Co-parenting with a narcissist: time to form a couple
“The most important thing to remember when co-parenting is that you should always strive to protect your children from conflict.”
Anyone who has been through this knows that co-parenting takes effort. There is no easy way to properly plan, coordinate and execute all aspects of a child’s life, especially when it must be done in two separate homes, with a self-centered and uncooperative team member.
Co-parenting with a narcissist is impossible.
The notion of co-parenting with such a person does not exist.
Get that thought out of your brain.
Completely remove the term co-parenting from your dialect. You need a better plan and focus.
Forget trying to follow normal co-parenting guidelines. It will be ineffective with your narcissistic ex and will make you lose your sanity. You don’t want to lose your health; your children need you. You have the job of providing a non-narcissistic family dynamic so that you have a 50% chance of preventing your child from becoming an autonomous human being like your ex.
There are so many problems when trying to co-parent with a narcissist. You can’t be effective when you’re working with someone who refuses to cooperate. Here are some problems and solutions to the long, tedious and painful task ahead of you if you try to parent a narcissist:
PROBLEM 1: Exceeding limits
Boundary crossing is one of the biggest problems when co-parenting with a narcissist. Any attempt to communicate with the narcissist will make him believe that he has the right to push your boundaries. It can range from name-calling, profanity, or other similar exchanges during pickups, to nasty yelling at doctors during visits, to constant emails, texts, and calls filled with nasty threats. The problem will persist unless you fix it. This is where you grow a big pair and put your foot down. You must establish a set of limits from day one and you must stick to them. An established set of boundaries means a structure that will provide a safe, predictable, safe buffer for your children from your ex’s cunning psychological crap. Make no mistake: the emotional roller coaster ride at the mercy of a narcissistic parent can have a detrimental effect on a child’s development.
How do you set limits?
You can take a variety of approaches, but whatever you do, you have to stick with it. Just make sure you’re always the adult. Start by calling them out about their behavior every time it happens. From giving you a complaint because you’re a few minutes late, to acting like a jerk during a parent-teacher conference, to refusing to give your kids prescription medication, be sure to let them know that it’s not okay to act like a class kid just because they like it.
Just remember to never do this in person, and most importantly, never feed your narcissist ex’s ego by retaliating in front of children. Remember that the narcissist will use every communication attempt on his part to push his buttons, and he must not fall for it. Your children are watching. Be the one with the balls.
If possible, limit all communications to emails. Narcissists do not like others to set limits on them. You must stand firm in your decision. Remember: you are your child’s advocate and protector.
PROBLEM 2: Total lack of communication
Communication with a narcissistic person is non-existent. Trying to reach out to a narcissist to co-parent is like trying to land on the moon with a hot air balloon: it just won’t work, no matter how much effort you put into it. Don’t waste your time on that, you need all your energy for your children. The narcissist thrives on trying to keep you engaged, usually for negative reasons and looking for negative results. Do not fall in the trap. They feed on your weakness when you continue to respond to their verbal or written nonsense. Don’t do it, do the meditation video instead. You must free yourself from the vicious circle of communication that entangles you. Learn not to give a fuck. Not worth it.
How do you solve communication problems with a narcissist?
On your part, you can’t. Leave that already. In a world of co-parenting, you can’t expect your narcissist ex to communicate. Having false expectations sucks, but it’s better to know where you stand: don’t think for a second that a narcissist will communicate something about someone other than himself. His feelings of grandiosity are too established and enlarged to consider him important enough to receive information. Which leaves you with the task of having to communicate with your narcissist ex about your children, and anyone who has had to call their narcissist ex with a child-related question knows that never ends well. This is where the wine glass comes in handy. No, I’m not suggesting you hammer yourself and call your ex. Please never do that, especially with a narcissist. It’s like reversing the fuel in the wrong direction.
