Characteristics of the narcissistic parent vary considerably. However, the general consensus is that narcissist’s are obsessively preoccupied with themselves. Absolutely everything revolves around their emotional state, their insecurities, and the activities which are of importance to the narcissist.
Narcissists have a ‘sense of entitlement’. This in itself is the hallmark trait of narcissism – and a major reason why narcissist’s are so damaging to their children.
Narcissists believe they are entitled to:
Narcissist’s honestly believe that they are entitled to special treatment, they can do whatever they like without consequences, and that social norms and boundaries do not apply to them. They have absolutely no problem asserting this apparent human right to be the dominant being in the room, and the only dominant being in the room, to those around them.
However, the behaviour of the narcissist becomes especially devastating when there are children involved. The years of damage done to these little people is often irreparable, and will travel with them well into adulthood.
The narcissist is extremely arrogant. They perceive themselves as being superior to other people, and better in every way.
Complete lack of empathy
Narcissist’s have absolutely no empathy. It is not uncommon for narcissistic parents to not even comfort their child when they are in physical pain.
Narcissist’s can only think about their own distress. If the child is upset because they are frightened, nervous, or in pain; the narcissist will often appear to be completely annoyed that the child has needs, and requires their emotional support.
Feelings often mesmerise narcissists, and also confuse them. Narcissist’s don’t experience a wide variety of feelings; and are often limited to rage, anger and jealousy.
When the child becomes upset, they are often told that they are being ungrateful, a naughty child, or a troublemaker. There will be absolutely no comfort for this child. Instead, they will most likely be rejected in their time of need, and made to feel bad because they dared have a feeling.
Talks about themselves all of the time
The narcissistic parent talks about themselves all the time. Even if the conversation doesn’t start out about themselves, it will always end up back in that direction.
The narcissistic parent will engage in:
It is not uncommon to be on the phone with a narcissist for two hours or more without getting a word in.
Demanding of all of the attention
The narcissistic parent will often create drama in the lives of the children, and the enabling parent just to get some attention. If one of the children is getting too much attention from the enabling parent, the narcissist will often become jealous, and envious of the child for having a good relationship with the other parent.
It is not uncommon for narcissistic parent’s to:
Critical of their children, day in day out
The narcissistic parent is critical of the children day in and day out. The children continually hear how bad they are, how demanding they are, and how rude they are. The narcissist will often slot very subtle, sly remarks into the conversation- even at times when the parent and child are having a lovely time. On these occasions, the parent will throw in a sly nasty remark, belittling the child, just as a subtle reminder for the child to know their place, and to never get too comfortable.
Child as an extension of the narcissist
The child of a narcissist does not have their own identity, and it unlikely that they will become their own person ever; even in adulthood, unless they entirely remove themselves from the narcissist at some point.
Children of narcissist’s are complete extensions of the narcissist. They must believe what the narcissist says to be the truth, adore the narcissist’s ideas – and share and believe in their ideas or values. The child never learns to completely seperate themselves from the narcissist, or anybody else.
The children continuously need to do regular risk assessments of what they are about to say to the narcissist, before they even speak or act.
In adult life, the children of narcissist’s can often become overly sensitive to the moods of others, hyper-vigilant, peacekeepers; and may even spend their lives trying to please everybody else around them.
Children as bad, and the reason for all of the narcissist’s problems
The narcissistic parent consistently takes their anger our on their children. It is not uncommon for the narcissist to say things to children such as:
The narcissist is always right, and cannot accept a difference opinion. If the child challenges the narcissist, they are often raged at, psychologically derailed – and, in some extreme cases they may even be asked to leave the premises.
Becomes envious of the child’s independence
Being a young adult in a punitive, narcissistic house – hold can be very difficult for the child of a narcissist, and even impossible to maintain.
The parent is often domineering, interfering – and may even try to stop their children from having intimate partners. The parent often becomes more and more dominant in their child’s life than ever before, once they realise they are losing their control over the child. As the child becomes more and more independent, the parent literally tries to become a part of the child.
Children of narcissist’s often deny their natural desire to want to have a partner, because they know all hell will break loose once the parent finds out.
The fear of telling the parent about having a partner can almost be emotionally paralysing to the adult – child. The narcissistic parent will instantly rise to their feet and begin pacing the room wondering if the person is good enough, why their child needed a partner in the first place, and why they had to choose this one.
It is not uncommon for these parents to absolutely panic and lose the plot when their adult child begins to start dating.
In fact, any decision made by the narcissist’s adult child may well be questioned, probed at, picked to pieces – and be deterred from by the narcissist’s adult child, towards the end of the conversation.
These young adults often panic while informing their parent about their new job, the new partner, the new car, or the decision to defer from uni; all due to the absolute interrogation from the parent.
These parent’s often stalk their children when they go out and have a drink, look for them when they go out with friends, hunt them down if they stay out too late, and ring endlessly until they come home.
Narcissist as parent
Narcissistic parents often see their duties as parents in two different ways.
Some narcissists will:
The other extreme is the narcissist who:
Separates people into pairs
A narcissistic parent views everything in black and while; there is no grey area. This lack of grey means that wherever there are two people, there will always a ‘good,’ and a ‘bad’ person.
The narcissist will never deal with their grievances with their children directly, like healthy parent’s do. Instead they will discuss with every other member of the family the problem they are having with their child. This forces the other person to become a part of the triangle.
often, the parent has only told the other children a very small amount of information in regard to what is going on. They may have lied, exaggerated, and belittled the other sibling for no good reason. Triangulation depends on one person sitting in the middle controlling the information flow.
