Do I Have a Narcissistic Mother? 21 Signs of a Narcissistic Mother

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” I do not love; I do not love anybody except myself. That is a rather shocking thing to admit. I have none of the selfless love of my mother. I have none of the plodding, practical love….I am, to be blunt and concise, in love only with myself, my puny being with its small inadequate breasts and meager, thin talents. I am capable of affection for those who reflect my own world.“ ~Sylvia Plath

Does your mother fail to show any genuine love for you…or empathy? The trademark of a narcissistic mother is her inability to give love or empathy to her child. One of the hallmark symptoms of a narcissist is her inability to perceive others as people with needs of their own. A narcissistic mother is only able to see her children as extensions of herself-little mirrors that reflect back to her. She values her children only so much as the children can benefit her; she is exceptionally self absorbed, sometimes to the point of grandiosity. A mother with narcissism may demand that her children excel in school and sports for the simple reason that it will make her look like an admirable mother to people outside of the immediate family. It is of no importance to her whether or not the children develop, or even learn, from these achievements as long as her reputation remains intact.

Characteristic signs of a narcissistic mother would also include excessive preoccupation with herself and with her self-image. She is unable to give her children even the most basic emotional support that they need to grow up to be well-adjusted adults. Narcissists can go into a “narcissistic rage” over the littlest thing which results in belittling, emotionally abusing and, not infrequently, physically abusing her children. The typical narcissistic mother is almost impossible to please no matter what the circumstances. She often snubs or scorns her children’s attempts for affection.

A narcissistic mother does not have children for the same reasons a healthy person would. She does not look forward to their births to see what they look like or watch their personalities develop. She has them strictly for the sake of having more mirrors to look at herself in she wants little miniatures of herself. She resents all the work that goes into child rearing and sees it as a burden. She “hands off” child rearing, inappropriately, to the child itself as soon as she can. A narcissistic mother may come off as a loving, caring parent because she will have an exclusive and possessively close relationship with her children in order to control and manipulate them. Although most parents watch with pride as their child begins to learn independence, a narcissistic mother feels every step away from her is an absolute act of betrayal.

Other characteristic signs of a narcissistic mother are habitual lying and constant criticism of the child under the guise of being a caring parent. She lets them know in no uncertain terms, verbally and nonverbally, that they are not as good as other people.

Her narcissistic tendencies do not end in childhood but continue on through adulthood where she continues to interfere and damage their self esteem and any relationships they might form. Children of narcissistic parents frequently experience difficulty forming healthy relationships and are at increased risk for depression and anxiety.

21 signs of a narcissistic mother (be concerned if she has many of them)

  1. She has to be the center of attention all the time. This is a defining feature of narcissism. She will steal the spotlight or spoil any occasion if someone else is the center of attention.
  2. She demeans, criticizes and makes derogatory remarks to you. She always lets you know that she thinks less of you than your siblings or other people.
  3. She violates your boundaries. You feel like an extension of her. There is no privacy in your bathroom or bedroom; she regularly goes through your things to find information she then uses against you.
  4. She ‘favoritizes’. Narcissistic mothers often have one child who is “the golden child” and another who is the scapegoat.
  5. She undermines She will pick a fight with you or be especially critical and unpleasant just before you have to make a major effort.
  6. Everything she does is ‘deniable’. Cruelties are couched in loving terms; aggressive acts are paraded as thoughtfulness.
  7. She makes YOU look crazy. When you confront her with something she’s done, she’ll tell you that you have “a very vivid imagination” (common phrase that abusers use to invalidate your experience of their abuse) or that she has “no idea what you are talking about”.
  8. She’s jealous. If you get something nice, she’ll take it from you, spoil it for you or get something the same or better for herself.
  9. She’s a continuous liar. To you, she lies blatantly. To outsiders, she lies thoughtfully and in ways that can always be covered up.
  10. She manipulates your emotions in order to “feed on your pain”. This behavior is so common among narcissistic mothers that they are often referred to as “emotional vampires”.
  11. She is selfish and willful. She makes sure SHE has the best of everything and always has to have her way.
  12. She is self-absorbed. Her feelings, needs and wants are Very Important and yours are irrelevant or insignificant.
  13. She is almost absurdly defensive and extremely sensitive to criticism.
  14. She terrorized you. Narcissists teach you to beware of their wrath. If you give her everything she wants, you might be spared; but if you don’t-the punishments WILL come.
  15. She’s childish and petty; “getting even” with you is important to her.
  16. She is aggressive and shameless. She doesn’t ask, she demands. She won’t take no for an answer-she will push, arm-twist, or otherwise manipulate or abuse you until you give in.
  17. She “parentifies”. She sheds her parental responsibilities to the child as soon as she is able.
  18. She is exploitive. She will go to any length to get things from others for nothing (work, money, objects)- including taking money out of her children’s account or even stealing their identities.
  19. She projects. She will put her own poor behavior or character onto you so she can punish you. For example, you refuse an especially outlandish request of hers, she becomes enraged and furious at your refusal, then screams at you, “we’ll talk about it after you’ve calmed down and aren’t hysterical”.
  20. She is never wrong about anything. She will never, ever genuinely apologize for anything she has done or said.
  21. She is not aware that other people have feelings. She will occasionally slip up in public, and because of her lack of sympathy, will say something so callous it causes disbelief in people. The absence of empathy is another defining trait of narcissism and underlies most of the other signs that are on this list.



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63 Responses to “Do I Have a Narcissistic Mother? 21 Signs of a Narcissistic Mother”

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  1. Amy says:

    Thank you for your contribution. I feel I have finally come to understand my upbringing and it aches that I don’t have a different relationship with my mother, but she has nothing to give me emotionally, she is hazardous. I am nearly forty and I think I may have come to a turning point in my life to understand having a narcissistic mother. I thought when I left home I would be rid of her torment, but I’m still healing. Being able to verify that something is wrong with her helps and your list shows us what is fact.

  2. Nicky says:

    I have never understood until recently just what lengths my mother will go to in order to get her way. She is spiteful and she somehow always makes me feel as if I am not doing enough for her. I am 50 and feel really dumb for not seeing this sooner…..but its never too late.
    I dont want this to define my future.
    Too many yes answers for me on your list….its a relief and yet facing the truth is very painful,

  3. Jissel says:

    As I read this, it all hurt because it was how I’ve seen my mother as: Ice cold and very distant. Even if I’ve lived with her my entire life(almost, I hadn’t seen her for 4 years from when I was 4 to 8 years old) and I always see her, I really do feel very far from her. I cannot imagine how it happened that she was my mother. I am different from her in so many ways. I actually do accept the times I’ve being wrong, unlike her. It’s funny because she says I’m the one who always thinks is right and can never accept am not. She does have a favorite and gets SERIOUSLY mad whenever I joke with her about that. She already pulled me away from the rest of my family members by telling them I do this and that wrong. Honestly, I never hated someone that much before. And I’m stuck like this until I got to college, some 3 years from now. Ppl say we look like sisters, and mom gives them a fake smile in return while I just look away hating the fact I look like the person I hate the most. Seriously, I mean nothing to her but an inferior. She makes that truly obvious but won’t accept the fact that I know that! Her mind: am wrong ALL the time, she’s right ALL the time. Thanks for the article, I understand more now about my narcissistic mother. Well, besides being a whacko (I really do mean that, all her past relationships and I agree) she is also narcissistic. Wish me luck

  4. Gmama says:

    This site is completely describing my granddaughters mother.

    She freezes when her mother comes in room. She waits terrified if
    she is in any type of trouble (and the trouble she gets into, doesn’t make sense!)

    She constantly says her daughter is her “mini me”
    She takes gifts away, saying she is more deserving!
    She says she “owns” her.

    It’s all horrible and I feel at a loss.

    My heart goes out to all of you!

  5. sarmistha says:

    thank u alexander for helping me feel that i am nt totally crazy in thinking abt my mother the way i do .. and for confirming that she seriously hav done some real damages to my lyf. i havent known wats actually wrong till i googled this a couple of days ago and i was horrified and strangely relieved. the points u mentioned here confirms my sanity and urges me more to lead a better life for myself outside her shadow. i lost my dad 5 months back and her abuses have just increased. favoritism for my brother too. i needed an article like this to think seriously abt my future and myself…. thank u so very much..

