Hero Child Narcissism and Narcissistic Mother

by Michelle Piper

A narcissistic mother encourages hero child narcissism when it’s to her benefit.

From a narcissistic parent’s point of view, the golden or hero child’s purpose is to keep the family intact and make everything look good on the outside. It’s his or her job to bring esteem and pride to the narcissistic parent. They often do very well in school, are star athletes, popular, and achieve high awards in what they do. Their job is to be a perfect representative of the family as a creation of the narcissistic mother.

The hero child role allows narcissistic parents to be reassured they’re doing well. This makes the narcissistic mother feel that she’s doing a good job raising her kids when in reality she’s done little good for her family. Sadly, all she has done is cause major dysfunction, emotional damage, and dependency when perpetrating narcissistic abuse.

Many of my coaching clients ask about troublesome sibling and benefit when they learn to identify the pattern of hero child narcissism. Some of my coaching clients have been treated as a golden child or hero child and fear they will become or already are narcissists.

All hero or golden children, of course, don’t become narcissists. If you were a hero or golden child and are bothering to read this, it’s highly unlikely you have pathological narcissism. Those who are thoroughly narcissistic may be reading other posts, like “why don’t others adore me as much as mom did?”

Some hero children, however, develop narcissistic tendencies or personality disorders partly because of being placed in that role by the narcissistic mother. The narcissistic mother uses the hero role to put her child on a pedestal to serve as a passing narcissistic supply.

Why?

Because if she decides the child is a “good” reflection of herself, she can boost her ego. She’ll use flattery, bragging, money, gifts, and a disproportionate amount of her attention to reward the hero child for acting in a way that makes her feel good. The younger a child is, the less developed their sense of having a seperate self. Thus the child is an easy target for manipulation by a narcissistic parent.

Passing moments of being put in a role such as a hero or golden child will usually leave the child’s self esteem intact, but repetitive treatment of this manner is costly to the child. It robs the child of the ability to feel an internal sense of accomplishment and confidence in the world in favor of the immediate gratification the narcissistic mother provides at her whim, impairing the development of a healthy ego and self esteem.

A healthy mother helps you to grow up with a sense of confidence in your own ability to interpret and respond to the world by encouraging the child to make age appropriate decisions on their own and providing realistic information about the world.

A narcissistic parent does the opposite, filtering and distorting information about the world to her benefit but to the child’s expense, bending the truth and violating the child’s sense of reality.

For the child placed in hero or golden role, the narcissistic mother drips approval continuously and excessively to manipulate the hero child to solve her problems, take care of her other children and household chores, as well as look good to the outside world so she gets plenty of compliments for her parenting.

In other words, the mother acts in a way that sets up an addictive, enmeshed relationship between she and the hero child. Through this emotional abuse, the child becomes dependent on her approval. Enmeshment can be so pervasive that the child goes into the adulthood still seeing the world through his or her narcissistic mother’s eyes.

Being forever dependent on the mother makes the child vulnerable to craving “other esteem,” or adoration solely from the world outside of oneself.

The child develops an unrealistic expectation that others will treat him or her with the same over-attentiveness that mother manufactured out of her own narcissistic needs. Sometimes, the hero child merely gets assigned to looking good and the other siblings are put in different roles to get the narcissistic parent’s work done.

In addition, fellow siblings of the hero child may suffer through the years, watching the hero or golden child favored with–what may look like–their narcissistic mother’s love. Unfortunately, the narcissistic parent is happy to pit her kids against one another to fight to be the golden or hero child. It’s a primitive way for her to feel a sense of control or power.

Too often, the narcissistic mother’s corrosive effect on sibling relationships will last long after she’s gone because she plays out her favoritism in her will, commonly placing most of her net worth with the child who had the hero or golden child role at the time it was written.

As painful as it is to watch a hero or golden child get most of the praise from mother as a child, it is also excruciating to have a sibling throughout your adulthood who is stuck in a narcissistic pattern you’ve already endured in your parent.

If placed in the hero or golden child position often enough, the child is at risk to exhibit narcissistic behavior throughout adulthood. When forever exalted in this role by the mother, the child is falsely empowered. False empowerment by the mother creates the desire for “other esteem” instead of self esteem.

On the other hand, the hero or golden child can be dethroned according to the narcissistic mother’s whim. When she needs someone to blame for things in her life, she may dump her unwanted feelings on the child. A hero child can then be ignored, scapegoated or put in another role that suits the narcissistic mother’s ever thirsty ego.

This on again off again adoration can cause a trauma bond between the narcissistic mother and child. A trauma bond is when a negative attachment is formed between abuser and victim.

The child kicked out of the hero role is left to wonder why the very same behavior that made mom gush one day is demonized on another. The toll this takes on one’s sense of reality can also make the child vulnerable to compensating with narcissism, feeling one-up or conversely, suffering great anxiety, depression, and guilt, feeling one-down.

