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How to Handle a Narcissistic Parent and Divorce

Going through a divorce isn't easy, but going through one with a narcissistic spouse can feel like an impossible task, especially if you share a child together. Our Murrieta divorce lawyer explains what a narcissist is and how to protect your children from one in the event of a divorce.

Divorce and Narcissists

While it's common to throw around the term "narcissist" when referring to someone full of themselves, that does not make a person a narcissist. To be officially diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), individuals must exhibit 5 out of 9 characteristics listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

According to the DSM-5, narcissism can be displayed through the following behaviors:

  • Inflated sense of self-importance
  • Deep desire for excessive admiration and attention
  • Preoccupied with success, power, and beauty
  • Troubled relationships
  • Lack of empathy for others
  • Belief that they are superior thus should only associate with those equally as superior
  • Belittles and looks down upon those they deem less worthy
  • Always expects extravagant favors to be fulfilled
  • Takes advantage of others for their personal benefit

Many narcissists never get an official diagnosis. Therefore, it can be challenging to know whether someone is genuinely a "narcissist." If you are married to someone that exhibits these behaviors, they may be a narcissist. However, it's best to refrain from using this term unless they have been specifically diagnosed with NPD by a certified psychologist.

Protecting Children from Narcissistic Parents

When it comes to divorcing a narcissist, we can tell you that it probably won’t be an easy battle. The narcissist will do anything and everything to ensure they are in control of the situation. This means that children are more likely to get caught in the crossfires of a divorce. However, there are steps you can take to protect your children from a narcissistic parent.

Learn About Narcissism

If you come to the realization that your children's other parent is a narcissist, start informing yourself about narcissism. This is the first step to help you understand what you're dealing with, and as you learn more, you'll be better equipped to proceed with upcoming challenges.

Don't Force Them to Change

Narcissists won't change unless they want to. Therefore, there is no use in trying to get them to change. If you begin to notice the narcissistic parent acting kinder or more relaxed, be cautious — they could be using this as a manipulation tactic to get their way.

Set Boundaries

Narcissists are notorious for overstepping boundaries. Be clear and direct when you speak to a narcissistic parent. You can do this by:

  • Refusing to be interrogated by them
  • Not giving away too much information
  • Rejecting their manipulations
  • Setting reasonable expectations

Help Your Children Understand

When it comes to narcissists, they often see their kids as an extension of themselves, meaning they can manipulate them into doing or thinking whatever they want. As time goes by, your child will start to become familiar with a narcissistic parent's behaviors. While some of these may be good, others can be detrimental to your child. Help your children recognize the difference and encourage them to come to you in the event they ever feel afraid.

Divorcing a narcissist can be terrifying, but our Murrieta divorce lawyers are here to help. Call at (951) 418-2770 to discuss your case today.

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