Saturday, April 29, 2017

narcissists and children



This post focuses heavily on Dr. Judy Rosenberg's work. But first I will explain tell-tale signs of narcissistic abusive parenting:

One way to tell if you have a narcissistic or sociopathic parent is what the cartoon is about (and Dr. Judy Rosenberg confers it in her videos and writings): the parents place themselves, their needs, desires, wants, agendas, way ahead of their own children.

Here are some instances where parents put their desires and needs first:
1. A woman in her early thirties is diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Her mother, who has booked a trip for a safari, does not cancel, and is away for two months, never calls. They are estranged now.
2. A sixteen year old girl attempts suicide and is hospitalized. Her mother decides during her hospitalization on a sudden wedding with her boyfriend, and takes off for Europe for a honeymoon. These "parents" were deemed unfit, and mother and daughter are estranged.
3. A girl child is sexually molested by her older brother for most of her childhood. The parents punish the brother when he commits incest, but do nothing else, and the abuse continues. They cannot bear to report the son because of the stigma it would bring on the family, plus they don't want to see him incarcerated. He stays with his parents through old age. When the daughter finally leaves home at age 18, she changes her name so that she won't be found. She is in her sixties and hasn't seen her parents since she was in her early twenties.
4. A boy child is born to parents who are divorcing. The father is granted full custody, but when he becomes romantically involved, his female partner will not marry him if the boy is living with them. The boy is 12, and the father decides to send him off to the boy's mother (the one who lost custody). She is involved in a successful career, so sends the child off to boarding school and summer camps (he rarely sees his mother, in other words). The son commits suicide at 16 while at boarding school.
5. An alcoholic mother is violent towards her children: breaking furniture on them, throwing kitchen utensils at them, getting into rages. The father puts his wife first, and tries to lecture his children about how to tip-toe around their mother's rages, but the school intervenes, reports the incidents to Child Protective Services, and the parents are deemed unfit. The children are to go to a foster home, but the father sets up residence separate from the mother, commits to counseling, and is granted custody. They all attend individual and family therapy. The mother goes into detox, and they attend AA, AL-ANON, and Alateen. All ends well.

Note: just about all psychologists agree that these kinds of situations are not good for children (the last one worked out because of an intervention). These examples aren't all examples of narcissistic parents obviously, but these are good examples of how parents put themselves first.

Normal parents overwhelmingly put their children first. This includes the welfare of their children, and their children's feelings and safety. Functional families talk through feelings and are open to the experiences of their children, whereas toxic parents tell their children what their feelings are and what their experiences are (in other words toxic parents superimpose feelings, thoughts and experiences onto their children and then try to get their children to believe in the parents views and interpretations -- mostly dark ones). Normal parents are invested in keeping their children feeling secure in parental love. They are in tune and sensitive to their child's feelings and plight. They try to treat their children fairly. They also are consistently loving and engaged, and look forward to seeing their children, and being part of their children's lives. They have an interest early on in their children developing healthy interests, relationships with others and ever-more autonomy.

Narcissists are the opposite. They believe that their child exists for parental needs, wants, desires and parental perspectives. If a child does not place Mom or Dad on a pedestal, the child often finds himself devalued, called "crazy", and discarded. Narcissistic parents are either intermittently rejecting (child neglect) or totally engulfing. They make it known very early on that the child is to serve parental views, desires, wants and needs. The parent builds the relationship with the child based on how much narcissistic supply the child can provide (narcissistic supply basically boils down to: the child praising and attaching themselves to the parent no matter how abusive and rejecting the parent is).

Besides putting themselves above their children, these are the ways narcissistic parents act towards their children:

Trauma bonding:
Instead of the usual love-bonding that most parents and children experience, narcissists use trauma bonding. I have yet to do a post on trauma bonding, but the premise of trauma bonding is a child running after a rejecting parent. I present to you a picture of trauma bonding in this way: the parent and child are out in the desert. The parent has all of the food and water. The parent kicks his or her child, tells the child to go away, insults the child endlessly, perhaps beats the child mercilessly, and maybe even leaves the child for dead in the desert, but the child still runs after the parent (for survival and because the parents possess the food and water). Any normal person can understand why trauma bonding is a horrific bond, but for abusive narcissists, it is the primary bonding between parent and child that trumps all other bonds. Trauma bonding often results in estrangement and it can produce many, many problems for both perpetrators and victims that last and continue down the generations.

