7 Tips for Parenting With A Narcissist – Part II
Parenting with a narcissist is complicated. Some actions as criticizing the narcissistic parent to the children will increase the lack of safety for them. Finger-pointing never works, even when you’re right. The trick is to create a safe environment in your home so that the children can see the difference between the two ways of living. You want the children to have a safe haven where they can be themselves.
There are seven tops to make it work.
Tip One: Manage Your Own Triggers
Because you’re creating a safe environment for your children, it is vital that you manage your own triggers. Triggers are the little things that make us go from 0 to 60 emotionally. Feeling like our children are being threatened? Major trigger! Even though the desire to protect your children is natural and normal, you’re going to need to reach channel it. You can’t get rid of the other parent. Criticizing them won’t work.
Managing your triggers looks like identifying what they are. Once you know what they are, you get to work on staying calm even when you feel triggered. Great tools for this are mindfulness, meditation, and prayer. Brain studies show that when we engage in one or all of these practices four times a week or more, we will be less triggered over time and more rational.
The key is to stay rational even when you’re feeling fearful, angry, or upset.
Tip Two: Set clear boundaries.
Setting boundaries means creating a safe space for yourself. You will not change the other person. Boundaries are not meant for that. Boundaries are a way that we define for ourselves what we will and will not tolerate. When the narcissist launches into gaslighting with us, is that something we’re willing to tolerate? No that’s why we got divorced! A boundary here would be to say to yourself “every time they start gaslighting I’m going to take a time out”. Or some similar action.
We’re looking for ways to manage our own triggers, keep ourselves feeling safe, and not be affected by the other person. This is vital in every aspect of our lives but especially when dealing with people who have narcissistic tendencies.
Tip Three: Document Everything
Create written documentation for any areas of agreement. Make sure that you both have access to them and can refer to them. The more clearly defined and transparent the areas of agreement are, the less likely you are to be gaslit about these particular things.
If you’re concerned about the well-being of your children, again you will want to document every incident that is of concern to you. If in the future you choose to go to court, the court system honors written notes and journals above verbal recollection.
Tip Four: Kids First
Though your partner will give lip service to this concept, you will need to live it. The well-being of the kids will come before all else. When you live by this principle, you’re going to be less reactive overall.
This is a form of keeping your eyes on the prize. The prize is the health and well-being of your children. When we have our eyes on the prize, our egos and being right become far less important. When we have our eyes on the well-being of our children, we will find ways to frame solutions so that the other parent is more likely to receive it.
When we put our children first and have our eyes on this prize, we may even find ways to help the other parent claim ideas that we give them as theirs. This is the ultimate win-win, having the narcissist feel that they have come up with the solution even if you spoon-fed it to them a week earlier.
Tip Five: Be The Rock
Your children need consistency. It’s on you to be the one to deliver it. A narcissistic parent will twist reality to their own ends and means. Your children will experience a constantly shifting landscape in the other household. That makes it vital that you are the rock of their experience in your own.
Your children may exhibit behavior that you’ve seen in the other parent. Don’t stress over this. Be the rock. When they see how their behavior stands next to your consistency, they will choose safety and consistency every time .
Tip Six: Build Resilience
The next step to being the rock is to actually build your children up so that you balance out the negative impact of the narcissistic parent on them. Part of building consistency is creating habits and traditions that communicate strong values and lifestyles to your children.
Help them to connect with your extended family. Help them understand where they come from, and what the different influences are in their life. The more they understand all the contributing threads to who they are, the wider the choices they have behaviorally. Remember that behavior is not always genetically driven. Children choose their behavior. As they see the strengths of consistency, of living a life grounded in purpose and value beyond getting their own way, your children will have more options to choose from. Children will always choose environments that feel safe and empowering over the reverse.
Tip Seven: Build Support
Leaning into your extended family is one way to begin to build support for yourself and your children. Others include connecting to spiritual communities, particularly of your family if it feels appropriate.
Other opportunities are professional help. Find coaches who are familiar with the problems of raising a child with a narcissist, or who have expertise in resilience. Get therapeutic help. Always have a good lawyer in your hip pocket!
Read more about Winning a Custody Battle Against a Narcissist
We Can Help
We understand that looking for legal counsel might seem scary and complicated at first, why don’t you contact our team and ask for a referral for Divorce Coach. Let us give you some guidance as to where to go, before you go down the divorce path.