Most people who have learned at least a little about NPD & narcissistic abuse have heard of different types of children of narcissists: the golden child, the scapegoat & the forgotten child. Their roles are:
- Golden child: The extension of a narcissistic parent, this child can do no wrong. Praise & gifts are heaped upon him even into adulthood. The golden child is the one most likely to become a narcissist.
- Scapegoat: The exact opposite of the golden child, the scapegoat is the reason for everything that is wrong in the family, according to the narcissistic parent. Scapegoats are the children most likely to seek out the truth of the situation & escape.
- Forgotten Child: This child gets lost in the shuffle. Not good enough to be the golden child or bad enough to be the scapegoat, the forgotten child barely gets noticed. They try hard for their parents’ attention, even well into adulthood.
There is another child that I’ve never read about, but have seen. The family screw up.
The family screw up isn’t the same as the scapegoat, but there are some similarities. The screw up isn’t to blame for all of the problems in the family like the scapegoat is, but like the scapegoat, he can do nothing right. Growing up, he takes courses in school or college his parents disapprove of. He doesn’t participate in the right activities either. As an adult, he marries the wrong person, works the wrong career & does nothing worthy of his narcissistic parents’ approval. He is a constant disappointment to his parents.
When my husband & I first started dating, he told me he was the family screw up. It didn’t take long to see what exactly he meant, even though at the time I knew nothing of narcissism. I seemed to be his biggest mistake, at least according to his mother, but it also seemed very clear he could do nothing right according to his parents unless he was doing something for them. He was met with constant looks of disapproval from his parents, sometimes even followed by a grunt or sigh of disapproval. He was very accustomed to it, but it still hurt him deeply.
I have seen him find some ways to cope that have helped him greatly. If you too are the family screw up, I think this information may help you as well.
Giving up the hope of having parental approval. It’s hard to do at first, but any child of a narcissistic parent (or two) needs to accept the fact they will NOT get approval from their parent(s). The golden child may get it briefly sometimes, but even that is fleeting. No child of a narcissistic parent ever can have their parent’s approval for more than a brief moment, & even that is very rare. If you can accept that, & release the need for it, you will be much happier.
Decide to live in a way that pleases God & not your parents, or any person. 1 Thessalonians 4:1 states, “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.” (KJV) People, especially narcissists are very hard to please. They often change what they want, so what may please them today won’t please them next week. God isn’t like that! He is constant, & He is not self-serving like people. Live to please Him instead of mankind- you will be much happier!
Choose what contact works best for you, & know it may be subject to change at anytime. Many people go from constantly talking with their narcissistic parents to lower & lower contact until they go no contact. They find as they get healthier, they can tolerate their narcissistic parents less & less. Some are able to maintain low contact. Every person & every situation is different- you need to pray & pray often about your individual situation & let God lead you to make the decision that will be best for you.