Congratulations – you’ve survived a relationship with a narcissist. I’m sure you have dealt with many challenges in your marriage because of your spouse’s behavior, but it hasn’t been a complete bust; at least you got your kids out of the deal. Sadly, men who became fathers during their relationship with a narcissistic wife or partner are still tied to her for years to come. With kids in the picture, your ex has the opportunity to use many abusive and violating strategies to make herself feel big.
These three tips will help you adjust to high-conflict co-parenting, which is almost a certainty due to your ex’s tendencies.
Consider A High-Conflict Co-Parenting Strategy
It may seem impossible to co-parent with your narcissistic ex, but certain creative co-parenting arrangements can make it easier. Parallel parenting is an approach that aims to minimize contact between parents to prevent conflict. This may be the right choice if you can’t stand to be in the same room as your ex because of the years of narcissistic abuse she inflicted on you. Many judges now implement parallel parenting in their custody orders when it is in the best interest of the child.
With parallel parenting, you’ll have strict custody guidelines with very little compromise, so don’t expect flexibility when it comes to switching days with your ex. You should also plan to communicate with your ex only when necessary. Since your kids won’t see constant conflict between their parents, the parallel parenting strategy can help them feel more safe and secure and prevent damage to your relationship with your child. You may be able to completely avoid seeing your ex face-to–face by enlisting family members to help with custody handoffs, or by using your childrens’ school day as the transition point between parents.
Stick to Your Principles
If you left your ex because you could no longer tolerate her toxic behavior, it doesn’t make sense to stoop to her level after the divorce. Even if your ex is nasty toward you or refuses to follow the judge’s custody order, don’t get sucked into playing her games. Let your attorney handle any custody order violations, and maintain minimal contact even if she’s constantly trying to push your buttons. Your children will appreciate your level head and compassion when they’re older, especially if they begin to see their mother’s toxic behavior for themselves.
Talk to Your Attorney If You Suspect Alienation
Sadly, many narcissistic parents will use their children as pawns in their hateful games without a second thought. Your co-parent may coach your children to say nasty things to you, or to put up a fight during custody exchanges. If your kids are suddenly refusing to spend time with you, or if they have begun to make out-of-character negative comments about you, you may be experiencing a case of parental alienation. If you speak to your attorney about this right away, you may have a chance to put a stop to this behavior through custody modification, or, in extreme cases where the narcissistic parent refuses to comply, she may even be required to have supervised visits.