The rule is simple: Unless there’s an emergency you both need to address, which requires a phone call, limit your communication to emails and, if necessary, text messages when contacting your ex. If the situation is too conflictive for you to handle, you can request that all communication with your ex be through a program designed to address communication between high-conflict co-parenting relationships, such as Our Family Wizard and Talking Parents. There are others out there, and many of them have apps. The idea is to avoid giving them ammunition to create high-conflict situations that annoy you and end up responding like a baby, acting like your ex. No, hell no. Keep in mind that their email responses will most likely be filled with negative words that project their anger, discontent, resentment, and of course narcissistic tendencies onto you. Let it go. Let it all go.
NUMBER 3: Press the button
Regardless of the length of your relationship, narcissists have the uncanny ability to irritate you and get under your skin like no other motherfuckers on this planet, especially after a divorce. From personal attacks via email, text messages, and during deliveries and pick-ups, the narcissist will go to great lengths to encourage you and get you to respond, retaliate, respond. Do not do it. Remember: let all that shit go. It makes them feel important. Powerful. And it is extremely pathetic that you fall for the trap. Seriously, WTF? You are your child’s advocate and protector. So when he starts his narcissistic need to engage you in discord, whether he’s giving you a rant because you were five minutes late or because you had to send someone else to pick up the child, your ex narcissist finds a way to say or do. something that pushes your buttons to the limit.
How do you stop pressing the buttons?
Although it sounds impossible, you must develop a calm, cool and collected communication style with your ex. Stick to short, monotonous, strictly child-related, boring, business answers. Treat the relationship as if you had a permanent job and had to communicate with your idiot boss. Read your ex’s emails carefully and limit your response to matters relevant to co-parenting.
If you’re too upset that her comments are too much, you can punch a pillow, call your best friend, or rant at your mom about what a jerk she is, but don’t fall for the bait. No matter what they say, don’t respond in an angry way. You must keep calm and be corporate. Remember, your children’s happiness comes first. You are his advocate and protector. Don’t fall for that garbage.
NUMBER 4: Children are far from dumb, they are into them
As their defender and protector, you will do everything in your power to protect your children from conflict. This is an uphill battle carrying sacks of rocks, while walking on broken glass, wearing a blindfold, while getting hit with your own belt. You cannot control the way a narcissist behaves and acts around children. Their only hope is that one day they will tire of their boring, monotonous corporate email responses and lack of desire to engage, and find another target for their narcissism. You must make sure that it is not one of children.
How do I keep my kids from realizing that my ex is a selfish jerk?
The answer is: you can’t. It’s impossible to protect your children from the unknown, and your ex’s erratic narcissistic behavior is unpredictable enough to fall into the unknown category. There is nothing you can do about your tirades and yelling in public and your children witnessing this. Depending on their age, they will form their own age-appropriate images of their other parent. Just make sure you’re always there for them, corny as that sounds. Watching your ex behave like an ape in front of the kids can be a little gratifying, but it’s heartbreaking at the same time. Your children love this person.
NUMBER 5: Turn the kids against you, you son of a bitch!
It is almost a given that a former narcissist will poison children against the other parent. After all, they should be the ones that always look good. They will talk badly about you to the children, and they will surely tell them lies about how the marriage ended. They will try to turn your children against you in any way they can. And if they have one of those clan-type families, then they have reinforcements.
What can I do to prevent this?
Any. You do not have to do anything. You are the defender and protector of your children. Children tend to gravitate towards the parent who allows them to grow independently. A narcissistic parent is the direct contradiction of that. A narcissistic parent will try to force a child into a specific type of development: the one he experiences as he grows up. He will be the only acceptable one.
Your job will be:
To nurture your child’s uniqueness and independence, and allow them to grow into their own person. Your narcissistic ex will have a hard time when your children want their own independence. Just be there for them.
To ensure that you are the calm parent who considers the impact of your actions on your child.
Teach and model social/emotional intelligence. Your child will grow up soon, if not older, and will be able to make abstract observations. Be honest. Be age appropriate. I’m a believer in telling it like it is. Period.
Being the father who does not criticize, poison or speak ill of his ex in front of his children.
Stop trying to co-parent with your narcissistic ex. doesn’t work Be smart. be better Be Wise. Be the one to let your guard down for the well-being of your children.
It’s YOUR time to shine, and you can do it with both parents who love you.