Marrying and divorcing a narcissist is rough, but co-parenting with a narcissist is almost impossible. However, awareness of the narcissist's dysfunctional tactics protects the parent struggling in this situation. Once these relational patterns are identified, it is easier to co-parent with a narcissist.
Here are some tips when dealing with a narcissist:
- Expect nastiness and ignore. Backhanded comments and character attacks are a narcissist's favorite pastimes. A narcissist's goal is to elicit an emotional response. However, if you are prepared for it it makes it easier to ignore.
- Be aware of triangulation. A narcissist loves to align one person, or group of people, with them and against another person. Making you the “bad guy” against your kids may be frequent. Deflect this by following these guidelines:
- Decide if the situation is safe or unsafe. For example, if the narcissist allows the kids to eat ice cream for breakfast, he is not risking their safety. Although this is not ideal, do your best to ignore it.
- If the situation is unsafe, it is important to act.
- Educate your kids on safety. Empower and encourage them to be safe at all times, especially when you are not present. Document the date and time the incident occurred and save the information
- Calmly email your ex and ask him to be safe with your kids. If he starts to become hostile, ignore him. You have documented the incident, which is critical.
- Do not succumb to threats or guilt. The narcissist wants to rattle your cage when you are enjoying your kids. Ignore him. Resurrect a healthy boundary and protect your time with the kids.
- Be aware of the narcissist's tendency to play favorites. Although it is upsetting to watch this unfold with your kids, a narcissist has minimal ability to understand another person's perspective if it differs from his. Instead, encourage the kids to share their feelings. When they do, empathize with their feelings.
- Parent with empathy. A narcissist lacks empathy, which is what a child needs to thrive emotionally. They are able to sympathize because they become the saver and rescuer, which strokes their ego. Yet, pity strips children of their self-efficacy and teaches them to play the victim.
The parent without a narcissist personality will need to compensate for the narcissist's lack of empathy by ensuring they are remaining emotionally attuned to their child, honoring their feelings, and empowering/encouraging.
Believe in yourself, the parent with empathy, and stay calm. Narcissists will often eventually trip over their own ego.
If you're co-parenting with a narcissist find out your custody rights and protect your family with David Veliz at Veliz Katz Law. Read the full article at Co-Parenting with a Narcissist.