house rules that work for and are implemented at both houses. However, with parallel parenting, each parent is usually creating their own set of rules for their own home, and they stay out of any decisions made on the other parent’s time.

When Does the Situation Call for Parallel Parenting?

So, how do you know whether you just need to give co-parenting attempts a little more time or if it’s time to switch to parallel parenting? Here are just a few examples of situations and signs that parallel parenting may serve you better.

Communication Isn’t Good

Communication is key to any successful co-parenting relationship, and while there will always be bumps in the road or things that you don’t immediately agree on, co-parents are able to navigate these issues as a team. If you find that communication with the other parent often devolves into personal attacks or belittlement or if you’re seen as an adversary instead of a teammate, co-parenting may not be an option. Co-parenting is also extremely difficult if not impossible if there is no communication. If your attempts to involve the other parent are met with unanswered phone calls and no responses to emails or text messages, you may need to switch to parallel parenting. 

There Are Too Many People Involved

Sometimes, you may find that what was a positive co-parenting relationship starts to sour when other people get involved. This could be new friends, new spouses or family members, but if the other parent is suddenly being influenced by others, it can change the nature of co-parenting. While it’s definitely worth trying to talk to the other parent one-on-one if you think this may be the issue and see if you can get back on a good co-parenting track, it’s not always possible. This is common when one parent remarries and then has to consider the new spouse in parenting decisions for their household as well. 

The Relationship Was Toxic

While co-parenting is held as the goal, parallel parenting may be the better choice for your mental or even physical health if your relationship was toxic, was abusive or involved substance use issues. For co-parenting to work, both parties must be equally invested and responsible for the decisions and well-being of the children. This has to be the focus 100% of the time. However, those who are abusive or are suffering from the effects of an addiction may not be able to put the children’s needs first or empathize and work together with the other parent for mutually agreeable decisions. In these cases, it’s often the healthiest option to limit contact as possible with the other parent and focus on making sure the children are safe and well taken care of.

The Basics of Parallel Parenting

You’ve determined that co-parenting might not be the best for your situation and want to give parallel parenting a try. Great! But how do you start? Here are four key ways to start shifting to successful parallel parenting.

1. Keep Communication As Needed and Neutral

You won’t be able to just stop communicating with the other parent completely, but you can start focusing that communication in a different direction. Instead of trying to tackle issues as joint decisions, the focus becomes more on informing the other parent of things they absolutely must know about — think doctor’s appointments, sports schedules and illnesses — and sticking to neutral, fact-based information. You can make this even easier by using the messaging and calendar features in 2houses. Using the messaging feature in the app gives you a record of all communication sent and received and means you don’t have to worry about texting or emailing. You can add events, practices, games and even the visitation schedule to the calendar so that each parent has everything they need at a glance, eliminating the need for last-minute “what time is that thing again?” texts.

2. Shift Communication to the Impersonal

Communication should also be focused on the facts and be as objective and neutral as possible. Parallel parenting is often used in situations where one person refuses to communicate in a collaborative way, so this can be difficult if the other person is being combative, demeaning or threatening. Focusing on the gray rock or yellow rock method can help. This is when you make a point not to respond to any personal attacks or comments and focus the communication only on the kids.

For example, if after a drop off, the other parent texts you to question why the kids haven’t had a bath or says that they are dirty, you can choose to not respond at all — because this isn’t directly related to the children’s immediate care — which would be the gray rock option. Or you could say something like, “The children took showers this morning.” This would be the yellow rock option, which means that you’re responding but keeping things neutral and factual and not taking the bait.

3. Control What You Can

In parallel parenting, it’s very important to clearly define the scope of things that are within your control. This usually means the decisions that are taking place in your house or during your time, but if you have specific provisions in your custody agreement, such as you get to make education decisions, this would also be included. For the things that are in your control, set very specific boundaries and hold to them. When both parents aren’t on the same page, which is usually the reason for parallel parenting in the first place, children often try to play one parent against the other or try to bend the rules based on “well, Dad lets me at his house.” By clearly outlining what is and is not OK at your house and on your time and sticking to them, your children will better know what to expect and be aware that trying to play the other parent card doesn’t do any good.

