It is difficult to deal with a narcissist when you are a grown, independent, fully functioning adult. The children of narcissists have an especially difficult burden, for they lack the knowledge, power, and resources to deal with their narcissistic parents without becoming their victims. Whether cast into the role of Scapegoat or Golden Child, the Narcissist's Child never truly receives that to which all children are entitled: a parent's unconditional love. Start by reading the 46 memories--it all began there.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers Pt 3

 The black text is a shortened version of an original work by Chris, The Harpy’s Child. Original at https://sites.google.com/site/harpyschild/  Copyright 2007, all rights reserved

[There are two basic types of narcissistic mothers, the ignoring type and the engulfing type. These may—and often do—overlap but most NMs have a basic style and will be primarily one or the other. Some of the following points may not apply to your NM simply because they describe an engulfing characteristic when your NM is an ignoring type—or vice versa. But our mothers are not the only narcissists we will encounter in our lives. In fact, being raised by a narcissistic parent actually sets us up to be prey for more of the self-centred emotional vampires as we go out into the world, from girlfriends who are anything but friends to lovers who love themselves best to husbands who are the mirror image of dear old mom. So, whether something looks like it applies to your NM or not, read and consider it carefully—it may give you the awareness necessary to avoid the predator lurking around the next bend. As ever, my comments are shown in violet. -V]

It's about secret things. The Destructive Narcissistic Parent creates a child that only exists to be an extension of her self. It's about body language. It's about disapproving glances. It's about vocal tone. It's very intimate. And it's very powerful. It's part of who the child is. ~ Chris

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3. She favoritizes. Narcissistic mothers commonly choose one (sometimes more) child to be the golden child and one (sometimes more) to be the scapegoat.

And if you are unlucky enough to be an only child, you get play both roles, depending on her mood—that has got to be extremely confusing for a kid, ya know?

The narcissist identifies with the golden child and provides privileges to him or her as long as the golden child does just as she wants. The golden child has to be cared for assiduously by everyone in the family.

This is something I think a lot of people—especially those who were scapegoats—fail to recognize: the GC may get a lot of privilege and attention, but it is at a heavy price. This child is at grave risk for becoming narcissistic him/herself, having been raised with a totally unrealistic sense of entitlement and no sense of family cohesion and loyalty. Their view of the world and their place in it is no less twisted than the scapegoat’s, just twisted in a different way.

The GC is spoiled but there is that unspoken threat underlying it all: do as I say or it can all go away.

Another thing that often goes unrecognized: the GC need not be one of the narcissist’s own children…or even a child! Hindsight being what it is, I can look back and see that my NM divided the world up into Goldens and Scapegoats…and you could be “demoted” from Golden to Scapegoat but never promoted once the Scapegoat mantle settled on your shoulders. My NM had two brothers, her older brother Gary and her younger brother, Pete. NM despised Gary (although she was not above cozying up to him when she needed something from him) but she worshipped the ground Pete walked on. She was the same way with her four grandchildren: the boys were all ignored but my daughter, Annie, was the Golden GrandChild. When NM died she specifically disinherited me and her grandsons, leaving her entire estate to be divided between the two Golden Children: my brother and my daughter. Favouritism and the selection of Goldens and Scapegoats need not be limited to the narcissist’s own children.

The scapegoat has no needs and instead gets to do the caring.

Scapegoats actually do have needs, but are ignored to as large a degree as possible. Whenever I needed something like fillings or glasses or new shoes, I generally got a heap of abuse along with it—or even accused of faking the need or having caused it through neglect or wilful destructiveness. And when the need was fulfilled—I got the visit to the dentist or the new glasses or the shoes replaced, it was always with a stack of guilt, as if I was taking resources away from someone or something more deserving, more entitled, than I.

I suspect every NM treats her scapegoat child differently but that there is a common thread that links us all. In my case, I was pretty much tasked with taking care of my younger brother, something that started when I was much too young for that kind of responsibility. I was to keep him from running out in the street, make him do his chores, keep him out of trouble (but not tattle about his misbehaviour). I had to make his breakfast and lunch—including coming home from school at noon and opening a can of soup or ravioli or such, heating it on the stove, then get him back to school before our lunch break was over. I was two years older, but I was a skinny, gangly kid and he was a husky, hefty boy who was taller than I was.

In my teens, my responsibility for him expanded to include ironing his school clothes and “making sure” his room was clean. In practical terms, it meant doing his chores for him because I would get punished if they weren’t done and he well knew it. Scapegoats become not only convenient receptacle for blame in the N-driven family, they are often treated like household servants, as if they need to earn a place in the household, earn their food, shelter, and maintenance, rather than those things being the entitlements they are to the Golden Children.

Certainly children should have chores and contribute to the household, but in narcissist-headed family, that can be twisted in such a way that one child does a disproportionate amount of the labour or is assigned chores more suited to older, larger, or stronger children or, as in my case, find it necessary to do the chores of another child in order to avoid being punished for not “making” the other child do his/her work.

The golden child can do nothing wrong. The scapegoat is always at fault.

Certainly Golden Children do wrong…but it is rationalized or overlooked or ignored by the N-parent to the degree that a child reporting the bad behaviour of a G-sibling get punished for tattling, the Golden’s Child’s behaviour ignored as part of the punishment!

A perfect example of the scapegoat being at fault was my NM’s proclivity for punishing me when my GCBro misbehaved: I got punished because I didn’t stop him from getting into mischief or make him do his chores or whatever it was that a parent or sitter should have been doing. He was two years younger than me, but a hefty, husky boy who outweighed me by several pounds.

