Mothers love their children above all else. They can, however, confuse love with an adoration that borders on worship. Some parents get carried away and put their kids on a pedestal. When parents treat their kids as if they are more deserving than others, they are overvaluing them and may be nurturing a narcissist.
A recent study at Ohio State University as reported in Forbes, revealed that too much praise can give a child the wrong idea. It can even cause narcissism. Narcissism is a name for self-absorption, self-centeredness, self-importance, and conceit. The study suggests that parents who shower their kids with undue praise are creating an overinflated ego.
Single mothers can place more attention on their children since they are the only parent in the picture and may feel the need to make up for that fact. Children, especially during the developmental ages of 6 or 7, believe what their parents tell them, good, bad, positive or negative. When parents tell a child he or she is superior to their peers, they believe it. And they can develop an entitlement mentality, which is the core of narcissism. Serious risks can result from narcissism: increased addiction, anxiety, and depression.
I saw this when I taught high school students. There are parents who do not see their child’s faults. They defend them no matter the circumstances. Their protective instinct goes into overdrive and they only see what they want to see.
The findings, published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that parents who “overvalue” their kids between the ages of 7 and 11 raised children who scored higher on tests of narcissism. In other words, parents who described their offspring as “more special than other children” and as deserving “something extra in life,” had kids who think they’re God’s gift to the world, according to Sarah Hankamer.
If you are wondering if you have a narcissist in your family one clue is that they do not feel ashamed of being so. They are the center of their world and feel they should be the center of everything. People who think they are superior, lack empathy. As narcissism increases, empathy decreases. Empathy is essential to feel compassion, and compassion is central to Christian love.
To avoid raising a narcissist, be aware of your approach with your children. Avoid saying things like, “You are extra special,” or, “You are more deserving than the others.”
Brad Bushman who has studied aggression for 30 years and is co-author of the study says, “If people could believe that everyone on the planet is part of the same family and deserves the same respect, so many problems would be solved.”
Surely Christian mothers know how important this is. Our lives center on Christ who taught us clearly to have compassion and consideration for others.
“As we obey this commandment, to love one another, the darkness in our lives disappears and the new light of life in Christ shines in” (1 John 2:8 TLB).
Related article: “7 Ways to Nip Narcissism in the Bud”