Narcissistic Mothers and Scapegoat

by Michelle Piper

When you’re in the role of the scapegoat in a narcissistic family system, growing up to feel “normal” can be a stretch. After years of torment, the scapegoat is accustomed to being blamed for every little thing which went wrong in the family. It’s hard to feel a real sense of self and belonging after your trust for yourself and others is abused.

You were given the exact opposite treatment than was the golden child, which may cause you to resent that sibling. The golden child had it all. He or she was perfect in your narcissistic mother’s eyes, as this child was an extension of the narcissistic mother who could do no wrong.

Worse, if you were an only child, you likely were put in not only the scapegoat role, but sometimes enjoyed the hero/golden child role only to be put back to scapegoat or ignored in the lost child role. The punishment you endured was intolerable and something no child should have to endure.

As the scapegoat in your family, you probably took on the family’s issues and problems as your own because your narcissistic mother made you believe everything was your fault, no matter what the situation. This baggage can be felt by you as carried feelings that you bring to present situations. Even though the feelings didn’t originate with you, they are now your burden until you realize they weren’t yours but were from your mother who did not boundary or process hers. Being the adult child of a narcissist (ACON) is one of the hardest jobs because you come to realize that they pain and suffering you have always felt was due to your narcissistic mother.

When it came to you and your siblings, you probably were given more chores and responsibilities, as well as treated unequally when it came to discipline of you and your golden child sibling.

Now that you’re an adult child of a narcissist, you may notice things about yourself and your siblings which reflect how you were treated when you were young.

The golden child sibling may now be a narcissist themselves, never having to deal with the fact they were not perfect because your narcissistic mother never challenged them to believe otherwise.

Or, the golden child may now struggle with a sense of not knowing who they are or what their worth is outside the enmeshed relationship they had with your narcissistic parent.

For you now, it may be hard for you to trust yourself and feel confident in the decisions you make. Growing up, your narcissistic mother may have gaslighted you and you then questioned yourself and your sense of reality. This can lead to low self-esteem, because it was so hard to be certain whether your beliefs and values were right or wrong.

It’s common for scapegoated children to place blame on themselves, even into adulthood, for things going wrong which may be outside their control. They may blame themselves for the mistreatment they endured when they were younger, thinking it was their own fault their narcissistic mother was so cruel. In reality, a narcissistic mother is incapable of consistent love or empathy, picking you as her targeted scapegoat simply because she could.

Many scapegoats succumb to their role, knowing they’ll only receive attention from their narcissistic mother when they act according to how she wants them to. Repressed anger may come out when they grow up, leading to explosive aggression and resentment for their mother and other people in their lives. Then, scapegoats get frustrated with themselves for immature behavior and feel “less than”.

Other scapegoats fight and then bear the brunt of the angry narcissistic family system. Siblings, spouses, friends, and anyone else within the power of the narcissistic mother’s influence are used against the scapegoat. Some scapegoats go from submission to aggression in order to survive.

Now you are older and able to define how toxic your upbringing was. You didn’t deserve the treatment you were given by narcissistic parents and you don’t have to blame yourself for what happened.

Being chosen as the scapegoat in your family is not normal, nor is it healthy.

Don’t spend the precious time you have left trying to change your narcissistic mother’s opinion of you.

When I coach ACONs who’ve been scapegoated, I know they’re going to expand into their own happiness when they detach themselves from a narcissist’s opinion.

Base opinions of yourself according to your strengths and values. As you take actions that honor and protect your values your will feel your self worth increase.

