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9 Tips for Peaceful Co-Parenting With a Narcissist

by | Feb 7, 2024 | 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.

Is peaceful co-parenting even possible with a narcissist?

Yeah, I knew that’d be the first thing you asked.

When it comes to successful co-parenting with a narcissist, the first thing you need to do is manage your expectations.

If the situation is bad, it’s never going to be perfect.

Your narcissistic ex probably isn’t going to wake up one day and decide to be an amazing co-parent.

However, there are ways that YOU can create a more peaceful co-parenting situation with your narcissistic ex.

Ideally, after a separation or divorce, both parents will make the effort to share parenting responsibilities and be respectful to each other.

But when you’re dealing with a narcissist, that all goes out the window and the onus falls on you to create a less stressful situation.

It’s not fair, I know, but you have an opportunity to take the reigns and give your kiddo a healthier environment to grow and thrive.

Don’t believe me? Here are some tips to make that happen!

1. Put Your Kid’s Needs First

First of all, it’s crucial to understand that your kiddos are the most important part of co-parenting.

It can be easy to get wrapped up in the stress and drama your ex causes, but your child’s well-being should always come first.

The focus should be on what’s best for them, not on your relationship with your ex-partner. So when you’re making the effort to reduce conflict and stress and maintain a peaceful environment, it’s all for the kids.

When you start looking at the situation this way, it’s more motivating to put these other tips into action.

Yes, it’s stressful for you, but reducing that stress will be a byproduct of reducing the nonsense for your kid’s sake.

And it will help you avoid getting caught up in personal conflicts with your ex by staying calm and dealing with issues with a level head.

2. Set Boundaries With Your Ex

How exactly do you set boundaries with someone who is determined to overstep them?

Even if you have a court order outlining custody and parenting time, you can set rules as long as they don’t violate that order.

For instance, you can set communication boundaries (which we’ll talk more about in a sec). You can choose not to respond to your ex if their text message isn’t about your child.

And you can tell them that you won’t be responding to text messages that aren’t about your child.

You can choose not to allow them to change plans if they consistently give you short/no notice.

If you’re anything like I was, then you probably feel like you have absolutely no control or power in this situation – but you do!

Even if these seem like small ways to set boundaries, they are empowering and they will help you find a more peaceful co-parenting situation.

3. Limit Communication

Okay, so let’s talk about limiting communication. Communication with a narcissistic co-parent is likely a HUGE source of your stress!

Taking control of it is one of the best ways you can create a more peaceful situation for you and your kiddo.

How do you do this? By limiting your communication to text or email.

By limiting parenting communication to written forms, the following happens:

  1. You have documented proof of what is said (more about that too!).
  2. You have the opportunity to decide if you need to respond.
  3. If you do, you have the opportunity to collect yourself and respond in a neutral and straightforward way.
  4. You can limit face-to-face conflict.
  5. You can keep your child from witnessing and being involved in conflict.

And the best part? If you can prove that your ex is purposefully difficult and verbally abusive, you can have these rules included in a court order!

4. Use a Co-Parenting App

If you’re worried about keeping track of communication and schedules and all of the finer details, you can always use an app like Our Family Wizard.

Narcissists love to use details and loopholes against their victims, so the more you can keep track of agreements, the less wiggle room they have to cause issues.

Plus, using an app holds everyone accountable so your ex can’t shirk their parenting responsibilities or deny things they have said.

It allows you to save conversations, set up calendars, and outline parenting plans.

I’ve actually heard of co-parents having this app court-ordered so both parents had to use it.

You can check out the app here. They have a free 30-day trial you can try out. If do click that link and sign up, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

5. Anticipate Their Shenanigans

When I was in the early days of co-parenting with my narcissistic ex, I felt like I was drowning in a hurricane.

I couldn’t understand why he was treating me so horribly and I couldn’t figure out how to make him stop.

It was when I first started learning about narcissism that everything became clear. Once I was aware of his behaviors, I knew how to dodge them.

That’s why anticipating your ex’s shenanigans can help you find co-parenting peace!

