At first sight, a golden child may look like the perfect child who is likely to have a successful life. But are things really that perfect?
Before we talk about the phenomenon of a golden child, let’s mention that every parent has dreams for their child. Parents plan for the best education for their kids, hoping to help transform their offspring into successful and confident adults.
More than often, parents think of possible career options for their child. They may even select some of the top universities as if nothing could ever interfere with their plans.
While all these wishes come from genuine love, some parents omit the fact that one day, the child will grow and form their own perceptions, ideas and goals. As such, in the pursuit of creating a brilliant future for their offspring, parents may risk suppressing their child’s desires and transforming them in what the psychologists call a golden child.
The Characteristics of a Golden Child
1. S/he loves studying
Going to school would never be a problem or a nightmare for the golden child. S/he would be a little genius in mathematics, a genius in literature and foreign languages.
And besides being so brilliant at school, s/he would be the star of the classroom: far from being mocked by other children, s/he would be one of the most adored classmates.
The golden child would never need help with homework. On the contrary, s/he could teach you something new! Outstanding intelligence and creativity!
2. S/he has valuable hobbies
As opposed to most children, the hobbies of a golden child will not include video games, social media or other insignificant activities. Instead, s/he would much rather find pleasure in reading, playing an instrument, watching documentaries, creating art, or going to the sports club.
3. S/he is socially active
Although s/he has so many valuable activities, the golden child always finds time for friends who happen to have similar interests and hobbies. They do not waste their time with useless games. They may have formed the Literature Club, where they gather together on Thursday evening and discuss a book, or the Swimming Club, with monthly competitions, or the Creative Club, where everyone reads their written poems.
And although you worry that s/he is not physically active, you will find out that s/he is amazingly good at sports too! With such impressive leadership skills, s/he could be the head of the school’s tennis/soccer team!
4. S/he always follows parents’ rules
Parent’s rules and guides are sacred for the golden child. In fact, most of their choices come from a constant desire to please the family. You will never see a golden child be disobedient or act rebelliously when their parents set up goals for them.
Looking at this description, it sounds like the perfect child who is likely to have a successful life. But behind this perfect behavior, there hides a scared child who struggles to make their own choices. It is a child who is too afraid to live and think independently of their parents.
What creates the golden child?
It is no longer a secret that family is the first factor in shaping a child’s personality and implicitly, behaviours and choices. Unfortunately, the golden child is usually a result of an excessive control of one or both narcissistic parents. But how?
1. The parents try to live their failed dreams through the child
It is a selfish way of raising children when parents try to manipulate the child to do what they could not do. Whether because they did not have the right opportunities in their young adulthood or because they are themselves victims of a poor parental education, manipulative or narcissistic parents do not limit their sphere of influence on child’s desires. They project their aspirations on the child without respecting his/her feelings and thoughts.
More often than not, children will consider that if they comply with the demands, they will make their family proud & happy.
2. The mind games
Narcissistic parents think that the little ones owe them something because they have dedicated their lives and resources to the growth and education of the children. They do not understand that the child/teenager has their own life and desires.
When the child expresses ideas or plans that are not aligned with parents’ wishes, s/he may experience a sense of guilt or episodes of depression. It happens mostly because the parents will display disappointment towards the child’s choices.
3. Lack of support
Narcissistic parents see their child(ren) as an accessory rather than as individuals with independent personalities which need to develop.
As such, the golden child will rarely have the courage and motivation to pursue their own dreams. Most of the times, their wishes are absent as they are not able to think differently from their parents.
They will never hear their parents say “We will be by your side whatever path you choose” but instead, will often hear “Make us proud!”
4. More criticism than appreciation
It is more likely that a golden child does not develop an inner voice/intuition that guides him/her through life as their actions are guided by the fear of being criticised.
Consequently, the golden child grows to believe that following their parents’ guidance and fulfilling their demands is the only right way of living.
The effects of narcissistic parenting
The golden child who has been exposed to narcissistic parenting may develop into an adult with the following psycho-emotional difficulties:
- Failing to understand the importance of boundaries in relationships
- Constant searching for external approval in order to feel confident
- Thinking that the only way to gain other people’s approval and love is by complying with their demands
- Being hypersensitive
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- High risk of becoming a narcissist as their parents
- Opposed to an extreme need for affection, some golden children may become emotionally detached and as such, unable to form lasting connections
- Poor decision-making skills
- Difficulty in understanding what is good or bad; positive or negative
- Difficulty in coping with challenges
- Fear of failures
If you are a parent, remember that while it’s your child, s/he does not belong to you. They have their own desires, dreams and plans, just like you. They are not an object you possess, so make sure that you are their greatest supporter and not an obstacle.