My son's kindergarten teacher said something one day that really stuck with me. It was field day at his school and the class was hot and sweaty after an afternoon of relay runs, sack races and tug o' war. She was passing out icy popsicles in a rainbow of colors when one child exclaimed
"Hey! I didn't want this flavor!"
I watched as her eyes narrowed and she turned to speak to him:
"You get what you get and you don't throw a fit."
I loved that.
How often do children need to hear that sentence spoken to them?
Honestly, my own two children seem to need to hear it quite a bit. On some days it feels like it should be on a recorded loop in their head when their vocal chorus threatens to take over:
"I didn't get the one I wanted."
"I don't like it."
"It's not quite right."
"I want that!"
"But I want it!!!"
We need morals and good examples set for our children more than ever. Today children are being raised to be narcissists. And it takes a lot of dedication, consistency and persistence to raise them unlike the world, unlike the flesh, unlike the sin surrounding us, threatening to engulf us all like a tsunami.
All children are susceptible to becoming mini narcissists or "narc's" for short. As parents we are in a constant battle against media, against the pressures of other parents condoning their children getting too much too soon and so many reality shows showing excess in homes, cars and disposable income for entertainment that it often seems as if everyone wants to jump on the band wagon with them.
When Divorce Ups The Chances Of A Narc Child:
It's not just the coveted iPhone that a parent buys his six year old, or the new teddy bear from Build A Bear he buys her every month or the showering of excessive clothes that creates an issue and possibly a narcissistic child. It's allowing a child to have too many experiences too soon. They can begin to feel entitled to have more and more experiences before they are truly ready for them.
A parent may unwittingly give into their child's every whim due to their guilt over the divorce… yet this isn't in the best interests of the child long term. It's actually quite detrimental and continually sets the bar higher and higher each time. Selfish behavior exhibited by children can be learned by a parent who is selfish himself. This is why each generation keeps producing more narcissists… because the children (genetics may have created a baseline for it, and we know all children are ego-centric to some extent but eventually change) … learn from a narcissistic parent to subscribe to "Me! Me! Me!" and emulate them.
Examples Of Narcissistic Thinking:
"You owe me!"
"It's not fair!"
"Pay attention to me!"
"If you don't, I'll blow up!"
"Give it to me!"
"Buy it for me!"
I remember one day right after my divorce was finalized… my children and I had had a wonderful afternoon at the park… kicking the soccer ball around, walking the trails and them on the swings as they laughed with glee… afterward we piled into the SUV and headed for ice cream. Pulling into a McDonald's parking lot was met with disappointed grunts from the backseat. I glanced in the rearview mirror and spoke "Is there a problem?"
There came a flood of vocal protests of why couldn't we go to Marble Slab or Cold Stone Creamery? Why couldn't we get waffle cones with sprinkles and a wide array of flavors to choose from? Inward I sighed and bristled but held steadfast to calm and pulled the car into a parking space to turn around and address them.
"Look, guys… here's the thing. When I was little there wasn't Marble Slab in hot pink neon lights… there wasn't Cold Stone Creamery and tons of flavors. When I was little we had McDonald's… and you know what? That's good enough. Not everything in life comes with banners, confetti and trumpets. Sometimes the little things are the best things. You know… simple is okay… not something to be sneered at or thought of as less than. Maybe there needs to be a bit more gratitude and less griping."
We don't have to give in to every whim
our child cries out for.
We can stand firm and say "No."
That's good parenting.
What they failed to understand is that their level of living with me differed currently from when I was married. And honestly... that was a good thing in my book in regards to them. Sure, their higher level of living remained relatively the same at their father's… but that didn't make it right. That didn't make it healthy. What they failed to understand is that they were spoiled and didn't know it. No one "owes" them Marble Slab.
No one "owes" them anything.
All children require is shelter, a bed, food and healthcare. Children need to be reminded occasionally that their parents home, their cars, their level of living is not theirs. Their parents money, and lifestyle is not theirs nor their success… they are merely temporary recipients of it on some level… while living with them. Children today often erroneously believe they will graduate from college living the same level of income and enjoying the same economic security as their parents… only to be devastatingly brought down a few notches by the reality of student loans, mounting debt and job interview after job interview.
