Parallel Parenting Tips
Its been several years since my divorce. Here are some observations and methods I’ve picked up in dealing with my grandiose narcissist ex. I realize that many will have different experiences, but perhaps this will help someone.
You cannot co-parent with a narcissist
A little louder for those in the back! You cannot co-parent with a narcissist. Period.
Rules of Engagement with a Narcissist
- Narcissists are incapable of having the empathy, emotion and feelings needed for effective co-parenting. They counter-parent.
- ONLY use documented communication with a narcissist - We feel we have the best possible methods for communicating with them. Block all calls, texts, social media, messaging apps and relegate them to email or Our Family Wizard® only. In case of an actual emergency, they can figure out how to notify you. Police, fire, EMS, or friends and family can find you if there is a real emergency.
- If you are choosing to personally communicate with your narcissist, keep all of your communication brief, informative, factual and friendly. Keep all interactions solely about the child(ren). Narcissists will try to bait you into an argument - nearly every time! Strip out all of the extra BS and ONLY respond to info about the children.
- Utilize school or daycare for hand-offs. If that isn't possible, (for example holidays, summer, etc) - Only meet in public places, with security cameras, for drop off and pickups. During the exchanges, never ever engage. Ever. If they try to engage you, tell them "any info that needs to be discussed can be done via the email. This will likely infuriate them, so document it.
- The children have separate custody time with you and with your narc-ex. This is one of the most difficult things to get past, but we can’t control what other people do. This is the backbone of “parallel” parenting. Parent your child your way on your days and learn to accept they will be doing things much differently on the other parent's days. Of course, if there is a detrimental issue or safety concern document it and relay it to the appropriate channels. A narc is also going to try hard to alienate, smear and trash you to your child, friends, family, police and the court. Is it wrong and disgusting? Yes. Can you prove it? Maybe. Being an a$$hole isn’t illegal and our family court systems aren’t designed to uncover these ‘behind closed doors’ intricacies. Best to just keep impeccable records, document everything and be the best parent you can be. Narcissists are contradiction machines. They can’t keep up with their own lies and delusions so facts are your secret weapon and will (eventually) prevail.
- Make sure your custody order is as comprehensive as humanly possible. Not only does this help to keep things consistent for your child, but it will help you in keeping track of all of their contempts (and potentially modify your order if need be). Outline decision making and dispute resolution, timing for exchanges, appearance, dating, and anything you can think of. A narcissist, by nature, is going to fight you on everything so the more you can get in the order to clarify the better. Remember that you don’t owe this person anything. You don’t have to be buddies, you don’t have to have joint birthday parties and pretend to be something you are not. The normal co-parenting rules don’t and can’t apply with narcissists. You can still raise children in a safe and healthy way separate from a manipulator and abuser.
- Narcissists are not schizophrenics, they know the difference between right and wrong and good and evil. They choose to act in the way they do, often with no regard for the consequences and that is not your circus or your responsibility to manage.
- Never trash or bad talk the the narc to your child. You can certainly teach them about good behavior, what is right and what is wrong, and how to process and manage emotions in a healthy way without calling them out.
- Do you. Focus on being healthy and strong (both mind, body, financially) so you can be the best parent possible for your child. If you’re on a flight and there’s an emergency, you put your oxygen mask on first so that you can help others. The same applies here.