When I read this article I saw my sister.... seeing that how my parents raised us, giving positive reinforcement, if you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all, encouragement, praise, cheering when we did good, not much said when we did bad, etc.... All of us kids thrived in it, except my oldest sister, she became a psychotic narcissist...
The Problems with Raising a Narcissist
By Jan Knight
Published: Friday, May 29, 2009 10:23 PM CDT
One of the worst things parents can do to a child is to create a narcissist.
“Webster's Dictionary” describes a narcissist as an egoist, and says the origin comes from Greek legend about a very handsome young man who was so in love with his image in water, that he was changed into a flower — the narcissus.
Many of us have been in contact with people who are disgustingly narcissistic. Some of their traits are as follows: they are too impressed with themselves, too self-centered to see the needs of others, too in love with themselves to really love anyone else, too sure that everything they do is correct and right and irrefutable, too sure that if something goes wrong in his life that is must be the fault of someone else, and so on and so on.
We have seen these people in politics, in business, in schools, in churches, in families. It is almost always true that this type of person comes to a bad end and their lives of self-gratification lead to unhappiness.
It is really unfair for parents to tell their children how much more special they are than other children or that they are so smart that they are bound to greatness. Let me give an example by Beth Moore: In a thought-provoking article entitled “My So-Called Genius,” author Laura Fraser recounts her remarkable journey from being a whiz-kid to a fairly-ordinary adulthood of unmet expectations. By age 5 she was well acquainted with the word “precocious” and told repeatedly how special she was. The next years did not disappoint. She was brilliant and darling and surpassed her peers, drawing the attention of adults who said she was destined for greatness. Then came college where she entered an academic world of peers who had been told the same thing.
By her late 40s, Fraser had accomplished many good things but the expectation of greatness and the sense that she'd never quite achieved it haunted her with feelings of failure. All the well-meaning forecasts had done nothing but cast a pall of perfectionism upon her and, as was pointed out, “Perfectionists always lose.”
She also makes this excellent comment: “As parents, teachers, relatives, leaders, or observers, we are wise to be careful about telling gifted children how great they are destined to be. It is a trap and a forecast (of future unhappiness). There is a difference “between talent and having a clue what to do with it, and how genius rarely exempts people from having to work hard just like everybody else who wants to make it.”
Most of the narcissists I know have been told by their parents how brilliant, talented, special, and wonderful they are, but they have failed to tell them how to treat others. As a rule, they are anxious to “reach the top” no matter how many people they have to use to get there. They are unable to realize how their words and attitudes alienate the very people they are trying so hard to impress. They have the opinion that they are above criticism and that those who might be critical are probably jealous or are just wrong.
I am always uncomfortable talking to a parent who praises his child excessively in front of him and who blames everyone for not doing for him as has been done at home (usually too much pampering and praising). Children love to hear how terrific they are and we should give praise when it is deserved or earned. However, praise for a God-given talent or aptitude is not necessary unless he uses it in some way to deserve the praise.
Parents, don't raise a narcissist. They cannot find their way in life without inordinate praise, recognition, and glory. When it doesn't come, you may have caused him to be a very unhappy adult.
Jan Knight, MAE, NCC, NSCS, is a long-time counselor/educator in the Desoto County area