Parenting is one of the most complex works on the planet even with a loving and caring partner. The world is full of negativity. Raising children with high self-esteem and discipline is not easy at all. And it gets worse off you are co-parenting with a narcissist.
Narcissist parents are people who live through their children either through possessiveness or competition. A narcissist parent is usually threatened by their child’s independence. This makes him or her coerce his or her child to exist in his or her shadow. They also set unreasonable expectations for their children. In such a relationship, the child rarely receives love.
Co-parenting with a narcissist will ultimately lead to anger, despair, and disorientation. Let’s face it. Your narcissist ex will never shower love to your children the way you do. In extreme cases, he or she may be incapable of showing love to them. Since such a parent sees children as extensions of themselves, they’ll manipulate or abuse your children to serve his or her agenda.
Your narcissist ex may do everything to hurt you and that includes harming your children physically or psychologically. If you are the one who left, your narcissist ex is likely to hold a grudge which often leads to punishment because you made him or her feel worthless. If you were left, it doesn’t mean that you are on the safe side.
Regardless of the person who left the other, the narcissist will most likely use every opportunity that knocks on his or her door at your expense. This involves insulting you in front of your children, campaigning behind your back to your children, friends, and family and undermining all your co-parenting efforts.
You need to forget co-parenting with a narcissist because they can’t work in a team. Narcissists do not connect with others. They lack empathy even to their loved ones. Therefore, if the father or mother of your kids is a narcissist, you need to accept that fact and carry on.
So, how do you overcome parental narcissism?
When love dries out in a relationship, individuals start resenting each other. Your narcissist ex is not going to stop engaging you in psychological batters anytime soon. He or she wants you to be fixated in the relationship for a few more years.
The last thing you want to happen is to have your child involved in the drama and mental warfare. Children get seriously affected when their parents argue, quarrel or fight in front of them. They might start thinking that they are the cause of your problems. And this leads to low self-esteem and poor performance in everything they do. To avoid this, minimize contact.
Have your boundaries
Taking the time to structure every setting will create a predictable and safe environment for your children and this will protect them from being damaged psychologically.
Your narcissistic ex is most likely to generate negative emotions which will affect your child’s emotional and psychological development. Creating firm boundaries will shield your child against harm.
Don’t feel sorry for your child
No child deserves to be brought up by an environment filled with negativity by a selfish adult. However, feeling sorry for your children is one of the worst things that you can do to your child. You should avoid doing this because your child develops a victim mentality which prevents him or her from making progress and creating positive relationships.
Children brought up by a narcissistic parent usually adapt to different environments and cope with dealing with difficult people. They usually have in-built gifts that other children don’t possess therefore; you shouldn’t feel sorry for your child.
Don’t be emotional
When your narcissistic ex realizes that he or she has control over your emotions, he or she will do everything in their position to ensure that you suffer. You need to show him or her that he or she has no control over you in any way.
“You can practice deep breathing, mindfulness, journaling, and meditation to stay calm. You can also consider joining a support group. Support groups will accelerate your recovery process because you’ll get the opportunity to meet other people who’ve had it worse than you. Learning from them will enable you to guide your children in a better way. Limit communication between your child and ex,” recommends Stephana Griz.
If your child is in your custody, you should limit the number of calls or texts between your child and narcissistic ex. This means that you should find a place to stay with your child.
The last thing you want to do is live with your ex and conform to his or her rules. Unless it’s an emergency, you should do your best to minimize contact. Do not allow your child to get between the two of you.
Nurture your child’s independence
During adolescence, most narcissistic parents lose focus. Instead of seeing their children as individuals with unique wants and needs, they start seeing them as an extension of themselves. The narcissistic parent perceives their child’s emotions as selfishness.
For them to give their child approval, the child must meet his or her needs either verbally or non-verbally. If your child was brought up like this, you may start noticing how he or she strives to please people around him or her all the time even at their own expense.
You need to help your child become independent of other people’s thoughts and emotions; including yours. When your child is independent, he or she won’t feel sorry for making decisions that make him or her happy.
Avoid criticizing your ex aloud
Narcissistic behavior is simply unacceptable. However, your children will never be ready to deal with criticism and arguments between the two of you no matter how mature they are. As we said earlier, maintain your cool.
In the society, narcissists are usually the best citizens. They go to church regularly, pay their bills on time and mow their lawns on Saturday. Since you won’t be co-parenting with your narcissistic ex, it’s best to focus on your child’s growth and development.
Do not blame yourself
At times, you will find yourself coming up with reasons why you are to blame for everything that has happened to you and your child. Yes, you are responsible to some degree but that should not affect your future. Blaming yourself will not help you move forward.
Accept that you’ve made mistakes in the past. And they’ve made you stronger like never before. Learning from your mistakes and doing your best not to repeat them will enable you to stay on track. You can’t change the past but you can alter the future by acting differently today.
Withhold your feelings from your ex
It’s possible that you still love your narcissistic ex despite his or her behavior. While it’s important to acknowledge your feelings, you should avoid showing them to your ex. As we’ve seen, narcissists enjoy taking advantage of people’s emotions by trying to control them.
When your ex realizes that you still have feelings for him or her, he or she will use that as a weapon to harm you in the long run. Narcissists cannot connect with people because they don’t usually have genuine feelings. Avoiding this trap will save you a lot of time and energy in the long run.
Be honest with your child
Children will always ask questions about their surroundings and family. The last thing you want to do is lie to them. You need to be as honest as you can with your child when he or she asks you questions.
Even if he or she doesn’t, you need to inform him or her as early as possible to avoid confusing him or her. Plus, you don’t want your ex to start talking to your child behind your back and taking advantage of the situation just because you weren’t honest with your child.
Avoid criticizing your kids to your ex
Criticizing your kids to your narcissistic ex will give him or her an opportunity to turn them against you. You should never criticize your child.
Criticizing your child lowers his or her self-esteem. When your child does something wrong, sit down with him or her and discuss the issue. At the end of the day, your child will love you and your ex won’t have anything to use against you.
The term ‘co-parenting’ should not exist in your vocabulary from today. If you want to move on and raise happy children, you need to get away from your narcissistic ex. You should consider joining a support group if you don’t dare to move forward. You can do it!
Tiffany Harper is a freelance writer at proofreading Assignment Geek, blog writer at Australian Assignment Help, Essay writers UK and a regular contributor for Papersowl.com reviews. Sometimes she helps to college paper writing service in custom writing. If Tiffany is not writing, she is jogging or making yoga. You can find her on Twitter.
Image courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez.