When the other co-parent is a narcissist

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On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2022 | Child Custody, Family Law |

Some people can be difficult to get along with, but those with a medically diagnosed personality disorder often bring significant challenges to a co-parenting relationship. These are some of the most important things to do – and what to avoid – to make your co-parenting life in Colorado easier in this difficult situation.

What makes someone a narcissist?

The behavior of individuals with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is frequently driven by their mental and emotional instability. Narcissists tend to have a skewed vision of themselves that is constantly in flux. They are unable to control themselves, so they try to control others.

People with NPD usually show a lack of flexibility, making them significantly harder to work with in co-parenting setups. They’re quick to defend themselves and may be unwilling to accept responsibility for their actions.

Narcissists have a tendency to push back against boundaries in any way possible because this is one of the primary ways that they leverage control in relationships. A narcissistic co-parent might not be empathetic to what your children are going through and show a lack of respect for you or your children.

Anger is a common response to criticism or feedback of any sort, so trying to find a compromise when disagreements emerge often feels like walking on eggshells. Those with NPD may also be highly negative, which most co-parents eventually find exhausting.

Co-parents with narcissistic tendencies may still fight for child custody or visitation rights, but their motives may differ from non-narcissistic people. Rather than being driven by spending more time with their child, a narcissist may be thinking solely of punishing the other co-parent.

How to deal with a narcissistic co-parent

Remain calm as much as possible. It helps to keep perspective in mind: Insults and outbursts have much more to do with the person saying them than the person on the receiving end.

It may be hard to find structure in the way that they parent, and it’s difficult or impossible to impose your own parenting style on them. It may help to set up a detailed parenting plan, and put it in writing so that they can’t try to talk their way out of it.

Be careful not to over-communicate, which is a common way for narcissists to take advantage of the situation. Make your boundaries clear, and be firm about them.

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