  6. AmyB says:

    Wow, I have always struggled to understand why I was “unlovable”. I was the “bad” child, my brother was perfect. I was an embarrassment and he was her pride. She turned one of my children away from me by telling them things about me (untrue!) since they were tiny. I didn’t know that she was doing it. If a parent had done what she did while getting a divorce it would have been illegal. I caught her stealing money from me and when I demanded proof of the debt before I paid another dime, she refused and flipped out on me calling me a thief. I have NO family left now. All believe I am a thief. Everyone in the small area where I used to live believes this. I can no longer go back. I stopped calling her over a year ago and she cared not at all. Not even about my other 5 kids. She sees the oldest as he is 18 now and under her lies. I struggle to love myself and cry nonstop about the fact that I feel completely worthless. I struggle to be a good mom to my kids and notice a few traits in myself that I am constantly trying to overcome. I never want to be like her. I’d rather die than hurt my kids like she hurt me.

    • Rita says:

      Please be strong! I had the same fears and my anxiety was so distracting. acupuncture helped my mind and spirit heal.

    • pam says:

      I know exactly what you are saying. I have four siblings and three kids of my own as well as four grandchildren. I have at this point in my life no relationship with my siblings at all nor their families and no contact with my oldest and youngest children and therefore, their kids (my grandchildren) either.
      My oldest daughter and my mother are the same and my ex, my kids’ father who I married very young (we were 21 and 25) is also NPD. I believe there is a strong inherited component to this type of personality as well as the fact that family dynamics and those we marry and end up with are all so ‘natural’ and dysfunctional that it propagates itself. When I think I am going to describe the pain and craziness and begin, I find myself pages later, deciding it is all too involved and exhausting to go in to. So I give up.
      There is just no happy ending with NPD’s and co dependents that bounce off them in a family and in your life if you think you can ‘have relationships’ somehow with these people. I think you either have to save yourself or decide to permanently sign up for pain and craziness till you die.
      My mother, daughter and ex are all like a little drop of poison in a whole barrel of clean water – they render it undrinkable. The rest of the family IS that whole barrel. The levels of lies and manipulations when you are the one who holds the mirror up to their faces will rise beyond unbearable. My mother sent me monthly horrendous – and on the surface (plausibly deniable) – religious and Biblical – crazy grams while threatening to call MY pastor to tell him how horrible I am and raving about how she ‘tells all my friends at church about you. We laugh’…she lives in another town and I will never go back there. She has slandered me to people who don’t know me at all. My reason for this, which was now three years ago, was telling her not to gossip about my sister any more to me. (My mother loves drama and attention naturally and so will talk to anybody about anybody. Since I am definitely the scape goat child I know she has no interest in serving anybody’s best interest and I do not want to be a part of any of that, so I cut it off. She flew into a rage and that’s when it began relentlessly. After I cut her off from my email address, she began mailing things incessantly to which I never responded. That made her furious – being ignored – and it got worse and worse. Finally my wonderful now husband called both my parents – dad is the enabler who looks the other way and acts like none of it ever really happens – to lose their number. My brother had been calling and telling me for the third time in my life that I needed to repair things with them because they were going to ‘write you out of the will’. When my husband called them and held them accountable and said we don’t need one thing you have. Lose our number. !!!. LOVE MY HUSBAND.). There is so much drama and triangulation in my family and now, for the past year, I haven’t had to deal with one bit of it. My daughter is drawn in to it too and has had her own rages that have caused me to cut her off as well. It is very sad but it is what it is. I don’t hate any of them. I love myself. My middle child and his wife and new baby are delightful and loving. He appreciates the parenting that he had with love and commitment and has nothing to do with his sisters at all, not in my defense but because he has had his own bad experiences. I pray for them all and just get on with the good in my life. I find I am better able to do more in love for the rest of the people God has blessed me with in my life not being bogged down by all of them (family). I have no desire to pursue and fix things with them nor do I want revenge so I think I am where I need to be.
      When my husband and I married 11 years ago I was not talking to my parents then. My brother had called me to say that he was getting a divorce and didn’t want me to tell them, which I didn’t. When they found out I knew, my mother became furious and time #2, I was being threatened with being written out of the will! My husband couldn’t believe things could really be this bad and convinced me that these are my parents, and I should give it another try. He now, after knowing them all this time, tells me he is sorry he ‘forced’ me to do that (he didn’t’; I agreed and thought maybe he was right and I was willing to admit my ‘faults’ and try again). He says these are the worst people he has ever met in his life and wish he had not asked me to go through that. I am not really sorry. I am glad that he was able to see it for himself and I know I did everything possible to be a good daughter, mother and person with these people.
      My parents have money and they use that lever with all of us. They are getting old and the rest of my siblings seems preoccupied with that. I guess we were raised that way, but it never interested to me. It was always clearly a trap; the carrot that was just hanging there to keep you going. I always knew I could take care of myself. More importantly, I knew my source was God and He would never let me down.
      Try to love yourself as God does and know this misery is not what he wants for you. You are not your mother but you are for better and for worse a product of her. That doesn’t have to be an all bad thing!

  7. Debbie says:

    Hi everyone.
    I’ve suspected for a couple of years that my mother has a narcissistic personality after coming across an article on the internet. I recently saw a book about the subject and it got me thinking about it seriously.
    My story is far too long to go into in detail-I am 57 and have had to put up with my mother’s behaviour as long as I can remember. She is 95 now and her anger and hatred of me and lots of things in life, I swear, keeps her going in to a long old age. Ironically, I have inherited one aspect of her personality, her refusal to give in about anything, which means that I have never completely given in to her demands, (which is why we have fallen out a million times over the years). However, I have never managed to break away either because I have always had a strong sense of responsibility- after all she is my mum. She continues to torture me even through a 4 month illness I had recently and continues to bully, accuse, lie, turn other people against me etc. I counted 19 of the traits described above that she has always had and she is actually worse now than ever. I know that I will only get peace when she is no longer here and I expect to still feel guilt even then-the effects of her ways will never completely go away.
    But to all those out there who suffer- PLEASE BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. You are NOT mad, bad, useless. The very fact you know something is wrong proves you are NOT like her. Try to break away and if that isn’t possible, keep contact to a minimum and refuse to get sucked in. You are a GOOD person-that is why you recognise she is bad. You will feel guilt because that is how she has trained you but it also means you are a compassionate person but don’t let the guilt immobilise you. You are a worthy person. GO GET YOUR LIFE! Kindest regards and good luck to you all.

    • Michelle says:

      Debbie, what a lovely end to your message, you have been through so much but still think of others as you tell your story. I am so sorry for you that your story has lasted a lifetime & it sounds like you have made the decision to maintain contact & that must have been so tough for you to know that you will endure this pain of your mothers disorder until the day she dies. I hope you find the inner strength to deal with it. Knowledge in this instance is definitely power. If you know who your mother is & that it isn’t your fault, she can’t hurt you any more. Just pity her. Best wishes xx

    • Cheryl says:

      Debby, I am 67 and have been going through much the same as you. When I was a child my Mom used to joke to other people in front of me that when I was presented to her as a baby she told the nurse, “Take it away, I don’t want it.” My Mother has almost all of the ‘traits’ also.

      Recently my Sister, who is my Mom’s care giver, broke her arm badly and asked me to help. My Mom can not drive or fully take care of herself, but she still did not want me to travel where they live to help. She was very nasty to me, being overly patronizing one moment then treating me like what I did was not good enough the next. She is very demanding and has to be the center of attention, even trying to hijack attention my Sister was getting from a medical care person. She became very angry because the care person remained focused on my Sister. She stormed off, reappeared a few minutes later, stating she was sick, then defecated on the floor instead of putting a ‘depends’ on. I had to clean it up, she never said a word.

      Then she manipulated a situation so that I would get upset and feel like what I had gotten her for Christmas was not good enough to unwrap. It sat unwrapped for days, while she made a big deal out of every one elses’ presents. I told her she had hurt my feelings. Wrong move. She became violently hostile with me.

      Your words are magic! Thank you.

  8. Ali says:

    Thank you for this great article.

    The more I read about narcissism, the more things now make sense to me.

    I’ve tried to set boundaries with my mum, but this ultimately went down like a lead balloon. My brother has been ‘enlisted’ onto her side, and I’m not allowed to see my niece anymore. It’s my mum’s way of punishing and blaming me, but I’m coming to terms with the fact that she is unable to admit to her own cruel behaviour.

    Luckily, I have a great partner and his family have much less drama! From breaking away, I’m learning to trust my own voice.

    To anyone else going through ‘no contact’ – keep up the strength! I’ve spent so much time being an extension of somebody else, that I’m only just learning to have my own identity. Life is much more peaceful, and I can protect my family from the same cycle repeating itself.

    Counselling/therapy has helped me tremendously. I recommend this to anyone who suspects that something is not quite right with their mother. It took me months to admit what I already knew, but a good therapist will help uncover and deal with things.

