In a perfect world, when we divorce, we do so amicably, respectfully and both parents are able to put their differences aside for the sake of the children. In the real world however, this isn’t always possible. If you feel like you have divorced or you are in the process of divorcing someone with narcissistic tendencies, then undoubtedly, you have faced many challenges when trying to co-parent. While we can’t offer a magic cure for narcissism, we can provide you with some tips on how to save yourself much grief when trying to co-parent with a narcissist.
You don’t want to be inundated with emails from your ex, particularly if you’re enjoying a nice day with family or friends, or you’re busy at work. For this reason, I always recommend that my clients open up a new email account, for the sole purpose of corresponding with their ex. This way, you can check the emails when you are prepared to and when the timing is right for you. Simply send your ex an email letting them know that effective immediately, he/she is to send all correspondence to the new email address. Also let them know how frequently you will be checking that email, so if there’s an emergency with a child, they should not use this email.
Narcissists are known for their ability to twist your words and modify the facts to suit their needs. Rather than getting caught up in this and potentially engaging in a losing he said/she said battle, keep all correspondence with your ex in writing. That way if needed, you can always go back and review what you said (if for no other reason than to prove to yourself that you’re not going crazy).
It’s important that you stick to facts, rather than feelings when dealing with a narcissist. Keep your emails brief and to the point and try to stay focused on the matter at hand. It’s also best to start a new email chain for each new matter, rather than keeping one long chain. For example, if you need to discuss Johnny’s upcoming medical appointment, write “Johnny’s Doctor Appointment” in the subject line and only deal with Johnny’s appointment in this email. This makes it easier for you to go back through your emails if needed, to find what you’re looking for. Think of it like a filing system.
Narcissists love to battle back and forth and fuel conflict. This gives them power, so try to take that power away from them by not engaging. If they fire back with a personal attack or a derogatory comment, simply don’t respond. If you feel it absolutely necessary to respond, a safe response is usually, “I’m sorry you feel that way. Thank you for letting me know”. This serves to not fuel the fire, so to speak and will prevent your correspondence from getting too emotionally charged.