In narcissistic families there is usually a child who is treated differently than the others. The narcissistic parent will lavish this child with attention and praise, while ignoring or mistreating the other children in the family. This favoured child is known as the Golden Child. So, what happens to the Golden Child when he or she grows up? Does the Golden Child become a narcissist?
How does the narcissist treat the golden child?
For the narcissist, the golden child is a blank slate on which they can project their own aspirations, dreams, and fantasies. The actual needs and wants of the child do not matter. The narcissistic parent anoints this child to be the idealized version of themselves.
The Golden Child must always meet the high standards set by the narcissist and will never be good enough. The Golden Child is a mirror, and is constantly under pressure to reflect well on the narcissist and to make them look good.
The narcissist parent uses the golden child as a prop. They will boast about the child’s achievements or show them off in social situations. If the poor child does not perform to the required standard, they will face their parent’s fury.
The golden child is also a source of narcissistic supply, providing the attention and adulation that the narcissist craves. They become their parent’s sycophant, always agreeing with them and stroking their ego. The golden child will do anything to please the narcissist, even if it means sacrificing their own happiness or well-being.
The impact on the golden child
The narcissistic parent can do serious damage to their Golden Child. The constant pressure to meet the impossible standards set by the narcissist can damage the Golden Child’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth. The Golden Child may also develop anxiety or depression due to the fear of disappointing the narcissist.
One of the biggest problems is that golden children do not develop their own sense of self. This means that they are highly dependent on the approval of others and have difficulty making their own decisions. They may also have trouble in relationships, as they expect others to treat them the way they were treated by their narcissistic parent.
In addition, their total enmeshment with their narcissistic parent makes it difficult for them to individuate their own identity. Their inability to establish and maintain boundaries can also lead to problems, such as anxiety, depression, and relationship difficulties.
So, is the Golden Chile destined to become a narcissist?
There is no simple answer to this question. Some Golden Children do become narcissists, while others do not. It depends on a number of factors, including how severely narcissistic the parent was, and whether the Golden Child received any emotional support from other family members or friends.
The Golden Child is often unaware of the damage that the narcissist is doing to them. They have no idea that they are nothing but puppets on a string.
While it is not guaranteed that the Golden Child will become a narcissist, there is indeed an above-average risk that they will develop narcissistic traits or even full-blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This is due to the fact that they have been raised in a narcissistic environment and have been subject to the damaging effects of narcissistic abuse.
Golden Children have learned that the only way to get love and attention is to be perfect. And since perfection is not possible, they will always feel inadequate and unworthy. This could become the source of a narcissistic injury , which could trigger the development of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
If you are the co-parenting with a narcissist, you need to be vigilant. If you see the narcissist assigning one of your children the role of a Golden Child, counteract the damage. Focus on giving your child plenty of love and attention, and help them to develop a strong sense of self. This will go a long way towards protecting the child from the damage of narcissistic abuse.
If you were the Golden Child in a narcissistic family, know that it is not pre-ordained that you will follow in your narcissist parent’s footsteps. It is only when we let our narcissistic tendencies reign unchecked that we do serious damage to ourselves and those around us.
Seek professional help to help you develop a strong sense of self and learn how to set boundaries with others. With the right support, you can overcome the damage caused by growing up in a narcissistic family and build a healthy, happy life for yourself.
For Further Reading
You might also want to check out the following posts about narcissistic families and the impact of childhood trauma:
- SoNM (Sons of Narcissistic Mothers)
- SoNF (Sons of Narcissistic Fathers)
- DoNF (Daughters of Narcissistic Fathers)
- DoNM (Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers)
- ACoNs (Adult Children of Narcissists)
- Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers: What You Need to Know
- The Narcissistic Family Golden Child
- The Narcissistic Family Scapegoat
- The Narcissistic Parent and the Enabler
- Narcissistic Family Roles: The Complicated Dynamics of Narcissistic Families
- Breaking the Intergenerational Cycle of Family Abuse
- Emotional Abuse as a Child Linked to Adult Chronic Pain
- CAPDR – Child affected by parental relationship distress
- Adverse Childhood Experiences and PTSD: What’s the Connection?
- The Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences on Puberty
- Learning how to Trust and Love after Adverse Childhood Experiences
- Parentification: The Role of the Parentified Child in Narcissistic Families
- What is Codependency and how to overcome it
- Resilience – the ability to bounce back after adversity
- Is the Golden Child destined to become a Narcissist?
- Secrets and Shame: The Corrosive Impact of Family Secrets
- How to Deal with a Narcissistic Sibling: Tips for Navigating Family Drama
- Going through the stages of grief for my lost childhood
And finally, this is my story. I was the scapegoat daughter of a narcissistic father.
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