    Happy healing to everybody with a narcissistic mother – you’re not alone :)

    • Ryann says:

      Wow Ali! Thank you for your comment. It is refreshing to know that I’m not alone. I too am in recovery and am learning to trust my own inner voice and to break the unhealthy emotional dependency I had developed. My mother prided herself on me being her mini me. After having enough of her continually violating my boundaries and my spouses (emotional, physical, monetarily, etc.) and confronting her about the behavior which she denied and took offense to.

      I have been disowned by my other family members(my sister’s and father) because of lies she’s told them about me which stem from me no longer financially supporting her unsustainable lifestyle.

      My sister’s and I are only valued for how good we make her look. If we do something differently than what she envisioned she abandons or threatens. She completely sabotaged my wedding telling everyone that she was going to host another event that was going to be even grander than my actual wedding that my now husband and I had to pay for out of pocket. The event she told all of our guests in attendance never came into fruition… It was as though what I had planned wasn’t good enough…The book “Will I Ever Be Good Enough” by Dr. Karyl McBride has been a God Send. I am so grateful to have found this book before my fast approaching 30th birthday so that I may live the next 30 years more peacefully with love and understanding in my heart instead of resentment.

  9. EASurvivor says:


    I have been looking at this issue for myself all of this year. My mother is a narcissist and I think that she has most if not all of the traits. I am the scapegoat and this has had a massive negative impact on my adult life. It was since my parents divorce over 20 years ago that my mum was punishing me for not breaking off with my dad. It took me years to realise that it was not me that was the problem, but her. She really is warped and twisted, unfortunately, as my dad said.

    My mum has turned my three siblings away from me and our relationships may never be the same again. It is very sad and sometimes I can’t believe this is real and I think ‘why me?’.

    I am trying to break away from her (again) after she has said that she will not attend the family counselling that my sister set up. My mother has tried any way she can to get to me – even phoning my fiance and lying to him by saying that I was abusive at previous counselling that she did attend (a couple of times). Now I will return any mail from her and I have found a phone app that lets you block texts and calls. I just need a break from the nightmare of twenty years, which is how long I have been striving to make things right with eveyone. I am also proteting my children from her.

    There are things about her that I like though and I will miss but that will get better and easier. I had hypnotherapy to help me to emotionally detach because my inner voice had gone on overdrive and I was constantly going over the old ground in my mind and trying to work out what the solution was. It turns out the solution is to keep away from my mum, which I do find sad. We could have been such a great family. My inner voice has come back a bit recently since my mum texted a wind up message around my daughter’s birthday.

    I do wish she could suddenly see the light, get therapy and explain to my siblings that she treated me badly and not to take it out on me but I know the liklihood of this is very slim.

    I just need the inner voice to go away again, as it did before and to get on with my life. I’m not sure what my mum could do next to wind me up.

    • ?? says:

      EASurvivor -How is it going for you? It’s been over a year since I went NC w my Mom and the voices are hard. Wish I knew someone else like me. It is so hard when they wind you up…

      Anyway good luck to you!!

  10. Judy says:

    My mother has all the signs that is listed above. She sucks the life out of me. She can never accept that she is wrong. Nothing wrong with her thats what she believes. She is incapable of loving or showing concern to other people. When I was still single she wants me to work in another country with higher pay because she wants me to buy her a house, she demands me to send her money so she can live a comfortable life while I work till I die. By the way, she never worked and depended on my grandmother all her life. Meaning she is not the one who send us to school. What she does all her life was to literally eat, sleep and watch TV. Then my grandmther can’t afford to send me to college anymore, I worked partime so I can send myself to school. When I graduated and earning money my narcissistic mother starts to ask money up to this day. She live her life depending on other people to survive. All she wants to do is to eat, sleep and watch TV. What a wasted life! When I got married and had a child, she gets furiously mad and until now she would make me feel guilty that she will tell me that I should have not get married and have a child because what she wants is to have a comfortable life having a monthly allowance from me and I should have bought her a house. She would even tell my kid ” because of you, I did not get my dream house” crazy, she is really crazy! When she asks money, and I tell her I don’t have money to give, she will throw tantrums, yell at me, tell me hurtful words, then I give in to the point of burying myself to debts, so much debts because I always give in to her request. She would blackmail me, and will tell me that she will tell other people of my secrets that will ruin my life if I don’t give in to her demands. She also bad mouth me to other people and constantly lies. She betrays me by befriending my enemies and will use things I have said against me…Well I’m not talking about the devil here…What is so painful is…I’m talking about my very own MOTHER. What I am sure about, I don’t want to be like her.

  11. Berenice says:

    To me the hardest part is that my mum has convinced people how good she is and how terrible the kids are for treating her the way we do. Most of my brothers could not escape her trap and I think it is harder for boys to admit that their mum is the abuser. I think the natural instinct for a boy is to protect their mother. I love my mum, make no mistake, but I also know now to wait for that love in return is never going to happen. I have so many questions but will never find the answer.

  12. gabrielle says:

    This article described my mother to the last sentence! I’m soon to turn 65 and she has been dead several years and I have yet to shed one tear over her death. The abuse I suffered at her evil hands has been said to be the same as Nazi concentration prisoners. I never once as a child connected or bonded with her and feel nothing towards her even now.

  13. Jennifer says:

    As a teenager my mother used to tell everyone I was her friend or younger sister. She would try to set me up with older men. She would talk to me about her relationships with men. She blamed me when relationships fell apart. My mother was married 5 times. She used to show me off at parties. She told my siblings and I that she regretted having children. She would say horrible things and then cry if anyone argued or showed anger towards her.
    As an adult, she has criticized me as a mother. She has tried to take my children from me. She has lied to the court about me. She has helped my abusive ex husband and now she is helping my ex in court to take custody of our daughter. She has told lies about me to family and friends. She has told the church to pray for me. She has recently called my boss to tell him her one sided sob story playing the victim. He called and told me that it was obvious her intent was to sabotage my position at work. My mother has told so many lies about me to family that I don’t know how to combat it. She has lawyer friends and therapists that tell her to be aggressive with me even though they do not know the whole story. The only times in my life that we got along, I had to tell her I appreciated her and never argue with her. She always has an excuse for saying horrible things about me. We didn’t see each other for years and then I tried to have a relationship again, she manipulated me and I told her off, immediately afterwards I began to hear rumor that she said I was “violent” and an “angry person”. She refuses to acknowledge that she can upset a person and if anyone ever shows resentment or regret or any opposition to her, she strategically destroys them. My sister and mother got a long for a few years, as soon as my sister started talking to me, our mother stopped talking to her. She demands that you take her side in all arguments. She is very intelligent, and manipulative and she knows how to twist a story to fit her agenda.

    Is this a narcissist or just a bad parent?

    • Carrie says:

      I do feel for you so much. I am now in my sixties and it took me until a couple of years ago to realise what was wrong with my mother too. I would say from your description, particularly the malicious and manipulative things she does to undermine you and your relationships with others if you don’t do as she considers you should, that she is a fairly typical narcissistic ‘parent’. I too have been paraded for others to admire when in favour, and then vilified and lied about when I have tried to stand up to her, and lately to get her out of my life entirely. She is an old woman now, which of course is her trump card in convincing others what a terrible person I am in trying to distance myself from her and not allow her into my current (happy) relationship. The antics you describe with your ex and your children are not forgiveable, and not the actions of a parent who has got things a bit wrong. Not everyone will be fooled by her (your boss saw through her) and I sincerely hope that the court will too. Keep remembering that there are people like me (many of us) who do know what you are going through and wish you much deserved peace and happiness in the future.

  14. Julie says:

    For those of you who have narcissistic parents, How did you survive?! My step son’s mother falls under all these symptoms. He sometimes seems like he understands who his mother is and does not want to be like her but when he goes to her house for the weekend, he comes back acting like her!! He tells her how horrible we are as parents and my husband gets text messages about what he tells her. When we comfort him, he says his mother is lying but later admits he plays the game to get on his moms good side. We too have gone to court and she is one of the best liars I have met. I have never spoken to her and she calls me names and tells her children that I am a horrible person.
    How do you survive a narcissistic parent and not become like them? How do you learn right from wrong when some parents teach their children to be manipulative? Some children learn how to behave by watching parents, how do you overcome this?