Divorce & Children:
Often children feel as though they are entitled, or owed something due to life being glaringly unfair. He or she can't seem to wheedle the item they so desperately covet from one parent so they begin an unmerciful agenda on the other one (sometimes at the other parents egging). This sets up the parents in a battle of their own… because if one parent gives in to blatantly aggravate the other estranged parent and overindulge the child, they are potentially creating a little monster. Likewise, if the doting parent is merely choosing to subscribe to more for their child due to their own insecurities and wanting the child to like them (let me be your friend over parent) rather than setting healthy boundaries it creates all sorts of unnecessary chaos and strife.
When The Child Emulates Their Abusive Parent:
The child who feels a lack of structure and healthy boundaries in his or her environment or sees one parent (or both) behaving narcissistic, even dominant or downright abusive… is at a higher risk of becoming a narcissist himself. Divorce upheaves a child's entire world and if they were already exposed to a home environment that was less than healthy due to one parent's domineering ways toward their spouse… the child's social skills and healthy expression may be lacking, anger taking the place of a healthy dialogue and expression of self. When anger takes over it may become a way of living… of coping however ineffective in interacting with others and often through trial and error of tantrums the child will learn how to manipulate those around them… not much differently than an explosive abusive adult. The child learns how to manipulate by time and time again trying different behaviors on for size and gauging his or her parents reactions. If they get what they desire through coercion of acting out they learn by cause and effect that throwing a fit gets them what they covet… again and again. They switch between moods like channel surfing or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…. sweet as pie one moment when they are receiving what they want and the next… lashing out in a rage for not getting the attention, materialism etc they wanted.
Narcissism Or Aspergers? Maybe Both
This behavior, this switching back and forth between being cool and collected, even loving and alternately throwing fits can hauntingly resemble Aspergers and the fits that sometimes go with it. It is possible for adults with Aspergers to be confused as Narcissists… personally curious about this, I've scoured message board after message board online and found many others to be puzzled about this too. Aspergers naturally has a seed within that causes one to appear a bit more egocentric. As parents it's important to discourage egotistical tendencies and encourage healthy expression of feelings, empathy and giving in our children and why children with Aspergers need all the early behavior intervention that they can obtain to function as well as possible in society as adults. Often we hear Asperger's groups online rally solely for acceptance... acceptance is of course needed. However let's also try to keep in mind that denying the fact a child could benefit from help is to be of disservice to them. Today it may be a question for some people to ponder… could someone with Aspergers also be a sociopath? Anything is possible… as genetics drawn from two people can produce a child that may exhibit characteristics of several different diagnoses. If someone who is a narcissist or on the extreme a sociopath marries someone with Aspergers traits (preys on them, uses them) is it possible for them to then produce a child who later grows up to be a sociopath with Aspergers-like traits? Possibly, yes.
Minimize The Buying & Say No To Fear:
One of the best things all parents can do is minimize the buying, minimize the indulging and don't give in to a child out of fear of their fits. It takes guts (and tough love) to stand your ground especially if you have other parents giving you the evil eye in public or feel at your wits end behind closed doors. But don't give in with excuses or special privileges… like "Okay, just this once…" as it makes the child feel superior. This subliminally tells the child they are in control, that they are running the show and it instills a lack of empathy for anyone else's needs or feelings. It becomes all about them and what they need right then instead of being sensitive to the fact others around them also have a need for time, attention, love, space and to voice their own thoughts.
Teach About Coping By Pointing Out Others Behaviors & By Example:
To help minimize lashing out in their child a parent can teach their child (at an early age is best but better late than never) how to respond in times of stress, anger and frustration by pointing out how others are coping or their lack of. When we see someone lashing out in traffic and engaging in road rage, that is not the time to ignore it. That is the time to engage our children and have a conversation with them… pointing out the wrong behavior and ask them what they think about it… then ask them how they think the people could have handled it differently if they had a chance at a do over. It will open the lines of communication and help your children see that there is a better, more mature and healthy way to handle anger… that it's not the anger that's bad but what we do with it. If we witness someone, maybe a sales clerk having a difficult time with a customer in public yet see them handle it with dignity, empathy and grace… we can use that scenario to have an honest conversation with our kids… pointing out how well that the situation was handled despite how undoubtedly difficult it was. When we are setting a stellar example ourselves in how we treat others, when we use our manners and smile, when we say "please" and "thank you"… when we ask someone how they are doing at the register, at the drive thru window or the bank… our children notice and over time will follow what we lead by example no matter what we say.
