If you want to know how to coParent with a narcissist, first make sure you are actually dealing with a “real” and not perceived narcissist or other personality disorder.


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Real Narcissism


If, in fact, you are dealing with a genuine case of narcissism, the best course of action would be, in all likelihood,  intervention, usage of a neutral third party, mediation, and counseling. Each party will also have to do a lot of hard work to transcend the disorder or illness and be child-centered in your coParenting.


Perceived Narcissism


If you want to learn how to coParent with a difficult person, that is a pony with different stripes, but here are a few strategies to help you deal with a difficult coParenter.


Take Stock


First, don’t add fuel to the fire by calling your coParenter a narcissist or other names. Take a step away from the conflict to access the best use of your emotional, financial, and physical resources. Taking inventory or stock of your life helps you be better equipped to let things that really don’t matter to you slide. Why incite a fight when it is something that you may not really care about?


Communicate in Bite-Sized Chunks


Next, with deliberateness, begin to communicate with your ex in small bits of information or making small requests. This may be difficult because it is a slow process. When your coParenter is responsive, however, the outcome is positive—not because you got your way, but because it is a child-centered approach.


Establish Rapport


Praise your coParenter with sincerity. Expand the dialogue over time and consider inviting a third party who is neutral to assist you and your coParenter to be able to sort through decision-making without running back to court.


Whatever you do, don’t call names or affix false labels like narcissism. Bones may not be broken but words can sting and are incendiary, capable of burning up every hope or expectation of child-centric decision making.

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About Hon. Sherrill Ellsworth (Ret.)

Judge Sherrill Ellsworth (Ret.) is the Chief Community Officer for coParenter.

Ellsworth is the Past Presiding Judge of Riverside County, a Judicial Educator and former Family Law Judge.

After almost 20 years on the bench, she has earned a reputation for being a straight-forward, no-nonsense, fair judicial officer. A broadly talented jurist and settlement expert, Ellsworth has effectively handled complex civil litigation cases, family law, felony criminal trials, probate and general trials throughout her almost 30 years of lawyering and judging. Ellsworth was one of the court's most respected and admired bench officers, earning the trust and revere of her colleagues and the lawyers who appeared before her.

In 2014, Ellsworth was named the Lawyer of the year by the J.Rueben Clark Law Society Los Angeles Chapter. Also in 2014 for her Judicial leadership she was named as an Inductee to Western State University Hall of Fame. And from 2012 to 2014, Ellsworth served as a voting member of California's Judicial Council.

In 2013, Ellsworth was awarded the Douglas Weathers Judicial Leadership Award by the California Consumer Attorneys, as well as various awards for her judicial leadership both as Presiding Judge and for Family Law. In 1999, she was named the American Business Women’s Association Woman of the Year for Judicial Leadership. Ellsworth was appointed vice-chair of the California Court Case Management System Justice Partner Advisory Committee in 2010. She was a member of the Strategic Evaluation Committee appointed by the Chief Justice and of the council’s Trial Court Budget Working Group, Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee, Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee, and Task Force on Self-Represented Litigants.