For those of you who have experienced this phenomenon you will most likely be thinking – no way it can’t be done!!!

Narcissism whilst rarely formerly diagnosed is prevalent in our society and certainly something that Family Lawyers are noticing more and more in their practices.  Narcissism is described as someone who shows signs of extreme self-importance whilst disregarding the needs of those around them.  The often lack empathy for their partners and children.

According to the Mayo Clinic an individual who suffers from a narcissistic personality may display one or more of the following traits:

  • An exaggerated sense of self importance
  • Have a sense of entitlement and require constant attention
  • Expect to be recognised as superior even when lacking achievements that warrant it.
  • Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally superior people
  • Dominate conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
  • take advantage of others to get what they want
  • have an inability or unwillingness to recognise the needs and feelings of others
  • insist on having the best of everything such as the best car, the best office.

These personalities have trouble accepting any criticism and they can often become angry, impatient, react with rage and contempt and bid to belittle the person the believe is critical of them or inferior to them.

As you can see from the characteristics above if your former partner has some or all of these traits, it is very difficult to try and negotiate parenting matters as any feedback of communication will be perceived by them as criticism.

A common response from the Narcissist is to try and win you back or if that does not work then to commence a campaign that paints you as a terrible neglectful or a self-absorbed parent and to undertake acts and things that damage your relationship with your children and in the wider community.

You must always remember this…you can’t change the narcissist but you can change how and when you respond with them.  We recommend the following:

  • Seek family counselling for yourself and possibly your children as being in a relationship with a narcissist can leave your family traumatised.
  • Engage with a Family Lawyer who can negotiate an outcome that is child focussed and minimises the contact between yourself and the narcissist
  • Keep all interactions business like and do not let emotions take over.
  • Keep records and proof of important documents, agreements, etc as well as any harassment.
  • If you are fearful of the narcissist, take immediate action. Report intimidation harassment and any abuse to your counsellor, your lawyer and to the Police.  Take immediate action to protect yourself by way of an Order from the court.

The best way forward is to have a clearly defined regime between yourself and your ex partner that sets out the time each of you spend with your children, changeover, school holidays and all the other matters parents would ordinarily deal with.  Make sure in doing so that you  minimise the contact between yourself and your ex-partner as this will ensure that it keeps conflict to a minimum.

If you require assistance with a difficult relationship please call Kathy Matri of East Coast Family Lawyers