Caregiving & the Golden Child/Scapegoat Dynamic

I want to pass this along, I found out about it via another site.  I’m no contact with my mother, but I thought of those of you who are still in contact with your mother. 

Especially this comment by bippityboppityboob:

I see this play out ALL THE TIME. I’m an advocate for elders, and I often find myself trying to unravel the strands of some seriously complicated (and fucked) family dynamics in order to figure out how I can best help the situation. The Favorite One, interestingly, is often not The Responsible One (or even The One Who Gives A Shit). I’ll watch siblings go rounds with one another about why on EARTH their mother would want the “loser” child to be their caregiver, Power Of Attorney, etc.

I’ve watched elder mothers try to manipulate their favorite into caring for them, also. A daughter who lives locally and can best meet their needs might be the natural choice for a caregiver, and is willing to do the job, but the mother will constantly sketch out why that child is no good, and if she could only move to [wherever] to be close to her son and his family, it would be so much better. Cue sobbing phone call to son to complain that local daughter isn’t meeting her needs.

I also often see the Un-Favorite try to step in and become the hero–especially in the final years, months, etc. They try to redeem their less-than-close relationship with Mom/Dad by swooping in to save the day as the ever-vigilant bedside visitor, the one who really has their parents’ “best interests” at heart.

It’s very sad, at times. And I will say that there is something to the mother/child dynamic more so than father/child–I just don’t see these things as often with elder fathers, even after accounting for elder women outnumbering their male counterparts

I know it’s difficult, but please don’t allow her or the family to hurt you any more by trying to please them.  Don’t try to be the hero or think she’s going to change.   It’s a losing game.  This really is a case of “It’s not you”.  It really isn’t.  And this is in regard to relatively functional families.  Please protect yourself.

10 thoughts on “Caregiving & the Golden Child/Scapegoat Dynamic

  1. I am as no contact as I can get with my elderly mom. Her favorite child (male) – yes – spends some time with her, etc. but has been watching her money for years. He can’t wait to get his hands on it. He lives very near her but is not a sensitive person. I see that she’d rather be alone having strangers caring for her than have me do it because it might show my sibs that I matter to her. Frankly, how creepy she’s been to me and mine – I wouldn’t do the hard work of caring for an elderly parent unless I’m compensated – 15 years ago I would have done anything for her for nothing. But I see on the horizon my brother abandoning her once she’s really compromised and he’ll get the dough. She is becoming more confused and my brother will be handing her the pen to write us out of the will, I’m sure. This, after years of having what I though was a kind and loving mother. Of course, I’ll be the bad daughter for not stepping in doing the “womens” work when she gets really ill.

    1. I am in your exact same spot. God bless us both for surviving it. I also have an older sister who emotionally abused me as much as my mom did and does. She was the golden child, I was (am) the scapegoat. The treatment I received from those 2, naturally led to the rest of my family treating me bad also. There is a huge story behind all of this, with twists and turns. I’ve finally come into my own, love myself more now and don’t have very much to do with any of them. Thank God for my own precious family and our precious friends. Unless you’ve been through it – most people ‘don’t get it’. If I’m asked to share my story with them, they look at you like you’ve got 5 heads or something, it’s just so hard for most folks to fathom. And then – throw into this miserable dysfunction…a sister-in-law who makes a hobby out of bullying, lying, manipulating and making sure that the rest of the family stays against me. I used to crawl across eggshells for my entire family to try to please them…but no more. I do regret that I am past the half century mark in age, and only in the last few years have I really begun to heal and been brave enough to ‘not take it anymore’. I will be in your shoes, I’m sure…for also being the ‘black sheep’ for not rallying around my mother when she passes away someday. I’ll cry for the mom I wish I would’ve had. To walk this earth, without ever feeling one of nature’s most basic & natural bonds of a mother’s love for her daughter…is a heartbreaking journey at times. I wish you all the best.

      1. Thank you and the same to you. I was 40 before I even began to realize what was going on and 43, when they chose to go no contact with me. I’m 52 now and my life is a lot better. A good therapist helped a lot

    2. the game is to make it as hard as possible to escape and then to discard you once you offer help… It’s a sick game and you can’t win it. No contact.

    3. also I wouldn’t harbor too much sympathy for a person who reduces their value to almost nothing and then offers money, and whose offer is accepted… The money is never really free because by the time that you invest yourself in the emotions of the narcissist she will have found some way of destroying your life. No one ever really escapes. My mother lacks all remorse. She doesn’t see it as remotely necessary at this point to hide her contempt and disinterest. She loves to pretend she is listening when I talk and then when confronted, after I get the feeling that she just goes through the motions in every single conversation and is not remotely committed to any of it, like it’s not real, she drops the mask. Usually to talk about herself… So.. No contact no contact. my mother has brainwashed my brother and made him into golden child and at this point he barely leaves her apartment. he works and doesn’t even have his own bedroom. He is 32. it is very very sad.

      1. It is very sad. The scapegoated kids have to deal with the rejection. And many of the golden children have trouble holding jobs, etc.

  2. Spot on with this write-up, I truly assume this web site needs way more consideration. I’ll in all probability be again to learn way more, thanks for that info.

  3. I am no contact with my parents as well. I actually am confused by the above comment that the person is “as no contact as you can get,” because either there is contact or there isn’t. Either you have no contact, or you have contact.
    I am sad not to have the kind of family with which one would want contact, but I do see a silver lining to that cloud, because I will never have to deal with my aging parents, or any other family problem.

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