Co-parenting with a narcissist can be a huge challenge. They often have little regard for the feelings of others, including their own children, and only care about themselves. This can lead to constant conflict and problems in the co-parenting relationship. However, there are strategies that you can use to help mitigate these issues.
In this blog post, I will discuss some of the challenges that occur when co-parenting with a narcissist, as well as strategies to overcome them. I will also provide tips on how you can support your children during this difficult time.
The complications of co-parenting with a narcissist
Parenting is already a very challenging job, but parenting with a narcissistic partner or ex is even more difficult. Narcissists are very manipulative and controlling. They use their children as pawns with no compunction whatsoever, never considering the effect that this is having on the children themselves.
Narcissists may also belittle or criticize the other parent in front of the children. This can result in different reactions from the children, none of which are healthy. In some cases children will react to the abuse of a parent by trying to defend them, which can result in them being abused themselves. In other cases, children may believe the negative things that the narcissist is saying about the other parent and this damages their relationship with them. It is therefore important to be aware of what your children are exposed to when they are spending time with your narcissistic ex.
Narcissists also tend to be very stubborn, which can make co-parenting arrangements extremely difficult to implement and maintain. Do not expect them to be flexible if you need to change arrangements for the weekend or holidays. That said, they will themselves often make last minute changes themselves, which can be very disruptive for the children. It is therefore important to have a solid co-parenting plan in place that you can both agree on and stick to.
In addition, as you well know, communicating with a narcissist can be a nightmare. They will twist your words and use them against you. This can be extremely frustrating, and can make it very difficult to resolve conflict in a productive way.
You must also keep in mind that narcissists are manipulative and ruthless. They have been known to use institutions to launch campaigns of abuse by proxy, and you must be careful that this does not happen to you.
Strategies for co-parenting with a narcissist
If you are co-parenting with a narcissist, it is important to have a strategy in place to deal with them. Here are some tips:
Keep communication to a minimum. Only communicate with them about essential matters such as arrangements for the children.
Do not engage in arguments or debates with them. It is very unlikely that you will be able to change their mind and it will only result in a lot of frustration on your part.
Do not take anything they say or do personally. They are not capable of caring about anyone but themselves and so anything they say or do is not a reflection on you.
Be assertive in setting boundaries with them. You need to be clear about what you will and will not tolerate from them.
Do not let them provoke you into losing your temper. This will only give them more ammunition to use against you.
Keep a record of any abusive or manipulative behaviour they exhibit. This can be useful if you ever need to take legal action against them, or if they try to use institutional abuse by proxy.
Keep everything in writing. This will provide a record of what arrangements have been made and will help to avoid misunderstandings.
The impact of a narcissistic parent on children
It is well documented that children of narcissists often suffer from a range of psychological problems. These can include low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and attachment issues.
They may also have difficulty forming healthy relationships themselves when they become adults. This is due to the fact that they have often grown up witnessing their parents behaving in an unhealthy and dysfunctional way.
It is therefore important that you are empathetic to your children’s needs, keeping in mind that your ex-partner might be your antagonist, but that he or she is still their parent.
Co-Parenting With a Narcissist – Tips for Supporting Your Children
If you are co-parenting with a narcissist, it is important to be aware of the effect that this may be having on your children. Encourage them to speak openly about their feelings and emotions, and provide them with a safe space to do so.
It is also very important to reassure them that they are not responsible for the conflict between their parents, and that they are in no way to blame for the situation. Make it a point never to badmouth their other parent in front of them. It is important to respect their other parent, even if you do not agree with them.
Make sure that they are aware of the support available to them. If you see that they are struggling then it might be a good idea to take them to a therapist. However be prepared to face resistance from the narcissist if you do this.
Here are some tips on how you can support them:
Create Structure. Establishing predictable routines and rules helps create a sense of security and stability for your children while they are in the care of their narcissistic parent. Make sure these rules are clearly communicated to the other parent.
Prioritize Open Communication. Although it might be tempting to avoid communication with the narcissistic parent, make an effort to keep lines of dialogue open between yourself and other parent when possible. This will help create an atmosphere of cooperation for raising your children together effectively.
Advocate for Your Children. Stand up for what’s best for your child, even if it means going against the wishes of their other parent. Document any incidents that occur and discuss them openly with trusted family members or qualified mental health professionals who can advise you on how best to proceed in any given situation.
Limit Exposure. It is important not to expose your children too long to unhealthy behaviours or interactions between their parents. Establish clear boundaries about what is acceptable behaviour during each visit with their other parent so the environment remains safe and secure for everyone involved.
Find Support. Co-parenting with a narcissist can be tough on you, so don’t forget to look after yourself as well! Lean on friends and family members who can provide emotional support throughout this difficult process, or consider talking with a mental health professional who specializes in co-parenting issues if needed.
In conclusion, co-parenting with a narcissist can be a difficult and challenging experience. However, there are ways to manage the situation and support your children through it.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your kids receive adequate support while also maintaining healthy boundaries between yourself and the narcissist parent in order to protect yourself from further emotional strain moving forward
Whatever the narcissist does, never tell the children that they are acting that way because they do not love them. It could very well be the case, but the only people you are hurting with your accusations are your children. They need to know that their other parent loves them, even if they do not always show it in the way you would like.