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3 tips for making co-parenting with a narcissist


Hey Mama, following our divorce and separation, we desperately want to make life as a single parent work for us and our children. We naturally want to provide a safe, stable environment where they can feel secure and thrive as individuals. Yet for many single mothers, an aspect of single parenthood that creates so much stress and anxiety is coping with co-parenting - especially if your co-parent is narcissistic.


As a therapist and separated mother of two, I want to share with you these three tips that can help you succeed when parenting with a narcissist. You’ve got this!


Understanding narcissism


Before we can start disempowering narcissism, we need to understand what it is. Narcissism is a term that tends to be thrown around, but many of us don’t understand what it means. In basic terms, someone who is narcissistic has very little ability to consider anything outside of their own needs. It is said that people learn one of two ways to keep themselves ‘safe’ during childhood, these are either considering their own needs first or considering the needs of others first. These coping mechanisms carry on into adulthood and our adult relationships. Narcissism is a spectrum, with its most severe form being categorized as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. 


Disempowering Narcissism


Outline what underlying triggers affect you 

Spend some time identifying and understanding what triggers you in your relationship with your co-parent. Identify how you usually react and how you are feeling drained. Once you have identified these areas you can look to change them using the next two steps. 


Consider what aspects of co-parenting that you can control


When co-parenting with someone who is narcissistic you can spend a huge amount of emotional and mental energy trying to pacify them or avoid conflict. Your co-parent's actions and reactions are out of your control and by investing time and energy in trying to control these in order to protect yourself, you are wasting so much valuable energy that could be spent on you and your children. The only things that are in control are your thoughts, feelings and actions. Decide how you can use these to pour your emotional and mental energy into you, not your co-parents ‘games’. 


Setting boundaries


Consider your needs and the needs of your children, and set boundaries around them. Every decision you make, first check whether this is draining you and your children or if it is supporting you to thrive. If the answer is draining, then don’t do it. Try not to feed your narcissistic co-parent with information to justify your position, set the boundary and repeat it. If the boundary is in service of you and your children, you do not need to justify it and part of the ‘game’ that narcissists play is to try and reel you into debating something that does not need to be debated, draining you of all of your precious energy. 



From one separated mum to another, you’ve got this!

As a separated mother and therapist who’s overcome the same journey, my goal is to help struggling single mums who have or are separated stop feeling anxious over their children’s well-being. You can check out how to work with me and find more resources by clicking below.

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