Navigating co-parenting with a narcissist can be incredibly challenging and overwhelming. Whether you are in the beginning stages of separating or have already been through a divorce, understanding how to interact and communicate effectively with someone who is selfish, unempathetic and controlling can be exhausting.
Having strategies in place can help you manage difficult situations while maintaining your composure.
Recognizing the signs of narcissism
Your first step is to understand narcissistic personality disorder. It is characterized by an inflated sense of importance, a need for admiration and a lack of empathy. Certain signs may indicate someone has narcissistic tendencies, such as:
- Exploiting or manipulating other people for their own gain
- Monopolizing conversations or demanding attention in social situations
- Feelings of superiority or grandiose behavior
- An inability to take responsibility for one’s own actions
Establishing solid and firm boundaries is one critical component of co-parenting with a narcissist. They should involve clear communication, directness and self-confidence in your values and reasoning. Clearly outlining expectations and guidelines for interactions, especially in front of children, is essential for setting those boundaries.
Your ex-spouse will try to manipulate you, so keep your interactions as objective as possible. Having breathing exercises and other calming techniques on hand can help keep you centered and less influenced by the extreme emotions that can arise during these conversations.
Co-parenting with a narcissist is difficult, but it is possible. It all boils down to setting clear boundaries and not allowing a narcissist to continuously take advantage of you. While it can sometimes seem overwhelming, remember you always have options. With an understanding of narcissists and their tactics, together with patience and persistence, co-parenting can become manageable and your relationship with your children can be strengthened.