Last Updated on April 18, 2021 by Alexander Burgemeester
Growing up, nothing was ever good enough. Some days, my mom would be in a great mood. But most of the time, she would be so demanding, angry, and unpredictable. Everything seemed to revolve around her. Even as an adult, she still drives me crazy.
Does this sound familiar? You might be wondering, is your mother a narcissist? If so, it’s no surprise that you may feel drained and resentful.
It’s no secret that the traits of a narcissistic mother tend to be manipulative and vindictive. The narcissist’s actions affect everyone around her, but you probably received the brute of her selfish behavior.
But what is a narcissistic mother? And how do you know if your mom truly fits the criteria? Let’s get into what you should know about the signs of a Narcissistic Mother.
What Is Narcissistic Parenting and Why Is It Bad?
A narcissistic parent has a narcissistic personality disorder, a complex condition characterized by an overinflated ego, a lack of empathy for others, and a pervasive pattern of manipulating situations to get what they want.
Narcissistic parents often cause immense damage to their children, although they will never acknowledge it.
The behavior of narcissistic mothers often feels childish and selfish. She runs the world according to her, and she will throw a tantrum if things don’t go her way.
Many people either try to conform to what she wants- or they cut her off altogether.
Many people with a personality disorder do not recognize the magnitude of their condition. They often lack self-awareness and blame others for their distress.
Some people might have insight, but the insight requires introspection and a willingness to change.
A child of a narcissist often feels helpless, angry, and rejected by their parent. They want their approval, but it seems like nothing they do can truly earn it.
Many children grow up believing they are “bad” or “unlovable.” As a result, many of these children grow up with issues related to:
- Low self-esteem.
- People-pleasing tendencies.
- A lack of identity.
- Substance use.
- Codependent relationships.
- Narcissistic traits.
What Are the Signs of a Narcissistic Mother?
Some people recognize immediately when a narcissist has raised them. In other cases, the signs of narcissistic parenting are far more subtle and covert. Let’s review the narcissistic parent checklist.
#1 She Has The Constant Need to Be in the Center of Attention
You did well at your soccer game. Well, of course, she gets the credit for making you practice! You bring home a new partner. She spends the entire night talking about her latest work project.
A narcissistic mother needs attention, even if it’s dramatic or negative. When someone else has the spotlight, she often contorts the situation to make it about her.
#2 She’s Always Competing With You
The narcissistic mother will wear a white dress to her daughter’s wedding. She will apply for the same job as her adult son. If you’re running a half-marathon, she’s now training for a triathlon!
The narcissistic mother loves one-upping you, even if she insists she’s proud of your progress.
If you succeed, she needs to display her accomplishments at the same time. This competition is most evident with narcissistic mothers and their daughters.
#3: She Lies Constantly
I never said that!
You must be imagining things.
Did I say that? If I did, I must have been joking.
When it comes to the truth, you never know the complete picture. She makes you second-guess yourself and then blames you for acting crazy or dramatic if you confront her.
#4 She Is Selfish and Self-Absorbed
This mother will buy herself three new pairs of shoes even if her child’s sneakers have holes. She will post beautiful pictures on social media while ignoring her family at home.
This mother cares about herself and her image above anything else.
#5 She Pretends to Be a Loving Mother
When a friend comes over, she cooks an elaborate dinner. When a neighbor asked about your school, she boasted about your excellent grades.
In other words, she creates a persona of being a loving, attentive mother in the presence of others. But when it’s just you and her, it’s a different story. The “show” is simply for attention, for the validation she knows others will invariably give her.
#6 She Keeps Track of Everything You Owe Her
Narcissistic mothers often commiserate about the “great sacrifice” they made to have children. She may have started complaining about this sacrifice starting in your early infancy.
As you grew up, she may have guilt-tripped you into believing that you owe her for all that she provided for you.
#7 She Makes Jabs at Every Decision You Make That She Doesn’t Like
Why would you get a job there? You’re better than that!
Why wouldn’t you want to live closer to us?
How do you expect to afford that car?
Narcissistic mothers love to offer you their input, even if you never ask for it. And when they disagree with one of your choices, they make it well-known.
#8 She Is Obsessed With Her Appearance
She’s always on a new diet. She spends her weekends shopping for clothes or getting her hair or nails done.
These efforts aren’t just about wanting to look good- it’s about an extreme need for vanity. Many narcissistic mothers are obsessed with preserving their youth. Their sexual charm is how they often draw people into their worlds.
#9 She Is Obsessed With Your Appearance
Were you put on a diet at a young age? Was she continually criticizing your outfits or hair or the way you did your makeup?
Many narcissistic mothers obsess over their children’s appearances and become harsh and critical when they disapprove. Usually, this rejection is a projection of their own unresolved insecurities.
#10 She Violates Your Boundaries
Narcissistic mothers don’t understand boundaries. They perceive you as an extension of themselves. As a result, privacy feels nonexistent. Whether it’s barging into your bedroom or reading through all your texts, these mothers believe they have access to every part of your world.