Even when we were younger, NM expected me to control and be responsible for his behaviour. My grandmother once told me a story of how she had come to visit us when my brother was just toddling. He recognized her car as she came up the street and went tearing across the lawn, obviously intent upon running into the street to greet her. Behind him, according to my grandmother, I was running, arms outstretched to grab any part of him I could, tears running down my face. She stopped the car only to hear me screaming that he should stop because “Mommy will spank me” if he ran out into the street. Where was his mother while he was outside playing in an unfenced yard…and why was a not-quite four-year-old put in charge of a sturdy, rambunctious toddler?

Scapegoat children are often made to blame for other things that go wrong in a family or household: I was once told that everything that was wrong in my NM’s life was my fault because I had been born. She had plans…grand plans, mind you…that did not include being “saddled” with a baby at 17 (she was married). How strange, by contrast, when I learned I was pregnant at 17 (and unmarried) I was ecstatic to have a baby on the way...that baby was my plan!

This creates divisions between the children, one of whom has a large investment in the mother being wise and wonderful, and the other(s) who hate her.

This is another uncanny peek into my childhood. I can remember feeling hatred for my mother…inextricably mixed with fear…from as young as eight years of age. By this time I had been exposed to enough other households to realize that other little girls weren’t spanked every day, that spanking was a rare and serious punishment reserved for serious breaches of the rules, that other mothers spanked with their hands, not a thin leather strap that left whip-like lash marks on the skin and, most importantly, other mothers punished the siblings of my friends when they did wrong, not my friends. I was not a stupid nor unobservant child and by the time I hit second grade, I knew without a doubt there was something wrong with my mother.

My brother, on the other hand, was a suck up. And a self-righteous supercilious little tattletale of a suck up, as well. For an intelligent person, sometimes I am a little thick and it took me quite some time to realize that the rules were different for the two of us: whenever I did something he had done with impunity—thinking that because he got away with it, I could too, I would find myself hauled up short and punished. If I said “But Petey did it and it was OK,” I would get “Well, maybe so, but you’re not Petey,” as a response between lashes with the strap. Sometimes he would simply lie—make up a story out of thin air—and tell NM in order to get me punished. I remember getting a thrashing for dancing naked in my room when I was nine—except I never let him see me naked, I always closed my bedroom door when I changed clothes—and I wasn’t dancing, naked or otherwise. On another occasion, he wrote his name on the wall in the hallway in pencil and told NM that I did it and when she asked why I would do that, I said “I didn’t do it!” and he said “She did it to get me in trouble!” I’ll bet you can guess who got in trouble, can’t you? I remember being totally surprised when a classmate at school expressed love for her younger brother who was a mean little brat cut from the same cloth as my own brother. “Because he’s my brother,” she responded when I asked why. “Don’t you love your little brother?” I didn’t…but I didn’t tell her that.

That division will be fostered by the narcissist with lies and with blatantly unfair and favoritizing behavior. The golden child will defend the mother and indirectly perpetuate the abuse by finding reasons to blame the scapegoat for the mother's actions.

This is also very true. NM constantly compared us against each other and, invariably, I came up short. The ways parents can compare their kids to each other are legion, but when the parent is a narcissist, the comparisons go only one way: against the Scapegoat child. So, if the SG excels at music or art and brings home good marks, they will be denigrated in favour of the GC’s marks in math—something “important.” If the SG excels in math but the GC is an outstanding athlete, math will be devalued in favour of sports. The Golden Child’s accomplishments will always be more important, more favoured, more worthy of remark or reward than those of the Scapegoat child whose accomplishments are more likely to be ignored or ridiculed than acknowledged or praised.

Because the Golden Child reaps rewards from his position and because, at least in the beginning, we are talking about a child, the GC sticks up for and defends the narcissistic parent—he has no objective sense of right and wrong or good and bad, after all, as all he knows is what has been learned at the NM’s knee. And just as the parent rationalizes and justifies her behaviour, so will the Golden Child. There is something in it for him/her, after all, even if it is only to be spared the tempers of the NM…but often the reward is tangible and, being a child, the abstractions of justice don’t come into play. Often these Goldens grow into adults whose development of conscience and ethics stay stuck in childhood where their collusion with the Nparent not only let them off the hook for their behaviour but brought them rewards as well. They are well compensated for adopting the narcissistic mother’s viewpoint, for defending the NM, for adding the weight of their support with rationalizations, justifications and even outright lies.

When my NM wrote her will, my daughter, the Golden Grandchild, couldn’t wait to tell me that my mother planned to split her considerable estate between my Golden Child Brother and her, cutting me and the three grandsons out completely.

“Does that seem fair to you?” I asked.

Her voice was flippant. “Well, it’s not like you and Gramma had any kind of a relationship.”

That her brothers and cousin were cut out didn’t even occur to her and the fact that NM and I had a poor relationship was, in her eyes, justification. To make that rationalization work, however, she had to buy into my NM’s gaslighting and rewriting of history—and she did. She did to such a degree that, ten years after NM’s death she suddenly stopped communicating with me because of my blog (see 46 Memories) , claiming everything in it to be a lie and encouraging other family members to sever contact with me. Interesting, you see, because most of what she called “lies” occurred years—even decades—before she was born, so she could have no first-hand knowledge of the veracity of my memories. My NM was dead, so the only person available to her to corroborate the stories would be my GC Bro—and what’s in it for him to tell the truth except to reveal him for the flying monkey and errand boy in collusion with our MNM for so many years?

