Why not to raise a narcissist. #relationships #parenting

My daughter is not a narcissist. I’m sure she’ll be relieved to read this. And according to a recent study, I can take some credit for her “not too special” status.

Devin shared with me How not to raise a narcissist and my blink response was, “How cool! My daughter is sending me articles about how to raise children.” After reading this article about the latest parenting buzz, I found the conclusion to be simple; tell children that you love them. These words are to replace, “You are special.” I sense a false dichotomy.

If parents are going to tell their children that they are special, it must be the truth. It helps for a child to know that there is no one exactly like them, with their exact gifts, talents and interests. They need to know that their life has a unique purpose to be fulfilled and that they are beautiful. When I tell my child that she or he is special to me, that is the truth. Each child is objectively and uniquely irreplaceable, whether adults acknowledge that or not. And it’s a relief to know that it’s OK to be pretty darn average according to history and the world, as long as we love and are loved well.

devin_henry_selfie

If parents are going to tell their children that they love them, it must be the truth, too. Parental love shown through behaviors include self-sacrifice, healthy boundaries, and a fine example. Kids know when they’re being smothered, side-lined, or scammed.

Infancy is the one and only period of each person’s life that needs to be about “me, me, me.” Infants need abundant love, attention, nutrition, safety, tenderness, and avenues to build trust gradually and gently, first with one person and then another. Ideally these primary people will be a part of the baby’s life until death.

While many adults didn’t receive deep care when they were young, which leaves wounds, they have endless opportunities to heal by choosing to love others deeply, especially children, now.  Caring for an infant shifts the focus from self to another person, naturally. Relentlessly. Adorably.

Most parents are good enough people; really they are. Parents don’t set out to raise narcissists. But it takes a lot of skill, energy, and finesse for an adult to see beyond themselves in order to help a child to see beyond themselves. It takes time, literally years, to usher that sweet infant from being the center of the universe to being an eighteen year old adult who is willing to sacrifice for others, to truly care about others, and who wants to share his or her gifts and talents with the world.

While recently reading A Revolutionary Entrepreneur On Happiness, Money, And Raising A Supermodel, I identified with entrepreneur Robin Chase, of Zipcar fame, when she answered the question, “Did you try to foster that (your values) in some way with your own children?”

There’s this story that lives in infamy. We’re sitting around the dining room table. My eldest daughter says, “I got straight A’s this semester,” filled with glee, making her younger siblings feel bad. I said to her, “You know, I’m not so impressed. You’re no Maya Angelou.”

 

I said, “There’s three things in life. You were born with the genes that you have through sheer luck. It had nothing to do with you; you can’t take any credit for that. Your environment is also dumb luck. You happened to be born to parents who believe in education. You have this great environment. You don’t get any credit for that. But you do get credit for working incredibly hard. So good for you. You worked incredibly hard. None of those other things you can get credit for.”

 

She fell out of her chair onto the dining room floor, laughing. She said all her peers were getting paid like $20 for each A-grade, and her mom is saying, “Well, an A is okay, but you’re not getting a lot of credit for that.”

 

So I absolutely did pound into them where our values lay and what they got credit for.

Narcissists are among the most difficult people to be around and they are among the most profoundly dissatisfied and unhappy. That’s why we don’t want to raise a narcissist. Parents, to the best of their ability and being responsible for what they control, owe themselves, their children, and the world, people who can be happy in their skin and engage fittingly with others.

What is your experience with narcissism? What is your take on this latest buzz about parenting? Do you have a family story that lives happily in infamy? 

I’m off to prepare for company and they will be staying with us for a few weeks. Can you guess who’s coming to visit 😀 ? ~~~~~~~~ Angie Mc 

18 thoughts on “Why not to raise a narcissist. #relationships #parenting

    • Well earned, Renee! There really is nothing quite so amazing…so joyful…as to like the company of these fabulous young people! Little did I know that I was raising great friends ❤

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  1. I feel like the only way I spoiled my children was with my time. Taking off a decade from work, it was all about them; we were able to do so many of the things I missed out on in my own childhood. It was life-changing for me !! They are the sweetest, kindest adults, and I couldn’t be prouder. Nice post, Angie. ☺ Van

    Liked by 1 person

    • Spoiled with time; love that, Van! I, too, have chosen quantity of time with my children and like you, healed myself in life-changing ways. I can’t say that I was cognizant of that when this all got started over 20 years ago, But I’m cognizant now 😀

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  2. The thing with over-praising these kids is that on some level they know they haven’t done anything remarkable and so the words just skid over them after a while. Getting good grades was expected when I was growing up and when we brought home good grades, the reaction was a pleasant one, but hardly the euphoria that parents spout now. It’s like they don’t trust that the kids will do their best unless they’re subject to such over-the-top accolades for everything single thing they accomplish. And now these kids are coming into the workplace and can’t understand why their bosses are not praising them for showing up on time and doing their jobs. I am generalizing in this comment fully aware there are exceptions to every rule.

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    • Exactly, Barbara! The needless external praise becomes habit for both those giving it and those receiving it.

      Most receiving the over-praise know in their heart of hearts that it wasn’t earned. While I wasn’t over-praised at home (quite the opposite, actually) I was over-praised at school. My grades were inflated right through high school. When I got to college, I wasn’t shocked that my grades were more average…it was almost a relief. But for some of my peers, they couldn’t handle the sudden averageness.

      Some of us chose to accept being not so special and worked harder while others couldn’t get over the mental part of it. They really struggled, some to the point of dropping out.

      I knew for a fact that some of my peers were much more academically gifted than I was, but for me the combination of hard work and the truth of my averageness lead me to a happier life.

      I can’t tell you how pleased I am that you stopped by, Barbara! Your contributions here are *silver* and gold 😀 Happy Sunday to you and yours.

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      • Now that to me is a sign of a good healthy self-esteem “when I got to college…..it was almost a relief.” Exactly. And then when you got a good grade, it really meant something, right? The other thing I really liked about the quote you provided in this post was mention of “genes” not being something you get credit for. I have been brewing a post – can’t quite formulate it yet – about how we congratulate and reward the beautiful….as if it was an accomplishment. Again, just a genetic crap shoot. I really do need to get to work on that post!!

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  3. Ooh a visit with those sweet faces in the picture, I’m betting! And I hope you’re still enjoying their company as I write this. 😀

    My experience with narcissism isn’t pretty so I’ll spare you the details, although sometimes I wonder if it was narcissism or a form of sociopathy – I still haven’t decided which pop psychology label it deserves. I just sum it up with words kind of like “Jerk!” but a bit more foul. 😉

    I think it’s awesome your daughter is sending you parenting articles! And how fun that you guys can talk about those things more like equals now. What a blessing that must be. 😀

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  4. This is a most intriguing topic, Angie. I’ve observed a narcissist in action and one of the things they do in their parenting is to treat one of their children as a golden child. But the others (plus many of their children’s friends) are deemed substandard. Either way the offspring are harmed. Great advice here.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

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    • Excellent, excellent point, Wendy. Sad point, but excellent none the less. It is as if there is little room to love others in a selfless way therefor one child is chosen. You spoke of the harm done to that child’s siblings and friends, which makes sense because all children need to be loved and valued for who they are, not who the parent wants them to be. I’ve also seen the golden child harmed. Sometimes they go on to be a narcissist themselves, or they collapse under the pressure, or they stop playing the role and are rejected by the narcissist parent. What a mess! Yet, love and truth are bigger than all of this. When adults choose to forge a path of respect, truth, and love for themselves and their children, wonders happen. When self-sacrifice and healthy boundaries combine, love grows!

      Thank you, Wendy ❤

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