5 tips for co-parenting with a narcissist

Co-parenting with a narcissist

5 tips for co-parenting with a narcissist

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Co-parenting with a narcissist is not easy at all. In fact, it can be almost impossible. Here are my five tips for doing it.

One of the hardest things to do in co-parenting is dealing with a narcissist. Narcissists only care about themselves. They have a high sense of importance—much higher than everyone else. They believe that they know all and they are doing the best for their children, usually doing things that damage the children more than anything else.

And a lot of times, there is nothing you can do. Speak out, and they will bait you into saying things you’ll later regret. Try to protect your children and they will gaslight and manipulate the situation. I lived with a narcissist for more than a decade and was married to him for eight years. I didn’t realize what he was at first, and it’s been as we split that I realized just what I was dealing with in my life and now what I have to deal with when it comes to co-parenting.

The best thing to do mentally with a narcissist is to go no-contact. That’s not possible when you have children.

Co-parenting with a narcissist is all about parallel parenting

Something I figured out very quickly is that you can’t actually co-parent with a narcissist. The best thing to do is parallel parent. My narcissist ex even thinks that what we are doing is co-parenting and refuses to look up the definitions of the two forms of parenting. Of course, he’s right and knows all so he doesn’t need to look up anything, right?

Parallel parenting is the best way to manage things. I’ve tried co-parenting only to end up going around in circles trying to get us both on the same path. He couldn’t even accept a 2am bedtime for a 10-year-old was a bad idea.

Narcissists lie, manipulate, and gaslight to make it look like you’re the crazy one. In fact, they can make you feel crazy and do things that make you look a little unhinged. And then they get their little flying monkeys to join in with the idea that you’re crazy. The best thing is to limit contact as much as possible and parallel parent.

Hire a lawyer who understands narcissism

My second tip for co-parenting with a narcissist is to hire a lawyer who understand what a narcissistic parent is and can do. When something happens, you can make sure your lawyer knows. In fact, you can have your lawyer do all the communicating that doesn’t involve the children directly.

A lawyer with experience won’t get pulled into your ex’s lies and manipulation. They will see through the wording in the texts and the deception used. Judges won’t always see through it, so having a lawyer who can is important to point things out to a judge when you need that to happen.

It’s also worth hiring a therapist who is skilled in dealing with narcissism. I can tell you now that a good therapist will make co-parenting a little easier. Mine has given me a lot of great advice lately to take a step back and wait for my narcissistic ex to ruin his relationship with his children all on his own. I’m done trying to help him keep a relationship with them!

MORE: Why you need to leave a cheating spouse

Stick to the court order at all times

If you don’t already have a court order, get one. This is something I’m in the middle of.

Without a court order, a narcissist is going to play games. Once you have a court order, it’s much easier to ensure parenting time works as it should and all payments everyone needs to make is put in writing. Your narcissist will still try to mess around with things, but it’s easier to hold them in contempt and they won’t want that!

Once you have a court order, you need to stick to it. A narcissist will attempt to play the system. This could be to agree to change the way you do payments for child support or to change parenting one weekend. Once you change one thing, they will expect you to change more. It’s the old saying “give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

Just don’t do it. Stick to the court order and don’t budge. Yes, they will complain about you doing something bad somewhere, but you’re really not. Your narcissist isn’t going to take accountability, remember.

When they don’t stick to the court order, document. Always document what they’ve done, whether it’s not pay child support, not turn up for visitation, not follow a right of first refusal agreement. This is a way to show how little they do if you come to get a change to the court order in the future.

Ignore the campaign against you

When you’re co-parenting with a narcissist, you’ll end up dealing with flying monkeys causing problems. You see, your narcissist will tell other people about what you’ve apparently done to hurt them. Everything that goes wrong will be your fault. Narcissists are perfect, remember.

This is something I have to deal with. I know my ex is telling his affair partner, his business partner, and his family all about how crazy I am. Of course, me sticking up for my children getting hurt and bullied means that I’m interfering and not letting go of situations. It’s got nothing to do with anything that is legitimately going on with the children and what he’s doing.

I just ignore what I know he’s doing. Fortunately, we have no mutual friends anymore. He has no friends except those acquaintances he has right now through work and his affair partner. Once he’s done with his affair partner (or she finally sees through his lies and manipulation), he’ll lose most of the people in his life. I don’t see the point in worrying about what they think of me.

This is where you need a good lawyer, though. Should things go south, and they will quickly, you need to have someone in your corner who can get to the bottom of the lies people are told about you. Don’t engage with people yourself. Let them talk while you focus on yourself and your children.

Keep Communication Businesslike when Co-Parenting with a Narcissist

Something I wish I’d stuck to from the beginning was keeping all communication businesslike. It’s hard at first when there are a lot of emotions, but once you stick to businesslike communication, you’ll find that it’s a little easier to co-parent with the narcissist in your life.

Short and simple answers are important. I have some stock answers now to a lot of situations.

You’ll also want stock answers for when you’re being baited. Most of the time, you can ignore the messages but one that I like the most is “your attempt to portray me in a negative light is noted.” If messages about my apparently manipulating the children (projection much?) is used in court, I’ve not risen to the bait and stuck to the facts.

Keep your communication in writing as much as possible. If you have to see them face-to-face or talk on the phone, record. I’m in a one-party province so only I need to know when I am recording our conversations as long as I’m part of them. If you’re in a two-party state or province, make it clear at the start that you’re recording. It could stop some of the garbage they were about to spew and if it doesn’t, you’ve told them.

Ignore as much as you can. Only respond when it involves the children.

MORE: When should you start dating after divorce?

Are you struggling with co-parenting with a narcissist? Have you been through it before? Share your tips in the comments below.

Alexandria Ingham is a professional writer. She predominately ghost-writes in various niches, including fitness, finance and technology Everything is fully researched and well-written. Under her own name, she writes in the technology, business, history and weight loss niches

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