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Of all our earthly relationships there is none more important than family.  God created it to be an ongoing source of strength, comfort and instruction as well as a trusted place of safety and nurturing.  The family unit is the school of life and the Bible has much to say about how to run this school.  Most importantly, God must be kept in first place.  First in our personal lives and first in our households as the true head, the real Lord of the family.

Extended families can grow quite large including grandparents, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles.  Whether by blood or marriage some families could fill a baseball field.  Being a family member is a lifetime commitment ordained by God and both husband and wife are responsible for holding it together, no one is disposable.

The home is a child’s first exposure to the love and truth about God.  When we are patient and kind, supportive and understanding and every time we forgive and ask to be forgiven we are modelling the love of Christ.  This also means correction and discipline when necessary just as long as it is a thoughtfully measured response.  As parents, we hope that our children will listen when instructed and learn when disciplined and not become rebellious.  God wants the same thing with us, His children.  Proverbs 3:11-12.

A child’s experiences at home have everything to do with how they are able to relate to God, so be very careful how you treat these little ones.  Still, the fact remains, that even if you have done your very best to “Train them up in the way they should go…”  Proverbs 22:6 they sometimes go a different way.  Being raised in a Christian home does not guarantee that you will live a Christ centred life.  It is a deeply personal choice that every human heart must make for themselves.  As parents, there is nothing our kids could do to cause us to stop loving them, guiding them and praying for them…nothing.  This is what God desires for the family.

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal saviour then His Holy Spirit now dwells in your heart and His redemptive work of regeneration has begun.  That being said, it is now impossible for you to sin and not be convicted.  We can ignore the conviction and continue doing things our own way but at some point we must come to repentance.  Years ago I heard a statement that I have often recalled, “Christian, change your behaviour or change your name.”  The longer we ignore conviction and refuse to alter a sinful lifestyle the more the family unit will suffer.  Children learn from their parents.  Having been literally banished from my “Christian” family many years ago Psalm 27:10 brought me great comfort.  “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.”  God is my Father, He is steadfast, merciful and full of love.

False Christian?

There is no such thing.  People either have Christ or they don’t.  It’s tempting to say, “they can’t be a real Christian” whenever we witness sinful behaviour in a professing believer, especially when we’re on the receiving end.  Sometimes you’d be right, and sometimes you’d be wrong.  When a new believer truly opens their heart to Jesus, He takes up permanent residency inside that person and begins His work of regeneration and instruction.  This takes time…a lot of time.  Our free will and our sinful nature can impede our growth in Christ.  Once God’s Holy Spirit has come into your heart you are “born again.”  You are adopted into His family and sent to school, so to speak.  A child of God in His kindergarten is just as real and just as saved as an honour grad in His university.  The difference being that the kindergarten student has yet to learn a great deal.  That being said, there are things to look for in the life of a true believer.  There should be evidence like the “fruit of the Spirit” Galatians 5:22-23.

Satan has been attacking families since the beginning.  He hates the family and goes to great lengths to destroy it.  The primary reason for this is that the believing household is where the Gospel is taught and hopefully, demonstrated.  I say “hopefully” because far too often we parents hold our children to a higher standard than we have obtained ourselves.  Children tend to imitate our behaviour much more than they obey our words.  Not only does the devil want to prevent the teaching of God’s Word in Christian homes but he also uses members of unbelieving homes to lure these little ones away.  Witnessing the actions of an unbelieving and undisciplined world can be a powerful draw to both children and adults alike.  Choose your friends carefully and your spouse even more so.

Parents often quote “Children, obey your parents” from Ephesians in an effort to get the kiddos to fall in line.  They are leaving out important information here.  Read Ephesians 6:1-4.  Notice the “do not exasperate your children” part?  Discipline is necessary and sometimes a child will become angry because of it, that is perfectly okay.  Not provoking your child to anger means to be careful that you use appropriate means to correct poor behaviour.  Pick your battles and be sure that they line up with what God’s Word says.  Discipline produces respect, first in the home and then toward God.  This will spill over into all aspects of their lives later on.  Respect for police, judges, government, co workers and neighbours.

It’s easy to see when and where others fall short, not so easy to judge ourselves.  Only when we are in a right relationship with God and are open to His guidance will we be able to influence a hurting world for Christ in the appropriate manner.  Not long ago my failures far outnumbered my victories, now victory is far more common than the occasional failure.  This is God at work.

