Co-Parenting with a Narcissist

Parenting with a Narcissist
Women and Divorce
Wendi Schuller
Author of
The Global Guide to Divorce

Narcissists lack empathy so this makes co-parenting with a narcissist more challenging.

They do not have compassion, so only pretend to care for others, including family members and it’s very likely that their children become targets for their manipulation, since they are less likely to stand up to a parent.

The world revolves around the narcissistic person and this can include contact schedules and activities. Children are used as pawns during divorce to get a better financial gain or in retaliation against you.

Several eminent psychologists insist that contact between children and a narcissistic parent should be supervised.

Dr. Joseph Shannon of Ohio, who is an expert on personality disorders and does many conferences on this subject, is adamant about the need to set up supervised visitation to protect the children.

When I also asked if a narcissistic ex-spouse ever lets go of his ex-wife after divorce, he said “no.”

Throughout the UK, there are Children’s’ Contact Centres where the non-resident parent can spend time with their children in pleasant surroundings and they have trained volunteers who are in the centres to give any assistance, if needed.

In one case, when the older son turned eighteen, he stopped visitation and the younger one refused to continue. The younger brother met with the mediator that was appointed in the parenting plan, who then arranged supervised visitation.

A child may feel safer when contact is supervised and can begin to develop a better relationship with that parent. Or, like in this case, the supervisor verified the verbal and emotional abuse when reporting back to the mediator and the court terminated parental contact when the son absolutely refused to go.

Contact between children and a narcissistic parent can be more successful if shorter in duration and perhaps no overnights.

Co-Parenting with a Narcissist |
A kid may be pushed into a sport that draws more attention and fame, than one that does not.

If the activities are mutually satisfying, such as participating in a sport or engrossing hobby, then the time spent together can be more enjoyable. They may like going to movies and concerts, which require less interactions.

Another strategy for pleasant contact is when visitation takes place at a family member’s or friend’s house. One narcissistic father with an alcohol problem, visits his young daughter at his own mother’s house. She spends one night a week there, often with cousins, and has dinner with dad. This arrangement is working out great and the narcissist is on his best behavior with his mum standing nearby.

Narcissistic Extension is when a parent tries to mold a child into someone whose achievements directly reflect back onto them. The parent expects to be praised regarding their offspring’s skills. The narcissistic parent sees the child as a part of themselves (extension).

A kid may be pushed into a sport that draws more attention and fame, than one that does not. One boy wanted to play baseball for his school’s team, but his father refused to give permission. Instead, the son was made to continue with martial arts that gave more recognition with publicized tournaments.

Some narcissistic mothers of youngsters in beauty pageants see their girls as extensions of them. They bask in the admiration that surround these awards.

A danger of having a narcissistic parent that controls a child, is that this child may go on to repeat this pattern in future relationships.

One young man who was involved with two brothers as roommates and friends, was manipulated, loaned money to them, and let them dictate his non-working time. Eventually he listened to concerned family and friends and got some short-term therapy.

Co-parenting with a clinically diagnosed narcissist is doable when one does not get caught in a power struggle.

Make sure the kids have support, whether with a therapist, divorce coach or trusted family friend.  Keep monitoring the situation to confirm contact with this parent is going okay.



Wendi Schuller is a nurse, hypnotherapist and is certified in Neuro-linguistic Programing (NLP).

Her most recent book is The Global Guide to Divorce and she has over 200 published articles.

She is a guest on radio programs in the US and UK. Her website is

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  1. I have a court arrangement in order…
    my kids are suffering due to my ex controlling them, manipulating them, of course giving them the best gadgets even telling them how much money he gives me from CMS by the penny and that I have to spend it all in them, when we separated I had the kids full
    Time for more than 2 years and he don’t want to pay me apenny he lied to CMS and told them he only earn the minimum salary and gave his P60 when he was earning nearly 6 figure salary…
    the last he did is he gave my eldest son a. Ew iPhone for Xmas and told him that he should hide it from me Because I will take it off and for no reason I should now about it!
    The first day he left the house he said to the eldest one when saying good night. Just remember I’m not leaving because I want to but because your Luther is kikcking me out! He was 8! And since then…
    he has the eldest in Private school and the youngest in state school which is not fair! He has the money to put both into private school but keep
    Saying to the younger one that private schools are difficult and he would have too much homework… therefore he doesn’t want to go to private school…
    Although we have a court order in place he still going through the lawyers and I don’t have money to go through lawyers anymore! Don’t know what to do!

