Co-parenting with a malignant narcissist

Malignant narcissists’ come in all shapes and sizes, and are malignant in their narcissism to varying degrees. Sociopaths’ and psychopaths’ are the most malignant of narcissists’ to exist. Not all narcissists’ are psychopaths’, but all psychopaths’ are narcissistic.

Malignant narcissism destroys families, friendships, and relationships between siblings. Malignant narcissists’ are extreme trouble makers who will stop at nothing to create drama and havoc. They can be loud, or quiet, charismatic, or aloof. Some of the most dangerous malignant narcissist’s appear to have incredible emotional control, while other malignant narcissists make it very obvious to others that they have next to nil emotional control.

Children of narcissists’ live in a psychological war zone of the narcissist’s making. Not one child in the narcissistic family system will come out unscathed. Each child, whether golden, or scapegoated will come out the other side of their childhood with deeply ingrained emotional wounds, which can lead to all sorts of mental health problems, poor self esteem, low-confidence, anxiety disorders and even severe symptoms of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Malignant narcissists’ engulf their victims’ to the point of emotional suffocation, could be described as parasitical, and live and breathe to cause destruction between family members.

Victims’ of narcissistic abuse are prone to psychotic breakdowns, and often walk out of the narcissist’s home emotionally destroyed.

The co-parenting relationship with a narcissist

Leaving a narcissist has severe ramifications. Once the narcissist’s partner leaves them, the narcissist will do everything within their power to drain their ex-partner’s resources, and to ruin their relationships with the children. They will also smear their victim’s name to friends’, and family. Nothing can ever be the narcissist’s fault, and everything must always be the victim’s fault.

The most extreme of narcissists’ fight to win, even if it means cutting their nose off to spite their face.

How trying can parenting with a narcissist be?

Co-parenting with a narcissist is extremely trying for the non-narcissistic parent, and can lead to extreme psychological damage, with victims’ often being diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or Panic Disorder. The debilitating triggers which arise from having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can leave victims’ feeling catatonic for weeks at a time.

The non-narcissistic parent spends a significant amount of time wondering what the narcissist will do next. Every time they begin to move on with their life, the narcissist tends to drop an emotional bomb on them. This makes it very difficult for a victim of narcissistic abuse to move on, because the narcissist (especially those of the psychopathic kind) just will not stop taunting their prey.

Narcissist’s need to be in control of their environment, and do not want to have to stick to routines unless their is something in it for them, like a wage at the end of the week. Picking their children up for the same number of days per week, or per fortnight all year round cramps their style. Instead, the narcissist wants to be able to come and go as they please, cancel arrangements with the children so as they can work, if work comes their way, and ultimately drop the children back home to the non-narcissistic parent if something better to do comes up.

If the non-narcissistic parent isn’t careful they will have the narcissist turning up to their home to visit the children whenever they want to, not sticking to a routine, and constantly asking to chop and change visitation routines.

The non-narcissistic parent constantly feels as though they need to plug up all the holes in the boat.

Example: The narcissist breaks a boundary, and the non-narcissistic parent puts a strategy in place to make sure that the same boundary cannot be broken next time.

A pathological situation

The more malignant the narcissist, the more the individual will find it difficult to leave the non-narcissistic parent alone. These types (normally sociopathic or psychopathic) will often continue to try to push their way back into their victim’s life, or to provoke big emotions within the victim, in the hope that the victim will have a big emotional reaction.

The psychopathic malignant narcissist

The psychopathic narcissist is the most dangerous of the malignant narcissists’, and the most relentless. This narcissist will taunt the non- narcissistic parent for the entire duration of the co-parenting experience. Depending on how sneaky the psychopath is, the non-narcissistic parent most likely will not be able to prove to the authorities that they are being stalked, played with emotionally, and taunted. The psychopathic malignant narcissist plays dangerous mind games with the non- narcissistic parent, and often leaves this parent in a state of constant fear.

Some psychopaths are very obvious in their treatment of the victim, and use violence to overpower the non- narcissistic parent. However, some psychopaths are purely manipulative, psychologically dangerous, and will constantly taunt their ex-partner like a lion to a mouse.

Psychopathic narcissists’ are very rarely actually interested in their children. However, they are interested in what they can get from their children, and will often use the children as tools to get back into the non- narcissistic parent’s life, for the soul purpose of stalking, harassing and provoking the non- narcissistic parent. The psychopath wants one thing, and one thing only; to make the non-narcissistic parent’s life a living hell.

Co-parenting with a psychopathic malignant narcissist can be dangerous for the non-narcissistic parent, who often feels unsafe when handing the children over to the malignant narcissist for visitation. Sometimes the only option left after unsuccessfully trying to change over out the front of the non-narcissistic parent’s home, is to change over at the police station.

However, psychopathic narcissists’ are so pathological in their behaviour that they may even try to goad, humiliate, and intimidate the non-narcissistic parent while inside of the police station, when they think the police officer isn’t watching.

The psychopath’s favourite line is:

‘But you have no evidence.’