And if you confront her behavior? Prepare to hear the infamous; I just care about you!
#11 She Plays Favorites With Her Children
Most narcissistic parents enjoy stacking their children against one another. The golden child is the “perfect” child, the one who makes the rest of the family look good. The scapegoat, on the other hand, receives the blame for causing all the problems.
Unfortunately, your role can switch at any time and without any warning.
If you have siblings, there’s a good chance you fought often- everyone wanted to compete for mom’s attention.
#12 She Dumps Her Emotional Baggage Onto You
Many narcissists struggle with adult relationships, so they use their children as makeshift friends or therapists. Growing up, your mother might have used you as a soundboard to vent all her problems. She may have expected you to rescue or comfort her- instead of the other way around.
Children of narcissists often feel like they “grow up fast.” Others may have commented on how mature or adult-like you seemed. This was because you learned how to read emotions and listen carefully from a young age.
#13 She Physically Hurt You
Some narcissists use violence to establish power and control. Such physical abuse may include actions like slapping, hitting, pushing, or punching.
#14 She Doesn’t Get Along With Most People
Narcissists tend to see the world in extremes. They tend to either love or hate other people, and everyone is an object for them to manipulate.
Subsequently, some people just don’t have the energy to deal with their behavior. That’s why it’s not uncommon for narcissists to have intense relationships- only for everything to fall apart entirely the next day.
#15 She Expects You To Live Her Unlived Dreams
You don’t even realize how lucky you are to have this opportunity!
When I was your age, I would have given anything to do ____.
You should give it a chance. I know you’ll love it.
Because narcissists see children as extensions of themselves, they expect you to carry out any fantasies for them. They will often use guilt-inducing messages about their own inability to live those dreams to push you further.
#16 She Never Genuinely Apologizes
Some narcissists apologize, but the apologies are fake and lack any real accountability or remorse. Instead, the apologies may be overly dramatic (I’m so sorry. You know I would never want to hurt you. Please forgive me. I love you more than air!), blaming (I’m sorry you don’t think I listen to you), or defensive (I’m sorry, but I had to do what was best for our family.
#17 She Is Passive-Aggressive
THAT’S the outfit you’re wearing tonight?
No, I’m not upset. What makes you think I’m upset?
I don’t care what you do. Do whatever you want.
Passive-aggressive communication is manipulative and spiteful. It makes other people question their reality and feel guilty over their decisions. Some narcissistic mothers are incredibly aggressive, but many of them are passive-aggressive.
Instead of saying what they mean, they’ll make sarcastic remarks or deny how they feel (although their nonverbal body language says differently).
#18 She Loves Drama, But Pretends She Doesn’t
Narcissistic mothers often revel in stirring the pot. They love hearing other people’s stories and gossiping about who did what.
Of course, when asked about this behavior, they’ll often flat-out deny it with a platitude like I hate drama! Everyone just needs to get along.
#19 She Never Seems Happy
She finally got her dream house, but the bathroom needs to be renovated. You got a great job, but she thinks the pay is too low. She’s on a relaxing vacation, but the waiter is incompetent.
Sense a familiar theme here? Because narcissists are so obsessed with power, control, and validation, they can rarely relax. Nothing seems good enough, and they’re constantly searching for the next best thing.
#20 She Doesn’t Want You Confiding in Anybody Else but Her
We’re best friends, right?
Why would you need a therapist when you have me?
Narcissistic mothers assume they are the most critical person in your life. They can’t fathom why you wouldn’t want to tell them everything. Furthermore, they often become angry or even explosive if they find out you’re confiding in someone else.
#21 She Always Tells You She Loves You (But You Don’t Believe It)
Many narcissistic mothers talk the talk without walking the walk. She may often tell you how much she loves you. But her words feel hollow and inauthentic. You can’t trust them. It just feels like she’s reading off a script.
Is Your Mother a Narcissist? What to Do Next
Realizing that your mother exhibits numerous signs of a narcissistic mother can be painful. It’s normal to feel angry, upset, confused, or shocked. You may find yourself wanting to defend her or her behavior, and you may also rationalize her abuse for “doing the best she could.”
As an adult, you can decide what relationships you want in your life. When your mother is a narcissist, boundaries may be challenging.
You may feel exhausted by her erratic or selfish behavior. If this is the case, it’s essential to reflect on what kind of relationship you want to have. Remember that you cannot control who she is or what she does, but you can focus on what you need to be happy.
How To Heal From a Narcissistic Mother
Learning how to cope with a narcissistic mother isn’t easy. You have every right to identify and validate your feelings about the situation. Many people benefit from therapy during this time.
It’s important to process your emotional experiences and explore what dynamics you want to have with your mother moving forward.
If you want to know how to get away from a narcissistic mother, the answer comes down to understanding which level of contact you wish to maintain. Whether you pursue a low-contact or no-contact approach, it’s essential to choose the boundaries that honor your well-being and integrity.