Today’s topic is one I know so many of you are dealing with, I dealt with it for eighteen years, and it’s by far the worst most difficult, challenging, frustrating, and heartbreaking issue that a parent ever has to deal with. Today we’re talking about co-parenting with a narcissist, which is a hill I would not wish on anyone, but one that so many of us, unfortunately, have no other choice but to accept and deal with.
Let me first say there is no co-parenting with a narcissist, if your ex has a narcissistic personality disorder, there is no co-parenting. And if you’re in this situation, that’s the first thing you need to understand and come to a place of acceptance. This will not ever be a co-parenting equal, honest, helpful, and amicable situation, never.
And it’s really important that you hear that, because if you’re under some false delusion that this is going to go smoothly, you’re mistaken, this will be the most challenging and difficult job of your life.
The narcissist is not interested in the least in co-parenting with you. They are interested in drama, causing problems for you personally, and in your relationship with your children and winning. And the sooner you come to understand this, the better off you will be. You cannot have a fantasy that the narcissist will do what is in the best interest of your children because they are not able to empathize with anyone, not even their kids.
The narcissists will do what makes him or her happy and if you are divorcing or divorced, what makes them happy is usually making you suffer, and they know the easiest way to make you suffer is through your children. So accepting your reality is the first step.
This is going to be incredibly difficult and challenging. There will be days when your heart will absolutely break for what your kids have to go through. Every interaction that you have with the narcissist is going to be a struggle at the very least.
The top Tips For “Co-Parenting” With A Narcissist
1. Understanding there will not be any co-parenting
My first tip is you want to try and keep all communication with the narcissist as low and unemotional as humanly possible. This is called detached contact. You will want to keep all communication through emails or texts so that there’s a record of what was said, and keep all your communication matter-of-fact unemotional and solely focused on the things that are necessary with the kids.
If they know that they can get an emotional rise out of you, then this is narcissistic supply, and you don’t want them to look at you for any form of narcissistic supply. So they’ll probably try and provoke you over and over, so you need to be aware and not take the bait.
The sooner they realize that they cannot get a reaction out of you, the sooner they will look elsewhere for someone to harass, terrorize, and frustrate.
2. Always have a plan B
Always have a plan B figured out when they do not show up for their scheduled visitation. There will likely be many times the narcissist will cancel on their visitation at the very last minute, making some ridiculous claim of why they can’t come and get the kids, or they just won’t show up at all. They enjoy knowing that they are completely inconveniencing you and that you will feel bad for your kids, and, of course, you know the kids will be crushed by this. This is going to be intentional and it’s unlikely that they will ever stop.
So it’s always a good idea to have a plan B to lower the harm and the impact this has on your children.
3. Don’t expect that they will respect the court orders
Do not ever count on them to follow the court orders, and don’t expect the judge to enforce the court orders either. Narcissists have absolutely no regard for the court orders. And the more the court lets them get away with violating them, the more they enjoy doing it.
If you are dealing with someone who has a narcissistic personality disorder, they will have no regard or respect for the orders of the court, they will break them consistently unless you have a judge who will sanction them with consequences that they don’t enjoy, this is going to be an ongoing issue.
4. A parenting plan of steel
You are going to need a parenting plan of steel, there cannot be any part of the agreement that is open to interpretation or something that you and the narcissist can work out. The parenting plan needs to be very specific. And if you can get sanctions listed in the parenting plan consequences of exactly what will happen when they violate the orders of the court, this will be a huge help, you could make it money, or life’s time with the kids, or in extreme circumstances their freedom.
All of this needs to be laid out in the parenting plan so that when the police and the judge get involved, that it’s clear what’s expected of them if and when the narcissist violates the orders of the parenting plan.
5. Learn how to file your own motions to the court
I highly recommend that you learn how to file your own motions to the court. You need to learn how to file motions to modify and for contempt. This will keep you from having to consistently hire an attorney and pay the outrageous fees. It’s amazing how many targeted parents go bankrupt because of the insane amounts of money that they have to pay in lawyers because we are constantly going back to court and circumstances like B’s.
So it’s just a very good idea to learn how to file your own motions. You need to be very cautious of your finances when you’re dealing with narcissists because chances are, you’re going to be the only person who is financially responsible for your children. Narcissists don’t like to pay child support, they don’t like spending any of their money on anything associated with you, including their own kids.
6. You need to look into parallel parenting
And if you can come to an agreement that this is how you will co-parent together, you will want to get this into the divorce decree and/or the parenting plan. Parallel parenting is an agreement between the parents who are unable to co-parent, and they do this by disengaging with each other, having extremely limited contact with each other.
It’s basically the only parenting agreement that has been successful with high conflict families. It’s unfortunate that you will not be able to co-parent and communicate the way normal families who separate do, but those arrangements just never work with a narcissist. I wish I had have known about parallel parenting when my son was young. In my opinion, this is the only solution for families with a narcissist.
7. Using “ Our family Wizard” app
I highly recommend that you ask the court to order the use of an app called, our family wizard, for all communications between you and the narcissist. This app was designed for high conflict families, it keeps a permanent record of all of your communications, which is a huge help when and if you have to take them back to court or go back to court for a motion to modify your contempt.
You can even have the communication with the kids go through this app when they are with the narcissist. If you do not get this ordered, then you’ll need to learn to be the best paralegal in the world, you need to keep excellent records. That’s why, I think our family wizard is just such a wonderful tool because it keeps everything in one spot, in chronological order, there’s no he said she, said and the court can even have access to it at any point in time.
This is the best tool for dealing with a narcissist when you share kids.
8. You need to expect alienation
Narcissists will usually participate in alienating behaviors to some degree, so you need to learn what the behaviors are to look out for in your kids because alienation can happen very fast.
If you detect any abnormal rejecting cruel behaviors and your children towards you, it needs to be intervened and handled immediately by the court if and when they start alienating. Time is not on your side and you need swift and immediate court intervention, and qualified in a therapeutic intervention if the alienation gets bad.
Alienation will require a no-contact court order between all alienating parents and grandparents and the child for at least 90 days and then qualified intervention from a parental alienation subspecialist. There is no other way the court has to get involved if they start alienating your kids.
If you’re dealing with an abscessed alienator, this is behavior that is not going to stop unless they are forced. So you need to really become educated about parental alienation and the behaviors to watch out for.
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