Expecting children to compete with their sibling for parental love and favoritism:
Instead of equal time with each of their children and emphasizing fair play between children, abusive parents typically expect their children to compete for parental rewards like love and decency. Sibling rivalry and/or sibling abuse is often ignored because the parent expects the children to fight dirty for them. Instead of promoting honesty, they expect children to uphold lies that make the parent look good (infallible). Instead of expecting their child to develop healthy interests, they either show no interest in their child's interests and career, or they try to micro-manage their children's lives and careers. Instead of expecting their child to develop healthy relationships with others, they try to make themselves all-important to their child. On-going enmeshment and meddling control is usually expected. Parental rejection/abuse is common when the child veers off into his own decision-making (to instill into their child to always think of the wound the parent inflicted -- more on how to avoid this trap in another post). All of the rejections and ultimatums usually have isolation of their child from the family at the core of the agenda, coupled with co-dependency with the parent.

If the parent finds he cannot control the child, he tries to control how the family sees the child.

If the child is a scapegoat, the parent has an investment in making sure his or her child fails and is used in the family as a punching bag (i.e. for bullying); if the child is a golden child, the parent has an investment in making sure his or her child succeeds above his or her other children. Thus a reward system is set up to ensure this will happen (in many cases it does not, despite the parent's wishes).

Retaliation against their children:
Other tell-tale signs are that abusive narcissistic parents try to get even with their child instead of the normal "talking things out" and "sympathizing" approach. Yes, isn't it amazing? -- they actually seek revenge against their own children! The revenge is often enacted when the child fails to provide narcissistic supply or refuses to let the parent control them (control meaning subverting to a role the parent wants for you, even if that role is the scapegoat role).

Lack of trust that helps to promote lasting bonds:
It is also very, very common for narcissists to have affairs, get divorces, fight tooth and nail for custody of the children, and then abuse or reject the children once they are granted custody. Narcissists also lie, break promises and gaslight children quite a bit.

Weddings:
Adult children of narcissists often complain about how their parent ruined or did not show up for their wedding to the point where it is fairly common for narcissistic parents to either upstage it in some way, take total control of it in a way that does not please the child (particularly deciding guest lists), or not attend at all.

Disabling their children, or being helicopter parents around issues of their child's success:
They also are known for trying to disable their child in some way. Some of the most common ways are:
* trying to keep their child from going to college
* trying to get their child financially dependent on them
* encouraging co-dependency so that the child stays at home even through their thirties and forties
* dressing up their child so that it reflects well on them (see my post on Jon Benet Ramsey) or dressing them down so that the parent feels they have won a beauty contest against their own child
* trying to reserve children for family roles (either a family pet or a family scapegoat)
* trying to keep children emotionally immature and reactive instead of smart and proactive
* discouraging a child's talent -- highly independent think-for-youself children are very threatening to abusive narcissistic parents
* being a "stage Mom or Dad" and manipulating the situation so that the child goes in the direction of failure, or a type of success that the parent wants, rather than what the child wants
* discouraging their child's voice by constant interference and gaslighting (i.e. "That never happened ... the way it happened was ..." -- getting a child to be dependent on their parent's perceptions instead of the child's own).
* intermittent rejections and acceptances
There are many more, of course, but these are common.

Using the last will and testament as a weapon:
Abusive parents overwhelmingly use the last will and testament as a constant threat. Most narcissistic and sociopathic parents leave their estates to one favored child or to a select few of their grandchildren who they deem to be good sycophants. In other words, it is a reward system based on what they want, rather than on caring about their child's fate in old age, or creating fairness and equality among their children.

Cutting out their child (sending the message that they aren't a part of the family):
Cutting their children out of family photos also seems to be an extremely popular pastime among overt narcissistic parents. Cutting their children out of family events or out of their lives, seems to be typical of covert narcissistic parents.

Grooming children to accept abuse as an initiation into family-belonging:
Most narcissistic and sociopathic parents groom their children to accept abuse and to think of it as "normal". This constant grooming is something that children feel they must endure to get Mommy or Daddy's love. But it does not stop there. Most children of narcissists also have to endure being gaslighted constantly, erroneously blamed and punished, compared endlessly with their siblings, expected to fight with their sibling for Mom or Dad's love (which often creates sibling abuse), put into roles which define their stature in the family (roles discussed and featured below via videos), and if they are scapegoated, expected to endure smear campaigns (which further lowers their stature within a family). Narcissistic parents also try to micro-manage their children's lives (through enmeshment and constant interrogations), alter the truth so that they, the parent, looks good and truthful, while one of their children looks bad and like a liar. They expect perfectionism in deeds or looks, and if perfectionism isn't achieved, to walk on eggshells over intermittent rages and rejections. Plain and simple, abusive narcissists and sociopaths love to hurt their children, and hurt them as severely and egregiously as they can without getting caught or of being suspected of child abuse.