Help For The Narcissistic Child:
1. Don't engage in power struggles with your child.
2. Use positive reinforcement (praise) when they vocalize their feelings in a healthy manner, help others or make good choices.
3. Teach them (role play if necessary) that when setting boundaries with people they can practice saying "It bothers me when…" or "I become frustrated when…" instead of lashing out.
4. Encourage and set an example of giving so they don't grow up to believe only taking is acceptable. Get them involved with volunteering through a local charity or church.
5. Get them to thinking and having an open dialogue… is this issue going to matter tomorrow? Or in an hour? On a scale of one to five how big a deal is this? That you aren't getting your way? That you can't get the toy you want? That you can't go on the play date? Can we find a solution? Is there a cheaper alternative? Maybe some manual labor like raking leaves or washing the car could help you earn the money needed for that new toy. Can we check the calendar and see when another play date is available? Focus on problem solving, hard work and being content with what we have versus being stuck in negative emotions, a "give me" attitude and focusing on what we don't have.
6. Anger usually always follows hurt. Let's discuss what's really going on here… what are you hurting from? Did someone hurt your feelings? Are you disappointed by something?
Victory Is Possible:
When we discover positive ways to help our children and battle any narcissistic tendencies they lean toward we can find victory… in our parenting and our children's lives. Reading the word of God… our bibles regularly with our children and having an open dialogue with them about what is selfless and Christ like versus flesh and world like keeps their eyes open to what is good and pure versus selfish and sinful. We can read all the parenting books in the world looking, searching for an answer regarding our children's behavior… but we really don't have to search any further than our bible… the answers we are often searching for are right there within it's pages… just waiting to be read.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014
names have been omitted in this post
Parked in my driveway I sat behind the wheel in the driver's seat of my car… and waited… watching in the rear view mirror I saw the black four door sedan continue sitting, parked on the street in front of my house. With it's windows completely blackened out and not able to see whom was in it… my heart sank… I was pretty certain I knew what this was about… and thought back to the incident a few weeks before…
We had just had Christmas… it was only days past the twenty fifth of December…not yet the new year... when upon checking the mail I discovered a thick white envelope and seeing the return address was from the IRS my stomach turned like it was suddenly sour… instinctively I knew something wasn't right and with quick hands tore open the top of the envelope. Inside I was filled with dread as I began reading… numbers jumped at me… how much we owed… how unbeknownst to me he hadn't paid the taxes… in years… I saw double digit numbers adorned with zeros jump at me… in shock, all the penalties that were adding up day by day, hour by hour, minute by passing minute.
How would we ever pay this much money back?
Why did he let this happen?
How could he?!
What was he thinking?!
Why didn't he say something?
Would we lose our house?
I waited and the sedan wouldn't budge… finally I sighed with resignation, putting the clutch in reverse, slowly backing down the driveway and passing the black sedan… only to spot it, sure enough, with sharp eyes focused on it in my mirror, the sedan pulling away from the curb as soon as I passed... it tailing me down the street. Making the turn out of our community and onto the main thoroughfare, I headed toward the grocery store weaving my way through foggy morning traffic. Upon pulling into the grocery store parking lot and into a parking space, I watched as the sedan pulled in two spaces down facing me on the opposite row. The man in the sedan sat, waiting me out, with dark sunglasses on. It happened in a flash, me exiting the vehicle in my coat wearing the collar popped up and him springing out to photograph me as I quickly tried to turn my head and the wind whipped, partially hiding my face as I strode away from the car toward the store.
We sold our house and lost money on it… the anger, the hurt, the betrayal felt toward him in my marriage was there as well as embarassment. I crossed the yard for the last time and watched the moving truck pull away… headed toward the dismal rental we would call home for a few years. I had naively believed: "he screwed up… we just have to make it past this hurdle… this one hurdle… and then it will be okay again… we will be paying this off for a few years and get back on our feet… but he will learn his lesson"…
In a few short years with plenty of sacrifice we would get back on our feet financially… far better than before… but "lessons learned" and "no more hurdles" were just lies whispered in the wind.
