The narcissist and the altruist

Mar 27, 2012

Sharing is a challenging concept. From the youngest of ages we are capable of pilfering the toys and coveting the lollipops of those around us. The notion of self ranks high on a child’s agenda.

Socially however, selfishness is not a desirable quality. Greed is evil. Nobody is fond of an egotistical, self-centered brat – neither child nor adult.

As a parent it is my hope that the offspring I introduce to this world we inhabit might contribute such gifts as love and charity. I would seek to influence their understanding enough to ensure their sense of self might be somewhat measured.

It is my anticipation that they would impart an element of nobility and sensibility that would in turn make our world a better place – albeit in the smallest of circles.

I expect they would posses such agreeable personality traits that would see them sharing and caring, living and giving in a way that benefits others and not just themselves.

I do not want my children to be selfish. There are of course only two of them, which in itself insists the division of property is a little less complicated than allocating goods and chattels amongst… hmmm, let’s say… six children.

“Yes mum, I will wait patiently in the dinner line, praying all the good food isn’t eaten by the time I get there.”

“Yes mum, I will share my clothes with my sisters, and hand over my cherished toys and surrender my special necklace.”

I want my children to be generous and benevolent. I want them to give without expecting anything in return.

Or do I?

As an adult I have realised, being an altruist may in fact be worse than being a narcissist.

Altruism is the opposite of selfishness. Being overly concerned for the welfare of others, to the detriment of oneself – this is not what I want for my children.

I’ve encountered enough narcissistic, selfish people to know they prey on those who sacrifice their own needs, wants and desires in order to please another.

I do not want my children to be somebody else’s prey. Pair a narcissist with an altruist and we have the makings of a ‘perfect storm’.

I may have failed my children in one very intrinsic life lesson.  The failure of which has imparted a generous amount of guilt on my conscience.

I fear I may have been so busy teaching them to be kind to others, to think of those around them before themselves, that I have neglected to teach them it is equally as important to be heard, to tell the world they count too.

There are givers and there are takers. I want my children to be givers, but I want them to recognise when they cross the path of a ‘taker’. I do not want them to be used and abused because of their generosity or their sensitivity towards others.

I want them to be confident enough to stand up for themselves.

I want them to be conscious of their value and their worthiness, in order that the bullies and the oppressors might never make them victims.

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