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Co-Parenting With A Narcissist

You’ve managed to make a break from your narcissist ex, but if you have children together, you still have to deal with them and their behavior. Narcissists thrive on drama, which can continually retraumatize the children who are trying to adapt to a new normal. Maintaining healthy boundaries and adopting coping mechanisms can help, but it’s important to be aware and prepared for the inevitable challenges your ex will present to the co-parenting process. Here are some important considerations.

Is My Ex A Narcissist?

According to the Mayo Clinic, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a mental health condition in which people have an inflated opinion of themselves that is neither reasonable nor grounded in reality. Narcissists insist on diverting attention to themselves, seeking praise and acknowledgment while also tearing down the people around them. The Mayo Clinic identifies symptoms of narcissism to include:

  • A need of constant, excessive admiration.
  • Feeling that they deserve privileges and special treatment.
  • Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements.
  • Making achievements and talents seem bigger than they are.
  • Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty, or the perfect mate.
  • Believing they are superior to others and can only spend time with or be understood by equally special people.
  • Being critical of and looking down on people they feel are not important.
  • Expecting special favors and expecting other people to do what they want without questioning them.
  • Taking advantage of others to get what they want.
  • An inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others.
  • Being envious of others and believing others envy them.
  • Behaving in an arrogant way, bragging a lot, and coming across as conceited.
  • Insisting on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office.

Not all narcissists have all of these traits, but a critical consistency is their inability to handle criticism or other stressful situations. In these instances, narcissists can behave terribly, taking their rage out on you or your children in cruel and destructive ways. You can expect they will have difficulty adapting to change, manage their emotions and behavior poorly, and continually reframe issues to make themselves the hero or the victim instead of dealing with the actual situation.

Prepare For the Expected Challenge of Co-Parenting With A Narcissist.

While some shared custody arrangements can work well because both parents have the best interests of their child at heart and respect one another sufficiently to negotiate in good faith, narcissists are unlikely to make things easy for anyone involved. Clear boundaries and explicit, written rules that the narcissist participated in creating will give a better framework to handle parenting afer divorcing a narcissist. Working with a legal professional who is aware of the potential problems a narcissist can cause can help in drafting a parenting/custodial agreement that is the primary structure of the co-parenting relationship. The agreement should address and resolve as many details as possible because otherwise, the narcissist will use ambiguity to manipulate and jeopardize any stability that you are trying to establish for your children.

Managing Parenting With A Narcissist.

With a parenting plan in place, it is essential to take some additional steps to try to minimize the potential negative impact of a narcissistic co-parent on your life and the health, stability, and happiness of your children. Some key points to remember include:

Strategic communication: your exchanges should be polite, to the point, and in writing. Do not engage in personal or emotional discussions.

Document everything: keep detailed records of communication, incidents, and agreements. This can be useful in case you need to turn to legal solutions.

Seek support: Build and maintain a support network, including friends, family, and possibly a therapist or support group. It’s crucial to have emotional support and guidance, and these people can act as witnesses to the narcissists’ behavior if necessary.

Therapy for the children: If needed, consider therapy for your child to help them cope with any emotional challenges arising from the co-parenting situation.

Minimize contact and conflict: When approaching your narcissistic ex, it’s important to remember that every interaction has the potential to go poorly. Consider parallel parenting, creating new family traditions that don’t rely on the narcissist’s participation or consent, and building a stable, supportive life that your children can depend on when they are not with their other parent.

You and your children do not deserve the chaos that a narcissistic ex can bring to the family dynamic. With some awareness, preparation, and strategic interaction, you can minimize the damage and offer your children a chance at a better childhood.

Thank you for reading our blog! 

If you need legal representation in Maryland or the District of Columbia, consider contacting Malech Law. With over 25 years of experience, we are committed to providing excellent service to our clients. Our accolades include the 2024 Family Law American Association of Attorney Advocates recognition, being a finalist in the 2024 Best of Bethesda Readers’ Pick for Best Family Law Practitioner, and winning the same award in 2022. We’ve also been honored with the Lawyers of Distinction Award for Excellence in Divorce and Family Law for the past five consecutive years. At Malech Law, we approach every case with respect, empathy, and a dedication to excellence. Contact us today for professional legal assistance.

Visit Malechlaw.com or call (202) 441-2107.

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