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How can you co-parent with a challenging ex-spouse?

Even when divorce is in the best interest of your family, developing a healthy co-parenting relationship with your former spouse is often difficult. This is especially true if your ex exhibits certain narcissistic personality traits, which can get in the way of your duties as a parent.

You have little control over your ex’s behavior. However, you have many options if your former spouse deliberately creates issues in your parenting relationship. Here are a few ways to navigate co-parenting problems with as little stress as possible.

Common issues when dealing with narcissistic personalities

People with narcissistic tendencies have difficulty considering other people’s thoughts and feelings. Instead, they are primarily focused on how they feel and how things affect them. This lack of empathy means your ex is unlikely to support you or your needs. They may also find it challenging to support the emotional needs of the child you share.

A constant need for attention is another facet of a narcissistic person. Your ex-spouse may also feel as though they are the most important person in your family. That means their needs will take precedent over the needs of you or your children.

How to overcome these challenges

You cannot change your ex, but you can develop a strategy to mitigate stress. The first step is to establish boundaries in your relationship. You can ask that all conversations between you focus on child-rearing topics. You can also request that communication only occurs via text or email, as opposed to phone calls or in-person visits.

Your parenting plan can also help you deal with a challenging ex by creating a road map for your parenting relationship. Both parties must follow the parenting plan when it comes to custody and visitation. If they do not, the court can intervene and help you develop a new plan. The court can also enforce the existing plan if your ex refuses to follow it.