Deuteronomy 5:16 (KJV) King James Version: ‘Honour thy father and thy mother as the LORD hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.’
This opinion piece is written in honour of the religiously indoctrinated scapegoat adult child of a narcissist; or any family scapegoat who cannot seem to relinquish the tremendous amount of guilt they feel because they cannot be in contact with their emotionally dangerous parent; a psychological abuser whose intention is to destroy their adult child’s reputation within the family unit through the use of pathological lying and projection. This parent does not love their child. Instead they love the negative effect they have on their adult child, and the chaos they can create through them.
It is often simply too emotionally dangerous for a scapegoat child, or scapegoat children (there is often more than one) in a narcissistic family unit to spend any time with their narcissistic parent. Even five minutes is too long. Any attempt at contact; one minute or five, is an opportunity for the narcissist to project their disowned parts onto the targeted adult child, or children.
In the narcissist’s mind the family scapegoat truly is a bad person. This child has been given a gift. They are the more emotionally sensitive child, which is why they have the ability to see straight through the narcissist. This makes them a prime target for dangerous narcissistic projections. The child has challenged the hyper-sensitive narcissists authority, which immediately makes them bad in their parent’s eyes. All of the narcissist’s disowned inadequacies now belong to the child that dared to see through them. The narcissist will now manipulate the rest of the family into taking on their skewed perception of the scapegoat.
If the narcissist has an anger management problem, they will label the scapegoat child as a child with an anger management problem. If the narcissistic mother or father has a habit of being ruthless, hard, and cruel, than this is how he or she will view their scapegoat child. If the narcissist is a thief, the child is a thief. If the narcissist is an alcoholic; the child may be told that they are destined for alcoholism themselves. If the narcissist is promiscuous, the scapegoat will most likely be accused of being promiscuous in adulthood. If the narcissist has stolen their friend’s husband or wife, they may accuse an adult child of doing the same thing, even though it’s an outright lie (I’ve witnessed this doozy).
If the child catches the narcissist out in a lie and exposes it, the narcissist may claim that the child is a pathological liar (I’ve witnessed this one too). This narcissist will now disown that part of him or herself and make this a part of the child’s personality. If they can convince themselves and everyone around them that the child is the liar and not them, than they can feel ok about themselves and avoid a narcissistic injury.
Ultimately, once a parent sees you as all bad, it is never ever going to stop. A narcissistic parent will continue to disown their badness and project it onto the scapegoat all the way up until their last breath. So, in a lot of cases, ‘No Contact’ is the only way out of this mess for a family scapegoat.
The narcissist couldn’t care less about this child. They don’t care if projecting onto the child destroys their child’s reputation, friendships, or life. As long as they can relinquish ownership of their stuff, and make it their child’s, so they don’t have to face it, they couldn’t care less about the ramifications. If the child dies of toxic shame; well, so be it.
The problem with the fourth commandment, ‘honour thy mother and father’ is that there is no exception to the rule; no clause explaining the conditions of the commandment, or other options applied in brackets for special circumstances. It is plain as day. In biblical terms you must honour your mother and father, and that is that.
Even though it is also made quite clear in the bible that we should under no circumstances affiliate with toxic people, the fundamentalist Christians still insist that a child, no matter how abused they have been, have some form of contact with an abusive parent – even if its very minor.
‘If you can’t go over to your parents house without police involvement, well just send them flowers or a birthday card’ (I don’t think so).
The Christian narcissist, who pretends to do the will of God loves this commandment. They pull this one out of the bag at any given opportunity; all while behaving abusively towards their children day in day out. There will be no reaping what you sow in the Christian narcissist’s mind. They’re far too entitled for consequences.
The Christian narcissist knows all too well that by misinterpreting this commandment, and instilling their thwarted views in the minds of their children, that the fear of God will force them into the role of dutiful child. This of course will surely make sure that the Christian narcissist has a lifetime of narcissistic supply, and ongoing sources of chaos; these sources being their adult children, who by this stage are too scared not to honour their dangerous parent, through fear that God will most definitely get them for disobeying him.
