I’m The Real Genius – Examination of a Parental Narcissist
The gentlemen in the picture above is called Minesh. He is an IT manager in the United Kingdom and he looks rather pleased in the picture doesn’t he? Or perhaps it might be more accurate to state that he is looking rather well-fuelled as he holds a trophy aloft, drinking in the positive fuel from the studio audience he stands before (and positive Thought Fuel arising from the knowledge of a significant television audience also watching). What has Minesh won?
His son, Rahul, a 12 year old boy was crowned Child Genius 2017 last night on this British television programme. Well done Rahul.
Given the international nature of my readers, many of you will not be familiar with this specific programme but you will be very familiar with the concept of young children being pushed to succeed in respect of some particular field – general knowledge, spelling, dancing, sport, reciting poetry, gymnastics – with ‘proud’ parents pushing, sorry willing their child on, from centre stage, sorry did it again, the side lines. You will recognise similar programmes in your country which form part of the reality television franchise.
Child Genius did not used to be a competition. Previous series took on a documentary format as the relevant gifted child was shadowed by the programme makers and then the families of the gifted child were interviewed by a well-regarded child psychologist. Interestingly, this child psychologist resigned from the show because she was concerned at the direction the programme was taking. Her concerns are justified.
We will come back to Minesh to discuss his glittering achievement, whoops done it again, Rahul’s achievement. The show wasn’t just about Minesh. A mother named Susan had entered, not one, but two of her children, Fabio (aged 9) and Olivia (aged 12). Susan referred to herself as a ‘helicopter’ mother who pushed her children to excel. Nearly all parents want their children to do well. Many would baulk at pushing their children to perform under the spotlight in a television series where the actual experience is of questionable use (more on that in a moment) but there are those who regard pushing their children as necessary and indeed helpful to the child. Such an approach will bring about divided opinions, but what about this comment from Susan to the programme makers which appeared on the aired programme
“I love my daughter dearly but I am rooting for Fabio.”
I wonder who is the golden child there then? What does Fabio think at being preferred over his sister? Does he agree with his status as the anointed one? Will he use this to his advantage (I know I did) or has Fabio learned sufficient empathy so far in his short life to counter this blatant favouritism?
How might Olivia feel about being triangulated in this way? Is she a scapegoat, is she the also ran who is given the veneer of encouragement but no matter what she does and what she achieves Fabio is the one who is always backed, lauded and admired? We will probably never know but a well established dynamic is rearing its head in front of us.
Of course no doubt if confronted by this blatant favouritism, Susan will deflect any such criticism. It would not surprise me if she actually forgot she was implicitly putting down her daughter on national television and saw it as a private conversation. I can well imagine there would be no acceptance of blame for this triangulation or even any recognition of it.
Is the competition of any real value? Depends on who you consider it being of value to. It is certainly of value to certain parents involved in putting forward their child, but it is of extremely questionable use to the children involved and this is for two reasons:-
- The word ‘genius’ is used but as with many words it is over-used. Genius refers to exceptional creative or intellectual power or ability. There is no creative genius in this show. The children do not break any creative ground and instead it is a test of cognitive recall which relies on technique rather than ability. Indeed, one even questions the extent of that technique given the allegations of parents mouthing answers to their children during the show.
- The children range in age from 8-12 years. They are placed in a highly pressurised environment. The impact of this has left the children upset and in tears. Fabio, as mentioned above, went to pieces when he was trying to memorise two decks of randomly shuffled cards and this led to the monitoring child psychologist stepping in. Another boy, Joshua, who is 11, suffered a moment of freezing and ran off the stage sobbing. A 10 year old girl left her older also-competing sister inconsolable after the younger girl knocked her sibling out of the competition and this left the 10 year old also upset at what she had done.
Thus, one questions what actual use entry into the programme achieves and also one wonders what the impact of it really will be given the upset described above alongside the apparent punishing home regimes put in place by certain parents to ensure that their child wins the title of Child Genius 2017.
Let’s get back to Minesh. As Rahul made his way to victory and secured the title, viewers observed :-
- Minesh had stated “We’re a family who are used to winning and doing well in exams and competitions and things.” Hardly a crime to do well, but it starts to paint a picture. “Used to winning” which means that young Rahul has had the bar already set high for him. “We’re a family used to winning” but who is doing the winning? The whole family? Possibly, but I suspect it is more likely that Rahul is doing the winning, doing well in examinations and so forth and Minesh is acquiring these character traits for himself.
