The Golden Child
Before going into the details of the concept of golden child syndrome, know that every parent dreams of a golden child until they know the making of one.
Parents want their children to get access to the best resources possible and they toil hard to provide them with the necessary education, shelter, food, and comfort. To say the least, parents have in mind the best interest of their children. But in a family where either of the parents shows narcissistic traits or is clinically diagnosed with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the dynamics vary greatly.
In a healthy family structure, the parents are self-assured and provide their children with a warm and productive environment to ensure their overall development. Such parents know how to balance the need to exercise control over their children and procure autonomy. Healthy parents rely on transparency, empathy, and understanding to grow a secure attachment with their children. They do not depend on criticism, body shaming, guilt-tripping and other dark manipulative techniques to create broken, insecure, self-effacing, and anxious children.
Narcissistic parents have no sense of self and they live their entire life behind the facade of a pretentious self. This self requires constant feeding to sustain. A family where either or both of the parents are narcissists, the child becomes a mere source of narcissistic supply to keep the fake self, surviving.
What is supposed to be nurturing and containing structure to build a healthy child turns into a drama in which the child plays the role of rescuer and sacrifices his own sense of self to cater to his/her parent/s’ fake self.
The parent/s’ boundaries are diffuse with that of their child and the child never acquires a completely individualistic sense of self and this is how the golden child is made.
The golden child is fundamentally an extension of the narcissist parent.
Hence, he or she is the embodiment of perfection, the ‘good child’, the ‘special child’ who is a projection of all the impeccable characteristics of the parent and hence should strive regularly to inculcate and facilitate those qualities of a virtuous person, the ones their parent/s portray.
A golden child cannot shake off the feeling that he/she is special but is unable to find within oneself the grounds on why it should be so. There is an underlying longing to be accepted as they are, with their imperfections and frailties, rather than being praised for the glossed person which they are not.
Now that you know how a golden child in a narcissistic family comes into being, let’s look at some of the traits of a golden child:
6 characteristics of a golden child in a Narcissistic Family:
1. He/she is competitive:
As earlier mentioned, a golden child is a reflection of their narcissistic parent. This child is very competitive in nature, always striving to win. In a narcissistic family, the children are pitted against one another to encourage competition. So this golden child grows up very competitive in nature.
They often take personal risks to ensure they secure the first position, in all aspects of life. Their self-confidence and sense of self-esteem are based on external sources of reinforcement, like achievements, praises, and titles. This takes me to the second characteristic which is…
2. He/she is studious
Which kid loves studying? None other than the golden child in a narcissistic family. Unlike other kids, he or she is extremely excited about going to school and taking part in competitive events that they love.
School is their best place to be. In fact, going to school, for them, is the most fun part of the day. They thrive the best in competitive situations. They are bold and upfront in handling the competition.
No doubt, they are the celebrated star of the class. Never failing to secure a place in the good books of the teacher because they shine. They literally set a milestone for their fellow-students. They would rather teach his/her friends a few intellectual topics than needing help in their homework.
3. He/She abides by parents’ rules
One can find most children being rebellious on being dictated and controlled. But to a golden child, the rules set by their parents is the ultimate rule book for them.