Signs You’re Dealing with a Narcissistic Co-parent


Having a narcissistic co-parent is nothing short of a nightmare, and even more so, if they are particularly malicious. But when you have children, you have to find a way to deal with their narcissism effectively, without letting any of it affect your kids.

It is extremely hard to deal with the one sided co-parent. How do you even know the other parent is a narcissistic Co-parent? Read on!

A narcissist will do anything to cause problems in their co-parent's personal life and ruin their relationship with the child.

Co-parenting with a narcissist is impossible. At best, one can adopt a method of parallel parenting with strict boundaries and legal protection. A narcissist craves total control of a situation that keeps them calling the shots and setting the standards. What are the signs of co-parenting with a narcissist, and can the situation be salvaged?

Traditionally, co-parenting is described as when an adult assists the parents with the care and support of raising children including grandparents, aunts and uncles, and close friends. The concept of “co-parenting” as it relates to modern divorce and custody situations has only been widely studied since the 1970s.

Boundaries Of Co-Parenting

The concept of respect and privacy is why narcissists are unable to fully grasp proper, boundary-specific co-parenting. Shared custody of a child does not suggest that parents need to exchange their own personal schedules and itineraries. Obviously, work schedules need to be shared and pick up or drop off times coordinated, but only within the constraints of the child’s wellbeing.

A narcissistic co-parent cannot just let the child go to the other parent for the weekend or even a few hours with no fuss. Conflict escalation, conflict creation, perceived slights, and any other minor snag in the schedule will be exaggerated and placed as blame on the shoulders of the non-narcissistic parent.

The narcissistic parent will attempt to impede upon the other parent’s time as much as possible through phone calls or texts or insist on attending activities with the other parent. Invasion of privacy doesn’t stop when the children are handed back to the narcissist. The narcissist will then insert themselves into the other parent’s personal life.

So what are some signs of dealing with a narcissistic co-parent?

A narcissist will find any way possible to complicate the other parent’s life, including:

1. Demanding to know all plans and activities that took place (or will take place) during the other parent’s time;

2. Refusing to hand the child(ren) over for the other parent’s time;

3. Texting or calling the parent, the child, (or both!) nonstop during the other parent’s time;

4. Questioning the child(ren) about everything that happened with the other parent, including what they ate, where they went, who they saw, etc. and then starting fights with the other parent;

5. Telling the children to record or take photos of the other parent, the house, activities, etc and sending them to the narcissistic parent to file unfounded claims with child protective services;

6. Involving the child(ren) in mental and psychological games, such as planning elaborate vacations and/or comparing everything to the other parent’s ability to plan or provide;

7. Harassing or cyberbullying the other parent’s friends, family, or new romantic partner;

8. Attempts to isolate the child(ren) from seeing anyone the narcissistic parent doesn’t “approve” of, even without reason. This could also include other family members or the other parent’s friends;

9. Insisting on celebrating holidays or special events together “as a family” despite the other parent not agreeing. Even when told no, the narcissistic parent will either show up (“It’s a public event!”) or guilt the children and other parent;

10. Alternately, will try to control other people who show up to events.

11. Telling the children their other parent “won’t allow them” to be a family or spend time together and/or turning themselves into the suffering victim;

12. Refusing to abide by the custody schedule or rules, such as moving school districts or failing to give notice about taking the child out of state;

13. Changing their schedules or the children’s schedule without consulting with the other parent and telling them of changes at the last minute, forcing the other parent to accommodate and change their schedule;

14. Harassing and cyberbullying the other parent until they give in to demands;

15. Threatening to bankrupt or ruin the other parent;

16. Attempting to seduce the other parent when a new relationship is started;

17. Manipulating text conversations and presenting out-of-context statements to people in order to ruin the other parent’s reputation, friendships, or relationships;

18. Spreading lies and rumors about the other parent to make themselves look better, sometimes using this to cause problems at work or in court. 

It is such a shame to have to try to deal with a co-parent with a personality disorder when the main concern of all aspects SHOULD be the child. Unfortunately, more often then not, dealing with a narcissistic co-parent causes issues to arise with children who are stuck in the middle.

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