What role does parenting play in the rise of narcissism among youth today?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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First, we must realize that it is difficult to know for sure whether parenting is connected to narcissism in young people today.  To know for sure, we would have to run randomized tests in which we have some groups of young people (chosen at random) parented in one way and other groups parented in another way.  We would have to be able to identify the different types of parenting and we would need to require parents to act in those ways.  This is not possible.  Therefore, we can really only engage in conjecture.  My own conjecture is that parenting plays a large role in causing narcissism among youths because the parenting practices of today encourage children to believe that they are very important.

Narcissism in youth occurs when young people feel that they are better than everyone else.  They feel that they are more important than other people.  This can (arguably) be caused by parenting practices.  In today’s world, parents often focus a great deal of attention on their children.  They engage in “helicopter parenting,” constantly hovering in an attempt to make sure that their children do not encounter any problems in their lives.  Parents of this sort will do things like take their children’s side against coaches and teachers who are critical of their children.  This can cause the children to think that they can do no wrong and that they are more important than other people.

Similarly, parents can help cause narcissism in their children when they encourage their children to have high self-esteem.  Many parents constantly praise their children, telling them things like how smart they are and how good they are at sports.  By doing this, parents may be helping to push their children towards narcissism.

In these ways, it seems likely that parenting plays a role in causing narcissism among young people today.

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