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.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Scapegoat’s children: the Narcissist’s grandchildren

On 25 October 2013 I published “The Scapegoat’s Daughter,” a guest post written by a young woman named Eve who very eloquently told us about the pain narcissistic grandparents cause for the child who must watch her mother’s pain. It helped us to realize that, even if our children seem unaffected by their exposure to narcissistic grandparents, they may well be suffering just as much—if not more—than we are.

There is another facet to this, however, because not all children of scapegoats are empathetic, compassionate individuals like Eve. Some of them may be innocently influenced by their narcissistic grandparents and some of them may even be narcissists themselves. And that creates a whole new dynamic.

There is a lot that is unknown about narcissism, such as when is the onset of narcissism as a personality disorder. This is because a certain degree of narcissism is natural…even necessary…in infants and young children—it is part of the survival mechanism. How much compassion for her sleepless mother does a 3 month old infant have? Absolutely none: the infant wants something and it cries, regardless of what else is going on. This behavior, however, is supposed to diminish with age and maturity. Toddlers are pretty much without empathy for other creatures, even other people. Susie wants the toy Mary has, Mary won’t give it up, Susie bites her or hits her over the head with another toy: perfectly normal behaviour for that age—Susie has found a way of getting what she wants and she employs it ruthlessly and to her best advantage. So, at what age does narcissism cease being a natural behaviour and enter the realm of a pathological disorder? Nobody knows for sure and there are professionals who believe that narcissism in teens is still natural behaviour that has yet to be outgrown, but there are others who believe that narcissism should be resolved by the onset of puberty. There is, as far as I have been able to determine, no consensus on this.

This is actually important for parents because if even the experts can’t tell us when narcissism enters the realm of disorder, how are we to know how to deal with children who show narcissistic traits? How are we to know if those traits are developmentally normal, fleas acquired from narcissistic family members and friends, or pathological in nature? The short answer is, we can’t. All we can do it try to teach our children to make choices that take into account the feelings and rights of others because you can neither generate nor appeal to compassion or empathy in a person who does not have them. And, sadly, some of us have children who lack those qualities.

In seeing narcissistic behaviours and attitudes in our children, we ACoNs may react in certain ways. Two of my children turned out to be narcissists: my reaction to one of them was to be puzzled by his behaviour and beliefs…my reaction to the other one was denial. My one child did things I simply could not understand…like making choices that made him look like a victim when he had other, better choices available to him (I know now that looking like a victim allowed him to elicit Nsupply from others with a minimum of effort on his part but back then I could not fathom why he would deliberately disadvantage himself…and, of course, he got no Nsupply from me because I knew the whole truth, not the edited version he told people he was trying to get sympathy—and handouts—from). My other child repeatedly made selfish choices, told egregious lies to get what she wanted, and seemed to have absolutely no regard for how she was hurting other people, both inside the family and out. I repeatedly excused her behaviour, writing it off to immaturity and/or to being the result of my mother having stolen her, filled her with a stack of lies, and giving her away to my childless aunt and uncle, people who had failed the home study as adoptive parents not once, but three times!

But as she got older, her behaviour became increasingly self-centred and, when called on it, she blamed other people…frequently me. It was not until I started learning about narcissism that the light began to go on in my head…a light I quickly extinguished with denial. But as time went on she became less and less subtle in her manipulations and exploitations of others and there came a day when her behaviour intersected with my growing awareness of narcissism and I was no longer capable of switching off that light in my head. I had to face the truth, and the truth was, my daughter was a narcissist who had no more conscience, compassion, or empathy than my own mother had.

That was hard to swallow. I came to the realization slowly…I simply was not prepared to accept that my own child had no more ethics or morals than my amoral narcissistic mother, but I finally reached a point that I could deny it no more. I came to the realization and admission reluctantly, looking everywhere for valid reasons to explain her apparent callousness and self-serving behaviour, but simply could not find anything that I could accept. My daughter was a narcissist and she had thrown to the wolves everybody who did not serve her in some way, me included.

I can see that she continues to manipulate her brothers with the money she inherited from my mother…and I can see that she insinuated herself into her grandmother’s good graces after years of estrangement: grandmother had inherited a packet from her own mother and was ripe for plucking. All my daughter had to do was to swallow Grannie’s kool aid…to side with Grannie in her animosity towards me. Suddenly, I no longer existed—my daughter usurped my place in the family order and I (and all of the other grandchildren) were disinherited in her favour. Grannie’s bundle of cash and goods was divided two ways: between my brother, the GC, and my daughter.

My daughter’s narcissistic behaviours were blatant and obvious to anyone who knew the signs and was prepared to believe them. I can plead ignorance for her teen years…nobody knew much about narcissism back then and I, like most people, wrote it off to teenage rebellion. But going to my best friend and her husband and begging them to let her live with them because I was abusing her was not “teenage rebellion.” It was a lie that drove a wedge between me and my friend (a friendship that never recovered) as my friend, unable to fathom a child telling lies like this about her own mother, believed her.

I learned that, at age 13 and 14, while living with my aunt and uncle, my daughter used to sneak out of the house at night by climbing out a second story window. She would go to parties and clubs where she got drunk, did drugs, and “hooked up” with much older guys, sneaking back into the house in the wee hours of the morning before my aunt and uncle got up. She was unable to pull this off at my house, so she sought adult guardians she figured she could bamboozle…my friend Pris and her husband Tim. When this came to light, my daughter changed her tactics and ran away…and got involved with a pimp and his live-in girlfriend. My daughter swears that the did nothing but babysit their five kids, but she came back from Los Angeles (brought back through the work of a private detective I hired) with a severe case of PID…she was 15.