It is no longer about what your narcissistic mother made you think you were or what she and those she manipulates currently thinks of you. You can put carried feelings and behaviors from the past behind you. You can end the cycle of dysfunction, shed your scapegoat role and be your own person outside of your narcissistic mother’s family.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Angel Marie July 23, 2016 at 3:51 pm

My name is Angel, I’m 22 and the middle child of my family. I have 2 older siblings and 2 younger. This post explains my whole life. I do believe that my mother is a narcissist. Though deep down, I think I always knew something wasn’t right. I was adopted by my aunt and uncle at the age of 2. Obviously I’ve always felt a little out of place to begin with. We grew up religious, one of my earlier memories is learning about God at Sunday school. I felt so inspired I decided to give my heart to the lord that night. I remember this because I was so excited that I went and told my mom right away. Her response was “honey, no you didn’t. You don’t understand.” This always confused me. I truly thought that I did understand. I had a lot of responsibility at a young age. I was called cinder-angel, it’s kinda a lame joke my family likes to say. My mom didn’t really hug me much growing up, she was always interested in her other children. She would always say “you have your dads eyes or my nose, ect.” to her own children. Even after I told her it bothered me because I knew she would never compare my features to herself or my dad. I felt left out in a way. And she got upset I would say anything about it and I always ended up apologizing. High school was hell. Not because of school but because of my family situation. I was under a microscope. I did average in school, got grounded for it often. Ironically my oldest sibling had mostly a failing record in school but still seemed to be celebrated. The ruleds always changed for me. For example, if I was told I could not participate in the next school play until I got my grades up, I would get my grades up and the play was still taken away. I remember one morning I was just waking up and my mom was on her way out to do errands, she kissed all her sleeping kids goodbye except me. She must have thought I was asleep still, I felt my heart drop. I thought to myself, did that really just happen? We got into a lot of arguments in my teens. She would say “we didn’t have to adopt you, but we did out of the kindness or our hearts.” That scars me still. Already feeling unwanted I endured more pain. She left me at the store, school and theater practice on “accident” often. I had a lot of confidence issues even tried to kill myself once. As if that wasn’t enough of a cry for help, my parents made me believe that I had some kind of personality disorder. We went to a therapist in an attempt to help “fix” me. Those sessions ended fast when my mom was asked to have a conversation with my therapist. I dont really know what was said, but my mom was pissed. It became my falt. I grew up thinking I was crazy. My mother was so wrapped up in what her friends might think of me too. That seemed to be more of a priority to her than me. I was punished for my first kiss at 14, because I didn’t talk to my mom about it and the boy I kissed talked to his parents and got me in a shitload of trouble. I was told I could date after I turned 18. Even after I turned 18 the rules magically changed once again. I had a passion for theater at a young age, that was discredited due to the fact my mom thought my older siblings did theater better, and she always thought I was sucking up to them by liking it. I was labeled a follower, never seen as my own person. If I got close to anyone in the family she would destroy it fast. There was and still is no trusting any of my family members, they report back to mom everytime I share anything. Financially we grew up without. I would use my babysitting money to buy groceries, it was my job to go to the store, laundry, dishes and mowing the lawn. My siblings barely ever lifted a finger. I was “no allowed” to go to collage, the reason being mom thought I was not mature enough. I moved out after a year of living with my family. All of my siblings still live at home. I get treated like crap because of it. My parents are much more stable financially now. I was going through a rough time a few years ago, was homeless living in my car and lost my job. For Christmas/my birthday I swallowed my pride and asked for a small loan ($300 instead of gifts) to help me keep up with my car payment, they sighlently refused. Even though they have given my other siblings up to 3 grand each easily to help them get on with whatever traveling adventures, school or missionary work. Now I try to keep up with holidays and birthdays but no one gets back to me unless I call several people several times. I even helped them move out of the house we lived in for 15 years, just me and my parents. No one else helped. It feels like I’m not welcome in their home. I feel like a stranger to them. I just wanna be loved for who I am. I want them to know me but I fear they never will.


tija September 3, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Your story deeply touched me. It is incomprehensible how a mother could be so cruel. I am so sorry for what happened to you. Go back to the Lord Jesus with all your heart and strength. He already knows every thing that happened to you. You were never bad. There is something wrong with your mother. Trust Him. Give Him your pain, sorrow and rage. He can heal you and give you beauty for ashes. God bless you sweetheart. God loves you so very much and so do I. I wish I could give you a hug. You are a very special person who survived horrible cruelity from family who should have loved and cared for you. God has a purpose for you and can use the evil that they did for good for you and others.