THE LIES WE TELL OURSELVES
I had no idea how many more "screw ups" there would be to come over the years…
Marriage brings two imperfect people into a union… two imperfect people who undoubtedly also contribute challenges to the mix... of sharing a bathroom, paying off a mortgage, raising kids and meddling in-laws. There are the dirty clothes left on the floor, the whiskers in the sink that make you want to gag, the cookie crumbs on the counter alongside empty wrappers. If those were the worst challenges to cope with, to give grace and attempt to find solutions to… maybe it wouldn't be so "challenging".
But when a spouse continually shows you signs of what resembles teenage irresponsibility, downright criminal behavior joined with lies… when the "screw up's" just continue and never seem to stop… to just crop up again and again each time after the dust has just settled from the last incident…
You may begin to feel like you're riding a roller coaster of emotional havoc and unpredictability. It's bad enough to have your spouse feeding you lies and excuses on a silver spoon with a smile… but what's worse? The lies (excuses) you begin telling yourself. You may tell yourself…
He's really sorry, he has apologized. I have to believe that he's truly sorry... afterall, he's my husband.
(Only problem is... this keeps happening. If he's a sociopath he's likely not done using you/gaining narcissistic supply, which would be the only reason he would ever apologize, due to needing more time to fulfill his goals, because sociopath's don't ever say "I'm sorry").
He really screwed up, but he's also going to learn his lesson… this won't happen again...
Were just going through a tough time right now… but it will pass and get better.
(I mean, everyone has problems now and then, right?)
No, no, no…. this isn't about how he's typically late or how he can't stand a certain food you love, or gee, why can he not seem to remember where you keep the spatulas in the kitchen. This is about behavior that involves hiding information, withholding, lying, editing, or whatever you will call it… this is big stuff, this is behavior that puts your finances at risk, your family at risk, your future at risk, this is behavior that also leads to the same destructive path as cheating, to affairs, to a secret life behind closed doors you know nothing about… this is about an individual who lives with an indifferent chip on his shoulder toward others in society, who idolizes ego, status and image, who does what he wants, who does not care for his fellow man, who owes no one the truth and eventually has a chip on his shoulder toward you.. and who lives in a world that in his mind you will never be a party to because he doesn't share any more inner thoughts with you than his favorite cheese, his most admired mentor or his dvd collection. Getting in his mind and knowing what he's thinking is comparable to pulling nails from a stud only to find it's not possible. Figuring out why he continues to pull these inconceivable stunts and "screw ups" escapes you and leaves you scratching your head as they stack up one after another like wrecked cars on a dusty road.
As each incident piles up in your rearview mirror you think each time:
"This is ridiculous!… again? He screwed up AGAIN?!"
he's. that. good.
He manages to wiggle his way back into your heart and you see all the good things he is doing and it's so much easier to just paint a pretty picture, tell yourself a lie, swallow the ones he feeds you… a picture of lovely fantasy that he is more than willing to help construct… where everything is fuzzy, rosy wonderfulness and combined with his way of explaining it all away… as if it's perfectly normal for everyone to have these life altering incidents continually pop up in life like an ugly jack in the box… he snows you and you buy the ticket to another subscription… another chapter, another year, another five years and however many "incidents" and "screw ups" along the broken way... like a busted street hitting the potholes that he promised would be fixed… or maybe they are fixed, just enough…. just a few feet ahead… like a mirage it glimmers ahead all shiny and new… only much to your dismay for you to get a little further up the street to see the gaping potholes once again.
It's time to put on the brakes, remove our sunglasses and take a good look at the street were on.
Signs Of A Marriage In Need Of Help Despite The Lies We Tell Ourselves:
1. You both no longer share the same concerns. If you have an issue with something, let's say your finances, taxes, budget, etc and how their spent or handled... or perhaps your health has taken a recent nose dive and you're seeing doctor after doctor trying to get a diagnosis. If he's not concerned about the finances or for you and your well being... those are both big issues that need to be addressed. If he's acting like your valid concerns over the finances or your health are anything but valid but more like just your problem... then yeah, you have a huge problem. With him. As a couple, you should both be invested in issues that crop up as partners; together, ready to take on anything as a team and see the other spouses concerns as a concern for you both. If you feel alone in your marriage, it's time for a good hard look at the big picture. It's often so easy for us to get caught up in the day to day activities of life, especially as women multitasking.... caring for our children, homemaking, cooking, errands, work, that often conquering merely another week at most is preferable over seeing what lies ahead further down the road.
