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10 Signs Of A Narcissistic Mother

Our parents are the key players in the early stages of our development, and they continue to have a huge impact on us even as we, too, grow into adults.

How they choose to behave towards us – the language they use and the physical treatment they adopt – will help shape our characters and personalities for the rest of our lives.

Both parents exert their influence on children, but this article will focus primarily on the role of the mother and the ways in which narcissism, when present, dictates the interactions that take place.

Narcissistic mothers rarely epitomize the stereotype of a warm, caring, loving provider.

Instead, they struggle to integrate their needs and desires with those of their children, who they might see as mere objects or burdens with which they have to deal.

Identifying a mother suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a matter of spotting the various traits that are likely to be present.

There are many signs for both children (when they grow old enough to understand) and external parties (such as friends, other family members, and local authorities) to be vigilant for.

Here are 10 signs of a narcissistic mother:

1. She’ll Use The Child As An Extension Of Herself

One of the primary goals of a narcissist is to create and maintain the appearance and feeling of superiority, particularly when in a public setting. They strive to be the most successful, most intelligent, most witty, and most desirable person in the room. They want other people to look at them with envy so that they may openly congratulate themselves.

A narcissistic mother has a problem, however, because she will now also face judgement over her child and her parenting skills. To counter this threat, she begins to see her child as an extension of herself, one that she can assert absolute control over to preserve her grandiose facade.

She will treat her child as an accessory, a tool to be utilized, and a way to prove her worthiness to others. To this end, she will manage every element of her child’s life like the director of a film would treat his actors.

She will dress them up, tell them what to say and how to behave, force them into hobbies and sports, and push them excessively hard to excel in school.

She will not care for their individuality, their enjoyment, or their emotional development, so long as they do not shatter the vision of perfection she wishes others to see.

It’s her way or the highway, and there’s zero chance of her backing down from something once she has taken a stand.

2. She Won’t Share The Spotlight

Much of the above talk about using a child as an extension of oneself stems from the underlying need all narcissists have to monopolize the spotlight.

They are so desperate for attention, that they are unwilling to share it with anyone, not even their own child.

This presents a challenge because children – especially when young – often become default focal points when groups of family or friends meet.

To counter this threat, she will try to dominate all discussions involving her child, speaking for them or about them rather than to and with them.

She will boast about their achievements while making it very clear of the vital role she played in them.

She will dress them up and show them off, but only so as to take credit for their appearance.

She will take it upon herself to answer any questions that are posed to the child, just so that she can ensure the right answer is given (the right answer being the one that sheds the best light on her).

Even in situations that don’t involve external cast members, she will seek to extract as much attention as she can from her child.

This becomes all the more apparent when the child grows up and flies the nest; at this point, she will find or fabricate reasons for the adult child to return to her on a staggeringly regular basis.

If they refuse, she bemoans how little they care and love for her in order to get attention that way.

3. She Will Separate Children Into “Favorites” And “Bad Eggs”

If there are two or more children in the family, the narcissistic mother will often favor one/some over the others.

There is rarely any concrete justification for this, but she likes to split them up in an attempt to set them against each other. In this way, they are unlikely to band together and challenge her position of dominance.

Her favorites are liable to be used as extensions as discussed above, and she will teach them to think and act like she does by nurturing an “us against them” mentality.

She will keep them on her side so that they can team up when criticizing, manipulating, or attacking the remaining children.

As for the bad eggs, the outcasts, the scapegoats — she will treat them will far less love and charity.

This can manifest itself in myriad ways, including the food she gives them, the clothes they are forced to wear, the comforts they enjoy, and the language she uses with them.

From the mother’s point of view, the spoilt child can do no wrong, whereas the rest are always to blame. Where the favorite is cared for diligently, the outcasts are forced to do the caring.

While the chosen one is given everything they need, those who are marginalized have things taken away in retribution for disobedience.

4. She Always Takes Priority Over The Child

A narcissist is most concerned with themselves and this holds true when one becomes a mother. Unless she sees it in her own best interests, she will refuse to attend to the needs of her children if they interfere with her own plans.

Unless a favored child is involved, don’t expect to see her making sacrifices in terms of her time, energy, and attention. She will always make sure she gets what she wants even if it leaves a child unhappy.

She might treat them to a meal out for their birthday, but they won’t get to choose the restaurant.

She might even buy them a present, but little thought or effort will go into it; after all, she is so busy with her own affairs that she won’t know what her child really wants.

5. She Insists Her Child Is The Cause Of All Her Problems

When faced with failure, disappointment, or some other problem, a narcissistic mother will almost certainly point the finger of blame at her children.

With such astronomical faith and belief in herself, she is simply unable to see any fault in her actions.

