SITE: “Thru the Looking Glass”
3. Scapegoat-ed CHILD
● Scapegoatees (Sc) are the non-entities of the family, held to an impossible standard not required of other members, accused unjustly, treated cruelly, & then ostracized.
The Sc is usually the most sensitive & intuitive child. Having no one to teach it the correct way to use empathy (with boundaries & discretion) this kind of child can easily be used by wounded parents, deliberately or not, to carry the ‘sins’ they refuse to deal with themselves (‘never wrong’, hypocrites, selfish, self-hating….)
● All children need to be mirrored – to know who they are – by looking into the faces, hearts & minds of loving adults. And all children need a degree of connection to family members – some more, some less – to feel safe.
— Sadly, too many children only get back warped reflections from parental & teacher mirrors, who only provide their own distorted versions of reality.
What sensitive Scapegoats see tells them they’re the ‘guilty party’, the one responsible for everyone else’s pain.
With no choice but to believe it, they’re pounded down by this message, forcing them to the bottom of the totem pole, where stay in school or at work. No matter how well or poorly they do in life – on the outside – they build their life on an unstable foundation of anxiety, guilt & insecurity.
WHY IS the Sc CHILD CHOSEN?
● A family’s scapegoating leader will choose a particular child, with ‘assistants’ following their lead (sibs, relatives….), because the child MAY –
– be too radically different in personality from the parents -OR-
– have similar characteristics to a parent, who hates those in themself
– remind a parent of a hated relative, such as their own parent, sibling….
– be seen as a hindrance to a parent’s new marriage or relationship, OR be a child from a previous one
– be hated (not the child’s fault!) & become the object of that hatred, especially if they were an unwanted ‘accident’, their birth ‘caused’ the mother’s death or the father leaving….
– be viewed as yet another mouth to feed, a burden to be gotten rid of…….
1. SCs must actually be the strongest – because they have to psychologically / spiritually & sometimes physically carry the defects of the entire family. Their strength is needed to survive, alone, in the ‘desert’ without the comfort or support of their tribe. (see Part 1)
2. SCs must be the most loving – by their nature willing to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the unit. Again, this may be partly unconscious, but as a child the Sc has no choice. On some level they know they’re ‘willing’, so the family can appear to be OK
OTHER Characteristics : BEING —
• vulnerable in some physical or psychological way (ADD, obsessive…)
• hyperactive, non-compliant, overtly acting out
• young, or viewed as too weak to defend itself
• not the gender the parents wanted
• too independent, smart & clever, with it’s own mind
• opposite in personality to the designated ‘golden child’ who can do no wrong = like Ivanka. The favorite can be the eldest, sometimes the youngest, or even a child who died before the Sc was born & is now idealized (More….)
– In some very dysfunctional families, a parent will goad the other children into also picking on the disfavored one. Or siblings may copy the habit of taunting & blaming the Sc on their own, by watching adults get away with the cruelty. They will do this, at least in part, out of fear that if they side with the victim they’ll be tortured as well
Also, only children raised by severely damaged parents are likely to be alternately treated as the Scapegoat & the Golden Child (MORE…..)
– Once the scapegoating pattern is woven into the fabric of the family system, it’s inevitable that the Sc will gradually empathize with–then carry–then identify with all of the unresolved adult character defects that suffocate love in that home.
NEXT: ACoAs being Scapegoated (Part 4)