2. He's pulling away and his behavior is distant... unlike how he used to be. He could be emotionally and physically distancing himself because he's cheating... if he's mentally caught up in another relationship much of his energy will be dedicated to that and he may seem not as involved, as immersed in family life and connected to you. If he's suddenly seeing friends for lunch or going to the movies alone or traveling more for work... even working overtime these are red flags that something may not be right.
3. If you aren't both working toward a common goal; a healthy marriage and open communication. Then your marriage is on rocky terrain. It's time to get back to basics in communicating and problem solving. It might be a good idea to make a list of things you can talk to your spouse about… positive topics. Then make a list of topics you have difficulty sharing with him or that seem to be a continual source of friction. Mentally rate your marriage on a scale of one to ten… one being the lowest score and ten being the (best) highest score. Do you think your spouse would agree with you or would his score be lower or higher? Set some time aside for you to both discuss how you feel and share your lists... it may confirm that marital counseling is needed.
4. A lack of intimacy in the relationship. This is always a red flag and if one spouse is pulling away it could indicate a lack of trust in the other person on their part. If he's consistently not home when he says he will be, if he is continually pulling irresponsible stunts that jeopardize the family, if he's condescending toward his wife, abusive, even neglectful… it will show up in the bedroom. If he's checking out the single women in the waiting room of his pregnant wife's ob/gyn doctor's office or anywhere else… there's a problem and disrespect is just one of them. If a man is treating his wife right outside the bedroom it will be reflected behind the bedroom door.
5. If your spouse has become the enemy. If your spouse has become someone you now view as on the "other side"… as an individual to do battle with, to "deal with", endure, tolerate, etc… this is not what the picture of a marital relationship should be. If you believe you are no longer working as a team, a united partnership… then that deters communication and intimacy. It's time to reflect on what brought you to this place and what resentments have been allowed to set in. If incidents of irresponsibility continue to crop up by one spouse it's not the job of the other spouse to play parent and continue to "fix" it, come to the rescue or slap a bandaid on the situation... it's time to seek help from a trusted Pastor or therapist.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014
Such a big word with deep meaning
Have you ever struggled with your walk in this life in trying to be someone you're not? In this world we live in we are often bombarded by outside influences; by peers or media as to what we should be like, how we should act, even what we should like and dislike.
As we grow older and mature we naturally learn more and more about what we like and what we don't… as hard as it might be we have all struggled at some point with the version we want to present or believe we should present to the world… a version that we believe will present us as more intelligent, important, attractive etc to others… and yet the truth is... it ends up doing something that no one likes… making us feel so not authentic… each time we present a false self we may begin to feel a piece of the real us becoming hidden or even chipped away.
Have you ever felt like it
might be easier to conform?
Often staying true to ourselves can result in judgment and rejection which can undeniably be painful.
But what's ultimately more
painful is looking in the mirror
each morning and knowing
we aren't being real.
Withholding Our True Selves & Dating…
We may find ourselves withholding our authentic selves when dating or meeting new people… which honestly can bring disastrous results… the person sitting across from you at the table may think you are perfectly fine with ordering shrimp if you don't make your preferences known… they may think you share their dream of a rambling house on several acres if you don't voice your plan of one day residing in a trendy loft downtown.
This is why it's so incredibly important to have some sense of who we are before marrying… because if we don't know who we are… how can we be certain that the person we are dating will know too? They may never get a real sense of who their courting... which is a shame and could end up costing both people.
Knowing What You Like & Don't…
There are some things that like everyone I don't care for… society calls it "not my cup of tea"… maybe yours is not liking coffee flavored ice cream, golf or onions… mine is pretentious restaurants… I love getting dressed up… take me to a play or a show… but I'd rather eat a bacon cheeseburger wearing my ball gown afterward than endure sitting in an uptight place that society may otherwise deem "the place to see and be seen" or that has a superior air.
