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Parallel Parenting Communication Strategies: How to Avoid Conflict

by | Oct 27, 2023 | 0 comments

The term “narcissism” on this blog is used to describe a specific set of personality traits. It is not intended to be used as a professional diagnosis.

Co-parenting with a narcissist is incredibly challenging, especially when you have to talk to them.

It’s like trying to reason with a two-year-old who dropped their ice cream cone at the same time their balloon floated away.

Oh, and they were also told no more YouTube and that they can’t lick the cat.

The constant conflict, manipulation, and emotional turmoil make it extremely difficult to communicate with a narcissistic co-parent.

There are times when you may have to make changes to the parenting time schedule or make parenting decisions with them.

And if they don’t like what they hear, they can become angry, defensive, and blaming.

In these situations, parallel parenting becomes your lifeline!

It allows you to disengage from the chaos while making sure your child’s best interests are still at the forefront.

In order to do that, you need to know how to communicate when co-parenting with a narcissist.

But don’t worry, I have you covered!

These effective parallel parenting communication strategies will help reduce conflict and avoid arguments.

Let’s get started:

How Do You Communicate While Parallel Parenting?

When you’re dealing with a narcissistic or difficult co-parent, conventional co-parenting probably won’t work.

Trying to deal with them reasonably and respectfully can feel like an emotional battleground!

Parallel parenting, however, offers an alternative approach that minimizes direct contact. This helps you avoid conflict and focus on your child’s well-being.

Here are some of the ways you can control parallel parenting communication:

Limiting Direct Communication

One way to move closer to parallel parenting success is to reduce direct conflict with your narcissistic co-parent.

Limiting communication, like face-to-face interactions and talking on the phone, can be a game-changer.

Instead, communicate with your ex using written forms like texts and emails.

How does this help? First, it lets you choose your words. You can take a moment to calm yourself and think about what you need to say.

You can also decide whether or not you need to respond. Sometimes, narcissists will say things just to get a reaction. If you don’t need to respond to their message, don’t bother.

Also, limiting communication will help you avoid emotional disputes. It’s easier to keep your cool when you’re typing than when you’re in the moment face-to-face.

But most importantly, written communication allows you to keep a record of what is said. This is important for holding your ex accountable. It can also be used as evidence if you file for a court order.

Using a Third-Party Mediator or App

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In high-conflict co-parenting, having a mediator or using an app can help you control communication and avoid conflict.

Mediators act as a neutral party that can help you navigate disputes and make sure everyone has their say.

This is a great option if you’re not ready to go to family court!

You can also try using an app like OurFamilyWizard to manage communication. These apps offer things like shared calendars, message features, and document storage.

With an app, you can keep all necessary parallel parenting communication child-focused and documented.

Establishing Clear Boundaries

Setting boundaries is important when co-parenting with a narcissist. Boundaries help define the rules and expectations.

They also reduce the opportunity for conflict and manipulation.

Here are some boundaries you can set and how to deal with when your narcissistic co-parent disregards them:

  • Communication Boundaries: Limit communication to matters directly related to the child’s well-being and schedule. If they go off-topic or become hostile, remind them of this boundary and end the conversation.
  • Visitation and Custody Schedule Boundaries: Define a clear and consistent visitation schedule and stick to it. If your ex frequently changes the schedules or is late, write these incidents down. Remind your ex of the schedule. If it’s an ongoing problem, consult an attorney.
  • Respect Boundaries: Establish a mutual respect boundary where everyone communicates respectfully. If your co-parent uses disrespectful language or behavior, remain calm. Respond with assertiveness and don’t engage emotionally.

These are just a few ways you can establish boundaries with a narcissistic co-parent. Make sure your boundaries are reasonable and that you stick to them!

Parallel Parenting Plan & Court Orders

I’ve mentioned court orders a couple of times, but let’s look at what that means for parallel parenting communication.

In parallel parenting, having a parent agreement or court order can make the difference when it comes to avoiding conflict.

A parallel parenting plan outlines each parent’s responsibilities. It also includes visitation schedules and dispute-resolution procedures.

This is something you can do yourself by coordinating with your co-parent.

However, if an agreement can’t be reached, then you can take the issue to court. This parenting plan becomes a court order. 

A court order is a legal document that both parents have to follow. The agreements in this court order are decided by a case master based on the concerns and wishes of both parents.

Both types of plans provide a clear roadmap for both parents and help to reduce conflicts. They also ensure that the child remains the primary focus.

Parallel Parenting Communication Challenge Examples

We’ve gone over some parallel parenting communication strategies, but let’s look at some examples.

Here are some real-life situations you might face:

Constant Criticism and Blame

Your ex-partner constantly criticizes your parenting decisions and blames you for any issues. This can be unproductive and emotionally draining.

Strategy: Maintain and calm and unemotional response. Avoid engaging in arguments. Instead, acknowledge their concerns without accepting blame and focus on your child.

Interfering With Your Parenting Time

Your ex tries to disrupt your parenting time, making last-minute changes or showing up unannounced. This can cause confusion and stress.

Strategy: Stick to your court-ordered or pre-arranged schedule and maintain clear boundaries. Document any interference and consult with an attorney if necessary to address violations.

Using Your Child as a Messenger

Your ex communicates with you through your child, forcing them to convey messages. Or they may also have your child report back to your ex about your activities.

Strategy: Firmly let your ex know that you prefer direct communication. Encourage your child to enjoy their time with their other parent without being a pawn.

Manipulative Communication

Your ex uses manipulative tactics such as guilt-tripping and gaslighting to control the situation. They may turn situations around on you or deny that they said or did something.

Strategy: Recognize these tactics and try not to get emotionally entangled. Stay focused on your child’s needs and seek support from friends, family, or a therapist.

Withholding Information

Your ex refuses to share important information about your child’s well-being. This can include medical appointments, school events, or changes in routine.

Strategy: Document the lack of information and request necessary details through text or email. If they continue to withhold information, talk to a lawyer.

Mastering Parallel Parenting Communication: Reduced Stress & Conflict

Co-parenting with a narcissist or toxic ex is never easy, but parallel parenting can help.

By limiting direct communication and setting boundaries, you can create a healthier co-parenting situation for both you and your child.

You may not think it now, but things can get better!

How do you manage to communicate with your co-parent? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks! Share them in the comments below ⬇️⬇️⬇️

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