4. Let Go of What You Can’t

On the flip side of the “control what you can” point, we have the things that are not within your control. And this is usually when we’re talking about the decisions that are made on the other parent’s time or at the other parent’s house. For example, maybe you have a strict 9 p.m. bedtime for the kids at your house, but when they spend the week at their mom’s, they can stay up as late as they want, even if it’s a school night. In a co-parenting situation, this would mean a conversation with both parents and a discussion that ended in an agreement on a bedtime that would work for and be enforced in both houses. However, with a parallel parenting situation, this would be something you would just have to let go — because you’re not likely to convince the other parent that the lack of bedtime isn’t reasonable and it would likely just lead to even more conflict. 

Parallel parenting and the gray/yellow rock methods can be very helpful in cases where positive co-parenting isn’t an option, but it does take practice to get comfortable with it. Remember that nothing is perfect from the beginning and that there will be some missteps, but how you move forward from those continues to set the tone.

Co-Parenting With a Narcissist – Learn How to Deal

Co-parenting

Many people don’t hear the word narcissist to describe their partner until well after the relationship has ended, but once they start learning more about this type of personality disorder, a lot of what happened with the relationship, the breakup and the attempts at co-parenting after starts to make sense.

The Mayo Clinic defines a narcissist as someone who has “a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.” Learn more about this type of behavior and some tips on how to deal with a co-parent who is a narcissist.

4 Signs You May Be Co-Parenting With a Narcissist

How do you recognize a narcissist? The general traits are lack of empathy, a disregard for other people’s feelings and an extreme need for approval and attention from others. But what does this look like when it comes to the co-parenting relationship? Here are just a few of the common signs of a narcissist co-parent.

1. The Blame Is Always on You

Narcissists often live in a world where they can do nothing wrong and any issue is always the other person’s fault. In co-parenting situations, this can manifest in a variety of ways, but one of the most common is surrounding scheduling issues. For example, they cancelled a weekend with no notice, but they send you a message saying that you just make it too hard for them to see the kids. Or they miss a recital and blame you for not telling them about it even though the information was readily available to them.

2. They Lie

Narcissists are not known for their honesty, and they often lie with little regard to the consequences it has for other people. A narcissistic parent might say they are on their way to pick up the children only to inform you an hour later that they aren’t coming at all, or they might promise the kids a big birthday party only to go away on a solo trip that weekend.

3. They Seem to Enjoy the Conflict

Co-parenting has its conflicts no matter how good the overall relationship is, but narcissists often create conflict where there isn’t any and actually enjoy the attention and focus that comes from that conflict. For example, maybe the other parent has asked to switch you weekends and you’ve agreed. The narcissist parent may then try to create drama by saying something like, “I don’t know why you don’t want me to see the kids.” This creates confusion for the healthy parent because they have given the other parent what they want but is being accused of something that’s not happening. These tactics are often referred to as gaslighting.

4. They Use the Children Against You

One of the most common characteristics of a narcissistic parent is that they use the children as weapons against the other parent. They might insist on using the children to communicate messages that should be sent directly from parent to parent even after being asked not to, or they may threaten to treat the children badly or disappoint them as a way to punish the healthy parent for establishing boundaries.

For example, the narcissist is texting you several times a day, telling you what a bad parent you are or how you aren’t doing a good job. You decide to start ignoring the messages and not responding. The narcissist might escalate their behavior by refusing to come get the children for their weekend because you wouldn’t “communicate” even though answering those texts had nothing to do with the visit. In this case, the narcissist is trying to make you feel bad or guilty for not doing what they wanted you to do because now the children will be disappointed that they are missing their visit.

Another common tactic with this is to speak negatively about the healthy parent to the children. Narcissist parents might tell their children how sorry they are that the other parent isn’t a good parent or tell them that the other parent lies, does drugs or any manner of other things that aren’t true but are designed to make the child question the healthy parent.