The behaviours became more refined and subtle as she grew older, but no less manipulative and self-serving. By the time she was in her middle 40s she and her husband had accumulated a nice little estate: big house, nice cars, good furniture, pension plans—and then her husband suffered an industrial accident and became addicted to the pain meds. Instead of helping him, however, she divorced him and he ended up living in a tent in a park in the middle of a Colorado winter while she lived in their McMansion with multiple empty bedrooms and three cars in the garage.

It was through this that I finally discovered the information that turned off my denial for good. My son-in-law contacted me to tell me they were divorced…she didn't tell me because she had stopped speaking to me about five years earlier and, when I asked why, simply said “I have nothing to say to you.” I had no idea why and she stonewalled my every effort to find out. But now that he no longer had to obey her dictates to keep his place in life, my son-in-law came clean: she was mad at me for my blog.

Now you have to understand, this was before this particular blog was on line. Previously I had a private—password protected—blog that contained the first 46 entries of this blog. I had written it as a catharsis and gave out the password to only a few, carefully selected people. Obviously, my daughter got the password from someone, read the blog and took exception. She told her husband that is was nothing but lies…but almost all of those entries were about events that happened before she was born, and since NM was long dead, she had no way of actually knowing if my stories were true or not, but she decided they weren't. She then cut off all contact with me. But she went one step further, which ultimately explained why some of my family members inexplicably backed away from me: she told them about the blog and scared them into thinking I was telling lies about the whole family. Essentially, she cut me out of the family so thoroughly that when my beloved father died, my daughter and her family were listed as next-of-kin, but I was omitted from the obituary altogether!

Where did I go wrong? Well, hindsight being much more accurate than foresight, I think I know: I made the mistake of allowing my narcissistic mother to have contact with my children. So desperate was I for her love and attention, I used my children as lures…she might not come to see me, but she would come to see them! But it was years until I realized that had she ignored them, along with me, until we became useful to her: her beloved younger brother could not have children of his own and was rejected as an adoptive parent. My mother had tried to force me to abort my daughter when I was 17, unmarried, and pregnant and when that didn’t work, she refused me permission to get married…I had to get a court order to get a marriage license and be married before my baby was born. I don’t think she ever forgave me that: for my entire life my mother made a point of separating me from everyone and everything I loved, from dolls and toys to pets to family members…it was much too late when I realized that her sudden appearance in our lives was not because she had awakened and realized she had a daughter and grandchildren to love, it was because she finally had a use for us: I was the producer of the two children she was going to give to her brother to adopt…and how it hurt me or those children was never even considered.

So I went wrong by not realizing just how deeply predatory my mother was, and by wanting the tokens of maternal affection so much that I was willing to expose my children to a grandmother who had mercilessly beaten and demeaned me, their mother. I went wrong by allowing her to have an influence on my children…would my daughter have outgrown her innate narcissism if she had never had the narcissistic role models of my mother and the adopting aunt? Certainly my mother had no boundaries and in reviewing my daughter’s behaviours over the years, I am seeing that she has had very few…what she wants dictates her behaviour and she plays her game several steps ahead, like chess.

Would the lack of narcissistic role models have changed things? My youngest child had a malignant narcissist stepfather who raised him from toddlerhood. The man actually told my son that he didn’t have to listen to me…how is that for teaching disrespect? Would this boy have reached his majority with the ambition to go out and set the world on fire with his intellect (which is prodigious)…or would he have still decided, at 18, that he was going to live his life as a mooch and I was somehow responsible to take care of him for the rest of his days?

There is no way to know, but in my case, it is obvious that allowing my children intimate contact with narcissistic authority figures was a bad, bad move on my part. That I had no idea what narcissism was in those days doesn’t excuse me: I knew how brutal my mother could be but I chose to believe that she wouldn’t behave badly with her grandchildren and I was now too old for her to beat. That I had no idea what narcissism was does not excuse giving my sons a role model for whom exploitation of others and a pervasive sense of entitlement was the core of his personality…I knew he had “bad” ideas about other people but I set him up as a role model, a parental figure, for my children. Is it any wonder they have no respect or love for me? Who did they ever see, during their formative years, who loved and respected their mother? How much of it did they learn and how much of it was in their psyches when they were born?

There is really no way to know…and what I should have done, what is the prudent thing to do in situations like that, would be to keep them away from my FOO. Yes, there were many benign people, but those people were the very ones who asked me to “bury the hatchet” with my narcissistic mother…advice that I took and came to bitterly regret. Just because you are a scapegoat child of a narcissist does not mean you cannot bring forth narcissistic children, but you can limit the influence of your family narcissists, enablers, deniers, and apologists. If I had been looking at the situation with clear eyes and a whole heart, I would have kept those children as far away from my family as I could…and thereby limited their influence on children who didn’t need to have narcissism, enabling, and denial demonstrated to them by the extended family.

I didn’t know…but I should have known that these people were not good role models for my children. Somewhere deep inside I knew better…I just did not act on it. And now, whether or not they were born to be narcissists or it was something learned, is effectively moot.


  1. I count myself as lucky. Even though my daughter, like me, committed the unforgivable sin of being born female, I allowed my parents access to her in an effort to win their approval.
    The old man controlled his rages in her presence while my mother quietly manipulated. As my daughter grew into adulthood they tried to turn her against me, manipulate her with money and dictate how she should live her life right down to who she could date. Finally, unable to control her, the old man pulled out all the stops and unleashed one of his epic rages.
    I'm proud to say, my kid turned her back on both of them...for good!

