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Narcissistic families

Jcksjj's picture

So what happens in narcissistic families when the scapegoat is more successful than the Golden child?


tog redux's picture

He/she is still the scapegoat. The Golden Child is golden no matter what they do.

Scapegoats in general tend to turn out better because they can see that they were abused, it's obvious, which makes it easier to put the blame where it belongs; Golden Children often don't realize they were abused too, because it all seems so positive. But they aren't generally allowed to develop their own identity or stand up to the parents. 

Jcksjj's picture

I feel like DH being more successful than SIL and his parents make them want to destroy him even more.

The_Upgrade's picture

Scapegoat achievements don't matter. The family will focus on the fault (usually their made up excuse why the scapegoat is the scapegoat) and won't be able to see past that. Golden child is the golden child because he/she exhibits the one trait prized by the family.

advice.only2's picture

In the narcs eyes the scapegoat will never be more successful than the golden child. The narc will find ways to claim the scapegoat must have gotten further ahead by nefarious means, while the golden child is "working hard".

thinkthrice's picture

In my family I am the scapegoat older child of two females.  My now soon to be 55 year old sister is still The Golden Child.  She drives a school bus part-time and lives with a sugar daddy.

I run the County 911 system and the county sheriff dept's software and hardware all by my lonesome.   Have been the breadwinner since adulthood.  But somehow they still feel sorry for her and don't blame it on her lack of ambition, obsession with youth and other people's money.

I should add too that scapegoats generally fare better in life than the golden children because they don't rely on fallible fleeting traits such as being good looking.

Stepdrama2020's picture

Will always be golden, and the scapegoat will always be the "screw up" any way you slice it, it is abuse. 

My pops treated us all equally, we were are equally abused. I can laugh now. It isnt funny but my last sentence made me chuckle. Its dysfunctional and sad.

So much fun for you OP to have to deal with this dysfunction. You must feel like you are on a never ending rollercoaster.

Jcksjj's picture

Yes. As soon as I think its died down, bam, new drama. Trying so hard to get away from it. 

CLove's picture

Favored child vs. the scapegoat
A parent with narcissism might also triangulate by playing children off each other. They might designate one child as the good child, or the favorite, while the other serves as a scapegoat for wrongdoing and blame, explains Greenberg.

The parent might alternate their attentions, occasionally elevating the scapegoat child and devaluing the favorite, or they might simply imply that the scapegoat child should try harder to earn their love and affection.

In either scenario, they typically give only one child positive attention at a time.

The other child, feeling neglected and ignored, tends to work harder to earn attention by competing with their sibling or making a dedicated effort to keep the parent happy (or both).

They never know when they might earn the love and validation they crave, so they keep working for it. An occasional kind word or other positive reinforcement from their parent will generally only keep them trying harder to earn similar rewards.

What’s the motivation?

It uniquely serves the needs of someone with narcissism because it lets them utilize both parties as a source of narcissistic supply, Greenberg explains.

Narcissistic supply refers to the attention, praise, admiration, power, or sense of specialness that people with narcissism need. Triangulation helps reinforce their sense of superiority and specialness while leaving others confused and unbalanced.

It also offers an opportunity to devalue one person while raising another and drawing them closer. They can later use them as a consistent source of praise and admiration or further manipulate them in pursuit of their own goals.

This tactic can also drive wedges into relationship dynamics, allowing the person with narcissistic tendencies to turn two people against each other and remain dominant.

By devaluing one person, they can make themselves look better and achieve their goals more easily. Triangulation also prevents others from aligning against them. If you’re competing for the favorite role, you’re not working together to stand up to them.


This is EXACTLY what Toxic Troll has been doing all along. She has Feral Forger SD22 as her scapegoat. Or me. Or DH. Then Backstabber/Munchkin (B/M) SD14 is the Golden Child. TT and B will spend a lot of time talking about issues with FF, and there are many. FF is in total competition for momees love. B, as the Golden Child, doesnt have to, she just keeps on the down low. Helps out here and there, and provides her mother with supply about how terrible FF her sister is. 
FF actually texted me a few weeks ago about this when her sister had sprained her thumb during an argument. How they both "gang up on her" how she "acts out because shes so angry". I am looking foward to a time when FF and B/M band together against Toxic Troll. Thats what TT is wanting to avoid. She gets power and is the dominant force. They are falling over themselves competing for her love and approval. SUPPLY.

B/M has also learned how to "activate" her mother against Dh and myself, always when shes "in trouble for something". Or is upset about anything. Shes a big cryer. And Ive dried many tears over these 7 odd years. Toxic Troll can do no wrong of course. But if myself or DH are the "source of her pain", its to the court we go! It becomes about dominance again. Toxic Troll sees herself as the "sane parent". She sees herself as "the best mother ever!" She sees her children "suffering because you choose your wife over your children!"

TT creates this level of competition between them both (children) and has translated that to DH and I, to create a wedge between us and gain power and dominance. To feel superior. She finds any opportunity to put DH down as a "bad dad" SUPPLY. Any and every opportunity to put me down "your kids hate your wife! She is damaging them!" SUPPLY. "All your friends are telling me that she controls you and has you wrapped around her fingers and they see right through her!" SUPPLY. 

Which tells me that she doesnt actually feel superior at all, she feels inferior and she feels like her marriage wasnt that great. I dont really know, still thinking things over.

WOW. Great topic!

Jcksjj's picture

Oh the triangulation is strong in DHs situation. MIL is claiming ignorance to SILs nasty behavior towards DH, but it's obvious that she's following MILs lead and looking for her approval. DH actually called MIL out on that this weekend and she started screaming and crying and throwing a fit that she has no control over what SIL does, and DH can't punish her for it. Which would be true in a normal situation, but not this one.

WwCorgi7's picture

This is true. It seems the only who is different is labeled the "screw up". My MIL just turned on us last week an informed me my husband is the screw up of the family.  My SIL and BIL are clones of my MIL. They all get together and argue about who is right and try to one up eachother. They are the golden children. They all graduated college and have decent jobs.

My husband is the only one who did not get a degree and my MIL says "well all my kids did well except him, he's the screw up". I was like what!?!? He is a great dad to our kids and a great provider. She told me he was the only one who couldn't carry on the family "legacy" by getting a degree. She suddenly had to go when I told her that the "screw up" of the family makes well over 6 figures a year. 

Jcksjj's picture

The 2 favorites in DH family (crazy SIL and SD) are by far the least talented/successful/good-looking ones, so it's odd that they're the golden children. DH has a great job, brand new house, successful by conventional standards. His older half sister is a stay at home mom, but she's very well liked and her husband makes well over 100k a year. Crazy SIL is broke, looks like a drug addict and can't get along with anyone longterm.

Wicked stepmo.'s picture

BMs oldest son was her golden child when he moved out she replaced him with OSD. Her oldest daughter was her scapegoat until she left at 14 because she was the outcrier in the family, but she was also the most abused 

YSD has always been the scapegoat and OSD and BM gang up on her. What is painful to watch is how YSD will give everything she has to try and gain affections. She will beg, plead, and work for brief moments of positive attention. She will always align with them to try and win their favor and prove her worthiness of Thier love. She has shown she is willing to give up everything and anyone in her life to be accepted by BM and OSD.