This leaves her with external forces as they only possible explanation for any predicament she may face. Since a child is likely to be present much of the time, particularly when young, they will make an easy target for her rage.

The actual cause of her woes and the culpability of the child is inconsequential; the function of the child is, as far as she sees it, an outlet for her frustrations.

6. She Is Always Right

Another manifestation of her inflated self-image is that she is unable to accept she might be wrong about something. This is particularly true when her child gets a bit older and is able to argue their point; she will deny them any ground and insist they are mistaken.

One of the primary points of conflict is the recalling of events from each party’s perspective. The mother, suffering from the delusions of narcissism, will often remember something in quite a different way to the child.

As hard as the child might make their case, and as much evidence as they can produce to support it, the mother will flatly deny such a recollection.

This pattern is not restricted to past events, but also the opinions and beliefs each of them hold. The child may express their views on something, but unless they match those of the mother, they will be rebuffed with a measure of disdain designed to force them onto the back foot.

7. She Rarely Offers A Kind Word To Her Child

Favorite children aside, narcissistic mothers are extremely stingy with regards to the nice things they say.

Compliments, genuine encouragement, and declarations of affection are rarities because the mother chooses to focus her energies on the things her child has done wrong.

She will often criticize them whether they deserve it or not, and even if a softer approach is what’s needed to help. She will demean and degrade their own sense of self-worth by flinging regular insults at them, often covertly disguised as neutral comments.

She might talk openly with (or in front of) the child about how much she enjoys the company of other people, but never of the child itself. She doesn’t want them to believe in themselves as fun individuals, but rather as troublesome, unsuccessful people who are nothing but a thorn in her side.

She’ll make general statements about people that contain not-so-subtle messages for her child. She’ll say “nobody loves me” and “people are so selfish” to indirectly accuse her child of these things, while retaining her ability to deflect the statements onto others if the child protests.

8. She Will Grow Envious Of The Child In Later Life

As her child grows up and begins to live an independent life of their own, the narcissistic mother will become envious of the new people, experiences, and things she sees.

Believing herself to be superior to her child, she suffers greatly to see them become happy, content individuals. In a bid to prevent them from outshining her, she will seek to sabotage things in whatever way she can.

She will start demanding more time and attention from the child in order to stifle their new-found life, and she may even ask for money in an attempt to put a strain on their finances.

Any new relationships – particularly romantic ones, but also friendships – will be seen as a challenge to her dominant place in the child’s life. She will do everything in her power to drive a wedge between them and their new friends and lovers.

She will fabricate stories to humiliate her child, she will make snide remarks about their new acquaintances, and she might even outright declare her disdain for them in a bid to make her child choose between them.

She will not be content to sit back and watch her child find happiness without her.

9. She Is Devoid Of Empathy

One of the key traits of narcissists is that they are almost completely devoid of empathy.

They struggle to see things from anyone’s perspective other than their own and they believe that other people feel, think and act as they do. In other words, they have very poor theory of mind.

For mothers like this, it means not being able to understand why their child behaves the way it does.

The response is often one of anger, even if the child is clearly upset, sad or frightened because she is unable to see through their eyes and understand where these feelings are coming from. All she sees is a petulant, ungrateful, trouble-making child.

She won’t comfort them in her arms, cheer them up when they are blue, or give a reassuring word in their ear to ease their pain. In fact, she’ll probably do the complete opposite because it’s all she knows.

10. She Will Manipulate Her Child

The ability and will to manipulate others is another thing that is present in every single narcissist out there.

The means of manipulation are many and varied; they could fill many books in their own right when explored in detail.

Suffice to say that much of what has already been discussed constitutes manipulation, and the general theme is one of control and obedience.

A narcissistic mother will seek to silence their child’s own voice, dictate their every move, and smother any shoots of individualism.

She will abuse her position and exploit her child for her own satisfaction and profit.

Mind games, lies, and trickery are just some of the tools designed to confuse the child and weaken their self-belief to a point where they can be mentally and emotionally enslaved.

Sadly, the ten points above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many signs of a narcissistic mother. Some traits might not be present in all narcissists, and not everyone who exhibits one of these traits should be labeled as a narcissist.

The more of them you can identify, the greater chance you’re dealing with one. So be watchful and tread with caution if you believe you may have come across a mother suffering from narcissism.

Do you have a narcissistic mother? Discover the 10 narcissistic signs that may indicate your mother has a personality disorder.

