Co-parenting already brings with it unique challenges, but co-parenting with a narcissist? It may feel at times like you are trying to run a marathon through quicksand!
So HOW do we co-parent amicably with a narcissist?
One of the most effective methods is to have and maintain firm, black and white boundaries. This may be in the form of a legally binding parenting plan, structured scheduling, and documented communication. It is important to stay emotionally regulated as best you can through every interaction, whether that be text, phone, or in-person as narcissists are highly skilled at manipulating situations in order to make you look like the 'bad guy.'
One of the ways in which we can maintain adequate emotional regulation and disallow a narcissist to manipulate or escalate us is to 'gray rock.' According to Psychology Today, this is a method defined as, "becoming uninteresting and unresponsive."
Using the Gray Rock method, your objective is to make someone lose interest in you. You don't feed their needs for drama or attention.
When we hurl insults or make accusations as a result of emotional dysregulation and choosing to engage, we only strengthen the narcissist. When we become so dull, gray, and boring, they eventually lose interest in trying to cause us to escalate or say/do things that could later be used to their advantage and our disadvantage.
A lot of times it can be oh so tempting to point out to your children the reprehensible behavior of your narcissistic co-parent, especially when it directly affects the kids.
However, when we speak ill of them, it can not only cause confusion in the kids but also resentment towards you.
Narcissistic parents have a highly skilled manipulative pattern of being able to turn the children against the parent who is not a narcissist and is in fact a victim of the narcissism.
By speaking ill of the narcissist, we play directly into that building resentment. So, do your best to only speak positively of them in front of the kids.
Due to the nature of narcissistic people being master manipulators, it is important to document everything, and I mean everything.
They have a clever ability to gaslight, deny, and even convince people things they experienced never actually happened. I have heard of parents keeping diaries of numerous events with times and days attached where the narcissistic parent interacted with the kids poorly, made threats, or continued to plant a seed in the children's head that the other parent was abusive, neglectful, etc.
Keeping a diary of sorts, allows the parent to have concrete evidence against the manipulation tactics that may even hold up in court depending on the laws and specificities in your area.
Co-parenting with a narcissist brings with it unique challenges, however, it is important to be mindful that you have a lot more control than you think, especially if you are using and maintaining firm boundaries.
By documenting, having a legally binding parenting plan, and remaining emotionally regulated with social interactions, you essentially render them powerless to exert narcissistic abuse against you.
Be the grayest, dullest, most boring rock and chances are, they will no longer be interested in casting stones at you.
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