  15. Julie says:

    My step son has a mother that fits these descriptions. The worst of all, she is the best manipulator. She manipulated her father against us now that she lives back with him; when for the last 4yrs we were able to get along with him. When my husband and I had just started to date and his ex found out, she tried to run over my husband at his house with the oldest son in her car in the front seat watching everything! Then a couple years ago, her boyfriend called the cops on her before he finally broke up with her. Before she moved out of his house she watered all of his bushes, flowers and lawn with bleach. How does a child over come a parent that is narcissistic when they are manipulated to the point they don’t know how to behave!?! How did any of you survive and turn out normal!!?? I just don’t understand, how does a child NOT become a narcissist? Is there anything their Dad or I can do to help the children!?

  16. Michelle says:

    Thank you for this great article. I have read both this and Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers website, and feel like a huge weight has been lifted and the burden that has engulfed me for as much of my 35yrs as I can remember has been lifted. The checklist was very befitting of my own mother with only a couple not ‘fitting the bill’.

    Unlike some of the traits I have read, my mother never used emotional pulls to manipulate my brother or I; she is quite a cold, cutting person so “I love you” is something I haven’t heard since she put me to bed aged 4.

    Rather than emotion, she used money as her way of giving (or making herself look like a loving parent) – but spend it as I tell you how to, if you refuse to accept it I will be angry and you are ungrateful, and by the way, you owe me (not money, but anything else she wants. Be it your time or resources, she can demand it when she likes and if you refuse or it doesn’t suit your schedule, you are ungrateful, selfish, “not a nice person”).

    I have been compliant my entire life and from a very early age, always trying to please her. Only this week i realised that with my mum, there is no right or wrong answer for anything: she hasnt decided the answer or formed an opinion until I give mine. And then, hers is the opposite.
    She would mention something (it was never a discussion; she didnt want me to get too above myself and think we were close enough to have conversations!) and then I would remember it the next time I saw her and she would completely deny having said it. “CRAZY MAKING”!!!!

    As a child, I would sit in my bedroom feeling what I could only describe as ‘homesick’, like I didn’t belong. My brother wasn’t born until I was 9 so it was a lonely existence in the home as the only one trying to work out what i had done wrong. I never felt she was to blame, i loved her and strived to make her love me.

    My brother and i are very close, but i remember one time being annoyed with him for something and it was very trivial, but I mentioned it in the car with my mum and her reply was, “he’s not a nice person, I don’t know why you bother with him, just cut him out of your life”. This is her son! And he is a lovely person, a great brother and very well rounded (considering! But he had a loving dad who played a huge part in his childhood after the divorce, so she has had less of an impact on him).

    I only stopped contact with my mother 6 days ago, but I feel different now than I have ever felt and it was always her who was the instigator in cutting contact (on the few occassions i failed to comply) and then returning when it suited her. This time, it is my choice. After some cutting remarks in the car, I told her to stop the car, that it was the last time she would speak to me in that way and that she could contact me when she is capable of treating me with respect. My husband has been my rock & my only regret is that she has destroyed her relationship with her 3yr old grandson (who stopped wanting to spend time with her because of how she speaks).

    Thanks again for your insightful article x

    • Joanie says:


      I am you, I could have written your comment. Thank you, and yes it is a great article and checklist.


  17. Peter says:

    Me to my mother:
    I bring news of a great achievement to her, she murmurs an “um, really?” then she starts any form of critisism or tells me to do what I hate.
    She constantly tells me how evil members of the opposite sex are and then asks me why I don’t have a girlfriend.
    She tells me how great a mother’s love is and then when I get treated unfairly at work, then she tells me “so get treated unfairly then”.
    She tells me how much she loves me, then decide I should leave the house because me and her boyfriend get into a fight.
    She then tells family members that I just want to play all day so it’s better I live outside (of course she also adds that she obviously did try to have me stay, for the sake of saving face and being branded a “bad mother”)
    She claims that “real men” should be outside all day and basically chases me out of the house (see what I’m getting at here?)
    My dad gets custody of my brother and I, my dad thinking that he was unfair to my mom, decides to give one of us to her, she then claims that he should bear sole responsibility to our upbringing. She pushes all responsibility to my dad, clean and spotless, no flaws.
    And now she expects us to help pay her mortgage, hope she pays all her bills before she croaks. I don’t want to be liable for any of her rubbish.
    She knows she “was” beautiful, but she’s alone and no one loves her except guys who need to have a quick bang and then she remains the slut she always was. Quite surprised my dad still has feelings for her, quite disgusted having this type of mother.

    • Chris says:

      Cut all ties with her as soon as possible. She will be absolutely enraged at first and then try to stalk you, however, you will feel so much better after. And go to a counselor and seek support from people who absolutely believe and side with you. I know from experience. The false guilt will bother you for a while, but standing straight up to her and cutting all communications off will be best for you. Trust me, you will feel better. None of this is your fault, she is mentally ill and anything you say or do will not change her for one second. Just be yourself. She hates herself and that hate transfers to all who are in her path.

  18. Peter says:

    Wow, they’re good, they know where it hurts the most. 15 years of guilt, shame, deceit, lies and oh yes, she is extremely religious. Kinda already having a backup for her crimes and assuming she will obviously be forgiven at the same time already knowing what shit she has done so she really hopes to get forgiven.
    She publicizes her work for god, for the sake of publicizing but her works not carried out from the heart.
    I always thought I wouldn’t be able to survive without her (one of their brainwashing schemes), here I am staying alone, happy as ever.

  19. Gerri says:

    I have a narcissistic mother. I am no contact with her. But as a twist I haven’t read about here yet is the mother who appears to be loving then turns and another demon appears. But unable to use violence as you get older the emotional abuse ,which is hard to see until it’s too late ,is used.So the crazy making of a mother like this is that it’s hard to believe she is a narcissist and that it’s you who are mad. Good web site is Daughtersofnarcissisticmothers. Full of mind blowing and cover blowing of the narcissistic. Good luck to everyone. Don’t forget to look out for the narcissists who will appear in your life due to your programming. Eventually you will start to sniff them out. They are clever but they can’t keep it up. We are all warriors. We are waking up.

  20. tina says:

    I’ve read few of the comments, and I can relate. I have been working on my own recovery just read the book “will I ever be enough” by author Mcbride. Its helped a lot. I’m wondering if anyone is interested in skpying one another or setting up a support network with all of us women who have been so hurt to share experiences and support. We got to heal because we are not like our mothers.

  21. CaliforniaGirl says:

    I found out about this narcissistic mother thing early last year.
    By then I already had no contact to her since 2007.
    The contact before was basically emails and phone calls and two visits since 2001. For most of my life I have seen my mother only to family occasions and never alone. Approximately every three years.

    Since I found out what was wrong with my mother the healing began.
    I don’t think I really believed something was wrong with me, but I could not explain why my mother did what she did.

    I grew up with my mother and my father who was an alcoholic.
    They divorced when I was 12 and it was a relief, my father was physical abusive when drunk. And he was mostly drunk.

    A few months after the divorce my mother met a new man,
    He had his own house and a house was her biggest wish since forever.
    I had to move to the new city only to find out that the new man was also an abusive drinker,he only covered it up better.

    Long story short, me and my sister didn’t want to stay and my mother sended us back to our father.

    I could never understand how a mother can chose a house over her children.
    She also didn’t keep in contact much.
    It was like I was not existing.

    At the age of 13 I ran away from my father and started a ten years long drug addiction.

    I got out of that alive and I have seen a lot.
    But I have never met a person that I find more disgusting than my mother.
    I have only contempt for her.

    It is not good to feel that way about anybody.
    And I have made a lot of progress in the degree of my emotions.
    Not in the general way I feel about my mother.

    I am thinking less of her and less intense.
    Realizing that she is a very sick person and will not change has helped me a lot.

  22. Mechelle says:

    I am so glad to know I am not the only one. My mother has most of these. My fiancé would always try to help me see it, and now I finally do, even without his help. But he has opened my eyes to so much. My mother is very manipulative, she also steals and lies. Every time, every day. When I try to confront her about the things i have proof she has lied about she will quickly deny it. She has 2 favorites. My 11 yr old brother and 15 year old sister. She babies them, even when they do wrong. They steal and lie to us as well (Me and my fiancé), we have told them we knew and gave them true examples, but they will just freeze up for a moment and lie about it any way. We have tried to ask them why but nothing. They all will try eating all the food from me and my fiancé, and when we need some thing they pretend we never asked for it, but when they ask us for some thing, we are quick to try an get it. I am fed up with them. I really don’t know what to do. I’ve been trying to talk to them about it for 2 yrs straight. No one has change. They just keep getting worse. The funny part is: They don’t like my fiancé because he has told me the truth about them. What pisses me off the most is that i have my own mind and body and when i tell them no, or confront them, they start talking crap about me and my fiancé and saying that he is the one who told me to talk to them, or the one that tells me to tell them no. When i admitted to it not being him, because it isn’t. They give me stupid looks and say okay. Me and my fiancé are two honest ppl. We have never lied to them or anyone, but because they all lie so much to one another, they accuse us of lying as well. It’s frustrating. Their is A LOT more. Now the new thing is, income tax time is coming around, and my mom is letting me carry my sinlings on my taxes. (I take care of them either way), I have already told her depending on how much i get back i will give her 1500, but now today she is talking about how she wants more money. No. Not from me. She claims she needs it for the kids and rent, but i’ll do all of that. I won’t give her a single penny. I’ll do it for her. Because everytime we give her money she uses it for horrible reason. Not anymore. If any will be willing to help and listen i will be thankful. Thank you. (:

  23. Sarah says:

    I’ve learned to cope with my narcissistic mother and am mostly indifferent to her. Living in another country certainly helps!
    There are times though when she does something which is just too much, and it taps in a deep well of anger that I have buried deep inside.