Tina September 4, 2016 at 10:26 am

Hi I am the 3rd child in a family of six. 4 boys 2 girls. My eldest brother who I looked up to was sent to live with my gran when I was about 4 years old. Then it started my dad worked away all week. My mum favoured the next eldest boy and he assumed the role of father and I was the subject of his hate campaign. However my mum adored Paul and he called him Pauly Boy and in turn I was called that bloody girl in fact they still call me it today.
I became the scapegoat mainly verbally with intervals of violence. When I was approx. 12 my brother started hitting me again but this time I found some courage from somewhere and fought back I ran and screamed for mum but I saw her smile and she told him to carry on. The look on her face has never left me. My mother took over the abuse and threatened to put me in a home. I never had any affection and when I think of my childhood I just feel lonely sad and isolated. When my elder brother visited or my dad was home they all left me alone and I could be just me. As I grew the abuse got worse. At fourteen I got a Saturday job and this was the last day my mother bought me anything including school clothes and even sanitary wear. I went to school looking like a tramp.
When I saved and bought myself anything my mother would parade around the house with them and allowed my younger siblings to wear and ruin them. I tried running away but my brother dragged me back and I had nowhere to run to anyway.
My mother put me down to everyone and ALL my family and gradually without me even noticing they all seemed to treat me as if I wasn’t there. My dad was always fond of me which my brother and mother really hated but my mother would tell him that all the problems in the family were my fault and could spin a good yarn. I really cared for my dad but he was chauvinistic in a big way and he left the girls to my mum and he didn’t or wouldn’t see what was happening. When he changed jobs and was home more he did see some of the abuse and he put this down to my mum being depressed.
I married early and spent many years trying to have a proper relationship with my mum, needless to say it never happened. I had children and I was determined to be as loving as possible which I hope I have done and they are my greatest success.
My husband has been fantastic and he could see the problems straightaway and he instantly disliked my elder brother.
Well my mother divorced my father and she remarried her new husband liked me and she seemed to thaw a bit. Well he dies and my mum fell into depression and all the family stopped visiting her. I ended up looking after her until she died of cancer six years later. This started another family crisis, my mums will was made with her second husband and me and his daughter were the executors and the boys did not get an equal share. My mum wanted to put in a codicil a few days before she died and I asked my aunt to get a solicitor for her. She instead rang Paul who was furious when he saw it he ripped the will up and wrote out a new one putting himself as executor with me and brought his mate and solicitor friend round for my mum to sign and she died the next day. That was when the real hatred from my brother came out and some of the things he said and did you wouldn’t do to your worst enemy.
I did get very low and started to read up on depression and tried to follow all the advice. I then went and had hypnosis and counselling which made me feel really free for the first time.
At first there were a few small changes I noticed when my aunt was rude to me and I told her I will not put up with her behaviour of course she didn’t like it and she too slagged me off but it didn’t have the same effect it used to have.
My family got a shock when I demanded a bit of respect not in the right way but I did it.
This has resulted in my brother running to my dad telling lies about me yet again even now he is 60 years old.
My dad asked me why I was so jealous of my brother and there are no words to describe the physical pain I felt in that moment.
Well I told him that my mother and my brother were cruel and abusive and that he is going to have to find another scapegoat for the family and that I don’t need him or any of them anymore and I don’t need to explain or defend myself anymore and that I am proud of my children and I made sure they were brought up properly not chauvinistic and I have a lovely home that I have worked for and I don’t need them. I felt really brave but upset and the tears came later when I retold my husband. I feel free but it has been a long time coming. I will not see my dad ever again nor any of my siblings as they are no better. I dont feel the need anymore to try and please them.
I read this article and every word hit home and is so true. . Please all remember that scapegoats can take decades before they can really free themselves and heal the damage. All scapegoats can see through manipulative people and can usually have a good sixth sense that helps keep them safe.

I would love to cuddle all of you that have been in the same boat and would like you all to know that when you get free of it there is not a better feeling in this world.


