In some families, there's a Favourite Child and a Scapegoat Child. Which one are you?

While you are unlikely to ever know for sure if your parent has narcissistic personality disorder, there are some definite red flags that can determine whether a parent has narcissistic traits.

With traits including a lack of empathy, love-bombing, laser-focused attention, excessive entitlement and the need for admiration, narcissists can quickly become draining, toxic and incredibly difficult to deal with.

For children in particular, having a narcissistic parent can be extremely damaging.

Speaking to INSIDER, trauma therapist and author of Healing from Hidden Abuse Shannon Thomas explained how narcissistic parents often tend to pit their children against their siblings.

“Narcissistic parents create tension among all family members, and sometimes it’s very covert tension, but it is at a chronic level,” Thomas explained.

“They will triangulate siblings, they spin stories, they tell half truths, and you start to notice the pattern, just like in a romantic relationship, of how they create that chaos.”

There’s a test you can do to check if you’re a narcissist. We discuss on Mamamia Out Loud. 

According to Thomas, narcissistic parents tend to treat their children very differently.

While one child is treated above all others as the favourite, the favourite child’s siblings often become the scapegoat of the family.

Although the favourite child is treated with upmost respect and adoration, the scapegoat child of the family is often neglected and treated poorly.

For example, while you’re likely to see a narcissistic parent attending every single event, awards ceremony or sporting game their favourite child is involved in, there’s no chance you’ll see them attending the same events for their scapegoat child.


“It’s very hard to foster any authentic sibling connection in that environment because they’re being used as pawns by the parents,” Thomas said.

“When the scapegoated child tries to talk about what their life is like with the narcissistic parent, the favourite child won’t see it at all.”

"It's very hard to foster any authentic sibling connection in that environment." Image: Getty.

Over time, Thomas says this differing treatment of siblings can lead to a tough sibling dynamic later in life.

Online, thousands of children who were raised by narcissistic parents support each other on Reddit forum raisedbynarcissists.

The group, which has over 350,000 subscribers, allows people to receive support others who went through a similar experience in childhood.

If this article brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.