    My mother always leached off of my grandmother and never left home. She had no little interest in parental duties and never even did basic things like cooking for the family or housework. It was grandma who cooked, cleaned, woke me up in the morning, got me ready for school, bathed and dressed me when I little, and pretty much everything else. Mum liked to sleep in till 11am, and so I had to be extremely quiet in the mornings when Grandma was getting me ready for school. If I accidentally woke her up she would scream at me in a fury. The evenings were not much better, at the dinner table (meal provided by grandma of course) she always talked over everyone else, and after that spent the entire evening watching TV. I had to remain quiet and still the whole time until I went to bed, as otherwise I would be “interrupting her programs”.
    When I was about 12 she bought me a TV for my room, and I was basically exiled to my room. Grandma suffered the same fate several years before that, and was not welcome in the living room in the evening — even though it was her house.
    As an adult I’m still extremely quiet as my mother instilled in me a fear of speaking. At best I would start a sentence and she would interrupt and talk over me as if I didn’t exist, but usually I would just be told to shut up because nothing I had to say was of any interest to anyone and merely an annoyance.

    • Natasha says:

      I have recently just discovered the term narcissistic mother. It’s great to finally realise what is wrong with my mum and not just something I have conjured up in my mind. I have suffered for 41 years, it’s mainly been silent because know one in my family seemed to care that my mother wasn’t right, it was easy for everyone to say ” she’s got depression, she can’t help it”. I don’t think they ever saw the real side to her. My main memories of my childhood were walking on egg shells all time, I never knew what mood my mum was going to be in. I was always anxious around her. Some days I would come home for my lunch and she’d still be in her dressing gown…she would be cold and angry towards me. Then she’d start crying and saying that she’d be better of dead because no one cared about her, I would feel sorry for her and try to comfort her but she would push me away. Eventually I left home at 16 , I soon realised I still would escape her . She is very good at being pleasant but the moment you drop your guard she will take advantage. She has no shame she’s expected me to look after financially , she’s never really worked because that would be beneath her, if I get anything nice she has to have it too. She never buys me nice gifts, she uses gifts to manipulate me. When I turned 21 she took me shopping and told me she was going to buy me a lovely bangle, when it came to my birthday she just sent me a card. She said she returned the bangle and would buy me something else…that was 21 years ago. She is like jelkel and Hyde and can turn from one to the other just like that. She is emotionally draining, always demanding my attention and wanting to be centre of attention…and look out if it’s me that is centre of attention. This is one thing she can’t stand. When I had my 2nd child I got really sick with heart failure and had to go back to hospital. She told everyone it was nothing, she was suppose to be staying with my husband to help him with our new baby while I was in hospital, but she wouldn’t help instead did nothing and then expected him to take her around town so she could go shopping. He told her she should be visiting me in hospital but she just got angry at him, in the end she threatens to take an overdose of medication. If she gets confronted about her behaviour this is what she does, I’m so glad to finally see I’m not the only one who has experienced this, what I struggle with the most is the guilt.. The feelings of hate I have for her and how guilty I feel for feeling that way

  24. Susan says:

    I feel guilty even now about talking about my mother, but I am so desperate
    that I need to share.everyone thinks my mother is a sweet, little lady of 86 years. What they don’t know is the emotional abuse she has inflicted upon my 90 year old dad for 67 years! Se has belittled him, screamed at him, called him stupid, and anything else to make him feel worthless. He is the sweetest gentleman you could ever meet, and he never talks back or gets angry!
    I am 62 years old and am still trying to please my mother every day in every
    possible way. I have always been expected to call her every day or I am made to feel guilty about worrying her. She lies to avoid taking the blame for the damage
    she is doing to my health. I am the primary caregiver since my dad has been
    ill for 6 years, and I realize that the only thing that is going to save my sanity,
    and prevent a heart attack is to not see her, but I can’t leave my dad vulnerable
    and passive.I have told my mom that she is killing me, and that I need to be well for my daughter’s wedding, since my husband passed away 10 years ago
    from cancer, and this wedding is going to be a very emotional one for my
    daughter and me! My daughter and I have an amazing relationship, and I am
    the complete opposite extreme to my mother in every way! I am afraid to even go to mom and dad’s because the anticipation of an argument throws me into
    a severe panic attack and causes my heart to race and skip beats until I almost
    pass out. I felt that my mom had NPD so I looked it up and she is the classic
    textbook case. It is the lies, yelling at my dad, manipulative behaviour, etc.
    that bother me the most! Why do I still come back for more? I am sure it is because of my dad and also feelings of guilt because she is my mother .

    • Susan2 says:

      I understand the compassion you have for your father and the need to help him. To see such an unhealthy dynamic play out between your parents over your life must have been so difficult. I have watched the same thing and always had feelings of wanting to “save” my Dad even as a child. But lately ( I am 48) I realize that my Dad must have gotten something out of it or he would not have stayed and endured in this relationship.

      So you can still love your Dad and try to help him, but don’t sacrifice your sanity to do it. He made the choice as an adult and of his own free will to be with and stay with your Mom all of these yrs. and you can’t say after all these years he didn’t know what he was dealing with. And he chose to stay anyways

      So bottom line do not beat yourself up. You are a caring daughter and mother, but you don’t deserve abuse from anyone, esp your own mother. Love your dad but accept that he made the choices he made and you can’t protect him and save him at the expense of your own health. And minimize contact with your Mom. You need to take care of yourself.

    • Melanie says:

      YIKES! I read your comment and thought I wote it! Susan 2 is so right. My dad, rest in peace, was a classic enabler. I don’t think he even knew what the term meant. He just did what he had to do to survive. Why a person would put up with that treatment is beyond me but they do.

  25. Carol says:

    It is such a relief to hear other stories similar to mine and know that I am not alone!

  26. Nicole says:

    I have struggled my whole life because of my mother always telling me how worthless I was. I suffer severe depression and anxiety and do not feel like I even belong on this earth. I hate my mother for what she did to me, I cut off all contact with her about a year ago because I refuse to put myself through any more of her abuse. She thrives on my misery and wants nothing good for me. It has been hard to break away and believe that I am ok, I have been programmed to believe otherwise. Everybody else in my family believes she is just the sweetest person on earth and it makes me sick. She plays the victim all the time, like she has never done anything wrong. I have tried many failed attempts to discuss things with her but she only yells at me and says she wont listen to such nonsense. Thats why I finally said enough, I am only torturing myself. I have started therapy and I feel like the therapist dont even believe my stories, as if I am exaggerating or making things up. I cant find support anywhere. I am relieved to know there are other victims out there and that I am really not alone. Thanks for all your posts.

    • Taylor says:

      Dear Nicole, I encourage you to find a therapist that knows a lot about narcissistic personality disorder. Seeing a therapist who knows nothing about this is not going to help you heal as you should.
      Also, I highly recommend finding ACA meetings in your area (ACA is Adult Children of Alcoholics) though it is not just alcoholics, but adult children who come from dysfunctional homes.
      There is a lot of healing in those rooms. You will be among people who are in pain and are taking care of themselves for the first time in their lives. Age range from 20 to 80 yr. olds. Amazing stuff.
      Step One I love: “came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity’

      Blessings to you and all of us.
      It’s a painful journey. I’m only in the beginning of finally putting a name to my mothers twisted, odd ways of abusing me. I’ve never been able to put my finger on it. I am grateful for the awakening. Beautiful things are yet to come. We are NOT their story. We are our own person. We must work on ourselves and KEEP THE FOCUS ON OURSELVES (not them) peace and love to all of us

  27. Mary says:

    I always knew there was something wrong with my mother. I never realized there was a name for the way she has always treated me. I am so thankful I am not alone in this!