If you have been a discarded hero or golden child, you may have experienced intense negative feelings such as unworthiness. It is the hero child’s job to make sure the outside world does not see how dysfunctional the family really is and yet it is an impossible, exhausting task. He or she works incredibly hard for the approval of others, trying to be perfect as possible.

If the hero child becomes narcissistic, he or she likely defaults to a falsely empowered “one-up” state where, when threatened, defends the fragile “other esteem” ego by adopting a belief they are superior to you, thus objectifying themselfves, losing their sense of humanity which is to be perfectly imperfect as all humans are.

For those who have been in the hero or golden child role, your recovery from narcissistic abuse will be aided by considering times you go “one-up,” “better than” or its opposite “not good enough” or “worthless” as a defense. If you notice this, realize old patterns from the chidhood you’ve worked hard to leave behind, and be kind to yourself.

One technique my coaching clients have used effectively is to practice being grateful when you notice those thoughts and either bring yourself down from the “I’m better than you” feeling, or up from the “not good enough” feeling so you can better relate to those you care about. Think of the two extremes of thought as ditches on either side of a road and try to recorrect yourself to the middle. I’m always struck by the self awareness and bravery of commentors on this blog and am curious to hear of your journey.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Diana February 7, 2013 at 6:08 am

I’m so glad that I now have a label for my BIL! He is definitely my NMIL’s golden child, but also has hero narcissism too. My husband has suspected for a while that his twin brother is narcissistic (oh man I could write a book with the stories, including how we were forbidden by my bIL to get engaged while they were engaged because it “would take attention from their 18 month engagement”), but this ties a nice neat bow around what a lot that we already know.

I wonder whether a NM turning her hero/golden children into narcissists is a strategy too… My NBIL has turned 10x worse since getting married and having a baby, literally no one else can get a word in about themselves because you might interrupt his constant monologue (dialogue is too generous since people long ago stopped listening) about how he hates working midnights, is so tired, loves his baby, can’t sleep because of his baby, how his wife is hot, about all of his workouts and how hes trying to get in shape, repeat. However, all of my husbands and NBIL’s mutual friends have all distanced themselves (as have we) from my NBIL because they feel he is not a real friend. So, now NBIL is pushed back to mommy dearest because he needs his ego stroked by someone.
So glad we got off this hamster wheel…

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Melissa February 7, 2013 at 11:34 am

Oh my goodness. I am definitely the Hero Child of my NM. You described my NM and myself to a tee!
I constantly fear that I am a narcissist, just like my Mother. That fear consumes my life.
I am successful. I have a hard time even admitting that, since I never feel worthy of my accomplishments, and I fear that one day I’ll be exposed and everybody will think I’m not really that successful or hard working. People say I’m modest, but I’m just a victim of my NM I guess.
My NM is the worst for having nothing to do with my life, but then make cameo apperances at any events where I’m being recognized for all my hard work. She makes appearances to take some pictures, then posts them on social media sites for all her ‘friends’ to see what a great daughter she has created.
I hate that more than anything. There are times I feel like quitting, just so she has nothing to gloat about anymore. Being a slave to my NM’s ego is exhausting.
My sister on the other hand is the “failure”. The “embarassement” to the family. I feel so bad for her. My NM just cuts her down all the time – so sad. I’m just fortunate enough to have a sister that sees through my NM’s crap and doesn’t take it personally or resent me for being the Hero Child. Thank you, Sister.

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Malini February 7, 2013 at 4:07 pm

I noticed that GC ‘s rarely post on the narcissistic blogs.
Finally an article which addresses the pain and trauma of being an intermittent GC.
I recognise myself 100% in what you wrote Michelle. It takes us long to make our way out of the FOG because we feel something is not right, but how can that be when we are regularly put on a public pedestal and bragged about. We forget the pain and humiliation of the private abuse because our SG siblings seem to have it a lot worse.
But we know that when we are the GC and in the good books, the tide can turn at any moment. We don’t know why, when and how – we just know. We’re always unprepared and shocked to the core of our being. So we don’t trust our instincts, we jump at every noise.
True GC’s certainly exist, but I think that the majority are like me, and we feel we have no voice and feel guilty for having a status we never asked for but which hangs like a curse over our head, as we become pawns in our parents perverse games. A status that is perceived as being preferable than being the scape-goat. SG definitely get the shorter end of the stick but we are not far behind. Just another powerless adult with a terrified child inside which we are unable to protect or comfort.

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Mary February 8, 2013 at 9:43 am

My oldest sister was a Golden Child throughout her childhood and much of her adult life. I am the youngest, and while I think different roles are applied to different people over time, I consider myself mostly to have been a Lost Child. My brother was the Scapegoat, and I’m not sure what you’d call the role of my other sister. My mother always treated her as if she was pitiable, a person who allowed herself to be taken advantage of. Another Lost Child, I suppose? The revelation of the highly dysfunctional family dynamic was probably hardest on my GC sister, though. After all, she had the most reason to invest in my NM’s world view. The rest of us rebelled sooner, and more heartily, and just saw through the facade. My oldest, formerly GC sister had the farthest to fall from grace. I would say at this point she is the most embittered, and has the worst ‘relationship’ with my NM. although she hasn’t decided to go completely No Contact. Fortunately, my sisters and I have a strong bond, and we empathize with each other having survived this damaged family. Malini, your observation that ‘the tide can turn at any moment’ really rang true for me! We used to be so wrapped around my mother’s approval or disapproval. She could send me into such a panic when she lashed out at me. At this point, her power is diminished. None of us are afraid of being cut off, or getting the silent treatment. We would actually welcome it!