Ganging up
Narcissists need spouses who are "total enablers". Empaths are going to object to how a narcissist treats others, so narcissists either aren't attracted to empaths in the first place, or they make an empath spouse miserable, cheat on them or abandon them. In general, the narcissist/empath pairing does not work for the narcissist. Narcissists generally try to pair themselves with another Cluster B personality so they will not feel challenged. Narcissists are attracted to Borderlines. Sociopaths are attracted to Narcissists. So, how do you tell who your narcissistic parent is partnered with? If the person is another narcissist, they will have all of the same traits as your parent. If they don't exhibit the same traits, here is the other way that you tell: if your narcissist did the chasing, the partner is likely to be a borderline. If your narcissist was chased, the partner is likely to be a sociopath.
Other ways to tell:
* Borderlines are extremely impulsive, wear their emotions on their sleeve, have lives which are so much more chaotic than other people's lives, vacillate wildly between love (idealization) and hate (sometimes on a daily basis, with a dizzying number of very passionate make-ups and tear-soaked breakups), have many friends, attracted to the public eye, have very loud temper tantrums, and often have problems with addiction.
* Sociopaths are into punishing (mostly animals, innocents and children, but can be others too). The best way to tell if your narcissist is partnered with a sociopath is to talk to the suspected sociopath about empathy. They will always try to find a way to justify why empathy should not be used and why people need to be hurt, trapped, losing, getting "what they deserve", punished, ridiculed, overlooked, etc. They love to talk endlessly about consequences. If they are a step-parent, their agenda is often to make the children of the narcissist very uncomfortable (through subtle threats, toying, digs and insults, mockery, denigrating lectures, guilt trips about what they are owed, non-empathetic responses, and other tactics). They also use the opportunity to get rid of the narcissist's children, reasoning that the children are not providing enough narcissistic supply. In other words, they will play with the narcissist's perceptions in a way that makes it seem that no child is giving enough narcissistic supply, thereby finding a way to get rid of all of the narcissist's support. Not all sociopaths are violent (especially those that did not come from broken homes), but it is very rare to find a sociopath who is not highly manipulative, extremely haughty and insulting, or sadistic in some way. The sociopath's agenda towards the narcissist's children is to find excuses for prolonged and sadistic time-outs and "punishments", whereas borderlines will just have screaming fits with the narcissist's children and support. The narcissist/sociopath combination should always be abandoned (I will tell why it is necessary in this post).

Smear campaigns and slander:
Where most parents talk glowingly about their children, narcissists are known for trying to smear the reputation of one of their children. They usually deem one of their children to be too insane to have a relationship with, thereby isolating their child so that he or she can be used for the exclusive purpose of abuse and blame.

These nine videos of interviews with psychologist Judy Rosenberg are so excellent that everyone from unloving toxic families should see these videos. She explains so well what children go through and how narcissistic parents got the way they did. For the most part, these videos stand on their own in terms of how narcissists relate to children that there is not much to add other than some opposing "schools of thought", which are in the middle and towards the end of this blog. The other schools of thought are important, particularly because they give you more options on how to deal with narcissists than the options that Dr. Judy presents (they are all relevant options, however).

For a more in-depth look at abusive parenting, and how to tell if you have abusive parents, go HERE.

These videos are very much in line with so much of what I have discussed on this blog:

note: These videos are long, so I suggest playing them while doing a mindless task. It is more of a radio program than a video in that there really is nothing to see except her "mind-map".

Effects of a Narcissistic Mother on Her Children with Dr. Judy Rosenberg:

Effects of a Narcissistic Mother on Her Children (part two) with Dr. Judy Rosenberg:

Narcissistic Fathers with Dr. Judy Rosenberg:

Narcissistic Fathers (part two) with Dr. Judy Rosenberg:

The next few videos cover family systems theory as it relates to families headed by a toxic narcissistic parent. Not all narcissists are abusive, but the overwhelming majority are. One of the reasons that narcissists and sociopaths tend to be abusive is because they have either no empathy, or very little of it. They do not care about their children's plight or feelings. 

A very, very small number of narcissists seek therapy, but only when they come to an absolute breaking point (like homelessness, war, suicide attempts, kidnapping, gang rape, a grueling incarceration experience -- anything deeply traumatic). 

