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What to Do if You’re Co-Parenting With a Narcissist

What to Do if You’re Co-Parenting With a Narcissist


Ten years in the past, when Cat Blake divorced her husband, co-parenting their daughter was comparatively clean. “We had been co-parenting comparatively effectively, with some hiccups alongside the best way,” she says.

However just a few years later, when she revealed an autobiography about her struggles with co-dependency, issues took a flip for the more serious.

“My ex-husband and his new spouse received phrase of the ebook and sued me for full custody of my then 8-year-old daughter and defamation of character,” says Blake, who’s now a divorce coach in Boston, MA. The authorized bills upended her funds and she or he needed to promote her dwelling and file for chapter.

Blake realized later that her ex-husband, who she says is a narcissist, didn’t even need extra time with their daughter. “He simply wished to punish me,” she says.

What It’s Prefer to Co-Dad or mum With a Narcissist

“Co-parenting with somebody who has a full-blown persona dysfunction is extraordinarily difficult,” says Mark Ettensohn, PsyD, writer of Unmasking Narcissism: A Information to Understanding the Narcissist in Your Life. Narcissists have a extremely unstable self-image, he says. They’re usually rigid, defensive, and handle the scenario in unhealthy methods.

In case your parenting associate is narcissist, they might ignore, push, or check your boundaries. Or they may mum or dad with much less construction, empathy, or respect than you’d like. They usually get indignant once you give them suggestions or criticism. It may be onerous to achieve compromises. Their negativity may put on you down.

Methods to Acknowledge a Narcissist

Narcissists have a powerful sense of grandiosity and self-importance. Which means they assume they’re extra necessary than others and lack empathy.

Different indicators of narcissistic personality disorder embrace:

  • Smug perspective or behaviors
  • Profiting from others to get what they need
  • Believing that they’re distinctive or particular
  • Exaggerating achievements and abilities
  • Extreme want for admiration
  • Feeling envy towards others or pondering others envy them
  • Lack of empathy
  • Obsessive about fantasies of brilliance, energy, or success
  • Sense of entitlement

What to Do if Your Co-Dad or mum Is a Narcissist

Take these steps for those who’re co-parenting with a narcissist:

Settle for it. In case your parenting associate is a narcissist, they in all probability received’t change. “It’s a must to wrap your head round the truth that you’ll should co-parent with someone that you just simply may not like,” Blake says.


Set boundaries. Be clear and particular. Draw the road on what’s OK and what’s not. Don’t allow them to cross it. Narcissists like management and can do no matter it takes to get it.


Make a parenting plan. Make a plan for tips on how to drop off and choose up children, and tips on how to deal with after-school actions, holidays, and self-discipline. Determine the way you’ll discuss and the way usually. Put the plan in writing, signal it, and stick with it.

Restrict communication. Your parenting associate might attempt to get your consideration by over-communicating. They might instantly inform you about one thing they want a solution for immediately. Attempt utilizing electronic mail solely, so you will have an opportunity to take a breath earlier than you reply.

Keep calm. When your associate lashes out or makes you indignant, attempt to keep calm. Keep away from participating in insults or blame. “Use clear language, phrases with out emotion, sturdy body language, and voice,” Blake says.

Have perspective. Attempt to not take private assaults to heart. As an alternative, acknowledge that what they are saying is extra about them than you.

What To not Do

Listed here are some issues to keep away from for those who’re co-parenting with a narcissist:


Don’t argue. Narcissists make it onerous to win an argument. They usually discuss in circles to confuse and overwhelm you. Maintain your solutions clear and quick, with out emotion. Don’t clarify your self or give an excessive amount of data. That is additionally referred to as the “gray rock technique.”

Don’t be afraid of them. “They thrive on worry,” Blake says. “Narcissists are really easy once you understand what makes them tick. They solely need consideration and kudos.” Acknowledge once they do one thing effectively. However stick together with your boundaries.

Don’t attempt to management every part. “So long as you do your job, attempt to let go a little bit of what the narcissist is doing in parenting,” Blake says. “Do your youngsters come again fed and in a single piece? That’s fairly good.”

Don’t use your youngster. Your associate might use your youngster to get what they need. They may have them spy on you for personal data. It’s possible you’ll be tempted to do it too, but it surely’s finest to not.

Methods to Shield Children

“It might be onerous to guard children from a co-parent’s persona points once you’re not there to see what’s occurring,” Ettensohn says. Give attention to what you possibly can management.

Discuss to your youngster. Assist them perceive their different mum or dad’s conduct. Make it age-appropriate. Educate them that their mum or dad’s conduct is about that mum or dad, not them.

Watch what you say. Attempt to not say detrimental issues about your parenting associate. “It will possibly flip your youngster in opposition to you and so they may really feel obligated to choose sides,” Ettensohn says. “Concentrate on non-verbal communication, speaking to family and friends inside earshot, and evaluating your youngster to your narcissist,” Blake says.

Look ahead to indicators of abuse. Search for something that crosses the road into bodily, sexual, or emotional abuse.

Be a wholesome mum or dad. You’ll be able to’t select how your associate mother and father your youngster, however you possibly can offset it with wholesome parenting. Be a superb position mannequin. Coach your youngster by tough patches. “The antidote to your associate’s narcissism is acceptance, heat, sensible appraisal, and consistency,” Ettensohn says.

Co-parenting with a narcissistic ex-husband hasn’t been simple for Blake, however she retains it in perspective. “Children solely want one high-functioning mum or dad so as to develop right into a thriving grownup,” she says.