Co-Parenting With a Narcissist: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

By Nancy L. Rommelmann, Family Law Attorney –

 The Ugly

“High conflict divorce/couple” – There is a myth among divorce professionals that couples involved in high conflict family law cases are both at the same deviation of the spectrum of irrational or crazy. Common parlance among family law attorneys in a high conflict case is, “Well, a 4 doesn’t marry or get together with a 10,” suggesting that the parties are likely at the same level of emotional development.

While this might be true in some cases, if you have snagged a spouse or partner who is a narcissist, none of the common sense rules apply. A narcissist has no understanding of teamwork. It is impossible to co-parent with this type of individual. They do not have the capacity for empathizing or being emotional. Your focus has to be on co-parenting in spite of a narcissist and shielding yourself and your child from the narcissist’s manipulation and rage.

The Bad

The narcissist parent is unaware of their bad behavior and feels entitled, is always the victim and blames their bad acts on others.

The Good

Recognize if you are in this situation. Reach out to an experienced and skilled therapist or family law attorney who understands these dynamics and how it affects your child and you. Then:

  • 1. Do what is best for your child.
  • 2. Compensate your child for the narcissist’sneglect.
  • 3. Maintain boundaries.
  • 4. Minimize contact.
  • 5. Be assertive.
  • 6. Avoid conflict. Narcissists provoke conflict and thrive on it.
  • 7. Maintain control. Narcissists feel like they’ve won if they can make you angry or lose control.
    Remain as unemotional as possible.
  • 8. Get everything in writing.
  • 9. Consider parallel parenting. The goal here is to keep the parents away from  each other, but not away from the child;
    accept that co-parenting will not occur. is a great tool for parents in this situation.
  • 10. Educate yourself about narcissism.