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Why The High Conflict Coparent Struggles With Being Solution-Focused


Coparenting requires a significant amount of cooperation, communication, and compromise. However, when one parent exhibits complex personality tendencies, the coparenting dynamic can become overwhelming with difficulties, hindering the ability to focus on constructive solutions.

High Conflict Coparents are often driven by their own needs for validation, control, or superiority, makes the coparenting process more about them than about the well-being of the children. Their behaviors and attitudes can derail attempts at finding solutions, leaving the other parent, and ultimately the children, in a precarious position.

Here are several reasons why high conflict coparents often struggle with being solution-focused:
  1. Self-Centeredness: High-conflict individuals have a heightened focus on their own needs, desires, and emotions. In the context of coparenting, this self-centeredness can manifest as prioritizing their own agenda over what is best for the children. Instead of focusing on finding solutions that promote the children's well-being, they may prioritize actions that serve their own interests or ego.

  2. Inflexibility and Control: High-conflict individuals often struggle with relinquishing control or compromising, as it challenges their sense of authority. In coparenting, this translates to a reluctance to consider alternative viewpoints or to collaborate on solutions that may differ from their own preferences. Their need for control can hinder the negotiation process and prevent the exploration of mutually beneficial solutions.

  3. Ego-Centric and Manipulative: High conflict coparents may resort to manipulative tactics, such as gaslighting, guilt-tripping, or playing the victim, to maintain power and control in the coparenting dynamic. These tactics undermine trust and communication, making it difficult to engage in open, honest discussions aimed at finding solutions. Instead of addressing issues directly, they may deflect responsibility or shift blame onto yout, further complicating the search for solutions.

  4. Emotional Volatility: High conflict individuals often have fragile self-esteem and are highly sensitive to criticism or perceived slights. As a result, they may react defensively or aggressively when faced with challenges or conflicts in the coparenting relationship. Their emotional volatility can escalate tensions and derail attempts at finding common ground or implementing solutions in a calm, rational manner.

  5. Lack of Empathy: Empathy, the understanding of other’s viewpoints, is often lacking in high conflict individuals. Without empathy, they may struggle to recognize or prioritize the emotional needs of their children. This lack of empathy can hinder efforts to collaboratively address issues and find solutions that are sensitive to the children's feelings and well-being.


In navigating coparenting with a narcissistic ex-partner, it's essential to recognize and address these challenges proactively. While it may not be possible to change the narcissistic individual's behavior, there are strategies that can help mitigate the negative impact on coparenting dynamics:

  1. Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries around communication and interaction to minimize conflict and manipulation. Stick to discussing matters related to the children and avoid getting drawn into personal disputes or power struggles.

  2. Focus on the Children: Keep the children's best interests at the forefront of decision-making and problem-solving. Emphasize a We vs. The Problem approach and encourage involvement from both parents in the children's lives, provided it is safe and beneficial for the children.

  3. Seek Support: Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or professionals for guidance and support in navigating the challenges of coparenting with a narcissistic individual. Coaching can provide valuable tools and strategies for managing conflict and promoting effective communication.

  4. Document Everything: Keep detailed records of communications, agreements, and incidents related to coparenting to protect yourself and your children. Documentation can be invaluable in legal proceedings or disputes involving custody or visitation rights.

  5. Practice Self-Care: Prioritize self-care and emotional well-being to mitigate the stress and strain of coparenting with a narcissistic individual. Engage in activities that promote relaxation, self-reflection, and resilience, and seek professional support if needed. Check out our journal for more on processing the stress of coparenting. 


In conclusion, coparenting with a high conflict individual can present significant challenges, particularly when it comes to finding constructive solutions for the benefit of the children. By recognizing the underlying dynamics at play and implementing strategies to mitigate their impact, it is possible to navigate coparenting with greater resilience, cooperation, and focus on the well-being of the children.

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