In my own research, I learned about each of the four different types of roles in narcissistic authoritarian families (and they differ somewhat from Dr. Rosenberg's). 

Some of the differences include:

* Ms. Rosenberg claims that the golden child is most often the eldest. The reading I did on the subject points to the youngest.
* Ms. Rosenberg claims that the scapegoat is most often the youngest; where as the reading I did on the matter points to the middle child. 
* Ms. Rosenberg claims the lost child is a conformer. My studies on the subject stated the lost child pretends to be a conformer on the outside, but often inside is a rebel. This would account for why so many lost children are unusually quiet, go off in a corner or to their rooms, take off without saying where they are going, and why many leave their parents suddenly in adulthood without saying a word. Christopher McCandless, who I have written about HERE, would be your typical lost child. This is the child who feels that talking about feelings, thoughts and experiences with the parent does little good so has given up trying, and removes himself every chance he gets. It would appear that he likes books, science experiments, or projects more than family get-togethers. And yes, he is often forgotten. Dr. Rosenberg also claims the lost child is the most likely to commit suicide. What I learned was that scapegoats have the highest suicide rates, followed by the lost child, then the golden child, with the mascot the least likely to kill himself. The other thing I learned was that these roles are not hard and fast, and that many scapegoats turn into lost children in the end; i.e. give up, go quiet, move away, and do not try to have significant relationships within the family.
* The video on the golden child is mostly about the parentified version of the golden, the one who is still the favorite child, who cannot have an identity separate from what the narcissist wants, but is only out to please Mom or Dad. I also read that too. But I also learned that over half of goldens are abusive (starting with terrorizing and abusing siblings with the parent's consent, graduating to child and/or spousal abuse). I write about bully golden children HERE. The lesser half of goldens are ultra-empaths and sacrifice everything for Mom or Dad's every need and every wish, often to their own detriment, often ending up living with parents too. At any rate, all researchers agree that goldens are the least likely to have their own identity separate from the parent's.

Narcissistic Dysfunctional Families and The Scapegoat Child with Dr. Judy Rosenberg:

Narcissistic Dysfunctional Families and The Lost Child with Dr. Judy Rosenberg:

Narcissism and the Mascot Child with Dr. Judy Rosenberg:

Narcissistic Dysfunctional Families and The Golden Child with Dr. Judy Rosenberg:

In the last video (following my writing), Dr. Judy covers narcissists' rage over perceived criticisms and how and why narcissistic mothers "denigrate, devalue and discard" their own children (quotes are hers).

On narcissistic rages over criticisms:

She suggests that targets of narcissistic rage do their absolute best not to criticize narcissists (to avoid the inevitable "denigrate, devalue and discard", but also to keep safe). At the same time she knows that a child can be terrorized for a facial expression (which the narcissist can interpret as a heartbreaking criticism, even though it was never meant to be that -- it's in the video).

There are two schools of thought on this. If you walk on eggshells, being hypervigilent about how you look at them and what subjects you can speak to them about, it is incredibly unhealthy for the target. Plus it puts all of the responsibility on the target for acting right, which is what narcissists love and count on from the people around them. It also makes the narcissist think he is more special than others because others will walk on eggshells while he never has to: he feels he can rage, insult, reject, and beat up his target emotionally or physically all he wants without consequence. Anyway, most targets know that narcissists will pick something to rage about regardless of how good the target is. Narcissists find something to rage about even if they have to make it out of thin air; in other words, they twist events to "denigrate, devalue and discard" no matter what you do and how you act. It makes the target feel fearful and responsible while the narcissist feels entitled to rage, escalate and abuse over any darned thing. It is also allowing them to be hypocritical without comment: they feel entitled to criticize, belittle, denigrate, poke and prod, while you have to be ultra-sensitive and ever-vigilant about any expression that sweeps across your face -- a totally lopsided relationship (most lopsided relationships are extremely toxic).

So the other school of thought is to call narcissists out on their debased behavior, rather than walk on eggshells. Also to do the exact opposite of what they want and expect.

A lot of targets get sick and tired of the hypervigilance: let's face it: narcissists are always trying new tricks to upset their targets, and they are always testing boundaries and grooming you for more and more abuse. Of course, it is not wise to call them out if you are living with them or if they have a history of violence, so you will have to figure out if it is worth it, and how much narcissistic injury your narcissist can take.

