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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.

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

Wikipedia – Psychological Projection.

Enemies of Peace

Enemies of Peace

Confronting the enemy

“You can close your eyes to the things you don’t want to see, but you can’t close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel.”  – Johnny Depp

If you choose to love, you will experience pain.  Not loving leads to a lonely, unfulfilled and wasted life.  Love is not an option, it’s a command and as such, it is never a waste of time.  Jesus tells us the first and second greatest commandments in Luke 10:27.  Welcome to Enemies of Peace.

Love is precious, it is wonderful and extremely powerful, but love has enemies.  When they show up at your door, peace seems to vanish.  If we allow them in for too long, they may never leave.  As diverse and complicated as relationship issues are, I believe the list of things that cause these problems is relatively short.  The following topics are three of these relationship killers, and as such, are enemies of peace.  The same things that hamper and destroy our relationships with each other can also do likewise with our relationship with Christ and topping the list is pride.


The seven deadly sins are a group of vices with each one directly giving birth to a host of other immoralities, chief among them is pride.  Towering Christian teachers throughout history like Calvin, Luther and C.S. Lewis along with many others all agreed that it is “the great sin.”  It was through pride that Eve fell victim to the devil’s lies and bit into the forbidden fruit that caused all mankind to fall and through pride Lucifer was cast out of heaven and became the devil.  So what is it about pride that leads to such devastating consequences?

Pride causes us to elevate ourselves beyond our place as God’s own creation and leads us to depend entirely on our own abilities.  This pushes God into second or third or even tenth place in our lives and can even remove Him altogether.  This lies at the heart of “new age” teaching and is gaining a lot of traction these days convincing people that they can be their own god.  It’s easy to spot in the rich and famous, business leaders, politicians and even in some church leaders, but I assure you, it exists in all of us.

Pride is the most destructive and effective weapon in the devil’s arsenal, it is the complete “anti-God” state of mind.  Spiritual darkness grows as people push God aside and make themselves the centre of their own world.  In their minds they are the smartest person in the room, self-absorbed, self-centered, self-important and totally self-sufficient.  Arrogant and sometimes abusive behaviour follows and relationships suffer, families are destroyed and nations go to war.  Pride is at the heart of racism and intolerance in the world to this day.  Even as believers we are vulnerable to it’s allure.  The apostles themselves argued with each other about which one of them was the greatest in Luke 22:24-27.  If even those who walked the earth along side Jesus can fall victim to pride, so can we.

Humility is the only known antidote for pride.  An excellent example of humility and it’s effect is given in Luke 18:9-14 and addresses the dangers of spiritual pride.  The self-righteous Pharisee was not justified before God but the sinful tax collector was.  What made the difference?  The tax collector recognized his sins and was totally dependant on God’s mercy.  In verse 14 Jesus tells us that, “…everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.”  Wouldn’t it be better to work on our humility now instead of having it forced on us later?  The key ingredient when we do fall victim to pride is that we recognize it and immediately repent and forsake it.  Don’t let it grow, don’t feed it.

God hates pride and will oppose it wherever He finds it, both in believers and nonbelievers.  It is easy to spot in others yet we struggle to see it in ourselves.  God takes pleasure in our efforts to be humble but knows that we will never be sufficiently so while here on Earth.  There is no better example of humility than Jesus Christ.  This is why I can’t stress strongly enough to read your Bible.  Get to know Him, learn from His teachings and strive to be like Him.

Sinful pride makes it difficult for some of us to admit our mistakes and worse yet, the ability to say, “I’m sorry,” so critical in the healing process.  We live in a world that views humility and meekness as a sign of weakness.  I remember reading a statement years ago that stuck with me, “Meekness is great strength, under control.”  I like that.


