Co-parenting can be challenging even in the most amicable divorces, but there are some personalities disorders that make co-parenting downright difficult. Among these include, but are not limited to: bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. We are going to focus on narcissists in this post. Narcissists have a magnified sense of self-importance and lack they empathy for others. Narcissists insist on getting their way regardless of how it may affect others, even their own children. They may make promises to the children in order to gain compliance from the child, then refuse to honor the promises. They can be arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, demanding, and vain. As co-parents, these individuals often feel superior to their former spouse. It is challenging to reason with a narcissist, or attempt to try to get them to see the situation from someone else’s point of view, which makes co-parenting together a great feat.
Sound familiar? Most importantly you must know that your ex’s personality disorder does not need to define your divorce. One of the best things that you can do in this situation is file a parenting plan with the courts. A parenting plan will outline anything from daily routines to holiday schedules. When dealing with a narcissist the more information you have laid out in writing, the more black and white it becomes. A parenting plan with help to maintain firm boundaries with your ex.
When co-parenting with a narcissist you may need to keep your expectations low. You cannot expect the narcissist to tackle parenting with the same parental instincts that you have. What seems like second nature to you, may never cross a narcissist’s radar. Because a narcissist places no value on their children’s feelings, there will likely be emotional messes to clean up. Get your children (and you) into therapy and make it a regular and “normal” part of their lives.
Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. There are support groups out there, both online and in person, that are aimed specifically towards coping with a narcissistic ex. Divorce is never easy on children. Coping with a narcissistic parent makes a stressful situation even more difficult, but not impossible. Educate yourself on co-parenting through these challenging times, and also commit to self-care to provide some reprieve.
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