  28. Susan says:

    This better helped me to understand what my 10-year old stepdaughter goes through with her biological mother. I have seen too many things that have directed me to truly believe her mother is a narcissist. There are times I will see those same traits in my stepdaughter, and it makes me want to pull away from her. But from what I have read in other articles/books, she will need the love of her father and me, or she could repeat her mother’s pattern in her life. It’s terrible to think that a mother could be so cruel and unloving to a child, I hope as my stepdaughter gets older, she realizes that it’s just that her mother is incapable of loving her the way a mother should, and is no fault of her own.

  29. Laurie says:

    Hi Susan,

    I stopped talking to my mother almost 5 years ago. It was very difficult on the beginning but now each day is a breath of fresh air. Please email me whenever you like!

  30. In the Midst says:

    This is my mother. After 23 years I have finally moved out. It was an ugly experience because “I was betraying her!” and left with her screaming. In all actuality, it was the best thing I have ever done for myself; I was suffocating. However, now once I moved out she has been overly nice to me. I am taking it with a grain of salt. Because now I am engaged, and she is sending me “wedding ideas “. I appreciate the ideas; however, I feel like if she gets majorly involved that she will just turn into a motherzilla.

  31. Sharon says:

    Thank you for this post, about a narcissist mother. I never knew what was going on in her head that was geared toward me. I knew from a young child that I wasn’t loved or cared for. So I started running away at age 6. My sisters were and are Still her favorite. No matter what I do is enough and matter how I try to help its Never good enough. She tries to make me neglect everything and everyone else I love and put her first about even God! There’s no way! This behavior will continue in my life because I refuse to entertain it and I found out ways to get around her demand and demeaning behavior towards me. I guess you can’t miss what you’ve Never had. Is my motto…. A mother and one that Loves you for who you are and not what you can do for them. This poison ends with me. It will not take root in my heart and cause me to change how I care and Love my children and grandchildren nor others including her. She’s beating a dead horse! I pray for her maybe not enough. Now I realize that we may need counseling. God can mend broken hearts.

  32. Liz says:

    Thank you for writing this. Thank you for posting up the increasingly “yup! Uh-huh! Check mark on that one!” list of traits. I hope that this page, if people looking for it find it helps others who are also realizing that “It’s not me- it’s her” and are finally cluing in on the lifetime blitzkrieg of emotional torture that is being the child of a narcissistic parent.

  33. Helen says:

    Describes my mother to a point. She sabotages me whenever I try and get my education together, she wants me to get a better paying job to help her with her debt and she looks at everyone else to do it. She doesn’t want to look at the way in which her own bad planning led her to this mess. I’ve had enough of her and this crazy ride, as soon as I can I’ll be getting myself back into counselling for the 3rd time over her. I’ve realised that she’ll side with abusive personalities because that is what she is herself. She cares more about the man in her life than the welfare of her children. I’m going no contact so that she leaves me alone and stops destroying my life.

  34. Mango says:


    Is it possible for someone to have some traits but not all. The problem I have with labelling people narcisstic, borderline etc. is that all the characteristics are listed as though we’re discussing a cartoon character like Cruella De Ville, when in fact, people are much more complex beings, and a horrible bitch one minute can actually act very kindly and lovingly the next. I feel my mother has narcisstic traits with a splash of borderline personality disorder at times, they get worse when crisis is in her life, when someone dies or she is struggling with her demons. However, she is not simply just that nor does she do a lot of what is described above, she has always given us stuff and nevber stolen from her children at all, she has given a lot down the years. So I can’t simply just say “Yes, that’s her, the old cow, dam her!”, if only it were that simple.

    Maybe she is a milder case of this. But people are so much more than the sum of their parts and I wish that more discussion was out there about dealing with these narcisstic sides of people and borderline personality traits etc, without walking away from the person, sometimes it’s not the answer when you love the person.

    • Lynne says:

      Perhaps she does have a milder case of narcissism. It comes in varying degrees from mild to malignant.

      If your mother is not physically, verbally, or emotionally abusive, perhaps you can stay. If she doesn’t attempt, successfully, to ruin or run your life, cause strife between you and your family members, or conduct smear campaigns against you, the degree of her personality disorder may not be bad and can be dealt with or tolerated. It’s not all about financial or material stealing or rewarding – not even close.

      BTW – A true, full-blown narcissitic mother IS Cruella De Ville on steroids. The Disney film runs a little over an hour. The narcissistic mother is for life.

      • Sarah B says:

        Hi Mango,
        I think I can relate to what you are saying. I recently figured out that there is a name for the reason my mom acts as she does. When I look at the list if traits there are some I can say my mom never did; she is a wonderful gift giver, for instance, she looked after me when I was a kid, didn’t pass me off to others, protected me & believed me when I told her a family friend was being inappropriate with me, etc. I watched her take loving care of her parents, my grandparents. She appeared to be capable of empathy and even love. But as I got older, any tiny move towards independence or seperation from her (physical or emotional) was met with what I always felt to be a withdrawal of her love for me. So I learned pretty quickly to do and say what I knew she would like and approve of. I loved her so much and desperately wanted her approval (I see now how I have been seeking approval from others my whole life, as well as getting a feeling of shame with even the slightest disapproval. Now it’s so clear to me where this originated. My mom sees me (still, I’m in my 40s with a beautiful marriage & kids of my own) as an extension of her & for a long time things between us were (sort of) “good” but as soon as I disagreed with her, down came the subtle criticism, always couched in concern & love for me. Recently I denied her something she wanted and she just blew up, which caused me to finally really see her as she is, not simply someone with some minor flaws, but someone with a whole level of manipulation that I was largely unable to see, although looking back on my old journals I can see how I struggled all my life to make sense of why I felt so sad and worthless if I was “so loved” and came from “such a good loving family” (she said these things all the time, trying to convince me against my instincts that the great love was CONDITIONAL, so it’s just not the same feeling of being truly actually SEEN and truly loved for who you are, not what you do or how you behave. Like many here, since I’ve “taken a break” from my mom and all of her blame, denial, criticism, demands (“Susan tells me her daughter has lunch with her every week!”) my life has opened up do miraculously and I’ve begun to let go of many if the things about myself that have held me back from being my very best self. I found a quote once that said if you have to choose between being loved and being yourself, that’s not love. My mom may not have all of the traits listed above, but she has enough of them that I can see where it has negatively effected me. I’m done feeling like I have to choose. I choose me. Blessings and love to all here on your journeys.

  35. GuitarSong says:

    Mango, I have some agreement with you. My mother does not fit a caricature Narcissistic Mother Cruella de Ville as you say – or fulfill all the criteria – which makes it all the more confusing for me. She was not sadistic or particularly nasty when I was growing up. She just was uninvolved, didn’t really bother with me, and left it to other caretakers e.g. childminders to do the work. Even when she was there “physically” she wasn’t there “emotionally”.

    In a way, she couldn’t wait to get rid of me, which she did very quickly once I got to adolescence. But after this and during the following decades we did keep up a relationship of sorts (though mostly she couldn’t be bothered with me then, and was completely uninterested in where I lived or worked, what I studied, who I went out with etc). But that’s when the narcissistic rages came more to the fore, including against other people. Some of them felt devastating to me. Some of them were so disgusting I decided not to contact her, but she usually wiggled her way back. Her pure selfishness was also revealed, her paranoia, her lack of reality, her negativity and her cynicism. Her refusal to support me, even when it cost her nothing. She could not take any reasoned criticism. I finally saw there was a mask in operation – the real feelings of a real human being were out of reach for most of the time.

    However, I was not battered or abused or belittled as a child. Just ignored really. But I still consider her to have very strong N traits, and can also have a very negative effect. I definitely have an “orphan complex”, I definitely found it hard to have relationships and trust.

  36. Lynne says:

    I’m 60 years old and had the “all points” narcissistic mother to the extreme. She made me the family scapegoat by the time I was 4 years old. It began, in my memory, when she blamed me for her miscarriage. Yes, I was four years old, had no idea what she was talking about, but knew I didn’t “kill her baby”. The punishment, for my “sin” was brutal. Physical abuse was the norm for anything from “dusting the white keys on the piano before the black” to accidentally knocking over a plastic salt shaker on a plastic table cloth. I wasn’t allowed to go outside, or have anyone near me, when I had “The Welts”. I thought I was sick. I was in enough pain. I had an Enabling father and a golden child brother – 2 years older than I. They were enlisted into her army of sadistic bullies. The Golden Child held a knife at my throat, in front of Nmother, because she was playing the “pit-one-against-the-other” game. No problem. It was ignored or rather denied.