Scapegoated children of narcissistic parents will often reinvent their own child-hood trauma by choosing severely personality disordered partners with either narcissistic, sociopathic, schizoid, or psychopathic traits. Individuals with severe personality disordered traits will scapegoat anybody with whom they become involved with, because these personality types will not take responsibility for their own behaviour.
The scapegoat only knows one type of relationship, and that is the scapegoat/ narcissistic relationship – which they originally played out with their narcissistic parent. The development of this relationship between the parent and the child became an investment in the narcissist’s eyes. An investment which would deflect from their own shortcomings by blaming someone else.
Why does the scapegoat reinvent their own trauma?
Lets take a look at the relationship between the narcissistic parent and the scapegoat child to find the answer to this question.
The narcissistic parent ‘murdered,’ and ‘annihilated’ the scapegoat’s soul. It is not unusual for the narcissistic parent to tell neighbours, work colleagues, all of the siblings, the pastor, the pastor’s wife, aunty’s and uncles, and the man down the road, that their child, ‘ the scapegoat,’ is crazy.
Why does the narcissistic parent do this?
Because the scapegoat had the audacity to correct the narcissist, and to challenge the family system. This isn’t always the reason, and reasons vary. However, this is a common reason why the narcissist will set out to destroy the scapegoat. Any slight, or the smallest of criticisms will send the narcissist into panic mode, through fear of being exposed.
The scapegoat has been trained since birth to believe that every thing negative that goes on inside of the relationships with their family members, is in actual fact, the scapegoat’s fault. If one of the children hits the scapegoat, the scapegoat is at fault. If the scapegoat hits the other child when the child called them a name, than the scapegoat is at fault. If the scapegoat calls the sibling a name, and the sibling hits them, the scapegoat is still at fault.
The scapegoat is shamed daily. Things are said to the scapegoat that will never be said to the other children; and these phrases have the capacity to put the child into a state of inconceivable mental anguish.
The above examples are core reasons as to why the scapegoat reinvents their trauma, and unknowingly gravitates towards people who will scapegoat them.
Example phrases of the types of things that get said to the scapegoat, and about the scapegoat behind the scapegoat’s back:
Why does the scapegoat become scapegoated again?
In adulthood the scapegoat goes out into the world and often chooses a partner exhibiting all of the scapegoat’s narcissistic parent’s traits. However, because the scapegoat child hasn’t unpacked the emotional baggage carried from childhood, and sorted each wound out one by one, they won’t be able to recognise potential red flags presented to them. These same red flags presented to them in childhood, were the adult child’s normal.
By the time the scapegoat forms a relationship with a narcissist they no longer believe their own perception of events, and are no longer confident in their assessment of people. The scapegoat’s perceptions of situations have always been invalidated by their narcissistic parent, and family of origin. Whenever they’ve had a problem in this family unit, they have become the problem. So, when problems in their relationships with controlling people begin to occur, the scapegoat blames themselves, and persists in these relationships to no avail.
The scapegoat has been brainwashed by their entire family into believing that they have it all wrong. They have been convinced by the narcissist, their siblings, and the narcissist’s minions, that if they could just change everything about them, then their relationships with the entire family would improve. These beliefs that the scapegoat has about themselves leads them to people please, and to seek approval from dangerous types.
The terribly sad thing is that the scapegoat was right all along, even at the tender age of ten.
In what state does a scapegoat enter a relationship?
The scapegoat doesn’t know what a healthy relationship is like. They have come out the other side of their childhood with poor boundary function, and have come to accept unacceptable behaviour as the norm.
The scapegoat enters their relationships with a huge vulnerability.
What happens in the scapegoat’s intimate relationships?
The scapegoat often becomes involved with partners whom fail to take responsibility for their own behaviour, blame everybody else, and will always revert the responsibility for the problems within the relationship, back onto the scapegoat – whom often accepts all responsibility, and apologises when they shouldn’t, because of their own detrimental beliefs about self.
The scapegoat continues to try to fix the relationship by trying to fix themselves; all in hope that if they can just fix themselves, the relationship will work. It is not unusual for the scapegoat to go from narcissistic relationship to narcissistic relationship, being scapegoated by people whom have no issue blaming the scapegoat for their own shortcomings.
Some scapegoats will stay in the relationship way past its expiry date, and may even go out with a big bang (due to emotional overload) appearing as the crazy one – again. The scapegoat’s partners will most likely do to the scapegoat exactly what their narcissistic parent did to them – blame shift, and smear the scapegoat’s name with lies, and half truths. However, the perpetrator will never own up to what they did. Instead, they will only share with their minions what the scapegoat’s reaction was to absolute crazy-making, gas-lighting, and goading.
The scapegoat perpetuates their own inner wounds and self-hatred through their continuous liaisons with these kinds of perpetrators.
Why does the scapegoat continue to go from scapegoating relationship to scapegoating relationship?
The scapegoat will often enter a relationship with another personality disordered individual because they are unaware of their own attachment blue – print, which encourages them to gravitate towards narcissists’.
Until they do the recovery programme, and actually sit down with a professional therapist to discuss their relationship patterns, the scapegoat will remain in a fog type state; and will continue to blame themselves for everything that goes wrong in their future relationships.
It usually takes a few failed relationships exhibiting the same pattern before the scapegoat goes in search of answers.
The scapegoat will continue on in this pattern of destructive relationships until they accept that they are not at fault for everything, not responsible for the perpetrator’s behaviour, that they are not bad, and that they have a right to normal, healthy, loving relationships.