Although I have mostly focused on perpetrators of abuse in the over-all blog so far (so that victims know who they are dealing with, and the tricks of the abuser's trade), it is important to understand that some victims, particularly victims of sexual abuse and physical abuse have very little tolerance for the walk on eggshells, or fashion-a-mask-so-that-you-don't-look-like-you-are-criticizing "them" policy.

Victims of chronic childhood sexual abuse especially have very little tolerance for commands, demands, coercion and threats because those are the things that caused them harm, great harm, in the end. It is how they got tricked and conned into performing sex acts. A "nice" predator with candy can also turn into "mean predator", using brutality and force, and it won't make much difference what your facial expression is. Also, child victims of sexual abuse can do very little to keep safe from abuse except to have hiding places, good running skills, look disgusting and dirty, smell, or have a contagious disease or virus, and sometimes that doesn't even help them avoid abuse. Facial expressions are just another drop in the bucket as to what can go wrong. Victims of sexual abuse tend not to trust authority, and to be very, very resistant when it comes to authority figures telling them what to do. It can even trigger a PTSD episode. So they tend to be as independent from authority as they possibly can.

Victims of on-going childhood physical abuse are also highly resistant to authority. If a parent chronically wounded them (whipping them with switches, for instance), they are not going to be dealing with demands, commands and arm-twistings well either. In the case of switches where a parent demands that a child cut off a tree limb for his own beating, these children grow up resenting and distrusting authority for the most part. Unless they become narcissists or borderlines themselves, they tend to see injustice every where, and they have a strong desire to "set things right." It is illegal to whip a child until he is wounded these days (classified as extreme child abuse), but back in the 1920s through the 1960s parents could treat their children like slaves if they wanted, leaving deep welts, whip-lashes and permanent injuries, even get them lobotomized, and get away with it.

So it is unrealistic to expect that children growing up in these conditions are going to worry about facial expressions or how a few words might enrage a narcissist. They are more "flight" types of people when it comes to abuse than trying to work through the on-going system of their parent's denigration and discards, and living with hypervigilance day in and day out about it all.

Since they rebel against authority, and are hyper sensitive to injustice, they are probably going to be calling narcissists out rather than being careful and walking on eggshells.

So, say you also cannot walk on eggshells, that it makes you sick, that it is just not in you to do so. Say that you will accept their discards with grace (i.e. finding ways of making lemonade out of the lemons they throw at you). For instance, their silent treatment of you is meant to hurt you, but you can turn it into a blessing if you know how to work it -- more on that in another post. The thing is, calling them out on their lies and gross behavior actually can stop the escalations in some of them because they become paranoid that others will find out who they are, rather than focusing so much of their attention on attacking you. Strangers, superficial friends, and relatives they haven't seen in a long time are much, much more important to them than you are because it is the peripheral people innocent to the predatory games of the narcissist who will provide the newest best source of narcissistic supply. They are counting on it. When they rage at you and do their disappearing acts, these superficial relationships mean the world to them.

Of course, they will be using smear campaigns on you to keep up an attack by proxy, but there is a way to keep a step ahead of them. If you have read about narcissists at all, you will know that almost all narcissists' tell others that their victims are insane (too insane to have a relationship with). This is called gaslighting and all victims of abuse experience it.

You can go to an event with 500 other survivors and they were all smeared in this way, it is that predictable. Since you know they will be using this tactic, you can prepare yourself (even the simple task of gathering your mental health records if you have been to therapy for abuse can take that weapon away from them, for instance -- more later on other strategies for another post).

The other reason they use silent treatments is to "teach you a lesson", especially if you are their child (and yes, they treat adult children like they are still six year olds). You are supposed to be doing a lot of self reflection and self blaming -- on why you caused them to rage, abuse, neglect and reject you (the age old: "You brought this upon yourself" tactic). They are so sure that you will be hanging your head in shame and guilt the whole time, and that your loneliness and sadness will be unbearable, but you can use these expectations of theirs to your advantage too. The thing is, you know they won't be doing any self reflection about their hyper criticisms of you, their denigration of you, and you know they are hypocrites, so it really is absurd to be wasting your time in taking part in their fantasies that you will be wringing your hands in the deepest darkest hole of shame while they go about feeling completely absolved of abusing you. So, stop the self-blaming, and lonely self-isolating activities altogether, if you can help it. Counter what they want for you.