- Minesh laughed when another contestant, 11 year old Josh got a wrong answer thus conferring an advantage to Rahul. Such a response demonstrates several things:-
a. A lack of empathy towards a young boy in a pressurised setting making a mistake;
b. A lack of awareness that such behaviour was being filmed and evidently not caring (or even realising) how it made Minesh appear;
c. The desire to win at all costs
3. Minesh sat hunched forward in his seat in the audience, fingers crossed and held high for the world to see. His wife sat relatively impassively but Minesh was visibly supporting his son or at least that is how he would explain his over the top behaviour. The reality was he was on that stage, answering those questions, because young Rahul was his father’s extension, his little mirror.
4. Possibly the clinching moment of the crowning moment with regard to the trophy. Look again at the picture at the start of this article, There is Minesh, rictus grin fixed on his face, eyes staring ahead, fuel washing over him, right hand gripping the trophy, held aloft in his (not Rahul’s) moment of triumph. He pulled the trophy from his victorious son and held it aloft as he drank in the applause. It was his win. His victory. He was the genius.
Naturally one cannot say for certain whether Minesh is a narcissist or rather an especially zealous father who has got over-excited owing to the occasion, but the behaviours exhibited during the programme, the comments made and in particular his behaviour when Rahul triumphed show at best a crass vulgarity in behaviour or at worst the fact that a narcissist father was trampling all over his son’s achievement as he drank in the fuel and claimed victory for himself.
Will the title of Child Genius benefit Rahul in the future? It is unlikely. The passage of time and the demands of the world tend to erode whether you achieved a particular title or grade back in your childhood. There is nothing wrong with excellence, striving to be the best and succeeding, I know this only too well. However, I have also realised the lasting legacy of the impact of being labelled as the golden child, the weight of the mantle of expectation and the harsh critical abuse when apparent under performance has been identified by a narcissist parent. The biting cold of snow under my feet as I was made to stand outside our house by MatriNarc in December until I could recite all three verses of Keats’ Ode To Autumn from memory and without mistake when I was 9 years old, is a memory which I try to consign to imprisonment but its legacy still impacts on me now.
What will Rahul’s legacy be? It remains to be seen, but we all know that Minesh will be fuelled from his achievement, apologies, his son’s achievement, for a while yet. I am not the only person to have noticed this behaviour. Many have expressed their concern at what they have witnessed, questioned the impact on the children of this behaviour and detailed their horror at the mind set of certain parents. As this was brought to my attention by readers it all had a ready familiarity of the narcissistic dynamic.
Has anybody else mentioned the N-word however?
Once again our kind move amongst society and continue to function, operate and pollute without recognition or restraint by millions.
What word might describe such a pervasive, wide-spread, insidious yet effective state of affairs.
35 thoughts on “I’m The Real Genius – Examination of a Parental Narcissist”
Another confusing experience with my ex was that they would rock back and forth on the couch for hours and I never quite understood this until my family physician mentioned too me thats the pendulum movement and sounds like its Autism.I was asked by the physician how longs has this been present & I remember my ex saying theyve had this since the age of 2 and doctor responded by saying thats what it sounds like.Question is do they develop empathy ?
CC, there is a really good sites that can give you further information in relation to Autism & empathy….. The National Autistic Society and their link is
This site is a wealth of information.
Thank You so much.I will read into this site provided.
Excellent, CC, hope you can find some answers in there to give you the insight you need.
I love when you write articles like this, HG
I have not seen this show but I have seen this behaviour. I have known kids while in school who participated in certain sports such as hockey, ice skating and dance. Their parents pushed them to the absolute maximum to have the child achieve as many medals and/or win games and competitions. The parents attended the competitive events and fights broke out amongst the parents while the children competed. In many cases the end result of the child being expected to perform to the maximum at all costs by the ‘driven’ parents was that the child rebelled and in many cases withdrew and went down a different path. Many of the kids suffered at the hands of the parents who overloaded their lives with piano lessons, sports and anything else. The kids didn’t get to be kids per se, and were constantly going to this or that at the obligation of the parents. The kids suffered in many cases at the hands of the parents. This is really about the parents and NOT the kids. Evidently narcissistic parents.
