Having a narcissistic ex can make co-parenting and dealing with difficult high-conflict situations a challenge. You already had to face them in the relationship, and now you are stuck dealing with them even if you’ve gone your separate ways. It can make it hard to keep your sanity when dealing with their over-the-top drama and manipulation. Especially, when you have children together, and you just want the best for them. But don’t worry, you can still maintain your composure and keep the peace with a few simple tips:
Don’t Take Their Bait
Narcissists thrive on drama, and they will do anything to get a reaction out of you to feed their ego. It can be tempting to give them what they want when they push your buttons, but it is important to stay levelheaded and stick to your own values. Keep in mind that responding just perpetuates their cycle of behavior, so resist the urge to engage.
For example, if they’re trying to start an argument, remain composed and simply walk away. Or, when it comes to the children, make sure you are clear and direct about decisions and expectations. This way when your ex tries to argue, you have already stated your stance.
Play To Their Ego On Your Terms
As you know, narcissists are all about themselves, and they love to be the center of attention. Instead of getting frustrated or angry, use this tendency to your advantage. When they start up with drama, try to use flattery or compliments to redirect their focus onto themselves. This shifts the conversation away from any of your own issues or disagreements. For example, when they try to disagree when it comes to expectations about the children, try to appeal to their ego by mentioning how you appreciate their involvement. Say something like “I appreciate you trying to help me out. I really respect the fact that you care so much.”
Establish Clear Boundaries
Boundaries are great for any relationship but especially when you are trying to co-parent with a narcissist. It is important to be methodical and direct when it comes to laying out expectations, decisions, and requests. This way, they won’t be able to manipulate or gaslight you. Make sure that your boundaries are firm, but still comfortable for you. If they try to push past them, don’t be afraid to stand your ground. It is also important to establish boundaries with yourself as well.
Make sure you are taking time for yourself and not engaging in any behavior that is not comfortable or healthy for you. For example, if your ex is trying to control or manipulate you, simply state your boundary and then end the conversation. You don’t have to explain yourself or engage in any further dialogue. Let them know that your decision is final and that the conversation is over.
Parent with Compassion
Even though it can be difficult to do, it is important to remember that your narcissistic ex is still the parent of your children. This doesn’t mean you have to allow them to be disrespectful or take their side on everything, but it is important to try and find common ground when it comes to parenting decisions. For example, try to find a compromise when it comes to discipline, schedules, or activities. This way you can show the children that even if their parents aren’t together, they still care about the same things when it comes to them.
This is where clear boundaries become especially important. That way, you can try to co-parent without getting wrapped up in any drama or manipulation. You can disagree with your ex and reference your boundaries as a way to stay on track and focused. But doing so in a way that shows your children that you still care about them and their wellbeing.
Navigating a relationship with a narcissist, especially an ex, can be tricky, but with the right tools and attitude, you can find a way to make it work. Co-parenting with them doesn’t have to drive you crazy, but it does require strong boundaries, a level head, and playing to their ego on your terms. You can still have a non-toxic relationship with your ex and be there for your children, but it is important to stick to your values and not let them back you into a corner. You’ve got this!
Begin Co-Parenting with a Narcissist in Orange County, CA
Learning tips to help you deal with a narcissistic ex can give you more confidence and control when it comes to co-parenting. Having support can make the process easier and more successful. Our team of caring therapists is here to help you find strategies that work for you to deal with a narcissistic ex and successfully co-parent. To start your therapy journey with Moxie Family Therapy, please follow these simple steps:
- Contact Moxie Family Therapy
- Meet with a caring therapist
- Start effectively co-parenting with a narcissistic ex today!
Other Therapy Services Offered at Moxie Family Therapy
At Moxie Family Therapy, we know navigating difficult waters with a narcissistic ex may not be easy or the only issue affecting your life. That’s why we offer a variety of other therapy services to help you reach your personal goals and gain peace of mind. We provide a variety of therapy services online and in-person at our Orange County, CA-based practice. We offer counseling for young adults, children, women, teens, and couples. Additionally, we offer therapy for therapists, clinical supervision, adoption therapy, art therapy, and play therapy. Our team is also happy to support the LGBTQ+ community. Contact us today and learn how we can help you reclaim your moxie.
About the Author
Melissa Mellon, LMFT in Orange County, CA, offers a safe and supportive space for women dealing with co-parenting challenges due to a narcissistic ex. She focuses on developing communication skills and interactions that create a comfortable and safe home for children. Melissa helps clients define goals and works with them to build fulfilling lives. She offers a consultation to see if she would be a good fit for therapy.