Co-parenting after going through a divorce or separation can be difficult to navigate at the best of times. But co-parenting with a narcissist brings with it a whole new set of challenges. Although the characteristics differ from person to person, narcissists, and covert narcissists in particular, are typically manipulative and very critical individuals. Without awareness and strategies in place to help you co-parent, these traits can negatively impact your children now, and in the future too.

In this week’s blog, we’ll be looking at some of the things you can do to make things that little bit easier. 

Establish set arrangements for the children 

Narcissists like to be in control, and they’ll happily manipulate their way into all sorts of situations whether they’re invited to do so or not. They’ll also thrive on causing chaos, so be prepared for them to do things like change the arrangements at the last minute, or show up at your house without any warning.  If you object, they will make out you are the one being unreasonable and at fault.  

It’s important to have all bases covered. Ensuring that you’ve got the agreed child arrangements firmly set out, in a parenting agreement or court order if necessary, will make it harder for your ex spouse or partner to unsettle things. Whilst there’s no way to control how a narcissist will behave, formally setting our child arrangements will, at the very least, provide you with reassurance that you are not being unreasonable or wrong and possibly a way to enforce the arrangements in the event of non-compliance. 

Invest in legal advice

Attempts to communicate with a narcissistic ex-spouse or partner can be draining, and at times, futile. If you need to co-parent with one, limiting the amount of emotive communication you have, along with any opportunities for your ex to manipulate the situation, will go a long way to helping your co-parenting journey.  

With a solicitor’s assistance, you can negotiate the child arrangements, and ensure some level of accountability when it comes to ensuring that your ex makes good on any agreement. This leaves you free to focus on ensuring that the children are OK and happy, rather than using your energy to endlessly negotiate your way through moving goalposts. 

Maintain firm boundaries

Narcissists often have an incredibly elevated sense of self-importance, and this entitlement can make them believe that they’re above the rules – and that includes the law. As we’ve mentioned above, even if there’s an agreement or court order in place, that’s no guarantee that they’ll stick to it. But set arrangements aren’t solely there for the benefit of your ex spouse. 

Having firm boundaries and sticking to them is a difficult thing to do when you’re dealing with a narcissist. Having any arrangements laid out for all to see will give you the confidence you need to stick to them as well, and not be worn down or manipulated. 

Co-parenting with a narcissist is draining, and taking the first step towards challenging that behaviour will likely feel very daunting. Always keep in mind that whilst you might not be able to change a narcissist, you can have some control over how you manage things, which includes protecting the wellbeing of your children and having strategies in place to protect yourself. Seeking expert legal advice is a very strong first step. 

Get in touch with Harrogate Family Law today. We’re here to listen and provide the advice you need to ensure an outcome that works for you, and your children. You’re not alone.