Those things that hurt instruct. – Benjamin Franklin
In a family system, there is always one who is appointed to be the scapegoat. The Scapegoat comes from an ancient practice where the goat is sent into the wilderness after the chief priest had symbolically laid the sins of the people upon it. (Leviticus 16:10)
A parent knows that someone is going to have to bear the blame regardless of circumstances. By doing this, the parent(s) sets siblings against each other. The scapegoat reacts by working so hard to stay in his or her parent’s good grace. The siblings, as part of their strategy is to duck and cover and participate in the blame game. Denial is so strong in them they don’t even see what is going on. It’s normal for them. Then there is that combative mother, who often relies on the revolving scapegoat not just to maintain control over the children, but also to reassure herself that she’s doing a great job. She doesn’t see herself as a bully, but someone with authority and agency who is determined that her kids toe in line she’s drawn. Conversing with a combative person is so unhealthy that it would be wise to be silent … let them win. They’re so toxic that your words like lights disappear in the blackhole.
I’ve talked with many people (from adolescents to senior citizens) that say they feel like they were drowning in a sewer. One of my clients shed big crocodile tears in pain… feeling so used and abused. He has been scapegoated by his family who believes that he is one thorn in the family’s side that needs to be fixed so life would be perfect. He is being scapegoated.
Self-awareness is so needed if we want to heal. Self-awareness is cognitive, seeing your own patter, listen to the words coming out of your mouth and reflect. Why did you say that? It takes self-awareness to see where they need help. Narcissistic parenting often involves fostering a co-dependent relationship with the children to the extent that the parents expect the child to take care of them for the rest of their lives. The pattern is much more scarring to individual development when being a scapegoat is permanent. I know one who simply ran away geographically and emotionally.
Few things are harder for kids to bear than being scapegoated. A narcissistic parent is always with a ready-made answer – an explanation for fractiousness or any other deviation from what she expects how her family to look like. To make the parent look good is directing away from how she acts, and instead, she focuses on the one person who’s “messing it all up” – the scapegoat. This is what it’s like to be targeted by a narcissistic parent.
To be able to move on from being a scapegoat to a confident, forgiven and loved child of God is to forgive our parents first. We may have been ruined and emotionally damaged, but there is healing in Christ making us glorious ruin like the Roman Colosseum or the seven pillars in Corinth. We are the temple of the Living God.