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Roger February 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm

I think being labeled the “hero” or “golden” child could be the hardest to break out of. Scapegoats and lost children are more able to see how toxic their NMs are, but it is so much harder for the GC/HC. I think it is our job as their siblings to help them “see the light” so they can work to recover like we are doing. Each role is a burden and no ACON should have to live it forever.

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Malini February 12, 2013 at 1:49 am

Roger, you are absolutely right. My SGB was subjected to such open abuse that he saw the light so much earlier than I did. It took me so much longer to see what was really going on. Despite being scapegoated by my father, I was regarded in higher esteem than my brother by both my parents and I just hung onto that without perceiving that what I saw as “just” manipulation, where I could side-step the potholes and wait until I was in the good books again, was in fact abusive behaviour that would never get better or change.
The backlash on a GC is tremendous, and I struggle every day with the guilt that comes from finally having put my needs before everyone elses (going NC), and also the guilt of having colluded with my parents against my brother, his wife and their lovely daughters for so many years.

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Lisa February 17, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Thanks for writing these posts. I am the SG of a severely narcissistic mother but was I was cast in the GC position when she needed me. When she left my father I was 19 years old and she needed financial. I left school, went to work and was used as her “spouse” then. She was enmeshed with me and it was awful. We shared a bedroom, we worked together on the same floor, she came to get me for lunch, we carpooled to and from work. I am her only daughter. When I moved out, she cast me back into SG. I think I have been there ever since, until she needed me. But it was all about her of course. My middle brother is GC now and has been for many years. I am in NC with all of them now but I miss him. We were close at one time but ever since he took this role NM has literally “owned” him and turned him against me. Even his wife says that the ambilical cord has never been cut. It’s really sad. I wondered how this was going to affect him and I appreciate the shares. My therapist always said that he was not getting anything that much better than I was getting.

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Kris February 18, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I was never a golden child, I was the scapegoat, but I can see how taxing it can be to be the golden child. My sister was a total golden child and still is, but I think she has her head in the sand about the true situation. She has been in therapy on and off ever since being a teenager; she tried committing suicide in her mid teens. It was something very difficult for the rest of us to fathom that she would do such a thing when she was the obvious favorite and we lived in a household with a blatant double standard where most of the rules did not apply to her. We would even be punished for getting a better grade than her.

It never ceases to amaze me how my NM has slowly and methodically engulfed her to the point where “the family” now means my NM, EF, GC sister, her husband, and their son – and she doesn’t really notice that “family events” tend to only include her. The rest of the siblings are annoyed by this and everyone has largely drifted into their own family traditions and are more involved with their in-laws than their own parents on special “family”occasions.

My NM has gotten so bad that when I visited my hometown a few years back and talked to one of their old neighbors, they were under the impression that my NM and EF only had one daughter – they didn’t know about the other five kids at all, they were suspicious that I was lying. This was in a small rural area and they lived next door to these people for close to ten years. Imagine that revelation!

My GC sister is saddened by the procession of siblings excommunicating themselves from the family, and the lack of closeness amongst the brothers and sisters in general and has expressed her disappointment in this in a variety of ways. Yet she still only makes cameo appearances at events hosted by myself and the other siblings in an attempt to bring all the siblings together.

I started holding a family and friends gathering the day after Christmas to try to get us all together on an annual basis. The first year my GC sister arrived with my NM and left within a couple of hours, around the same time my NM was leaving because she had jammed my event into the slot between the time to wake up and the 6 hour trip back home (a common occurrence on their visits) after spending the entire holidays with my GC sister. This past year took the cake; I had gone no contact with my NM and EF so they were not invited, but the rest of my siblings of course were – at the time my event was starting it was my GC sister making the 6 hour drive to go and spend the week with my NM and EF. A real oddity when you consider she had just sent an email a month prior expressing her disappointment at how the siblings never really get together and how we arent as close as she would like us to be – and she basically was driving as far away as she could get leaving me and the other siblings who were all in the same house behind, and she lives 20 minutes from my house.

What she is doing is perpetuating her own problem. The dynamics in her relationship with my NM I do not know and doubt I would understand. Perhaps there was a guilt trip, perhaps there was some big expectation or that they were going to make some big announcement. Regardless, the end result was that, once again, a major “family” time of year was spent with no other family members but my GC sister and my NM and EF. Only the location changed.

