When I was growing up, I never really dreaded parent teacher conferences. I knew my teachers always would tell my mother the same things. I was smart, I learned quickly, I did my work without complaint, I never caused any trouble, but I was too shy. I needed to participate more. Other than that, I was a “good kid.”
My mother’s friends’ kids got into trouble sometimes, but I never did. They thought I was a “good kid” like my teachers did.
As a painfully shy kid, this worked for me. I didn’t have any desire to stand out. I wanted to blend into the background quietly & even more importantly, never upset my parents. Being a “good kid” seemed to be a very good thing for not only me, but my parents, teachers & every adult in my life.
As an adult however, I realized something. Being a “good kid” meant that I did whatever I was told to do, communicated no needs or feelings & basically didn’t bother anyone with my existence. Suddenly, being a “good kid” didn’t seem so good anymore.
Being this way was a sign that things in my life weren’t so good. I wasn’t well behaved out of respect for others or because I was taught good things. I was well behaved for much more dysfunctional reasons.
I was afraid of facing disappointment &/or rage of adults, in particular my parents, so not getting into trouble was one way to do that. I also hated feeling like a burden, which is how I felt when I expressed needs to my parents. This taught me early in life not to talk about my needs or feelings as much as humanly possible.
I also was an extremely anxious child. This anxiety led to me being terrified of things that don’t upset most normal children. Talking in front of my class was one of those things. That is why I wouldn’t volunteer to answer questions, read aloud or other things. I was terrified of being wrong & looking foolish. Being raised by narcissistic parents, I naturally thought other people’s opinions of me were incredibly important. Looking foolish wasn’t an option!
And, as a child of narcissistic parents, I also learned the survival skill of becoming whoever I was told to be. My parents had no mental capability to deal with a child who got into trouble. If I had gotten into trouble, they wouldn’t have known what to do with me. They were unpredictable so it was much better to stay out of trouble as much as possible.
My behavior was very typical of children raised by narcissistic parents.
The reason I’m sharing this with you is that I want you to know two things.
First, if this behavior describes you as a child, you aren’t alone. So many of us were “good kids.” It was wrong to be forced to be that way. Not that I’m saying we should have been troublemakers of course, but we shouldn’t have been terrified into being well behaved either. It’s not right & you have every right to be angry about that!
Second, if you know any “good kids,” please check on them. They may be so good because they too are terrified of being anything else. They may be abused at home. Check on those “good kids.” Let them know that they can talk to you anytime, & that you are on their side.
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