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Are you co-parenting with a narcissist?

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2023 | Child Custody and Visitation

Are you a parent of children in a shared custody arrangement with a narcissistic ex? If so, you are likely faced with many daily challenges associated with the situation.  

Whether it’s navigating their unpredictable behavior and intense emotions or having to often put your own needs aside for the sake of your child, co-parenting while dealing with a narcissist can be incredibly draining both mentally and emotionally. 

Establish boundaries

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental health disorder characterized by an unhealthy, overwhelming preoccupation with one’s self-interests, grandiosity and a need for admiration. 

When it comes to co-parenting, narcissists often struggle to stick to agreements, refuse to be flexible, and will put the children in the middle of disagreements between the two parents. They may also use manipulation and deception to create a perfect parent persona while their needs and demands take precedence over the child’s needs. This can lead to an environment where the child’s needs are not met or respected, leaving them feeling neglected or unheard. Additionally, narcissists may attempt to ruin their co-parent’s relationship with the child to gain control and power. 

Therefore, it’s critical to establish firm boundaries with the other parent. This means setting expectations for communication, decision-making, and behavior that are clear and consistent. It also means being willing to enforce those boundaries if they are broken. While it may be difficult for the non-narcissistic parent to remain firm in their expectations, it is essential to remember that they will serve as a guideline for interactions going forward.

It may be necessary to place boundaries in writing through a parenting plan so that both parents understand their rights and responsibilities. You don’t have to accept their attempts at manipulating or controlling your family life; instead, focus on what’s best for your child and stick by those decisions no matter what the other parent says or does.