Strategies for Parallel Parenting

We talk a lot about co-parenting at 2Houses, but there are times where it’s just not possible. A situation where one parent is a narcissist, or is exhibiting narcissistic behavior, is one of those times. Co-parenting requires both parents to be actively putting the children’s needs and interests above their own and to be mature enough to be able to have a cooperative, civil relationship with the other parent. With narcissists, this usually is not the case.

So, what can you do to improve the parenting situation when you are dealing with a narcissist? One of the best strategies to use is called parallel parenting. Basically, it’s taking an approach that — as much as possible — what happens at their house is their business and what happens at your house is yours. Here, we provide some tips for making parallel parenting work.

1. Practice Gray Rock

If you haven’t heard of gray rock before, it probably sounds a little weird. But it comes from the premise that narcissists need fuel from the other parent in the form of emotion. Narcissists actively try to get you emotional so that you will be upset, be angry or lash out. Now, think about a gray rock you might see in your yard or at the park. It’s not very interesting, right? All one color, nothing remarkable about it. This is your goal when dealing with narcissists — to become like a gray rock.

This isn’t as easy as it first seems because, again, a narcissist’s main goal is to get you upset, and they are usually very good at it. Couple that with the fact that this person has been in a very close relationship with you for probably a substantial amount of time, and they know just what to do to get that reaction from you.

When you’re trying to gray rock, focus on being as unemotional as possible and responding with facts. Try to stay out of arguments, responding only when there are direct questions relevant to the children that you must answer. The less you can communicate with a narcissist the better.

2. Set Yourself Up for as Little Contact as Possible

Even parallel parenting requires a certain amount of coordination with the other parent, but again, the less contact you have with the narcissist the better. This is where the 2Houses co-parenting app becomes a very useful tool. It allows you to put all of the information, such as important dates, sports schedules, reimbursement requests and even scheduling issues all on the app, removing the direct contact between you and the other parent.

By doing this, the other parent doesn’t need to ask you for things like Social Security numbers or insurance information — those things will already be in the information bank that they can access with you. If the other parent does send messages about this type of information, you can reply with a simple, “It’s in the information bank on the app” — a very gray rock response.

In extreme cases, you may also need to limit contact to only the app and refuse to communicate through phone calls, texts or emails. Some family court judges even mandate this type of in-app communication in high-conflict cases now because there is an instant and easily accessible record of when messages were sent, when they were read and what was in them.

3. Have a Conversation With Your Children

Whether you suspect the other parent is a narcissist or you know they have been diagnosed as such, it’s important not to tell your children this or otherwise speak negatively about the other parent. However, it is a good idea to explain to them matter of factly and without emotion how you are going to handle things.

For example, maybe your children complain at your house that they have a bedtime while at the other parent’s house, they are allowed to stay up as late as they want. You can just explain that “there are different rules for different houses” or simply state that you can’t do anything about what happens over there so you are just going to focus on how things are in your own home.

Children are quick to figure out many of the narcissist’s manipulation tactics including gaslighting, speaking negatively about the healthy parent, pitting siblings against each other or using the children as pawns to get to the other parent. The best thing you can do is model healthy behavior, refuse to engage with the narcissist and let your children know that you are there for whatever they need.

For more information on what makes 2Houses special and how it can help you co-parent with a narcissist, check out our features explanation and contact us today.

Why do you feel depressed after a separation?

2houses - web & mobile app for divorce with kids - why do you feel depressed after divorce

You are divorced and you feel sad, frighten and lost?

Divorce and depression unfortunately are going hand to hand.

With an increasing number of couples getting divorced each year, depression is becoming more and more common and is considered as one of the most traumatic and stressful experience in a person’s life, and for some men and women, none is more stressful than a divorce.

At the end of your relationship, you are faced with difficult changes in your life, and it is normal to feel sad and even miserable.

You may feel as if you’ll never love anyone the way that you loved your husband and wife…

The sense of loss can be comparable to the pain of losing a loved one. In fact, it is the death of your marriage.

But sometimes these feelings can progress to something more serious: depression.

The effects of depression after a divorce are very varied.