Even more interestingly, my daughter refused to accept corroboration from family members and friends who supported my memory of events (some of them having actually been there). For example, although I was pregnant with my daughter when I married my first husband, he was not her father—I was four months pregnant with her when we met. Her biological father was my high school sweetheart who, upon learning of my pregnancy, disavowed paternity—an all-too-common event in those days before DNA testing. My NM tried to have my high school sweetheart arrested for statutory rape because I was only 17—but so was he so it didn’t work. When I married, NM apparently “forgot” all about my high school sweetheart and declared my husband the baby’s father.

The man I married was sterile, which he knew at the time he married me. Indeed, over the course of our marriage and his two subsequent marriages, he never fathered a child. I told my daughter the truth about her parentage; my first husband told my daughter the truth; my father and stepmother corroborated that I did not meet him until I was four months pregnant with her. But her biological father, when contacted, maintained that he was not her father (he was married and a father by this time and had never told his wife) and my NM continued to insist that my first husband was my daughter’s biological father—and my daughter chose to believe her grandmother rather than me (even though I was present at conception and NM was not). “Why would Gramma lie about such a thing?” she asked me. I have to wonder why she didn’t ask “Why would Mama lie about such a thing?”

The power of a narcissist to divide a family is the stuff of which horror stories are made. Before I was five years old, the seeds of dissention had been sown between my brother and me and NM nurtured them like they were precious. Binding the GC to her and making me the scapegoat was not enough, however—she had to take her poison to the next generation and sow her noxious crop there, as well.

My sons were not present at the reading of NM’s will and so my daughter took it upon herself to lie to them. Instead of telling the truth, which was that she put in her will that she was deliberately disinheriting me and my two sons “for reasons they already know,” (they didn’t—she never even met one of my boys [by her own choice—she refused my invitations] and the other one was very hurt when he learned that she had not provided for him in her will as she had once said she would) my daughter told her brothers that half of the estate was left to all three of them but she was to administer it. This, of course lasted right up to the moment she wanted the lion’s share of the money to buy something for herself. My oldest son, who is disabled, asked her for some of “his” money to buy a car and she turned him down saying it was all gone—she had spent it on her new McMansion.

The schism in my family created by my NM more than 50 years ago continues to this day: my GCBro and I have not seen or spoken to each other for more than 20 years; my daughter and one of my sons do not speak to me, nor does my daughter’s young adult son. Her ex-husband, upon being freed via divorce from her, told me how she forbade him and her son to contact me once she discovered my blog (the 46 Memories) and how she called me a liar. NM laid down the reigns of power with her death, but my daughter picked them right up. Who knows what the next generation will be like?

The bad news is that the evil wrought by a narcissistic parent can infect multiple generations of a family—the worse news is that narcissists are not just narcissists at home. That narcissism is carried with them everywhere they go, into everything they do, into their workplace, their politics, their morals, their sense of social responsibility. And they fall short…very, very short…of the marks we expect of the average citizen. My NM once told me, with unmistakeable pride in her voice, that she had never voted. She had never even registered to vote, not once in her entire life. Not because she lacked political opinions—she had plenty of them and was not shy about sharing them. No, she had never registered to vote because she was under the impression that the voter’s rolls were the source of jury duty candidates and by never registering to vote, she believed she would never be called up for jury duty! She didn’t vote, and she had no compunctions about dabbling on the edges of the law, either—I can recall her crowing to her friends about “kiting checks” so she would have cash available to go bar hopping on the weekend, the pride in her cleverness evident. When one friend asked “Isn’t that illegal?” NM’s response was “Only if you are caught, Bea, only if you get caught.”

If you have ever had the misfortune of having a narcissist for a boss, you’ve gotten a taste of what it I like to be the child of a narcissist. But whether you were the Scapegoat employee or the Golden One, at least you got to go home and you had the option of quitting the job…children are stuck in the craziness, often unable to escape even when they become adults and have homes and families of their own.

The golden child may also directly take on the narcissistic mother's tasks by physically abusing the scapegoat so the narcissistic mother doesn't have to do that herself.

This can be seen quite blatantly in families in which some children are allowed—even encouraged—to bully others. More subtly, however, there are families in which the Golden Child is encouraged to prey upon the Scapegoats: taking possessions, ordering the sibling around, expecting one sibling to always step aside in favour of the Golden Child.

My NM’s particular means of putting my GC Bro in control—even though I, as the eldest, was nominally “in charge” of him—was to ignore his transgressions and punish me for “whining” or “tattling.” As long as his incursions into my possessions or my safety didn’t result in an injury that required a doctor’s visit (thereby costing her money), I was a whiner or a tattler if I complained of his physical abuses which ran the gamut from simple pushing to actual punches. To say I was afraid of him would not be an exaggeration.

I do not know how she missed the fact that he was bigger than I was. And to this day, I do not know how she expected me to make him do those things he did not want to do, like dry the dishes or take out the trash. I had no authority, when I complained about his lack of compliance I was punished for tattling and then told to “make him do it,” despite him being both taller and heavier than I was. She simply could not be bothered to take care of him herself and expected me, at the tender age of seven, to know what to do to elicit compliance from someone who didn’t respect me and who could…and did…beat me up.