This bible verse really has been the bane of my ‘no contact’ journey, and still is to some degree. It is open to interpretation; which makes it somewhat dangerous in the hands of the wrong person.
Is the family scapegoat expected by God to still honour their abusive parent in such a way that debilitates them emotionally and reduces them to a sad, humiliated five-year old every-time they have contact with this dangerous person? Of course not! However, for an indoctrinated scapegoat, guilt over this commandment is often a given.
If somebody makes your body physically sick every time you have contact with them, than in my mind, that is God telling you to stay away. Should we really feel an obligation to adhere to biblical scripture if we honestly think that contact with our abusive parent has the potential to kill us? No, I do not think God would want this. However, some clarification would be nice.
I have spent many years wondering what God thinks of me. I have wondered often if he understands my situation, and actually understands the horror I’ve been put through because of narcissistic abuse. During my ‘no contact’ journey I’ve read the bible a lot in search of answers. It’s all I’ve had at times.
It is not the bible verses or commandments that floor me so much. Instead it is the expectations many fully indoctrinated, fundamentalist Christians who have never experienced narcissistic abuse, have of the abused adult children of their narcissistic friends. Nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors. Whatever happened to ‘thou shalt not judge.’
I refuse to spend any time with a parent that doesn’t love me, just to fulfil a biblical obligation which I believe is really referring to parents deserving of their adult child’s respect; the ones who have fulfilled their parental obligations. For those who haven’t. Well, they will reap what they sow.
Bible verses warning against toxic people
So what happens when all the above is your parent? The bible is openly telling us to stay away from anybody with the above qualities. Does this include parents?
Well according to Catholic Psychologist Dr Raymond Richmond, it does.
Dr Richmond writes ”So what really happens when parents don’t really want the good of their children? What happens when parents constantly criticise their children, abuse them, and essentially stifle any good that the children could achieve? In short, what happens in dysfunctional families when parents don’t really love their children but manipulate and control them? Well, parents such as this don’t love their children because they don’t love God either. These parents have broken the first commandment, and, to their children, that ,makes them enemies, not parents worthy of being honoured.’
Does God want us to honour dangerous parents in such a way that will directly affect our mental health? No! Patricia Jones (M.A) author for Dove Christian counselling states that Jesus openly tells us ‘to have nothing to do with wicked and toxic people.’ He tells us to ‘dust off our shoes and leave that town’ if we are not being treated with love and respect.
These are my beliefs too. Sometimes you have to cut contact with the old school Christians who feel that it is ok to judge you for a choice that wasn’t really your choice. It was your parent’s choice. They created this situation, not you.
Its heartbreaking to know that you cannot be there for a parent because of their skewed perception of you, and their desire to destroy you. The choice to go ‘no contact’ is never made lightly, and it hurts like hell.
‘Family scapegoating is a hostile discrediting routine by which the scapegoating family members’ remove blame and responsibility from themselves for problems within the family unit, and dump all of the responsibility onto a targeted family member. The practice of scapegoating allows for feelings of anger and hostility to be projected onto the family scapegoat through continued inappropriate accusations. The scapegoated adult child of a narcissistic parent feels wrongly persecuted after receiving misplaced vilification, blame, criticism, and rejection from the member’s of the family whom the narcissistic parent seeks to influence. Scapegoating allows for the self-righteous discharge of one’s aggression onto another more vulnerable source.’
Scapegoating is a serious family dysfunctional problem where one member of the family is picked apart for small things, that most non-judgemental healthy families’ wouldn’t view as abnormal, or problematic. Scapegoating begins in childhood. Small things that the targeted child does are exaggerated, talked about among family, and are considered the actions of a child with a behavioural problem.
Scapegoating typically occurs in families’ where there is a narcissistic parent. Narcissistic parents’ typically have a golden child and a scapegoat. The golden child can no wrong, and the scapegoat can do no right. The golden child is all good, and the scapegoat is all bad. All of the children are encouraged to goad, bait, and peck at the one. In a family such as this, somebody always has to be the bad guy.
