Mar 15, 2020 in Counseling
Help, My Coparent May Be A Narcissist!
Coparents that exhibit narcissistic traits.
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Yes, I am sure that you have heard many coparents diagnose their out-of-control coparent as a narcissist. Especially, when that coparent has dealt with a mountain of manipulation and stonewalling for their toxic coparent. But what really qualifies a coparent to be defined as a narcissist. What does that look like?
First, What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
The Mayo Clinic defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder as one of several types of personality disorders. It is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
A narcissist, man or woman, is really a something to see because frankly it’s unbelievable the efforts they go to to gain control over a situation. This person definitely keeps you on your toes and in a permanent state of TWILIGHT ZONE. This personality type wants to be seen as a person that has it all together and their main mode of power and control is to negate and deny.
Narcissist Personality Traits In Coparenting. What does it look like?
Self-absorbed and indifferent- Coparents that exhibit this narcissistic trait often feel overly confident about their parenting. They are indifferent and dismissive to how you parenting style and can be very critical and make you feel incompetent. This type of coparenting has to preserve their sense of self by inflating their personality value and devaluing the targeted parent. This occurs because the narcissistic parent can’t tolerate or withstand any type of bruising of their ego like a child wanting to be with the other parent. When this occurs the targeted parent receives unprovoked attacks.
Charming and Persuasive- Narcissistic type coparents can seem charming to unsuspecting outsiders or even their own children. They use this tactic to manipulate and to create loyalty conflict within the child causing the child to dismiss and often demonize the targeted parent. They are careful not to allow the child to see them in a negative light so they can maintain the loyalty conflict and reject the targeted parent.
Lack Empathy- True narcissists lack the ability to empathize with others. When a coparent is exhibiting this trait they can’t seem to place themselves in a position to understand the targeted parent. Empathy requires the person to look outside themselves to truly gauge and comprehend someone else’s experiences. Narcissistic coparents would not be able to do this properly as it would disregard their own self-importance. In a coparenting situation, this would likely show considerable indifference and callousness towards the targeted parent.
Sensitive to Criticism or Perceived Threats- In this situation the coparent would lash out at the slightly perceived critical statement even if it was completely innocent. Ex. “I wouldn’t take Myles to the park today. He wasn’t feeling well at school.” The narcissistic coparent would see this as an attack on his or her parenting or perceive it as a threat to his or her parenting time.
How Narcissistic Coparent Makes You Feel
Dealing with a coparent that showcases narcissistic traits tend to make the targeted parent feel inadequate, devalued, alienated, or manipulated. Inadequacy shows up when the narcissistic coparent is consistently highlighting what the targeted parent is perceived to be doing wrong. Their way is right and the targeted parent’s way is 100% wrong. They attack parenting choices and can successfully persuade the child that the targeted parent is inadequate and convince the child to align a with them and verbally or mentally attack the targeted parent. Targeted parents are made to feel devalued by the use of antagonizing tactics, bad-mouthing, and false accusations. These things cause the targeted parent to second guess their decisions and cause them to back down or give in.
A targeted parent may feel out of control, distressed, guilt, or shame. In reality, the narcissistic parent is projecting onto the targetEd parent how they themselves feel. The targeted parent is made to feel like what the narcissistic coparent fears the most which is their own insecurities being discovered, rage, envious of the targeted parent, feeling unimportant or unseen, disregarded or ignored, and fear of losing the admiration or love of the child.
Tips to Deal With Your Narcissistic Coparent
When dealing with a coparent with narcissistic traits, first understand that they may not be properly diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) but are showing some telltale signs that you need to be aware of. It is always important that you as the targeted parent know that a narcissist’s main goal is to be destructive in your relationship as a parent, to gaslight you, to manipulate, target your weaknesses and hide their own, charm the child and others into submission, and maintain their own self-image and position by damaging yours.
Maintain IRONCLAD boundaries and don’t budge or give in.
Don’t seek validation from them
Stick to your guns (and the parenting plan). Don’t flip flop on decisions to accommodate the narcissistic coparent
Stick to the FACTS. Don’t allow the coparent to rope you in by gaslighting you.
Empathy is NOT their middle name so do share intimate details about your life. (It will probably be used against you later. They like to keep an arsenal to eventually blow up your life.
Don’t compete with a narcissist it feels like you are gaslighting them and they repay you by making your life a living HELL and will use the children to do it.
Once you are well versed on parenting with a narcissist you will be equipped to handle them without it consistently affecting your relationships, your image of yourself, or your mental health. To protect your mental health and the mental health of your loved ones, seek help from a therapist or psychiatrist in healing from your abuse. You and your children deserve peace of mind.
Begin Counseling & Learn to Co-Parent with a Narcissist
It’s not easy to coparent with your ex under these circumstances. You have to have contact because of the children. But you need to learn to communicate more effectively. You need support.
Coparenting Group support or Divorce Counseling can help or you can begin getting the support you need through individual therapy by following these simple steps:
Reach out today and schedule a free consultation with me.
Begin meeting with me for individual therapy, processing your emotions and learning new ways to interact with your ex.
Feel the freedom that can come when you are able to coparent with less stress.