As a parent, you love your children and want to keep them safe from any manner of harm. This often goes beyond just making sure they are safe when they are riding their bike or climbing a tree. Sometimes, the people around them could be doing them more harm than you realize. This is often the case when they have a narcissistic parent.
What Is Narcissism?
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a mental condition where someone has an overinflated sense of just how important they are. They need to be admired, and they want to have all of the attention on themselves rather than anyone else in the room, including their children. These types of people will generally have difficulty in relationships with others, and they often lack empathy.
Although they might seem confident, they tend to have brittle self-esteem. When someone criticizes or questions them, they tend to shut down communication, or they could become angry. These are not qualities that a parent should have. As the other parent, even though you might be divorced, you still need to parent your children with them. You have to be able to count on them to help make the right choices for your children. This is not easy, and you need to know how you can keep your children safe.
Learn How to Talk to the Narcissist
You aren’t going to be able to change how the narcissist views the world simply by yelling at them and telling them they should be doing what’s good for the children. For a narcissist, everything is about them. For you, it becomes easy to get angry at the other parent when they act like this, but that’s not what you want to do. It’s better not to engage in anger.
When dealing with a narcissist, you want to try to stop fights before they begin. Find a way to steer the conversation and agree with them on something. It doesn’t have to be the main point, just a small point where you can agree. This lets them know that you value their view, and it often stops and confuses them because they were getting ready to argue.
It might seem silly to have to deal with a grown adult like this, but with people who have this disorder, it’s often the best solution. Make them feel like they are winning a small part of the battle, while you are still able to get what you wanted.
When you better understand how narcissistic minds work, it is easier to stay calm. You don’t want to take anything they say personally because they will often just say things to try to get a reaction. Learn how they think and how to anticipate their words and actions. Since you were together with them as a partner at least for a time, you should have some experience on which you can draw.
Even though you have to co-parent with the narcissist, it doesn’t mean you have to make time for small talk with them. Limit the amount of time you have to deal with them. Conversations should be limited to talking about what’s happening with the kids. How does this protect the kids? It means that they won’t have to go and spend time with a narcissistic parent who will talk badly about you and talk themselves up for the entirety of their parenting time.
It’s Okay for the Kids to Vent
The kids who have to spend time with a narcissistic parent may find that they become frustrated. They might bottle up their feelings and emotions and then have outbursts when they are with you. Don’t take them being upset personally. They are just trying to get out emotions that they couldn’t with the other parent.
Sometimes, the kids may feel like they don’t have anyone that they can talk to about how they really feel. They may not even be comfortable telling you everything. You might want to consider getting your kids into therapy. This is often a good idea when parents get divorced, even when one isn’t a narcissist.
You should not let your kids blame themselves for the things their narcissistic parent says or does. When the children don’t show their narcissistic parent the proper attention, it sometimes means that the parent withdraws their affection until the child changes. This isn’t fair, but it’s how the minds of these narcissists work. You need to let your children know that they have your unconditional love whether they are getting good grades or not. Let the kids know that it’s not their fault that the other parent is the way they are. It’s something they can’t control, and that their behavior is not normal.
Don’t Turn the Other Parent Into a Villain
In your quest to protect your kids, there may be the temptation to turn the other parent into the bad guy. Even though it might be the case, and you want to be honest with your kids, you don’t want to turn them against the other parent. Your feelings toward your ex don’t matter. When the kids have questions about why mom or dad is acting a certain way, answer as honestly as you can for their age, but don’t try to turn the other parent into a monster.
What If the Other Parent Presents a Danger?
If you believe that the narcissistic behavior could have dangerous consequences for your children, and it feels like you can’t do anything about it, then you may need to take your case to court. The courts in Arizona prefer that both parents have parenting time, but if there is any risk to your children, they can intercede. They may have to suspend parenting time until the other parent gets help.
Keep in mind that you would need to prove that your ex is somehow dangerous to your children, and this is not easy to prove. It can take a long time. If your ex isn’t dangerous, just a narcissistic pain, then you will want to learn some coping skills on how to deal with them.