”One of the hardest realities to come to terms with for the adult child of a narcissist is that their entire childhood was a lie; and all they were to their parent was narcissistic supply. An object to be toyed with, manipulated, goaded, and provoked.”
The wisdom of fairy tales
I often wonder if the author’s of ‘Snow White,’ ‘Hansel and Gretal’ and ‘Cinderella’ had once been victims’ of narcissism. As children, we are warned through folk tales, and fairy tales alike, about the cruelty of parents. What I have recently come to realise is that the simple children’s fairy tale, is actually many a child’s normal.
I applaud the author of ‘Snow White’ for planting a seed in the minds of our children, and forewarning little children about the cruelty of the world, and the most malignant of hoovers. ‘Hansel and Gretel’ is an eye opener for children with an enabling parent, and ‘Cinderella’s’ story describes a typical narcissistic setup – where siblings sell each other down the river for their narcissistic parent’s approval. Luckily for the reader, all fairytales have a happy ending.
However, for the child of the narcissist, there is no happy ending. Their parent cannot change, and will always play mind games with their child.
The malignant hoover as a unique design – and mental damage to a child’s psyche
A Child of a narcissist does not have the ability to realise that they are being love bombed, idealised, devalued and discarded over and over again. A little child gives their narcissistic parent all of their trust willingly, and with love – only to endure the most horrific psychological abuse one can suffer from. Kids don’t have the ability to comprehend why their narcissistic parent is kind, caring , loving, giving and supportive one minute – only to punish them moments later for reasons which don’t make sense.
Children living out the cycle of idealise, devalue, discard, come out of their childhoods believing that they are inherently bad, and deserve to be punished, discarded, and denounced over and over again. This pattern of abuse most likely will not be understood by the child of a narcissist until adulthood, if they make the choice to go in search of answers. The scapegoat will most likely be the first child to endeavour to look behind their parent’s false self.
The most mistreated child, the scapegoat, will most definitely be the first of the children to put two and two together.
The three stage phase
Common discards for children of narcissists
What does it mean to be hoovered?
The ‘hoover’ is a well- known tactic utilised by the narcissist after they have worked their way through each phase of a three stage process; idealisation, devalue and discard. After the discard stage has been utilised, and the victim retreats, the narcissist will than exercise a hoover of sorts to draw the person back into their life.
Idealisation, devaluation, and the discard are not phases of the three stage process just limited to adults. Small children go through these stages daily, only to be hoovered again shortly after.
Example hoovers for children
Discarding a small child – how is it done?
The narcissistic parent will deploy a number of techniques to distress their small children. Children as young as four will be idealised, devalued and discarded, as well as love bombed, all in a matter of hours.
Scenario: A child decides to go shopping with mummy instead of spending time with daddy and the other siblings. Daddy decides to buy the child that went with him, a toy – and deliberately decides not to buy the other child a toy. When the child comes home, they ask if daddy bought them a toy too. The narcissistic father informs the child that it is in fact their fault that they did not receive a toy, because they refused to spend time with their father.
The child will become momentarily dumbfounded and confused as they blubber away in the corner. However, the confusion will soon subside when the narcissist hoovers the child with a cupcake hours later.
Buying a child’s love
Narcissists’ love to buy children gifts, and to use their artistic talents, and abilities, to love bomb and hoover small children. To receive a gift from a narcissist, a home cooked meal, a batch of cookies, or a hand drawn get well card, signifies to the victim that they they have the narcissist’s approval. Children, in particular begin to think that these manipulative tactics are gestures of love, an apology, and an expression of accountability. The confusion is exhausting for the child, because their narcissistic parent is hot, cold, and calculating. They could lash out and initiate a mentally damaging payback at the smallest slight.
The wisdom of fairytales:
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately (I am yet to come to either conclusion) I now know that fairytales are not tales about fortune; but rather misfortune, and the harsh realities about the cruelty of both parents, and step parents. Fairy tales are confirmation for small children that not all parents can be trusted, and not all parent’s will protect their children from abusive behaviour.
Narcissism brings out the worst in people, and shows the true colours of everybody around the narcissist. Siblings readily sell out the family scapegoat to stay in good rapport with the narcissistic mother or father, or to ensure their human right to a tidy sum once the narcissist dies. Enablers’ often choose the narcissist over the children a million times over; and the list of offences towards good human beings and small children goes on.
Lets take a look at poor Hansel and Gretel, shall we? Hansel and Gretel’s own father took Hansel and Gretel out into the woods, only to discard his children at the step mother’s request. Cinderella’s stepsisters sold her down the river, and triangulated against her time and time again to keep in favour of their vile mother, Cinderella’s stepmother – and Snow White was nearly murdered by her stepmother in the name of jealousy. Fairytales can teach us a lot about narcissism.