How To Co-Parent With A Narcissist

Posted by on Oct 16, 2015 in Couples & Family, Narcissism | 2 comments

How To Co-Parent With A Narcissist

How To Co-Parent With A Narcissist

(As Seen In Anton News Publications October 14th – 20th, 2015)

 

          Divorce is never easy on children. If you are co-parenting with a narcissist your stressful situation is even harder. They are egotistical, vain, conceited and self-centered. Their extraordinary lack of empathy for others, coupled with fantasies about their uniqueness, brilliance, and entitlement may create an urgent need for them to win or be considered right. Narcissists will lie, manipulate and use anyone, including their children, to get what they want. The unfortunate truth is, when one side tries to “win” in divorce, it’s typically the children who lose. Since this is likely beyond them, the added burden falls on us.

Narcissist01           Narcissists thrive on the drama they create because it provides them with narcissistic supply. It keeps them in the spotlight, and they will take any supply they can get, even if it’s negative. Your job therefore is to reduce conflict. She is attention seeking. Behavioral psychology teaches us that if you want a behavior to stop you ignore it. When she notices that you are not engaging she may intensify her behavior but you mustn’t waiver. In time we hope she will realize that you will not supply her with what she needs, she’ll move on to other sources and leave you in peace.

          You will not be able to co-parent with a narcissist because he has no concept of teamwork or cooperation. Start by minimizing contact with him. Narcissists love to engage in psychological battles. Ignore emails that are just ranting, attention seeking, or expressions of self-aggrandizement. His hidden agenda is to keep you entrenched in the relationship, even years after the relationship has ended.

          You should establish and maintain boundaries. These will define what is acceptable to you and may include respecting your property, space, or time. She will not like the boundaries you set, where you draw the line, and even the fact that you drew a line. She may rant or tantrum at first but, if you maintain your boundaries firmly, she will succumb.

          If he can make you angry or lose control of yourself by yelling, crying, or pleading he will fNarcissist04eel like he has won. If he gets this behavioral reward, he will continue to act in ways that make you overly emotional. Remain as unemotional as possible. It is the best way to interact with a narcissist. This tends to be very difficult which is why minimizing contact with him is typically the best way to help you maintain control of yourself.

          Narcissists generally do not have strong emotional connections to their children. As a result of both this and the fact that she doesn’t put her children’s needs before her own, your kids can feel emotionally neglected by her. Make sure that you compensate for this by reassuring your children that they are good people and that they are loved.

          It is important that your children see one at least one healthy parent. A healthy role model will help them not only survive, but thrive. You need to show them that although they may not be able to control their unhealthy parent’s behavior, they are able to control their own. Better they learn about proper emotional regulation and healthy coping skills from you. Age-appropriate, straight-shooting communication can be highly effective in these situations.

Narcissist02          Avoid speaking poorly about your ex to your children. They are not equipped to deal with this psychological weight, no matter how mature they may seem. They want to think highly of both parents. If we are in any way causing our children to feel that their other parent does not love them, does not love them enough, or that they have to choose a parent to side with, we are hurting them.

          Everyone makes mistakes and it is natural for us to want to admit to and apologize for them. However, admission of mistakes will be used as ammunition by a narcissist. Mistakes can be blown out of proportion and used as evidence that you are the crazy, unhealthy, unstable parent. If you make a mistake, move on from it as matter-of-factly as possible.

          No one deserves to grow up with a selfish, self-absorbed parent, but there are worse plights. Try to avoid feeling sorry for your children. Showing pity only perpetuates a victim mentality, and will keep them from moving forward and seeking healthy relationships of their own.

2 Comments

  1. Jeremy,

    I almost fell on the floor when I read this. My ex-husband makes this article look like a walk in the park. I’d love to discuss more of the symptoms with you as I’m desperately trying to know what other ailments he has. The divorce is final but have been living in hell for several years. We have a 7 year old who is starting to act out so understanding more of the conditions might help me better arm myself as well as protect my son. My ex really needs to be evaluated/diagnosed and treated!

    HELP!!!
    Jamie Mora

    • Hi Jamie,
      I am so sorry. I am sorry that I have not gotten back to you sooner and I am sorry for your situation. Apparently this site doesn’t forward these responses to me and I haven’t been technologically savvy enough to figure that out until just now. If you would like to talk more I invite you to email me at jskow@lmhcny.com

      Sincerely,

      Jeremy

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