I recently recieved a e-mail from my son’s father, my ex-husband. The e-mail began “while I’m thinking about, just wanted to let you know” and it went into something that I did wrong or didn’t do when it came to parenting. Somthing silly or so trivial that you wouldn’t even think about it. This time, it was about underwear. Let me repeat that; underwear. How our son hadn’t been wearing underwear the last few times that he had gone to his dad’s house. When you call him out on it being a ridiculous thing to be upset about and how it was more then likely so far from the truth, you get told he is just trying to “co parent” and you’re not being receptive to it. This is exaclty what it is like when co-parenting with a narcissist.
So what is a narcissist? Narcissism is generally defined by the inability to handle any sort of criticism, an excessive need for admiration, and take advantage of others to get ahead. You can learn more about narcissistic personality disorder HERE. Having a relationship with a narcissist is difficult enough but co-parenting with a narcissist is a whole different ballgame.
So how do you survive co-parenting with a narcissist?
HAve you heard the term “act like a gray rock.” Essentially you become boring and uninteresting that they will take their need for drama and attention elsewhere. Even if they accuse you or something, you agree or be unresponsive making it harder for them to project onto you whatever it is they are feeling.
For example, in the e-mail I mentioned above, my ex-husband started picking apart the date I had put in the e-mail subject line. It was a honest typo on my behalf. When he started to beome really upset about what I was responding to him he writes “Just to clarify the date is… there are only 30 days in June,” followed up with “I get it, dates are hard.” I simply apologized and said it was an honest mistake. No reson to get upset because at this point it was just an insult meant to belittle me in order to acheive validation within himself.
If you want to learn more about the Gray Rock method check out more information HERE.
Do your very best to remain calm when co parenting with a narcissist. It’s not going to be easy and there will be many times that you will have to bitr your tongue so hard that it bleeds but I can gaurantee you that you will get nowhere and only fuel their fire some more.
This goes a long with remaining clam.
As hard as it might be, don’t react to the other person. If you recieve an e-mail or text from them let it sit for a while before responding. Especially if it’s something that is meant to be degrading and rude. Once you’ve had time to think, then respond. Your gut reaction will be to get upset and immediately send something back.
Remember, this isn’t about you
This is about the other person’s need to feel better then you and to get a reaction. People who are are narcissistic will have the need to belittle, intimidate or bully you in order to boost their own self worth. This is a flaw in them and not you. Don’t bring yourself down to their level and know no matter what they say about you, you are better then them.
Support your child
As challenging as it may be to co parent, it is also equally challenging for your child. They think the world of and love the other parent despite what you may be going through. Seek counseling if needed for your child to help them work through what they may be feeling. Most importantly, never ever talk bad about the other parent in front of the child. The narcissistic parent will only try and use that against you.
Every conversation, drop off, pick up, interaction, document it. I even go as far as to document when I recieve child support and take pictures of the check and the envelope it comes in. Documenting things will only benefit you in the long run if and when an issue arises.
Take care of yourself
A big factor in surviving co-parenting with a narcissist is to take care of yourself. Practice some self care in whatever form you need to. When you feel good in both your body and mind, you can get through whatever the narcissist throws at you.
What tips do you have to co-parent with a difficult ex? Let me know in the comments below!