Co-Parenting with a Narcissist:
Mission Impossible???

  • Does co-parenting with a narcissist leave you feeling confused and bewildered?
  • Does every conversation with your co-parent end in drama?
  • Do you feel helpless to shield your child from the influence of an arrogant parent?

Do you suspect you are co-parenting with a narcissist? 


Narcissists have a very exaggerated sense of superiority.  


They believe they are a gift to the universe…  and they are obnoxious to be around. 

Below are some telltale signs you are co-parenting with a narcissist:


1. They challenge your perception of reality in order to maintain control and dominance in the relationship.

You and your co-parent have an agreed upon pick-up time for your kids.  You arrive at the pick up place at the agreed-upon time.  

But you know how this goes down: Co-parenting with a narcissist means the parent doesn’t show... on time or maybe even at all!

So after 20 minutes, you call to ask when they will arrive. 


To which the co-parent responds: 

“What the heck are you talking about?  We never had a conversation about this.  Why do you continually make up dates/times?  You’re purposely trying to make me look like the bad guy… like I did something wrong.”  


Here’s the truth:  


Narcissists like being in control and they hate looking bad.


They use manipulation when they want something and change facts around as it suits them.  


Lying comes easy to them and they don’t mind doing it.  So, it’s hard to gauge how likely it is they are telling the truth…    


Which makes you question reality and wonder if you are going crazy.


Rest assured:  you aren’t. 

2. Co-parenting with a Narcissist means that they frequently try to make you look bad in front of your children and others.

For example:  


Your co-parent drops the children off at your house. 

You walk your children into the house and shut the door.

After twenty minutes, you notice your co-parent is lingering around. 

You go outside and ask them to leave, to which they refuse.

The co-parent then dares you to call the cops and have them arrested- stating, “I want your kids to see their parent getting hauled off in handcuffs because of YOU.”

Why in the world would your co-parent do this?

Because their main concern is maintaining control of their image and pinning the blame on someone else.  

They want their children and the rest of the world to be on their side. 

To do this, they are driven to make you look bad. 

3. Due to envy, they try to spoil your achievements with criticism or punishing behaviors.


Just as soon as you get positive attention or the spotlight, your co-parent will try to turn the spotlight back around on themselves. 


They just can’t let you be praised for even minor achievements.  


They need to demonstrate feelings of personal superiority.


They are devoid of genuine empathy. Because they have a real problem feeling much for anyone or anything other than themselves…

…the feelings of others just don’t compute. 


They lack the skills to appreciate what they are doing.

4. The narcissist ignores the co-parenting ground rules you both created.

If you give your co-parent an inch, they’ll take a mile. 


They try to manipulate the agreed-upon rules by a number of different tactics such as:

  • Throwing Insults and curse words
  • Sabotaging events by not returning children on time 
  • Playing dumb
  • Barraging you with emails, texts, and calls filled with nasty threats

5. They even lack empathy towards your kids

The concern for a narcissistic is not about what is best for the children or focusing on their needs.

Co-parenting with a narcissist means that the parent expects your children to fulfill their needs.

If the children don’t give their narcissistic parent what they want- admiration, affection, and loyalty- they’ll punish the children by withdrawing or blaming them. 


And yet, narcissists are known for making new friends without problems.  


How can this be?!?!


Some narcissists exude confidence and charisma.  They can be the life of the party, which naturally attracts people.


AND-  is also true that: 


  • They do not have functional, healthy relationships 
  • They can’t seem to maintain healthy relationships  
  • They see others as either all bad or all good (including their own offspring!)

Do only some of these traits sound familiar?
Does this mean you aren't coparenting with a narcissist?

It’s important to note that narcissism varies in degree of severity.  


Your co-parent might have narcissistic traits but not full-blown narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).


We ALL have narcissistic aspects to our personality!  It is actually healthy and important to possess some narcissistic traits. 

They help build and maintain our self-esteem and self-worth.


The key difference with someone that has lots of narcissistic traits or NPD is that the person has:

  • an inflated sense of themselves
  • believes they are very important
  • need lots of admiration and attention.   

And these traits aren’t simply with you or your children.  When a person has NPD, these traits will be persistent across all relationships.  


This means that the traits don’t suddenly show up out of nowhere. 


The traits tend to develop in childhood due to past traumas. 

In fact, the traits are old coping mechanisms that the individual needed in the past.


Therefore, behind the mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

Stay tune for the next blog post, where we are going to discuss how to deal with a narcissistic co-parent.

 In the meantime, are you ready to give co-parenting counseling a go?  

I'm here to help!

Free free to contact me directly if you have questions or to schedule a brief call to see if I might be able to support you as you journey forward.


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