Scapegoats walk into relationships with a murdered soul. They often have zero confidence, no self – belief, and are a sitting duck for a crazy maker.
What happens to someone who never learned to trust?
Confuses intensity with intimacy: The scapegoat feels completely unlovable. So when a psychopath, or narcissist comes into the picture and love bombs the scapegoat, they don’t see this as a red flag, because they don’t know whats normal and whats not. Instead they mistake love – bombing as someone finally appreciating them.
Confuses Obsession with care: The scapegoat has been yearning for someone to actually like them, and see some good in them since they were born. When someone cannot get enough of them, they don’t see a problem with this. Its actually quite flattering to a scapegoat. However, a healthy person would run a mile.
Confuses control with intimacy: Before meeting a partner, a scapegoated individual can feel out of touch with themselves, and as though their life is out of control. Their own parent never took the reigns. To someone whom has never been loved, controlling behaviour can come across to an abuse survivor as love, not control.
The difference between the scapegoat and healthy people
Healthy people who grew up in families with healthy boundaries know the personality types to stay away from. These people know not to engage a drug addicted person, someone who drinks too much, a person with a history of violence, or a person who refuses to take responsibility for their behaviour. They know what they want in life, and they won’t settle for less.
Healthy people are confident, and they have self-love. If they notice a huge character floor, they are self – assured enough to know that the person the character floor belongs to has a screw loose – not them. The healthy person listens to their intuition, whereas the scapegoat tells their intuition to go away, and convinces themselves that they are the one with the problem, not the perpetrator.
Healthy people also know their limits. They know that someone who loves them would not deliberately go out of their way to push others to emotional extremes; whereas the scapegoat has only ever had close relationships with people who push the scapegoat to emotional extremes. A healthy person can pick a crazy maker from a mile away.
Scapegoated children are trained to accept that their perception of the narcissist is wrong, that their intuition is incorrect, and that the narcissist’s treatment of them is acceptable. Unfortunately, the scapegoat may re-enact their abuse by choosing a partner very similar to their parent.
The two prominent and most vile roles assigned to children in the narcissistic family are the ”scapegoat” and ”the golden child”. Both roles are projections of how the parent honestly feels about them-self. The scapegoat represents the false self, the bad part of the parent that can do no right. This is the part of them that this parent abandoned during childhood, and replaced with a false self – a grandiose self that can do no wrong. This false self is the part of the narcissist that the golden – child represents.
For example: In a family of four, there may be two golden – children and two scapegoats. Or, there may be a superior golden child, and a golden child whom is picked to participate in both roles; scapegoat, and golden child (The mother may not have known which choice to make with this child).
The golden child is lavished with praise and attention. They can do no wrong in the eyes of the parent, and they are given the best of everything. They often come out the other side of narcissistic abuse feeling entitled, special, and better than their scapegoated sibling; whom of course, in their eyes, is the crazy one who will never be as good as they are.
The narcissistic mother projects onto the child all of their supposed wonderfulness, which means that for a time the child believes that they are truly wonderful.
This child’s misdeeds are always overlooked and projected onto the scapegoat/ or scapegoats. They are almost never disciplined for causing mental or physical harm to the scapegoat. In fact, none of the children are ever to blame for any mistreatment of the scapegoated children. If the scapegoat is mistreated by the favourite child, it always somehow becomes the scapegoat’s fault.
Some golden children see through the narcissistic parent at a very young age, and will decide to forfeit the role of golden child in an effort to preserve their relationship with their scapegoated sibling in adult – hood. However, a lot of them don’t, and often end up forming a nasty alliance with the narcissistic mother to bully and shame the scapegoat.
The child who plays both roles
When there are two golden children, sometimes the less favourable golden child will play both roles – the scapegoat and the golden – child.
I was informed about this one particular situation where a child playing both roles was played off against the scapegoat in a competition formulated by the parent designed to see who was ”good’‘ one week, and who was ”bad” the next week. This abuse played out weekly, and sometimes daily for the children’s entire lives.
The parent would literally sit down a couple of times a week and talk about how bad their children were. One week they would carry on that ‘Jane was such a bad child.’
The next week, the same parent would sit down and talk about how ‘Jane was such a good child, and Lisa was such a bad child.’ The abuse was always done in front of the children – and to this day the two adult siblings hate each – other.
The child playing both roles became so competitive with the scapegoat, and did everything they could to align with the narcissistic parent against the scapegoat in the hope of gaining the narcissistic parent’s approval. It did the trick.
The behaviour of the narcissistic parent towards their favourite child is parasitic. Friends, life long partners, and a life outside of the narcissist is often beyond reach for this child, who becomes so enmeshed by the narcissistic parent that they will often suffer from severe panic attacks and anxiety disorders.
It is highly likely that if this child marries, the narcissistic parent will get involved in the marriage – become jealous of the husband or wife, triangulate between the husband and wife, and could very likely become aggressive when they begin to lose the attention.
The most important fact for children to remember is that the narcissistic mother doesn’t really love any of the children, golden – child nor scapegoat. They aren’t capable. And when one scapegoat leaves, a new one must be found. Safety for the favourite child is subject to change.
Golden child as investment
The golden child is groomed and hoovered into a role that they never asked for. The narcissistic parent literally buys the child with the best gifts and schools that money can buy. They shower them with praise and attention in an effort to hoover the child into their toxic world.
The scapegoat shops at Kmart, and the golden child shops at Myer. The favourite child is eagerly given a huge wad of cash to go shopping with, while scapegoat can barely convince the narcissist to even give them fifty dollars.
