Co-Parenting with a Narcissist

Is co-parenting with a narcissist possible? To answer this question, one must first understand what constitutes co-parenting and what classifies someone as a narcissist.

What is a narcissist?

“Narcissist” has become a bit of a buzzword lately, but in reality, only an estimated 5% of the population has been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Your ex may exhibit signs of narcissism, but they aren’t considered one until they’ve been diagnosed by a mental health professional like a psychologist or psychiatrist. Some common narcissistic traits include:

  • Inflated sense of self-importance
  • Feeling of entitlement
  • The need for constant attention
  • Thinking they’re superior to others
  • Exaggerating their accomplishments
  • Looking down on those they feel superior to
  • Unwillingness to consider the feelings or needs of others
  • Difficulty handling stress or change
  • Easily angered when someone stands up to them 

Co-parenting vs Parallel parenting

When it comes to co-parenting, two parents must be willing to work together to raise their children. This requires a willingness to communicate about schedules, medical needs, discipline, and other situations that may arise when raising children. Since a narcissist doesn’t understand the concept of compromise and isn’t willing to consider the needs of others- even their own children- co-parenting becomes an impossible task.

Parallel parenting is typically a better option if your ex is a narcissist. It involves setting strong boundaries and a strict parenting plan so that you have minimal contact with your ex. While parallel parenting is an option, a narcissist isn’t always willing to cooperate with it, so it should be used as a last resort. If you’re willing to try co-parenting first, there are some do’s and don’ts to follow to increase your chance of success.

Co-parenting with a Narcissist (Do’s and Don’ts)

Coparenting with a Narcissist - Chart

While you can’t control your ex, you can control your reaction to them. The less you engage, the more likely they are to go find another victim to feed from. This will require you to set very strict boundaries and limit contact. Co-parenting with a narcissist is often impossible, and you’ll have to turn to parallel parenting. Remember that this is not a failure on your part. Continue to focus on you and your children- one day your children will thank you for it!

Need more help dealing with your narcissistic ex? Check out these helpful resources.

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Essential Resources

If you’re facing legal/custody battles, a mental health crisis, an urgent medical issue, serious emotional problems, including suicidal thoughts, please seek help from the appropriate professionals near you.

Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
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Crisis text line: Text “help” to 741741
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) Resources Marital Life Inventory
Divorce Lifecycle Document
Divorce Process Overview


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