In a relationship with a person who has kids but his ex is a covert narcissist.

She wants to be in his business every minute. And has caused huge disagreements in our relationship as she still wants to control him and keep him as supply. She involves their older child by questioning (it) what we do. How do you advise they should handle communication about the kids if they don’t want to involve the authorities on putting up parenting rules?
Asked by Gneema

Hi Gneema,  Dealing with narcissist can be very challenging as it sounds like you are well aware.  It can be very exhausting and can take an emotional toll on all who they are involved with. I am so sorry that this has been so challenging for you and has impacted your relationship with your partner so negatively at times.  If your partner is not interested in having the court/legal system involved with some of the coparenting issues that you have there are some strategies that you can utilize when dealing with their ex. 


Some of these strategies include: not allowing them to engage you or your partner in conflict (this can be easier said then done, but makes a huge impact when you are able to do this), keeping communication between yourself and the narcissist simple, succinct and almost business like, establish a clear parenting plan (including schedules, discipline, bedtimes and personal responsibilities) if possible so that everyone knows what is expected of them, not allowing yourself to be pulled into their battles (choose which battles are worth fighting), create clear boundaries and maintain those boundaries with the narcissist and document issues as they come up (in case this information is needed in future legal action). 


According to Bill Eddy LCSW, a good way to interact with individuals who individuals who are hostile is to follow the BIFF rule.  The BIFF rule includes making your communication BRIEF (keep it short and simple), making your communication INFORMATIVE (keep to the facts and take emotion out of it), making your communication FRIENDLY (remain calm and do not engage in the negative behavior) and lastly it is important that you are making your communication FIRM (maintain your boundaries).  By responding to a narcissist in these ways you are sometimes able to de escalate a situation before it becomes a conflict. 


There are also some tools that some co parents utilize to interact with their narcissist ex include a parenting app such as Family Wizard, Coparently, 2Houses and Cozi to communicate with the ex (this can serve as a buffer and decrease miscommunication between the two parents). 


I hope some of this information is helpful to you as you navigate the difficult journey of coparenting with a narcissist.  We here at BetterHelp, are here to support you if you are interested in talking with someone about what you are going through.