The cost for the golden child is huge. Like a fly stuck in a spider’s web this child becomes engulfed by the narcissistic parent.
Narcissists are very calculating individuals. They never do something for nothing. There are always strings attached, and they always want something in return for their efforts. They usually love and hoover the favourite child in the hope of having their complete loyalty and adoration for the rest of their life.
What must be understood about the narcissistic parent is that they know exactly what they are doing, and the golden child has endured years of hoovering, love bombing and undue praise. They have done this so as they can manipulate, and play with this child’s emotions, in the hope that they never lose them. They have projected their own false self onto the golden child in the hope of owning them. And own them, they do.
The narcissist has just bought them- self a life time of narcissistic supply. The golden child will now walk on eggshells for the rest of their life.
Grooming is a very dangerous way to break down an abuse victim’s defences.
Grooming and hoovering are two very dangerous abuse tactics because they often keep a victim stuck in their role, stuck in a state of confusion and a complete FOG (fear, obligation and guilt). The false kindness presented to the victim means that when red flags arise – the victim looks the other way. It becomes a case of:
‘well, they do all of these kind things for me, sing my praises almost all of the time. So that terrible thing they just said about me to me, must have been a slip of the tongue.’
FOG – Fear, Obligation and guilt
Fear: The golden child is afraid of the narcissistic parent and tries to make concrete a bond with their abuser in the hope of staying safe, and continuing on in golden child status.
Obligation: Golden children often feel a sense of obligation to the narcissistic parent who is suffocating them emotionally, often because of the narcissistic parents hoovering, buying of the golden and the continued praise .
Guilt: The golden child doesn’t understand why they have this special position. However, how can one possibly think of leaving their suicidle, and now incapable parent (who drives them crazy, won’t allow them to have an identity, or life of their own) when this person adores them so much.
‘It would break their heart.’
Buying a child, and holding a child in such a high regard is a very manipulative, emotionally dangerous action. This is an abuse of power, and can ultimately backfire when the child reaches adult hood.
So what happens to the child?
The golden child, just like the scapegoat often feels suffocated and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. This child often feels as though they have no real identity. After all, to remain the golden child, they have had to refrain from having an opinion, and feelings or emotions.
Golden child syndrome leaves individual’s feeling anything but an individual because psychologically and developmentally the child has never had the opportunity to grow into a healthy individual. Instead, they have had conform to an identity chosen for them by the narcissistic parent in order to stay psychologically safe.
Golden children who make the decision to hold onto the role of golden child, often walk out into the world with a sense of entitlement, which makes survival in the real world difficult. Instead, they may become lost and confused when the people around them refuse to see the golden child as special, don’t take well to their rudeness, and don’t intend to buy their affections.
Like a mouse in the wilderness, the golden child is now vulnerable to the hoovering and love-bombing of future dangerous partners. In an effort to be praised and held in such high regard, instead of normal regard, they may go for what they know, and become entrenched in other dangerous relationships.
Like a child whom has come out of a fantasy world, they don’t know who they are, they don’t know how to be, and in all honesty, their toolbox is pretty much empty.
Adult golden children:
Both the golden – child and the scapegoat have had their identities stolen from themselves at a very young age. These two adult children would fare better if they refused the role given to them, and went in search of themselves; not whom they were brainwashed into believing they were.
There are many theories which try to explain why exactly the scapegoat is chosen by the narcissistic mother or father to endure a lifetime of scapegoating, abuse, triangulation, alienation and mental torture. Some theories claim that the position of the family scapegoat is relative to birth-order, and is usually the position of the second child, due to the reality that the narcissistic mother can only really love or hate. Hence, the concept that the first child is loved and the second child is hated.
Other theories pose the idea that the scapegoat is the most empathetic child in the family unit. Abuse urks them – which is why they challenge the narcissist. The scapegoat is often the whistleblower, truth-teller, and the only child who has the guts to question the narcissistic parent’s chronic abuse of the children. This theory addresses the concept that the scapegoated child unknowingly threatens the narcissist’s false self. Narcissists’ are notorious for becoming enraged when asked to look at themselves, or to face the reality that they are not perfect.
However, I believe that many factors can contribute to a child becoming scapegoated. The child may represent to the parent a wrongdoing. For e.g; the child may be the baby of an affair, or the parent may have experienced an emotional trauma at the time of the child’s birth. Reasons such as these mean that contact with the child will continually cause regular narcissistic injuries to the parent – because the mere sight of the child continues to force the narcissist to come into contact with their real – self, the inner self full of shame that they abandoned in childhood. The narcissist is incredibly insecure, and can’t handle being faced with difficult feelings. Any threat to their self-esteem, even one of their children, will in time, see the child discarded.
Other reasons for scapegoating a child may include
I believe that the child does not necessarily become a scapegoat because they are the truth-teller. Instead the scapegoat is a threat to the narcissist, and the family system as a whole, because of their democratic values. This quest of the child to remain autonomous, to have a different opinion from the narcissist, and to challenge the narcissist means that this child is not under the narcissist’s complete control, and is now a threat.
This totalitarian regime cannot have anybody in it who may challenge the family system, and engage in conversations with the more conforming family members of the family unit about the family dysfunction. The scapegoat refuses to conform and could bring down the family system as a whole, with the truth. Scapegoat’s don’t necessarily disclose the truth of the dysfunctional family to outsiders, or to insiders. However, their autonomous behaviour is very threatening to the narcissist, because it means that they wouldn’t be afraid to disclose the truth if it came to that.
