Sometimes, in an effort to make sure our children reach for their dreams or the dreams we think they should have, we lose track of what kind of character they’re developing. A narcissist believes the world revolves around them—that their needs should come first and take precedence over everything else. Kurt Bubna, a writer and Senior Pastor, has written an article for ChristianParenting.org titled How to Raise a Narcissist. He comments that oftentimes a child's narcissistic behavior is a product of narcissistic parenting. He covers four areas that parents need to be aware of if they want to avoid narcissistic parenting:
1. Don’t let your family and marriage be child-centered
Child-centered families revolve around a child’s activities, wants, and desires. Parents should always care for their child’s needs, but not every moment of family life should revolve around exactly what the child does or does not want to do. Bubna challenges,
“It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to set boundaries and not do everything your child wants to do. Johnny doesn’t need to be in Karate, basketball, and CYT all at the same time.”
Engaging with your child in some kind of activity every day whether it’s cooking a meal together, helping them with homework, or playing a game of soccer after dinner helps build family bonds and ensures that your child feels loved. However, children also need to learn to play by themselves and respect a parent’s alone time. This can be hard for children to accept at first, but understanding that life is about more than just their own needs will help them develop into more caring individuals who recognize the needs of others in addition to their own.
2. Don’t tell your child how amazing they are, even when they’re not.
Encouraging your child in how much they mean to you, how loved they are, what they mean to God, and how they can grow as a person is necessary and helpful. But consciously or subconsciously inflating your child’s ego whether it’s always letting them win a game, telling them they’re gifted when they just brought home a C, or telling them they can be famous at said activity some day usually does more harm than good. Bubna explains,
“When Johnny’s basketball team loses, and we say, “It’s okay, everybody is a winner!” we are actually building up his ego in a false way. Additionally, Johnny will never learn how to deal with disappointment and failure in a healthy and godly way if he isn’t encouraged to own failure.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12, “Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought.” Humility is holy. Arrogance and pride are not. It’s okay to be normal.”
Children need to learn what disappointment and failure feel like, and they need to know how to handle those circumstances in a mature way—the way that God calls them to. Use these moments to teach your child God’s Word and its application to daily life.
3. Don’t be so wrapped up in yourself that you only pay attention to your child when it’s convenient.
While we don’t want our children to think family life revolves around their every want, we also don’t want to ignore our children because we’re too caught up in our own wants. Bubna advises,
“Remember, when it comes to parenting, more is caught than taught. For good or evil, we model for our children the behavior they will develop. So, what does this feast and famine of parental attention teach a child? It teaches Johnny to manipulate others for his personal satisfaction.”
But it’s important to note that if you think your child is modeling any bad behavior from you, it’s not to late to model the correct response for them.
4. Don’t ignore self-centered behavior in your child and blow it off as no big deal.
It may be hard for some parents to see their child as a sinner, and possibly easier for other parents. Our culture teaches children to be self-centered, but Christian parents have a responsibility to teach their children something different, selflessness. Bubna writes,
“When Johnny fails, and he will, it’s your responsibility to discipline him in a consistent and constructive way. God put your children in your family because it’s supposed to be the best place for your children to grow in godliness.
At the core of our being is a sinful nature that is selfish rather than selfless. We don’t naturally drift to selflessness or sacrificial love. We must develop this behavior over time.”
This is another behavior that must be modeled for our children. If we teach our children this principle but don’t practice it ourselves, they will take notice and think it’s not a big deal.
Bubna encourages parents, “We can grow. We can change. No child is beyond hope, and neither are you.”
To read Kurt Bubna’s full article please visit ChristianParenting.org.
Crosswalk.com Contributor Brent Rinehart states, in his article 6 Things Every Kid Needs to Hear:
“Words matter. Our children soak them up like little sponges. I can watch my daughter play “house” with her dolls and hear her say some of the same things her mom or I tell her. It's proof that she's listening to what we say, even when it doesn't seem like it.”
Publication date: May 23, 2016
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.