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What to do about co-parenting with a narcissistic parent

On Behalf of | Jul 19, 2022 | Child Custody, Divorce |

One of the hardest issues that a divorced parent in Maryland can face is trying to co-parent with a narcissist. This situation means that many of the typical co-parenting strategies do not work, but there are things that you can do to make the situation less difficult.

Parallel parenting

The first step is to put aside the dream of successful co-parenting and aim instead for parallel parenting. Parallel parenting minimizes interaction between parents as much as possible, which can ultimately be more beneficial for children because they do not have to witness conflict between their parents. Even where there is no overt conflict, children often sense simmering tensions. In parallel parenting, you will not even be attending the same events as one another, so the worry about that tension is gone.

Handling communication

What you will need to share with the narcissistic other parent are the basics, such as pick-up and drop-off times. Beyond this, you should not share any personal information because narcissists tend to overrun and abuse boundaries, using them to manipulate you and try to stay in your life. You can write communication rules into your parenting agreement during the divorce, specifying that you will only use text or specialized tools created for divorced parents to communicate. This also gives you a record of communications that you can refer back to if you have to return to court for any ongoing issues. With a narcissistic parent, you may run into such problems as refusing to bring the children back on time or ignoring other elements of the custody and visitation agreement. Specify details in the parenting agreement such as how often the other parent can phone the children when they are with you so that if they abuse this, you will have a document to rely upon.

The key to dealing with the ex-spouse is to keep your children out of it. Avoid discussing the other parent with them because it puts them in the middle. They will form their own opinions in their own time. Your focus should be on providing them with a safe, stable environment.


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