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The Golden Child

I recently had a conversation with a good friend of mine who complained that her Brother was her Mother’s favourite.  For me this conversation echoed my own families experiences; it was too close for comfort.

My own Mother had issues with her Mother, as she favoured my Mother’s Brother to the point of isolating my own Mother. This ongoing nepotism caused vast rifts in our family, the repercussions of which are still visible today.

My friend, like my Mother has experienced Motherly spite, withheld love and trust and also head games. Whatever was done or said it has never been good enough; never feeling like they belong to the family they were born into because their Mother won’t accept them. Both my friend and my Mother have been left feeling like the underdog or the black sheep in their family for no good reason, other than they are not the favourite.

A result of this unwarranted treatment, years of continual stress, strain, upset, turmoil and anger. Years of wondering in vain, why?? My Mother always felt inadequate somehow, and this was the result of that faulty Mother / Daughter relationship, which my friend is now suffering at the hands of now.

I have heard similar stories related to me time and time again; the golden child scenario and the ensuing faulty parental and child relationship of the one left in the shadows.

The golden child; how much destruction does this effigy of shinning ‘perfection’ in human form cause to families all over the world?? To what extent has this parental favourtism ruined the lives of the siblings not in favour? The fractured self esteem, dampened confidence and even altered functionality of the child who then becomes an adult, feeling somehow as though they have missed out on a necessary piece of their childhood – unconditional love. How can the adult ever then gain any of this missed time, missed life back to become whole??

Why would a parent deny a child unconditional love? Why would they hold onto their favourite child to the detriment of another? Why would they want to hurt their own child in such a profound way?

Do parents do this consciously? It seems to me that often they do. Is it because the parents themselves have witnessed or been the brunt of such behaviour themselves growing up? Does something innate compel them to do this to their own child, something they can’t even understand??

What can any parent gain from ripping the world out from under their own flesh and blood? For me it is a self defeating prospect, that only creates and stores up trouble for the future. It seems to me that once these golden child sides have been drawn up, they cannot be changed or undone; it remains this way, a private family war, forever. The ripple of bad feeling surrounds that golden child, and alienates the child outside of this ‘halo’. It has a massive impact, and effects consequent generations – I know as I have grown up with such things surrounding my own life. The effect on my own Mother from her childhood impacted even when she no longer lived with her parents, and still does.

I empathise with my friend and what she is going through. I hope for her and her families sake (her own children and partner), that she can find a resolution to gain peace of mind, and sooner rather than later.

I hope she doesn’t allow the golden child rot to infiltrate, and mar her life as my own Mother did (to some extent). I hope my friend realises life is too short to measure herself against what her Mother thinks or doesn’t think about her; as she will never gain her approval with whatever she does or says. It is a losing game trying to please someone who cannot be pleased, because you are not their favourite.



23 thoughts on “The Golden Child

  1. Pingback: Am I a child at war with myself? | seventhvoice

  2. BEX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Where have you been!?!??!?! Then again, I have been M.I.A. for the past couple of weeks too so I guess I can’t talk much haha.

    Since when did you have 247 followers?!?!!? I just got my 100th like yesterday and now you are over doubling my score!!! Haha, you deserve it though ~ not trying to say otherwise.

    Talk soon por favor!



    (and hugs!)

    • Hi you! Yes, I have been in the UK again – had a few things to sort out here. I fly back to Madrid on the 1st May though, phew!!! I will soon have frequent internet access back at my finger tips 🙂 Being in the UK is the reason why my contact has been sporadic for a few weeks!
      Hope you are well??? How was your trip???
      Followers, I know, it has gone crazy – not sure why??? Thank you though, that is sweet of you 🙂
      Speak soon too, take care 🙂

          • YES just in the midst of mass craziness – attempting to find out how to afford the rest of my bachelors degree in the USA at the school of choice I got accepted into. list price is essentially $120K for transferring in as a junior!!!! no way I am paying that much though, as if anyone could really afford that out of pocket. do i have your email or vice versa? i am off Facebook permanently…


          • WOW, that is absolutely and utterly crazy – for fees!!! What are you buying an education or a house?! Who attends these schools, the offspring of Russian Billionaires?!! Good education seems to be becoming marginalised towards a privilege only the ‘elite’ can afford. No, don’t think you do – reluctant to give out my personal email over WordPress (only have a personal email account). I think you will still be able to email me via my Savvy Senorita FB account, I’ll then give you my personal email. I have no personal FB account now either, as I must admit it was grinding on my nerves!!!!!!
            Peace to you also, and speak soon 🙂

  3. My experience was different, even worse, BUT I fully understand where she’s coming from. Just do what you’re doing: give her love and support. She deserves so much more!

