Are you Co-Parenting with a Narcissist?
In an ideal world when a divorce occurs both parents understand, agree and compromise regarding co-parenting. It's clear to both parents that they don't want their child to hurt or be exposed to a messy divorce, both parents have the best interest for their child and will do everything in there power to protect said child. A narcissistic parent does not view their child as a person worthy of feeling safe and respected. They view their children as possessions, to use, manipulate and to seek validation for their own feelings. It's not about making the child feel secure, loved or wanted, it's all a game. As the parent that's dealing with this type of behavior it becomes extremely hard to co-parent and equally frustrating to see your child being played like a pawn in a match. This is not co-parenting, it's playing a game, a game with everyone's lives. If you find yourself in this predicament, brush up on your backgammon rules. The object of the game is to move all your checkers into your own home board and then bear them off. Critical and tactful thinking come into play, no emotions whatsoever. Here are some simple rules to help keep your sanity. The goal here is to keep the level of toxicity between you and your ex low so the children aren't harmed. When I use the word toxic, im speaking of manipulation, trying to control your behavior and outcomes, I am not talking about physical abuse. If this is occurring seek out the police, contact your attorney and take the proper measures please. The first step is to limit contact with the narcissist. A parent that thrives off of conflict is more then eager to ensue a psychological warfare. By being passive aggressive or just plain out aggressive they want to strike a chord and lock you in an argument. The goal is to keep you engaged. To control you through your emotions and carry on a twisted relationship. These types of parents aren't phased if their children are aware and exposed, they will make their back handed comments and not think of the consequences that their own child will suffer. Never argue with someone who believes in their own lies. My recommendation is when your ex calls, let it go to voicemail. Do not respond with a phone call unless it's a dire emergency. Your options are to text, email, direct message or sign up for Family Wizard. With written communication you're in control of keeping the conversation on topic. If they go on a tangent you can maneuver the agenda and ignore the non issue items. This long term goal will provide peace of mind for yourself and most importantly your child's. If you want to co-parent, stop useless conversations, don't respond to texts, emails, et cetera if it's not pertaining to your child. Do not engage, if the topic is drifting, bring it back or end the conversation immediately. Initially this will be difficult but it is in the best interest for all parties. I've said this before, establish boundaries. Boundaries are glorious once it's implemented and executed. Boundaries provide structure, there's no room for deviation. Not only are boundaries crucial it will serve as a protective barrier, a shield, you will be setting precedence in how you will be treated and what is acceptable. A narcissist cannot and will not ever admit anything is their fault. Sometimes those boundaries can soften as the child is older, just remember they are not your friend. A narcissist is a master manipulator, don't get caught up in there whirlwind. Narcissists often display selective amnesia because realty and facts have changed in the narcissistic mind due to their delusions, they believe their own lies which in turn is the truth to them. We all want what's best for our child, with that said it breaks our hearts when we see the other parent behave in a shameful manner. However never let your child see or hear that you feel sorry for them (your children). Never allow your child to feel like a victim, that mentality will be taken and projected onto future relationships. Our goal is to give our child empowerment and self esteem. By doing so we are providing that our children are lovable and capable of doing anything. Whatever gets thrown your way remain calm. The narcissistic parent thrives on getting a reaction. It doesn't matter if they are causing mental anguish, all that matters is that you are responding. Stop immediately, once you halt any and all reactions you've taken all the power back. You have just taken the first step in taking your life back and establishing a co-parenting pattern for the betterment of your child.
Children need leaders, teach them by setting examples, show your children how to handle situations in life in an appropriate manner, not emotional, nor hostile. Every time you are confronted by a moment of rage that your ex is conjuring, pause, breath and think what would make my child proud? Remember that pause you're taking will infuriate your ex because they are looking to get a rise out of you to meet their needs. That pause throws a wrench in there psychological warfare, it's ok to close your eyes in that moment and breath. Make them wait it out and when you're ready to respond do so in a calm manner. Your interactions however negative or positive is making a direct impact on your child. This includes emotional behavior, social judgement and most importantly their own disposition. Teach your child healthy coping skills, communicate with your child on their level and be straight forward when having a conversation. Never lie to make them feel better, you'll be breaking a trust and that will be irreparable. Unfortunately with a narcissist they never see their children as individuals, they perceive their children as weapons, a tool to get what they want and need. As the child grows and becomes more independent, the narcissistic parent will chip away at the child's self confidence in order for the child to constantly seek reassurance from that parent, all the while feeding into the narcissistic needs. The child growing and coming into their own will be looked as selfish and in order to get approval of that parent the child must meet a spoken or unspoken need of that parent; acceptance is contingent on the child meeting the parents needs. It is your duty to establish a safe haven for your child, give your child words of kindness, confidence and most importantly keep the lines of communication open. Your child needs you to be the protector, children don't understand what's really happening and it's not there position to do so. You need to nurture your child so they will learn and develop the ability to meet their own needs or develop positive ways to have their needs met. No matter how rough things get between you and your ex, keep the anger, hate, resentment away from your child. Never speak poorly about the other parent. Children view themselves as an extension of their parents, they will feel you're talking about them also. Not speaking ill doesn't mean your showing respect for your ex, it means your showing respect for your child. You're safe guarding there childhood, keeping innocence in tact for as long as possible and most importantly they shouldn't be involved in grown up matters. This last bit of advice is a tad bit controversial, when parenting with a narcissist get rid of "co-parenting" in your vocabulary. Know that you are parenting your child and your ex. Think of your ex as a teenager who just hit puberty and it's "all about me" mentality, having a tantrum when they don't get there way, typical teenager. However your dealing with an adult who will never grow up and become a rational adult. So how do you deal with a teenager? It's all about being one step ahead and keeping your cool, this is the same with a narcissist. You are now parenting another child, your ex doesn't need to know this, as long as you're aware that's what matters. Accept the realty that you're dealing with a narcissistic individual, recognize that they are incapable of truly loving anyone including themselves let alone their own child. This isn't about you or them, focus on your children. Remind yourself that right now no matter what it looks like, you are doing the best you can. Continues with what you're doing, it's all you can do. Choose to make it a positive experience, thats in your hands. ~ Readers, if this article upsets you and you find yourself angry at me because of what I've stated, take a look in the mirror, stop reflecting and take ownership of what you've created. It's never to late to change.