What Happens When the Golden Child Wakes Up?

A narcissistic parent doesn’t worry about favoring one child over another because each child has a specific role in their narcissistic drama.

They project their failures and fears onto the scapegoat while idealizing and cherishing the golden child.

As the golden child matures, they often develop narcissistic tendencies of their own, and understandably so.

They’ve been consistently told they’re special and may internalize that grandiose sense of self. But in some circumstances, the golden child may wake up to toxic dynamics at play within the family.

Such an awakening can profoundly affect the golden child as they realize that their parent’s affection and approval were never truly about them but a means for the narcissistic parent to fulfill their own needs for admiration and control.

WHat happens when the golden child wakes up?

What Happens When the Golden Child Wakes Up?

What Happens When the Golden Child Wakes Up

Most golden children hold onto the narcissistic parent’s narrative all their lives, refusing to wake up to the reality of the situation because being the golden child is advantageous for them. 

Not only that, but they’ve come to rely on their narcissistic parent’s validation and have been conditioned into depending on them for emotional and even financial support. 

When a golden child wakes up, it shatters the illusion they’ve been brought up to believe in.

As they awaken, they realize that their privileged position in the family was never about their true worth or individuality but rather a strategic tool employed by the narcissistic parent to serve their own ego-driven needs.

Such a revelation causes a seismic shift that unravels the carefully constructed façade of the idealized family dynamic.

The golden child starts to understand that their parent’s favoritism is a means to an end—a way to exert control, maintain power, and perpetuate their own delusions of grandeur.

This awakening often sparks an emotional journey. The initial feelings of shock and disbelief quickly give way to a complex mix of emotions.

The golden child may grapple with feelings of betrayal, anger, and hurt as they confront the stark contrast between the image they were presented and the harsh reality they now see.

Moreover, the awakening leads to self-discovery and a quest for authenticity. Stripped of the narcissistic parent’s false narratives and artificial roles, the golden child embarks on a journey to find their identity and purpose beyond the confines of their designated role.

This process can be both liberating and challenging. The golden child may need to confront their narcissistic tendencies that developed due to their upbringing.

They must also navigate the complex terrain of relationships, redefining their connections with family members and others.

Continue reading: Why do Narcissists have a golden child and a scapegoat child?

How Does this Awakening Impact the Golden Child?

As the golden child gains insight into the true nature of their parent’s behavior, it has a profound impact on them, and several shifts can occur:

Identity Crisis

Identity crisis

The golden child was raised believing they were better than everyone else and deserved special treatment.

When they wake up to the reality of their parent’s behavior, this illusion is shattered, leaving the golden child wondering who they really are and whether they deserve love. 

Guilt and Confusion 

Feelings of guilt and confusion may arise as the golden child questions their position in the family and the impact their compliance with the parent’s demands had on their siblings.

They may feel guilty about the preferential treatment they received and seek to make amends with the siblings they saw treated with disdain.   

Shattered Illusions

Shattered Illusions

The golden child believed their parent truly loved them, but now that illusion is shattered by the realization that their love was always conditional.

It was only by continuing to perform and remaining complicit to the narcissistic parent’s demands that the golden child was idealized and admired – it had nothing to do with who they are as a person. 

As they realize that the love and approval they received were conditional and their parent’s behavior was manipulative and self-serving, the foundations of that relationship are torn away, leaving the golden child disillusioned and confused. 

Seeking Authenticity

The golden child may yearn for authentic connections and genuine relationships, something they were denied in the role of the favored child.

They may strive to break free from the confines of their assigned role and discover their true identity and potential.

To achieve this, the golden child may need to distance themselves from their narcissistic parent to start developing an identity independent of that toxic relationship. 

This rejection of the narcissistic parent is often traumatic, and the resulting narcissistic fury could force the golden child to abandon their goals and retreat back into the golden child role.  

Anger and Resentment

Anger and Resentment

Once the golden child realizes the extent of manipulation and emotional abuse they endured, they may feel intense anger and resentment toward their parent.

They may also internalize this anger towards themselves, blaming themselves for unwittingly participating in the charade.

How does this Impact other Family Members?

As a result of their journey of awakening, the golden child may develop a deeper sense of empathy and compassion for the scapegoat and other family members who suffered at the hands of the narcissistic parent. 

