Co-parenting with a Narcissist – The good, the bad, the ugly

The ugly -

"High conflict divorce/couple" - There's a myth among divorce professionals that couples involved in high conflict family law cases are both at the same deviation of the spectrum of irrational/crazy. Common parlance among family law attorneys in a high conflict case is "Well, a 4 doesn't marry/get together with a 10, etc, etc" suggesting that the parties are likely at the same level of emotional development.

While this might be true in some cases, if you have snagged a spouse/partner that is a narcissist, (they easily put on a show in the beginning of relationships, engaging and charming) none of the common sense rules apply. A narcissist has no understanding of teamwork. It’s impossible to co-parent with this type of individual. They do not have the capacity for empathizing/being emotional. Your focus has to be on co-parenting in spite of a narcissist and shielding yourself and your child from the narcissist's manipulation and rage.

The bad -

The narcissist parent is unaware of their bad behavior and feels entitled, is always the victim and blames their bad acts on others.

The good -

Recognize if you are in this situation. Reach out to an experienced and skilled therapist and/or family law attorney that understands these dynamics and how it affects your child and you.

Then -

  1. Do what is best for your child.
  2. Compensate your child for the narcissist’s neglect.
  3. Maintain boundaries.
  4. Minimize contact.
  5. Be assertive.
  6. Avoid conflict. Narcissists provoke conflict and thrive on it.
  7. Maintain control. Narcissists feel like they’ve won if they can make you angry or lose control. Remain as unemotional as possible.
  8. Get everything in writing.
  9. Consider parallel parenting (the goal here is to keep the parents away from each other, but not away from the child; accept that co-parenting will not occur) "Ourfamilywizard.com" is a great tool for parents in this situation.
  10. Educate yourself about narcissism.