When you do finally see them, you can use their hypocrisies to explain what you have learned. For instance, when they ask "What have you learned?" you can do all kinds of creative things with your answer including: "Exactly the same lessons that you learned when we were away from each other" or you can be sarcastic like "Your life is so much better off without your children. That is the one thing I have discovered. Why, you should keep doing that. You have two other children left" or "I fell in love and learned what real love is about" or "I learned that social isolation is immoral" -- it can be anything you want that challenges their agenda to hurt you. Since they haven't got a clue as to how to self-reflect, they rarely know how to respond either. All they really know how to do is to manipulate and attack (or to be happy with superficial flattery -- real and unreal). Narcissists aren't all that creative, so they will most likely use attacks that they've tried before, hoping those attacks will work again in putting you in your place. But counter them by giving them answers which are the least predictable. Keep them stunned and off-guard.

They may come back with cruel phrases like "Yes, my life really is definitely better off without you", watching for your reactions of pain, but you can come back with "I understand that this is what makes you feel you are a great mother (or father). Now, if you'll excuse me ..." Indeed, what ever they do, they will just keep trying to bully you, blame you and hurt you, but they don't want to work too hard at it, they count on some semblance of predictability in your behavior. Notice I use the word predictability. Don't give it to them!

Also, realize fighting with them isn't worth more than a few come-backs. Believe in the phrase:

I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.
-- quote by George Bernard Shaw

But suppose you can't get away from the pig in them. Suppose they just keep throwing the pig at you, goading and taunting you endlessly. After all, most abusers want to make you uncomfortable, and they'll insist that you stay in the game so that they can "win".

The comeback here can be "I have nothing to say" repeated over and over and over again. And walk away from them. Believe it or not, they will feel they won because to narcissists when aggression meets with passive resistance, they feel they have won.

Generally this method, unlike Dr. Judy's, is to deflect and avoid their barbs. Be ironic (narcissists are least in touch with irony, but most everyone else around you will "get it" if you are in a crowd, for instance).

I would never tell a narcissist that you self reflect, even if you do. They aren't going to like what the self reflections amount to anyway, they are so single-minded and rigid in their thinking, so you might as well not even go there in your conversation with them. If you want to tell them that you have been thinking endlessly about them, you can exaggerate it to the extreme (again this might make them smile and back off on the bullying, but everyone else will get that you are clowning with them).

In fact, the "other school of thought" teaches you mainly to do the opposite of what they want and demand because it is the healthiest thing for them and for you.

I ascribe to the latter school of thought rather than Dr. Judy's school of thought on how to handle narcissists because there is only so much mirroring, bullying, walking on eggshells, keeping quiet and serving up narcissistic supply that I want in my life. I don't believe in being steam-rolled, or cowering in a corner, or thinking about whether my facial expressions are going to be a "punishable offense by them", and I'm an activist anyway, so it feels right for me not to be their drug of choice.

One of the things I have found about narcissistic mothers is that an overwhelming number of them are staunch Women's Libbers. Women's Liberation is about putting women on equal footing with men, and on growing a sisterhood with other women to fight against male domination. Obviously this should include daughters. Women's Liberation is about the unrealistic expectations that men have about women in terms of tightly defined "roles", and about resisting the subservience of those roles. The things is, what is expected of children of narcissistic women's libbers is the opposite of women's liberation: it is about being quiet, subservient, walking on eggshells and often being unfavored and compared negatively to a male sibling. So these narc mothers send the message that Women's Liberation is for them only and not for their daughters. Blech, it is hard to hide disgust about that awful hypocrisy!

I'd rather that narcissists just deal with the real world of narcissistic injury like all the rest of us big girls and boys do.

Which is to say that I think that walking on eggshells just feeds a narcissist's delusions about themselves as being entitled to special treatment.

On putting children first before the mother:

I agree with Dr. Judy that a mother should put her child first. The overwhelming number of mothers do, and feel a joy and a natural calling for it. They abhor child abuse and neglect, and build relationship bonds through empathy.

And I understand that narcissists are the opposite: they put themselves first and foremost. They are devoid of empathy. They can barely think of the child as something separate from fulfilling their own desires, whether those desires are to keep the child down, or to raise them up to reflect well upon themselves.

For children of narcissists who don't want to be like their narcissistic parent, you have to figure out what kind of good boundaries to set. If you have narcissistic parents, you may feel you don't know how to parent. Some children of narcissists are so used to being doormats and people-pleasers for their parents that they don't know anything else. While I think it is mostly a good idea to put your kids first, you can also run yourself ragged doing so. Moderation in everything is the best choice. You might have worked ultra hard for your mother's love, but she abused you anyway. So you may be groomed to care of your child's every feeling, every little stubbed toe, every pang of hunger, every little feeling that you think you might have hurt (but didn't). Perhaps you are so super sensitive to your children's feelings and aches and pains because you grew up caring too much about your parent. Maybe you cannot sleep at night because you are so worried about the needs and well being of your child.

