“The Narcissistic personality disorder is created in childhood by weak or ineffective parents who don’t create clear boundaries for the child.”
When my husband I were having our first child, I, ever studious and dutiful, signed us up for a parenting course with a psychologist who offered tips and strategy in the art of parenting. I recalled the line from the movie Parenthood, so eloquently spoken by a stoned Keanu Reeves,” You need a license to buy a dog, or drive a car. Hell, you even need a license to catch a fish, but they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.” While I didn’t think my husband and I would be butt-reaming assholes in our parenting styles, I did worry that we really had no training in the matter. I reasoned that we should probably consult an expert in lieu of this elusive non-existent parenting license.
The course consisted of basically explaining all the major personality disorders that adults can be diagnosed with, and then the psychologist explaining to us how not to saddle them upon our children. For example, if you don’t want your child to be a psychopath, don’t lock them in the closet for long periods of time.
But seriously, one thing that did really resonate with me was the idea of how the Narcissistic personality disorder is created in childhood by weak or ineffective parents who don’t create clear boundaries for the child. In other words, when the child is made to feel they are in charge, they are, in reality, given a great deal of insecurity. Because if mommy or daddy are not in charge, then I must be. Even if the power of this position may feel good on some level, deep down the child understands that this is an incorrect power structure.
The therapist noted, that a child who is in a parenting situation without discipline and parents who are in charge, will often gravitate in energy and even affection to an adult who demonstrates themselves to be in charge, because they feel safe to the child.
It is interesting to note a situation where I saw this principle in practice. I was teaching yoga to a group of preschoolers and there was one boy in particular who I knew often got away with hitting his mother and was not given any clear boundaries at home. He started acting up in my class. I very kindly but very strictly told him that it was not acceptable. This went on for several weeks, where I would calmly tell him no, or remove him from the class. For a few weeks, when I came in to teach, most of the children greeted me with a warm hug, except this boy who would beam me with a glaring stink eye.
But then one day, the most remarkable thing happened, when I came into the class to teach, he ran across the room to me embraced me with the biggest hug. From then on he was enthusiastic in yoga class always sitting in the front row. I had earned his respect, as well as made him feel safe. Sometimes, the best gift we can give our kids is the message that you are safe to be a child, because “I’ve got this”.