Is your narcissistic ex causing child custody problems?

When you decided to file for divorce, you understood that you were making a decision that would have a significant impact on your children’s lives. Like many California parents who have made similar decisions, you were determined to settle child custody proceedings as swiftly and amicably as possible. The court typically believes that kids do better when coping with divorce if they maintain healthy, active relationships with both parents.

If you’re feeling frustrated, upset or angry because your ex is causing stress or is impeding your relationship with your kids, you’re not alone in your struggle. Co-parent narcissism is a child custody problem many parents in this state and throughout the country have experienced.

What are the signs of parental narcissism?

Perhaps you and your ex try to avoid having to see each other in person unless it’s absolutely necessary. Do you have trouble being in the same room without winding up in an argument? Such issues are not uncommon after divorce but do not necessarily mean that your co-parent is a narcissist. The following list, however, includes issues that are often present when a co-parent is a narcissist:

  • Doesn’t have a strong emotional attachment to the kids
  • Often changes plans at the last minute
  • Doesn’t show up for scheduled child custody transfers
  • Speaks negatively about you in front of the children
  • Blames you for the divorce
  • Calls you a bad parent
  • Refuses to accept accountability for problems that he or she causes

If children have constant exposure to parental conflict, especially if your ex is always complaining about you or telling your kids that you don’t really love them or that you blame them for your divorce, it can be a co-parenting nightmare.

What to do if your co-parent is a narcissist

If you were to say that your ex’s narcissistic behavior is part of what led to your divorce, it would not be surprising. Many spouses who are married to narcissists decide that they would rather move on in life alone than stay in an unhappy relationship. Since your children’s health and safety are top priorities, you’ll want to be proactive in protecting your relationship with them and in making sure that your ex adheres to the terms of your child custody order.

It’s always best to try to avoid parental conflict in front of your kids. If necessary, stick to corresponding through text or email if your ex refuses to act respectfully in person. If he or she disregards an existing court order, such as not showing up to transfer custody at the appointed time or refusing to let you speak to your kids, you can seek the court’s intervention to help resolve the issue.