Divorce is never easy on a family, and for the parents, co-parenting can be just as challenging as the divorce itself. But how do you cope when your ex is a narcissist?
Narcissists are often unwilling to negotiate simple divorce terms, let alone deal with the myriad of issues that arise after the divorce and the inevitable complications that comes along with raising children in a post-divorce environment. Something as simple as a scheduling conflict or change can heighten tension and send a narcissist past their boiling point. The end result? Negative emotions being needlessly and unnecessarily spread, which ultimately impacts the children.
What are some practical solutions for people who are co-parenting with a narcissist?
1. Create Boundaries, and Stick to Them
Rather than communicating in person, over the phone or through text messaging, use email. Narcissists are more likely to burst out in an inflammatory or impulsive response that could potentially lead to more tension and stress for you and your children.
Communicating through email also allows you to maintain clear, written records of how things will proceed and will be expected of your ex.
Stand your ground when dealing with a narcissist, even if they belittle you. Remember, narcissists find every opportunity to take advantage of perceived weaknesses. Be ready to negotiate with your ex, but know that narcissists are typically inclined to compromise and will do everything in their power to convince you that they should have their way.
2. Keep the Kids Out of It
While you may be frustrated and angry, it’s important not to disparage your ex to your children. Keep in mind that your ex is still the parent of your children, and speaking negatively about your former spouse in front of the kids will only hurt them. If your children are having difficulty dealing with your narcissist ex, provide them with tools that will allow them to manage the situation without criticizing your ex.
3. Get Help for You and Your Children When Needed
It’s not uncommon for people who are co-parenting with a narcissist to experience the same symptoms as those with posttraumatic stress syndrome. For this reason, it may be beneficial for you and your family to seek out support from a professional who has experience dealing with families in similar situations. Support groups are also available to help you and your family navigate through this troubling time.
One last tip: never allow your narcissist ex to convince you not to get legal assistance. Ideally, you want to seek out the help of a lawyer or divorce advisor who has experience dealing with narcissists.
The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm specializing in family law and estates. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.