    Yes, she could turn the tables and present a personality that was sweet and charming at will. This “person” came out in public (who IS this?) OR when she wanted something from me. I was willing to meet her request when she was this “person”. She was acting as a normal individual would and I was willing to engage hoping she would see that I was not a bad person. No such luck. She had what she wanted from me and not only did she return to her real self but deny that I ever did anything for her, tell people I was a liar, and they should/would shun me (isolation of a victim is another hallmark). This was all being done behind I back.

    Her smear campaign of me was going on for decades before I finally figured it out. By that time, I had no one to turn to because I had no family or friends left. She, and her gang of bullies, saw to that. No one would believe that the “sweet, perfect woman” they knew could ever be capable of doing to me what I said she did. So, according to them, SHE was right!

    The emotional and verbal abuse was all there, too. “You’re nothing! You’re nobody!” “You’re stupid”, “Shut Up, You!”Were phrases I heard each and every day when I tried to speak. I had no voice. It wasn’t allowed. (I’m still working on that today) Public humiliation, in the form of out-and-out lies was the norm. It was 3 against 1 and they enjoyed it far too much.

    I believe as abused children, we longed for those moments of normalcy with our mother and gave in to have them. But, it was all about her. I never received any love, help, empathy or sympathy back – Ever.

    Walking away and going No Contact was the only option left to me. I was an adult, 46 years old, married with children, and she commanded the Enabler to attack me for “walking down the stairs too loudly”. He dislocated my shoulder. She looked on with that smirk. Of course, no one was there to see it, so it was deniable – as usual.

    For some, or most of us, going No Contact is the only avenue open for survival of body and mind.

    Most of us have lived a lifetime waiting for our narcissistic mothers to love or even respect us. It doesn’t happen. We try to be “good daughters” as we are expected to be by them and society. But, where’s the accountability/ expectation for being a “good mother”? Society has stacked the cards in their favor. Ever buy a card on Mother’s Day that describes YOUR mother? I couldn’t. “Mothers” don’t have narcissism; they’re not sociopaths, and they’re never evil, manipulative, pathological liars, scheming, vindictive, and victimize children. That’s for other people. That is what society has ingrained in us.

    Narcissistic mothers hide behind that built-in, well-accepted stereotype. Their public persona is a well-practiced manipulation of others perception. They know it. They know EXACTLY what they are doing. But, more importantly – WE know it.

  37. Greg says:

    I wonder why I had to be the dumbass that married one. Everything is spot on. I just love my kids to death and hope they can get through the constant garbage. These people can’t love anyone otherthan themselves and verbally abuse and threaten to get there way. It’s nuts and hard to explain to anybody that has never experienced this. They have no problem throwing there kid under the bus….it is just terrible. Zero empathy! I’m divorced now and I pray everyday that Life will get better for myself and for my kids. I also pray for her that she will someday see her ways and get help.

    • Lynne says:

      So sorry to hear you fell into the trap of a narcissist. You aren’t a “dumbass” – not even close – because you realized what she was about and stepped up to save your children from ongoing abuse. I highly respect you for that. Most husbands would comply with her wishes to “keep the peace”. You, on the other hand, saw through her (behind closed doors, I’m sure), and took action. Well Done!

      As far as hoping she gets help: It shows your humanity, empathy and sympathy. However, there is no hope for narcissists or sociopaths in therapy. It’s just another game where they will use their well-practiced performance to be believed and win over the therapist. Sad really. A doctor may put them on meds to somewhat control anxiety and/or depression. But, that’s about it. The core of the problem stays unaffected.

      Best of Luck and All Good Wishes to You and your Children

    • Heart broken says:

      I am so glad to hear that you left her. I am an only child of a N Mom and she treated my dad horribly all of my life. We just buried him a few weeks ago. I have seen so much mental abuse in my life it’s astounding to me. Because there are not any other siblings to go after I am a constant target. After much counseling I have moved far away from her but did have to go home to take care of her for my fathers death and burial. I did this out of respect for my father. Even though I still talk to my mother over the phone quite often she has much less of an impact on me. Being at home for such a stretch of time was however unbelievably miserable. I am pretty much still suicidal over it even though I’ve been home for about three weeks now. Side note – please don’t worry, I will be fine. This is a natural cycle of my life. She continues to call me daily and I invite her to stay with us because my father ingrained it in me to be her scapegoat and caretaker, she won’t. She is “too afraid” of me. Ugh. I do not know where she comes up with this stuff. While I was at her house, taking care of her and the funeral arrangements on two separate occasions she threw things at me. That’s the mild stuff. The words were much worse. While she doesn’t fit all of the criteria on the list she fits most. This is not an existence I would wish on anyone. I once told my father that I was really worried I would turn out like her and I thought I should let my ex raise my kids. You know what he said? Give them to the ex. That was it. He never crossed my mother but I expect he knew how awful she was and how jealous she has always been of our (my father and mine) relationship. It’s sickening. Heartbreaking. I do know that I do my best every day to not be like her so hopefully I’m doing good by my children. I think I just have a general fear of mothers because I love my kids to the moon and back and could not imagine my life without them.

      So Greg, please know you’ve done the right thing but do more. Try. Anyway you can to get less visitation for her. It’s crucially detrimental. I seriously would not wish this on Satan himself. Take care of your babies, they deserve a knight in shining armor!

      Good luck!

  38. jos j says:

    My sister and I read this back earlier last year. So much of it explains our life with our mom. I am 45 and have really struggled the last 7 years as to how I move forward. I have so much guilt for not wanting to be too close to our mother that it eats me up at times. I got married 7 years ago to my second wife and she pointed all this out right away. We have struggled with how it impacts me from day one. I was married in my 20′S and my mother called us so much and at such crazy times it caused constant problems with my first wife.
    My sister and I have never got along much and after reading this we have been able to sit and figure out that our mom was constantly interfering with our relationship. My sister was always the good one and I was the scapegoat. She pit us against eachother and we never realized how or when. Last year our roles reversed and we were able to see the pattern all because of this article. My mom and I had a blow out over my sisters divorce on my birthday because I stuck up for my sister. She immediately tried to turn me against her. I caught her in the middle of her game and I am not sure I would have seen it coming if we had not found this article and continued our research. I come back to this and read it again every time my mother tries or does pull me back into her web. So Thank you for writing and publishing this.

    • Natasha says:

      I can totally understand how you feel guilty, I have had times when I don’t speak to my mother and then I have to deal with the disapproval from the rest of my family. My dad is the enabler he keeps quite because then he’s not in the spot light, my grandmother is the same. She tells me that ” it’s just the way your mother is, it’s tragic but she’s still your mother and you should still love her no matter what…after all she has a heart of gold! I think she has no heart at all, however my family treat me like I am the cold hearted one. I do yearn for her love, especially when she is being nice to me but I am wary and no that it’s not genuine and won’t last long. My sister is the golden child, I’ve always known this although she thinks mum is mad she never argues with her and just goes silent when I complain to her about her unfair treatment of me. I’m going back to my home town next weekend to celebrate my grandparents 65 wedding anniversary I really would like to tell my mother what I have found on this website but I no that she wouldn’t take it very well. I have found everyone’s comments to be a mirror of my own experiences and I feel so blessed to now no that it’s not just me… I have always doubted myself since my mum told me at age 12 I was mental and needed to be taken to a psychologist.

  39. skimp says:

    I am currently going into “no contact” mode with my narcissistic mother. It was a long and miserable road before i realised what was going on. I left an abusive relationship with two young children and started my life again. Began studying nursing. My mother and other family members offeted support in the form of childcare…i had formal arrangements in place too so didnt rely on family too heavily. Anyway, she let me down on two separate occasions spectacularly….went back on her offer to help at crucial times during my study. She hasnt spoken to me now for 8 weeks and there was no argument, nothing. She simply says to peoole she is scared of me. Wonder why? Because she sabotaged my career? .

    I had to quit the course because, as everyone knew, it was not possible without family support.

    I took time and realised i was angry at myself for believing my mother wpuld help. Walked right into her trap. She would never help, only sabotage anything i tried to do. And them the floodgates opened and all the suppressed moments from childhood came flooding back.

    Being sent to school in filthy underwear, but the jumpers were always clean. My room piled high with dirty clothes, i was only 5-9 years old.

