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Am I raising a narcissist? Probably.

Rebecca Bracken is a news and views writer.






New study shows our 'overvaluation' of kids is creating a generation of narcissists

Are you raising a narcissist? A new study shows that narcissists aren't born — they're created by their parents. So now that we know we're to blame, what are we going to do about it?

The study, published in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, was the first of its kind to ask the question: Are narcissists being made by parents?

Up until now there had been two general schools of thought on what makes a narcissist.

The first was that parents who didn't show their kids enough affection raised narcissists who tried to compensate for a lack of parental warmth by promoting their own superiority and feeding their own egos.

The second is that parents' "overvaluation" of children leads those children to believe they are superior and deserve special treatment, and the next thing you know — bam! You've just made a narcissist.

This new study proves the latter to be the case. We're loving and praising our kids so much that they're developing narcissism, a recognized psychological disorder. How ridiculous is that?

"These findings uncover early socialization experiences that cultivate narcissism, and may inform interventions to curtail narcissistic development at an early age," researcher Eddie Brummelman from the University of Amsterdam wrote about his team's findings.

So what is a narcissist, really? Narcissism goes far beyond just plain selfish and self-involvement. Narcissists believe they are inherently superior to everyone else, deserve special treatment and, when challenged, will lash out and become aggressive or even violent. Narcissists are debilitated by their inability to see past themselves.

So are you raising a narcissist? Ask yourself these important questions:

  • Do you tell your kids they are superior to others?
  • Are your kids allowed to break the rules others are required to follow?
  • Do your kids feel entitled to special privileges?
  • Do you think you tend to overvalue your children?

No matter how well-intentioned our parenting, we're raising a generation of entitled ego monsters, and this study is the first real evidence that it's our fault. As parents, we have to give kids an accurate reflection of themselves and prepare them for a world that runs on cooperation and delayed gratification.

It's understandable why this is the way parents today operate. We're a generation raised on Oprah and self-esteem-boosting workshops. It's OK. We were told that the key to happiness and success was to believe in ourselves and in our individual power to change the world. But it's time to dial that back.

We've got to take a long, hard look at the way we're parenting. Do we really want a generation of narcissists running the world one day?

More on narcissism

Anti-vaxxers are total narcissists — here's why
4 Signs you’re raising a narcissist
Are you raising a narcissist?

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