Co-Parenting with a Narcissist
You should know whether he/she is a narcissist. A narcissist is a person with an inflated sense of self-importance. It usually characterized by having a deep need for excessive attention and admiration.
Parenting is the most important and challenging job that one can ever do. Children acquire the ability to become responsible adults from the people they associate with. Today’s parents are more aware of the importance of providing a good physical, emotional, and intellectual developmental environment for their children. Parenting with all these responsibilities can be rough but co-parenting with a narcissist is almost impossible. The demands, abuse, attacks, threats, and attempts to inflict guilt from such a person end up affecting your mental health. However, if you are in such a situation, it is essential to be aware of the manipulation tactics as this makes it easier to co-parent with this kind of person.
Strategies of How to Co-parent with a Narcissist
It is disheartening watching your children being manipulated by a narcissist. As a co-parent, you need to know that this significantly impacts their development and personality traits. Therefore, parenting with the children’s best interests in mind should be your top priority, while at the same time you should emphasize positive emotional development. This will help protect them from developing narcissistic traits. It is essential to embrace the fact that these people will not change any time soon. Bearing this in mind, the parent without the narcissistic disorder needs to devise strategies on how to stand up for the sake of the children involved and their mental development.
1. Limit contact with your ex
Co-parenting with a toxic ex ensures you to have to engage in a psychological battle that keeps you trapped in the relationship, even long after the separation or divorce. By limiting contact with your ex, you prevent exposing the child to constant battles and mental warfare they cannot even understand. Contact your ex only when it is necessary and limit your conversation to parenting issues only.
2. Set boundaries
It is essential to set boundaries if your children's’ other parent is a narcissist in order to maintain your mental health. Tell your co-parent what is acceptable to you and what is not, regarding their behaviors or demands.
3. Manage your expectation
A narcissist will not change and the sooner that you accept this, the better it will be for you to take the right actions. Understand that the chaos they create is not about you as a person but rather the narcissist's secret weapon to try to put you off balance. Learn not to expect too much of them, imagine the possible actions and set positive measures to deal with them.
4. Accept parallel parenting
Co-parenting with a narcissistic person is almost impossible, so you have to accept going for parallel parenting. This way you will detach from each other by not discussing day to day issues. Decisions made will not require approval or even communication to the other parent other than emergencies or serious issues, as each parent has control over their own parenting responsibilities.
5. Teach and be a good model
Show compassion toward your children and don’t criticize their other parent in their presence. Children are vulnerable to experiencing loyalty conflicts and shouldn’t be in the middle between their parents. Be aware of your tone and body language during interactions with your ex in front of your kids. This way the children will learn about emotion regulation from you, as children can learn through observation.
6. Aid in helping them develop healthy traits
Narcissists may use their children as a tool for merely boosting their egos, which often makes the children adopt perfectionism and people-pleasing habits. To counteract some of the emotional damage inflicted on your child by the narcissist, develop strong bonds with the children. However, remember to have strict guidelines that govern their behavior, discipline, and reward accordingly. Help them cultivate a sense of responsibility, how to share, take turns and adapt to change, and more if they spend a lot of time around the narcissistic parent.
7. Parent with empathy
A narcissist cannot understand and share feelings with others including the children. As a co-parent, it is essential for you to understand that your children need this to survive emotionally. Thus you have to fill the void and compensate for this. Let your children be heard and understood, empower and encourage them to learn a sense of empathy.
8. Practice good self-care
The struggle to co-parent with a narcissist can be very stressful. Learn to take good care of yourself so that you may extend the same to your children. For that reason, it is essential to engage yourself in activities that help you come out of your shell and let off some pressure. These include exercise, meditation and spending time with close friends. It is also helpful to seek counseling as this way you can share your feelings with a neutral person who can offer professional advice.
9. Never give up
As much as the chances of your narcissist co-parent changing are slim, it is essential to keep things as amicable as possible for the sake of the kids. Always remember that it may be impossible to control the emotions of the other person but you have control over yours. Whatever the case, make your ultimate goal be bringing up your children in a conflict-free environment.
Parenting is not a walk in the park. Co-parenting with a narcissist makes it even more complicated, and this may end up being detrimental to your mental health and that of your children. Remember always to stay sane.