If you know that getting defensive and arguing with your ex causes them to go nuclear, you can not get defensive and argue. You can maintain an emotionless tone or ignore them.

If you know that they are changing plans at the last minute just to piss you off and maintain control, don’t let them change plans at the last minute.

There are so many tactics narcissists use to maintain control and manipulate you and your child. And the more you know about them, the better you can deal with them!

Check out my article here to learn more about narcissistic behaviors.

6. Gray Rock Method

The Gray Rock method is a tool you can use when interacting with your narcissistic co-parent. It helps in high-conflict situations, especially when it comes to avoiding arguments.

It involves being emotionally neutral and unresponsive, like a gray rock, to avoid giving your ex the emotional fuel they seek.

If you’re as boring and nondescript as a gray rock on the side of the road, the narcissist won’t put as much effort into getting reactions from you.

Don’t give them any emotional reactions, don’t share personal information, and ignore any personal attacks.

I tried it, and it worked.

It took time and your ex may escalate their behaviors to try and get that fuel from you, but eventually, they will scale back their efforts.

By refusing to engage in drama or emotional manipulation, you can maintain your peace of mind and protect your children from unnecessary stress.

7. Document Everything

Okay, I know I already talked about documenting everything a bit, but it’s worth mentioning twice.

Keep detailed records of all communication and interactions with your narcissistic co-parent, including emails, text messages, and phone calls.

You should also document instances of manipulation, aggression, or violations of boundaries. Keep track of when your ex shows up for parenting time, when they cancel, and when they don’t show up at all.

All of this is relevant if you go to court. It can be used as evidence to paint a picture for the judge or case master of what you are dealing with. It can also be used to stipulate specific rules to protect your child.

Having a thorough record can also help you maintain perspective, especially if your ex tries to gaslight you and convince you that you are the problem.

That may sound extreme, but narcissists will do this! Having proof will help you maintain your sanity and hold them accountable.

8. Maintain Emotional Detachment

In order to not let your ex’s nonsense affect your life and the life of your child, you need to detach yourself emotionally from their behaviors.

Trust me, I know what it’s like to want to defend myself and set my ex straight. Back then, it was important to me that he understood my perspective and that I wasn’t wrong in the situation.

When he insulted me, it hurt. When he argued with me, I had panic attacks.

Those negative emotions were negatively impacting my mental health and for a while, it made being a mom not that fun.

However, over time, I started to recognize that his actions were driven by his own insecurities and motivations, rather than a reflection of my worth or parenting abilities.

And the same is true about your ex.

Once you can accept that what your ex says absolutely does not matter, then you can detach yourself from their behaviors.

You won’t get as stressed and panicky when they do start nonsense and you’ll be able to address issues without falling apart.

It takes time, but the more you practice self-compassion and remind yourself that you can’t control or change their behavior, the more you will be able to control how you respond to it.

9. Seek Support and Validation

Lastly, please don’t hesitate to seek support from your friends, family members, or a therapist who understands the challenges of co-parenting with a narcissist.

You can join a support group (cough, cough, link below) where you can connect with other parents in similar situations. These are the people who can give you validation, guidance, and encouragement when dealing with difficult situations.

You are not alone. Although your parenting relationship is unique to you, you’re not the only one struggling to deal with a narcissistic co-parent.

You Can Make Co-Parenting Work…Better

I know what it’s like to deal with a narcissist – the lack of empathy, the emotional abuse, the control, the manipulation.

But I know what it’s like to build my resilience so that my ex’s behaviors didn’t cause a shitstorm of stress. I know what it’s like to do whatever it takes to protect my child.

And if you’re here, you can too!

Some of these tips may be hard to follow at first, but keep at it and you’ll start to notice a difference in your co-parenting situation.

You and your child deserve a more peaceful existence. ♥️

How do you keep the stress down when dealing with your co-parent? Share your tips in the comments! ⬇️⬇️⬇️

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Let’s create a supportive community and navigate the complexities of co-parenting with strength and resilience!

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