Why is the scapegoat chosen?
Scapegoats are not chosen by accident. They are usually the more sensitive child, highly empathetic, can’t stand abusive behaviour, and have a penchant for the truth. These character traits bring to the narcissist’s attention that the child, come adulthood, could blab. Deeming the scapegoat bad in some way is the families’ way of discrediting the scapegoat, and denying the problems in the family by projecting onto the child the behaviours of the perpetrators’ – therefore, deeming them the main troublemaker in the family.
The scapegoat is to blame for everything
The scapegoated child is typically blamed for everything that goes wrong in the family unit. The narcissistic parent blames this child for the problems the scapegoat has with the other children in the family unit. In the mind of the narcissistic parent, the scapegoated child is at fault for the other children’s verbal and physical aggression towards them. Regardless of whether or not the other children are provoking the scapegoat, attacking the scapegoat, are caught out lying about the scapegoat, or excluding the scapegoat; these children will never be held accountable for their actions. Instead, the scapegoat will be blamed for the horrendous behaviour of the other children. This dynamic often plays out between the golden child and the scapegoat. In the mind of the narcissist, the golden child is never at fault for their poor behaviour. Instead, this child is grandiose and entitled to do as they please, just like the narcissist.
This dynamic doesn’t stop in childhood and often persists well into adulthood – up until the scapegoat either puts up big boundaries or goes No Contact.
The scapegoat’s view of themselves
This pattern of blaming and shaming the scapegoat for every issue within the family unit sets them up to be overly self-critical, to shame themselves constantly, and to believe they are always at fault in every conflict. Once an adult, the family scapegoat often has difficulty asserting themselves, does not believe in their right to stand up for themselves, or to the notion that they not defective, unworthy, or lovable. They often walk out of the family in adulthood only to be scapegoated again by an abusive partner, or abusive friends.
Subconsciously, the narcissist believes that if the entire family is unhappy with the scapegoat, then it releases the family from any blame, and deflects from the real issues within the family. The scapegoaters view the mistreatment of the scapegoat from a distorted mindset. They honestly believe that onlookers will realise that the scapegoat is to blame for the family’s decision to exclude this person.
Characteristics of a scapegoater
Typically, family members’ who scapegoat are very punitive in their beliefs, are extremely judgmental of others, and fall victim to the manipulations of the narcissist, primarily because of this deeply ingrained punitive, judgemental way of behaving and thinking.
How does the family scapegoat the victim?
Scapegoating is the practice of pathological lying. The scapegoater poisons the minds of other family members by slandering the family scapegoat, claiming they have said and done things they haven’t, by triangulating the adult children against the scapegoat, and blaming them for everything that goes on within the family. In adulthood, the adult children already view the scapegoat as fundamentally floored, because of the narcissistic parent’s continued slander, and accusations directed against the child for things they didn’t do. The adult children have been brainwashed into taking on the narcissist’s perception of the child; which of course, is untrue.
This works in the narcissist’s favour. When a scene occurs, the scapegoat is made to take the blame for whatever has happened, even if they are completely innocent, and it was another family member who was actually the real culprit. The scapegoats family always makes this adult – child the bad guy and lies about how things really went down. Horrendous behaviour from the other family members is shoved under the carpet, and the scapegoat is left wondering why they were just blamed for the attack upon them, which just occurred.
Repeated scenarios such as the one above often lead to the scapegoat being deemed as volatile, unhinged, crazy, and a troublemaker. These same scenarios often lead to the scapegoat being excluded from important family events, being talked about, laughed at, ridiculed, and denigrated to disgusting degrees. The scapegoat victim can usually feel the discontent, and anger from their family members during the scapegoating process.
They know they have been ostracised from family functions, and have a fair idea they are being denigrated behind their backs. What they don’t know though, is the degree of the slander, or ridicule.
Scapegoaters’ are often disappointed when they find that the same problems within the family still exist long after the scapegoat has left.