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Signs of Emotional Abuse

Why Do Women Stay in Abusive Relationships

Controlling Men: Empowering Advice For Women Involved With Bullies

Letting Go Of A Relationship

Dealing With Difficult People

Author Bio

13866867_10153564277486621_1253523236_nSteve Waller is the founder of A Conscious Rethink – an exciting new website dedicated to the world of psychology, philosophy, lifestyle and living. If you are keen to learn more about the language used by narcissists, he has written a detailed article on the subject which you can read here.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 6 comments
  • Helen Murphy

    Wow, this article captures the narcissistic mother really well. In my experience of working with people with narcissistic mothers; I have heard the most pitiful and heartbreaking experiences. A child needs to be nurtured; most children of narcissist parents are broken. Sadly, the child grows up into an adult who feels unworthy of respect and a voice, and often becomes a doormat in relationships. But it is possible to heal and develop self-worth; going on to learn to believe in yourself. Thank you for such an eye-opening, informative article.

    Reply
      Simon

      I think as the victim of this sort of abuse you are always looking for answers. Its the questioning of whether YOU are crazy because they tel you are both verbally and by the way they treat you. The inconsistency means that you are always in a state of turmoil. There isn’t any sense of normality. Just when things may seem normal the narcissistic person changes all that. And they behave one way in public and a completely different way in private.
      Back in the 1960’s-80’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder hadn’t been defined and because things were stranger than fiction getting someone to believe you was nigh on impossible. It so bad that you really can’t believe it yourself!
      Also the narcissist has all the answers for anyone who questions.
      Even though I was lucky enough to have a teacher and his wife at school who were intelligent enough to see what actually was going on and supported me, both emotionally and financially , by letting me live with them when I decided to leave home a year before I left school, I still find it difficult to understand how she could be such a bitch.
      At one stage as an adult I wondered if it actually was my fault and if I was really as difficult as she portrayed to everyone. I realise now that all I was doing was fighting for my survival and to stop myself from actually going under.
      The experience was bizarre to say the least and it wasn’t until about 4 years ago when seeing a criminal in the dock on TV and seeing that the behaviour was exactly the same as my mother that I finally discovered what was wrong with her.
      Reading about the condition and the behaviour was like reading a biography of my upbringing. It was so similar it was scary!!
      That was when it all fell into place, but I spent most of my life looking for answers and getting no where.
      Now I know that there are others who have been through similar experiences, though I do think my mother was at the extreme end of the spectrum. No matter what, it does affect you. I spent most of my childhood trying to make sense of things that I missed out on all the experiences that normal kids go through.
      I went to an exclusive private school here in Christchurch, New Zealand, and all they really cared about was looking good and the parents paying the fees back then. So not only was did I have the situation at home to deal with, but I also had to deal with the school and the fact that they believed my parents over me. Only the teacher and his wife and a couple of other people got me through. And the school did their best to stop even that support.
      Consequently because I spent my teenage years just trying to survive I missed out on things like dating, and doing all the normal teenage things. My parents didn’t socialise because my mother was ashamed of the house (there was nothing to be ashamed of, but it wasn’t in her mind good enough). There was no nurturing at all so I find it very hard to be physical with anyone and if someone tries to give me a hug, I can freeze!!
      Also I find it very hard to make sense of any social interaction with women. Consequently I find it easier not to bother even though I am lonely. I am so frightened of being wrong.
      My psychologist says that I have some strong traits because of my experiences, but I would trade them for a more normal understanding of things.
      I could go on and on (and probably have!) but am just saying that the consequences of these people and their behaviour are more far reaching than most people realise.

      Reply
  • Patsy

    Heaven forbid this type of mother becomes involved in a custody/access battle! It’s a terrible situation for the child and the other parent, especially if the other parent lacks the backbone and/or financial ability to address the narcissistic behaviour! As a child protection worker, it is incredible the number of parents we come across like this. Some people should not become parents and people with this personality disorder definitely shouldn’t!

    Reply
  • I'm done

    Ive tried amd tried again and again for years and years everyone In my family all the people I love have given up on her I was the only one whp refused to give up on her I love her I know this isn’t truly her the real her is buried deep under all the narsicism but i finally give up I’m done trying I’ll never get to meet my true mother my family will forever be dysfunctional because of her no matter how many times ive fought with her and no matter hpw many times ive said i dont like or love her it was all a lie i love her with all my heart but she will never change

    Reply
  • Son of a Bi***

    I have seen most of these traits in my mother, plus verbal and physical abuse. I was the black sheep, the younger “baby” was golden. She crapped all over me my entire life. Luckily, I have been fortunate otherwise. As her last act of abuse, she rewrote Dad’s will and gave it all to “baby.” Not really a surprise though judging by the lovefest between these two. She stole so much from me throughout my life that the estate at the end is almost insignificant. I just never figured that she was Narcissistic, though, because she never got beyond grade school, never had a job, friends or social skills. She was just a leech off Dads labor. She died 2 years ago, but refused to talk to me 4 years before that. I am actually glad she is gone – she was a real self-centered pain in the butt.

