Quoting from the website:
THE OBJECTIFICATION OF THE CHILDREN OF NARCISSISTIC PARENTS
Some narcissistic adults deliberately do not want to be parents as it gets in the way of others being in their life to only serve their needs. Children have needs and are dependent which is uncomfortable and unavailable for the Narcissistic parent to be able to cater to. However Narcissists also believe in image and success, and the powerful image of the “stable, happy family” is yet one more achievement that needs ticking off in life. Narcissistic parents tend to view their children as objects to be used for their image sustainment, and as an extension of themself when the child is trotted out in public(Meier:2009).
When a child comes along in a family of one or more narcissistic parents then the child may end up being used for the selfish needs of the parents. The child may be expected to know things without being taught, as the narcissistic parent resists spending time helping anyone else but themself, but at the same time may still have a demand on the child that they be gifted or special or “make mum or dad proud”.
In all relationships the adult narcissist tends to have a general stance of “Well what have you done for me today!!”(Stern:2008) as self-obsession dominates the thinking and world of the adult narcissist and is also projected onto their children as part of this way of being in the world. Children of narcissistic parents report later that they felt in childhood constant tension and pressure to keep proving to the narcissistic parent their worth and to prove how they love and appreciate the narcissistic parent being their parent. This however is not a two-way street and the children typically do not have memories of ever having felt loved or appreciated for being themselves or for being a child with needs that the parent could be bothered meeting.
When the child makes a mistake the narcissistic parent often reacts with biting criticism, often berating or labelling the child “stupid”, or demanding a perfectionistic standard that “around here this is what is expected”. Given the narcissistic parent is never wrong nor ever apologises, the child stats to feel defective in front of what is supposedly a perfect setting that they, the child is sabotaging for all concerned. This leads to a drive to also be perfect, or a collapse into shame and self-blame, and a felt sense of being flawed and not enough. Both of these outcomes are also containing the child’s self hatred.
The child will also learn that feelings are to be suppressed as they are not acceptable, or are seen as a sign of weakness, as the narcissistic parent has disowned their own feeling states, and is unable and unwilling to show real emotions from behind their false mask of perfection to the world. The child grows up in a world without feelings, and will suffer a vague sense of unhappiness as a result no matter how adapted they are to their adult world.
Such a person may suffer a low grade depression for years before finally going into therapy when their own best efforts fail to bring them happiness despite often bringing them accomplishments. Their relationships are often re-creations of their childhood.
If the child becomes a narcissist themself then they too will start to see any potential love partners as only being there to serve their own narcissistic needs, and to fit in with their image of success, glamour, power and having “possessed” another trophy(Lewi-Martinez:2008).
Even in sexuality the thinking and stance of “it’s all about me” shows up. Studies by Joanne Stern(2008) indicate that narcissists view their sexual partners as sexual objects that satisfy their narcissistic ego supplies of pleasure, status and power. Given that authentic sexuality is communal and brings emotions to bear and a couple closer together, sexual love is a way in relationships are enhanced(Stern:2008). Narcissists are unable to meet their partner in this place and in this way and so will avoid such encounters. Instead they will be self-gratifiers, takers, objectifiers and sexualisers of their partners in the bedroom. Clinical reports of partners of narcissists reveal they rated their narcissistic partner as lousy in the intimate life of the bedroom.
Narcissists in relationship can be considered to operate in only one direction in terms of what Bert Hellinger(1990) calls “taking” and “giving”. A classic narcissist is a “taker” who gives nothing back and focuses solely on their own needs. Any “giving” is only a manipulative gesture enacted with an agenda in mind. The other extreme or polarity of form of a narcissist which traditionally was labelled an “enabler”, “caretaker” or “co-dependent” takes little or nothing for themselves and focuses solely on the needs of the other person at the expense of their own needs.
Recent writings are now labelling this second group of enablers as “co-narcissists” instead of co-dependents. This new term is chosen since both one-way stances are narcissistic and also since they relate to where the hatred flows. A classic narcissist openly discharges the hatred and anger outwards without remorse or feeling, whilst the co-narcissist discharges it inwards against themselves as self-hatred. Both are forms of narcissistic love/hatred rather than healthy love.
This is why you commonly find an adult relationship where one party is a classic narcissist who criticises, belittles, rages and abuses their “love” partner, who takes on the punishment abuse and put-downs as a recreation of their childhood felt sense of being hated or rejected. Unfortunately the co-narcissist gets a double dose of hatred in this dynamic. They receive hate from the narcissist wrapped up as “love”, and they develop self-hatred which gets turned against their own self. Over time the co-narcissist has been found to suffer significant psychosomatic and psychological disorders stemming from their relationships, including suicide and further abusive relationships(Lowen:2004).
In a multiple child family of narcissistic parents it is common that each parent picks a child to idealise and another to denounce and devalue, with the rest of the children effectively ignored. The parents may choose a common “good child” and a common “bad child”, but what is most common is each parent chooses a different favourite child, and a different scapegoated child, which is often the opposite choice of the other parent(Meier:2009). This enacts another form of form of “splitting” amongst the children.
A common outcome is the narcissist chooses the eldest child of the same sex as them to be the scapegoat, whilst the eldest child of the opposite sex to be the idealised favourite child, or the prince or princess(Meier:2009). In effect the narcissistic parent is creating the same idealised false self in their favourite child, and project their own disowned faults and shadow onto the scapegoated child(Meier:2009). This too is a form of “splitting”.
