When I first heard about ‘Narcissistic Parenting’, what came to mind was the irony the word ‘narcissism’ and ‘parenting’ hold together. However, as I started digging deeper, I was surprised about how the problem exists as a silent poison within families, crippling the prospects of happiness for younger minds.
In conversation with a UPSC aspirant from Delhi, we came to know how ‘narcissistic parenting’ works. The student, who didn’t want to be named said ‘The worst part about my experiences is that I realized it when it was already late and I was deep into my sufferings’. Toxic parenting isn’t just related to one’s mother and father. It could be anyone whom we have given the access to our life because of the trust we hold in them.
Many people compare this to how the previous generations and even many people today who live in rural areas have hardships in life. Amongst many siblings one tends to feel neglected. Added to this is the burden of earning for the family too at times. However, the student said ‘It wasn’t about struggles or even getting beaten up at times as that happens sometimes. I suffered narcissism in the hands of my grandmother who would gaslight me against my parents so much that I got cut-off from them. Once this happened, vilifying me and blackmailing started coming up every-time I spoke my heart. To me studying is a refuge that gives me an escape from reality as even today I am unable to face people due to my past and have to fight internal battles that even go to the extremes of having suicidal thoughts’.
PhD in Human Psychology Alan Rappaport from the United States says that narcissism is about being ‘interpersonally rigid, easily offended, self-absorbed, blaming, and finding it difficult to empathize with others.’ Hence, the young minds under such parents ‘attempt to get along with their narcissistic parenting, work hard to please others, defer to others opinions, worry about how others think and feel about them, are often get depressed or anxious, find it hard to know their own views and experience, and take the blame for interpersonal problems. They fear being considered selfish if they act assertively.’
Although suffering and struggling through such families isn’t even considered worth discussion in the societies, the Government of India has taken serious steps to solve the issues related to child psychology, especially during the COVID times when such silent abuse has more potential to throttle our real emotions and mental peace. The ‘Samvedna’ portal by the National Commission of Child Rights is providing tele-counselling to children in need. Also, MHRD is taking various steps to make counselling sessions to manage stress, anxiety or depression as a part of the curriculum.
Introducing classes where younger minds could differentiate between strictness, and abuse shall be included in courses too. Narcissistic parenting has enough potential to make narcissistic children. For this cycle to stop information by the government and institutions along with the awareness of people is much needed. This shall be accompanied by solutions that resolve the issue with sensibility and sensitivity. Homes are our 1st school. Nevertheless, help must come in when this school falters at giving a child a healthy childhood and thus, a healthy life.
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