There is a generous body of research that shows co-parenting is in the best interest of children. When children have access to both parents in their lives, they thrive. This is why co-parenting is the most common custody arrangement after any divorce.

However, even though co-parenting comes with a host of benefits for the children, that doesn’t make it easy on the ex-spouses. Particularly if you are dealing with a narcissistic ex-spouse, effective co-parenting may seem like an impossible task. However, according to Healthline, maintaining firm boundaries with the narcissistic parent and keeping empathy in mind can help you navigate this difficult situation.

What boundaries can I establish?

Narcissistic personalities get energy from eliciting reactions from others, whether they are good or bad. Boundaries can help nullify this. For instance, communicating only through email or a messaging system will give you time to compose yourself and respond to any inflammatory statements.

Additionally, working through a text-based communication system means that any agreed-upon arrangements are in writing and your ex-spouse can not argue about them about retroactively.

How can empathy help?

First, keeping your child front and center in your thoughts will help you remember what is at stake. Try to look at the situation from the point of view of your child, who likely loves both you and your ex-spouse despite your ex-spouse’s narcissism. Try to use this to guide your interactions with your ex-spouse. Make sure to often check in regularly with your child to see how he or she is feeling.

Parenting with empathy can help you manage the difficult relationship you have with your ex-spouse.