Monday, August 07, 2006

Narcissists and Children

Here is something Sam Vaknin writes that rings true to me:

Narcissists like children only as unlimited sources of Narcissistic Supply. Put simply: children unconditionally admire the father-narcissist, they succumb to his every wish, submit to his every command, and are temptingly malleable. All other aspects of child-rearing are considered by him repulsive: the noises, the smells, the invasion of his space, the nuisances, the dangers, the long term commitments and, above all, the diversion of attention and admiration from the narcissist to his offspring. The narcissist envies his successful offspring as he would any other competitor for adulation and attention.

I KNOW it's true. Well, sort of: a narcissistic father ACTS as though he really IS as grand and impressive as little children think their Daddy is. He really gets off on that, a dose of Narcissistic Supply only children can give.

On the flip-side of that coin, he ACTS as though child-raising is repulsive to him. But why? Vaknin wanders around in abstractions, never explaining this. That's understandable, since he's a narcissist, and it explains why people often don't comprehend what he says. My guess is that you have to have lived with a narcissist for a long time to follow Vaknin in some of this stuff.

So, let's dispense with the abstractions and look at WHY narcissists abuse children. People don't believe what they can't make sense of.

So, why does a narcissistic father ACT as though he considers children beneath his notice and child-rearing beneath his dignity?

Because acting that way makes him feel grand. This act is just a superiority act. It makes children out to be something for the narcissist to stick his nose up at. As always, he ACTS as though this is true because, in his Magical Thinking Machine, ACTING as though something is true MAKES it true.

Acting is just pretending, you see.

But of course acting/pretending something is true doesn't make it true -- except in his childlike imagination.

Children do the same thing -- they get lost in fantasy.

So, his treatment of children is just one of the thousand ways his grandiosity expresses itself. He must treat children as beneath his notice. That's how he makes himself feel way above them, like God Almighty compared to them.

Moreover, what is a narcissist? A child. What do all children crave? Attention.

You know that, don't you? Every time you get on the phone, your kids act up because your attention is off THEM and on whomever you're talking with. So, they do something to get your attention and rectify the situation, don't they? That's children for you.

His children compete with the narcissist for attention in the home. So, this overgrown narcissistic Baby Birdie resents the other baby birdies for doing what he does = sticking their heads up high and stretching their gaping mouths wide for Mother Birdie's attention. He must have it ALL. They must get none.

So, a narcissistic father doesn't like his competitors for Mother's attention. And he will lash out at them for demanding any of his (= God Almighty's) infinitely valuable attention. After all, why should God Almighty take notice of beings insignificant compared to him?

When children demand or try to hijack his attention, they're are failing to act out his script -- in which they are as insignificant as a fly on the wall compared to grandiose HIM. (He doesn't accept reality: he alters it constantly on the fly by living in a world of make-believe, much like a child with an imaginary friend.)

Every narcissist ALWAYS attacks anyone not following his script = for NOT behaving as though His Highness should treat them like dirt.

He must be an ONLY child in that home.

Also, children's feelings are easily hurt. The greater the hurt, the more it shows, and the grander the image of himself that reflects from the mirrors of their faces.

In other words, abusing a little child is a bigger high for a narcissist than than abusing more formidable prey, like a spouse. He can easily produce a devastated look on that child's face. In it he seems more awesome than he would seem in the merely wounded look on his wife's face. So, he would rather target his child than his wife with an insult . . . for the despicable reason that it will hurt the child more.

Because the more damage his attack causes, the more powerful he seems in his childish mind.

Just like any bully, right? Which is why bullies pick on somebody smaller than them.

But of course this thinking is absurd. Picking on children isn't grand. It's as contemptible and lowdown as one can get. Normal people couldn't bring themselves to stoop to such subhuman behavior.

To think this makes him grand, a narcissist must deliberately think absurdly, like a little child thinks. Indeed, a narcissist is, above all, an adult who obdurately refuses to stop thinking like a pre-school-age child. Why? In order that he can delude himself with all this play-acting.

In fact, his attitude toward children is an example of why narcissists target emotionally vulnerable people. Like all predators, they go for easy prey.

And "he" could well be a "she."

On the main site I give an example of how shockingly mean a narcissist will be to his own children (especially when they demand his attention, trying to force him to treat them as though they are NOT beneath his notice) in How To Make a Narcissist.
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At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But you let one of those kids do something great such as "make the college team" and the narcisist dad is there to get the credit.

At 12:28 PM, Blogger Kathy K said...

Slam dunk -- what you say is exactly right. This is where the differing strategies of the ignoring narcissist and the doting narcissist converge.

Even the ignoring narcissist will be there to get the credit.

At 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh sure narcissist dad will take credit for the kid's success to others, but he won't compliment the kid on that success and will ignore the success/belittle it/insult it.

At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think N's don't want to deal with the everyday, mundane details of raising children because the sad reality is that this very important job is underappreciated, and he/she can't generate the internal motivation to make it worthwhile.
I have found that NH will step up to the plate to make himself look needed or valued as a father figure. For example, he verbally wrestles with me about taking one of our kids to an appointment, insisting he would have to skip lunch (when in reality he could have made it work), only to call me later with great fanfare to say he had moved a meeting and could now do it after all. He had to make it seem like a big sacrifice before he would do it--he had to first get across how much trouble he's going to.
Yet, when everyone's home on the weekends and I'm out running errands, he'll make himself lunch but not make anything for the kids. I've come home close to 3pm before and they haven't eaten. It just doesn't occur to him.
When they were younger, I tried to negotiate with him to take over one chore of the nightly dinner-cleanup-homework-bath-brushteeth-bedtime obstacle course. I finally badgered him into taking over bathtime, but he would get upset at the kids when they didn't respond to his one yell from another room to get into the bath, complaining that they didn't listen to him. The truth is he didn't want to commit to doing something on a regular basis, for which he would have gotten less regular attention than me asking for and being grateful for each individual thing.

At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember seeing my NPD mother sitting on the lap of my father and looking at me as if to say, "See, I got all the attention, not you." I didn't know that then but I can certainly see it now. She refers to all children as "snot-nosed brats" and she referred to her own 4 children that way too. Again, always having to put someone else down to build herself up. She was the same way with her grandchildren.

At 11:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember seeing my NPD mother sitting on the lap of my father and looking at me as if to say, "See, I got all the attention, not you." I didn't know that then but I can certainly see it now. She refers to all children as "snot-nosed brats" and she referred to her own 4 children that way too. Again, always having to put someone else down to build herself up. She was the same way with her grandchildren.

At 9:59 PM, Anonymous The Happy Feminist said...

Holy crap! This is so on target, it's scary.

At 7:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Firstly, thank you for producing this site. I have learned much on here and can relate to nearly everything.

Getting back to the attention thing...

If any of my children decide to come over to me and give me a cuddle, my husband will ['jokingly'] say "Hey, get away from there...she's MY wife", or leave MY wife alone."

Said often enough, I believe the child will start to believe it.

Thankfully, me and the children totally ignore his comments.


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