If children are not taught obedience and respect in the home then they feel free to do as they please in all aspects of their life.  If they don’t learn that there are consequences to their actions, then they will learn the hard way, the world’s way.  Teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted disease and abortions continue to rise at an unprecedented rate in many areas of the world.  The examples you set for your children and the lifestyle choices you make is the best way to teach them self-control and godly behaviour.  Not saying no is as good as saying yes to a child.  It is every parents God given duty to follow the instructions spelled out in Deuteronomy 6:1-9.  Whenever we stray from God’s original template for the family we will have trouble.  Any time society re-defines what a family should look like, watch out.

“As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.”   – Pope John Paul ll

As important as our earthly families are in God’s eyes, more important by far is our membership in His heavenly family.  This has been a huge comfort to me in the loss of my family of origin.  Being part of God’s spiritual family means all those who are heaven bound are my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I have a very large family.  Matthew 12:46-50.  Jesus is not dismissing His biological family as unimportant, He is making the clear theological point that the most important family connection is spiritual, not physical.

It’s hard to watch our children struggle with various issues as they enter adulthood.  Love makes this part of parenting very difficult and painful.  Our first reaction is to rush in and help solve the problem, help ease the pain.  Knowing when help is actually helping and not hindering God’s ongoing work in our children’s lives is something we ourselves must learn as parents.  A recent news feed article caught my eye.  It’s called, “‘Snowplow parenting’ is preventing young adults from learning basic life skills” by Arti Patel.  She talks about the dangers and damage done by parents who continually jump into rescue mode and fight their children’s battles for them.  They make appointments for them, wake them up in the morning and even call their children’s place of work if there is an issue.  This runs a very high risk of the child being incapable of coping in the world as an adult and can lead to mental health issues, relationship problems and even overall hygiene.

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Image – Pixabay

Snowplow Parenting by Arti Patel

The Scapegoat & The Golden Child

The Scapegoat & The Golden Child

Finger Pointing

When you are young you tend to believe and accept daily life as normal, it is your reality and all you’ve ever known.  As you get older you begin to notice and question poor behaviour and become aware of the negative effect it is having on you.  Welcome to The Scapegoat & The Golden Child.

Adult children of a narcissist typically suffer from anxiety and depression, unacknowledged anger and feelings of inadequacy.  They know something is wrong but can’t identify what it is or what’s causing it.  This is because the narcissistic household is ripe with denial.  The norm becomes, “Don’t tell anyone anything, just pretend everything is fine and what ever you do never tarnish the family image.”  Just a word on this; the family unit is meant to glorify God, not itself.

The “scapegoat” is typically assigned blame for all the family woes.  Whatever is amiss, whatever goes wrong or is wrong, it’s their fault.  Sadly the narcissistic parent projects their own feelings of inadequacy and self loathing onto the child.  They are out of touch with their own feelings and therefore not able to process them in honest healthy ways, they ooze out and stick like glue to the scapegoat.  You might be tempted to think that this poor soul is getting a raw deal, dealt a bad hand, don’t kid yourself.  While it’s easy to think that the life of the “golden child” is one to be envied, nothing could be farther from the truth.  In the formidable years they seem to have it all but this false persona quickly fades as they enter adulthood.  No member of a narcissistic family emerges unscathed.

The golden child functions as the apple of their eye, proudly displayed for all to see.  Their successes are celebrated with much pomp and any failures are either ignored or assigned to the scapegoat through the twisted reality of the narcissist.  The problem is that the child’s individuality suffers, their own thoughts and emotions are overlooked as the narcissist attempts to live out their dreams through another.  They are just as needed and used as the scapegoat in feeding the narcissist’s false self and are valued for what they do, not for who they are.  For example, a narcissistic parent who loves sports and didn’t achieve the desired level of excellence they had hoped for may now try to do so through their child, even if the child is not interested.  Love is conditional on how they perform and even the golden child endures judgment and criticism when they fall short of expectations.

In healthy families siblings are taught to love and respect each other, to support and protect the others hopes and dreams through caring words and actions.  This usually leads to (not guaranteed) a strong emotional connection with each other that lasts for a lifetime.  Children in narcissistic families rarely share this connection as they are constantly compared to each other and unhealthy competition is encouraged.  Tensions rise and mistrust is fostered through a lack of effective communication referred to as “triangulation.”  One person passes information (thoughts or feelings) on to another in the hopes that the intended target will get the message.  Family members don’t confront each other directly and when they do, anger usually follows and matters are worse.

The life of a spouse under narcissistic control revolves around the narcissist in order to keep the marriage together.  They may very well have positive traits and life lessons to teach their children but are kept so busy meeting the needs of the narcissist they are unable to take the time.  A narcissistic parent can be extremely possessive.  They may want the golden child to permanently dwell under their influence and roof.  Any indication that the child might be gaining their own independence can be met with strong opposition.  The young adult may move to another city only to have frequent visits by the jealous parent in an effort to guilt or shame them into returning home.  “How can you do this to me, don’t you care?”

