Tiger Mom and Narcissism

“My kid the soccer player” - who is that for?

Posted Jan 21, 2011

While I would never diagnose anyone in the media without knowing or treating them, after reading posts on Tiger Mom, watching her on media interviews, and digesting the information...I realized that her parenting philosophy would be categorized as the antithesis of my beliefs regarding important aspects of child rearing.

In that regard, I feel compelled to add to the litany of responses in this media wave. Having studied the insidious effects on adult children of narcissistic parents for twenty years, as well as doing clinical treatment, it is obvious to me that the primary missing piece is the ability to parent with empathy. Adult children raised by narcissistic parents receive strong messages that they are valued for what they do, rather than for who they are. They grow up with a "not good enough" message, doubt their own inner voice, and struggle with developing a solid sense of self. These effects have shown up repeatedly in my research related to "engulfing" or "ignoring" narcissistic parenting.

The little person inside the child is not emotionally tuned into, and the narcissistic parent cannot parent with empathy and understanding. Therefore, the child is not known well to the parent or themselves. The child spends a lifetime trying to gain the love, acceptance and approval of the parent and is not encouraged to find out who they are and what they are about, including their own innate talents, desires, creative visions and wishes. Adult children raised by narcissistic parents lose themselves while trying to gain love from parents who don't have the capacity to give unconditional love and empathy. Their actions and behaviors are judged on how it reflects on the parent, and is all about the parent, rather than the child.

The entitlement issue in our youth is a problem. But, I believe it is caused from lack of attention to the emotional needs of the child and truly knowing how the child feels as well as validating and acknowledging those feelings. It is amazing how a parent can improve a child's behavior as well as direct and teach effectively if they have the gift of empathy. This is applicable for adults as well.

The best marital, family, and individual therapy is based on the emotional tune-in. The distorted legacy of love learned in narcissistic families is this: Love is based on what I can do for you and what you can do for me. That my friends...is not love. 

"Take out the garbage."                                                             

This does not mean parents should cave on whatever a child wants. It means simply that parents should care how the child feels and at least validate those feelings so the child grows up trusting their own emotions.

When parenting is all about ‘my kid the soccer player" or "my kid the ballet dancer"...who is that for? If the child is performing for the parent to gain love, something that child is entitled to, how does the child have time and energy to explore themselves? I would like to see bumper stickers that say, "I care how you feel." But, where are they in this narcissistic culture? What I do see are bumper stickers that say things like, "My kid the honor student" and "I want to be Barbie, that bitch has everything!"

Material goods and achievement...what we do... how we look... is the mantra today. Is it any wonder that values and teaching kindness and caring for others has somehow escaped the current glitter mentality?

Additional Resources for Recovery:

Resource Website: http://www.willieverbegoodenough.com

Book: Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers http://www.willieverbegoodenough.com/the-book-2/buy-the-book

Audio Book: http://www.willieverbegoodenough.com/the-book-2/buy-the-book

Workshop: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers Virtual Workshop. Work recovery in the privacy of your own home, complete with video presentations and homework assignments:  http://www.willieverbegoodenough.com/workshop-overview-healing-the-daughters-of-narcissistic-mothers

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DrKarylMcBride

Twitter: http://twitter.com/karylmcbride

Daughter Intensives: One on one sessions with Dr. Karyl McBride

“Is this your Mom?” Take the survey: http://www.willieverbegoodenough.com/narcissistic-mother