Narcissistic mothers are, as far as I can tell, exceedingly lazy and selfish when it comes to actually caring for their children. Even the Golden Child doesn’t get the benefit of a fully focussed and loving parent, but gets indulgence and a false sense of entitlement in lieu. As a mother who is too focussed on herself to bother with the well-being of her children, the narcissist finds ways, through choosing favourites and scapegoats and playing them off against each other, to absolve herself of the responsibilities of parenting. Nobody benefits from this style of parenting…not even the favoured Golden Child.


Next: Part 4: Undermining

28 comments:

  1. Violet,
    I'm going to re-read this post because there are many details that didn't sink in. But I wanted to give you a quick shout out of support now, before coming back to post a more thoughtful comment later. It's helpful to see you break this down into applicable components. You had it tougher than me--I was only smacked or paddled a few times by my mother, in childhood. Otherwise, no physical punishment or abuse. And I am on speaking terms with my sisters. Of course, both NP are still alive!
    More later, but wanted to put something down now, because it no doubt cost you a lot of energy writing this post. More soon.Cal's Sis

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    1. The difference is probably that your mother was not a malignant narcissist, as mine was. The malignant narcissistic mothers take it all a step further, adding intentional abuse and cruelty to the already unstable atmosphere of a narcissist-driven home.

      People who have "normal" parents tend to simply "not get" narcissistic parents. They think there is something wrong with us, that we are misinterpreting or exaggerating. With the malignant NM, it is even worse (although I suspect that the feelings of the child of a "regular" NM are no less devastated than the feelings of the child of a MNM). "Normies" have a hard time wrapping their head around narcissistic parents so I have taken to explaining it thus:

      "The world is full of not-nice people...we run into them every day. Some of these people, unfortunately, reproduce and become mothers and fathers and they are no nicer to their kids than they are to the strangers they rage at and intimidate. My mother was one of those people..."

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    2. Violet,
      i have to admit I cried reading about how your daughter picked up the reins from your late mother. What you describe is a multi-generational tragedy, and my heart aches for you. What's I've experienced doesn't come close, except that my mother's own parents disowned her when she re-married outside their religion. They declared her dead to them (and we knew these people, they were our grandparents and had stayed with us often), and never spoke to her again. This happened when I was already twenty and my sisters a bit younger. So my mother, to my understanding, has been maneuvering me into a repetition-compulsion, in which she gets to identify with the oppressor (the parents who disowned her), and project onto me the "bad child" she had internalized when they declared her dead. She just shame-dumped her own right onto me, declared herself the victim all over again, and the damage continues. It stops, however, with me. Even with all this, I cannot imagine what it must be like to be stigmatized from two generational sides. I think your "explanation" at the end of your comment above could not make it clearer. Guess what? even evil people have children; yup, that's right--they're parents, mothers, and not nice people. Connect the dots. Keep working to hold firm in what you know. Cal's Sis

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    3. I totally get your mother putting herself in role of the victim of a "bad child"--mine did much the same thing starting in my earliest childhood.

      This is actually not an atypical move for a narcissist because it gives them several avenues to get Nsupply: the drama with the "bad child," the sympathy from friends when she tells her tale of woe, and admiration from them for being so brave and such a good mother for putting up with your crap. They win all the way around and they don't care that their own child is immensely and immeasurably hurt by it all.

      It was very hard for me to come to the realization and admit to myself that my daughter is simply an updated version of my mother. But as clarity came, many behaviours of hers emerged from where I had hidden them from myself, memories that, taken together, smacked me in the face with a damning picture of undermining, disrespect and some serious betrayals going back more than 25 years. She should have been my mother's daughter because of the three of us, I am definitely the odd woman out!

      Example: more than 25 years ago I divorced her stepfather (not the man I married when I was pregnant with her--a subsequent husband) who was a terrible narcissist. He moved to the state where she was living and they rented a house together! She claims their relationship was purely platonic--and I want to believe her--but even if it was, who sets up house with the man who drove your mother to near suicide and emotionally abused her for more than 10 years?? Who does that??

      Something I learned early on my journey--all of our experiences with our narcissistic parents are different. None are really worse than others, even though they may seem so on the surface, because the hurt and the betrayal feels just as bad whether your mother calls you names or she hits you...in fact, the bruises heal, the words, the neglect, the abuse do not--they stay in your brain and continue the job long after your NM is out of your life. Our experiences are different but I don't think mine is worse than yours--we both have suffered the same pain inflicted upon us by the people who should have loved us more than anyone else on earth.

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  2. Oh my God. She moved into a house with your narcissistic ex-husband?
    This is insane. Karma owes you on all this, big time.

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  3. Well written. We were at a mobile reptile party
    recently and the mother of the birthday child was more into hereself than either her child or even the animals on show. In all it was a bit of a shame. The good news is that the children at the party and the birthday kid ignored the mother and her self-praise and instead got on with the fun of the party.
    All the best

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  4. I can relate to almost everything you wrote about. My mother also played the victim of a “bad child”. She spread blatant lies about me to all family members to justify her reasoning for sending me to a children’s group home at 13 years old. My golden child sister was trained from an early age to start being pure evil. When she was just a toddler and I was in my late teens, my NM had her calling me hateful names. We were all supposed to tolerate this abuse from GC even until adulthood. When I was around 26 years old, my mother called me out of the blue one day to tell me about her will. She informed me that she was leaving everything to my siblings. I went NC about 5 months ago at 35 years old, and I am grieving not having a mother, but I know I am better off. I could not take it any longer. I was crying every time I left their house or talked with them on the phone. They are truly evil, evil people.

