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Roles of Children in Narcissistic Families

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

Vector of parents arguing in front of three children

Roles of Children in Narcissistic Families

Written by Randi Fine, Narcissistic Abuse Expert

Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine

Though there has been much written about the roles of children in narcissistic families, few understand the lifetime burdens these roles place on children, and the scars they leave.

When there is more than one child in a family, narcissistic parents assign each of them different roles. Only one child can be favored at a time, but the roles can be reassigned or switched at the parent’s will. If there is only one child in the family, he or she may have to play more than one role.

The three roles given in narcissistic families are: “golden child,” “scapegoat” and “lost/invisible child.”

The Golden Child

Initially one child is given the role of golden child. He is the parent’s “chosen one.” The golden child is seen as an extension of the narcissistic parent. She lives vicariously through him.

This child represents the parent’s perfect image of herself. He is either physically beautiful or has a talent that the parent finds impressive; something that gives her bragging rights. This child is chosen specifically for exploitation.