In my opinion, scapegoats often ends up exposing the truth of the family system to outsiders because they have been scapegoated, and psychologically abused for their democratic, empathetic, caring traits. The years of mental anguish felt by the scapegoat due to gas – lighting, goading, and other crazymaking behaviours endured because of the narcissist, are some of the reasons why any scapegoat would want to rock the boat and blow the narcissist’s cover.
The golden child’s reaction to abuse
The golden – child often approaches the narcissistic parent’s abuse differently from the scapegoat. They decide that because they are already adored, and can do no wrong, that they will simply do no wrong. Doing no wrong to the golden – child means that they will not succumb to the abuse. After all, they have watched and learned from the scapegoat what not to do. The golden child either consciously, or unconsciously makes the decision to avoid disagreeing with the narcissistic parent’s opinions, and to behave as an extension of the narcissist. Some golden children will also quite happily aid the narcissist in abusing the scapegoat in an effort to keep their role.
They may as well. After all, there are a few perks. If they go along with the narcissist they will get that new car in adulthood, trips overseas, and anything else that they really want.
However, this childhood safety mechanism destroys their relationship with the scapegoat later on in adulthood.
The scapegoat’s reaction to abuse
The scapegoat has never been bought to begin with, unlike the golden child. Their achievements haven’t been praised – and a lot of scapegoats, unlike the golden child, have never even been told by the narcissist that they were loved.
While the golden child’s first steps were being treated as though they’d just walked Mount Everest, the scapegoat was being physically squashed by their angry sibling, listening, from underneath their sibling, to their mother jeer the sibling on, to hit the scapegoat even harder.
So, of course, their reaction to the abuse is to have big emotional outbursts and to question the parent about the abuse. This in itself, is a symptom of severe emotional trauma.
The scapegoat’s intuition
The above scenario gives the scapegoat the awareness that something is dreadfully wrong within the family system. However, the problem the scapegoat has is that the rest of the family carry on as though nothing is wrong.
Another huge issue surrounding the scapegoat’s abuse is that the more loving parent (the enabler) isn’t there to see a lot of the vile acts posed upon the scapegoat, that the other children see. This parent usually does defend the scapegoat to a degree when the narcissistic parent is being particularly vile.
So, quite naturally the scapegoat can feel the parent’s sickness. However, the hoovering and the love bombing that the scapegoat also endures on occasions gives the scapegoat relationship amnesia.
Furthermore, the scapegoat becomes so confused with this up and down behaviour from the narcissist that they begin to blame themselves for the relationship breakdown – which is why the shame begins to suffocate their soul because they don’t understand why they can’t fix this relationship.
This is because one minute the narcissist is putting on a huge surprise party for the victim, (who by this stage, feels too ashamed to go because they know the narcissist has smeared their name to the same people who are coming to the party) and the next minute they are packing up the scapegoat’s belongings and putting them on the doorstep, because the scapegoat disagreed with the narcissist’s opinion.
The scapegoat by this stage is so traumatised that they can’t even remember why they were thrown out of the home. However, they do remember the parent putting on this big party for them – and all they can think of is that they must be the one in the wrong because occasionally the narcissist does these amazingly wonderful things for them.
When does the scapegoating begin?
Scapegoats are scapegoated from the day they come out of the womb, and they are never given a new role, not even in adulthood. It doesn’t matter how much they try to become everything the narcissistic mother or father wants, they will always be at fault in the eyes of the family.
The scapegoat bonus
The mistreatment of the scapegoat is their ticket out of the family, and into health and emotional wealth. They are usually the first adult- child in the family to go and get help. Often they are pushed into therapy by their parents because the parents convince them that they are so crazy that they really should go to therapy.
The therapist’s viewpoint
By the time the scapegoat is sitting in therapy opposite the therapist, they literally feel that they are evil, which is the very reason the scapegoat came into therapy. The scapegoat goes into therapy often telling the therapist that they’re mad, that they are the troublemaker in the family, and that they need help.
If the scapegoat is given a good therapist to work with, the scapegoat will soon be informed that there is nothing wrong with them and that their parent is emotionally dangerous.
In time, they will be most likely advised to go no contact with the parent.
However, the aftermath for the scapegoat is often emotionally horrific. The scapegoat comes out of the narcissistic family an absolute nervous wreck. They hate themselves, have internalised the narcissist’s shame, experience chronic panic attacks, severe trauma, and are often diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
Some scapegoats end up with borderline personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder, or other serious mental health issues. This is the result of being gas-lighted, goaded, and baited by the narcissist over and over again in the hope that the scapegoat will explode, just so the narcissist can tell everyone how crazy their child is.
Scapegoats are trained in childhood to live in absolute fear. They are afraid of defending themselves, expressing their opinions, or demanding fair treatment. This attitude of worthlessness, fear and shame is carried into adult life. Other people can immediately sense that the scapegoat is a pushover, and a magnet for abuse, rejection, and bullying. The scapegoat has lost their voice, their credibility, and they are viewed by the entire family as the crazy one because the narcissist brainwashed the entire family into believing this false truth.
The pain is insufferable; to be rejected so coldly and denounced by a mother or father is soul destroying, and a form of soul murder.
The consequences of having a voice
The scapegoat was annihilated by the narcissistic parent a thousand times over for having a voice. Their identity has been stolen, and their voice thrown away, because of the rage endured from the narcissist for having a voice in the first place.
