Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is clinically characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, an intense need for attention and admiration, and an extreme lack of empathy. If your co-parent exhibits these symptoms, they must be accounted for in your co-parenting strategy. If their behavior is left unchecked, it can cause unnecessary trauma for your child, lead to family bond obstruction, and continue to wreak havoc in your family’s lives for years to come.
Find out the signs that you may be co-parenting with a narcissist below, as well as how Pathways Family Coaching can empower you to parent effectively and create a positive environment for your child.
Self-Centredness: The Classic Sign of Narcissism
Does your co-parent always bring conversations about your children back to themselves? Do they consistently feel the need to brag about their own perceived accomplishments, or engage in constant “one-upmanship” to establish their superiority?
Pathological self-centredness is one of the most obvious signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. While there’s a difference between a disordered personality and merely being obnoxious, the response should be the same. When communicating with a narcissist, be brief, to-the-point, and do not let them take the conversation anywhere other than giving you the information you need. One-word answers and short, concise statements are the best way to communicate; life is too short for their self-aggrandizing behavior!
Playing the Blame Game
Narcissists often respond poorly to criticism, deflect blame, and refuse to take responsibility for their actions. In their self-centred viewpoint, it’s never their fault; they will consistently point their fingers at somebody else (often you!).
The best way to respond to this type of behavior is to not dignify it with a response. When communicating with your co-parent, bring the conversation back to the objective facts and avoiding engaging in a back-and-forth blame game. An argument won’t change a narcissist’s behavior; in reality, they may view it as validation for their disordered thinking. Like their delusions of grandeur, the best way to respond to these behaviors is to not engage with them.
Manipulation: Gaslighting You and Your Child
Perhaps the most harmful tendencies of narcissists are the manipulation tactics they may try on both you and your child. A narcissist will often criticize you to your child in a shared custody arrangement, distorting the truth and attempting to convince your child that you are unworthy of their love and affection. If they succeed, you may become estranged from your child, falling victim to what some refer to as “parental alienation[link to Q2:4].”
Family bond obstruction (especially when caused by a narcissistic co-parent) is one of the most painful things a parent can experience. While it’s tempting to let anger and sadness dictate your response, acting on negative emotions often leads to further pain and suffering. It’s no small feat to maintain composure and act with compassion and understanding for your child; however, it’s the only path to overcoming the pull of a narcissistic co-parent.
Managing Narcissistic Personalities with Pathways Family Coaching
Pathways Family Coaching offers a comprehensive library of online courses and one-on-one professional coaching to help manage all aspects of high-conflict family restructuring. Our expert coaches are ready to integrate with your existing legal and therapeutic teams, helping you develop a healthy parenting arrangement for you and your child.
Pathways Through Conflict is our flagship online course, focused on building the skills to navigate any high-conflict co-parenting relationship. Consisting of an eight-module online course, 12 one-on-one coaching sessions, and access to the Ultimate Co-Parenting Plan, Pathways Through Conflict gives you all the tools to manage conflict while providing a nurturing environment for your children.
For those experiencing family bond obstruction, The Alienation Code guides you to understand your child’s perspective, the real motivation behind your co-parent’s actions, and how your mindset can impact your relationship with your child for better or worse. This five-module course covers the causes of “parental alienation,” the importance of repairing your parent-child bond, and the mindset shift required to overcome rejection.
If you’re concerned that legal intervention may be required to manage a narcissist’s influence, our Behavioral Pattern Finder can help. The BPF is a revolutionary service for logging, evaluating, and presenting behavioral patterns in high-conflict situations, organizing up to 250 pieces of data into a digital timeline revealing trends that may indicate harmful behaviours. We make it easy for you and your team to demonstrate a narcissist’s behaviour in clinical and legal settings.
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