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How To Effectively Coparent With a Narcissistic Co-parent…Avoid This One Mistake

coparenting with narcissist

Coparenting with a narcissist can be challenging, but it's essential for meeting the needs of your children. At every turn, they seem to create chaos and start another argument. They are skilled at playing superhero but have no problem neglecting the fact the children have soccer practice, they may have outgrown their shoes, or have a history of withholding information. The high-conflict co-parent is skilled at finding your weaknesses and using them against you simply so they can avoid accountability.

If you’re tired of getting pulled into their games, then here are some tips to help you navigate communication with a high-conflict co-parent effectively:

5 C’s of Communication

1. Calm Tone: Respond rather than react, and avoid getting drawn into emotional conflicts.The calmer you are the more confident you will be able to deliver your message. If you give them emotion, they will use it to their advantage to flip the script.

2. Concise Messages: Say what you mean in the least amount of words. This helps you again appear confident and remain factorial in your approach. Also, when you are concise in your messaging it shows you are in control of yourself.

3. Constructive Language: You’ll want to be solution-focused rather than problem-focused. Strive towards a resolution that is collaborative and yields a beneficial outcome for the children.

4. Child-Centered: Remaining child-centered means you aren’t getting pulled into the high-conflict co-parent’s power struggles. Redirect discussions to topics related to co-parenting responsibilities and avoid personal attacks. Focus on the big picture which is the children’s needs or the disconnect in the communication.

5. Cordial Approach: Develop a business-like approach when it comes to co-parenting communication. This means keeping emotions at bay, establishing your business hours of communication, and what platform you'll be communicating on, such as an app or email. You’ll want to refrain from text messaging as it’s too casual and can lead to additional manipulation.

coparenting with narcissist

Avoid These 3 Mistakes When Co-parenting with a High-Conflict Co-Parent:

1. Kindness: If you are kind, they will run you right over because they will take advantage of you. While you may value kindness leave that style of communication for close friends and family who are respectful. Stick to business-like communication that is factorial, firm, and has clear boundaries when communicating with someone who is known to manipulate. They too may waver back and forth on being difficult to kind, but often this is a ploy to pull you back in to get what they want.

2. Verbal Communication: They may try to call you on the phone or ask to meet for coffee to talk about co-parenting, but this is a trap if they are high-conflict. Not having communication in writing will have them potentially going back on their word as they usually struggle with integrity. Keep records of all communication, especially if conflicts persist. Having a documented record can be helpful in legal matters and can provide evidence of your efforts to co-parent effectively.

3. Switching Platforms: It’s a well-known tactic the high conflict co-parent likes to jump platforms. This is so they can create chaos and not have a trail of conversations/decision-making. This is often to avoid accountability and so you can’t keep track of what was decided upon. Trying to piece together a bunch of decisions on different platforms can create additional distress.

Remember that effective communication is a two-way street. While you can't control the other person's behavior, you can control your reactions and responses. Prioritize the well-being of your children and focus on finding solutions rather than escalating conflicts.

Need assistance with communication and establishing boundaries with a high-conflict co-parent? Check out our online course Collaborative Co-parenting or sign-up for a discovery call for guided 1:1 coaching support.


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