Home 9 Custody 9 Tips for Co-Parenting with a Narcissist

Co-parenting can present unique challenges for families, especially when parents aren’t on the same page. When one parent exhibits signs of a narcissistic personality, the challenges become even more significant. Those who have a narcissistic personality disorder tend to have an inflated sense of their importance, exhibiting signs of extreme attention-seeking behavior. This type of personality disorder makes it difficult for individuals to maintain personal and professional relationships with others.

Although challenging, co-parenting with a narcissist is not impossible. While they may seek to control every situation involving your child, there are parenting strategies that help set boundaries and other tactics you can use to create a favorable co-parenting situation for yourself, your child, and your former partner. Keep reading to learn more about how to co parent with a narcissist.

Can You Successful Co-Parent with a Narcissist?

Yes. You can successfully co-parent with a narcissist. However, it takes dedication to uphold boundaries and overcome challenges. When co-parenting with a narcissist, step back from the situation and assess how it affects your child. If the difference in parenting style drives you crazy but is not hindering your child’s happiness, growth, or development, you may wish to accept the situation. Fighting to change a narcissist’s personality does not work. However, managing your expectations and limiting your interactions with the other parent may help you cope for the sake of your child.

All good co-parenting relationships focus on the child’s best interests. Keep your child your primary priority, and do not let your negative or complex emotions surrounding your former partner influence your child or their relationship with their other parent. Therapy or working with a mental health professional can help you manage your emotions to keep your child at the center of your world while co parenting with a covert narcissist. 

What Does Co-Parenting with a Narcissist Look Like?

Unfortunately, there is no universal standard for co-parenting with a narcissist. Your co-parenting arrangement should be unique to your family and not mimic the co-parenting relationship of anyone else. You may face challenges unique to your family situation that require a strategic approach rather than a one-size-fits-all solution.

Co-parenting with a person who has narcissistic tendencies like control issues, attention-seeking behavior, arrogant behavior, and lack of empathy can feel like a constant uphill battle. First and foremost, the court must approve your co-parenting situation, no matter what it looks like. Co-parenting with someone exhibiting narcissistic personality traits is not an area where a handshake agreement works. You must ensure that your agreement is legally valid. In case things turn in a sour direction, you’ll have a court-ordered custody arrangement, allowing the court to help you enforce specific terms and boundaries that a narcissistic co-parent may want to push.

What Are Some Tips for Co-Parenting with a Narcissist?

Co-parenting with a narcissist can feel exhausting and overwhelming. However, some tips can help you manage the challenges of co-parenting with a narcissist so that your child can develop a relationship with both their parents and enjoy a happy and fulfilling childhood. Consider the following:

  • Make a parenting plan – You must have a solid, comprehensive parenting plan in place when coping with a narcissistic parent. Both parents and the child should always understand the plan’s parameters, including when the child gets to spend time with each parent, pick-up and drop-off times, and preferred methods of communication. Again, no matter what, for your protection and your child’s protection, ensure you have a court-ordered custody arrangement in place and not a casual agreement.
  • Set and maintain clear boundaries – Narcissists like to push boundaries. Don’t play their game. Set healthy boundaries for co parenting with a narcissist and commit to them. For instance, if you don’t want your ex to know about your personal life, refuse to engage in conversations about it. Make your limits known and show that there are consequences for invading your boundaries. 
  • Limit communication – Carrying on a conversation with a narcissist can be exhausting. Keep your communication to a minimum. Avoid using inappropriate or toxic language, and avoid disparaging your ex in front of your child. Only communicate vital pieces of information with the other parent when necessary. Some phrases to use when co parenting with a narcissist include, “I don’t like how you’re speaking to me, so I won’t engage,” and, “Your anger is not my responsibility.” You may also wish to consider communicating with the other parent only through a court-approved family communication app. 
  • Protect your child and be the safe parent – Unfortunately, dealing with a parent with narcissistic tendencies can be exhausting for a child as well. Protect your child and always be the safe and reliable parent they can rely on if they need help. Avoid engaging in arguments or conflicts with your former partner in front of your child. Remain calm and composed. Give your child the stability they need and show them you can respond to challenges with kindness and compassion. They will understand that you are the parent they can count on.
  • Document everything – Being a narcissist doesn’t automatically make someone a bad parent. However, some personality disorder traits can manifest in ways that are detrimental to a child’s healthy development. If you are concerned about your child, document everything and share your concerns with a family law attorney.

Sometimes, parents find that parallel parenting strategies can help them cope with the extreme challenges posed by a parent with narcissistic personality disorder. Parallel parenting allows each parent to interact with their child but limits each parent’s interactions. In parallel parenting, there is little to no collaboration between parents. Typically, parallel parenting works when both parties agree to follow a detailed parenting plan.

Contact an Experienced Dallas Family Law Attorney for Help 

Are you concerned about co-parenting with a narcissist? Do you have questions about high-conflict co-parenting strategies and court-ordered custody arrangements? The compassionate family law team at Balekian Hayes, PLLC, in Dallas, Texas, is here to help. If you are located in Highland Park or University Park, we want to give you sound legal advice and a supportive shoulder to lean on as you navigate your co-parenting journey. 

Protect yourself and your family. Contact our firm today and arrange a confidential legal consultation with one of our skilled Dallas family law attorneys today.

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