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Divorce is rarely easy, even when both parties are on the same page. When it comes to custody and child-rearing issues, the chance of conflict is quite high. This is especially true when one parent is prone to narcissistic behaviors.

People with narcissistic tendencies typically lack empathy for others and strive to be always the center of attention. As a result, it can be challenging or even impossible to co-parent with your former spouse, which only hurts your children. While you cannot change your ex’s behavior, you can take steps to protect yourself and your family.

Try to leave emotions out of it

Your ex may intentionally say or do things to get an emotional reaction from you. They may bring up topics they know upset you just to cause conflict. While it is very challenging, try not to respond emotionally when this occurs. Stick to child-rearing topics and use a method of communication that makes you feel comfortable, such as text or email.

Document every interaction between you

Good documentation can illustrate any challenges you face with your ex. Keep text messages and emails to show the time, dates, and content of your discussions. If you talk on the phone, keep a brief call log describing when the call took place and what you discussed during it. You should also take note of any canceled visits or missed phone calls that involve your ex and your kids.

Create a parenting plan in court

A parenting plan gives you and your former spouse a clear framework when it comes to child-rearing issues. The more comprehensive the plan is, the better, since it will leave no room for interpretation. Hash out details regarding medical care, schooling, visitations, holidays, summer break, and other important matters. When developing a plan, always keep the needs and best interests of your children in mind.

In the event your ex refuses to follow the established parenting plan, it is time to get the court involved. Parenting plans are legally binding, and both parties must follow the terms they contain. The court can either enforce the existing plan or help you develop a new one that meets your family’s needs.