Co-parenting with a Narcissist, is change a possibility?
Narcissistic personality disorder, the cause is unknown, but likely involves a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Symptoms include an excessive need for admiration, disregard for others' feelings, an inability to handle any criticism, and a sense of entitlement. Sound familiar?
Are you co-parenting with an NPD? Do they belittle you, humiliate you when the opportunity arises, undermine your actions if you disagree with them, do they personally attack you, explode with rage when it's not going their way? Do they lie for personal gain, play the victim to gain sympathy from others, blame others for everything that has gone wrong in their lives, do they rewrite history and won't listen to anything based on fact and truth? This is Extreme Narcissism: "Extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one's own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type." --Oxford English Dictionary.
A person with NPD will never apologize or admit they were wrong. Don't hold your breath if you think they might have a moment of clarity and admit wrongdoing, this will never occur. It's the exact opposite, they will manipulate the situation and completely flip things around, to the point that you will feel you were in the wrong, you'll question yourself. NPD's are incapable of empathy, socially correct NPD's can mimic sympathy but they do not feel empathy. If you're truly dealing with a person who has NPD they will not be empathetic, they will also have the inability for clarity and insight, without insight there is no room for growth.
Insight is extremely imperative in one's psychological growth, it allows you to step back and look at yourself as a whole individual and evaluate all aspects of your life. You're able to view yourself from another person's perception of you, this is empathy. Empathy is to feel what it's like to be in another persons' shoes, which a narcissistic person will never have the capability or understanding of doing so.
The above mentioned are just highlights of dealing with someone who has an NPD, they will never change, NEVER. It's crucial you digest this fact so you may be able to move on and figure out how to co-parent. Don't expect the parent to have a sudden moment of enlightenment or clarity and commiserate with you, and if they do, it's an act, they are setting you up, or they will use the situation against you.
It is crucial that you work on yourself and seek therapy, so you may feel safe and view your co-parenting relationship with detached emotion. In therapy you will learn to set boundaries without guilt and manipulation. Dealing with NPD parent is crucial that you don't feed into their mass hysteria they're creating, this is exactly what they want. This is manipulation at its finest, instead walk away, hang up, detach yourself from that situation. You don't have to cause a scene, just silently walk away, by doing this you are setting a boundary that this type of behavior is unacceptable and STICK TO IT. Standing up for yourself, self-respect is the first steps of setting your boundary and most importantly don't waiver.
Parental alienation, unfortunately, is very real when dealing with NPD ex, the parent will speak ill of you to confuse the children. If this is occurring talk to your kids, don't bad mouth your ex, this is your moment to have an age appropriate conversation. Explain to the kids that whatever is going on is not the fault of the children, you love them and if possible seek a therapist to assist you and the kids to provide comfort. Don't lie to the kids, never fight fire with fire, you'll throw the kids in middle, that's inappropriate. Be the pillar of strength your children are seeking, answer questions honestly and have an open dialogue with your child so they feel safe coming to you.
If you see co-parenting with your ex has run into a dead end you might want to consider parallel parenting. This means you're on lock-down, your boundaries are firmly in place and you're communicating over the big things' i.e. education, medical needs,
your interaction is basic minimum. All communication is done via email, pick ups and drops offs are at a public neutral location. If your ex is verbally abusive via email have a friend read your emails to filter through the unnecessary and provide the vital pieces of information. This way you won't be obsessing over the frivolous statements, you'll be oblivious to the craziness and your ex will have no control over you.
Just remember at the end of the day it's about the children, the kids want to see you happy and that means you have to do what's right for you. Don't allow your ex to push you to the brink of insanity or manipulate you into doing something you don't want to. You no longer have to be their punching bag, what you are now is a person onto your own. You have every right to say, "this isn't working for me", without feeling guilty.