How do Narcissists Treat their Moms?

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A child and their mother’s bond is a powerful and often cherished relationship. However, when a narcissist is involved, this connection can become strained and fraught with manipulation, control, and exploitation.

Narcissists might love their mothers, but that doesn’t mean they treat them with love or respect. 

The mother of a narcissist is likely to find herself entangled in a web of emotional turmoil as her narcissistic offspring navigates an intricate dance of control, manipulation, and exploitation.

How do Narcissists treat their mother?

In this article, I’ll explore some of the behaviors you might encounter and shed some light on how they affect the relationship between a narcissist and their mother.

I hope this will deepen your understanding of the complexities involved so you can navigate the relationship with compassion and self-care going forward.

7 Ways How Narcissists Treat Their Mothers

Do narcissists love their mothers? Some narcissists may have healthy, loving relationships with their mothers, but many will struggle due to their narcissistic character traits

The narcissist’s need for admiration and validation means they will often put unrealistic demands on their mothers, while their need for control makes them manipulative. 

Here, we’ll look at how narcissists treat their mothers, what motivates such behavior, and how mothers feel when treated this way.  

#1 Emotional Exploitation

emotional manipulation

Narcissistic individuals excel at emotional manipulation, even when it comes to their mothers.

They may demand financial support, constant attention, or emotional validation while offering little in return.

For example, Mark, a narcissistic adult, tells his mother he’s facing financial ruin and could end up homeless if he doesn’t get help. 

He talks at length about the holiday he paid for her to go on and how he’s consistently financed improvements to her house. 

Feeling worried and a little guilty, his mother agrees to lend him the money he needs, even though she’s facing financial difficulties. Mark responds gratefully, promising to repay the loan as soon as possible.

Several months pass, and Mark’s mother notices that his lifestyle hasn’t changed, despite his precarious financial situation. When she confronts him about her concerns, he changes the subject.

When she confronts him, he avoids saying anything about his financial situation and instead accuses her of doubting his integrity. 

He points out all the times he’s helped her financially, emotionally, or otherwise, using those acts of kindness to guilt-trip her into silence.

By doing this, Mark successfully manipulates her emotions, making her question her judgment (gaslighting) and forcing her to prioritize his emotional well-being over her own financial stability.

Through this manipulation, Mark effectively ensures that his mother continues to support him at the expense of her own needs and boundaries.

#2 Validation Seeking 

Narcissists have an insatiable need for validation and admiration, often placing unrealistic demands on their family members, especially their mothers. 

They seek constant praise and may become upset or accuse their mothers of being unsupportive if their expectations are not met. 

This burdens the mother immensely, who is expected to fulfill the narcissist’s constant need for attention and affirmation.

Let’s look at an example. 

Emma phones her mom nearly every week, giving her an update on her most recent achievements and successes and expecting instant and enthusiastic praise in return. 

She needs her mom to tell her how exceptional and worthy of admiration she is, and if she doesn’t respond the way Emma wants, she gets upset and accuses her mother of not caring or being unsupportive.

One day, Emma demands that Sarah cancel her plans to attend a celebration dinner in her honor, insisting that her mother’s presence is vital for her happiness and self-worth.

Unfortunately, her mom has other commitments, but Emma insists that she cancel them to fulfill her maternal duties.

Emma seeks constant validation from her mother, placing unrealistic demands on her time and emotional availability. 

This insatiable need for attention and affirmation creates an environment where the mother is constantly pushed to meet her daughter’s expectations, leading to a strained, unbalanced relationship.

#3 Lacking Empathy

Narcissists struggle to empathize with others, including their own mothers. They dismiss their mothers’ emotions and experiences, invalidating their feelings and opinions. 

When a mother shares her concerns or struggles, a narcissistic child may respond indifferently or redirect the conversation back to themselves. This emotional neglect leaves the mother feeling unheard and emotionally isolated.

For instance, Jason’s mother recently moved into a care home and struggles to settle in.

She talks to Jason about her concerns, telling him how difficult she’s finding it. Instead of offering understanding or comfort, however, Jason dismisses her concerns.

He responds unfeelingly, saying, “Why are you always so negative?” And “You always have been too sensitive.” Once he’s voiced his opinions, he immediately turns the conversation back to himself, showing more interest in his own problems than he does in trying to understand his mom’s perspective.

Jason’s response makes his mom reluctant to share her feelings with him, as she fears a dismissive response. This leaves her feeling unheard and emotionally neglected, exacerbating her loneliness and isolation. 

Jason is a typical narcissist who consistently disregards his mother’s feelings and needs, dismisses her emotions, and fails to provide the support and empathy she seeks. 

His self-centered nature prevents him from offering genuine care or engaging in meaningful emotional connection with his mother, leaving her feeling emotionally neglected.

