As you are reading this article, either you have a narcissistic mother or you suspect this. Or maybe you know someone suffering from the narcissistic traits of their mother.
Yes, it can be hard for a child to grow up with a narcissistic parent, especially a mother.
Don’t worry, you have come to the right place. This article will explain how to identify the narcissistic behavior in mothers and ways to deal with them effectively. You will find here tips and suggestions about protecting yourself from narcissistic parents.
What is a narcissistic mother?
In psychology, narcissism is defined as “selfishness, involving a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration, as characterizing a personality type”. In common parlance, we mean narcissism to mean “excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one’s physical appearance”.
When vanity, self-love, and ego go beyond a tolerable limit, it turns into something negative. This is typically referred to as narcissism. Like most ailments, its severity may vary vastly. And its impact is directly linked to the seriousness of the affliction.
You may have identified narcissistic behavior in your mother but don’t jump to the conclusion that she is a hardcore narcissist. People with narcissistic tendencies can lie anywhere in the narcissistic spectrum ranging from a true-blue narcissist with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) to someone displaying a mild variety of some of the telltale signs of narcissism.
The typical sign of a narcissistic mother is the feeling of entitlement or self-importance. She lacks empathy, expects admiration from others, and can’t tolerate criticism. She believes that she is above everyone else and expects special treatment. She will happily pull others down and exploit her children to reach her goals. The worst part of a narcissist is that they are oblivious to the damage they are creating in the lives of others.
A narcissistic mother will have no qualms about using her children to make her life easier and better. Instead of fulfilling the duties of a mother, she will shamelessly use them to get her things done. She is least bothered about her children’s welfare.
All this neglect and exploitation will lead to the children of narcissistic mothers growing up feeling unloved, invalidated, confused, and with low self-esteem.
Things narcissistic mothers say
- “You are so ungrateful.”
- “I told you so.”
- “You made the bed so now sleep in it.”
- “You are making too much out of nothing.”
- “You are too sensitive for your own good.”
- “I’m only trying to help.”
- “I’m saying this for your own good.”
- “Is there something wrong with you?”
- “You will feel sorry when I am gone.”
- “You think you are so smart.”
- “How dare you speak to me like that!”
- “You only care about yourself.”
- “I’m the only one who will ever care for you.”
- “I’ve given up my entire life for you.”
- “I’ve no idea what you are talking about.”
Signs of a narcissistic mother
As mentioned earlier, not all mothers displaying narcissistic behavior have NPD. However, there is no denying that any level of narcissistic behavior can have a deep impact on the tender minds of young children. The repercussions of their selfish traits can have a devastating effect and can be damaging to the child.
Here are some signs of narcissism to look out for in your mother.
- Her conversations always revolve around herself.
- Praises you and your achievement to others but fails to personally acknowledge the same to you.
- When you suffer as a consequence of her behavior, she shifts the blame to others.
- Is always smiling and sweet-talking in front of others but rude, hard, and autocratic when out of the limelight.
- Guilt-trips you for not complying with her requests without delay.
- Takes you on a guilt trip detailing the things she has done for you.
- She doesn’t hesitate to be vicious and vindictive to get what she wants.
- She can put chameleons to shame by changing colors faster and with ease.
- While she is harsh and domineering at home, she will win an Oscar for her performance in front of people she considers important.
- She triggers anxiety and fear in you and can bring down your confidence and self-esteem.
Dealing with a narcissistic mother
After going through the signs mentioned above, if you think you have a narcissistic mother, here are some tips and suggestions to help you cope with her. Before you get started, be warned that dealing with narcissistic parents is no walk in the park. However, doing nothing about it also is not an option as it can be damaging.
1. Stay calm
Emotional reaction to her narcissistic behavior can only help in aggravating the situation. Often, they say things to trigger a response from you and use it to further their agenda. Don’t fall for this. Keep calm.
2. Plan your responses
She is so cunning and scheming that you can never aspire to catch up to her. She always manages to get you exactly where she wants. To avoid this, you can plan your responses to her triggers. Of course, she will go a step further and invent new ones. You need to be constantly on your toes to keep up to her in this.
3. Set boundaries
This may help with some narcissistic mothers but in most cases, it won’t. She will just ignore your boundaries and walk all over you. Despite its high chance of failure, this is something you should try and see whether it works.
For more on this topic, see our article on setting boundaries with toxic parents.
4. Learn to let go
Narcissistic behavior is not your fault. Often, it is neither your mother’s as she is suffering from a personality disorder. Accept the facts and try not to take her words, behavior, and actions to heart. Whatever she says about you isn’t true. It is just her sick mind talking.
5. Maintain some distance
A narcissistic mother preys on whoever she can get hold of. So, stay as far away from her as possible. This may not be easy if you are young and need to depend on her. Use your ingenuity to come up with innovative ideas to stay out of her way.
6. Take steps to boost your morale
The words and actions of a narcissistic mother will sting a lot when your confidence and self-esteem are low. Work on them and take steps to raise them to normal levels. This will ensure that the wounds are not as deep and as painful. You can also find distractions such as hobbies to keep yourself from pondering on this problem.
7. Get help
You may not be able to deal with this on your own, especially if the affliction is severe. You can approach a trusted person to help you figure out how to deal with your narcissistic mother. The ideal people to approach for this are your friends, teachers, other family members, or colleagues.
Reading up and understanding more about this mental condition can help you choose the right response to the situation you are in. Talking to a good therapist can also help.
Even as you figure out your response, you need to be aware of the “don’ts” when dealing with a narcissistic mother. Don’t point out her mistakes, don’t try to fix her, don’t compare her to others, or don’t expect an apology from her. Don’t expect her to change.
You should take care not to blame yourself or hurt yourself. Just remember that wherever she is saying is from her make-believe world and it has got nothing to do with the real you or the reality.
If you’re living with an unsupportive parent, there are some things you can do to protect yourself and enjoy life despite their presence. Our guide to deal with toxic parents when you live with them may be of interest to you.