I don’t have children, but I’m a science person, a lover, a lifelong learner, and an observer. I had to develop my critical thinking skills to the highest levels after having almost killed myself following a horrible malignant narcissist’s abuse so that I could easily spot manipulators even the most brilliant of them who could even be internationally recognized as “helpers”.
Please educate yourself around the art of manipulation
Unfortunately, many of those puppet-masters belong to the educational system directly or indirectly through driving “empowering” programs and are impacting the sanity of your kids. Let me give you an example:
I once listened to a podcast discussing some common challenges observed at schools, and how to guide teachers in both understanding and managing them. One of the two guests was talking about a safe place for kids, and then about formal authority! Making use of this kind of authority or encouraging it is a Win-Lose paradigm and one of the most common patterns between narcissistic personalities.
A rule to always keep in mind in such a context is: even when it comes to the most intelligent manipulators, they talk about what they believe deep inside despite doing their best to hide their ugly truth through their different strategies.
The person was promoting ‘safety’ and then ‘talking’ fear. Do you really think people follow others because they are afraid of them? This is exactly the root cause of so many mental and psychological health problems! People are rather following who they trust. Can we trust with fear? Hell no!
We trust trustworthy people: those who are principle-centered and modelling their talk; those who make consistent deposits to elevate the ‘Emotional Bank Account’ as Stephen Covey liked to call it; those who are able of building healthy relationships fueled by ‘love’ instead of fear. Those servant leaders are genuinely inspiring people around them, but definitely not through formal authority. Rather through compassion and their moral authority!
The major problem which could occur is that– without being able to pay attention to before it is too late– many manipulators could be sadly confused with kind-hearted leaders. How come? They are masters at ‘psychological mirroring’.
When someone mirrors us, they are doing a range of things. They may mimic us, emulate us, be interested in us, share our interest, point out our strengths, gently point out our weaknesses, and simply reflect us back. Healthy mirroring involves a person who sees us accurately, and who allows us to see them as well. It is safe; it is reciprocal; it is honest; it is kind. Having this sort of holistic mirroring leaves us feeling safe. Narcissistic mirroring is a whole other game. The process is less about seeing you in some meaningful way than it is about data gathering.
~Dr. Ramani Durvasula
What is that supposed to mean? Those narcissists can not only mirror real servant leaders and practice their outlook but also give anybody they are interacting with the impression of being seen and listened to through their ‘false’ empathy. More to the point, if we did not learn to question anything including our own thoughts, chances are high to be fooled by manipulative individuals.
This applies to adults; needless to talk about kids who are still building their identity and craving others to get them! When kids open up to manipulators, it makes them victim to future gaslighting and invalidation. This is called ‘psychological abuse’, and it takes a toll on your kids’ sanity.
To come back to the podcast, the person gave an example about an emergency happening in an airplane to support her idea about the students’ need for a ‘strong’ teacher who does not have to be their friend; rather their savior in critical situations through the formal authority. This is specifically the narcissists’ limiting belief you need to spot!
Interestingly, servant leaders are the most resilient individuals in the room. Consequently, they are always taking the right and quickest resolution in dangerous situations. And people would follow them in any decision they take even when it sounds nonsense. Why? Because they know how much their leaders care!
Moral of the story: to all the parents in the world, I am aware of how much work you are already putting in protecting your kids from any physical harm. I know you are doing your best – sometimes even at your expense – to grant them access to the most prestigious schools in terms of academic results. What I am suggesting here is that protecting their mental and psychological health is equally important – if not more! Thus, I am gently inviting you to educate yourself around narcissism and manipulation in general and to make sure you check with your kid (s) what happens during their day in detail.