This outcome can become a battlefield where the child is assaulted interchangeably with seductive ego puffery by one parent, and a cold belittling hostility of the other parent. Where there is a common choice of the favourite child and the scapegoat, one sees the creation of the next generation of narcissist, whilst the scapegoated child will likely act out rebel behaviours and the disowned shame and shadow material of the parents, via drugs, crime, shameful public activities, and possibly self mutilation or anorexia over time.
The rest of the children watch silently and like lonely sentinels from the sidelines in either case, wondering all the time what is wrong with them that they are invisible and unwanted. Some will develop strategies like becoming sickly to get negative attention(which is at least attention), while others fade into the background and learn to be needless, wantless, and unsure of feelings and who they are.
In amongst this battlefield of a dysfunctional family there may also be the added complication of the jealousy of those children who compete for attention of the parents. Narcissistic parents will play power games with children in this way, making children earn their “love” and loyalty by proving over and over the same from the child in many demonstrated ways. The Narcissistic parent will milk their own children for their narcissistic ego supplies without remorse.
The children are all under the common demand to “maintain the family image”, and are told how lucky they are to be in such a family. The children may be accused behind closed doors of being “too dramatic” for just having human feelings or emotions in public that spoil that perfect image. The child will quickly learn to disown and split off those aspects of self that invite recrimination.
The needs of the parents are all that count and the children learn to shutdown emotionally, to play their part in the family facade, and from time to time to “perform” their special skill, trick, or be shown off, all to garner the parents the public’s tick of approval of their parenting. Children learn that image is everything around here and bend to the parents will, setting the child up to grow up narcissistic in themself.
Children of such families are robbed of their childhoods, their realities, their needs and wants, and connection to their true selves. Every child is dependent on their parents for their survival, and every child seeks and needs love, time, attention and direction from their parents. The child will split themself into a disowned true self, and a false self that houses that special talent or gift that gets them the narcissistic parent’s approval. The parent may also decide which aspect of the child must be developed and perfected in order for the child to get that approval.
For example the parent may be either a very successful or a failed footy hero and now pushes the son all through childhood to be perfect and best footy hero, even at junior levels. The narcissistic adult parent rages on the sidelines every Saturday at the Little-Aussie footy games, to the horror of everyone around him. The narcissists goes into blame when the child gets tackled, blames the umpires, the coach and never the son in public. The star child is talked about often to the parent’s friends, colleagues, and anyone else who will listen.
At home, behind closed doors, the rage and criticism of the child not winning is intensely felt. The child, being an extension of the narcissist’s idealised false self, must be perfect and the winner. Losing must be rationalised as someone else’s fault, either that being the rest of the team, the coach, the grass surface etc. From here phone calls of threats and abuse to school teachers, coaches, other team mates parents, may occur.
If blame cannot be sheeted home elsewhere then the child is the last resort of projection of fault and blame and told to “shape up” and “get it right” next time. The child will start to have performance anxiety in these settings as everything rests on him getting it right and so getting approval and “love”.
One recent case of this form of alleged parental abuse is the 2011 documented case of Amy Chua, who is a Yale law professor. She describes herself as a “tiger mother” and wanted her children to be perfect and disciplined. She forced her 7 year old daughter Lulu to practice an advanced tune on her violin for hours on end “right through dinner into the night”(Paul:2011). The child was forced each day to practice this way with no breaks for water or even the bathroom, until Lulu learnt how to play the piece perfectly(Paul:2011).
Amy Chua would call her other daughter Sophia “garbage” when she felt disrespected, and tore up a hand-made card that Lulu made her for her birthday as not being “good enough”. Her father is also severe. He severely chastised his daughter for humiliating and disgracing him by taking him to a school Awards honour presentation where she received second prize, not first prize. The Yale Law Professor is unrepentant and claims she is preparing her daughters for adulthood because “its a tough world out there”(Paul:2011). She has even published a book entitled “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” which is now in the best seller lists in the USA.
The book details her recommended style of parenting which includes never accepting a school grade lower than an “A”, insisting on hours of math and spelling drills, piano and violin practice each day(weekends and public holidays included), of not allowing play dates, sleepovers, television, computer games, school plays.(Paul:2011).
Amy Chua states she is raising her children to rule the world. This is a classic statement of a narcissistic parent who demands perfection, and whose value system has been replaced with images of power, success, perfectionism, status, and who sneer at everyone else as inferior and weak, as Amy allegedly does claim about other parents and their children compared to herself and her children.
Amy Chua states emphatically that she is doing all this to her children out of love and that her children’s happiness is her primary goal(Paul:2011). This is a distorted sense of love. Her own parents were strict on her as well and raised Chua harshly which she does not regret. Chua believes that adult happiness comes from being able to make the most possible choices from the work ethic and scholarly achievements that childhood sacrifices gave her(Paul:2011). There is no admission that there is any meaningful cost to be paid by any child raised under such strict disciplines and a home environment absent in emotional affection or affirmative love.
Imagine a world ruled by rigid, heartless leaders who are critical and demanding such as the model and vision Amy Chua aspires to. We see this already in the Chinese culture and its leadership values of power, control and material achievements at the expense of human rights, the environment, equality and freedom of expression. Like many authoritarian cultures, this is happiness for the few at the expense of the many.