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    1. I am sorry you have had to experience an NM...I would not wish that experience on anyone. I am glad, however, that you found my blog. Hopefully some of the stories, reminiscences, and resources here will give you the sense of belonging we never had as kids--you are not alone here, and I and those who read this blog, truly "get it."

      A lot of people think that teaching a very young child to be disrespectful, even mean, to others, is cute. What they don't seem to realize--or care about--is that they are setting the child up to be a dysfunctional member of society. Your NM was using your little sister as a "flying monkey" at so young an age, she was raised to be exactly that. I realize in retrospect that my NM did that with my daughter and the sad part of it is, those "flying monkeys" spend their entire lives like that and they have no conscience about it, whether they are tormenting NM's target or, later in life, other people. They become N's themselves. On at least one level, you have to feel kinda sorry for them because they are groomed from earliest childhood to be contentious, selfish, unhappy people.

      On the other hand, you and all of the other scapegoats out there, deserve peace. Unfortunately, none of us have magic wands that can turn the narcissists in our lives into loving, caring people so we have to take another tactic to bring peace into our lives. NC is an excellent one, but therapy with a clued-in therapist is another one.

      If you haven't done so, I recommend you read M. Scott Peck's book "People of the Lie." It is about narcissism and narcissitic parents and he pulls no punches about calling them "evil." If you are not religious, just skip the Christianity references and stick to the excellent analysis of these people and why they are, as you have so aptly observed, "evil, evil people."

      Please feel free to join this blog where you will be notified of new posts. I've had a bit of family business distracting me this week, but will resume writing this week.

      Hugs to you, Daughter--you are not alone in this.

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    2. You are better off and if you get cut out of the will,they never gave you anything in life but pain,so in death why expect different.Also money probably has ancient curse attatched to it.

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    3. The money was EARNED by my grandfather, who came to America when he was five, had only an 8th grade education but through hard work and determination, had amassed a small fortune by the time he died. My grandmother inherited the money and fully intended for my NM to leave her share of the estate to my brother and to me in equal shares. How do I know this? Because one of my uncles predeceased my grandmother and rather than split her fortune between her two living children, my grandmother split the money into thirds: one third to my mother, one third to my surviving uncle and one third to be divided between my dead uncle's two daughters. There was no curse of any kind.

      As far as my expectations go, I had no expectation of her leaving me half of her estate as my grandmother expected she would do. The fact that I did not expect it, however, does not make it any less wrong. She used the money to manipulate another family member who now uses the money to manipulate yet another generation. If there's a curse on the money, it happened when my mother decided to use it to do ill.

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    4. Something interesting that I have discovered is that mid 30s seems to be the age at where people realize what's going on and go no contact. I did it at 36; a great many commenters and bloggers on the subject do it in their mid-30s.

      While there are probably a vast multitude of reasons why, I would be willing to speculate that it is because at this age, we have our own families, we see how we act and react and are able to compare our own family dynamic to those offered by our narcissitic parents and we begin to realize something: they are and were notoriously crappy parents.

      I'm happy to buy my step daughter nice gifts for her birthday or Christmas; what keeps me in check from going overboard is that I dont want to spoil her and teach her that she can get anything she wants. My mother was repulsed at the concept of buying me new running shoes and only did so when other adults she associated with noticed their terrible condition.

      I encourage my step-daughter to save money and I'm teaching her about banking, spending, and saving at age 8. My mom worked in a bank and would regularly check my balance. When the balance was considerable for someone my age, she would accuse me of selling drugs or being mixed up in crime somehow. She never revealed that she had checked my balance, but hindsight is 20/20. If there was something I needed, she'd tell me to go buy it myself and to not hoard my money. I would sign my checks and attach "FOR DEPOSIT ONLY TO ACCT # 123-4567" because I feared she would redirect the check to withhold it from me or to pay for something a normal parent would buy their kids. I got the nickname Scrooge McDuck and Mr. Paranoid, used frequently at the dinner table after I had visited the bank.

      I think that as we get our own families, and have to deal with a NM with our own family, we start to realize that things are seriously wrong and luckily with the omnipotent Google, we have the ability to finally find them and to compare notes with others.

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    5. Yah--I was in my mid-30s when I started seriously questioning...but my NM had done some really, really awful things to me when I was younger (like stealing my kids and keeping them away from me for 8 years), so I was clear on what a sicko she was well before that.

      They are predators. And not just emotionally. When I got a job when I was 16, I wasn't allowed to even have a bank account or cash my paychecks. I had to endorse them and give them to her. She would then give me money (out of my own pay) for bus fare to school and work, school lunches, and "incidentals" like hair spray and deodorant...suddenly I was pretty much self-supporting since I ate no breakfast, lunch at school, and dinner was a perk at work. She didn't even buy me clothes and screamed like she was being tortured should I get sick and need medical attention or drugs. I cannot begin to count the number of times she would tell me "a parent is entitled to the fruits of her child's labours." How smart you were to put your money in account she could not get her sticky fingers on!!

      I like to say "Google is your friend" to people who feel stuck in their relationships with their NMs. This blog is only one of many that address narcissism in general and narcissistic parents in particular. I've learned a lot, both through therapy and through the magic of Google. Just be sure to keep your critical thinking cap on because there are charlatans and abusers out there, trolling for victims, side by side with those of us who truly want to help and sometimes it can be a little tough to tell them apart at first.

      Thanks for your comment, and I hope to hear from you again.

      Cheers,

      Violet

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  5. Thank you for your blog.