  2. You are indeed, fortunate. Like you, I allowed access to my kids in an effort to gain approval. And, like your parents, my NM tried to control my daughter with money...but in her case, there was fertile ground.

    She is pretty much the matriarch of the family now: she replaced me in the family and in many... ways it is as if I never existed.

    And you know what? Since I fully accepted that she is who and what she is, I am no longer pained by it. Puzzled? yah...still puzzled...but I've never been particularly interested in controlling the lives of others...I'm too lazy for that, so she can have NM's control-freak mantle. Somehow being able to walk away from all of that...and them...without feeling pain for doing it, seems very freeing.

    Good on your daughter...she made a good choice. I hope it foreshadows a lifetime of them.

    1. Once I accepted them for what they are and accepted that they'd never change, I did the same. Walked away without guilt or pain. A huge weight was lifted and I have no intention of carrying it again.
      Yeah, my kid kicks ass in many ways but, now, so do I!

  3. I have only just stumbled upon the findings of NPD after knowing all my 34 years that something was very wrong with my Mother.

    I have only ceased contact with her as of six months ago for my daughters sake, the signs of early manipulation and guilt trips from my Mother towards my then 7 year old just turned flicked the switch that I needed to finally cease contact after trying on and off the last few years to remove her from our lives.

    I will admit I often look for signs in my child for the horrible traits, but so far beyond the usual young child reactions one would expect. I can say she is actually a pretty empathetic and a very caring soul. Which brings me so much relief and then guilt that I would even think to look for it in her.

    I know I have to learn to not carry the toxicity of my own Mother/Daughter relationship into ours. I am related to so many NPD sometimes it actually scares me how small our family contact is since I have cut them all off, there are not many left standing and some have been wiser than me and cut off all family contact years earlier.

    Whilst I worry I could be doing my daughter harm by this isolation, I hope knowing she will be saved from the pain I experienced will be well worth it.

    If I needed any further proof my Mother is a true NPD, this week my daughter received a birthday card from her in the Mail, since we have no contact with her I opened it to make sure it was not filled with some horrible message of how terrible we are as I once received on a birthday. Inside was a card for an 8 year old with a loving message to her, as if she had just seen her last week and as a present - A studio photograph of Herself my Step-Father and their dog. Just what every 8 year old needs to not forget her picture perfect Nanna. I have put it away as a reminder of everything that is wrong and my daughter hasn't mentioned her once in the passing months so I don't think she is missing her.

    I am sorry you have had to experience heartache with your daughter, it is so much heartache, especially when the pain is only received on one end.

    Thank you again for this blog, it has truly been enlightening and so helpful to me as I learn more about what it is that my Mother and Paternal Grandmother truly are and how I can repair without guilt.

  4. Wow, I am so sorry to hear about your experience with your daughter. This story hits so close to home it's actually hard to read. I find myself relating deeply to you and your daughter. My prayers/thoughts go out to both of you.

    Thank you! for taking such a compassionate approach, and pointing out the natural narcissism of children/teens. This is so important for parents to know and be mindful of. Especially if past experiences make them more sensitive to potentially narcissistic traits. Because there is, unfortunately, another possibility which I haven't seen you mention, and which you were thankfully welladjusted enough to probably never consider yourself: The option of being so hypervigilant one projects one's past onto others at the slightest hint of something being off. And either taking it out on that person, or trying to obsessively control them into changing "for their own good."

    My own mother took that option rather than the ones you considered. Unfortunately this is something that still poisons our relationship to this day. I am sympathetic to her abuse but it's hard to get over. I still can't speak to her without experiencing incurable anxiety and nausea.

    She was so hypervigilant about squashing narcissistic traits in me (especially after I lived with her narcissistic mother while she was ill and recovering...) She saw signs of narcissism in those ordinary child behaviors, and she responded to me as if I were the devil himself. I felt I forever had it coming from both sides - I must lie for my grandmother to escape her wrath. But if I am ever caught lying by my mother, she will tell me I am a soulless, sociopathic monster. Groundings and spankings for a small lie told when I was eight lasted into secondary school. Any indication of selfishness at all was cause for being dragged off to see a shrink.

    The result is sadly very similar to the experience of being raised by an actual narcissist. Frequent insecurity, selfdoubt, selfhate, and the feeling I must walk on eggshells when I'm around her. It's important to note that I truly believe she felt she was looking out for me. Unfortunately the legacy of narcissistic abuse can damage future generations in countless creative and terrible ways, so I think this is an important flipside of denial for ACONs to be aware of.

    And just so nobody gets the wrong idea, my maternal relationship has nothing to do with why I feel empathy for your daughter's situation. Would that I had a mother like you; although denial isn't good it indicates to me a generosity and trust my mother never exhibited. But your daughter's case is a horrific example of the ways narcissism can damage multiple generations - even, especially, those who internalize the narcissist's values. We sometimes think it is easier being the golden child and yet they often end up in circumstances I would not wish on *anyone.*

  5. The part I relate to is that I also ended up pimped out as a teen. Alone that is enough to destroy a life, but combine it with a narcissistic role model and it becomes deadly. This is another important point for ACON parents, because I think children/grandchildren of narcissists are especially susceptible to this particular kind of predator (pimps) and that's definitely something to familiarize yourself with. Because 99% of pimps are narcissists and loving a narcissists makes us uniquely vulnerable to others, and because they are actively seeking those who have the necessary insecurity and vulnerability to control.