Rhonda Newman September 10, 2016 at 12:13 am

I am sixty-six now and I have separated myself from my scapegoating childhood family. Our parents are deceased. My father was a violent alcoholic who beat my older sister until she was deaf and legally blind on her right side of her face. My punishment for my dad’s deeds is our mother scapegoated me. I became her emotional punching bag because he didn’t beat me. He liked my blonde hair. After I lost it, then he started beating on me. My sister became the controller of me through our mother. Mom kept my hair chopped off with uneven tresses and my big ears were always announced with the short scissor cuts to announce them. All my sister had to do was say..”Rhonda’s hair is getting as long as mine” and boom…I’m in a kitchen chair and my mom had her sewing scissors cutting away at my hair. I loved my bangs long so they were up to my forehead hairline. Then my sister voiced her fear of failing and us being in the same grade which she “couldn’t stand.” Boom…I was off to the school I just passed the second grade from and mom insisted to the principal that I take the second grade over and it was done. All my friends were a year ahead of me in school and I missed out on an experiment of getting to be schooled in WWII barracks if I were in the third grade…but my sister got to go..the fourth grade was also allowed to go there. I had to go to the first and second grade school that was supposed to be a part of my past. Several lies over the years which I got punished for and still the lies well into adulthood. Now…my sister has turned a daughter of mine against me with lies about me and what I was supposed to have said about her. My sociopath sister is very good and convincing at lying….especially after I moved away and wouldn’t allow myself being subjected to anymore abuse. Now…she is trying to turn my children away from me and against me….since she lives close to them. I thought that I had put myself in a safe place. My only regret is that I allowed my children to know their aunts and uncles. Too late now. But, I don’t regret moving. I just should have done it while my children were young and not allowed to know those people.


Frieda December 9, 2016 at 5:22 pm

Angel Marie,
It breaks my heart to hear your story. I want you to know you are not alone. I had to go no contact with my malignant narcissistic mother. My brothers were never closes to me because of the triangulation my mother created. My aunt the narcissist enabler would encourage my mother to have constant resentment towards me. She tried to control me and manipulate me. I would not allow it. My brother is the Golden Child and he can do no wrong. He was given a business and house to name a few. We lived in the same town and she would rarely come visit me. Never once said she loved me. My grandfather died and left me a small inheritance. She sued me to take it away. In addition, locked her own mother out of her business and tried taking away her income property. I helped my grandmother out and endured narcissistic rage. My grandmother eventually died. My mother finally accomplished to leave me with no family. After decades of abuse I ended up with PTSD. I just want you to know that you are a very special person. It is not your fault. God has a very special purposes for you. My heart goes out to you and I will keep you in my prayers. God bless.


Kristina April 28, 2017 at 1:27 pm

I was raised as a scapegoat of a single NM. I’m in my 40s now. I have married and divorced several times, and then went into counseling. I didn’t know at the time that my mother was narcissistic, but my therapist did point out that I kept marrying my abusive mother, staying until I couldn’t take it anymore, and then divorcing each of them. Through therapy I thought I had broken the cycle. I went NC with my mother 7 years ago, and have been married to a wonderful man for over 6 years. He’s nothing like my mother. Unfortunately, his mother is. A scapegoat married a scapegoat. He won’t go NC with her though, and we are now both stuck in this cycle of him constantly trying to please her or at least be good enough for her not to hate him. Father just goes along with NM. This woman has only seen our children at holidays, when someone else might see, so she has to play the doting grandmother. Meanwhile, she is at her Golden Child daughter’s house almost daily, and has GC’s kids staying at her house most nights. GC has become a NM now too, with the exact same dynamic- GC daughter and 2 SG sons. I am so resentful of the whole dynamic in this family, and how my children are systematically excluded, yet I still feel this compulsion to impress my NMIL. I thought I was better, being NC with my NM, but now I’m in it again with his NM. Will I ever break free of this?


Barla April 23, 2018 at 7:14 pm

This is me, the scapegoat. I see it and feel it now and I am working on separating myself from this role


Priscilla May 28, 2018 at 11:19 am

I am just realizing what has been going on and I am 55. I am removing myself from them. I have moved 1200 miles away and not answering calls. Now that I am older the verbal abuse causes me pain in my shoulders and back and I need to stay away for my own health.
I reall appreaciate everyone’s comments and stories. This is helping me through hard times.. God Bless you


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