    • This Comment is from Wendi:

      It sounds like your ex is violating the court order and is hiding income. Hiding income from the government and not paying taxes is illegal.Sometimes law firms do pro bono work (for free). You may want to contact some to see if you can get any free or low cost legal counsel.
      Your children may benefit from talking to a therapist or children’s divorce coach. Some charities provide free counselling and you may want to check on this. The Divorce Magazine has a list of divorce organizations.
      Consider talking to a court clerk to see if you can file anything to get what payments are due you from your court order. They may be able to assist you in some way.
      Let your kids know how much you love them and do not mention the other parent. You can listen to their concerns, but do not put down their other parent. They know you are struggling and will appreciate not being caught in the middle. Make sure you have a support system.

  2. Comment from Wendi Schuller:

    Couldn’t the court enforce your custody arrangement? Ours was written in the decree and only a judge could change it, so I didn’t have all of those problems. You have been to Hell and back and are such a great role model for your kids. They will thank you later for hanging in there. My younger son insisted upon supervised visitation and that helped him. My ex and his mother badmouthing me, only accomplished angering my sons & having them stop visitation eventually. Wendi

  3. This comment is from Wendi Schuller

    Hopefully the courts will look at which parent can give the kids a more stable home and gender is irrelevant. Cafcass does an assessment on the kids and parents for the judge. Teens would have more say in their shared care arrangements, but do not dictate the terms. My sons started therapy during our divorce for this issue and I was granted physical custody. Supervised time with the narcissistic parent is another option

  4. This comment is from Danny Squibb

    Hi Amy.
    Sorry to hear it happened to you to. Suggest you read divorce poison look it up on Amazon. The courts seem blind to personality disorders. The good news is you can relax a bit and thank the stars that you are not a narcissist. You will learn through the years the sorry state one exists in. Your contact time will be interrupted. Be it essential calls from her, doctors appointments, things she asked the kids to do before they left hers, medicines or clothes she needs to bring over, in fact anything to prove you are not in charge. Your contact times, if scheduled, will be changed. She will book outings and holidays on your time. You will receive regular requests to change dates and days. Court papers unless written to the letter will be spun in meaning by her. Your kids will be registered under different names. You will be baited and goaded so that she can provoke you at public events like sports days. She will make efforts to interrupt school photo forms, administration documents etc. She will tell all other parents how the kids hate seeing you. Magically your contact time will be interrupted by all manner of other things. Holidays will become a contest. Any attempt at friendliness she will see as weakness to exploit. You will be unable to plan in advance due to her inability to agree dates and times more than one week in advance. Your kids will listen to you being badmouthed by her in public and in private. You will spend large chunks of time undoing this damage. Again there are good books aimed at children for divorces. She will circulate rumours and if within her power sabotage any new things you take up with the children or even by yourself. After a while you will begin to understand her defect better than she does but sadly this will not help you. You need to be kind and not let it get to you even if you are scream inside. Your patience will be regularly tested and you will search your past for things you could have done to deserve this existence. You will hope that one day all the pain she causes is returned to her with interest for she will never understand your point of view.

  5. What happens when the Mother is the narcissist and has custody?? We’re pretty helpless to stop the child growing up in a toxic environment simply because the courts always favour the Mother.

    • Spot on question Amy. I am convinced that where divorces and separation take place with intractable contact cases, the parent with care is an undiagnosed narcissist. I get the impression here the courts just want to shy away from the problem because it is a can of worms.

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