In childhood the scapegoat never knew which way the pendulum swung. It was forever changing, and messed with the scapegoats fight, flight, freeze and fawn responses. So, it is no wonder the scapegoat has emotional issues, random explosions and depression – all symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
The scapegoat internalises the parent’s rage, which was spilt all over them for no good reason, and may even mirror that rage straight back at them. Unfortunately, emotional explosions from the scapegoat are interpreted by the narcissist, and their minions as a symptom of a severe emotional problem within the scapegoat, rather than a normal reaction to an extreme amount of abuse. The sad reality is that the family members who have not been targeted by the narcissist often sit back and laugh or belittle the scapegoat behind their back.
In all of this, it is very likely that not one of the other children in the family will ever have the guts, or the integrity to question the narcissist about the vile abuse of their sibling. Why? Young children look the other way because they’re frightened of the narcissist, whereas adult children decide to turn a blind eye, even when they know its the wrong thing to do because they don’t want to be thrown in the discard pile with the scapegoat.
If the other adult siblings stand up for the scapegoat, they will be denounced as well, most likely lose their inheritance, and will possibly never be spoken to again by the narcissistic parent. Unfortunately, the scapegoating of this child is completely aided and abetted by the other children in this survival of the fittest setup.
A parent who does this to a child lives with a huge deficit – being humanity itself. They have absolutely no empathy for the children they scapegoat (there can be more than one) and no idea the damage that they’ve done. The scapegoat’s trauma travels with them every single day of their adult life and relates to every aspect of their life, especially social interactions.
The sad reality about the scapegoat is that they are often the kindest family member, the most creative and psychologically in tune.
1.The narcissistic parent needs all of the attention in the room
The narcissistic parent must have all of the attention in the room at all times. If the narcissist believes for one moment that somebody else in the family is about to steal the limelight, (whether it be their child, sibling or even the enabling parent) the narcissist will most likely shame the victim, or invalidate the dire circumstances which have arisen for the victim.
The narcissistic parent may even try to out do the victims dilemma by creating a dilemma of their own that diverts the attention away from the victim, and brings the attention back to them.
The shaming process and vile discard of the family member needing attention will often involve the adult victim being thrown out of the family home, in what can sometimes be a domestic violence situation.
Often the teenager or adult child of the narcissist will be asked not to return to the family home until they decide to apologise for the event which took place.
The narcissist has absolutely no empathy for the misfortunes of others. Be it physical abuse or assault, the narcissist will feel nothing but contempt for the victim of abuse, believing that they do not have the right to steal away their attention.
In the mind of the narcissist they are the one who has had the harder life, and how dare you assume that you are entitled to take this aspect of them away from them by asking for attention. In their eyes they are the true victim.
Narcissist as attention junkie
Some narcissists are so addicted to attention that they will even set up situations to gain attention at their children’s expense. It is not uncommon for narcissistic mothers to lie to the enabling father about how their child behaved while their father was at work.
This is in a bid to create drama, which of course the narcissist thrives on, because drama is attention. The mother will exaggerate the child’s behaviour, or lie about the child’s behaviour in a bid for narcissistic supply and pity. This scenario allows the narcissistic mother to be the centre of attention again, a position where she is able to feign victim hood and make claims that she has such bad children and doesn’t know what to do.
Again, there is no empathy for the emotional damage these lies will create for the child.
This lack of empathy pinpoints a major deficit within the narcissist. Not only does the narcissist lack empathy, but they also lack humanity – which sits at the very core of their true self, and officially makes them emotionally, and sometimes even physically dangerous.
2. Must be in control of all of the information in the family unit
The narcissistic parent will use particular methods to ensure that he or she is the only person with the means to control all of the information in the family unit.
Like a puppeteer, these methods will ensure that he or she has complete control of the actors in his or her performance.
The divide and conquer method: This method of control allows the narcissistic parent to maintain complete control over their children, by encouraging dissent between them. This prevents the victims from uniting in opposition against the narcissist who must use a lot of smoke and mirrors to deflect from their emotionally dangerous behaviour.
‘Mary Jane doesn’t want you to borrow my books Bob.’
‘Bob doesn’t like it when I give you lots of attention MaryJane.’
Bob: ‘Can I borrow the lawnmower mum.’
mum: ‘Mary-Jane doesn’t want you to borrow the lawnmower Bob.’
Bob most likely walks away thinking, ‘who the hell does that sister of mine think she is.’
The narcissist is planting seeds in Mary Jane’s mind about Bob being inconsiderate, and potentially an enemy to MaryJane. This will at some point create dissent between Mary Jane and Bob.
These lies which may have a hint of truth, are in effect most likely going to create a divide between MaryJane and Bob. These two may end up having a big fight over something unrelated in front of the Narcissistic parent, who gets to sit back and watch the show.
Why doesn’t the narcissistic parent want the children to get along?
The narcissistic parent does not want their children to get along because this parent doesn’t benefit by their children having good relationships. If the children had good relationships, the parent would not have drama, which means a lack of narcissistic supply, a lack of attention, and the possibility of the narcissistic parent coming undone.
3. Will eradicate anybody who isn’t afraid to bring the narcissists shortcomings to their attention
Anybody who disagrees with the narcissist’s opinion on any given topic has to go. It is not uncommon for a narcissistic parent to throw a teenage child, or even an adult child out of the family home for having simply disagreed with the narcissist’s opinion.
The scapegoat child is usually the truth teller in the family, the most abused, the most distressed about the dynamics in the family, and the first to see through the narcissistic parent. They are also the most democratic child; and the child most willing to challenge the narcissist about their abusive behaviour.
The exposure of the narcissist’s shortcomings threatens the narcissist’s false self, and could possibly ensure that the narcissist becomes in touch with their real self, whom they abandoned long ago. This is the ashamed part of themselves which reveals all of their shortcomings, and holds them accountable.