This can lead to a closer relationship between the scapegoat and the golden child. It can also evoke guilt in the golden child as they realize the extent of their past complicity in the dysfunctional family dynamics. 

They may feel remorseful for their role in perpetuating the narcissistic parent’s manipulative games and favoritism.

This newfound empathy can also spark a desire within the golden child to seek reconciliation and healing with the scapegoat and other family members.

How Often Do Golden Children Wake Up?

How Often Do Golden Children Wake Up

Most golden children never fully wake up to the reality of their parent’s behavior, choosing to hold onto the facade that protects their coveted position.

Those who do wake up may do so suddenly or experience several moments of awakening. 

Some golden children may experience a gradual awakening over time, triggered by moments of insight, personal growth, or exposure to different perspectives. 

Others might have more sudden realizations from significant life events, therapy, or interactions with individuals who provide alternative viewpoints.

I know a scapegoat whose golden child brother awakened in his 20s only to fall back under his parents’ influence in his 30s.

During the awakening, the siblings’ relationship strengthened, only to be ripped apart when he re-adopted his narcissistic parent’s toxic dynamics in his 30s.

In this scenario, the golden child chose the illusion of favoritism over the reality of genuine self-discovery and personal growth.

Despite experiencing an initial awakening in his 20s, where he began to question the dynamics and manipulation within the family, he ultimately succumbed to the deeply ingrained patterns established by his narcissistic parent.

How does the Golden Child Turn Out when they Grow Up?

How does the Golden Child Turn Out when they Grow Up

Many golden children display narcissistic traits as a result of their favored upbringing. They have been brought up to believe they’re better than everyone around them and take this self-perception with them into adulthood.

Some golden children may be more self-aware yet unable to escape the clutches of the narcissistic parent.

They may feel guilty if they try to distance themselves from their family or struggle to establish a clear sense of self without their parent’s validation. 

Golden children are often perfectionists or overachievers because they’ve been taught to associate their self-worth with their ability to perform and be the best.

Similarly, they often become obsessive people-pleasers because their identity has always been attached to their ability to please others.

Regardless of the scenario, the adult child has no authentic self-identity, which makes forming stable relationships challenging.

What Happens to the Golden Child when the Narcissistic Mother Dies?

What Happens to the Golden Child when the Narcissistic Mother Dies

The golden child is liable to be devastated by the death of their narcissistic mother, especially if they’ve also developed narcissistic tendencies and were depending on her as a supply of validation and admiration. 

In some instances, the golden child may step into their mother’s shoes, taking over her role as the narcissist and subjecting their siblings to the same abuse they suffered at her hands.

In other scenarios, the death of a narcissistic mother may completely destabilize the golden child’s sense of identity.

No longer reflected in their mother’s eyes, they experience a sense of emptiness and loss as they struggle to define themselves outside of that role.

This can lead to bouts of depression and anxiety that may force the golden child to seek professional support as they grapple with feelings of abandonment and confusion.

While destabilizing, the death of a narcissistic mother can also catalyze the golden child’s transformation.

As they untangle themselves from the suffocating grip of their parent’s manipulations, they can embark on a path of genuine self-discovery and personal growth.

What if You are Married to a Golden Child?

What if You are Married to a Golden Child

The golden child carries the effects of their upbringing into their adult lives, which presents specific challenges to those around them, especially their partners or spouses.

They are used to being admired and praised and may expect you to continue this treatment, putting their needs above your own and expecting you to validate and admire them constantly. 

Having been idealized for so long, the golden child may believe they’re perfect and might have a hard time accepting criticism or dealing with conflict healthily.

They may be sensitive to any perceived slights and struggle to communicate openly about relationship issues. 

If your spouse’s narcissistic parent is still in the picture, their dynamics might affect your relationship.

Your spouse might respect their narcissistic parent’s opinion over yours or even fail to consider your feelings as long as the narcissistic parent’s needs are being met. 

If you’re married to a golden child who wakes up to their parent’s narcissistic behavior, you might need to support them through the subsequent identity crisis.

You may need to help wean them off their narcissistic supply and discover a sense of self that doesn’t rely on the validation of others. 

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