    Learning to cook and use washing machine before i shoild have needed to

    Being exploited when i left school and got a job. Majority of my wages were taken as rent (she said it was for my own good amd was being put away for when i went to uni)

    I was offered a place to study journalism at a prestigious uni…i wasnt allowed to go. Apparently i spent too much time out having fun and wasting my money and why should she or my dad (who worked offshore) pay my way if i wasnt prepared to save more…never did see the money she took off me again.

    I met a guy. He was bad news. But didnt realise at the time. Spent one night at his. I was 18. The next day my belongings were delivered in bin bags alongside rubbish and dumped on his parents doorstep. I was never allowed back home. Ended up renting a place with him and 10 years later i had two kids and was subjected to years of physical and emotional abuse from him. I never left because i had literally nothing without him. Until my kids came along. Then i ran and never looked back. They werent going to go through that life. Once the drama was there so was my mum…she liked it when i was in turmoil and fed off everything i was gping through.

    When things settled she disappeared. Hardly saw her. She never showed on days off or came to see her grandchildren unless it was bed time because that was the time of day she had nothing else better to do. There was never any effort to be useful or fit.around other peoples schedules. She would keep the children up late and i felt i should let her…how else would the kids see her?

    Im 30 now and throughout my life there was never a cuddle, no affection, no luching or shopping or doing anything together. She was totally absemt emotionally.

    I confronted her amd she made a lot of excuses, like i did my best it was never good enough for you, i just dont know what you want from me you are so demanding, your father and i should be enjoying our lives together now (implying my existence and small reliance on them is a hinderance).
    She has been an ignoring mother all my life amd has gaslighted, lied and manipulated other family members to the extent that i feel totally alone. Im close to a breakdown now.amd have ordered the book and am considering moving. I feel bad for my kods. They have no contact with their father or his family, and if i move them theynwont ha e the scraps of attention my family offer. But i dont wamt them growing up knowing the misery i have. Id prefer them to think theyre geographically unavailable rather than uninterested.

    I often wonder if it is me. Am i the one with the problem? But i do care about other peoples feelings so i cant be the narcissist in the family.
    All i know is ive just realised the truth amd have a long way to go before i can heal. No contact is the only way. She has avoided me anyway since i asked her why she was so cruel to me. Made out one last time i was the damaged one :(

  40. skimp says:

    I would like to add that my early childhood well, i cant remember much of it. It was miserable. I wasnt allowed friends. No one was allowed to visit my home. No sleepovers. Never had a birthday party. The first friemd to see inside my house was one who invited herself when i was 15. And she was accused of stealing cigarettes. She didnt smoke. My brother and i fought like cat and dog. He was never in the wrong it was always me. I never had a leg to stand on. From very ypung he realised he was favoured over me and would get away with anything just by pointing a finger at me. I wasnt allowed to see my grandparents for years and was told they favoured my cousins over me and i wasnt seeing them because they didnt love me the same. Ultimately i was like a little prisoner until my teens. And then i wasnt able to do anything because i was dirt poor because all my wages were taken away.

  41. Michael says:

    Gosh, this is confusing – out of the blue, 2 years ago, my brother suggested that my wife might have NPD.

    After truly alarming research, I started coming out of the fog of self-reproachment and doubt I’d been stumbling about in for years – I agreed that, if my wife did not have NPD, she was a long way down the road to it. Then, independently, her family suggested the same thing, it all made sense …… except for the kids:

    I see her narcissistic behaviour clearly in her aggressive bullying, the utterly cruel depths she will go to in barbed words and deeds, blatant lying, the compartmentalization of people in her circle to maintain falsehoods, the deniability of everything, never being wrong about anything, physical abuse, being enraged by criticism and on and on …… but when it comes to the kids, 2 step-children for me and a younger one of ours, I can only describe her as a loving and caring mother. Yes, there are slight shades of ‘golden child & scapegoat’, she can be domineering and demanding of them at times – there’s also a lot of love and affection and sacrifice so they get a great education.

    If being an atrocious mother is a defining hallmark of NPD – It leaves me not knowing where I am again. She has always had a very high income and has the kids – I’m on the cusp of divorce, fearing her wrath & for my beautiful little daughter.

    How is it possible for her to be so uncomprehendingly cruel and to be a good Mum?

  42. GKC says:

    I am the 55-year-old daughter of a narcissistic mother. She has ruined my life as I have severe bipolar disorder and battled alcoholism, eating problems and fear of intimacy. I truly feel that I have been severely scapegoated by my pathologically angry father who died last year and a deceitful sister who is the ‘golden child’ and co-dependent. After years of covert emotional and psychological abuse I changed my phone numbers last year and am determined to have no further contact. She is a classic narcissistic abuser who was critical of me throughout my entire childhood and was an immature parent with a specialism in ‘screaming and smacking’ on a very inconsistent basis – then engulfing me with her ‘love’. She has caused irreparable damage and always plays the victim and the martyr. I feel I have been trying for my entire life to win my Father’s and her approval only to be put down and exploited when it suited them. She is a dangerous liar and the only good to come out of this is that I will never see her again. God forgive me but I fucking hate her for what she has done & the pathetic ‘poor me’ victim she has played within the family- pitting me against my younger sister & ringing around the family and friends of mine she barely knows crying and playing the victim. My mother has a favourite song…it goes ‘Me me me me me me …’ My therapist says she is a ‘total destroyer’ – my sister has bulimia and married a jerk. My whole life my father goaded me and put me down. I am at least grateful not to have had children of my own – sad though I am about it at at times – because I would never forgive myself if I had passed down this awful parenting. Imam praying to forgive her but right now I hate her. GKC

  43. Kassel says:

    What is it with all these mothers specifically. I wonder whether the act of childbirth makes their latent idiocy worse. At any rate it seems to feed the entitled-to-treat-everybody-like-crap syndrome.
    I’m not generally one to categorize but I am glad there is a name for this and the proliferation of material on the internet in the last few years has made it all easier to break down and deal with. If you can get to the stage where you can suspend emotion and know she is playing games the whole time and NOT give a rap about it whatsoever, you are at least 90% healed believe me.
    I live a way away from my mother, do not visit or offer to help her and keep contact brief and not-got-time-to-mess-about. She knows I don’t give a sh*t and moreover will not take any sh*t. She loves to play games with cards, and always complains about the ones I give her, so I sent her one for Mother’s Day which had printed inside it “I hope you have the Mother’s Day you DESERVE” HO HO HO! I figure that if she wants to complain (and she will regardless) that I might as well give her a damn good reason once in a while!!
    I am 40 now and don’t have the need anymore to talk to her about my problems, plans for the future, relationships or otherwise. She is only interested in tittle tattle, what someone did on TV (which I don’t watch), and who did what to whom in the family…her intellect is severely limited so she is incapable of appreciating the creative work I do and I might as well talk to the wall. But like I said I appreciate there is nothing worth working with as regards our relationship and I won’t waste time. I am civil in an insincere and backhanded way to her myself now, but she knows there is no love there.
    The general stance I have been adopting of late has also been helpful in other areas of life where certain suspect persons needed to be
    “weeded out”. I have made it abundantly clear what I will and will not put up with – not directly to them, just mentioned in general conversation. The fakers are obviously embarrassed by their two faced behaviour towards me and have retreated. I am not running after them I have to say!!!!! Gone are the days of bending over backwards to make relationships work!
    I am just very glad that I do not have my own kids, otherwise my mother would probably seek to influence them too. Nothing my dad or I did was ever good enough for her and she spent most of her time wishing we were someone else. Still she would probably have done that regardless of who we had been. It’s important to realize that these people are fundamentally unhappy. All the more reason to work on being really content with and secure in yourself and do the stuff you enjoy in life.
    I console myself with the fact that she will have to die at some stage and whenever I think of her, try to speed the process along by saying “die, die, die”. I had a revelation that she would die from lack of love and if the realization that she is unloved can sap her energy, then so much the better. Because narcissists really do feel the lack of love much more than most. She knows I don’t give a sh*t anymore and although part of that is probably what she always wanted, another part of her is disturbed and knows it’s not right ….ha! I just view everything that comes out of her mouth as garbage and am glad I don’t have to put up with it on a regular basis. I have previously been told I am too nice and honest with people but frankly there is some advantage in being a bit meaner.

  44. Lauren says:

    19 out of 21 of those signs, pretty much sums up my mom. She always has the spotlight, and when I have one thing I have to say, I am taking all the attention all the time. She always pulls the “what if you were me” card. As if her life is so hard. She doesn’t realize and emotional damage she has done to me since she divorced my dad quickly moved onto my step dad. This year I have been not doing so well grade wise because of all the family issues and bullying issues. She has put her problems and my problems on me. Its my fault for everything. And I really don’t know what to do. Move on with the rest of my life without her?

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