On the idea of a child being a genius, this word is something I find to be overused. Similar to a child being called ‘gifted’. These days it seems that every child is told they are brilliant at everything. I understand society in general wants to become more inclusive in not making children feel bad or second best about their efforts, but by telling everyone they are excellent and winners no matter the effort that is made it leads to some misperception about their actual achievements.
Mr. Tudor writes, “The biting cold of snow under my feet as I was made to stand outside our house by MatriNarc in December until I could recite all three verses of Keats’ Ode To Autumn from memory and without mistake when I was 9 years old, is a memory which I try to consign to imprisonment but its legacy still impacts on me now.”
Thank you for showing us this glimpse of your childhood.
Hg, did you write this article?
Of course I did, I am the only one who operates this place in term of content and moderation.
I have seen this show. Their is no doubt that the children are very bright. But I balk at the behaviour of some of the parents. Both when they are seated watching the testing take place and their behaviour behind the scenes. To be fair not all the parents are like this. But a fair few are. I didn’t know what term to put on their behaviour before. Arrogant, stuck up, snobby, obnoxious. But as I am now aware of Narcissists it is very clearly narcissistic behaviour. The only sad part about it is that this is all learned behaviour for the children and hence the wagon wheel keeps on going spinning around and around. It is sad. Great article HG. Your work is much needed and admired for it’s incredible insight. Thank you HG.
So, I was in Girl Scouts. My mother was a leader of it. I hated all the crafty stuff, still do, just not my thing. But, to get the badges, she would basically do the craft and sign the book. It was so weird, I remember thinking how weird it was, I didn’t earn any of those badges. I earned the ones I had interest in, making campfires and pitching tents etc. But, she had to look good. I didn’t understand it at the time and it was such a dichotomy for this good “Christian” woman, so dishonest but she didn’t see that at all, only that I, and by extension she, looked good. Had I been gene-disposed toward narcissism, this would likely have been very bad for me.
I’ve been responsible for a few pitched tents in my day. Never got any bloody badges for it though or I’d have made a quilt.
“Never got any bloody badges for it though or I’d have made a quilt”
Laughing….. oh, well done NA, that is absolutely brill.
I was in the Girl Guides myself (fucking boring TBH) and even got “promoted” to ‘Young Leaders’ LOLOL…… I’ve still got my badges (the metals) and guess what?! They are “collectors items” now LOL
I remember being terribly put down for gaining weight by PatriNarc. I was forced on a low carb diet, shown pictures of bikini-models and told “That´s how you should look like, you fat little bastard”. I was 10 years old.
I was fat when I was 10 years old too. Lost it all cos boarding school food was shit. Mother tried to “fatten” me up again – didn’t work. Narcissists do not want you to look better than them…… including parent narcs.
I have always been sporty and athletic (and still am) – but at age 10 I cought a terrible infectious desease and couldn´t do sports for a longer period of time. I became a bit chubby. This of course infuriated somatic PatriNarc.
Lost the weight then at age 12/13. 🙂
When my daughter was a similar age, she came home from an access visit with her father one day and told me she had accidentally run into a table at her father’s friend’s house and he had called her a “fat fuck”. I can’t tell you how devastated I was to hear he had said that to her and knowing all the connotations that went with it. I was truly heartbroken for her, tried to reassure her and let her know that it was blatantly wrong of her father to say that. The language was bad enough, never mind the insult! And to think he had them all for such a short amount of time, yet somehow could still manage to do major damage to their self esteem even so. It was the beginning of the end for him having any access to them at all. She was a beautiful young girl, and he had no right to say that to her. No right to damage her self esteem that way. No right to take away her confidence with one swipe of his bad temper and foul mouth. I want to kick his ass again right now for that!
Stupid, ignorant, misogynistic moron!
“Stupid, ignorant, misogynistic moron!”
What an a**hole.
“It was the beginning of the end for him having any access to them at all” – good.
My ex & ex in laws would always try to damage there self esteem but didnt work as my children stood up too them and they didnt like it.They got the taste of there own medicine.
