Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Parenting Narcissism

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on January 25, 2011

Chelsea, fifty-nine, complains that since her twenty-year old daughter, Lindsay, did not go to college she is “denied the pride of most parents.” She says in a way which transmits a sense of deprivation and unfairness. “Maybe you are inflating your sense of importance, meaning that whether Lindsay goes to college may not relate to your parenting skills. Maybe motivation is genetic and at the moment, her drive is not very high and as such, she is genetically pre-programmed to do the least amount of work and still get by.” I say, trying to highlight that a lot of behavior is genetically determined, and yet, when things turn out well parents often take pride, even though cause and effect is not clear. “That is really hard for me to digest,” Chelsea says, letting me know that no matter how many times I emphasize genetics, she is not going to let go of her disappointment she feels  in herself, that Lindsay has not gone to college. “You need to feel like you could have done a better job, but I am not sure why you are so determined to feel that way.” I say, trying to highlight her overarching tendency to feel guilty.  “I am not either,” Chelsea says, with great sadness and reflection.

2 Responses to “Parenting Narcissism”

  1. Shelly said

    Perhaps, just perhaps, this guilt is not Chelsea’s fault? Unfortunately, society judges Chelsea’s parenting skills based on how her daughter turns out, whether the daughter goes to college or not, has a decent job, marries well and turns out respectable children. Without that basis (a college degree), Chelsea’s daughter is on the road to an insecure future and society will likely blame Chelsea. I am not saying that such judgement is true or fair, just the way it is seen.

    • Yea, but we can change that by not buying into the herd. Chelsea, as with any minority group, can hang tight with a different point of view. Mean, unfair judgments is something we all have to contend with from time to time.

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