Is Your Child Divine or Narcissistic?

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to respond to a reader’s question about teaching children of their Divinity as a way of preventing narcissism and obsessions with fame

First a quick update:

“Video – Relationship Boosters – One question that changes everything”
Watch the interview I give to syndicated TV show The Daily Buzz where I reveal the one question to ask your partner which can transform your relationship – business, personal, social or romantic,  click to watch.

Read the full article here.

Now, let’s talk about teaching children of their Divinity as a way of preventing narcissism and obsessions with fame.

In my newsletter “Teen loneliness, low self-esteem and the desire for fame” I referenced a US study of 650 teenagers which reveals that if children could magically change their life, they would above all else, choose to be famous; above being more intelligent, beautiful or stronger. The study reveals that loneliness, depression, isolation and lack of appreciation were contributing factors to those choices because those children believe that fame will offer them a solution to those problems.

I also suggested that one of the major contributing factors to today’s rampant narcissism and obsession with fame is poor parenting: “For example, if you teach your child that he/she is innately important then you are also teaching them that they don’t have to do, achieve or contribute anything. If, however, you tell them that their talent, skills and gifts are important and can help people, then you are teaching them to adopt an important mission in life.”

Subsequently, I received this email and comment from a friend – a spiritual teacher and yoga instructor:

“Question: actually, teaching your child that they are intrinsically important, unique, special just the way they are, without having to DO anything, to accomplish anything, that they are perfect just the way they are, that they are whole, complete, Divine just the way they are, that they don’t need to become “somebody” because they ARE so magnificent already, wouldn’t that then make them feel so special that they wouldn’t have the desire to become famous?  They would be confident and feel loved just the way they are, and so wouldn’t that increase their self-worth instead of their self-disapproval, which drives them to want to become significant?”

“If they love themselves unconditionally then they don’t need to become famous to fill that hole, that void…how to teach them to love themselves just the way they are, so that they see themselves as perfect, as pure light, as Divine…I don’t mean narcissism or pride, but real self-love, which is our True Nature? How to teach your child self-love, self-acknowledgment, self-appreciation, but not narcissism, not self-aggrandizement?  It’s no small thing to find that balance, don’t you think?”WIth love, Natacha Wenger

Natacha’s comments raise two key questions:

  1. Can we raise children to recognize their Divinity (perfect or a child of God, a spiritual being, etc) without them becoming narcissistic and entitled?
  2. Do children simply need to focus on their Divinity (a “being”) or do they need to also focus on “doing” – contributing and taking action in the world?

For insightful responses to these questions, I turned to Dr. Vicki Panaccione, child psychologist, parent and Founder and Director of the Better Parenting Institute. You can listen the full thirty-minute interview of Patrick Wanis PhD and Dr. Vicki Panaccione

A parent’s only role is to give to the child everything that he or she needs to realize his or her full potential. That in turn, encompasses all the physical needs for survival and, love, affection, validation, recognition, praise, encouragement, time, attention and so forth. But children also need discipline, boundaries, structure and guidance. Can a parent discipline a child for bad behavior and still validate the child’s Divinity or uniqueness? In a moment, I will share Dr. Vicki’s response.

Children also take everything literally. If a parent tells a child he or she is an idiot, stupid and worthless, then the child grows up believing that he or she is an idiot, stupid and worthless. Can a parent a child tell he/she is Divine without the child thinking that he/she is the Golden Child to whom the world owes everything and which the child needs do nothing?

In the interview with Dr. Vicki, I also reinforce that there are different parenting styles which are often gender-driven. Women will often provide the feminine basis of nurturing, empathy, sympathy and emotion; women will do their best to protect children from emotional hurt. Men will often provide the masculine basis of protection, leadership, reasoning, cause-and-effect, and will place logic above emotion with the intention of preparing the child for the real world of pain, hardship and challenges. I concede that both parents have the capacity to play either role but generally women will be more sympathetic and men will be more focused on justice – cause-and-effect.

Avoid the trap of trying to get your child to like you; they will always love you. And it is normal that a child will rebel and become angry for not getting their way or for being disciplined and will say “I hate you.”

Here is my summary of the four key strategies by Dr. Vicki Panaccione for raising children with healthy self-esteem but free of narcissism and entitlement:

  1. From a very young age, teach your child that they are special. They’re a great gift. They’re divine. They’re a gift to the world and a gift to you. “’I’m so glad to be your mom. You bring such joy to my life,’ things like that. Those are affirmations. He doesn’t have to do anything; he just is. Their smile lights up the room. He’s not accomplishing. I’m not rewarding him for behavior. I’m just giving him feedback about the magnificent person he is.”
  2. Recognize the difference between who they are in terms of the gift and their behavior, so you say to the child “I love you. I love the fact that you’re in the world. You’re a great gift to me. Now let’s talk about your behaviors.”
  3. Teach children that they have the right to choose in every moment and there are consequences for their choices. “I want the kids to know that ‘I am valued’ and that ‘I need to act on that value.’”
  4. Help children to respect themselves, respect others, and to try and find their own meaning and purpose in life. “To discover their inner self is a gift that we do as parents, is to help them discover who they are and to bring that to the world.”

Additionally, I teach that many New Thought Teachers promote that we are human beings and not human doings and while adults can easily grasp the meaning of that statement (i.e. don’t value yourself only on the day job you do – look for your inner qualities and your life purpose), it is difficult for children (whose brain has not fully developed) to fully grasp this because they take things literally, and because they find it challenging to control emotional impulses. And children need to learn and accept that they will be judged by society according to their behavior and how they show up in the world. No one can get by in life without taking action; action is the difference between a dream fulfilled and a fantasy.

Finally, I summarize Dr. Vicki Panaccione’s message to parents as: Help bring forth the inner value of the child, separate that from the behavior, and keep encouraging them to move in the direction of what is positive, empowering. And by continually reinforcing the inner value of the child, you can avoid narcissism and entitlement.

For more information you can listen to the thirty-minute interview of Patrick Wanis PhD and Dr. Vicki Panaccione

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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1 reply
  1. Avatar
    Erol Fox says:

    Great observation mate!

    “Generation X” was a terrific book that identified the generation after the baby boomers. The boomers were so busy making money, even both parents, the children had to raise themselves. A generation that really questioned cultural standards. It created great independence by also some neurosis and inability to have relationships, marriages, etc. Unfortunately, the book became most popular with marketers who targeted them and trained them.

    A psychologist later identified Generation Y. The much younger siblings that were raised by the Gen X, because the parents were busy. Gen X became the model, i.e. kids, not adults. Gen Y was called the “Narcissistic Generation”. Ego independence what the goal. They were stunted children with the desires of a child, without the model of what adulthood meant. Children do what they feel and want. Adults do what must be done. Enter Kardashians following they every whim and getting paid to do so.

    Great insight that these Gen Y parents are not teaching there kids to be adults. They are teaching them to be worshiped. And what happens whey you are not worshiped? What does that set up in the psyche?

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