CO-PARENTING WITH A NARCISSIST

Disclaimer: First I would like to say that this blog comes from a personal, clinical perception. This blog does not have the intention to provide a diagnosis but to provide psychoeducation for the topic on hand based on my personal experience. Clinically diagnosing an individual, you have a personal and intimate relationship with is unethical and at no point am I providing that in this blog. This blog is based on opinion and not clinical assessment.

Now that we got that out the way, I would like to say that this blog is MY TRUTH. I write this blog with complete and open honesty, it comes with love, awareness & transparency & just a little reminder that this is MY PERSPECTIVE. Please keep in mind that there are always different perspectives to consider when hearing stories.

When I realized I was pregnant I was shocked, devastated & I really didn’t know what decision I was going to make. I just moved into a new apartment, purchased a brand-new car six months prior. My son was ten years old at the time & I believed for years I couldn’t conceive. Besides that, the man I was intimately involved with, although I felt like he was the only man I truly loved (I say truly because he was the one man I consciously wanted to grow and become a better person by providing support and love through it all), deep down inside I knew our relationship was not healthy and he was not the man I envisioned spending the rest of my life with. My mind began to become riddled with questions, “Will I ever conceive again? Can I financially care for this child? I made this child out of love; how can I get rid of it?” These are questions that began to plague my mind, up until the day I received a text “Aysia passed away” my best friend of twelve years, gone, suddenly with no explanation and then I found myself a few days later mourning her death. I sat at her funeral, sobbing wondering why this was all happening to me. Here I am carrying life, and my best friend’s life was taken from me. I couldn’t fathom another death after that. During the course of my pregnancy, it was very, very difficult. I essentially had to deal with it alone. I mean “I’m the one that wanted the baby” anyways, right? I used this time to question myself. Why have I made myself so vulnerable, why have I invested so much in people? Why did I settle for situations that I knew I did not deserve? Do I not respect myself? I started to question my worth, “no one would want me after this second baby”. This continued to drag, up until a little while ago. I realized I started to become mentally unhealthy, unproductive, my emotions became dysregulated & it seemed like I wanted change more than my counterpart. I realized my own childhood trauma led me to want to “fix” someone. The fact that I’m a clinician I became drawn in; it was like figuring out a Rubik’s cube. So, for that, I’m wrong because it started to become problem-solving.

Co-parenting with an individual with traits or symptoms of narcissism is one of the most difficult, draining situations I have ever had to endure. Being around these characteristics triggered my worst flaws. My temper erupted; my past trust issues began to seep into my present. My own anxiety began to heighten, and I started to become emotionally and mentally unrecognizable. As a parent, I want both my children to understand the true essence of a healthy relationship & develop positive coping skills. Children require stability and consistency this is important so that children can grow into happy productive and confident adults. My idea of providing that is by modeling that exact behavior. What good are you for your child if you’re constantly distraught. It’s important to be self-aware and be able to identify narcissistic behavior and develop strategies to protect your mental health at all cost. First, let’s discuss some characteristic traits of narcissism.

• Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration

• Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance

• Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it

• Exaggerate achievements and talents

• Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate

• Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations

• Take advantage of others to get what they want

• Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others

• Be envious of others and believe others envy them

• Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious

• Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted

• Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change

• Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability, and humiliation

• Become impatient or angry when they don't receive special treatment

Complications include:

• Relationship difficulties

• Problems at work or school

• Depression and anxiety

• Physical health problems

• Drug or alcohol misuse

• Suicidal thoughts or behavior

Here are some strategies to overcome narcissistic behavior

1. Minimize contact. Narcissistic people love to engage in psychological battle. The hidden agenda is to keep you entrenched in the relationship.

2. Establish firm boundaries. The emotional roller coaster a narcissistic parent cause can be more detrimental to a child’s healthy ego-development

3. Avoid feeling sorry for your child. Nobody deserves to grow up with a selfish adult.

4. Vow to be calm, pleasant, and non-emotional. Narcissist feeds off of your anger and emotions.

5. Teach and model social/emotional intelligence. It is important the child learn proper emotional regulation and healthy coping skills from you.

6. Do not criticize your ex in front of your child. Narcissistic behavior is a mental illness and children are not equipped to deal with the psychological weight.

I write this blog as a therapeutic process for myself. For a very long time I’ve held this huge weight on my shoulder I sacrificed my own mental health. Until I realized this wasn’t the way I want to continue to live my life. My children deserve more, I deserve more. Please, men & women, be aware and honest of your own mental instability. Our children watch what we do, they watch what we say, they watch the relationships we have, they watch the way we treat others and they immolate us. Whether you are providing a positive or negative environment, whatever is created in that environment is learned behavior that they carry on into adulthood. It’s important as adults and especially parents we become the best version of ourselves. If you continuously find yourself in and out of bad situations, if you have highs and lows, If your life is constantly surrounded by negativity, if you have issues maintaining stable relationships. There is nothing to be ashamed of, we are all human. No one is perfect. Please, please be honest with yourself & seek help. Our children’s mental health depends on it.