The Rise of Narcissism as Demonstrated by Parents

  • by Bryan Wetzel - Wed, 05/24/2017 - 12:53


Dr. Jean Twenge of San Diego State University reported in 2009 the results of a study that began in 1982.  The study, which measured narcissistic personality traits of American college students from 1982 to 2009, showed an alarming rise in narcissistic personality traits in the 27-year history of the study.  The studies results seemed to be backed up by the results of a study by the National Institute of Health, which studied 35,000 Americans.  The biggest increases in both studies were seen among women, and sadly the trend shows that the increase in NPT is still rising steadily.  Many of the reasons are obvious and are the unintended consequences of our society, which values looks and celebrity over character.  Social media has amped this up by allowing every young adult to routinely practice their 15 minutes of fame, while watching reality TV stars show them how to take it to the next level with no real value or talent to offer the world.  We all see our teenagers and their friend's obsession with selfies, which could be called the beginning of the “look at me” personality trait, which is the first rung on the ladder of NPT.  We could list off another 20 signs and societal markers for the increase in narcissistic personalities, and many articles including the ones with Dr. Twenge, have identified all of them except one. 

The one I’m talking about is either a symptom of narcissistic parenting or the accidental start of narcissistic children.  I’m talking about the “my kids never do anything wrong in school” parents.  You can not find one teacher, with more than a year experience that hasn’t encountered the parent who thinks that their child is not guilty of anything.  Talking to teachers, they’ve heard:

“my child said they didn’t do it.”

“it wasn’t my child’s fault.”

“my child said it was someone else.”

Are we so narcissistic today that we think people have to believe our children are perfect, even when it’s to the detriment of our children’s development?  Or do some parents think that their child’s teacher has nothing better to do than pick on their child?  When I was in school, and I came home with a note about something I had done wrong, I'd face punished at home also.”  Oh, I tried to blame it on my teacher or someone else in the class.  Today’s parents are not only willing to make a case out of “my kid is an angel, and they didn’t do it” they are all too often willing to make a capital case by going over the teacher's head.  Teacher’s tell stories about students who are constantly getting into trouble and have a history of bad behavior, who’s parents will still fight tooth and nail to clear their kids from punishment. In essence, these parents are teaching their kids that “they” matter above all others.  No matter how disruptive they are to the class, they are exempt from the rules and need not worry themselves about anyone else’s happiness except themselves.  It has already been written about, and we’ve seen the youtube videos to prove that students today have very little respect for their teachers or authority.  Unfortunately, the Nickelodeon and Disney Channel shows that many parents used to babysit do not teach respect for authority either and in fact probably teach just the opposite, since all their shows reveal that kids run the world and that adults are idiots. 

I’m sure some of this parental protection behavior started with the best of intentions, with parents wanting to believe their little one couldn’t be guilty of the charges levied against them.  My conversations with teachers, especially elementary teachers, reveal a disdain for the parent that is constantly undermining their authority.  If only these parents realized that they are empowering their kids to act badly because mom and dad will take care of it if they get caught. 

So I ask you… Is the parent so narcissistic that they don’t believe their kids could do any wrong?  And are we making a new, younger class of narcissist by having kids who have been trained by their parents that the authority figures in and out of school do not deserve their respect?