You can be so destabilizing that you feels with no energy and no desire to do anything…

Hopelessness, anxiety and inappropriate guilt can lead to a loss of interest in formerly interesting things.
Changes in sleep patterns with tiredness, loss or increase of appetite, weight loss or gain, irritable, crying, lack of energy and sometimes thoughts of death are the main characteristics of depression after being divorced.

Divorce can be tough, but there are things you can do to help yourself start to feel better!

Transformations will not happen overnight, so be patient with yourself and above all realize that it is possible to move on with your life!!

Whether you are feeling low or have been diagnosed with symptoms of depression, these tips can help you!

Read more on Psychcentral.com

Rebuilding After a Breakup: Tips for Moving Forward

Rebuilding after breakup : tips for moving forward

No matter the circumstances, breakups are never easy. A divorce can bring about a grieving process very similar to what happens when you lose a loved one and is a very real, very intense emotional event. While there’s no magic cure that can make you instantly feel better. Here are five tips to help you acknowledge what’s happened and move forward.

Take Ownership of Your Part

No breakup is 100 percent one party’s fault, and to really move forward, it’s important to recognize that some of the decision making and issues were yours. Even if your ex really was 99 percent of the problem, taking ownership of your 1 percent can help you feel a larger sense of control in a sometimes chaotic situation and keep you from repeating the same mistakes when you’re ready for a new relationship. It will also help you be able to communicate positively with your ex as you continue to coparent together especially when combined with an app like 2houses.

Gather a Support System

A breakup means losing part of your identity that was wrapped in being someone’s partner. It can be difficult at first as you start to reclaim your life. This is where your support system comes in. Ideally, you want a few friends who can help you to get out of the house and reenter the social circles you may have neglected when you were in a relation, as well as one or two close friends who can be a shoulder to lean on when the inevitable sad and angry days come. You may also want to consider getting a mental health professional who specializes in life transition issues in your corner for when you need an objective perspective.

Change Things Up

While moving to another country may seem like a great way to get out of having to see your ex around town, this is probably a little too drastic. But a change in environment can help you move on after a breakup. It’s a great time to take stock of your life and see if your job, home and hobbies are really what you want to do or were just convenient within your relationship. If something stands out as not fulfilling or isn’t a step toward your dream life, it may be time for a change. This is also a great way to be a role model for your children to show them that just because things don’t work out as you planned doesn’t mean you can’t regroup and still end up in an awesome place.

Take It Slow

Intimate relationships create very deep bonds, and these feelings aren’t just going to go away overnight. This person was an important part of your life. Their absence is going to leave a void for a while. This void is temporary, and you will eventually move on, but you need to give it time.

Bonus tip: Beware of jumping back into the dating scene too soon. It’s very easy to move too quickly in a rebound relationship, but back-to-back breakups can compound the problem and end up making it harder to recover emotionally.

Acknowledge the Past

While you definitely want to be looking toward the future, the truth is the past still happened. It had a big effect on who you are and who you will be as you move forward. Trying to pretend it didn’t happen is just as unhealthy as staying stuck in past mistakes and failures. Acknowledge — and maybe even thank — your breakup for the impact it had on you and make a conscious effect to absorb the lesson and move on. It can be helpful to have a little ceremony where you take some pictures from your relationship or write down some good and bad memories and then burn them to physically signify the letting go.

Divorce Announcement Wording Tips for Your Children

divorce announcement wording - 2houses

Talking to your children about divorce is never easy. Most spouses are going through an emotionally challenging time and want to minimize the stress on children. Achieving this is possible with care and attention throughout the divorce process, beginning with the first conversations you have as a family about your separation.

One way to make those chats as supportive as possible is to use specific language. Certain words are often more nurturing to children, and send the right message at a time when kids are particularly vulnerable. Encouraging words can help ease the transition for your entire family.

Use “We” Instead of “I”

Even if you and your spouse disagree on many issues, it helps if you can be united when speaking to your children. Breaking the news about separation or divorce should be done by both spouses together, with as little hint about animosity or anger as possible. Using “we” reinforces this idea of stability to your children, who are just learning of your intent to live apart.