    The classic scapegoats among us may lack the recognition of warning signs or self esteem to seek escape and help. And the golden children who believe they can control everything and believe seeking help is weak stay for other reasons. It is a situation that preys on our unique vulnerabilities. And it is one that encourages our very worst fleas/traits.

    We learn to lie and hide from feelings from our idolized narcissist, who will only give the affection we desire if we do so. And these coping mechanisms are violently enforced by those who enslave us, for now lying and repressing feelings feels literally necessary for our survival. Those who would blame you instead of your mother and daughter's pimp really don't understand this. When I hear these things I don't ask why her personality is pathological but why not?

    My prayers go out to your daughter that she can someday receive help from this trauma that no child deserves. She's lucky to have a mother like you, who didn't blame or mistreat her for this like my own did. And my thoughts go out to you for this heartbreak. Thank you for the important writing that you do here.

  6. As others have said, I let my NFOO near my children in the hopes that we could bond together over them. As everyone else discovered, the games don't stop just because there are children involved (after all, we were only children when the abuse started--why would our children be spared). It took seeing it through my then-10-year-old's eyes to realize just how horrible the situation was, and after finding these blogs and learning from the wiser minds who had walked this path before me I went NC. I'm convinced that's all you can do because there's certainly reasoning with an N, no hoping for the best because there *is* no best. --LuLoo

  7. "I know now that looking like a victim allowed him to elicit Nsupply from others with a minimum of effort on his part but back then I could not fathom why he would deliberately disadvantage himself…" OMG, this! I know someone who pulls exactly this routine. There was something about her that struck me as narc-y and I couldn't figure out what it was. It's precisely this, this manipulative "Oh, poooor me" that makes me feel like I'm supposed to *do* something about her drama, even when I don't want to. Thank you for naming this. It is a desperate grope for N-supply, and now that I can name it, I can take a giant step back and stop getting hoovered.

  8. I think realizing that your adult child is personality disordered has to be one of the worst heartaches a loving mother can experience. I came to this horrible realization about my 33-year-old son in May of this year. I am still not fully over the shock.

    The worst part is realizing that my son is badly, and probably incurably, emotionally handicapped – for not having the capacity to truly love or empathize with another human being is a terrible emotional handicap, indeed.

    The second worst part is dealing with all the self-blame I've been feeling, as I look back over a lifetime and try to figure out where I went wrong and wonder if I had done this or that differently, would my son be like he is today?

    Heart rending, all of it.

    In June of last year my husband and I invited my son, his fiancée of 10 years, and her 14-year-old daughter, to live rent-free in our small house while they got back on their feet financially after losing their home. Our 800 square foot, two bedroom house is adequate for my husband and me and our big Cattle dog, but it is not nearly large enough for four adults, an adult-sized teenager, our cat-hating dog, and my son's two cats to live in together. Also, my husband is severely allergic to cats, to the point where his eyes swell nearly shut within 15 minutes of being around one. Yet my husband told my son that his cats could live here too, because we did not want my son and his family to endure the heartache of giving up their pets.

    So my son, his family, and their cats moved into our house in July of last year, while my husband and I and our dog (we have 2 dogs now but we only had one then), moved into the minuscule RV fifth wheel camping trailer we keep in our back yard for holidays.

    Three months went by before my son even began to look for work! When we asked him what he was doing about getting a job, and we pointed out the many jobs in this area that are available, my son said he could not look for work right away because he had to let the pot he regularly smoked get out of his system, since most new jobs require drug testing. My son also said he was "too depressed" over losing his home and moving so far away from all of his friends, to go out and look for work. He had needed the pot to medicate his depression and anxiety, he claimed. Also, he said that most of the available jobs in this area were not jobs he “wanted to do.”

    My husband and I have both dealt with severe depression, so we were gentle and understanding. Finally, about 4 months after moving into our house, my son was hired to work at a part time Christmas job as a store clerk. He worked this 20 or so hour per week job for about two months, hoping it would lead to full time work after the holidays were over... but he suddenly quit his job one day when his boss gave him a written reprimand for failing to lock the store when he was responsible to close the previous evening.

    My son waited another two months before looking for work again, saying he was stressed and depressed over his failed, short-lived job. Also, he still did not find most of the available jobs around here to his liking. Meanwhile, his fiancée got a job working at a near by convenience store, but she quit after only 2 days when she was asked to clean a greasy stove.

    The teenage girl stopped going to school and a Truant officer came to the house. Apparently the three of them were playing video games and watching movies and being on the computer at all hours in our house, while my husband and I were buying them food, paying extra for utilities, plus we paid for emergency dental work for my son... while we continued to not charge them rent... as my 6'3", 290 pound husband, our 70+ pound dog, and non-petite me, were going stir crazy literally tripping over each other in our incredibly shrinking camping trailer. (continued)

  9. (part 2)
    Around the first of March of this year, my son finally found another job, again working just 20 hours per week. Then my 65-year-old husband was in a motorcycle accident that destroyed his bike, broke several bones, and almost cost him his right leg. My husband spent 13 days in a hospital nearly 200 miles away on IV antibiotics fighting the infection in his leg (he is diabetic). While I worried and fretted in the 24' by 8' camper trailer in our back yard, my son and his fiancée and her teenage girl living in our house did not lift a finger to help me with anything, ever. I even had to go to a laundry or else wash my clothes by hand in the trailer sink, because in order to get to our own clothes washer and dryer that is in our house, I would have to walk through a bedroom that was constantly occupied by one of them... I did mention once to my son and his fiancee that, although we did not invite them to live here in order that they might be our slaves, it would be a great help if they would do some of our laundry for us sometimes, along with mowing the yard and pulling some weeds in the summer. They both said they would do those two things for us, laundry and yard work, but they never did. Not once in the ten and a half months that they lived here rent-free, did they do any chores for us. My husband and I either went to an expensive laundry mat, or else we washed things out by hand when we could not afford that expense, or when the items needed washing were too big to hand wash, like our bedding then we made do with dirty bedding and clothes, when we did not have the cash for going to the laundry.