    • Thank you for that, I will and she does. It seems as though you too can empathise – it seems this is quite a common and perturbing situation. I thoroughly hate it, and what trouble it can cause for those involved – or the backlash of it all. Hope you are finding or found some peace?

        • Awwww, thank you that is too kind and very sweet of you 😀 Yes, it does take time and effort. I wish you luck with feeling more at ease, I do empathise. I think we all seek answers to things that really make no sense, consequently this searching causes great pain. I think accepting parents for what they are, flawed humans who do make mistakes, who aren’t always very nice people, helps a great deal. They cannot be changed, but we can change how we react (I learnt that too, oh, and distance). My friend is definitely seeing this – she isn’t giving her Mum the power over her that her Mum once had. My friend isn’t letting her Mum in to her mind with all the negative nonsense and manipulation. It isn’t easy, but she can see her Mum is just playing her own game, and my friend doesn’t want to be part of it as she has her own life to contend with.

  4. I, too, am familiar with the golden child syndrome, but looking back at my childhood, every one of us had their own shade of “gold”. My older brother, the talented one; me, the middle kid, the intelligent one, and my little sister, the beautiful and ambitious one. Well, we are all talented in our own way, but my brother was sent off to boarding school for the musically inclined, and a brain with great “processing power” allows for a broad range of abilities, but without ambition, there is also no training morale, and without training, no mastery. Also, while we all had differently weighted aspects of attention, we all had more or less the same amount of attention – if there is a method to quantify parental attention. From what I learned later in life, my mother, herself, comes from a family FUBAR, which sometimes negatively impacts our own family, but going into this specifically would fill volumes…

    • Yes, I think how a parent was treated or what experiences they had often impacts. Seems some kids just get the brunt end, I wonder what they see in that child that makes them decide to treat them differently?

      • well, nobody is ever treated the same, since every child vies for their parent’s attention in their very own way; the real question is: Why would a parent or both parents neglect one child and favor the other? Why would they praise one child, and ignore the accomplishments of the other? Why would they overlook one child’s missteps and rebuke the other for the same deeds?

        • Exactly the questions I have been trying to raise. What is it that motivates a parent to treat another differently or impact detrimentally upon one child in favour of another. Why does nepotism exist in a parent and child relationship at all – I thought it should be about unconditional love, not about favourites and exclusion. I guess the complexities of human relationships just have no bounds or ends.

  5. Bex, hopefully you will not throw me off your blog for this comment but I am ambivalent about posts like this. While I think it can be useful to talk about such relationship issues, when you use phrases such as “destruction…to families”, “ruined the lives”, “altered functionality”, “ripping the world out from under their own flesh and blood” you give the impression that we are nothing more than passive plates upon which the world stamps its own indelible impressions which we have to live with for the rest of our lives. The truth is that, difficult though it may be, we can challenge and change our deepest held beliefs and therefore the way we feel. Furthermore, we have the ability to resist even nature’s strongest drives (think about the hunger striker). While we have to work with an existing genetic structure, everything else is malleable, although I emphasize again that personal change does not come easy. Living is all about learning to manage the problems that life throws at us.

    None of us are perfect parents and even if we were the narrative of the child would still be radically different from that of the parents. Some parents may see a degree of sensitivity in one child that they feel requires additional attention and care. Some parents may, as you suggest, just be replaying their own childhood tapes. Whatever the cause, I think it more useful to suggest strategies for handling the Golden Child syndrome rather than simply offering unlimited compassion for the suffering of the victim which can only serve to confirm Philip Larkin’s view that:

    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

    But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
    Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.

    Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.

    • Oh, of course not Malcolm! I agree with, and understand the points you have raised – I know what you have stated to be true. I suppose what I was thinking of, and haven’t really expressed it – was how impressionable we are at young ages.
      If we experience such things before we have built up a buffer or collection of other experiences, which would conflict with those we are learning at home; then can we fully ever unpick or rise up from what we have been taught or made to feel like whilst in the home (parental environment)? Does that make a lasting, and more profound dint in our sense of selves? Is this sense of self instilled by parent’s (who don’t like their child) harder to recover from and re-mould? Especially if parental figures are responsible for the negative impressions of ourselves? We may learn what our parents say is wrong, but shaking off this impression and relearning about us, and the world – is as you have said not easy. Some struggle – because it is their parents view they are disobeying – and parents are made to be seen as always correct. Often people my remain in the trap (depends on their circumstances and frequency of contact with their parents).
      What do you think???

  6. I have experienced this at my home. I always thought that my brother was given more attention, but when I left the home for university, I started ignoring my parents. i don’t know how it affected them but now they seem to be a lot concerned about me 😀

    • Yeah, this seems a common and not often discussed issue. I think by not playing their game, and ignoring them even, it can change their outlook. My friend is playing into her Mother’s hands by being upset, and ‘taking the bait’. I just hope she realises that taking a step back can be the best option, like you did.

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