#4 Gaslighting 

Gaslighting is a favorite manipulation tactic of narcissists, and they employ it even with their mothers.

They distort the truth and make their mothers question their own reality.

Narcissistic children undermine their mothers’ confidence by denying hurtful actions or invalidating their mothers’ feelings, creating an environment of doubt and confusion.

An old friend of mine was a habitual gaslighter, frequently making up stories that supported her version of events but had no foundation in truth. 

I remember her making a hurtful comment to her mother one day, and when her mom confronted her about it, she denied saying it.

According to her, her mother had misremembered the incident, something she claimed was becoming increasingly commonplace.

She told me her mother had started imagining things and repeatedly attacked her over imagined slights and criticisms she’d never voiced.   

My friend’s attitude left her mother doubting herself and the reliability of her own memory.

She began to accept her daughter’s version of events and became increasingly unwilling to express her feelings to her daughter for fear of being invalidated or labeled as “crazy.”

In this scenario, my friend used gaslighting to manipulate her mother and distort the truth.

By denying her hurtful actions, invalidating her mother’s feelings, and shifting the blame, she created a toxic dynamic where her mother’s perception of reality was undermined, leaving her trapped in a cycle of emotional manipulation.

#5 Triangulation 

Triangulation

Narcissists use triangulation to divide and conquer. By controlling how information is presented, they take control of the situation and use it to boost their feelings of superiority. 

When a child uses triangulation against their mother, it could look a little like this:

According to her version of events, Sarah was victimized as a child. Her mother constantly undermined and belittled her, making her feel less valued than her siblings and causing her to seek professional support later in life. 

Sarah tells her siblings exaggerated stories about how badly her mother treated her, claiming they don’t remember these events because they were too young. 

Over time, she continues to plant doubt in her siblings’ minds, selectively disclosing private conversations and incidents that create a sense of mistrust and division.

During family gatherings, Sarah makes passive-aggressive remarks that fuel tension and foster a sense of conflict between her siblings and their mother.

She presents herself as the only one who knows the whole truth and encourages her siblings to use her as a mediator so they can communicate with their mother without dealing with her destructive behavior. 

Through this manipulation, Sarah convinces her siblings that their mother’s version of events is unreliable so that when her mother tries to defend herself, her efforts are immediately dismissed. 

As she manipulates the perceptions of others, distorts truths, and creates conflicts, Sarah succeeds in isolating her mother and maneuvering herself into a powerful position at the center of the family. 

Learn more about how to deal with Triangulation.

#6 Indifference

Indifference

Narcissists are so focused on themselves that they often disregard the feelings of others, including their mothers.

In the following scenario, a narcissistic son dismisses his mother’s feelings and prioritizes his own needs above those of his aging mother. 

Margaret is an elderly lady dealing with several health issues that cause her significant discomfort and distress.

She reaches out to her son, Alex, looking for comfort and support, but he responds by undermining her concerns and calling them trivial. 

“It’s not like you’re dying, Mom,” he says. She acknowledges this but explains to him how she’s in almost constant pain or discomfort, to which he replies,

“That’s nothing much in the scheme of things. I mean, I’ve got a family to provide for, a vital role to perform in my company, and a department struggling to meet its targets.

I think I know more about pain and discomfort than you do.”

By responding in this way, Alex minimizes her struggles, suggesting she’s merely using the situation to secure his attention or pity.

He consistently prioritizes his desires and interests over his mother’s needs, rarely making time for her and regularly canceling plans at the last minute.

Furthermore, when his mom does attempt to communicate her feelings, Alex brushes her off or changes the conversation to focus on himself.

He shows little interest in understanding her emotions or providing the emotional support she craves.

As a result, Margaret feels neglected, invisible, and emotionally isolated.

She longs for a loving and nurturing connection with her son but is consistently met with callousness and neglect. 

#7 Grandiose Expectations

Grandiose expectations

Narcissists often compare their mothers to an idealized image they have created to support their inflated sense of self. They expect their mothers to embody qualities that align with their own grandiosity. 

When their mothers fail to meet these unrealistic expectations, narcissistic individuals may express disappointment or resentment. This creates a strained dynamic, with the mother feeling constantly judged and criticized.

Take Oliver, for example. He has an inflated sense of self-importance and envisions himself as exceptional, deserving of constant attention and admiration.

He projects this idealized image onto his mother, expecting her to embody those qualities and prioritize his goals above her own.

When his mother expresses her own ambitions or dreams, Oliver dismisses them because they fall short of his idealized vision. He criticizes her pursuits, saying she should be striving for something more.

The more he scrutinizes his mother, the more he finds her efforts lacking.

Her failure to meet his idealized expectations frustrates and disappoints him, and he starts to resent her for not embodying the qualities he believes she should possess.

In response, his mother is left striving to meet an unattainable standard set by he son’s distorted ideal.