The scapegoat holds the truth, and could very well disarm the narcissist, which could shatter the narcissist’s relationships with others when they finally realise that the human -being they have loved and trusted for years on end, is in fact an abuser.
In these cases the narcissist will formulate a very calculated plan to eradicate the scapegoat. The narcissist will severely smear the scapegoats name, tell terrible lies about the scapegoat, or use mind control techniques to brainwash the other siblings into thinking that everything is the scapegoats fault. The other siblings will ultimately accept the narcissists stories as gospel, and will often proceed to shame the scapegoat over a period of months before the final showdown, and discard.
4. Has a Golden child and a scapegoat
The narcissistic parent can only love or hate. There is no middle ground. They hate one child, and adore the other – which is incredibly painful for the child who is hated and given a life time role of being the ‘family scapegoat.’
With mind control and brainwashing, the narcissistic parent will manipulate the scapegoat’s sibling’s to bully them consistently, and side against them in both childhood and adulthood. The children happily engage in the scapegoating of their sibling.
The scapegoat is often the second child of a narcissistic parent, and can do no right. The other children are never at fault for shaming or abusing the scapegoat. However, if the scapegoat defends themselves against the other children the scapegoat is still at fault. Therefore the scapegoat loses their credibility and their voice in the family unit.
The scapegoat often exhibits an incredible amount of emotional distress in childhood over how they are being treated. However, when they show their emotions they are then pathologized as being crazy, angry, insane, and neurotic by the narcissistic parent, and the other siblings.
As a consequence the scapegoat often feels as though they are crazy, that they are bad – and they usually experience a lot of self-hate due to all of the rejection and abuse.
The family will never release the scapegoat from the role as the crazy person, and they will forever try to goad and gaslight the scapegoat back into their role. Psychologists often advise the scapegoat to leave the entire family, and to stay away from anyone who has anything to do with the family.
The benefit in this mess for the scapegoat is that they usually seek out therapy first, and are the first child out of the siblings to find true healing.
This is a great outcome for someone who usually goes into therapy with a lot of self – hate and shame.
The golden child
The narcissistic parent encourages all of the children in the family to adore the golden child. The golden child represents to the narcissistic parent all of the good things in the N parent, whilst the scapegoat represents to the parent all of the things within themselves that they hate.
In adult – hood some of these golden reject the role and refuse to be the golden child any longer. However, other golden children have no idea that they are even the golden child – and they just think that they have this ability to do everything right.
However, some golden children truely believe that they are the special child. They believe this at the expense of the scapegoated child/ or children, and will ultimately align with the narcissistic parent to abuse their scapegoated sibling.
This golden child has an investment in continuing on with this role. It is very common for the narcissistic parent to buy the golden child, and to continually compliment the golden child in the hope of being forever bound to the golden child.
The Golden child continues on this destructive path at the expense of their emotionally destroyed scapegoated sibling, whom most likely cared for, and nurtured the golden child at a point in the golden child’s life.
In the mind of some scapegoats, the golden child has taken on this role at their expense, and they often feel incredibly betrayed by their golden – child sibling.
A harsh reality for the scapegoat and the golden – child is that the golden – child will never know how much the narcissistic parent has absolutely humiliated and psychologically annihilated the scapegoat/ or scapegoats. How could they? After all, the golden child has had a much more ‘love and light’ type experience compared to the scapegoat.
During the 1960’s, psychologist Diana Baumrind described three different parenting styles based on her research with preschool children. Years later, researchers added a fourth style known as uninvolved parenting.
The American English Dictionary defines the word uninvolved as ‘to not be connected with, or take part in something.’
Uninvolved parenting (which is often referred to as a neglectful form of parenting) is characterised by an absolute lack of responsiveness by the parent to the needs of their child. While these parents provide for the basic necessities such as food and shelter, they are generally completely disconnected from their children’s lives.
The parent is not in tune with the child on an emotional level, and most of the time they are completely unaware of what is going on in their child’s life.
This parent will either make minimal, or no demands of their child. Demands for good behaviour, emotional regulation, self-discipline, and social norms are non-existent. Often, the uninvolved parent will simply dismiss the child, behave indifferently, and will sometimes be completely neglectful.
Opportunities for these children to enjoy out of school sports, music lessons, and other enjoyable activities that most other children have the pleasure of participating in, are often out of reach for children with uninvolved parents.
Routinely, uninvolved parents are far too self-absorbed or preoccupied with work, and their own activities to take the time to teach their children important life skills – and to discuss with their children what is and isn’t socially acceptable.
It is not uncommon for these parents to outright refuse to support their children at school events, or other activities that are important to the child. The child of an uninvolved parent is generally expected to take care of themselves.
The uninvolved parent is extremely emotionally detached from their child, and the emotional involvement that they do have with their child is generally very limited.
However, the degree of involvement that uninvolved parents have with their child varies from parent to parent. Some uninvolved parents may be hands off in nature. However, the same parent may put into place some limits such as a curfews. Other parents practising this model of parenting may be more extreme, and may even reject their own child.
Characteristics of the uninvolved parenting style
Effects of the uninvolved parenting style
Children who have an uninvolved parent may:
Understanding uninvolved parenting
Statistics show that region, cultural aspects, education, and socioeconomic status often play a role in the uninvolved parenting style.
Some cases are hereditary. A parent following this model may have been brought up in an environment filled with negativity, where expressions of genuine love, guidance, support, or positive experiences involving communication with their parent were non- existent.
