Co-Parenting with a Narcissist Counseling

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a psychological disorder that has the capacity to make intimate relationships close to impossible. People with NPD have a tendency to view themselves and their importance in a highly-inflated, grandiose way. They prioritize their own self-image and have delusions of grandeur. These distorted perceptions result in certain attitudes and behaviors on the narcissist’s part, such as a lack of empathy and consideration for other people in their life or manipulating others to get what they want to maintain this carefully-crafted image of their own self-importance.

Relationships with a Narcissist

Living with a narcissistic partner inevitably results in painful emotional abuse. They consistently engage in manipulation tactics in order to wear you down and exert control. As a result, your relationship tends to be marked by constant conflict and being degraded and devalued. You frequently will see them react negatively to any small sign of criticism and over-react to minor issues. In addition, they will demonstrate a complete unwillingness to see any fault on their part for the failure of a relationship or understand the pain they were causing you. 
The breakdown of a relationship with a narcissist is usually due to their unwillingness to change or to see any role that they might have played in the relationship problems. Understandably, this can be extremely worrying when you are faced with the reality of having to co-parent with a narcissist.

Signs You Are Co-Parenting with a Narcissist

When co-parenting with a narcissist after divorce or separation, it’s important to recognize these signs and narcissistic traits, as they will affect the future upbringing of your child and your interactions with your ex.

Signs of narcissistic behaviors include:

  •  Your ex lacking empathy for the situation you’re in or lacking empathy towards your feelings during the separation or divorce.
  • Your ex could try to manipulate your child against you.
  • They may lay all the blame for the separation on you.
  • They might thrive on the conflict that ensues after the separation or divorce.
  • They could lie to your child or to you.
  • They may continually lay blame on you, both for the separation but also for the present and future, if you hit any hurdles during your co-parenting plan.
  • They may not take well to advice or criticism when it comes to their parenting style.

With this in mind, dealing with a narcissist can be extremely difficult when figuring out a co-parenting plan, and it’s essential to protect your children and your own mental health during this time.

Creating Co-Parenting Boundaries with a Narcissist

 Knowing that you are dealing with a narcissist is the essential first step because it then allows you to put the correct measures in place for your parenting plan. You then must learn how to set clear boundaries and ignore their attempts to antagonize you.

Co-parenting with a narcissist may mean that you want to limit contact and interaction as much as possible with your ex, and that can be a clear boundary to set during the custody agreement. Guardian Ad Litems (Law Guardians) may also need to be engaged to advocate for how to best protect your child from narcissist dangers when a case is taken to court.

When creating co-parenting boundaries with a narcissist, it’s important to explore the following:

  •  Be a positive role model for appropriate parenting. It is important to show your children what appropriate parenting looks like rather than trying to prove to them how inappropriate your ex’s parenting is. Trying to point out their other parent’s faults will inevitably backfire and result in anger towards you for disparaging someone they love. Parent them with unconditional love, empathy, compassion, patience, and respect which will demonstrate what healthy parenting entails.
  • Don’t give them the emotional engagement they crave. Narcissists thrive on getting emotion from you, such as making you angry or upset. If you don’t provide them with that, you’re not giving them what they want, which is a good thing. Doing this in regard to co-parenting means only communicating with your ex in relation to the questions and needs of your children. You don’t need to respond to personal comments, questions, or messages looking to get an emotional reaction out of you.
  • Only communicate with them regarding your child’s need. Your child’s needs and the parenting schedule for them should always come first. Boundaries need to be set to ignore any attempts on the narcissist’s part to disrupt this by sucking you into unnecessary conflict. 
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How Can Parallel Parenting Help?

Parallel parenting is a co-parenting relationship defined by minimal contact between you and your ex. It is ideal in high-conflict, abusive relationships – including those with a narcissist. Because narcissists usually look to antagonize you in order to get an emotional reaction, parallel parenting limits interaction as much as possible and eliminates opportunities for them to target you.

Parallel parenting is a great option for co-parenting and sharing custody of a child while making sure you’re not needlessly exposing yourself to further conflict or manipulation from your ex. Learn more about our approach to parallel parenting here

What is CPN Counseling?

The experience of raising children with a narcissistic ex-partner can be one of life’s most challenging. Going through this process unsupported can be virtually impossible.

In a Co-Parenting with a Narcissist counseling session, Dr. Ellis will:

  • Help you develop realistic expectations about your narcissist ex’s emotions and behavior.
  • Teach you strategies to not get sucked into the emotional escalation that the narcissist thrives on.
  • Educate you about ways of protecting yourself and your children from further emotional damage.
  • Support you in establishing and maintaining firm boundaries through a parallel parenting plan.
  • Guide you in becoming the healthy emotional role model that your children so desperately need.
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CPN Coaching with Dr. Ellis

Dr. Ellis has thirty-plus years of experience treating people with personality disorders and those in relationships with them in her clinical practice. As a result, she has a deep understanding of the narcissist’s volatile emotions and behaviors and the impact that they have on the people in their lives. This, coupled with her vast experience working with children of divorce, uniquely qualifies her to guide you in the process of creating a post-separation parenting plan that prevents further emotional abuse to you and your children.

As a psychologist, Dr. Ellis also fully understands the huge emotional toll that both your marriage and your divorce have taken on you. Her compassion and support will be an invaluable resource as you work to break the cycle of abuse and to rebuild the confidence and self-esteem that have been so badly damaged throughout your relationship with your narcissist partner.

Completely avoiding emotional damage when dealing with a narcissist is very challenging. However, Co-Parenting with a Narcissist Coaching can help you to avoid the very worst outcomes of narcissistic abuse for both you and your children.

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