How do I co-parent with a narcissist ex?
Firstly, it is really important to be able to understand what narcissism is so that you can understand and be clear about the strengths and weaknesses of this personality.
I was married to a narcissist and if there is one thing that is clear from their personalities is that they are very charismatic, very influential and good at convincing people. They are very talented at being chameleons and therefore masters of changing who they are depending on who they are with.
# The first tip is to make yourself neutral, don't make an enemy of the narcissist or enter battle with him or her otherwise an exhausting battle will ensue. The way to stay neutral is to help the narcissist look good, its what they will want. The key here is to suggest things in a way that makes your ex look good or suggest an idea as it was that person's idea. Don't become an adversary.
# The second tip I would suggest is to make sure you keep a record of everything so make yourself a master of all things digital. Keep a track record of emails and text messages so that you can keep things clear and documented. I would avoid verbal communication when it comes to coparenting with a narcissistic ex. Keeping things documented could also mean a parenting plan where you would define as much as possible, such as
who pays for school uniforms?
what happens with clothes every single year?
clarifying communication with each parent when the children are in the other parent's care?
how are drop offs to be arranged?
how will handovers be done?
The more you spell out the clearer everything will be, the less possibility of an argument or disagreement further down the line.
# The third tip is to have lots of advance warning for everything. So if you use a calendar, make sure you update it regularly and even send your ex an FYI about upcoming events or dates. This again makes you neutral, you are giving the other party lots of advance notice and warning. Narcissists like to control the narrative, so try and make the change to a calendar something that was out of your control rather than something you have instigated.
# The fourth tip and this is a tricky one, you will need to lower your expectations. I think it fair to say that you shouldn't really expect stellar parenting from your narcissistic ex, it's simply not going to happen. They regard the children as a form of supply, attention and adulation. Keep your expectations low and accept that you will truly be the only parent doing the actual parenting.
# The fifth and final tip is never bad mouth. Don't bad mouth the other parent in front of your children. This will be hard when you probably know your ex is doing this very thing. If you need to explain something to the children then saying that sometimes people say things they don't mean this helps your children understand the context of your ex saying negative things about you in front of them. Just make sure you don't sink to that level, the child will always side with the party that they feel is the most attacked or aggrieved.
I hope you found these tips useful and if you need help creating a parenting plan with your ex, or need some tools and techniques to copy with parenting with a narcissistic ex, contact Your Divorce Coach so that we can help you.