narcissistic parent

How to Deal With a Narcissistic Parent

Do you ever find your ex-spouse looking at their reflection for hours on end? Probably not, but even though they aren’t like Narcissus of Greek mythology, your ex may display other characteristics of narcissism. Dealing with a narcissistic parent is very different than what you’re used to doing. The best way to deal with a narcissistic parent, whether you’re a parent or child, is to recognize the other’s behavior, be compassionate, and lean on other support systems.

What is Narcissism?

Narcissism is the belief that you are more important than another person. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a manipulative disorder and manifests itself in many different ways, including:

  • Immature behavior
  • Conversations focused on them
  • Blaming others for their problems
  • Ruthless and unforgiving

  • Sudden mood changes
  • Excuses for lack of time spent together

While they are many forms of this mental health disorder, it’s essential to understand that it all focuses on inflated self-importance rooted in low self-esteem. Narcissistic parents fear their adult children or spouses can live without them, so they abuse them into a twisted relationship focused on complete reliance.

Three Ways to Handle Narcissism

Handling narcissism is a challenge for anyone, but divorce and child custody agreements exacerbate the issue. To cope with narcissistic abuse in the future, learn to recognize how narcissistic parents behave, be compassionate to your ex, and look for other support systems to help you.

1. Learn to Recognize Narcissistic Traits

The first step to handling narcissism is to recognize these traits. Here’s how to begin this process:

  1. Start by reviewing past moments in your relationship where you felt belittled and saw sudden changes in behavior.
  2. Analyze these situations to help you predict future instances of narcissism.
  3. Distance yourself from such behavior.

2. Be Compassionate

Although it might seem strange, compassion is a great way to handle narcissism. Compassion for a narcissistic mother or father is not excusing their behavior. Instead, it shows you understand the root cause of narcissism and how your ex struggles with incredibly low self-worth. You increase your chances of favorable outcomes while dealing with a divorce or fighting for custody by avoiding unnecessary conflict and meeting narcissism with patience and grace.

3. Find Support Systems

It’s helpful to find a group of people who can help you through difficult times. A support system is a great way to strengthen your resolve and establish healthy boundaries.

Knowing you aren’t alone and that others have gone through similar trials serves as a comfort and strength to find your own identity.


When dealing with narcissistic parents, you will feel challenged, overwhelmed, and angry. Properly handling these emotions is the only way to ensure a clean divorce process or obtain child custody rights. Learn to recognize narcissistic behavior and be compassionate for your ex. However, don’t forget to take care of yourself and find a support group to give you strength and advice along the way.

To help you with legal matters regarding your narcissistic ex, call Hickey and Hull Law Partners. With years of experience supporting Arkansas families and parents, we want to help everyone have a better life.