Be Selective in Choosing Information

Some parents flood their children with information in the first conversation, in an attempt to proactively answer all of their questions. This can overwhelm the child, who may or may not have had an inkling of what was to come. Start with the basics. Remaining open to questions after you tell your children is important, as that’s when you will have a better idea of how they perceive the situation.

Stay Focused on Your Child

Tell the children how the change in the family will affect their lives. For example, when providing details, say things like, “we’ll be taking care of you together, but we will live in two different homes.”, “Our change in family life won’t affect your school or your friends.” Before the conversation, make a list of what your children currently enjoy doing and how that might change after the divorce.

Reassure Them It’s Not Their Fault

Often children think they may be responsible for their parents’ divorce. Telling them that they did nothing wrong is important, so they can feel somewhat at ease with what’s happening. Over time, they will probably have more questions about why you and your spouse have chosen to end your marriage, and you may want to listen closely to their worries about the root causes of the event.

Talk to Them About the Plan

For many parents, the main objective is to help their children feel secure in the face of divorce. Give them a plan as early as possible, so they know their parents still love them and will look after their needs. Use phrasing like, “your father and I,” “your mother and I,” and “our family,” when describing how things will unfold. You can also say, “we will both always be here for you,” to reinforce this idea of consistency.

Most children will remember this conversation for many years to come. It can set up the emotional road for both the children and the parents, as they embark on divorce or separation. Every parent makes mistakes, but by taking care with what you say and how you communicate with your spouse, you can support your children over the long term. Stay open and supportive when talking and listening to all members of your family.

Homeopathy for Children

homeopathy for children - 2houses

Homeopathy’s origins

The principle of treating “like with like” dates back to Hippocrates (460-377BC) but in its current form, homeopathy has been widely used worldwide for more than 200 years.

It was discovered by a German doctor, Samuel Hahnemann, who, shocked with the harsh medical practises of the day (which included blood-letting, purging and the use of poisons such as arsenic), looked for a way to reduce the damaging side-effects associated with medical treatment.

He began experimenting on himself and a group of healthy volunteers, giving smaller and smaller medicinal doses, and found that as well as reducing toxicity, the medicines actually appeared to be more effective the lower the dose. He also observed that symptoms caused by toxic ‘medicines’ such as mercury, were similar to those of the diseases they were being used to treat e.g. syphilis, which lead to the principle he described as ‘like cures like’.

Hahnemann went on to document his work, and his texts formed the foundations of homeopathic medicine as it is practised today. A BBC Radio 4 documentary aired in December 2010 described Hahnemann as a medical pioneer who worked tirelessly to improve medical practice, insisting that medicines were tested before use.

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Homeopathy for Children

Homeopathy is a medical method that has been used in the US for over 200 years. With today’s parental concern about interactions, side effects and contra-indications of prescription and over the counter drugs, the homeopathic method, which is free of these causes for concern, is enjoying a popular revival. Homeopathy is natural and mild medicine. The remedies are natural substances which have been diluted and potentized many times so that when used according to the homeopathic method, they stimulate the child’s own defenses to move your child toward a healthier state without causing any side effects.



It is always a pleasure to discuss the use of Homeopathic remedies for children. Homeopathic remedies are safe, effective and mild. They are particularly effective in children, because the remedies work by stimulating the body’s own vitality. Children naturally have a higher vitality; therefore they work especially well in children. Homeopathic remedies are easy and pleasant to administer. The special soft tablets can be placed in the child’s mouth where they readily dissolve or dissolved in a little water for administration. They have a pleasant taste.

The common childhood conditions we will discuss are:
 Teething, Colic, Fever, Bumps and Bruises, Bed-Wetting, Coughs & Colds, Chicken Pox, Diarrhea, Diaper Rash.

Teething is treated with:

Chamomilla for painful teething with or without fever. The teething is frequently associated with colic. You always know to use Chamomilla when the child has one hot cheek, the other pale and cold. – 
Coffea Cruda for the restlessness observed in the teething child. Calcarea Phosphorica for delayed or difficult teething, as well as the colic frequently associated with teething.