How do Narcissists Treat their Aging Mothers?

Narcissists rarely make any concession for their mothers simply because they’re getting old. Whether you’re 19 or 90, a narcissist will still exploit you as a narcissist source. 

They don’t care that their aging mother might not be capable of fulfilling the caregiving role they once excelled at or that they may not have the money to support the narcissist’s selfish needs. 

The narcissist will continue exploiting their mothers for as long as they continue to be a source of narcissistic supply. 

How to Protect Yourself Against Narcissistic Sons and Daughters?

Now we’ve scrutinized how narcissists treat their mothers. We better understand the types of behavior the mother of a narcissist might have to tolerate.

In this section, I want to show you how to deal with that behavior, safeguard yourself against the fallout, and develop a deeper relationship with your narcissistic child.

Read More

The more you know about narcissism and its traits, the better you’ll understand your son or daughter’s behavior and the more equipped you’ll be to deal with it.

Recognizing the patterns and dynamics of narcissism can also help you navigate the relationship more effectively.

Set Clear Boundaries 

Boundaries are critical in any relationship with a narcissist and help you protect your emotional and physical well-being. 

You might limit how much money you’ll lend your son or how many days you agree to babysit for your daughter. 

Whatever boundaries you decide on, make them clear to your narcissistic child, and be consistent. 

Prioritize Self-Care 

Focus on your own well-being by engaging in activities that make you happy, surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family members, and taking care of your physical and emotional health. 

This will help you maintain your self-esteem in the face of the narcissist’s dismissive behavior and give you the confidence to confront them about their behavior. 

Seek Support

Ask trusted friends, family members, and support groups for guidance and validation. Sharing your experiences with others who have dealt with similar situations can help you feel less alone and offer valuable insights.

Detach Yourself Emotionally

While you can’t necessarily change your child’s behavior, you can change its effect on you and your well-being. 

Try to detach yourself emotionally from their manipulation and focus on your growth by reminding yourself that their actions do not reflect your worth as a parent.

Limit Contact 

If your relationship with your narcissistic child negatively impacts your emotional health, consider limiting your contact with them until you feel stronger and more confident. 

This is a difficult decision and not one your child will welcome, but it may be necessary to safeguard your own well-being.

FAQ

Do narcissists have mommy issues?

Many narcissists have mommy issues, generally because they found it difficult to form a healthy relationship with their parents. 

Men raised by narcissistic mothers are likelier to show narcissistic traits because their mothers put them on a pedestal, giving them ideas of superiority and boosting their egos. 

At some point, the son will behave in a way the mother finds disappointing, destroying her idealized image of him.  

He can only deal with her disappointment by finding other ways to bolster his ego, creating a narcissistic personality whose feelings of grandiosity hide deep-seated insecurities and self-doubt.

How does a narcissist treat his family in general?

Narcissists use almost every situation and everyone around them to validate themselves and boost their self-esteem.

They will exploit and manipulate family members to fulfill their needs and desires while failing to empathize with their feelings or experiences. 

Their egos are most vulnerable to those who know their secrets.

This makes them even more manipulative and controlling of their family members than they are of other people, putting family relationships under strain and disrupting the family dynamics.

4 thoughts on “How do Narcissists Treat their Moms?”

  1. I was going thru an identity crisis being forced into retirement when my daughter called her mother in law mom right in-front of me. Her father in law had just finished bad mouthing his other daughter in-law who is a doctor. I had a flashback when my daughter cried to me how her boyfriend’s father made her feel like she wasn’t good enough. I had a panic attack thinking OMG “I am her mom” and fearing her father in law will belittle her too. I left due to a panic attack. When my daughter confronted me over the phone I told her how I felt but she said she will not apologize and defended her father in law. This was devastating to me I was worried for her but she couldn’t careless how I felt. I ended the conversation because I was shocked she didn’t have any empathy for me. Not 5 minutes after I ended the conversation she sent me an Email saying I was not to contact her in any setting or anyone else . I suffered from global transient amnesia as a result . We haven’t talked in over a year. She gave birth to her first child. I am working thru this but its really got me depressed. I think about her day and night. Her father is a narcissist whom I divorced He was very abusive. I didn’t realize she was a narcissist also until this happened She is 28.

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  2. OMG, every example describes my son to a T and how he treats me. He blames me for everything and expects me to support him financially even though it has put me in debt. I have finally cut him off financially but it has been very hard.

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  3. Thank you for this article. My son has engaged in every one of the behaviors mentioned. It’s not often I see information about BPD and NPD where the mother is not blamed. My son was given a good life as a child. He was loved and we were committed to his outcome. He did not experience trauma as a child. He was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD when he was in first grade. We did everything in our power to help him with the challenges that were part of his everyday life. I’m not sure where things went wrong. However, It adds salt to a deep wound when everything out there blames mom. Thank you again.

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