The problem with being a total opposite of your abusive parent is that if you spoil children too much, and tell them they are wonderful no matter what they do and how they act, or over-look every "fault" to drive home that you accept them and love them unconditionally (the love you never received), you might be bringing up another narcissist (just like your parent!). While being cruel, rejecting and punishing is not good parenting, being overly tolerant and a door mat is not good parenting either. Treat your children with respect, but put some boundaries up with them too (such as not letting them get away with murder). Talk to your kids, be aware and concerned with what they are thinking and feeling, but don't let them abuse, insult, degrade and treat you like a slave.

When we grow up with parents who are narcissists, we don't have good role models for parenting, so I suggest going to therapy to make yourself into the best parent and role model you can be. Fortunately many of the younger generation are doing that now and doing it without shame (it is no longer stigmatizing to attend therapy or anger management classes; it is something to be proud of ... self reflection is the cool brave thing to do). When we carry messages in our minds that our parents taught about us, or tried to force on us, then we run the risk of damaging the next generation in the same way.

When we work on ourselves for the next generation, we also have, for the most part, lifelong, respectful, deep, loving relationships with our children.

Breaking Free from Narcissistic Mothers with Dr. Judy Rosenberg:

further reading:

Be The Cause: Healing Human Disconnect -- by Dr. Judy Rosenberg (maker of the videos above)

13 Ways Being Raised by a Narcissist Can Affect You -- Dan Neuharth, PhD MFT (recommended Psych Central article)

Family Systems Theory -- Kerr, Michael E. “One Family’s Story: A Primer on Bowen Theory.” The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family. 2000. http://www.thebowencenter.org

Family Systems Therapy -- from the GoodTherapy.org site, a site run by a number of practicing therapists


Emotional Cutoff and Family Stability: Child Abuse in Family Emotional Process -- by Walter Howard Smith Junior

(you'll note that in healthy parent-child relationships, parents actually apologize and self reflect, something that narcissistic parents almost never do) 

19 Signs You Were Raised By A Narcissistic Parent -- from the administrators of the Health Foundation website
briefly these signs include: they tried to control you through codependency, they laid on the guilt thick, they only loved you when you did what they wanted, they liked to "get even" with you, they never respected your boundaries, they competed with you, they "owned" your accomplishments, they constantly lied to you, they never listened to (or cared) about your feelings, they constantly insulted you, they exerted explicit control over you, they gaslighted you, they "parentified" you, they had a "favorite" or "golden" child, they reacted intensely to any form of criticism, they projected their bad behavior onto you, they never displayed any empathy, they were infallibly correct and never did anything wrong, they liked to present a perfect family image to outsiders.

I'm Done Letting You Treat Me Like Sh*t Just Because You're 'Family' -- by Kieanna Ryann
excerpt:
"Family is supposed to be our safe haven, but very often, it's the place where we find the deepest heartache."
I am slowly learning that some people are no good for me, no matter how hard I try to make things work.
You've made it pretty clear I'm not good enough for you. I got it.
Honestly, the fact that you're mean doesn't bother me a bit.
It's the fact that you disguise yourself as a nice person that bothers me a whole lot.
Being my parent, you were supposed to be the person I looked up to, my role model.
You were supposed to always be there for me, not disregard my feelings and pick sides in family arguments.
I shouldn't have had to compete with other siblings for your attention and you shouldn't be picking favorites but that's what I constantly find you doing, day after day.
You are disrespectful, insensitive, controlling and a bully.
You use threats, try to belittle me, and act like I'm a bad person so you don't feel guilty about the way that you treat me.
I'm sorry, but maybe you should look at how you're treating me before you bitch about how I react to it.
You're supposed to be the adult, but the minute I say one thing wrong, you throw a tantrum like a two-year-old that didn't get its way.
You have no boundaries. You feel entitled to say whatever you feel is true, and throw your opinion around whether it's rude, hurtful, or not true at all.
No matter how innocent and untarnished my words may be, you interpret it as a threat to your ego, and it gets to the point that the minute I open my mouth, you're standing there, chest puffed out, ready for a fight.


Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers -- by Parrish Miller

The Differences Between a Sociopath and a Narcissist -- from Sanctuary of Abused website


Perfection in Abusive Relationships: Parents and Partners Who Expect Perfectionism, and Punish if They are Not Receiving It -- my own post



What victims of maternal child abuse do NOT have


A graphic to go with today's post (and so true)
found on the Toxic Mom Toolkit website:

And here's a funny roll-on-the-floor one that any survivor will get:

4 comments:

  1. escaped from narcissistic nightmares that don't deserve to be called parentsMay 28, 2017 at 11:02 AM

    Really good, but why are there so many discrepancies? Like who is the scapegoat? Is it the middle child, the youngest or the oldest? In my family it was the oldest because he was born out of wedlock and did not help my mother have her "perfect image" of herself. God forbid that her image might suffer for HER OWN ACTIONS!! So instead my oldest sibling "got it" just for being conceived. He was marginalized so much that he committed suicide. I hate my parents for what they did to him. Now they have one child left and he's only a golden by default! I want nothing more to do with them!
    So that defies everything: the older one in my family was the scapegoat.
    Why can't psychologists get it together and agree on this? Are these theories the same fallible theories that the medical establishment has when they label certain foods as bad one year, and then label them as good the next year?
    And by the way, I agree that walking on eggshells is BS. If I had acted like that, I would have felt guilty about what happened to my brother. As it is, I have a clear conscience and guilt belongs where it should belong: squarely on my parents shoulders, for good and for always!

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    1. Hi Escaped,
      You have a good point about the mental health establishment looking at dysfunctional family roles based on birth order instead of on how the narcissistic parent is perceiving his or her child. These are statistics and polls from different sources, and they differ because I think the real issue is NOT "birth order", but about which child the parent deems to be making the parent look "non-perfect." Narcissists are all about image and so the child targeted is the child who has a "truth", or is born in circumstances the parent does not want revealed, or some other reason. So in order to keep the truth from being revealed, the parent terrorizes the child who embodies the truth, or has evidence of the truth. It's absolutely terrible (and senseless), but the reason it happens is that narcissists do not have "real" empathy or care for their children; it's all about them trying to get outsiders (and potential narcissistic supply "victims"/sources) to admire or love their fake image so that they feel they can fit in certain social circles (to get ever-more narcissistic supply). If you think about it, so much striving to get people to admire something phony means they have deep, deep shame about who they really are. Instead of being brave and feeling shame head-on like most of us would, they shove shame off on to the child who is "making them feel the slightest bit of shame" instead. That's what makes relationships with narcs so sick. If they feel a child is getting in the way of them keeping their false mask on, they discard the child.
      Narcissists also don't think about the fact that having a dead child who killed himself for being marginalized, and an estranged child who is furious over it, is a worse "image" than the one they started out with. Where is the narcissistic supply in that?
      I'm all for busting up their image with the truth if that is what will set your heart free and help you to absolve what your brother went through. I would talk to a domestic violence counselor before going through with it so you understand how these people act when their precious false selves begin to crumble.
      Since narc parents are incapable of love, empathy and self reflection, they can resort to treating their children as pawns in their drive for admiration -- rewarding the child who they deem will help them retain their "acceptable image" and abusing and discarding children who they "think" might embarrass them. A child is only "golden" as long as he keeps this game up for his parents. If he's the only child left, he has all of the power really, in terms of giving them what they want or not giving them what they want. As Dr. Judy said in one of her videos, most narc parents die alone. There is a reason for that.

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  2. Wow great blog. My eldest sister started out a golden child and became a scapegoat and has a distinction of being the most intensely emotionally abused, financially manipulated and put down in adulthood. My middle sisters were scapegoats too, definitely the most cruelly abused in childhood, though they strove for her approval more than me and the eldest. One middle sister became her..uh,,.golden adult child? That same sister is the only one to have a child herself and she definitely could be raising a narcissist exactly as described here. I was the golden child, the youngest and a bit of a bully as a baby. Yes, I remember enforcing my mom's hate on my middle sisters as a baby with barely any words to do it with. By mid-elementary school time I'd realized mom was not a safe person, and I was only golden because I was a baby and it's hard to disappoint someones fantasy of you when you're mostly pre-verbal. I kind of became the lost child, underachiever all my life so mom doesn't come smother my success with herself. She does love claiming any successes of her children as her own and it tragically destroyed the brilliant artist the other middle sister was. I'm starting to realize how much I don't do because I don't want to attract mom's attention. No graduations, no wedding, no children, keep my creative talents strictly hidden. In middle age I'm realizing I might have wanted a very different life if I'd had a different mother. Thanks for all the insight here!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment!
      I appreciate your story!

      Delete

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