Typically, narcissistic people are characterised as very self-centred, lacking in empathy and in need of constant admiration. However, narcissism can display itself differently from person to person, which can be difficult for partners or former partners to navigate, particularly if they’re trying to co-parent.
No matter how narcissism presents itself, attempts to co-parent with a narcissistic personality can be very difficult. The constant need to be in control and always be the ‘winner’ can cause real and lasting damage to both the children and the wider family unit.
Here we’re looking at just a few of the difficulties you might have to face if you find yourself co-parenting with a narcissist.
Narcissistic individuals need to dominate every situation, circumstance and aspect of the lives of those around them. One way they do this is through financial control.
If you’re separated or divorced from a narcissist, you may face some obstacles when it comes to the finances. Not only will you find it difficult to negotiate the terms of a financial order, it might be that they seek to control you through the amount of child maintenance they pay and how often. They may refuse to assist with payments for school trips, birthday or Christmas presents. Very often, they’ll use financial control as a means of trying to become the more popular parent in order to win favour with the children.
If this is resonating with you and your situation, it’s important that you seek legal advice and support sooner rather than later. This kind of financial abuse can be relentless, and very difficult to deal with alone.
Gaslighting or belittling you to your child
Because narcissists lack empathy, they’ll often put your kids in the middle of an argument between the two of you. Not only is this unfair, it’s incredibly harmful too.
It’s not unusual for narcissists to seek constant admiration from their children, which in turn fuels their sense of entitlement and superiority. In an attempt to appear as the ‘perfect parent’, a narcissist isn’t beyond spreading lies about you, and manipulating your child into believing that they’re the victim. They’re well versed in gaslighting, and in making you look bad, they believe they’ll make themselves look so much better.
Competing for love and attention
If your ex’s need for attention isn’t met by your child, there can be consequences. For a narcissist, love is conditional, even for their children. It’s not uncommon for children to end up feeling as though they need to take care of their narcissistic parent, instead of the other way around.
This can be really tough for children to handle, and lead to feelings of guilt and self-blame. You’ll need to keep a close eye on how they’re feeling, encouraging them to talk through any concerns or worries that they have.
If you’re struggling to co-parent with a narcissist, you’re not alone. At Harrogate Family Law, we specialise in helping clients dealing with narcissistic partners, and we’re here to support and guide you every step of the way. To find out more, don’t hesitate to get in touch.