Colic is treated with:

Dioscorea : for the treatment of cramps or colic in the abdomen which seem relieved by straightening up or leaning back.
 – Chamomilla : for the child with a poor tolerance for pain, restless and squeamish. The Chamomilla child usually has one hot cheek, the other pale and cool. The child seems improved when carried or pushed in the stroller. – 
Colocynthus : to relieve violent cramp-like pains which are relieved by heat and pressure. It is also helpful to relieve the irritability associated with pain. -
Magnesia Phosphorica : to relieve colic characterized by being spasmodic or intermittent. The colic is relieved by gentle pressure, warmth and burping. The symptoms are usually worse on the right side and there is usually a general muscular weakness.

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Stop buying sports drinks and protein bars – Try handmade instead

protein bars and sport drink - 2houses

In a rather sad and ironic state of affairs, individuals exercising to improve health and fitness often fall into the trap of neon colored sport drinks and sugary protein bars with questionable ingredients – believing these products support ultimate vitality and strength.

Unfortunately, these ‘foods’ compromise true health and also tend to rack up a hefty grocery bill. But making your own at home is far easier than you might imagine and affordable to boot.

Sports drinks

The Chicago Tribune article, “Sports drinks: How to make your own” offers several simple, inexpensive recipes for recovery drinks. According to registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, refueling beverages need three elements: water, electrolytes and carbohydrates. Just make sure to use purified water, organic ingredients and high quality Himalayan or Celtic sea salt for maximum nutritional benefit.

Organic Sports Drink from Kitchen Table Medicine
– Organic fruit juice
– Water or green tea
– Organic sea salt
Fill sports bottle with half juice and half water. Add a pinch of sea salt and shake.

Delicious and nutrient dense energy bars

Now onto the protein bars. Here we can really get creative. Anna Sward of Protein Pow(d)er offers the following recommendations and recipes:

“For each recipe below, bind the powder, flour and other ingredients with milk [coconut, almond or hemp varieties are heathy choices]. You can also use a nut butter. The goal is to have a batter that comes together like a dough which can be easily formed into bars. Next, melt 90-100 percent dark chocolate over low heat — enough to coat the bars, about 40 grams. Once coated, place the bars in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.”

Again, organic ingredients are recommended.

Surprise Almond and Vanilla Protein Bars
– 4 small cooked beets
– 1 cup vanilla protein powder
– 1/2 cup coconut flour
– 1/2 cup cup nondairy milk substitute
– 2 tbsp organic almond butter (peanut, pumpkin or hemp butter works as well)

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Eight Tips to Help You Deal With Mixed Emotions After Divorce

mixed emotions after divorce - 2houses

After the divorce you may find you have mixed emotions about your ex – spouse.

While you may know that the divorce was for the best, you may find that some days you hate your ex – spouse, and, surprisingly, other days you miss him/her. You may wonder why you feel any fondness for someone you are divorcing. It is perfectly normal, and most divorced people report these mixed emotions. So how do you cope with these changing emotions?

  1. Emotions are not good or bad. They just ARE. When a couple divorces, the bad times they shared may be a recent memory, but there are times when each person feels vulnerable, lonely, or scared of the changes taking place. At these times, you may think of the good times. (Hopefully, they were not all bad!) Allow yourself these trips down memory lane. Don’t try to push down your emotions, but allow yourself to feel all the emotional stages of divorce. Expect that you will have your up’s and down’s.
  2. Divorce means change. Realize that every divorce brings about such change, and change is not always easy. There are times we are tempted to look back, because it is easier than facing the fact that you now have to rebuild your life. Trust yourself that you can handle anything that comes along and that you have made the right decision to divorce. Don’t let fear overtake your judgment.
  3. Make lists. It helps to make a list of the reasons you divorced, and the differences you had. Also, make a list of the good parts of your former relationship. Many newly divorced people are so focused on the bad that they grow resentful and hold such a grudge against their ex – spouse, it is hard to move on with their lives. Everyone has some good traits and some bad.
…Read More…By , About.com Guide