    Looking back on it, I am embarrassed, now, that we put up with it for so long. But we really did buy into the “we're depressed” line, and we did not want to bother or stress them by adding our need for clean clothes and bedding and towels, to their anxiety and depression.

    A couple of weeks after my husband came home from the hospital – or rather, when he came back to the tiny camper trailer from the hospital, with his right arm and broken hand still in a cast, barely able to walk on his injured leg, and with a visiting nurse coming by several times a week to tend to his injuries, my son flew at my husband with his fists balled up, shouting at him, and why? Because my husband, after taking several deep calming breaths, had softly and carefully told my son to stop going behind his back to ask me for money. “I left that money for your mother for emergency use,” my husband told him. “You took her emergency money. I told you once before not to do that. Don't do it again.” Then my healthy young son balled up his fists and came at my crippled husband, yelling that because I am his “F***ing Mom,” he can talk to me whenever he wants, about whatever he wants.

    My husband and I then told my son that he had three days to get moved out of our house. We thought three days was more than fair, all things considered. But then my son began screaming at me, calling me an F***ing B**** .... and then his fiancee got into it with a lot of hateful crazy talk, accusing us of being fake Christians and calling me a horrible mother (she, whom I've been told has often said to her daughter that she wished she'd aborted her) … The situation quickly deteriorated to the point where my husband and I were literally afraid for our physical safety, on our own property.

    The next day we went and talked the situation over at length with our therapist, then we talked it over with our minister, and by the end of it all, we made the extremely difficult decision to go to court to get my son and his family removed from our home. The judge heard all sides and agreed that according to the preponderance of the evidence an assault against my husband had occurred, and they were out. (continued)

  10. (part 3)
    The most shocking part to me was the way my son talked and behaved while under oath in the courtroom. He was just.... warped. Not right. It was unbelievable. It seemed like a mask had been ripped away and I was seeing my youngest child for the first time.

    I thought he was a much better person than this. I thought he had a heart. How did I not see it, in all these years? Like you, Violet, I put a lot of it down to teenage rebellion when he was much younger. Then he seemed to calm down by his early 20s. He did a good job of acting as if he were a normal adult, around me, anyway. But as my husband and I discovered the hard way, when we put my son in a situation where he had the ability of either acting like a responsible, honorable man or taking advantage of us, he took advantage of us. My husband and I had lovingly talked with him many, many times. We bought into his “I'm too depressed to look for work” line. We even bought into him saying that he needed to smoke the pot that prevented him from passing a drug test in order to get a job, because that was how he medicated his depression and anxiety. We did tell him, though, before they even moved here, that no drugs or alcohol are allowed in our house, and we foolishly trusted them to abide by that. We gave my son and his family the benefit of the doubt, over and over and over again, and in doing so, we made total fools of ourselves.

    But when my healthy 33-year-old son came at my 65-year-old injured husband with his fists balled up, simply because he did not like being told by his stepfather that he must not take his mother's emergency money... and when my son compounded this crime by calling me names for daring to tell him that he had 3 days to get out of our house (and by the way, he has a father who has much more money than we do, so we were NOT throwing them out to be homeless in the street) … oh ….. OH! My heart is broken to realize that this is who my son has grown up to be.

    I keep thinking it is my fault for not being a better, smarter, SANER mother. To say I did the best I could with what I had at the time sounds like a totally lame excuse, even to my own ears. I screwed up, dammit. That's the bottom line. I am his mother and I screwed up.

    I have a 40-year-old daughter who is awesome – she isn't perfect, but she is way more together than me – and I have a 43-year-old son whom I think would be no less awesome than my daughter, if it weren't for a bad head injury he suffered as a teenager that really messed him up, behaviorally and cognitively, in a lot of ways. Although he can hold a decent job and he does not seem to be a narcissist, beginning the day after his concussion, although the doctors had said he was alright, my elder son was doing crazy things like setting fire to his room, then tearfully asking if he was going to jail. He was 13, then. He seems to have never outgrown what that head trauma did to him. The worst of it is that he seemed to lose his sexual inhibitions and his moral compass when he had that injury, and also, his temper after that can be horrible. He has been abusive toward women, and he has paid for it, meaning he went to prison for a year when he was in his 20s and he beat up the mother of his child. I really think it is all due to the head injury, though, rather than his genes or upbringing, because he was never anything like that before.

    But my younger son... I don't understand him. How did my sweet little boy turn into this hateful, entitled, lazy, ungrateful, disrespectful stranger?

    Oh, Violet... I feel like I owe you a couple of hundred dollars at least, for therapy.

    HUGS ~Alaina

    1. Ann Landers once said "Nobody can take advantage of you without your permission." For me, that was the hardest lesson of stop giving permission to the people I loved to take advantage of me.

      As far as your son goes, put this in the forefront of your mind: YOU did not create him to be who he is...the man he is today is a combination of genetics and his own choices. Even if he was born with a strong narcissistic gene and you spoilt him extravagantly, he is an adult, he KNOWS what the society expects of him, and he made a CONSCIOUS CHOICE to go against that.