The co-parenting situation

A narcissist with full custody of the children will unfortunately have more power over the children than a narcissist who only sees the children on weekends. The narcissist as the main custodial parent will most likely parentally alienate the non- narcissistic parent to extreme degrees, play all sorts of nasty mind games, and be down right unfair.

A non-narcissistic primary caregiver who refuses to give into the narcissist’s unrealistic demands, and does everything within their power to keep their children safe from their emotionally dangerous narcissistic ex – partner will be victimised, stripped of their reputation, and accused of parentally alienating the narcissist from the children.

Non- narcissistic parents often feel as though the only way they can keep their children safe from the narcissist’s psychologically abusive attacks on the children, and endless bouts of irresponsible behaviour, is to limit the narcissist’s time spent with the children.

All narcissists’ are emotionally dangerous to the people around them. However, a lot of narcissists’ are responsible, and can look after children. As much as they are difficult to co-parent with, not all narcissist’s go to the lengths that some malignant narcissists’ go to in order to destroy the non-narcissistic parent. Some narcissistic parents’ are even quite happy to walk away from the co-parenting situation, and to move on to greener pastures where the narcissistic supply is more accomodating.

Than there is the narcissist who cuts the ex partner off entirely, and refuses to talk to the parent ever again, even in changeover.  This narcissist sees their children religiously weekend after weekend, without fail, and taunts the ex-partner indirectly through the children, and their other minions.

Who’s telling the truth?

The co-parenting situation between the narcissist and the non- narcissist becomes tricky when the narcissistic parent as villain claims to be the victim of narcissistic abuse from the non-narcissistic parent. The malignant narcissist as the creator of what can sometimes become a down right nightmare for the non- narcissistic parent and their children, will project their misdeeds onto the non- narcissistic parent and claim that the non-narcissistic parent is actually doing to them, what they are  actually doing to non-narcissistic parent.

When the non- narcissistic parent fights tooth and nail for the children’s mental health in court, the narcissist will feign victimhood, claim that the non-narcissistic parent is parentally alienating them (when the opposite is true) and will pretend to be the victim of an insidious narcissist with behavioural issues, and a severe anger management problem.

This inability to take responsibility for their behaviour, and to pathologically lie or deny all is why malignant narcissists’ often end up losing rights to their children. Malignant narcissists’ to this degree can end up with limited visitation in a contact centre. The arrogance of the malignant narcissist and the desire to psychologically take out their victim often leads them to shooting themselves in the foot.

The smear campaign

The smear campaign against the non-narcissistic parent is relentless. The narcissist will distort events, tell half truths, and may even spread deranged rumours about the non-narcissistic parent. The non-narcissistic parent’s reactions to the narcissist’s abuse will be talked about all over town, while the narcissist’s behaviour will always be hidden, and never mentioned.

Things really become difficult for the non-narcissistic parent in the co-parenting situation with the narcissist when the narcissist makes claims to all of their friends and family that the non-narcissistic parent is doing to them what they are actually doing to the non-narcissistic parent.

For example: narcissistic parent tells everybody,

‘I try to see my children regularly. I call them every week, and she won’t let me speak to them. I just want to be a good dad who gets to see my child play soccer on the weekends. But she’s dropped my contact to once every couple of weeks. I don’t know why she is so angry with me. She needs psychological help. ‘

What the narcissist hasn’t told their friends’ and family is that they have been stalking the non- narcissistic parent, contacting them relentlessly, ringing them to pick an argument, telling lies to the child about the non-narcissistic parent, refusing to stick to a routine, turning up at the home unannounced, and has been taunting the non-narcissistic parent with vile emails, and  hundreds of phone calls at a time.

What the personality disordered parent doesn’t tell their family or friends’ is that they have stood the children up too many times to count, often drops the children back to the non-narcissistic parent five hours too early, refuses to turn up if the surf is good, and is actually subjecting the children to mind control tactics, and other forms of psychological abuse such as mind games, and game playing on the weekends when this parent does have the children.

This is not somebody that wants close relationships with their children.

The narcissist’s co-parenting tool box of tricks

Tit for tat

The narcissist is a very sensitive person. Any perceived slight towards them will bring out in the narcissist vindictive, nasty behaviours, which are meant to deem the non-narcissistic parent as unworthy. Narcissists’ are also very calculated and are no stranger to holding grudges. If the non- narcissistic parent deeply offends them, they will take this parent for everything, including assets, the relationships they have with their children, and their emotional well-being.

Narcissists’ can be very cruel if they don’t get what they want. They don’t have any empathy, and can only think of their own distress.

How far can tit for tat go?

Child support

The malignant psychopath does not stop, must win at all costs, and desires to have complete control over their victims’. It is not unusual for a child support paying ex to change his or her child support estimates of yearly income regularly to cause angst and unease in his or her non narcissistic ex – partner. The good news is that the child support collecting parent can put a stop to this.

In Australia, incorrect income estimates can lead to a child support debt for the narcissistic parent, and a Centrelink debt for the non-narcissistic parent. The debt for the non- narcissistic parent will most likely be half of the amount of the child support paying parent’s debt.

A narcissist’s debt to an agency such as child support or Centrelink doesn’t matter to the narcissist. They don’t care, because they know that by law they are only required to pay back as much as they can afford to pay back through fortnightly instalments.

