Co-Parenting With a Narcissist: How to Make It Work

Co-parenting and narcissist

Parenting is never easy. It’s a full-time job that requires you to drop your personal needs to tend to other human lives.

That full-time job becomes all the more difficult to perform when you’re co-parenting with someone that has a narcissistic personality disorder. Fortunately, parenting a child with an NPD co-parent isn’t impossible.

It will take several actionable steps, with you championing a lot of the “first steps”. If you’re at a loss for where to start, then consider different techniques.

Here are several tips on co-parenting with a narcissist. Be sure to consider all of these methods and find the ones that will work best for you.

1. Always Prioritize the Children Above the Co-Parent

Divorce is hard enough as is, and you might be stressing the importance of your children having both parents in their life, if possible.

However, their need for both parents isn’t so great that it beats out the other needs of your children.

Dealing with a narcissistic father or mother means that they won’t be able to place your children’s needs ahead of their own. That’s why it’s up to you to make those decisions.

Of course, you don’t want to hurt the other parent’s feelings, but that’s a minute concern when it comes to doing what’s best for your kid(s).

If at any point you feel like your ex-spouse is using your children for their own personal gain, it’s time to take action. Remove your kids from the situation as much as possible and attempt to reach a solution.

2. Set Ground Rules for Communication

Co-parenting with your ex can get dicey when it comes to proper communication practices. In fact, the narcissistic parent will try to flat-out ignore your wishes on how they speak with you and the child.

That’s why it’s important to set up ground rules for how they’ll communicate with both as soon as possible.

There will be an adjustment period for everyone involved, so try not to become frustrated.

Be sure to set up borders for when and how you talk to each other. For example, try to use email as the primary form of communication between you and the other parent.

Email will help remove emotion from the verbiage (as much as possible) so that you both can attempt to have clear discussions.

The narcissistic parent will undoubtedly try to frustrate you with some responses that they send. Email is the best way for you to give yourself enough time to respond and read over what you send before you send it.

3. Set Up Call Times with the Children

Modern-day technology has made it increasingly difficult for parents to control how often their ex-spouse communicates with their child.

As you probably know by now, your narcissistic co-parent will try any and every way to reach the child against your wishes.

Try to set specific times that the parent can call the child while you have visitation with them. The other parent will try to push you on this, so don’t budge.

Even if they agree to the call times that you’ve set, they might still try to blow up the child’s cell phone with text messages to instigate. If you catch on to this, remain calm and try to get the child to ignore their messages for the duration of your visit.

4. Conjure Up a Legal Parenting Outline

Your personal requests and demands won’t mean much to the narcissistic parent, even if they’ve agreed to those you’ve listed out.

Because of that, you want to find something that’s legally-binding. Something in writing that can protect you from the co-parent’s unpredictability.

Their NPD will influence them to try and be involved in everyone’s lives as much as they possibly can. However, a legal agreement will cause them to think twice before stirring things up.

Legal parenting agreements can include terms such as the education plans for the children, visitation schedules, health care for the kids, and other responsibilities.

Remember to be the bigger adult and remain as reasonable as possible. Think about what your children want and how you can mold a parenting plan to fit it.

If you have concerns about the process or about your narcissistic co-parent, be sure to bring them up as you meet with an attorney. They can recommend different options.

Of course, an interactive calendar might also serve as a huge breakthrough for interacting and scheduling with the co-parent.

5. Remove Your Child from the Middle

Odds are that there will always be minor and major feuds between you and your ex-spouse. 

What’s important is that you remember to remove your child from the middle of the altercation. It doesn’t matter how old they are, they should never have to get involved in the ongoing battle.

Don’t be surprised if the narcissistic parent tries to place your children in a situation where they have to pick between the two.

Don’t buy into the trap they’re laying out for you. The top priority should always be the safety and the happiness of your kids. They love you both and want both of you to be involved in their lives.

The narcissistic parent might try to fill your child’s head with lies, and it’s up to you to put an end to it.

Ask them often if the other parent has tried to use them as a spy against you at one point or another.

Try to communicate the fact that you don’t hate their other parent. Make sure they know that both mom and dad love them very much and want the best life possible for them.

6. Use Counseling to Your Advantage

Dealing with a narcissistic co-parent in everyday life is an unprecedented situation to most people. There’s no clear-cut rule book on how to deal with them. Every NPD is different.

Because of that, you want to make sure you and your children have a space to talk through things. 

Counseling can provide a setting for you to work out feelings both individually and/or together.

In fact, there are many tremendous benefits of counseling. Such perks include things like mental relief, increased self-confidence, and self-acceptance.

It will also help you and your children to improve your communication and gratitude towards the situations you’re blessed with. 

The counselor that you frequently visit will help you see things through a different scope and tackle the frustrations you have head-on. This will also be a great exercise to lessen the burden of the emotional load that you’re carrying on your shoulders.

7. Control What You Can Control

If there’s one thing that you’ll learn about co-parenting with a self-absorbed person, it’s that you won’t be able to control their actions.

Attempting to show enough emotion to get through to them will only make things worse. Narcissists feed off of high emotions and frustrations if you show it to them.

Not only that, but trying to control other people, narcissist or not, will lead to more frustration that you’re inflicting on yourself. Instead, focus on the things you do and the actions that you take.

The best way to start change is to ignite change within yourself. Don’t expect the other parent to follow your lead. 

If you find self-control then you’ll be more at peace with situations that would otherwise lead to anger and sadness.

8. Lead by Example

You’re the bigger adult, here. You are the one that will serve as the primary example for your children. 

As much as they might love the other parent, even younger kids understand who the responsible parent is in their life. Therefore, it’s completely up to you to set a standard for your child’s behavior.

If they see you work through your feelings by throwing things around the house, then they will grow up to do the same thing.

You need to focus on showing your kid(s) the right way to do all things in life. As they grow up, they’ll come to admire your dedication to raising them the right way, even with a narcissist for a co-parent.

Find the Balance for Co-Parenting with a Narcissist!

Now that you’ve seen several helpful suggestions and tips for co-parenting with a narcissist, it’s time to put them into practice.

While that can be easier than done, it’s important to take each tip one step at a time.

Be sure to read this article on co-parenting during the coronavirus and how to work through visitation during this pandemic.

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