      I also had an adult child come back to live with me...and I made it as difficult on her as possible in order to motivate her to find a job and get out. She and her husband and baby lived in my family room--no house, no privacy, no control over her life. I took her to my office on a Saturday and taught her the basics of using a computer, copy machine, fax machine, office phone, and basic office procedures. I called in a favour from a friend in an employment agency and, for her birthday, took my daughter to a low-cost clothing store and bought her three outfits suitable for office work. Then I contacted a SAHM friend and asked if she'd like to make some extra money babysitting my grandson while my daughter worked. I put everything together to help her succeed in finding work while making her life in my house welcome but less-than-comfortable. She had a job and was out and into her own apartment in under 4 months.

      It should be noted that this was post-therapy...this was when I KNEW how to take care of myself and I put that in motion. Interestingly, if you ask my daughter about this period, she does not acknowledge any of my contributions...not even the furniture and appliances that were given to her (I had recently remarried and we combined two households so we had a lot of stuff in storage) to furnish that bare apartment.

      It was not until years later that I recognized what she was doing...I had to see the pattern of her behaviour...she bought a house by asking my NM for money then, after two years, sold the house and moved without telling me anything about it. I realized just recently that, over the years, everything I ever gave her, she got rid of, from furniture to a computer, to several pets (when she was 15 a cat and a dog, both of which she abandoned for me to take care of...later she picked up her cat and then, after a few months, had it put down...a purebred Persian kitten she wanted...given away within a abandoned kitten I hand raised and gave to her son as his cat...she had it put to sleep). But it wasn't until she moved in with my narcissistic ex-husband that I began to see who she really was...and her furious scolding of me when I told my father that she was living with my ex...she claims she never slept with him, but nobody really believed her.

      These were HER choices. Even if my mother's narcissis gene was handed down to her in a heavy dose, that does not change the fact that she is not stupid, she KNOWS what the society expects of her, and she CHOSE not to live up to those expectations. I feel no guilt about HER choices...and you shouldn't be feeling guilty about your son's choices either...they are HIS and you are not responsible for them.

    2. Uh, no, what kind of man did YOU choose to marry that then went on to likely SEXUALLY ASSAULT your daughter? Are you religious? I think your family life did terrible things to that young woman. -jj

    3. Apparently you need to re-read this for content. She was an adult and living in a different state when she chose to move into the same house with my ex-husband. When I married the man I had no idea where my daughter and my oldest son were--my mother had stolen them and given them to her younger brother and wife to adopt. They came back to live with me when she was 14 and he was 12 because my uncle and aunt didn't want them any more because my son was in trouble with the law and my uncle didn't want to sell his sailboat to pay for the boy's legal fees.

      My ex-husband, for all that he was a narcissist, was far from stupid. My daughter did a lot of "seductive" stuff (seductive in the eyes of a 14-year-old, not an adult), even going so far as to tell him that he didn't need me because she could do anything for him that I could do. That scared the crap out of him because all he could see were jail bars--he was not stupid enough to fool around with a girl her age and he came to me and demanded that I "make her stop." She was pretty insulted when I told her to knock it off, but she did.

      I agree that my family did terrible things to her. They also did terrible things to both of her brothers and to her mother. My mother died when my youngest child was 26 and not once in his entire lifetime did she acknowledge his existence: no birthday cards, no Christmas gifts, no acknowledgement of his existence whatsoever except to name him in her will, saying he was to receive nothing "for reasons already known to him"--he knew nothing--he had never even met the woman.

      As far as being religious goes--no, I am not religious. I will not associate myself with those who call themselves Christians but who, in fact, go entirely against everything Christ stood for. I have no respect for modern Christianity: the evangelicals are Christian in name only and the non-evangelicals don't call them out on their perversion of the teachings of Christ. My own sense of ethics and empathy for others dictate that I eschew them to the greatest degree possible.

  11. Thank you. Oh yes, they left behind nearly everything we gave them, including the furniture we had told them they could keep, since they had left their old furniture behind to move here. My son also pointedly left behind his copy of a novel I wrote 15 years ago, that I had autographed with a long loving message to him. However, he clearly kept the android phone we had given him for Christmas, using it to send me multiple hateful texts several times a day, until the court order stopped him.

  12. About Ann Landers saying that no one can take advantage of you without your permission ~ I remember her saying that. The thing is, my son had been suicidally depressed as a teenager, even briefly hospitalized for it at his doctor's urging, so when he said he was too depressed to work, we bought it. Also, his fiancee has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has a very spotty work history because of it. So we didn't expect much from her... even so, 2 days at a job before quitting was a surprise.

    The thing is, in my healing journey, as I read about the lifelong emotional damage that can result from a difficult childhood, I came to realize that my PTSD and depressions and bad marriages had been a horrible way for my children to grow up. And I wanted to make up for some of that. Even for the fact that I spanked them when they were small. I truly believed it was the "right" way to parent. But now I believe like Alice Miller, that spanking a child does far more damage than good. So I wanted to make it up to my son, to amend for my failures as a mother.

    We allowed them to take advantage of us when we thought they really were depressed and doing the best they could. But when my son became physically abusive toward my injured husband and verbally abusive to me, we were done. Depression is one thing, abuse is quite another.

  13. I don't mean to sound critical but how come so many women from dysfunctional families just go out and produce more dysfunctional families? I came from a negative family background myself and I was determined that my kids would never live in this world. I suspect I had decided not to have kids by my early teens, if not earlier and I meant it, not that I ever said it as nothing I said was taken seriously anyway.

