Co-Parenting With a Narcissist? 6 Boundaries You Need to Set Right Now

co-parenting with a narcissist

Co-parenting with a narcissist can feel like a hopeless situation. They’ve lost control of you, so they’re using their relationship with your child to take it out on you.

It’s one thing dealing with your narcissistic ex after divorce, but it’s another to be forced to continue dealing with them because you’re raising kids together.

But for the sake of your innocent children, you need to set some boundaries (and soon) or risk being run over.

Let’s look at how to point out a narcissist and six line-in-the-sand boundaries you can set today.

How to Know When You’re Dealing With a Narcissist

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health condition characterized by an unreasonably high sense of self-importance.

You can easily point out narcissists a mile away because of their arrogant, selfish, attention-craving tendencies.

So, if you think your ex might be a narcissist, chances are they probably are, but just for kicks, here are some things to look out for:

  • They don’t take accountability
  • They lack empathy
  • They’re overly vain
  • They’re critical of others
  • They can’t manage their emotions
  • They take advantage of others to get what they want

If you just said, “yes, yes, and heck yes,” then you’re more than likely dealing with a narc.

And no matter how much you despise their narcissistic traits, right now you have to focus on doing what’s best for your children.

Let’s look at a couple of ways you can.

6 Boundaries to Keep the Peace (and Your Sanity)

Once a narcissist, always a narcissist.

If your ex had narcissistic tendencies in your marriage, you can expect it to show up in how they handle their parenting duties.

Here are six boundaries you can set right now to protect you and your children.

#1 Be Clear About What You Won’t Accept

If you don’t want to be stepped on, take the doormat off the front step. In other words, put your foot down. When dealing with a narcissist, there is no such thing as an equal co-parenting relationship. You must put your foot down and be clear about what you won’t accept.

Don’t allow them to show up anytime they want. Don’t pick up the phone every time they reach out. Of course, they’re not going to like it, and they may throw a tantrum or two, but stick to it.

#2 Stick to a Schedule

The most important boundary to set is a schedule. A schedule will help you keep your children’s needs in check and help them feel safe and secure. If you don’t have a schedule, the narcissist can easily manipulate the situation, disrupting things and inserting themselves where they shouldn’t, which will be hard on you and the kids.

Next, to love and nurturing, kids need balance. The narcissist parent wants the opposite; they thrive in chaos. Don’t let them win. Build a schedule and stick to it.

#3 Keep Communication to a Minimum

Don’t engage in constant communication. Keep it short and sweet, like a business transaction. If you have to speak with them, try to do so over text or email; that way, you have a record of the conversation.

This is also called parallel parenting—a method where two parents agree to make decisions for the benefit of their children without communicating directly unless necessary. This is best for co-parenting with a narcissist because you don’t have to deal with them much.

#4 Don’t Engage

Narcissists are masters at manipulation. They will try to get you to do what they want by using guilt, threats, and other tactics that make you feel like a bad person. They love power struggles and arguments because they feed on the energy of conflict and drama.

So if you engage with them, even if it’s just an argument about something trivial, they will keep going until you give up or give in. If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile, so don’t engage at all.

#5 Keep Your Personal Life Personal

Balancing your emotional well-being and navigating parental responsibilities with your ex will be challenging, to say the least. And when it comes to co-parenting with a narcissistic parent, there’s one thing you can be sure of: they will try to weasel their way into your personal life.

They’re used to being the center of your life. Now that they’re not, they want to know about and control everything. To avoid this, keep your personal life private from the beginning.

#6 Get Yourself a Legally Binding Plan

If you want to be able to enforce your boundaries, get yourself a legal parenting plan—also referred to as a custody or parenting agreement. A parenting plan is simply a written contract between two parents that sets out how they will share their children and responsibilities.

It also includes instructions on what to do when one parent wants to change things in the agreement. This may be the only way to get the other parent to finally play by the rules and take the boundaries seriously.

Solve Your Parenting Problem. Build a Plan On Your Terms. Call Apple Payne Law Today

So there you have it. Six ways to deal with a narcissistic co-parent. It may seem like a lot but remember: this person is going to be involved in your life for years to come.

Unfortunately, you’ll likely never get that emotionally healthy parent you’re looking for, but you can set boundaries that improve your and your child’s life today.

If you’re having trouble working out visitation arrangements or custody details, it’s important you have legal representation on your side. We can help make sure a contract is drafted properly and covers potential loopholes a narcissist would try to use against you.

Suppose they aren’t agreeable to anything at all. In that case, we will take them to court and get a judge to help us protect your children by putting in binding terms and serious consequences if they don’t follow them, including contempt of court and possible jail time and attorneys fees.

At Apple Payne Law, we have years of experience helping clients through situations like these. Our divorce lawyers will fight for what’s best for you and your family. Call today to discuss your case.

Author Bio

Ronald D. Payne II
Ronald D. Payne II is the CEO and Managing Attorney of Apple Payne Law, a North Carolina law firm he founded in 2018. With more than 11 years of experience practicing law, he is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of legal matters, including business law, estate planning, family law, probate, and traffic law.

Ronald received his Juris Doctor from the Wake Forest University School of Law and is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being awarded the 2020 Client’s Choice Award by Avvo and multiple Rising Star awards from Super Lawyers.

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Avvo | Google

location map

Contact us below and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible!

Kernersville Office

900 Old Winston Rd. STE 212
Kernersville NC 27284

Winston-Salem Office

190 Charlois Blvd. Suite 200
Winston-Salem NC 27103