Having a narcissistic co-parent is nothing short of a nightmare, and even more so, if they are particularly malicious. But when you have children, you have to find a way to deal with their narcissism effectively, without letting any of it affect your kids.
Key Points: Co-parenting is not an option for those with narcissistic traits and behaviors. Creating a custody plan with a narcissistic ex-partner is a task best left to legal professionals. A narcissist will do anything to cause problems in their co-parent's personal life and ruin their relationship with the child.
Co-parenting with a narcissist is impossible. At best, one can adopt a method of parallel parenting with strict boundaries and legal protection. A narcissist craves total control of a situation that keeps them calling the shots and setting the standards. What are the signs of co-parenting with a narcissist, and can the situation be salvaged?
Traditionally, co-parenting is described as when an adult assists the parents with the care and support of raising children including grandparents, aunts and uncles, and close friends. The concept of “co-parenting” as it relates to modern divorce and custody situations has only been widely studied since the 1970s.
Modern co-parenting is one that enables both parents to coordinate support, care, and control of the children without residing in the same household or being in a relationship together. This equates to sharing the child’s schedule, appointments, school issues, daycare and babysitting needs, medical needs, and more while still respecting the other parent as a separate entity.
Boundaries Of Co-Parenting
The concept of respect and privacy is why narcissists are unable to fully grasp proper, boundary-specific co-parenting. Shared custody of a child does not suggest that parents need to exchange their own personal schedules and itineraries. Obviously, work schedules need to be shared and pick up or drop off times coordinated, but only within the constraints of the child’s wellbeing.
Co-parenting, especially in a high-conflict divorce, does not mean being friends, spending holidays and vacations together, or getting permission from the other parent to date. Once a couple breaks up and separates, they are no longer a single unit and are free to date and spend their time how they choose.
Unfortunately, this equals a loss of control for the narcissist, and they react like a hurricane: explosively, violently, and determined to cause permanent damage.
A narcissist cannot just let the child go to the other parent for the weekend or even a few hours with no fuss. Conflict escalation, conflict creation, perceived slights, and any other minor snag in the schedule will be exaggerated and placed as blame on the shoulders of the non-narcissistic parent.
The narcissistic parent will attempt to impede upon the other parent’s time as much as possible through phone calls or texts or insist on attending activities with the other parent. Invasion of privacy doesn’t stop when the children are handed back to the narcissist. The narcissist will then insert themselves into the other parent’s personal life.
Parallel parenting is a good option for a parent to carve out a new life without the narcissistic parent but can also be a struggle to implement. It must be accompanied by strong boundaries and solid legal paperwork.
Narcissists are unable to keep promises and believe their lies as truth; without a legal agreement, nothing can be upheld. Parallel parenting limits the interaction between the parents and each parent adheres to their own decisions, activities, actions, and parenting style.
Signs Of A Narcissistic Co-Parent
A narcissist will find any way possible to complicate the other parent’s life, including:
1. Demanding to know all plans and activities that took place (or will take place) during the other parent’s time;
2. Refusing to hand the child(ren) over for the other parent’s time;
3. Texting or calling the parent, the child, (or both!) nonstop during the other parent’s time;