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Co-parenting with a narcissist after divorce

Most experts agree that children of divorce do best when both parents stay in their lives. But this is only the case when each parent is physically, mentally and emotionally capable of providing love, safety, appropriate discipline and guidance to the kids — and cooperating with their ex in co-parenting. Unfortunately, not every Bell County parent can do this.

An ex with a personality disorder like narcissism is unlikely to make a good co-parent after divorce. Often, the same issues that led to your divorce will come up again in child custody matters — the lies, manipulation, emotional abuse and so on. True co-parenting and the partnership that it implies can simply be impossible.

Four strategies for custody sharing with a narcissist

If you share custody with a narcissist, parallel parenting might be the answer. This is a form of parenting after divorce where the parents interact with each other as little as possible. Here are some tips for parallel parenting with a narcissist:

  • Your ex will probably spread lies about you, such as accusing you of parental alienation. Don’t give into the temptation to defend yourself against every rumor. Letting it go is probably the healthier choice if it does not involve your children or your job. Consider if friends and relatives who are willing to believe the worst about you need to be in your life anymore.
  • Limit avenues of communication with your co-parent to one or two, such as a separate email account or texting app. Better yet, use a court-approved smartphone app could be monitored by the court. Overall, keep your communications in writing as much as possible.
  • Do not try to reason or compromise with your ex. They might try to take any compromises you make on the custody schedule against you in court later. If it isn’t in the order, don’t agree to it.
  • There will be times when you must get in touch or respond to something your ex wrote or said. Try the NEB (Necessary, Emotionless, Brief) technique. Before saying anything, ask yourself if it’s really necessary. If it is, keep what you say emotionless and stick to the facts, no matter how your ex is making you feel. And keep the message as brief as possible to give your ex little opportunity to twist your words or draw you into a fight.

Parenting after divorce is always a challenge, but especially so when your co-parent is unable (or unwilling) to work with you for the good of the children. But it is possible with a comprehensive and carefully negotiated custody plan in place.