Next on the list of relationship killers is lying.  We have all been lied to and we have all lied.  Most common among us are the “little white lies,” the ones we tell to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or to make ourselves or others feel better by avoiding criticism or condemnation.  But a case can be made that we aren’t so much worried about other people’s feelings as we are that they love us.  We don’t want to anger or upset them, that could lead to losing them.  Humanity has coined them “little white lies” because that conjures up images of innocence and non-severity and gives them an almost God like quality when done for the sake of love.  It’s a slippery slope, once we tell a smaller lie it can only be covered by a larger one.

Much  of the time we get away with it and there is no need for a cover up, so we rationalize it away as no harm done.  But what if we’re found out?  Feelings of guilt and anxiety are common side effects of lying but can lead to full blown paranoia and even depression as we become preoccupied with keeping our secrets.  Stress levels rise and peace begins to wain.  One way to avoid being exposed is to stay away from people who could spill the beans.  Sadly this results in fractured families and very distant relatives.

Our brains are amazingly complex and highly efficient.  Science has proven that when you repeat a behaviour your neurons branch out to each other so that the flow of information becomes easier the next time you do it.  “Neurons that fire together, wire together,” so the more you practice lying the easier it becomes.  You can literally re-wire your brain.

The bigger the lie, the more devastating the consequences.  Lies destroy, period.  The devil is referred to as “…the father of all lies.”  John 8:44  So if you practice lying you are brother/sister to the destroyer.  Telling the truth came naturally to Jesus and should come naturally to the redeemed, but it does take work.

Don’t think for a moment that you can get away with lying.  You may never be found out by man, but God hears your every word and knows the intentions of your heart.  I have gained much comfort from this particular verse over the years, Luke 8:17.  If you have ever been treated poorly, robbed or abandoned and the ones who are responsible seem to have gotten away with it, they have not.  The Lord will take action.  Romans 12:19

The bedrock of any solid relationship is trust.  Lying destroys trust, so we must choose our words carefully.  The Bible has many sobering references to lying.  The devastation it brings into our lives and the danger it poses to our souls.  God hates it.  Proverbs 6:16-19.


Is it okay to get angry?  Absolutely, anger is a God given emotion and some things should make us angry, but there is a caveat; don’t let your anger cause you to break God’s law.  Ephesians 4:26-27.  We are God’s image bearers, His moral law is written on every human heart and as such, what displeases Him, should displease us.

When I get angry, peace seems to vanish along with my self-control and common sense.  I have found it helpful to ask myself, “Is this something that God is not happy with (righteous anger) or is this an opportunity for Him to grow my character?  More often than not it’s the latter, a chance to work on my patience, perseverance and self-control.

Anger is an emotion that can strike quickly and with great intensity leaving little time for rational thought.  Holding your tongue and being “slow to anger” is not easy but necessary in nurturing your relationships.  It is a sure sign of Christian maturity.  Whenever I have lost my temper guilt was close behind, and, an apology was issued.  I felt shame and greatly respected those who did not respond in kind.  Worse yet than course language and temper tantrums, anger can lead to violence and hatred.

Not letting the sun go down on your anger means don’t stay angry.  One often quoted tidbit of advice at wedding receptions is, “never  go to bed angry.”  I would always add, “you can go to the couch instead.”  This always brings a laugh but it is true to the fact that not all heated disagreements can be solved the same day.  You can’t just flick a switch and suddenly become calm, it takes time to slow your heart rate and clear your head.  This is when it’s especially important to guard against that “root of bitterness.”  Not giving the devil opportunity, or a “foothold” as some translations call it means that prolonged and unresolved anger is like a door through which destruction enters.  Ephesians 4:26-27.  If you have ever been  lied to, abused or mistreated in anyway by someone you love and they aren’t the least bit sorry or remorseful for their actions then you know how easily bitterness can start.  Bitterness hurts you and those who care about you.

The more you grow in a relationship with Jesus Christ and let Him live His life through you, the less likely you are to fall for the devils schemes.  I love the saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you could fall for anything.”  This is not an exhaustive list of the enemies of peace but I believe they are the top three of many more that are birthed from pride.

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 – The science of lying.