    You can guess correctly that I'm here after searching the web for information regarding a Destructive Narcissistic Parent. I've got a doozy of a DNP mother.

    I didn't speak to my DNP mother for seven years over the cruel way she treated my wife and children. A friend recommended that I read the Dalai Lama's book "The Art of Happiness." He said it changed his life and perhaps it would change mine as well. This book teaches you how to forgive. You learn to forgive not for the sake of that other person, but you learn to forgive so that you can get over it and get on with your own life. It changed the way I interact with my DNP mother (we reconciled on my terms two years ago).

    My wife also forgave my DNP mother but had not seen or spoken to my DNP mother in nine years. Out of the blue, DNP mother tells me she "wants to make amends" with my wife and I said OK. The wife says "I'll do it for you if you ask me to, but not for her sake" and I said "OK, please do this for me." Now I knew that DNP mother asked to make these so-called amends because she was taking heat from her other long suffering children and her long suffering grandkids to "get the family back together," but there was a glimmer of hope there, in thinking that DNP mother somehow found a way to forgive too. Wrong. The wife and I spent an hour at DNP mother's house, listening to her talk about herself. No empathy, no apologies, no caring at all. After an hour of seeing that no apology was forthcoming from DNP mother, I said "ready to go?" to the wife and DNP mother jumps out of her chair and says "it's nice to have the family back together again." We didn't say a word and left.

    I apologized to my wife for putting her through that. There was absolutely no satisfaction in that meeting and we both agreed that DNP mother was still a shallow, self-absorbed person whom we had to forgive once again. We choose to say away from her as much as possible now.

    Learning how to forgive is a valuable tool to learn for yourself. You must to be ready to learn how to forgive and then once you know how to forgive, the other person can whine all day long and it doesn't push your buttons. It's their problem and not yours anymore. Thanks for letting me vent. Kindest regards, a Child of the Self Absorbed

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    1. There are many viewpoints on forgiveness, yours being a common one. I do not agree, but that doesn't make you wrong...or right. What it means is that each one of us has a different view we must choose the path that works for us.

      For me, forgiveness can only come when the injuring party acknowledges his/her wrongdoing and apologises. Only then, I believe, can true forgiveness be given. Absent acknowledgement and apology, the injuring party continues to prey upon the victims and forgiveness in those circumstances is merely permission to continue with the hurtful behaviour.

      Dr. Susan Forward, in her book "Toxic Parents" addresses forgiveness and thinks it may be a harmful thing for the children of these people to forgive unrepentant parents because of the social expectations the adult child carries. Based on popular culture, these adult children expect that by forgiving their parents they will be magically healed and feel better about themselves and even their parents. When that doesn't happen they often become further distressed, feeling like failures because they can't even forgive "correctly."

      If forgiveness of an unrepentant narcissistic parent works for you, I am truly happy for you. If it got you out of the self-blame, "I'm not good enough," "what's wrong with me that my own mother doesn't love me?" self-torment that we ACoNs tend to live with, if it got the Critical Parent out of your head, I am genuinely thrilled for you...it worked for you and one more person has shaken off the shackles and dispelled the legacy of their narcissistic upbringing.

      But sadly, it doesn't work for all of us--and it can actually hurt some of us--so it is not a road I recommend without considerable reflection and a clear understanding that it will not change the NM one iota. For me, there can be no forgiveness without acknowledgment of wrong doing, hurt caused, and a sincere apology accompanied by a vow to do better in the future. Since my NM is nearly 15 years dead, that isn't going to happen but I refuse to say the things she did to me, like stealing my children and keeping them away from me (with no word of their well-being) for eight years, are OK.

      It ain't gonna happen.

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    2. You are so correct.

      I "forgave" my NM and EF for years of hell going through adolescence, getting kicked out of the house multiple times for no reason, getting the runaround when I tried to get welfare supports to finish high school (tells welfare I can come back home, then tells me its better I'm gone in the same day over and over again), along with all the other bullcrap.

      Well I realize now today, that for the past 10 years since I gave that forgiveness, nothing changed, the bad mouthing only got worse as I became more successful, she told my now ex fiancee's mother to "caution her daughter against marrying me ... because I was an angry child and I am prone to violence", something she has repeated to 3 more girlfriends since. Employers and family members have heard that I'm a nonfunctioning alcoholic. My job, quite a good one, is belittled as a sketchy job where I could be fired at any time (I'm only a lowly investment banker for a national bank).

      Well now that I've gone NC she wants forgiveness again. Best half-baked apology I got is something along the lines of "we both said mean things and lets reconcile and get a fresh start" - except what put me over the edge was a phonecall where she was ripping into me calling me and my girlfriend a braggart, filled with bravado, an angry person, and a liar; I didn't say anything I regret at all.

      For a NM "forgiveness" is merely a renewal of the lease to continue on with the same behaviors as before.

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    3. All too often, when dealing NMs, you are exactly correct. They feel that YOUR slate is wiped clean, that you no longer feel hurt or betrayed or harbour ill will or even suspicions, that YOUR change in forgiving them is to have made their past trangressions "ok." This, of course, means that repeating those trangressions is ok because by giving them absolution and forgiving them without calling them out on their wrong doing, demanding penitence, and not requiring promises of improved behaviour, you have made those behaviours acceptable. They will be truly shocked and surprised if you react negatively to repeats of their behaviour because, to them, your forgiveness was consent.

      If you haven't already done so, I recommend reading and thinking about the entry in this blog on forgiveness ( http://narcissistschild.blogspot.com/2012/09/forgiveness-gift-you-give-yourself.html ). It may give you some further insights.