I went NC because I realized that this pattern is only going to get ever worse and no amount of intervention will fix it. Things were half-OK when I was running a small home based business eking out a living, because she could show up and brag about my GC sister, her fine appliances, her lovely son, blah blah blah blah blah, but when I had a family of my own, got back into investment banking, bought a nice sail boat, go to exclusive social clubs, sit on and preside on a variety of community boards, the same angry voice that used to punish and berate me for getting better grades than my GC sister reappeared with a vengance. When you have a NM and a GC sibling, the competition is on and you can’t emerge the winner even if you and the GC aren’t interested in competing.

I can’t imagine the stress of the coping mechanism being in the shoes of a GC. Me and my siblings had to do whacks of chores, my GC sister didn’t have to because she was “getting good grades in school”. Later she got a job, and she didn’t have to do any chores at all because she was “working”, we got to pick up the slack for her. She got her drivers’ license because she needed it to get to and from work, I was forbidden from ever being taught to drive because it would be “too dangerous” as I played racing games on the computer. When I asked about finding a job myself, I was told that that would be all well and good but I’d have to find my own way there and back – and we lived a 25 minute drive from town – because she wasnt about to drive me. My NM gave my GC sister packs of cigarettes, and when I was caught smoking I was given a stern lecture about being irresponsible. My parents left town and I wanted to have my rock band do a jam session in the living room, my GC sister forbid it because she was having her own party – I got in crap for having my band over and my GC sister was merely asked how her party went. I made a gourmet sandwich for lunch one day during my turn to make the lunches for everyone, my NM gave my nice sandwich to my sister and the only reason I got it back was because my GC sister did not like the type of sandwich that I had made. The blatant double standard was so obvious, how she managed to construct a way that this treatment was justified I will never understand. I would feel terrible and I would refuse such special treatment, I would go out of my way to break free of it.

She, however, still to this day does not grasp the inherent unfairness of how the rest of the siblings get a bag of coffee and a coffee cup for Christmas and she gets a gold Esquire watch – she even posted pictures of it thanking my NM for such a nice gift on Facebook. I’m sure the siblings reacted as wryly as I did about it – it’s been that way at Christmas time for as long as I can ever remember. That one Christmas gift is more valuable than the value of all of the Christmas and birthday gifts I’ve received in the past ten years combined.

It is interesting that this post attracts GC’s who are breaking free and going NC. If I might ask, golden children, what caused you to decide to break free of the madness? How might a sibling of a GC be able to explain the reality to their GC sibling?

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Malini February 20, 2013 at 1:33 am

Unfortunately Kris, I don’t think you can do much to show your GC sister the reality of the situation. I think a lot of GCs are struggling to keep the manipulation, malignance and evilness away from them because they see how the SGs are treated and they fear the same rejection and treatment and are willing to play the game in order to main safe.

I was a parentified GC and took a lot of care of my younger SG brother. I could see what was happening to him, and it only got worse once he was married and with children as there was a lot more to manipulate and destroy. Time after time, I would try and patch things up behind the scenes but my NM and NF just kept on being awful to him and his family and I felt guilty about the better treatment I received.

Things changed when my brother had a nervous breakdown and was in a secure section of a psychiatric ward on suicide watch. Now my parents only had me to focus on and they came out guns a-blazing, and I felt the full brunt of their malignance. The scales fell from my eyes and I saw clearly the day my NM said to me (after having screamed at me for some wrong doing of mine), that she was just waiting for my brother to get better so she could take out her list of grievances and tell him all the awful things he had done to her. I realised what a monster I had for a parent, I realised how she had no capacity for empathy. It was so violent, my brother was on SUICIDE watch, and she was just waiting for the opportunity to show him what a shit-son he was regardless of the outcome to his recovery and well-being.
That’s the day I realised that I couldn’t have any more dealings with these evil people, whatever the cost to me. Since then, I have experienced the fear of retaliation and rejection. Whenever I see their car, I break out in a sweat, I avoid their town. I understand why I played the game for so long because life now is terrifying and painful and the backlash against a GC is doubly difficult. On the one hand there is the fall from grace and on the other hand the backlash is dreadful and violent because whatever their SG child was saying to them was discounted because they are worthless in the eyes of the NP, but when the GC says stop, I’m not playing the game anymore, they have no leg left to stand on. No GC who reflects well on them.
Now, they play the poor, little old victims towards me while continuing to sabotage and attack my SG brother and family (not so poor, little and old then..).
The GC has so much more to lose in this game and I think this is why they play it for longer, they don’t stand up for themselves or their siblings because, , as I said in an earlier post, we know the tide can turn at any moment (we’ve seen it happen to the SG time and time again) and we do all we can to hold that moment off for as long as possible.

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Kris February 20, 2013 at 10:06 am

Interesting. I find the revelations of an eye opened GC very interesting, it helps me to see that side better. None of us held our sister responsible for the blatant double standard which was and is our lives today. We hold the NM responsible.