Researchers associate each parenting style with child outcomes related to social skills and academic achievement. Children with disinterested parents will most likely struggle in nearly every area of their life; cognitively, emotionally, and socially.
Disinterested parents are often so emotionally unresponsive during their child’s childhood, that come adulthood, the same child who was dismissed on an emotional level in childhood, may find that their adult relationships become deeply impacted by existing attachment issues.
A lack of boundaries in the home makes it very difficult for the child of an uninvolved parent to learn more socially acceptable behaviour, which is why children with uninvolved parents are more likely to be difficult to manage.
In some cases, a disinterested parent may simply have a lot of their own problems (depression, working too much, or emotional problems). They may want to give to their children emotionally, but just don’t know how. Parents in this situation may not be able to see how uninvolved they actually are, and could benefit from support.
The history of authoritative parenting
In the 1960’s, child psychologist Diana Baumrind identified three styles of parenting when working with, and thoroughly engaging with pre-school aged children. The authoritative parenting style was recognised by Baumrind as the democratic approach to parenting. Baumrind further noted that this style of parenting is child – centred, and offers a high level of emotional availability to the child.
Hence, why children raised by authoritative parents have strong self-regulation skills, are very self assured, and appear to be very happy.
Children with authoritative parents
Why such good results?
Children with authoritative parents are given reasonable demands and high levels of responsiveness. These parents are emotionally available, and willing to put their all into providing their children with the resources to enable them to be well-equiped, successful individuals in both childhood and adulthood.
Main characteristics of the authoritative parenting style
A moderate method of parenting
The authoritative parent is moderate in their approach to parenting. They are neither black nor white, this way or that way. Instead, they apply a middle of the road, middle – ground approach to parenting -whereas the authoritarian parenting style is too hard, and the permissive parenting style is too soft.
They allow for high standards, expect mature, co-operative behaviour, provide their child with a lot of nurture and responsiveness; as well as respect for the child as a seperate, independent human being with their own thoughts and beliefs.
Children brought up with authoritative parents are showered with love and warmth – as well as boundaries, consequences and consistency. Hence, why it is claimed that the authoritative parenting style is the most effective style of parenting for children.
Research suggests that having at least one authoritative parent can make a big difference. In fact, it is further claimed that children from authoritative households are less likely to experience episodes of depression, and anxiety related conditions. They are also more unlikely to exhibit anti – social traits including delinquency and drug use.
The differences between authoritative parenting, permissive parenting and authoritarian parenting
Authoritative parents allow for a lot of flexibility, are in tune with democracy, and will discuss the rules with their children, the reason for the rules, and the importance of consequences. They may even make changes to the rules if they see the need to in the future. Unlike authoritarian parents, authoritative parents do not shame their children.
Discipline is approached with empathy, emotional availability, and kindness. If the child has something to say, they are given the opportunity. When an authoritative parent disciplines their child they take into account all the finer details involved in the problem that took place.
The permissive parent rarely disciplines their child, gives them too much room to move, and allows their child to behave to extremes.
In contrast, the authoritarian parent over disciplines, oppresses the child’s right to say how they feel, or to ask questions, and applies little empathy to the discipline process.
The aim of the authoritative parent is to encourage their child to utilise reasoning, to look within, and to work independently.
Understanding why the authoritative parenting style works
The authoritative parent acts as a role model, and exhibits the same behaviour that they expect from their child. The consistent rules and discipline which follow allow the child to know what to expect from their parents.
The child eventually models back to the parent the good emotional understanding and control that they were taught by their parents.
Authoritative parents are not controlling. They allow their children to be independent beings. This teaches their children that they are completely capable of accomplishing their goals without their parents always looking over their shoulder. The trust that the authoritative parent has in their own children to manage on their own, helps to foster good self-esteem and self- confidence.
The effects of the authoritative parenting style
Child development experts generally identify the authoritative parenting style as the best approach to parenting. Children raised by authoritative parents tend to be more capable, happy and successful.
Permissive parents, like authoritative parents, are loving, kind, and emotionally responsive to their children’s needs and wishes. Both parenting types discuss with their children important decisions and the rules within the family system.
Studies link Parental warmth and sensitive, responsive parenting with secure attachments and fewer behavioural problems.
However, the offical psychological definition of permissiveness concerns parental control, rather than the soft, empathetic nature associated with emotionally responsive parenting.
Permissive parenting is often referred to as indulgent parenting. These parents have low expectations for self-control, emotional regulation, and maturity. They are non-traditional, lenient, and rarely discipline their children.
Because there are few rules, expectations and demands, children raised by permissive parents tend to struggle with self-regulation and control.
These parents present themselves to the child as a friend rather than an authority figure. They avoid direct confrontation, or asserting overt power – and they prefer to use methods of reasoning and manipulation to get what they want from their child.
Characteristics of the permissive parenting style
May use bribery, such as toys, gifts and food as a means of getting the child to behave.
Effects of permissive parenting
Children raised by permissive parents:
Understanding permissive parenting
Permissive parenting is characterised by a lack of demands and expectations. This means that children coming from these environments may be less academically motivated than their peers, may find it difficult to adhere to rules, and may struggle with authority figures.
Children with permissive parents do not have consistent boundaries. Sometimes the parent will give into the child’s desire, and on other occasions they won’t. This lack of consistency leaves the child confused and lacking in boundaries.
Children with permissive parents often lack good social skills. They may be confident in conversing with other people. However, they may struggle with indifference, confrontation, sharing, or being corrected by other children. If a child has never been challenged on their behaviour by their parent, it is unlikely they will take well to being challenged by their peers in their childhood, or adult life.