    Oddly enough, I wasn't the only one in my family to make this decision and there are very few descendants even in the extended family. Maybe dysfunctional families have a built-in self-destruction mechanism. Actually the smaller the dysfunctional family, the easier it is to cope, for me anyhow.

    However it never occurred to me back then that one's own kid could end up one's enemy or that dear old granny could take the kid over and warp its mind. Two more reasons not to have kids that I never would have dreamt of when I was young enough to have kids.

    1. Because they are good little girls who learn the lessons taught to them by their dysfunctional families. Their training included feeling guilty when they did something against their training, or even recognizing the dysfunction itself. They were taught they would be disloyal to recognize the truth or to speak of it. And, perhaps most important, these lessons were reinforced with the withdrawal of love and approval from their families, and their only hope of getting that love and approval was to be "good" under their dysfunctional families' definition of "good."

      Your question actually shows a decided lack of empathy, for all that you said you did not mean to be critical. Most people who were the scapegoats in a dysfunctional family can FEEL why other scapegoats behave and feel the way they do. Many scapegoats are unaware than they even have choices different from following the dictates of their dysfunctional family and when they discover their choices and make a choice different from that which serves the family, are soundly punished for it...that is what happened to me and my punishment was to have the family bond together and take my children away from me for eight years, during which time the children were inculcated with dysfunctional values rather than the healthier ones I was discovering.

      The lack of love from the Family Of Origin (FOO) drives many young women to have children young: I remember being very protective of my teen pregnancy, rebelling openly against my narcissistic mother when she tried to force me into abortion or adoption, because I believed that the child I carried would love me just as I loved her. And she did...until my FOO took her and kept her inside their toxic environment for eight years.

      People who come from dysfunctional FOOs who choose not to have children are making just as dysfunctional choice as people who have babies in order to have someone to love them. Both choices ignore the need to resolve the emotional issues brought about by being raised in a dysfunctional environment and the emotional distress caused by it. Whether the emotional distress is clear and acutely felt or so deeply buried that it is unrecognized or denied, it is still there and must be acknowledged and resolved in order for us to live full, emotionally healthy lives.

      I am sure some families have this "self-destruct" mechanism, but not mine. My grandparents had only four grandchildren...there would have been more but one of their kids was infertile. Of the four grandchildren, we produced six great-grandchildren and of those, I know of 3 great-greats and one great-great-great (she is only 3). My dysfunctional family continues to grow and the dysfunction has been handed down to the succeeding generations.

      It is never to late to resolve the issues brought about by being raised in a dysfunctional family. You have chosen one coping mechanism, but it is no more a healthy one than those who have chosen different coping mechanisms, the ones that seem to puzzle you. Your inability to understand why these people made their choices demonstrates a lack of empathy on your part, which can come about when, seeking to deflect hurt coming from family and friends, we shut off our ability to be hurt--the obverse side of that coin, unfortunately, is that we also lose our ability to emotionally identify with others. I would suggest that spending some time in therapy with a therapist who has experience helping others who come from dysfunctional families would benefit you a great deal.



    2. There are many things that can be hard to understand. I do not think this indicates a lack of empathy.

      Nobody understands everybody. We are all works in progress IMO. Just because you are good at that does not mean everybody is. You are very blessed to have that reaction.

    3. Empathy does not require understanding. It is an emotional, visceral reaction that, in and of itself, connects to..even mirrors...the feelings of the other person.

      That you equate empathy (an emotional response) with understanding (an intellectual response) indicates, in and of itself, a lack of empathy.

      I am not "good" at empathy...I simply have it. What I am good at is explanations. I am good at recognizing and explaining because I spent many years in therapy learning how to do that. What I do is articulate what people feel such that they can connect emotionally to the explanations that are germane to their own lives.

      People who lack empathy do not connect, even though they may intellectually understand. If my experiences and the experiences of my readers do not provoke a compassionate emotional feeling in you, then by definition, you lack empathy.

      A good therapist may be able to help you, assuming you wish to add that dimension to your life.

  14. This post resonated with me more than anything else I've voraciously read about NPD so far. I read "The Scapegoat's Daughter," because, at this very moment, my DD is willingly participating in my isolation and dismissal from the "family," with NM and GC/NSis.

    As I delve deeper into this, my mind always goes back to, "Yeah, but, can DD be salvaged from this?" I hate seeing the destruction barreling towards her (NM and GC/NSis sickness), and not being able to do a thing to stop it.

    NM and GC/NSis got their filthy claws into her the minute I kicked her out (years of disrespect learned from exposure to NM and GC/NSis when I should have gone NC LONG before that had demonstrated to her exactly how to demean me as subtly as possible so that it would take me so much longer to catch on). Once they had her, she was putty in their hands.

    I find myself now mourning the daughter I raised and forcing myself to accept that the one who stands in her place now as a young adult is a shallow substitute. Shallow because they're hell-bent on sucking the goodness and humanity out of her and leaving only selfishness,, soullessness, and entitlement in it's place.

    I really miss my kid. I kick myself daily for having allowed my sick family near her in the first place.

    Thank you for your story -- it might have told me what I'm most afraid of, but, it is good to know that there's some modicum of healing even after THAT.