    Reply
  • Tearose

    This is a long one, apologies, Sisters. Can a Sister/s who knows about the symptoms of narcissism please give me their opinion on my Mother’s behaviour, I’m not sure if she’s a narc or not.

    Behaviours that stick out to me are: always taking the other person’s side no matter what (she would especially do this with my school friends if I felt upset by them for any reason over the years), speaking badly of me behind my back (telling people my private business, too), sabotaging my thoughtful plans to tell my own three year old child that I am adopted – unfortunately I mentioned to her that I was going to explain it to my son the next day and my Mother got there first.

    Telling people in our small town that she paid my mortgage for me – even though I’d worked my backside off to buy my first house when I was 26 years old and proud of myself for doing so because I was a single Mother and doing well in my profession.

    She also puts me down in front of my child and often criticises and tries to override my motherly decisions. I’m talking serious decisions such as which school my son should attend – my mother said she would refuse to ever pick him up from any other school than the Catholic (at that time I was earning enough to pay for a private childminder to pick him up and this is where I should have put my foot down and taken that route but I was still very young at the time and was concerned about the bigger consequences if I didn’t do as she said). So, I had no say in where my child went to school.

    I put much of my dry-clean only clothes in a black bin bag to take to the cleaners the next day I’d forgotten to lift it and take it home with me – I accidentally left it in her kitchen. There was at least £500 worth of fancy clothes and expensive work wear inside and she threw it out, sadly on the day the bin men came to collect it. She said that she “didn’t know it wasn’t rubbish” – when never have I seen a lone black rubbish bag sitting in her kitchen. I’m 99% sure she would have looked in it first.

    When I was 9 months pregnant, my son’s father lifted me off my feet several times and threw me against a big fence, over and over again for absolutely nothing, I was trying to leave to go somewhere. Yes, he was young too but I’m not sure that is an easily forgivable offence, I was black and blue and terrified. He came to the house the next day and on the doorstep, pulled up his trouser leg and showed her where I’d kicked him in self-defence and fear to save myself and my baby. She laughed and told him to come in.

    She lent me money and then managed to twist it and told everyone that I had STOLEN it from her – making me out to be the scum of the Earth to the entire family and to my child. This broke my heart. It is still scarred and I don’t think it will ever heal from that particular trauma.

    Whenever my Father wasn’t about she would behave in such a different way towards me – when he was there she would be pleasant and motherly, this was so confusing to me. I don’t want to write a book and take up too much of someone’s time but if anyone can help me with this…..my relationship is damaged with my son. I believe he is supposed to know he can trust his own Mother’s authority and Mum seems to be destabilising that – and he could feel less secure in general due to this. Parental Alienation isn’t just practised by feuding parents, extended family can get in on that act, too.

    I’m a little confused as like I say, she would sometimes be nice, even when Dad wasn’t around. I remember her being ‘present’ sometimes but rarely would I get any type of encouragement. It was often an ‘absence’ of something rather than outright neglect or abuse.

    Do you think she is a narcissist and should I take my son and cut contact. Thank you so much, anyone, who has read this far and can offer guidance, I will deeply appreciate it. Narcissism is a word that is used rather a lot these days and as a consequence, I’m not sure if she is simply badly behaved rather than suffering from full-on Narcissistic Behaviour Disorder. I don’t think she sees me as an extension of herself and she doesn’t really try and be the centre of attention.

    She is sometimes mean (but not that often – she prefers to speak badly of me behind my back) in front of other people but this will be very underhand – for example I carried out my Father’s palliative care and when my favourite Aunt visited, I walked into the living room to greet her and my Mum says, “I can’t believe you’ve got this in you, who would have thought it!”. This hurt because I’m a natural carer and love looking after others. It was genuinely an absolute honour to care for my beautiful Father before he left this plane. However, she told others that she “knew I was feeling resentful” when not once had I felt that emotion. I’m left feeling horribly misrepresented as usual and saddened that I’m being told I’m feeling something that I’m definitely not – and always to the detriment of my character.

    Is she a narc or does she just hate me? I suppose when you adopt children that it’s a risk for some people? She also asked me if I was ‘grateful’ for my adoption once when I found out that my biological mother had been in a very sticky situation, it is the reason she couldn’t keep me. To this day I don’t know if my response was wrong or cruel but I started to cry as it kind of felt like having to say thank you after someone punches you.

    Sometimes I think the way she is can be explained away and perhaps she’s just a bit of a cold character, a stern woman. Please, can someone help me? I will answer any questions at all and be very grateful for my Sisters’ help/guidance

    Thank you again for reading. x

    Reply
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