Sadly, the child is not loved for who they are, the way they are but simply a means to an end.  They become emotionally and spiritually stunted, unable to formulate their own opinions and feelings without having first checked with the controlling parent.  They are often taught the same superiority complex and sense of entitlement that is so masterfully faked by the narcissist.  They willingly forfeit the plan God has for their lives and pursue the superficial trappings of wealth and ego.  I say “willingly” because they do have a choice.  They can align themselves with the truth, decide who they want to be and take a stand or they can accept the false persona and risk becoming a narcissist themselves.  Some narcissistic parents expect their children to look after them for the rest of their days and will manipulate circumstances to that end.  Of course it’s commendable to do so but there is a natural order to things.

The first book of the Bible says, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”  Genesis 2:24.  If you choose to take a wife, two become one and a new life begins.  If God blesses you with children, they are to be raised in the knowledge and love of Him and then released to follow their own path.  Hopefully they will have learned to seek God’s will for their lives and walk in such a way that is both pleasing and productive.  I remember the day I released my children to God in faith that He knows what’s best for them and trusted Him for that.  We don’t stop loving them and are always there for them when they need us.  We are so blessed to be able to see our kids and grandchildren often as they all live fairly close.

Coercing a child to remain under your control is suffocating and prevents them from experiencing LIFE as God intended.  The failures and successes, the joy and sadness, the happy times and the tough times; these are the experiences where their own individual faith in God will grow and a trusting relationship with Christ is forged.  Then, after getting a life of their own, they are better prepared to care for their aging parents.  This is also what God intended from the beginning.  The appearance of a potential spouse can be viewed as a threat by the narcissist and met with criticism and rejection.  What are you prepared to do?

The knowledge that a narcissist may not be capable of understanding or even recognizing the pain they inflict on others has made it a little less personal for me.  I have no professional training in psychology but I was very curious as to whether or not someone can be born a narcissist.   I have found the concusses to be, no.  It’s true that our DNA can contain information that makes us more susceptible to certain behaviours like alcohol and drug addiction but nobody is born a narcissist, they become one.  Usually the behaviour begins as a defence mechanism against some form of early childhood trauma.  If the person is a deep pool of secrets and never shares any information about their life or the pain they may have endured, then you will never know the root cause.

You won’t find the word “narcissist” in the Bible.  Instead it labels this type of behaviour as “insolent pride.”  In the time of Jesus the religious leaders, the Chief Priest, Scribes and Pharisees were referred to as “scoffers.”  According to Proverbs 21:24, scoffers is one of the names for those filled with insolent pride.  I wrote about the dangers of pride in my post “Enemies of Peace.”

A scoffer minimizes or does not want to even acknowledge their own flaws, while at the same time sets themselves up as a superior judge over others’ flaws.  They project onto others the very things they themselves are doing.  Romans 2:1.

Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive & negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.  For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude.  It incorporates blame shifting.

– Wikipedia

By the same measure that we judge others, it will be measured unto us.  Matthew 7:1-5.  Jesus had already identified the Scribes & Pharisees as being under the influence of Satan when He said to them, “You are of your father the devil…” John 8:44.

It is a very difficult thing to view members of your own family as enemies and yet, it can happen.  Matthew 10: 34-36 gives this sad example.  It is important to note that we are told to love our enemies and pray for them in Matthew 5:44.  Even if we are persecuted and abandoned we can still pray for our loved ones.  Just remember that God does not expect you to stay in an abusive relationship.  Toxic people can have an extremely negative effect on your physical, mental and spiritual well being.  Your relationship to God must come first and if you have taken all the steps toward healing the relationship that He wants you to, then you may have to move on for your own sake.  Sometimes the most loving act that we can do for a loved one is to give them over to God.

Although I am referring to the “scapegoat” and the “golden child” as different children in this post, it’s worth mentioning that they can also be the same child… just not at the same time.  If the golden child begins to develop their own identity and cuts off the supply of narcissistic food to the controlling parent then they can quickly become the scapegoat.  This is all part of the twisted reality of the narcissist.

If you have enjoyed this post please bookmark us or add us to your home screen.  If you know someone who is struggling and you think this blog might help them please share our site.


Image – Pixabay   Collage – Mark Webb – How should a Christian view borderline personality disorder (BPD)?

Wikipedia – Psychological Projection.