When i was talking to my GC sister about how i had disowned the parents, and posted it very publicly on facebook which upset her greatly, i told her i was happy to tell her why if she wanted to know, and her response was that she was not sure if she wanted to know. This was probably the undercurrent of guilt of which you speak of as a former GC – she perhaps was afraid that i would bring up the favoritism that she has got to be aware of. Really, the reason was actually all the sabotage of my character, and i wasnt about to get into that conversation with her because it would take a long time of he said she said and i didnt want to bother getting into it if she didnt care to listen to my side of the story.

Im not sure if my NM will take the same tack as yours did now that i am out of the.picture. My oldest sister, first scapegoat, is dead by suicide. Next oldest sister, second scapegoat, is now full NC , and me the third scapegoat, also NC – so the situation might be very volatile. I am thinking that my NM is probably feeling free to have her little isolated bubble of a family with only the GC sister, with full excuse, but perhaps those N tendencies will play out.for absence of an available target. Maybe they already have; seeing as my GC sister blew off the rest of the available siblings during the holidays to instead spend a full week with the NM and EF – a lot can happen in a week cooped up in a remote rural house in the dead of winter with a NM who has no available targets to strike upon.

However i think it was probably just a week of quiet vitriol and lies spewed about me when asking for company while sneaking a cigarette in hiding from my EF; the perfect plausibly deniable chatting forum. My GC sister could go either way – be disgusted that while i am not asking her to take sides my NM very much is, or she buys the spew lock stock and barrell and learns that i am a demon because my NM says so.

Its sad that GC still enmeshed cant be shown the light and that an event needs to happen so they see it for themselves, but i can see your point. Im happy to hear any more tales you GCs may have as it will better helpnme understand my sisters willingness to pkay along when its getting patently obvious whats going on.

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Malini February 21, 2013 at 1:01 am

I don’t want to hog the blog, but I just wanted to say that your story touched me. I’m so sorry to read that you lost a sister to this awful and painful family situation. I too hosted Christmas, birthday celebrations at my home, often without my SG brother because I felt SORRY for my poor, suffering parents, and wished my brother would get his act together. Part of this was seeking approval too, despite it never being enough anyway. My parents out me up on a pedestal towards the world, but in the privacy of my home, or when we were one on one, they sure told me how inadequate I was. Maybe your sister is experiencing this too but doesn’t want to share this because it is still preferable to be completely scapegoated.
I think your sister may fear learning about the real reasons why you went NC because once she knows, she’ll have to do something with that knowledge. Once I knew, I had no choice but to undertake therapy in order to figure out what was really going on for me and then break off all contact. I dreamt of happy families around the table, treating each other with love and respect, but now know that all I can do is be the best Mom I can be and maybe one day my table will be filled with my sons, DIL and grandchildren.

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Kris March 9, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Thats a really interesting tale Malini

My NM perpetually used those phrases “getting his act together” when talking about me to anyone and occasionally directly to me.

I dont know anything about your family situation, but I know in my family my NM and EF rapidly compartmentalized all of their relationships with my siblings. They might go through town and stop at one or two of our houses and spend a half a day and another weekend they might spend a whole weekend with my GC sister. Family gatherings where there is more than one sibling present are pretty rare, and usually put on by one of the non GC siblings in an attempt to get everyone together because in our family the normal, regular family gatherings never seem to happen and attempts at restarting traditions like Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings never really get off the ground (I know why firsthand, the parents will show up for a few hours and the GC sister will show up and leave with the parents and everyone else is skeptical to committ because they never really work out as they are intended).

Due to this compartmentalization and the distance between us, we dont often end up talking to eachother much. We hear about the happenings in eachothers lives through the NM, who as I have realized over the past year, embellishes, makes up lies, and withholds that that she doesn’t want to share, and twists tales. The hub-and-spoke system of communication left me realizing that my GC sister probably has an opinion of who I am that bears practically no resemblance to who I actually am at all, seeing as I rarely see her or talk to her.

Like I said earlier, I do not know the particulars of your family, but given my own experience as a SG brother who is now awake to the situation, if your families communication system is anything like mine then you may want to entertain the idea of getting to know your brother from scratch and rekindling what kind of a relationship that you can.

I know that while it was always exceedingly annoying for me and my other brothers and sisters that my NM and EF would move heaven and earth to ensure that they attended my GC sister’s son’s birthday but would be too busy to spend an afternoon talking to us when have just gone through a marital breakdown – none but one of us directed that anger, hurt, and frustration at our GC sister. We all quite like her, albeit wishing that we would hear a whole lot less about her when we were visiting our parents.

Now, in understanding narcissism, I realize that the vast majority of what I had heard about any of us who played scapegoat was probably entirely untrue. Me and two of my older sisters played the role, and I do recall hearing no end about how they had screwed up their lives and the balance of all reports of how they were doing were in the negative. When I got kicked out the second time, I had one of my former SG sisters ask me flat out if I was still spending all of my money on drugs, something which totally blew my mind as other than smoking pot which is quite common here I was not into any serious or addicting drugs at all. My oldest sister who is no longer with us – well I heard the same sorts of things about her.

