Here is a story about a family where the father is a narcissist.
Nice man. Good provider. Money is not an issue; time is the issue with this narcissist father, and the expectation that he has to adjust his schedule if he wants to be part of his children’s school and artistic activities.
Amy, the four-year-old daughter, has a piano recital on a Sunday morning that has been on the family calendar for one month. It’s the morning of the recital and Amy, her Andy, and her mother Clara are ready to leave. Ted, the narcissist father, called to say he is just getting into the shower. With shaving and dressing, the expected departure time has shifted by at least 45 minutes later.
Amy is beside herself. She is not only nervous about her performance, but now she is nervous that she won’t make it on time to perform if the family goes together. She wanted her dad to drive with the family. She starts to tear.
But her mother already thought about how to manage the situation if Dad took time into his own hands. Clara previously spoke with Ted and explained that if he wasn’t able to meet them at the time previously specified, that the family would meet him at the recital. When Clara calls to remind Ted of the parameters explained a month ago, Ted behaves as if Clara is punishing him. Clara, keeping a smile in her voice and a non-aggressive and blaming tone of voice, simply reminds Ted of the conversation she had about timing, and says that the family is looking forward to seeing him when he arrives.
Clara then speaks with Amy and explains again that Dad has a hard time with time; and that it’s not his fault because everyone has issues that are difficult for them. Time is one of Dad’s issues, but it doesn’t mean that Dad doesn’t love Amy. It just means that Dad has a hard time with time and schedules. Clara asks Amy if she can look forward to seeing her dad when he does arrive, and know that both of her parents are excited about her performance.
Dealing with a narcissist in a coParenting relationship is not only hard on the other parent, but it’s very hard on the children. If you can, look at this situation as an opportunity to teach your children life skills like understanding, a non-judgmental attitude, independence, and the ability to have control over their time and their lives while interfacing with a narcissist who is probably doing the best they can do until they develop a level of self-awareness that will allow them to change.
In the lexicon of reality television, we saw Kandi Buress of Atlanta Housewives raise her daughter, Riley, without Riley’s father being part of her life. We learned that there were no-show appointments with Riley’s dad and Riley; months and years without phone calls, and countless birthdays without gifts. If the edited version of the footage we watched was true, Kandi always encouraged Riley to be open if her dad approached her, while explaining to Riley that her dad may not have the tools to be an attentive father. But while softly trying to keep the door open for Riley’s father to walk through, Kandi also allowed Riley to make up her own mind in regard to involving Riley’s father in Riley’s life.
None of this is easy, but it is manageable. The way we learn how to deal with life as an adult is through our experiences as children. If you can model behavior to your children that shows them how you manage a coParenting relationship with your narcissistic ex in a way that supports your independence with consideration to the other parent, you can teach your children how to manage those relationships in their lives as adults.
To learn more about coParenting with a narcissist, visit our story here, which describes top tips.