There is a reason you are no longer together with your ex—they are a narcissist. As everyone knows, narcissists are truly in love with themselves, and unfortunately everyone else is way down the list. Which is why your relationship didn’t work.
If you have children together, then that makes your break up complicated. And the fact that your ex is a narcissist makes it even worse to navigate the logistics and the drama. Oh, there will be drama, you can be sure of that. Here are some tips on how to co-parent with a narcissist:
Write out the rules
You can try to set boundaries verbally, but until they are written in stone, it’ll be hard to hold your ex to them. Because we all know that your ex are going to push those boundaries as much as possible. Email them, and re-email them if need be, to make sure everything is clear. What should the rules include? Times of day when it’s ok to phone/text you and/or the child, meeting times and places, etc. You can try to work out house rules with each other, but those will be harder unless you both agree on those types of things. Obviously, whatever the court has declared is also part of the definitive rules.
Ignore the drama
You know there will be drama. And it won’t stop, either. A narcissist will try to get your attention any way they can, and drama is just the adult version of a temper tantrum. So expect whining, crying, complaining, over-reacting, over every little thing. Complaining about meeting spots. Whining about all the things they had to take care of during their visitation. Trying to get you riled up about this or that… just ignore it. The less you react to the drama, the better. Focus only on the facts. It’ll make your life so much easier if you can identify the drama as just that—drama.
Use the law to protect you and your child
You may think you can go it alone and be fine, but don’t wait for something major to happen. If you are dealing with a narcissist, it pays to take some preventative measures. If scheduling and communication is getting to be too much, talk to your lawyer about having the court appoint a parent coordinator to take care of those things for you. Having one can alleviate a lot of stress in your life. Also, if your ex is causing issues with custody, then talk to your lawyer about having a Guardian ad Litem appointed for your child. They are there to look out for your child’s best interests, which can be helpful if your ex is trying to cause problems. Also make sure to iron out your custody agreement, including exactly who pays what, visitation details, etc. In general, keep your lawyer in the loop.
Do your own thing if you have to
At times, your narcissist ex may flat out refuse to work with you. In that case, you can no longer “co-parent” … you then do what is called “parallel parenting.” For example, if they will not budget on certain holiday plans, then do just your own thing. Who cares if you don’t get your child for Christmas? Have your own Christmas, and have your own traditions. Don’t worry about what your ex says. As long as you are within the bounds of what the courts allow, then they don’t have a leg to stand on.
Talk to your child
Your child may be young, but they will see and hear things from your ex that are confusing. Perhaps your ex is bad mouthing you or saying things in an attempt to get a rise out of you. While you may understand what is going on, your child doesn’t. But at the same time, your child needs to have a relationship with your ex, so don’t turn your child against them, either. Talk to your child about how you and your ex have different opinions, sometimes it can be confusing. Also tell your child that both you and your ex love them a lot. Be there to talk when your child needs it.
Have your child go to counseling
Definitely have your child go to counseling so they can talk through your break up with your ex, and learn how to best deal with how their narcissist parent is acting. While your child trusts you, they also want to please their other parent. Having a third party such as a therapist can really help them see the situation for what it really is, and then how to deal with it. You may also benefit from counseling as well; perhaps on your own and then with your child as well.