Decision Making:

Navigating High-Stakes Games with a Narcissistic Co-parent

· Main,Narcissists

Dealing with a high-conflict, narcissistic co-parent presents a unique set of challenges, particularly when crucial decisions regarding a child's welfare are at stake. These parents often find themselves ensnared in the traps laid by the narcissist, designed to exert control and induce conflict. This article explores the dynamics of such scenarios, offering guidance on prioritizing the child’s well-being while navigating the accompanying legal and emotional complexities.

The Trap of Decision-Making with Narcissists

  • Setting the Stage: Narcissistic individuals thrive on control and chaos, often setting up scenarios that put the other parent in a lose-lose situation. By manipulating circumstances, they ensure that regardless of the decision made by their co-parent, there will be negative consequences designed to either undermine their authority or hurt them legally or emotionally.
  • Understanding the Narcissist’s Motives: The narcissist's primary goal is not the welfare of the child but rather winning the game of control. They relish in creating dilemmas where they can criticize the other parent's actions, no matter the outcome, thus feeding their ego and need for drama while disregarding the actual needs of the child.

Real-World Example: The Dental Dilemma

  • Scenario Description: Consider a situation where a child has a severely cracked tooth and needs immediate dental care. The narcissistic co-parent insists the child can only be taken to a dentist that accepts their insurance, knowing well that such insurance does not presently exist. Moreover, they have contacted previous dentists and revoked consent for the child to be seen by them.
  • Narcissist's Actions: These actions are calculated to revoke the other parent's ability to make timely decisions, complicating the child's access to necessary healthcare. This not only exacerbates the child's physical pain but also places the responsible parent in a precarious legal and ethical position.

The Decision Crossroads

  • Immediate Needs vs. Legal Restrictions: The responsible parent faces a dire choice: ignore the narcissist's impossible conditions and seek immediate care for the child, risking legal repercussions, or comply and potentially harm the child by delaying necessary medical treatment.
  • Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t: If the parent chooses to take the child for treatment, they violate the agreed-upon co-parenting terms of joint legal custody, giving the narcissist ammunition for legal battles or public defamation. Conversely, not acting jeopardizes the child’s health and may position the parent as neglectful.

Taking Action: When the Child's Health is at Stake

  • Choosing the Child's Health: In such critical situations, the moral imperative to prioritize the child’s immediate health needs supersedes the potential for legal backlash. The child's safety and well-being must be the paramount concern.
  • Practical Steps: The responsible parent should document every step taken, from attempting to discuss the issue with the co-parent to the reasons for choosing a specific healthcare provider. Consulting with legal counsel before making such decisions can also provide a safeguard against potential legal ramifications.

Navigating Legal Ramifications

  • Legal Preparedness: Parents should prepare to defend their decisions by gathering evidence that supports the urgency and necessity of their actions. This includes retaining records of communication with the narcissistic parent and acquiring professional opinions from healthcare providers.
  • Expert Opinions: Obtaining support from family law experts and child psychologists can also prove invaluable. These professionals can offer testimony or written statements validating the decision’s urgency and appropriateness under the circumstances.


In the high-stakes game of co-parenting with a narcissist, the welfare of the child must always come first. Parents must navigate these challenging dynamics with a strategic approach that considers both the immediate needs of the child and the potential legal consequences. Remember, in the face of manipulation and control, the courageous choice to prioritize your child’s health is both a moral and parental duty.

Additional Resources

For further guidance and support:

  • If you're having extreme difficulty communicating effectively with your narc ex, consider taking our course at
  • If you cannot at all handle communications with your ex, consider signing up as a Grey Rock Member.

Navigating co-parenting with a narcissistic individual is undoubtedly challenging, but armed with the right knowledge and resources, parents can make informed decisions that protect their children’s best interests.