The non-narcissistic parent will also need to pay their debt back to Centrelink in fortnightly payments. However, any lump sums or reconciliation payments that they are entitled to at the end of the financial year will be withheld from Centrelink and used to pay off the debt.

If a child support receiving parent suspects that their ex is a narcissist, than they may need to consider getting child support to collect for them, and may need to look into changing their child support assessment in order to prevent the narcissist from getting them into debt in the first place.

Debts incurred while in a private collect situation cannot be retrieved by child support, because the debt is not on the Child Support Agencies record.

To recover the money owed to the child support receiving parent, the parent may need to obtain legal advice. Asking for money owed to the non-narcissistic parent from the narcissist often leads to mind games, more psychological abuse and taunting towards the non- narcissistic parent, from the narcissist.

Parental alienation

A malignant narcissist will turn the children against the alienated parent. They have no concern for the effect this will have on their children’s relationship with the alienated parent, the affect it will have on their mental health, or what is in the best interests of the child. They can only think of their own distress.

Malignant narcissists’ will use mind control tactics, and severe brainwashing strategies to destroy the children’s opinion of the parent. The malignant narcissist’s goal is to instil into their children the belief that they, the children, need to protect the alienating parent from the alienated parent.


Malignant narcissists’ are very jealous people. If the narcissist finds out the children have a lot of fun with the non- narcissistic parent, than they will most likely punish the other parent by bagging them out, telling lies about them, or by trying to take something away from the parent that they enjoy, such as their relationship with the child.

Changeovers with a narcissistic parent can be horrendous. The parent may taunt the non- narcissistic parent by being abusive to them, laughing at them, publicly humiliating them, or by even encouraging the children to be abusive to the non-narcissistic parent.

Psychopaths, the most malignant narcissists’ of all will taunt their victims for years, just like a mouse to a cat.

A lack of consistency

Narcissists’ tend to see their children as a burden, and will only want to see the children if, and when they can fit it in. To have a routine means that they lose their control. Instead of keeping the children for the weekend, two hours may be enough for the narcissist. They will call and call until the non-narcissistic parent answers the phone, and agrees to take the children home early.

Crying babies often get brought back to the mother’s door step because the narcissistic father doesn’t want to know about it. The narcissistic parent is the fun parent, the funny parent, and loves to play kind, understanding parent for the limited time they have the children. However, if the child is sick, or in hospital, the narcissist may suddenly be nowhere to be seen.

Narcissists’ can also drop off the face of the earth without explanation, forfeit arrangements without notice, turn up late because they slept in, turn up late to wherever they go, or they may simply take off if something more interesting comes up.

Can’t take no for answer

Narcissists’ have poor boundary function and cannot take no for an answer. During visits the narcissist may make plans with the children weekly, outside of the usual routine, against the non-narcissistic parent’s wishes. This could happen for the entire duration of the co – parenting experience with the narcissist.

For example: the narcissist makes plans with the children to come and get them at a date and time that suits them, without discussing the plans with the non-narcissistic parent first. Upon return of the children the narcissist tells the non-narcissistic parent in front of the children that he or she will see the children in a few days. Of course the non-narcissistic parent says no, again. Than they end up looking like the bad guy when the time comes to tell the children.

Comes to the house without permission

Malignant narcissists’ don’t have any boundaries, and they have no problem with simply turning up at the family home without permission, happily inviting themselves in.

Stalking and harassment

Narcissists’ and psychopaths‘ are well known for their harassing and stalking type behaviours. During changeovers, the narcissist may consistently badger the parent, ask to spend time with the parent, and may not be able to handle that the other parent has moved on.

Extreme malignant narcissist’s will use changeovers to quiz the parent about their lifestyle, who they are seeing, what they are doing, and will even use the opportunity to torment the parent about their personal inadequacies.

What to do?

  • Limited contact: Do not contact the narcissist unless it involves the children. Do not expect to have a rational conversation with a narcissist. All contact should be done through email if possible, to create an email trail, which will hopefully expose some of the narcissist’s traits.
  • Relationship amnesia: Train yourself to accept that this person will never be who you need them to be. Be aware of relationship amnesia, which can happen when the narcissist is trying to hoover, love bomb, and manipulate to ensnare you, just so as they can play out the idealise, devalue, and discard routine.
  • Educate yourself on narcissism: Accept that when dealing with a narcissist you are dealing with a false self, somebody who can’t change. None of their personas are real, and they can’t be trusted. Their pretend kindness is a means to an end. 
  • Go grey rock: Become boring, refrain from being reactive, send boring responses to emails or texts, and refrain from engagement as much as possible.
  • Do everything through lawyers: If limited contact becomes too difficult to maintain, ask your lawyer to act as a go between.
  • Contact the police: Every time you are stalked or harassed, call the police. If the narcissist comes to your home uninvited, don’t answer the door, and call the police.
  • Keep a diary: Keep a diary with dates, times, and descriptions of concerning events which have taken place.
  • Move: If the narcissist makes you feel unsafe, don’t stick around. Move!






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