A NM is so effective at manipulating information and perception that unless the sibling on the receiving end is wise to narcissism it is very easy to beleive all the little slanderous slurs and twisted truths which, over time, build up your impression of who someone is.

Kris February 23, 2013 at 7:43 am

It is interesting… Maybe the “big stick” that my NM weilds over my GC sister os the whole, “i put all of my energy into you at the expense of the other kids … Dont you let me down now”. My NM was alwaysone to find a big stick to wield; in my own life with her that big stick was whether or not i would be allowed to stay at home or get kicked out, if my hunch is right that would be a pretty small stick for my sister compared to the one looming over my head.

Then my GC sister would have always known about the blatant double standard and would always have felt the residual guilt. Which may have explained her suicide attempt and her seemingly perpetual therapy. Fruedian slips do occur, and at my older sisters funeral after i hadnt talked to my GC sister in years she approached me and asked me quite concernedly if i was upset with her or angry with her as i had not talked to her or seen her in a while. In reality it was just because she never returned my calls and i was tired of leaving messages, she knew how to get ahold of me. I had never expressed any anger towards or or even left any messages saying i was annoyed that my calls werent returned. So a fruedian slip, perhaps.

It is so interesring to hear from golden children who have pulled the plug because it is a very different perspective altogether.

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ExGoldenchild March 4, 2013 at 3:07 am

I am a golden child who was recently realised that my DM is infact aNM! I have on-and off “fallen” from grace over the years, when my choices and behaviour deviated from her wants I have been ridiculed, cold-shoulder, bad-mouthed and gaslighted. My poor older brother was, I see now, the SG. He has suffered from mental illness as a result of this and I doubt will ever truly ever be repaired. I have been enlighted and devestated to read this page. I have just begun my journey to heal and am beginning No Contact. I am living in fear for when this is challenege and seeking to build my barriers.

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Belinda c March 23, 2013 at 8:49 pm

I have been both SG and GC in my life with my NM. My life has been incredibly confusing, and has left me with deep seated anxiety issues which I have been working through. My NM was very vain and quite cold, emotionally she always felt hard done by, and although she had moments where i like to believe she was kind, i can never quite remember them. She passed off her inability to be overly kind to me as upsetting to my older brother and sisters because my father gave me too much attention. I was praised for my competitive spirit, my looks and my intelligence. When I was a teenager my parents split and I saw it as my role to not desert her. My siblings scattered, got married, went to college etc. My NM and i became completely codependent. She absolutely adored me, she hung on every word, i loved having her attention and praise, I becme her parent, I did everything for her, even though she did drop me frequently when a better offer for her time came along. She was emotionally a wreck, she threatened suicide many many times. I became so afraid that she would harm herself it, that I spiraled out of control. Thankfully a family friend noticed and I started therapy. My NM has ever since been very condescending about the role therapy takes in my life, although i do see that she is very insecure and this feeds her overall underlying self esteem issue. I do see that she loves conditionally. I walked a tightrope every day. I never wanted to be treated the way I had been as a child by her, and I knew if I put myself first it would be an issue. I am in a place now where I do feel sorry for her, but her verbal abuse (not that of course she sees it that way) has harmed us all. She has often said she can say what she likes to us because we are her children. Because I had chosen to put her needs before mine always I have as a result suffered extremely low self esteem. I fear authority. I feel constantly guilty. No matter how many fantastic things I have done in my career, I never felt able to actually give myself any praise or pause to celebrate. The journey to heal is a long one but worth it.

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geo April 4, 2013 at 12:03 am

Narcissist mothers suck big time my dad is big time narcissist too. I’m the scapegoat have always been the SG recently broke away doing much better but dealing with deep rooted trauma and wounds, anxiety, etc. Waiting for the day when I’m completely free of them.

Had dinner the other day with my new room mate and my folks. My mom did a good job of throwing her belittling comments and low blows embarassed me, now going to pull back again. Just when you think you can trust them again BOOM they pull their shit.

You see, narcissist parents dont give a flying fuck about their children it is and has always been about how THEY feel. I have armed myself with good information, good and positive people who give me lots of love. Its great feeling.

The other day my roomate said I had hatred for my mother. I do, in fact, hate her for the things shes done to me. I do blame her for my problems and I truly believe that someone as smart and gifted as me would have done much greater things in life but for the trauma. Life is difficult as it is going through it with shattered self esteem and weak self confidence makes it that much more difficult. But Im getting through it day by day. Most days I do forgive my parents for the messed up things they did to me but when they get abusive it reminds me of the painful things they did.

Seminal moment in my life was in 2nd grade when my mom slapped me across the face in anger when I was having trouble tying my shoes. My brother figured it out right away (THE GC) but i was having trouble with the knot. She started screaming at me “WHY CANT U FIGURE IT OUT WHATS WRONG WITH YOU”
can you believe that shit hitting a 2nd grader across the face because he was having trouble tying his shoes?
At 14 she caught me smoking cigs she slapped me so hard my nose bled profusely. Shes slapped me across the face so many times at least 500 times, dug her nails into my skin, has bitten me close to 100 times, has slapped me in front of friends.