      But, bottom line, I think you've caught her out in a hoovering attempt and have assessed the situation quite accurately. But don't let this goad you to break NC--just ignore her attempts as if you'd never received the message. Let it fall on deaf ears. And get on with building a life for yourself that you are happy with and content in.

      Cheers to you!

      Violet

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  6. Oh my gosh...I just posted saying I did not know if my mother was narcissistic or not..but after reading this, I now know. The golden child in our house was my brother. And he is the one who abused me the most.

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    1. Actually, Anonymous, that's not an uncommon occurrence in an NM's household. Children, left untrained, are savage, selfish little beasts. It is the influence of the parents that civilizes and socializes them. If a narcissistic parent not only fails to socialize a child but, worse, encourages one child to prey on another, you get the situation you describe. The NM doesn't have to say to the child "go hit your sister" to get her point across...the NM need only say or do nothing when the GC acts against the SG--silence is tacit approval.

      I am sorry to have to welcome you to the club of children of personality disordered parents, but I think you'll find that once you have that first clue about what is wrong with your mother and begin researching it, you start feeling much, much better!

      Hugs to you,
      Violet

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    2. Wow, this resonates with me, too...not only did GC brother(6 years older than I) bully me as a child, but NM employed him to hold me down so she could kick and beat me, once I reached an age when I was capable of fighting back. And he complied! I'll never forget the smirk on his face...

      He's the same one who sent me e-mails berating me as a coward for not coming out and telling our "mother" why I no longer wanted a relationship with her, and boasting that his own daughter way "surpassed (me) in love, forgiveness, and compassion..."

      It's ironic that now his daughter, like me, no longer wants to put up with NM's abuse (shame on her, for getting involved with a man of a different skin color!). Suddenly, NM's beloved granddaughter is "nothing but a spoiled brat." Too bad NM's will is irrevocable, and she can't get back the portion of the estate assigned to her once beloved grandchild (instead of her own kids). It's driving NM crazy, but there's nothing she can do...

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    3. A schadenfreud moment, eh? Watching your NM struggle futilely against something she cannot change...a little taste of her own medicine.

      So, your brother was a flying monkey, just as mine was--and he enjoyed the role, just as mine did. I don't know much about my brother's son, but I do know he got himself into a lot of trouble as a teen and young man, even reportedly spending some time in prison--a way to tarnish that shiny image of his father and Ngrandmother? Sounds like your brother's child found a way to take a little bite out of grandma's perfect fantasy world as well.

      What never ceases to amaze me is how these women are so much alike--different generations, different countries, continents, cultures--and yet our stories are virtually interchangeable in so many ways.

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  7. Thankyou for writing about your experiences! I know my own parents are narcisistic and reading your blog is like reading my own life story. This is helping me understand and heal from my own narcisistic parent's abuse!

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    1. Thank you for writing. There are many resources on the web for people who had narcissistic parents, this blog being but one of them. I strongly encourage you to seek out additional resources and even to find a therapist who is experienced in working with the victims of narcissists--the help they can give you is amazing!

      Hugs

      Violet

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  8. I can truly relate to these posts. I have been struggling with my own NM for years, not being able to put my finger on what was wrong. While googling I stumbled upon the definition of Narcissistic Mother. It all became so clear. My NM is very, very sneaky in that EVERYONE believes her side of any situation because she rarely goes ballistic in front of anyone else. (She can control it so well.) I sometimes wish that I have the ability to be so stealthy in my own emotional life, but I am a real person with real feelings unlike her with no remorse. She causes so much trouble in my life, but when I call her on it she reacts with rage towards me and then says "Well I have 4 other children that love me." Yes, 4 other children that you treat well. I am belittled, put down, minimized. In highschool I noticed my best friend always hanging out on weekends with her mother going shopping and having lunch. So I asked my NM if she would like to go to the mall with me, her response was a growl of "Why would I go to the mall with you?" And yet I tried for 30 more years to gain her approval. I thought that someday I could get her to love me, but the games and negativity continued. I threw myself into raising my kids. She was not close to them. Now that she lives out of state it is a breath of fresh air for me until she comes back to town. This past year she came to town and ate with my sisters, cousins and an aunt at a restaurant 7 miles from my home.(I found out.) She told everyone that I wouldn't want to come. That was a lie. But if I were to be asked today about going to a restaurant with them it wouldn't be a lie, I wouldn't want to come.
    The Nrents also came to town for the Holidays, we were not informed of any get together's except a family reunion at my aunts which I chose not to attend. I know my sibs are badmouthing me for not seeing them while they were in town. They aren't there when she says the things she says . At some point you have to have some self respect and give up on a fantasy of a loving mother. That dream for me is over. Just the tip of the iceberg of all she has done, but she's been consistantly negative towards me which has robbed herself of my loving her. There is just nothing left, and I do not think of her as a sweet little, old lady like my siblings do! Peace to all...

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    1. It would be lovely if one day your sibs were to discover the truth about their NM, but that is unlikely, unfortunately. My daughter, when faced with any kind of incontrovertible proof of her NGrandmother's ill-treatment of me simply took the narcissist's rationalization: I must have deserved it. That is the most likely scenario for any of your sibs as well: having never been on the receiving end of their NM's irrational punishments, they have no experiences with which to relate to you and their minds are closed to speculating anything beyond their own experiences.