It's these things that are important to know about ourselves and just like these preferences that make up our personalities, believe it or not, God wants us to be authentic too. Out of everyone, He knows when we are not being ourselves… when we are attempting to hide parts of ourselves, when we aren't being real, and are putting on a facade…. even He knows when we are trying to sell ourselves as a wine and cheese girl when were really more inclined to beer and pretzels or vice versa.
When we are living authentically we know that our past does not define us… but instead we live accepting ourselves and that God loves us as His. When we have a dialogue with God, through talk and prayer we are hopefully expressing our authentic self to Him… God desires us to give all of our life, all of ourselves, when we worship and that means not holding back… it's for Him… to praise Him and how wonderfully great He is. Being authentic enables us to enjoy a relationship with God,being authentic means wanting to be open with Him not because we believe we have to out of some sort of rule or obligation.
"It's so weird how we often think we know others by just looking at the exterior..." my friend told me as she sat beside me with her newborn son... and our daughters played Polly Pocket in the next room together.
"When I first saw you at the school I thought you were likely one of 'those girls' I went to high school with... you know the ones... who conform only sticking with their click and I based all this by how you looked and my own preconceived ideas..." she laughed... "But then I get to know you and you're one of the most down to earth people I've met!"
we may erroneously base our view of someone new in our life from someone similar (either their looks, personality, mannerisms, even their name) we knew in our past, someone that reminds us of a less than nice experience in which our feelings were hurt by them... this is no reflection of the new person standing before us... but an issue within we need to address.
I chuckled because I knew I had done the exact same thing in the past myself... now knowing we can never know a book by glancing at its cover. "I've made the same mistake myself! Then gotten to know someone and really liked them!" I admitted to her... "It's funny how we think we know someone... and when we are authentic it takes so much pressure off ourselves and others!"
To Be Your Authentic Self:
1. Take the time to discover your talents and explore them. We may think of hobbies like crafting, painting etc but it could also be writing, blogging, public speaking about a cause important to you, helping others, running marathons, volunteering, being an encourager, decorating, staging homes, party planning, baking, sewing, etc.
2. Trust yourself and your gut instincts. We know when that little voice or feeling flares up telling us we are swaying from the real us we should listen and we can pray about it... asking God to help us explore our authentic self and to be ourselves with Him as well.
3. So often we feel pressured by society to do what's "in" and the most popular look in decor for our homes. I'm a big fan of Pottery Barn (less fan of their prices) and love perusing their catalogs or strolling through their stores on a rainy Sunday afternoon to get ideas and inspiration for tablescapes. But I also know there can be too much of a good thing... I don't want my house to look more Pottery Barn and less me. Stay true to what you love and surround yourself in your home with things that reflect your unique personality.
4. When making decisions consult God instead of your neighbor, your friend or your mother. No one else will ever intimately understand your circumstances better than God will and what's best for you.
5. Forgive yourself for the bad choices, mistakes and things you've done in life. Your past doesn't define you nor does the person's past beside you define them. Today is a new day, even a new hour... and God even cares for those you may have difficulty embracing. Sometimes that reality is a hard one to swallow but God sees you (and them) right where you both are today, progress and setbacks... marvel at how much you've grown and celebrate you.
6. Value your beliefs, your faith and the qualities that make up who you are. And appreciate those in others. We are each unique yet no more special than the person sitting beside us, the guy on the bus, the woman in line at the Post Office or the guy bringing our food to the table on a Friday night out at dinner with our family.
Staying True… and Inspiring Others To Do The Same!
In life when we are true to ourselves and walk a life of authenticity people notice and it in turn inspires others to do the same. When we are living authentically we may inspire the little girl next door who doubts herself... the girl in our classroom who feels she is a failure if she isn't part of the "in" crowd... or the little boy who wants to carry a doll for comfort instead of a bear or space ranger... that being ourselves is always better than being a copy of someone else.
We are all God's children and He wants us to come to Him as the real deal, being open, revealing ourselves to Him and being comfortable enough to say:
"Here I am God... all the beauty, all the not so pretty and everything in between... here I am in my frayed cut offs, my messy hair bun... here I am wearing my wool sweater set, earrings and heels... here I am... use me to help someone. Use me to inspire someone. Use me to further your kingdom... I am who I am... your daughter and beloved. That's what ultimately defines authentic me."
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014