Aren’t I lucky? Neither of my parents was healthy and both were narcissistic in some ways. Yay me. While I was my mother’s only child, my dad re-married and had a second daughter. When he started his new family, I was discarded and kicked out of my paternal family as if I’d never been born. In fact, when I was 15, he drunkenly told me he wished I’d never been born. Safe to say, I was not the Golden Child!
The terms Scapegoat and Golden Child may be familiar to children of narcissistic parents. In a nutshell, the Scapegoat is the child that can’t do anything in right in the narcissist’s eyes. He or she will be ignored, neglected, blamed, criticized, left out, and basically treated like someone who is worthless. On the other hand, the Golden child can do no wrong. The narcissist will ignore his or her faults, spoil him or her, and brag about him or her. Neither the Scapegoat nor the Golden Child might be any of the things that the narcissist labels them, but their real personalities, strengths and faults are ignored because the disordered parent can only see them as good or bad.
At one point, my dad seemed to love me more than anyone. He adored me, spent time with me and paid attention to me, which was a relief because my mother was disinterested in me from the time I was born. My dad was the parent I loved and trusted. After my parents divorced, he focused on me as the only good thing in his life, and he always had a gift waiting for me when I visited him. We did all kinds of fun things like going to movies, amusement parks and festivals. Back then, it was pretty common for dads to get every weekend visitation while moms had custody most of the time. My parents’ divorce ordered weekend visits and my dad picked me up every Friday evening.
This went on for about a year until my dad remarried when I was almost 8. Then the visits slowed down. His new wife got pregnant right away, and within a year, I had a half-sister. I had always wanted a sister! But, I was barely around her because my dad stopped picking me up. I was left out of every family event–weddings, funerals, birthdays, and more. Pretty soon, I was going years at a time without hearing from my dad–who lived in the same town. His wife didn’t want me around, and my dad complained that my mom was using him as a weekend baby-sitter. That’s how narcissists view their time with their kids–an obligation rather than a privilege!
My dad had a good job and came from a well-off family. He and his new family lived in a very large home in the best part of town, wore nice clothes, went on nice vacations, drove nice cars, ate good food…you get the point. I lived in an okay area with my mother who was usually broke. We weren’t living far above the poverty line. I used to wonder, on the rare days I saw my dad, how he could give his new daughter everything, yet forget that I existed. He even mocked me for my mother’s junky house and my cheap clothes. I used to wonder how he didn’t see that he was my parent and was responsible for my upbringing as well. But the fact is, he is simply too selfish to care.
When I was an adult, he apologized a bit and made excuses, and I tried to develop a relationship with my father. He then started comparing me to his other daughter, pointing out that she wore expensive clothes and was able to buy a nicer house. What he neglected to mention was that she lived at home well into her twenties, in his nice house for free. She had a child, but he watched her son for her so she wouldn’t have to pay for daycare. She didn’t even get a job until she was over 20, and never worked full-time until she was around 25. Then, she lived at home while she saved for a nice house. Of course she had money for nicer clothes and a down payment! With me, I was working at 14 and got out of my mother’s house early. I bought my own very modest house at a young age. There was no help. When I had my first child, I paid for daycare which was expensive and left me struggling to live on very little money. I asked my dad to watch my child every once in a while, and he declined every single time. So I’d wonder, why would my dad give his other daughter so much, but refuse to help me in any way? Why would he help her get a good start in life while denying me even occasional help? Why would he criticize me for working so hard to get ahead and not realize it was because I didn’t have the same benefits he gave his other daughter? He claimed to love me and was never outright mean to me, but it was clear that he favored his other daughter and her child, while me and mine came last.
In 2010, I called my dad on Christmas Day and asked when I could come over. He told me to wait until they’d had their family dinner. That stung me. Was I not his daughter? Was I not family? I vented to my half-sister and she became angry telling me that our dad was wonderful and would do anything for us. Well…maybe for her. But never for me. I tried to explain to her that her experience was very different from mine, but she hasn’t talked to me since. The Golden Child usually sees the narcissistic parent as infallible and is closed-minded to recognizing any faults.
Not too long ago, my father voluntarily told me that I was not on his life insurance policy and that all of his money and belongings would go to his other daughter and his wife’s son when he died. He explained to me that it was only fair because I had another parent. I was shocked. So, because I have a mother, he’s off the hook as my father? The meaning of the comment was far worse than not getting any money.
That’s the way it goes for the Scapegoat of a narcissistic parent. We are left confused and wondering why our parent seems to despise us and why we matter so much less than the Golden Child. I think in my case, it was just because I was the child of a failed marriage and his other daughter just happened to grow up in his house with him. I still don’t understand how any parent can ever just stop caring for their child. My mother didn’t block access. She wanted him to pick me up for my visits, (so she could go out on her own,) but he just didn’t care. For him, it was easy to replace a daughter. Crazy how narcissists think, isn’t it?