The scapegoat and golden child.
If the narcissist has more than one child, they will assign them roles: the scapegoat child and the golden child.
There are no hard and fast rules. Some narcissists will give them clear roles, and sometimes they can cross over to which gets the role on a day to day basis depending on which one pleases the narcissist at that moment. If a child speaks up against the narcissist, they’ll idealise the other child and make them the golden child the one that spoke up will become the scapegoat.
They will triangulate their children against each other without the children knowing, gaining emotions from the children. It’s just another way the narcissist manipulates those around them.
Narcissists will drive a wedge between anyone and everyone, including their own children. The children will often not know they’ve been played off against each other. They’ll know there is conflict but will be confused as to why. As the narcissist never directly does things, it’s all calculated and manipulation. The narcissist just wants everyone around them against each other and all for them. It’s a case of Abuse by proxy.
The narcissist wants to divide and conquer those around them. The Golden Child will often Fawn and does all they can to meet the narcissists’ demands. The Scapegoat is usually the black sheep of the family that will speak their truth.
The narcissist will get the golden child to unwittingly become an enabler through fear of what would happen if they didn’t do as the parents asked of them and will often get the golden child to gang up with them against the scapegoat.
The narcissist will get the golden child to unwittingly help with the abuse towards the scapegoat child.
The narcissist will try and get the scapegoat and golden child to dislike each other. They will do all they can to drive a wedge.
The golden child will be pushed to perform and achieve, and when they don’t achieve to the narcissist standards, there will be ridicule, criticism and punishment. They use these same tactics also to push them to do what the narcissist wants them to do. The children lose their sense of self as they’re too busy trying to be what the parent wants them to be. The golden child gets treated so well when they achieve that they don’t always grow to see what’s happening, which is why limited contact for the golden child is best. This will be really hard as the golden child will take longer to realise that it’s not true love the narcissist shows them. Having one parent that shows them true love will help them achieve the realisation sooner. The golden child aims to please as they don’t want the harsh words, silent treatment or punishment. They end up with no self-worth. The narcissist will say things like, “How dare you to be proud you only got an A. It should have been an A*.”
The scapegoat is usually the rebel child that will not conform to the narcissist’s manipulation. The one who does what they please. They will get constant criticism over anything and everything, although they typically grow to achieve a better sense of self. Self-esteem, self-awareness and clarity. They will often call the narcissist out on what they’ve said or done/ not done. The scapegoat works it out first because they don’t get as many, if any, of the love bombings. The narcissist will say things like, “ How can you be proud of your rubbish at everything? You need to work harder.”
When the children have constant scrutiny, lack of privacy, been continuously played off against each other, been continually provoked, the narcissist causing arguments that the children don’t even know what it was about and end up feeling confused. They unknowingly play into the narcissist’s hand as they’ll deflect onto the siblings because they’re hoping they’re not going to get all the harsh words themselves. That’s the whole game the narcissist is playing. They just want everyone to please the narcissist.
It’s no better or worse if the child is the scapegoat or the golden child, they can both feel anxious. They both develop self-doubt from the constant criticism. They are both getting phycological pain. They don’t know from day to day if it’ll be good or bad. Both children can be going along having a great day. Suddenly, the narcissist goes off on one for no reason giving them phycological confusion and pain, neither growing to form a true sense of self, either can go into fight mode and become a narcissist, or fawn mode and become a people pleaser.
Whatever the children do is never enough for the narcissist, often leading the children to grow never feeling enough from within, some overactive to stay busy, be it the golden or scapegoat to try and prove they are enough, or the self-doubt can hold them back, leading to substance abuse, both can end up with anxiety, depression, CPTSD, and not knowing who to trust, feeling like they need someone to fill the empty childhood, not realising that they are enough.
The narcissist will pit everyone against each other. The overt narcissist will say to children, “ Why can you not be more like them? They’re so much better than you” the Covert will do it in more subtle ways. ” Look at how good they are.” Or ” Don’t you wish you were more like them?” The goal for the narcissist is to divide and conquer, divide everyone around them so everyone looks up to them. They’ll create problems out of knowing where and then have their own solutions, which is what they wanted in the first place. They don’t want people to unite as then they’ll know that they are, and a narcissist can not stand exposure.
Narcissists will go to any lengths to keep the divide going. They will happily set people up without them even knowing.
If you have children with a narcissist, the siblings can get through this together. With one positive parent, they will learn what is positive people and what is negative. They will learn with your help to unit against the narcissist from a young age as you’ll be telling them to be kind to each other and look out for each other. They will see it for what it is in their own time, so stay strong. If you have one child, surrounding them with the kinds of people that care for others, teaching them all about boundaries, self-care, that they are allowed mistakes it’s how they learn, teaching them empathy, yet they can decide how they do and do not want to be treated, when to say yes and when to say no.
For adults, get positive affirmations around you, look at achievements you have made within your life. When self-doubts about, kick it back out. You are not what others think of you. You are what you think of yourself, work on reprogramming that mindset to work for you and never against you. Learning to talk to yourself kindly, laugh about any errors you make, then going again, we are all imperfectly perfect.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.