The Golden Child: Lessons learned & unlearned

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Pic via 123rf

t’s natural to look back at your childhood and wonder if you grew up ‘normal’ or if what you experienced was somehow out-of-the-norm. Maybe you compared their life with your friends or neighbors growing up. Or, maybe you wanted the kind of relationship with your own sister that your friend had with hers growing up. Or, you may have felt that pinch of jealousy when your neighbor scored the BMX bike you wanted, or a friend got a car for graduation while you got a pat on the back and a, “Good job kid!”

The thing is, when you’re raised in a relatively healthy environment, hearing “Good job kid!” is worth its weight in gold. Children who are reared in a healthy environment learn autonomy and independence; you are taught boundaries and self-respect. You’re taught that you did a “good job kid”…irrespective of the bike; irrespective of the car. Being treated as valued and worthy are invaluable to a kid’s self-identity, and their sense of self-love.

If raised in an unhealthy environment, toss anything positive out the window. ‘Love’ is conditional and used for power and control; gifts become trinkets of your worth.

Here’s 8 lessons The Golden Child learns growing up….and can spend a lifetime unlearning:

Image is everything. You’re sole purpose is to please the unpleasable. They don’t care about your opinion. They don’t care if you don’t like it. They don’t care if you don’t want to do it. You aren’t allowed boundaries, even when it’s about your own body or your own space. They don’t care if they hit you. You sit. You wipe the blood off your lip. You fake a smile….because, ‘image is everything.’

Hypocrisy is the norm. Do you remember that old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do?” That mindfuck becomes your mantra. How do you learn to trust anyone — parents, friends, teachers…yourself …when you’re spoon-fed such hypocrisy? The short answer: you can’t. You become conditioned to believe it’s ok when your boundaries are violated, your personal space is invaded, and your self-worth is crushed. You’re taught to listen to people’s words while ignoring their actions.

Your worth and value don’t exist. Arguments are daily “conversation”. You become a verbal and physical punching bag and hypnotized into believing that you’re unlovable and defective. You’re blamed for everything wrong in your ‘caregiver’s’ life while carrying the cross for their lack of accountability. And as long as as you’re in that role, you won’t have any value or worth outside of making your ‘caregiver’ look good and feel good, while you’ve been conditioned into feeling worthless.

You’re held captive. The Golden Child is seen as the ‘perfect’ child; invisible and unheard. Your job is to give your ‘caregiver’ something to brag about at the country club or the office. On the flipside, many children who grow up in violent households are held captive, especially if they’re an only child. When you’re an only child and stuck in a volatile environment, you’re often too embarrassed to have friends over because the last thing you want is to be insulted or berated by your ‘caregiver’ in front of your friend. So, you stop trying to make friends. Captivity includes being a puppet to your abuser; smiling when you want to cry, living when you’d rather die…and always shackled to your ‘caregiver’.

You learn how to “act”. You’ve been conditioned to smile and say, “Good evening” to your caregiver’s new client they’re entertaining for business. You aren’t allowed an opinion; you are spoken for, and if you can talk, it’s about saying your “Please’s and Thank You’s” and not much else. You are Christina Darling, smiling your biggest, brightest smile, and always with the best manners in front of Mommie Dearest. You’ve been taught a lethal combination of negative reinforcement, and positive and negative punishment — afraid of saying the wrong thing, or speaking when you should have only smiled. “Acting” includes being:

· The perfect straight-A student

· The respectful child to elders

· The dutiful kid who eats everything on their plate

· The mannerly kid around strangers

· The obedient child around caregivers

· The clean, neat and invisible child who never makes a mess

“….children are to be seen, but never heard.”

You learn conditions of worth. You don’t matter. You don’t matter. You. Don’t. Matter. When you’re shown how little you matter, in time you start believing it, and then you carry it with you. You’ve been taught your only value is in making your ‘caregiver’ proud or feel special. Outside of that, there’s nothing. No value. You’re put on the highest pedestal when things are good and you’ve made your ‘caregiver’ look good. Then, you’re knocked off of it when you show humanness; imperfection. This cycle plays out on repeat for as long as your ‘caregiver’ has an agenda they want filled.

You aren’t taught life skills. You are conditioned into acting like you don’t matter, because you’ve been taught you’re only as good as you can make others’ feel. You aren’t taught how to care for yourself, or how to respect yourself, or how to establish healthy boundaries. You’re not taught how to use a washing machine, or how to cook, or how to “adult”, making you that much more dependent on others. You’re left ill-prepared for the world, and have become conditioned in codependency.

You repeat what’s familiar. What’s gone before will go again. So, now you’re attracted to — and attracting — the type of people who hurt you. Same game, new players. You grow up having never been taught love, and are now chasing after it in toxic people or toxic situations; a recipe for disaster. The foundation is set for an adulthood filled with emotional letdowns, crippling codependency, failed relationships and a painful void that no one and nothing can fill.

Growing Up Golden, you’ve learned what was supposed to be gold is really just a gold-plated illusion; nothing is real. That gold plating is in place to make your ‘caregiver’ feel entitled and to keep the blinders over their own eyes.

Little did they know when they tried breaking you….that underneath that tarnished illusion…is the fortitude and strength to move mountains, to stop cycles and to leave behind all the bullshit and all the pain.

Behind that illusion…a warrior was made.

Written by

Psychologist. Behavior Analyst. Helping warriors recognize their inner strength & empowering them with a little badassery. #INFJ. Seeker of the perfect latte.

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