  15. We also have to take responsibility for our own parenting actions. It is easy to blame the grandmother, when some of our own behaviors do contribute. Like not setting good firm boundaries with our kids, and not being tough enough on our own kids when they act bad. We sometimes overcompensate and end up doing harm. Nobody can take advantage of you without your consent - that includes letting your own children take advantage and explaining it away as the N's fault, if you behave rationally and do not react out of fear and worry, the N will not be able to manipulate your child. If you create a loving trusting bond with your own kids, an N will have a much hard time manipulating. Stand up to all people and take responsibility as parents we we are the ones contributing. It is not all the N's fault, if you have that mindset, you are like the N, having a victim mentality gets you nowhere.

    1. Your comment perfectly exemplifies the mind set of those people who don't "get it." And while you are correct that having a victim mentality gets a person nowhere, you completely overlook the arduous path that must be trodden to get from victim to self-actualization. And furthermore you either overlook or seriously underestimate the sheer tenacity and viciousness of a determined narcissist.

      Do yourself a favour...go back to the very first entry in this blog and read the whole thing, most especially the comments. When you have finished, if you don't have some insight into what these people have to deal with, how destructive the narcissistic parent can be to the later generations, and how bound their scapegoat children can be, then you completely lack empathy and may well be a narcissist yourself.

  16. Next time some narc-enabling extended relative tells you to "bury the hatchet" with your narcissistic relative(s), just tell say "I can't. I'm not the one holding the hatchet."

  17. I really miss my kids but I am disowned. However bad I am treated and ridiculed, I care for them and wish them well. I am personality disordered person myself and I feel responsible for my kids defects and sadness. It is never possible to forget your kids regardless of anything. My ex and my mother had different reasons to take control over my kids to alienate their dad but it doesn't really matter. I still love them and miss them so much even if I am treated as someone to shun away from.

    1. You present like you feel victimized. But if you are personality disordered, then you victimized those who have shut you out.

      There is nothing in the rules of life that say your situation is cast in stone. But if you don't get off your butt and into therapy, then this not only is a situation you created yourself, but one you perpetuate through your lack of action.

      If you want the situation to change, then you need to take the steps to change it: go to therapy, WORK the therapy, learn to overcome the PD. This CAN be done. If you are narcissistic, you may not be able to learn empathy, but you can learn to be sensitive to the feelings of others, even if you can't connect to those feelings. YOU can change simply by chosing to make changes and then DOING it, even when it is hard. After a couple of years of therapy in which YOU work on changing your ways, you can approach your estranged family with a mea culpa. Acknowledge your faults, apologize for hurting them, tell them you have been in therapy for several years and you now understand things you did not understand before. Ask how you can make amends and LISTEN to the answers and be willing to do what is necessary to repair the damage you have done. If your family is worth is to you, you will do this.

      Or, of course, you can do nothing and continue to feel sorry for yourself.

      The choice, as always, is yours.

    2. Thank you for your kind reply. I felt sorry because I miss them but I learned that this is self-pity. I'll have to be more mindful of myself than to whine. My apologies.

  18. On March 5th, I decided to move on from my N daughter. I miss my grandchildren terribly. As a N, she of course uses the children as pawns with me. Her father and I caused her a LOT of pain growing up. Her father is bi-polar and I had bouts of drinking to try and cope with him being unmedicated. On top of that, she is an only child. I don't understand why all of a sudden, she has gotten so much worse? I have always known she had N tendencies, but in the last few months, she has disrespected me, used me, cursed in my face, threw things at me, etc. My thoughts are maybe because I no longer "cater" to her, but bring the grandchildren gifts when I come now. How can I hang on and be "ok" with not seeing my grandchildren any more? WE were very close. I also suspect some abuse in the house. My granddaughter (who is 3) told me some things about her father, no proof, just the words of a 3 year old. I have lost nights and nights of sleep over it. It's such a destructive environment for those children (3 and 9 months). My daughter told me the last time we spoke that she has "decided" to start smoking pot again. I was LIVID, she was in recovery for years, takes soboxon (she snorts it) and she "says" its the only way she can take it. It's so heartbreaking, the whole mess. Now I know her father was a N as well as being bi-polar. Do you know of any support groups I could join? I do not have medical insurance right now and work a temp job so I can not afford therapy. I'm at my witts end..really...and i'm so, so sad and depressed without my grandchildren in my life as I am single and live alone...

  19. on Moday my NPD daughter, mother and golden child my sister are going to testify against me in court to give my granddaughter to someone else to raise because my daughter does not want to. i have been accused of being abusive, giving my daughter PTSD, and not the right person. But what can i do??

  20. Thanks so much for this post. I have always known my
    FOO was different than me. I mistakenly thought that as the oldest it was my job to help us see a different way of "being" and we could get past the hurt of our childhoods. Wow have my eyes been opened the last 2 years. It is the most heart wrenching thing to have to face the fact that your children may be narcistic, and that YOU exposed them to a fully entrenched narcistic family dynamic because you wanted to fit in, thought your family had moved past it, or the worst, thought the troubles were your fault and if you went back accepting blame and made amends, all would be good.

    Your honesty makes it so much easier to be brave amd accept responsibility for my contributing to horrible life patterns one of my children has learned. This child is still in the formative years so could snap out of the narcisitic tendencies, but I am worried, and your story sounds eerily similar to mine.

    Thankyou also for reinforcing my belief it is in my best interest to maintain NC with my FOO. You have also eased the heartache I feel over the child I suspect may have narcistic tendencies, learning to love them the way they are, knowing they feel nothing for me, and not letting myself get hurt because they can't reciprocate.

    I have come to believe that I have to love myself first, and if I don't those narcisistic people I did not invite into my life hone in on that and use it against me. I also believe narcisists I haven't invited into my life yet can sense that, and seem to target me. Thankyou, Thankyou, Thankyou!


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