I’m so glad your children had the courage to stand up to your ex and his family, Cup Cakes <3 You must have been able to help them build up a great deal of self esteem inn order for them to do that x The daughter I mentioned here I recognized as having a vulnerability due to her highly sensitive and empathic nature. She would have taken that to heart and it hurt my heart to think of how it affected her. We did not have supervised access per se, and there are a whole lot of things I'd do differently now if I had the opportunity again. He is so undeserving of their love when all is said and done.
There self esteem was build and has helped tremendously.
Aslong as your children are healthy and well mentally then let it be.
Some children are younger when they are entered into pageants. Babies, even. The child is too young to understand the concept of “competitions”. They should be outlawed.
I binged on those shows for a while. They were fascinating. I think HG should do an article on them.
Part of the fascination was in watching the dynamic of both children and parents, and of course sheer horror at some aspects of the same. The sense in me is that the focus is faulty. Beauty will never last and while it’s great to encourage children to feel good about themselves, I would not want to pit them against each other in this manner. Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder, only skin deep, and how many other cliches can I add! But there’s a reason for those cliches. Let mature women compete if that’s what they want to do, but leave the children out of it. Each of them is beautiful in their own way <3
Thank you for your comment. Now, with your learning about narcissism, may I suggest you re-watch one of these programmes and see if you can spot any narcissist traits in any of the parents? Considering that the children would not yet necessarily have developed their own narcissism. How many emapth parents would actually enter their child into pageants at so very young? There is a big difference in having professional photographs done compared to “competitions”……
I think the ‘stage mom’ effect is probably what we’re talking about and it was out there loud and clear. Though, I have to say, many of these parents would probably have been encouraging this as part of a tradition in their families and their communities. believing in the benefits when they signed their children up. They may well have been Pageant kids themselves and not noted the red flags. Or even had a good experience. Who knows?
Worst case scenario they became narcs themselves and are breeding more 🙁
It’s a fact that little girls often love to dress up and parade as princesses. So, let’s not take away from the enjoyment factor from their perspective. And parents can also enjoy dressing their children up to show them off (sounding a bit narcy there? Promise I only dressed mine up when necessary!) I think the high pressure element of the pageants was troubling for me with regard to both parents and children. Some of their schedules seemed exhausting. And I’d be concerned the kids would see this as their only value with the parents putting so much emphasis on it as well. Here’s to a well rounded education and life experience.
Like anything in life, a balance is important. Some of the parent and toddler tantrums were fun: In fact, I think that’s what I watched … Toddlers in Tiaras 😉
TBH, I don’t give a s**t about “stage moms”, whatever. “Moms” let me down. Let HG down, Other people down.
How do we actually know for a fact that girls like to be dressed in that “way”? It is simply because the mother has “ingrained” it in the child….. it is just too much…….. no, bring children up to be PEOPLE. Teach them life skills, love, compassion, what is hate, what “society” is like, what is “politics” (coughing, loudly)….. NORMAL things and teach them what is REAL….. not “perceived” by “society” by “politics” by “Law”….. it’s fkd up. End of. That is me talking (too loudly, for some 😉 ) x
Being a mother myself I am well aware of how mother’s can let their children down. I’ve no doubt done it on occasion without any intent. But coming at it from the other side of the equation I’m not going to make any excuses. One of the reasons I left my marriage and removed my children. Because they, and I, deserved better. Too bad not all mother’s can think the same, and if mom is the problem that dad can’t step up in the circumstances. Some people are not fortunate to have even one ‘good’ parent looking out for them. Having a narcissistic mother I can empathize.
Speaking for my two daughters and lots of little girls I know, plenty enjoy dressing up and why wouldn’t they? I don’t think it took anything away from my children to have the enjoyment of fantasy play and nothing about that stops them from being well rounded. A lot may depend on the parent. But I’ve taught them not to let anyone ‘pigeonhole’ them. Critical thinking is a must. And the truth is the always the greatest aim with regard to that.
Lovely to read your words about your daughters. You are a brilliant mum to them. Good on you for that 🙂
Yuck! What a horrible show. These poor children. I particularly feel for them in that one is favored over the others.
“You children are like the fingers of my hand. All different, but I love all of you the same.” — BC30’s mom.
BC30, my mother didn’t see any differences in us and treated us as such, except for triangulation purposes, and when some trait of ours could be useful to make get look good. Having narc moms is horrible, nothing natural or normal about it whatsoever, least of all love and nurture.