Co-parenting with Narcissists

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Of all the types of abuse committed by Narcopaths, Parental Alienation seems to be the most unfair and difficult to accept. Co-parenting with Narcissists is nigh-on impossible – you need to learn how to Parallel Parent instead.




  • Narcs are incredibly manipulative. They completely fool professional psychologists, child welfare social workers, extended family members, lawyers and the family courts. And these so-called professionals are all adults who should know better. With the demise of the marriage, all of that psychological abuse is now directed at their own children. And sadly these kids are just too young to see it for what it is:
    • They are too young to understand the complex issues at play
    • Often issues around NPD are what they have grown up with their entire childhoods – and as such they just don’t have normality against which to benchmark the abusive behaviour and see it for what it really is.
    • Very often it is only the normal-range parent who both understands what is actually going on, and seems sufficiently motivated to ring any kind of warning bells.
  • Regardless of who discarded who, one hopes that the normal range partner is removed to a place of safety and away from the abuse. The fact that you are on this site, reading about NPD, implies that there is a recognition that Narcissism is at play, and that the victim is beginning to get effective at No Contact / Grey Rocking the narcissist. Deprived of their narcissistic supply from their now ex, the narc looks to those nearest and dearest to fill that need. They do so with an psychologically iron fist.


Long Term View

When dealing with a narcissist it would be easy to fall into the trap of fighting this pathogenic parenting every step of the way, and holding onto the false belief that every step to resist the onslaught, and every step in the preserve a healthy bond between with your child, would be worth it.

This would be intuitive thinking – but with narcissists one needs to think counter-intuitively. Only you can decide what is best in your situation, but to play devil’s advocate consider these two major reasons for doing the opposite:

  • Narcissists aren’t interested in the final outcome – they’re interested in the fight. They want to see you getting upset and exasperated. They need to see you lose your cool. These sort of reactions reassure the narc that they are powerful, significant and the one wielding all of the control. They delight in the heartache they can cause. They derive oodles of narcissistic supply from your pain. By reacting, by fighting for your kids, by showing upset at the struggle, you are giving them the power with which they are abusing you and deriving their kicks. So don’t give it to them. Don’t show that you are in any way bothered. Try and do the opposite. Are you fighting over custody of the children? You think that the narc cares about the kids? They can’t even love them. They are just using them as pawns in their war against their you, their ex. Give them the kids without a fight – and go out and be seen to be enjoying yourself unencumbered. It won’t take them long to see the own-goal they’ve scored and be looking at any excuse to offload the kids on you.
  • By not reacting, by maintaining your cool, you are starving the narc of fuel. They will doubtless try and try again to derive what they can from you, but by resolutely walking away, by refusing to engage, and by exuding calm time and time again, you are depriving the narc of the drug to which they are desperately addicted. Without your supply, they will have to source it elsewhere. You will be driving them into foisting their drama onto others, and in doing so they will be showing their true colours to additional witnesses to their real self. There is a risk in this – they will also show their true colours to the children – but whilst this is difficult for the child to contend with in the short-term, it too will help clarify in their mind who the real problem is in the fullness of time.



Putting the Kids in an Impossible Situation

Because the narc is in overdrive to alienate the targeted parent, so the narc will counter any love that they deem the normal range parent to be showing the child with toxicity. The harder you try to win favour with the child, the harder the pathogenic parent works to separate the child from, and denigrate, the healthy parent. It is extremely stressful on the child to see their loving parent maligned in this way, as indeed it is for them to be forced into taking sides and joining in this vilification. As such it is highly recommended that you find ways of regularly reminding your child of your love and presence that does NOT threaten the pathogenic parent. Try to find ways of doing so that cannot invoke a negative response from the narc. So for example, in the run up to a school play in which the child is acting, try to resist telling the child that you want to come to watch (which will result in the narc countering such a request with hostility), but instead tell the child that you will be thinking of them on the day and that you wish you could be there to see them. This implies that to the narc that you are resigned to not being invited, so no need for a showdown, no need for the narc to make up reasons to the child why you can’t attend. But it reassures the kid of your love in a way that is low-key and does incite condemnation.


Creating a Refuge

By backing off the issue, and denying the Narc the drama and fuel that they so desperately need, not only are you forcing the drama to be between narc and child now, but you are also giving yourself the space to set up a safe haven elsewhere. Ideally this should be geographically a safe distance away. But more importantly, it needs to be a psychological oasis of calm. No judgement. No recriminations or blame. Just unconditional love. That the child needs to know is always there, 24/7, and where they will always be welcome.


The System

At the time of writing, society has yet to cotton on to the tremendous danger posed by narcissists. Nor does it move to protect children at risk. There is a belief that parents have a fundamental right to part-custody of their children – seemingly with the only proviso that they are non-violent. Clearly this needs to change, and Professor Jennifer Harman is leading the charge to change the system so that the child is placed with the normal-range person. But it falls to the NPD-abuse targets, the targeted parents, to make the noise required to raise awareness and lobby for this change. Please do all you can to play your part in this movement.


< Advice on Parental Alienation | Co-Parenting with Narcissists | Mindset of the Pathogenic Parent >

External Links

An understudied form of child abuse and intimate terrorism: parental alienation | Prof Jennifer Harman
Forget Co-Parenting with a Narcissist – Do This Instead | Psychology Today

The Do’s and Dont’s of Co-Parenting with a Narcissist | Narcissist Family Files

Why the Courts Fail to Recognise Parental Alienation | YouTube

Tips For Successful Co-Parenting With A Narcissist | ThoughtNova