Sometimes I sit there and I seeth in anger and fury it comes out of nowhere perhaps its all the repressed anger and pain. She has never apologized for all the physical abuse and gaslights the hell out of me when I bring it up. Im done trying to get a confession and apology out of her I see that shes too emotionally damaged and sick to even acknowledge theres something wrong with her. But she will lose out on having me in her life im a beautiful fun person to be around tons of fun, joy and love flowing from me.

peace

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PS April 5, 2013 at 7:19 am

My husband and I both come from N-families and in retrospect I’m able to see we were both scapegoats. IF we ever got praise, it was quickly neutralized later on by comparisons to our oh so “perfect” siblings and therefore we were never good enough.

I believe one of the reasons we became the scapegoats in our respective families is because we pointed out the emporer had no clothes – that’s plain dangerous in an N family! But in a healthy situation a child should be able to do that and still receive respect for the thoughts, feelings and perceptions they own. It should invite discussion and resolution if there are problems, not screaming down, shaming, abuse, and more.

In my situation the golden child also got away with years of sexually abusing, beating, torturing and humiliating me. This sibling later told me they did what they did because they knew they could get away with it, leading me to wonder if they might even be a sociopath.

A friend of mine suggested we were both brainwashed by our N-mother – perhaps so, but I still cannot bring myself to empathize with or pity my sibling. The longer I am no-contact with my sibling and parents, the more I can see how toxic they all are, how much more I’ve been able to heal without them influencing my life, and the more at peace I become with my decision.

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Angela May 6, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Well there is no comfort in discovering that there are so many NM’s out there that a website exists! This is my mother and my sister is her hero child, however, my mom has quite a talent of using us all as needed. One question, this is who my mother is, and it is and continues to be an unhealthy way to be mothered, however, how do you separate your loving feelings and moments where there was “good” from all the damage? It is not a black and white issue. She is very much still alive and I want to have a peaceful life but I will not pander to her bad behavior any longer. I can’t be the first one to ask this question…

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Kerry June 10, 2013 at 2:57 am

Reading this article is so uplifting for me…. I have just ended a relationship of nearly two years because of the NM…… She made my life a misery and I thought I was going crazy…….
When I realised what his mother was like and what she was doing I was already too far in…. she was lovely at first, oh if Id of known this is all part of the plan….. when we got serious, she started. My partner is her first born son and golden child……
What a horrible , manipulative, evil old cow she is….. sorry for the cuss…… but there are no other words to describe her…… she never did any of the nasty things infront of my partner and always played the victim, and the worst of it , is that my ex didnt believe it……
She has obv convinced him that Im the one with the problems, well I walked away, and the abuse I got off his mother and sisters was unbelievable……. They certainly showed their true colours…… I wouldnt mind I asked him to move to my area instead and he wouldnt……
Im still reeling from the abuse and behaviour……. reading this article is like reading the spot on dynamics of their family….. once I have picked myself up I will be glad I saw what was going on and got out before I did go cra\y….
Appreciate any comments/advice…….
xx

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mentsh July 27, 2015 at 2:08 pm

It just occurred to me…this is what my mom is doing to my kids. They adore her and she adores them and acts as if they are perfect, and everything they ever do that is possibly wrong is my fault for parenting them wrong (because they can’t have anything wrong with them since they’re her grandkids). So she uses me as the scapegoat and idealizes my kids. They’re the hero grandkids…I’m the scapegoat, middle-generation. As I’ve required more space between our family and my mom, she’s panicked and made life very hard on me, but she’s the perfect grandmother around my kids and showers them with gifts and compliments and perfumed “reality.” She’s tried to create an “us vs them” mentality with my kids, saying things like, “We just have to be patient and wait until your parents will let us be together.”

Thanks for the clarity…

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Sara February 18, 2016 at 2:45 am

Wow. This is really helpful thanks. I didn’t realise that our roles could change and was always confused at how I was the GC until I developed a mind of my own and then became the SG. I also didn’t really understand the Hero role until now, as the GC tag didn’t quite fit, but the Hero role fits to a tee. What is terrifying me now is that my NM has latched onto my daughter, her grandchild, who she sees as a total reflection of herself (my son she has no time for or interest in). On a recent visit my NM, without a word of a lie, brought my daughter 14 gifts and my son none! Crazy, a GC and a SG one generation on and they’re still pre-schoolers. My advice to anyone reading this – cut or limit contact with your NM so that she doesn’t do to your child/ren what she did to you. Great blog. Thanks so much

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Maxine March 27, 2016 at 6:33 pm

