The family of origin is the environment that initially shapes our understanding of what “normal,” is for us. So ask your-self what role did you play in your family? Some examples that I will discuss today are: The Hero, The Scapegoat, The Lost Child, and The Clown
The Scapegoat/Truth Teller:
The Scapegoat in a family system is often the one who tells (or acts out) the truth in the family and becomes an easy target to focus on. Due to their disruptive behavior, the child is typically the one that the parent(s) wants to take to therapist to “fix.” While the parent may see a disrespectful child, what they are missing is that on the inside the child may be hurting, afraid to trust anyone including family members, feeling misunderstood, hopeless, blamed rejected by the family. They can also miss this childs strength such as creativity, honesty, leadership skills (it may be in the wrong direction) and limited denial.
The Hero/Golden Child:
This is the opposite of the Scapegoat. They are still a target but for very different reasons because the” Hero/Golden Child,” typically tends to be everything the parent dreamed as their “perfect child.” This child will typically be responsible, gregarious, trustworthy. Goal oriented, organized and successful in academics and sports. This child represents the “perfect,” family. However, this child may also be a perfectionist, difficulty with listening or asking for help, have a high fear of mistakes, struggles with relaxing, has few friends due to their inflexibility and control issues Which can lead to feelings of anxiety, loneliness, depression and,high levels of stress.
The goal of the family Clown is to create some fun. This child wants to lighten the mood with joke or pranks. They are usually “the cute one,” who can usually get away with a lot of stuff . They will typically act like nothing bothers them. However the Clown may be uncomfortable his/her feelings and will use humor to seek attention. The clown may be feeling guilty, angry, lonely, sad and confused.
The LOST CHILD
The Lost Child is typically “the quiet one” or “the invisible one”. They will stay in the background, spend a lot of time alone and stay out of problems. They avoid conflict so no anger is directed at him/her. . In some ways this role is similar to the “Hero,” because they bring no problems to the family. This leads many parents to believe that this child is “fine.” However by avoiding taking healthy risks and retreating into the background, they may not learn social skills such as resolving conflicts, or lacking empathy for them-selves and others. While the Lost Child may seem “perfect,” on the outside, on the inside he/she may be feeling lonely, confused, helpless, sad, abandoned, depressed and powerless.
In the next blog I will discuss the role of “people pleaser.”