      This is why, when we go NC, it is often necessary to go NC with more than just the NParent. Sometimes we have to cut off an entire branch of the family, like amputating an entire foot because of a gangrenous toe--the rot is spreading and you just have to cut it off to save the rest of the body. It is virtually impossible to cut ties with an NM and remain connected to her enablers and flying monkeys...and damned exhausting to try.

      That she has so many people fooled into thinking she is a sweet little old lady is not uncommon (although nobody would have thought of mine that way) as they are consummate actors and have perfected the camouflage of innocuousness. And most other people, those she does not identify as prey, never see that other side of her or, if they accidentally do, simply dismiss it as a misperception: they do not want to know they are wrong!

      Ns never change (except to get progressively worse), so the sooner you move away from the bewildered, eternally hopeful child and into the role of clued-in, wary adult, the sooner you will feel better. Yes, you may have to go through grieving period where you mourn the death of your hope for her to change into the good mother you have always wanted and deserved, but I like to think of the tale of Cinderella as a metaphor: she spent her childhood as an abused scapegoat, dwelling in the ashes, but when she finally took control of her own life, she became a fairy tale princess. YOU can do the same!

      Hugs

      Violet

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  9. I'm so glad I found this blog, because it rings so true to me with how my life has been. My own mother has taken it upon herself to ignore me emotionally-whatever I like or what music I listen to, she doesn't care about. She only cares about what she's doing and makes me do all of the chores in the house, regardless of whether I can or can't do them. When something goes wrong around the house, it's always my fault. If the technology doesn't work, it's my fault.

    Always being compared to my siblings, who sometimes take it upon themselves to bully me, too. My siblings worship my mother and would do anything to defend her. My mother has a charming personality, just like so many others and if you met her, you would never think she was like the ones on here. But she is. I realize that now by reading this. I can't deny the truth any longer. Thank you for giving me the courage to realize the truth.

    So listening to these sorts of remarks has naturally taken its toll upon me, to the point where I had depression at one point. But I got over it, figuring being happy is the opposite of what they want. It's so hard living in a house with a mother who has no interest in what you are doing, watching, etc.

    Thank you for this wonderful blog and for getting me to open up. Life is hard for a schizophrenic person like me but I make up for it.

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    1. Are you sure you are schizophrenic? Often times the scapegoat child is taken to doctors as the "identified patient" when, in fact, the family system and disturbed parents are the real problem. Scapegoat children can be misdiagnosed by well-meaning but clueless physicians who do not recognize the pathology of the dysfunctional family.

      I urge you to seek an independent diagnosis with a doctor of your own choosing and make sure that you really DO suffer from schizophrenia. Do not stop taking your meds except under the advice of a physician, but too often we scapegoats are "assigned" illnesses by our narcissistic parent and we...and everybody else...just accept it. A narcissistic parent is not above designating the scape goat child as mentally ill when s/he is not, simply to excuse herself or to discount the child's reports of maltreatment: "Oh, she's schizophrenic, you know... delusional sometimes. You can't believe a word she says..."

      Check it out...but just in case it is an accurate diagnosis, stay on your meds until a qualified doctor tells you otherwise.

      Hugs,

      Violet

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  10. My soon-to-be-ex monster-in-law is a textbook narcissist. She is the most lazy and vile and manipulative person I have ever met. All of alleged successes are just pipe-dreams and 'greatness by association'. Financially, she is single most entitled person I have ever seen. She uses her own children in very shameful ways to get money, and even works her own children against eachother to manipulate them. She has everyone around her (including me) jumping through hoops and just sits at her computer playing trivial games all day (as if that's her big job in life, being the big successful boss person she believes herself to be). Honestly, I am not even ashamed to admit that the only good thing about this person is the fact her days on this planet are numbered and one day she will no longer be wasting skin or air.

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  11. I find there are 3 distinct patterns in dealing with my mother: if you are strong and happy, she hates you, if you are strong and angry, she hates you, and if you are in a weakened situation, she enjoys the *situation* and *may* be sympathetic for 5 mins, but will not actually do anything constructive to help.
    I am having counselling for alcoholism and am working through some of the reasons as to why I drink, with the objective of at least being able to have I.e.one drink to enjoy myself from time to time, and not as a matter of course throughout the day. This was waiting to happen for years though and the drinking was merely a symptom, not a cause.
    I had a chat with my mum recently which brought it home to me how negative she is all the time, but also how insanely worried she is about what everyone thinks, and how much status and image matters to her. I said to her, cheerfully, why did she worry so, so much about all these various things. Haven't heard a word from her since (ahh that was a good tactic to get her off my back LOL) as she was obviously trying to get me worried and stressed and did not succeed!!! Misery loves company and the more you canshow that you are unworried about what these people think and throw an argument at them which comes from a point of security, they will leave you alone. I know the pattern of all her games by now, I know where she is coming from and she hates it.
    Be civil.
    Be strong.
    Be utterly secure in yourself.
    Be cheerful even if she tries to cloud your day.
    Limit contact.
    Don't let her in too much on what you're doing with your life. If you told her, she wouldn't care anyway.
    Pay her back in her own coin, I.e.if she sends you recycled birthday cards, do the same.
    These women are often unfulfilled and have extremely boring lives because they don't know who they * themselves * are, so they create drama to fill up the gaping void inside them.
    All their misdemeanours add up, it is true, but try to shrink them in your mind and make YOUR life the important one.

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I don't publish rudeness, so please keep your comments respectful, not only to me, but to those who comment as well. We are not all at the same point in our recovery.