I was in a covert NMIL /overt NFIL relationship for 14 years until my husband and I went no contact. It was a long, emotionally painful 14 years. I was the last born in a large, loving, family. I’m very much a giver and an eternal optimist. Well, I used to be. She is the closest I believe I’ve ever been to evil incarnate. My NMIL is the puppet master that pulled (pulls still) the strings to manipulate her children and husband. She has emotionally molested since early childhood and has been emotionally enmeshed with her daughter since her teens. There was a role reversal for several years during the teen years as mother/daughter couldn’t be harmonic. The daughter tried to rebel as a teen but eventually she came back under her mother’s manipulative control when she failed at college and disengaged from a 9 month marriage (that the parents abhorred). When my husband went to college (Thank God!) he got away from the NMILs control. When I met them they love-bombed for 6-8 months. However, the NMIL not the NSIL couldn’t accept my success (economic), winsome personality, beauty (former teen model) , or the admiration of others in the family. She loathed me. Loathed whatever I did, tried to compete like a school girl. It was so bizarre. She hated my independence. She disposed my disregard for her chronic advice she solicited over every and any aspect she thought I needed to change. She would attempt over and over to control my views, opinions, choices. What kind of wedding, whether or not we’d have children, even probed me with questions about our intimacy and former sexual partners. She would try to engage me in stories to gain sympathy. She wanted me to feel sorry for her so I’d give in to her demands. ManipulTong me gave her an emotional high of nearly is district supply. These ploys often put others in an unfavorable light and made her husband or her MIL look a usive or uncaring. The NMIL also attempted to to emotionally brainwash/molest my children. The definitely bonded with her GC’s daughter AKA GC grandchild. These two were used in the MIL/DIL triangulation. Eventually, they reconnected with a male cousin that went no contact with NMILs brother and they replaced the scapegoat (my hubs) with the cousin and his girlfriend. It was so bizarre. They literally replaced my husband with his cousin. The sister began love-bombing the cousin. She adopted him as her “new brother”. When we decided to stand up to the narcs they began to devalue us, demean our children, and eventually they pretended I was invisible. The NMIL pitted the NSIL against us. She told me at a Mother’s Day luncheon I hosted, “you can stop brown-nosing now that your mRried to my brother.” Eventually they stopped speaking to me at all unless we were around others. If it was seen by others they made sure to act somewhat cordial. By pretending I was not there they could absolve themselves of their disorder. If the problem (me) disappears, so does their guilt, shame, and the. Their disorder can also disappear. They took on a group mentality and validated one another. They had a group posturing mentality and as part of a collective would socially isolate me. Eventually, my husband observed it. It was really difficult. He’d been enculturated for so long he had Stockholm Syndrome. We wrote letters, told them we wanted things to be better, apologized for our lack of understanding, our frustrations and inability to deal with the problems. We tried to get them to go to therapy but the NFIL said we, “imagined what they did to us” and “they wouldn’t apologize for what we imagined they did to us.” Typical response from PD disordered psychopaths. It has been an amazing healing journey for my husband and me. For the first time in 38 years he finally understands his family’s disorders. We have become so much stronger through no contact and our emotional scars are finally faint. It still hurts when we think how our children lost out because their grandparents are narcs and their aunts and cousins are as well. But, educating our children, unveiling the psychopathic disorder and ensuring it doesn’tass through Nother generation is Worth all our pain and suffering. We are better people, more caring, more compassionate, but also much better emotionally aware than ever before. Anyone who has been in this awful and debilitating relationship understands what I’m saying. While they will never admit their failures, apologize for their evil acts (yes, they know they are evil…especially NMIL as she would often use the “lie in wait” attack tactic) or admit their lies (both through omission and commission), we got the validation we needed when NFIL sent the letter attempting more blame and shame (again typical of these disordered “People of the Lies”) and his refusal to go to family therapy and yet still he protected the NMIL and NSIL. All of their disorders are hinged on the group mentality protection. There is strength in numbers, regardless how many sociopaths are in the group. Ironically, The grandchild has followed the NSILs path. Got married right out of Highschool, left her hubby within a year, and has moved back to be with Narc GC mommy and Porn-loving daddy, even attended a jr. College like her NGC mother. Both should have achieved so much more. Highly intelligent, but the emotional IQ of a fence post. Sadly, they use their powers for evil, not good. I’m sure NMIL and NFIL are so happy to have all their narc supply back in the same town. I feel sorry for them. I truly do pity them. For so long I was in denial. I couldn’t believe people were so evil, especially when they seemed so, well, “average and normal” on the outside. They are truly masters of deception and live with facial masks that can be changed at a moments notice to manipulate, control, and warp their victims. Even now writing this, it all seems so surreal. That is why the gaslighting and mind-bending are possible. No caring, decent, kind hearted person can believe that their finances mother, sister, and father are sociopaths. I fought believing it for 14 years. It finally took the sage advice and intervention of three other adults to finally face the reality of my husband’s family. Thank God for their revelations and insight. These individuals saw my in-laws at a social function each week and had observed their behaviors for several months. They saw the dysfunction, the enmeshment, the dance of the macabe (Sam Valkin). They saw what my husband never did. I kept a journal, sought therapist’s advice, and finally unraveled the web of lies, deception and patterns of deceit and evil. Finally, my husband’s eyes were opened. My prayers were answered. We began travailing down the road to healing….”fleeing from evil”.

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