What’s it like to co-parent with a narcissist?
Co-parenting with a narcissist is certainly one hell of an experience. Co-parenting with a partner who doesn’t have this spiraling personality disorder can be a tough ask, but the difficulty level is definitely cranked up a notch when narcissism is involved. Folks with such destabilizing traits and tendencies can be hellish when their relationships come to an end, especially when they are the ones that have been dumped. The truth is, they have a really hard time with the prospect of losing control, and when they are made to feel weak and vulnerable, the hate burning inside of them becomes relentless. Plus, when children are involved, these tricky personalities become even more intense and unpredictable.
Narcissistic parents aren’t exactly the most loving or affectionate towards their children, but after a divorce or a separation, they won’t hesitate to seize the opportunity to use them as weapons. You’ve no doubt guessed right, these types of parents aren’t exactly too bothered or preoccupied with the wellbeing of their children, instead, their main goal is to get back at their ex. In fact, they’ll do absolutely anything they can to make their ex-partner’s life hell, and punish them for leaving. The scary reality is that whenever their ego is hurt, they’ll go to extreme lengths to get back at whoever they hold responsible for their downfall, regardless of past history or links.
Co-parenting with a narcissist is challenging and requires more organization and rules than in the result of a typical relationship breakdown. But, that’s not to say that it’s an impossible mission, either. It may not be your typical co-parenting setup, but that doesn’t mean that your children need to be in a constant state of sadness. Let’s face it, as parents, we all want our kids to grow up in a healthy and happy environment, but at times life deals us a bad hand, and we just need to adapt to it.
8 Tips on how to deal with your ex, who is also your narcissist co-parent
1) Set up a legal parenting plan
Although you may not like the idea of getting legal representation involved, sometimes it’s just an inevitable route when faced with intense narcissism. Getting legal advice will help you put in place a water-tight parenting plan, and will give you the peace of mind you need whenever your kids are with your ex. Opting for this sort of plan will ensure that everything is noted down for future reference, including your concerns and experiences, which will only be beneficial.
2) Limit communication
Following on from my last point, it’s important to establish rules when it comes to communication, and your legal plan could be the perfect solution to doing this. Here, for example, it would be wise to decide how you want to communicate, on which subjects, even to the point of fixing days and times. The most important thing here is for your ex-partner to follow the rules and respect the boundaries you set; something that he no doubt struggles with.
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3) Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated
Narcissists have a completely wild imagination and can be particularly creative when it comes to settling scores. When they go through breakups, they’ll often try to intimidate their ex-partners by any means possible. Here, they might try turning up at your workplace or your house, plus they might send you threatening messages in an attempt to get their own way. Standing your ground is essential for the welfare of your children, so don’t hesitate to get the police involved if necessary. You left for a reason, and your ex should respect your choices whether or not he agrees with them.
4) Avoid falling into your ex’s traps
People with these personality traits are tricky characters to have to deal with and can be extremely conniving too. When it comes to point scoring and getting back at you, they’ll have the time of their lives and will take immense pleasure in frustrating you. Here, you should expect them to constantly try and get a reaction from you, whether that be because of their lies, violence, or unreliability. Their objective is to make you look like the bad guy, so be aware of their slippery plans to manipulate the reality of the situation. Here, the secret to gaining the upper hand is by not taking their bait, despite how mad they make you.
5) Avoid arguing in front of the kids
No matter how hard your ex pushes you for a bad reaction, or how mean he is to you, you must always avoid arguing in front of your kids. You are a victim in this situation and so are your children, which is why it’s so crucial to protect them from all the toxicity and hate. Although your children are probably aware of what has happened in the lead up to the co-parenting scenario, it is also really important to avoid bad-mouthing your ex. If your kids repeat the horrible lies that your ex no doubt tells them about you, then it would be a good idea to sit them down and explain their father’s heartbreak and how it pushes him to say and do bad things. You don’t have to go into any specific details, especially if they are small, however, giving them some context will be helpful in the long run.
6) Involve a trusted friend or family member if need be
Sometimes, we all need a helping hand who is willing to give us the precious advice we need and at times talk us out of making ridiculous decisions. When it comes to co-parenting, having a good support system in place is essential, especially when at points you could require a witness further along down the line. After all, having someone on your side is never a bad thing!
7) Expect the unexpected
Whenever you are or have been romantically involved with someone with a narcissistic personality, you’ll know the importance of remaining on your toes at all time. Their unpredictable traits mean that they are capable of very intimidating and scary things, which is why they should never be underestimated in their search for revenge. In short, you must never put anything past them because they are full of mostly terrible surprises.
8) Document things
Even if certain things seem pretty irrelevant, having them noted down could be beneficial, especially if you have to take further action against your ex. Perhaps this may seem like a bit of a sneaky and underhand move, but needs must, and you’re not exactly dealing with a typical easygoing person.
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Can you successfully co-parent with a narcissist?
Okay, so the situation may seem scarily intimidating, but it is totally possible. But, it will take you a while to master the art of dealing with your complicated ex, however, that’s to be expected because, remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. In order to guarantee a healthy set-up, establishing boundaries is primordial. No matter what happens, you must remind yourself that your children are the most important people involved here, so you need to remain strong for them. Successfully co-parenting with a narcissist will be very demanding, but all your hard work and efforts will eventually pay off and help create the safest environment possible for your kids. Plus, when your kids are old enough to understand the situation, they’ll also realize the sacrifices you’ve made for them, which will no doubt strengthen your bond.
Editor’s opinion - Take care of yourself too
Let’s be honest, co-parenting is one of the most challenging things anyone can go through, which is why it’s so important to not become totally consumed by the process. Looking after yourself every step of the way will help you relax about things and ensure for a smoother process. We all want the best for our kids, but that’s not to say we have to suffer extensively either. You’ve been a victim for so long, you deserve to breathe easy for a while, too.
🤗 Understand yourself, accept yourself, be happy... Let’s do it here and now!
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