Rhode Island parents who are going through a divorce might have a goal of creating a functioning relationship with their children. However, if one of them is a narcissist, this is unlikely to be successful. Fortunately, there are strategies that can make sharing custody or visitation rights manageable even if it is difficult.
The narcissistic co-parent
The problem in attempting to co-parent with a narcissist is that a narcissist has a need to control situations. Co-parenting means allowing things to be out of their control, and this is usually impossible for them. Parents who are dealing with a narcissist may deal with boundary pushing and harassment. The narcissistic parent may not observe the child custody schedule and might try to manipulate the other parent.
What to do
Using a concept known as “parallel parenting” is usually the best way to deal with this. Parents may want to work with an attorney to craft the visitation schedule and only communicate with the other parent through the attorney during the divorce process itself. Afterwards, there is software that parents can use to communicate that keeps records of all exchanges. A parent can also protect themselves with very specific rules in the parenting plan, such as limiting the number of daily phone calls the other parent can make and being very explicit about pickup and drop-off plans as well as arrangements for holidays and vacations.
Sharing custody or visitation with a narcissistic parent is tough, but the other parent should resist the temptation to badmouth them in front of their children. It puts children in a difficult position. They may eventually come to that conclusion on their own, but in the meantime, parents should simply focus on supporting them, doing their best to shield them from conflict and to keep the other parent at arm’s length.