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15 Signs of a Narcissist Mother & How You Can Cope


adult daughters of narcissistic mothers

Dealing with a narcissistic mother can be an incredibly challenging (and lonely) experience, and understanding the signs is the first step in coping with this difficult relationship. Let’s explore 15 signs of a narcissistic mother so you can better understand how to cope.

What are the traits of a narcissistic mother?

  • Constant need for attention and validation
  • Lack of genuine empathy for her children’s feelings
  • Manipulative behavior to maintain control
  • Frequent use of gaslighting, making children question their reality
  • Competitiveness with her children, seeing them as competition
  • Inconsistent love, often conditional on meeting her needs
  • Invasion of personal boundaries, making autonomy difficult
  • Emotional neglect, dismissing her children’s emotional needs
  • Projection of her flaws onto her children
  • Triangulation, manipulating family dynamics to her advantage
  • Sense of entitlement and dismissal of others’ needs
  • Control over family finances to maintain power
  • Prioritization of a perfect family image over children’s well-being
  • Emotional instability, with mood swings and outbursts
  • Love-bombing: alternating between being charming and distant or cruel

15 Signs of a Narcissist Mother & How You Can Cope

Recognizing the indicators of a narcissistic parent is crucial for women who suspect that their mother may have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). This personality disorder is a complex condition, and understanding its signs is essential. Your mother doesn’t need to have an official diagnosis for you to know she fits the description. You don’t need her to go to a mental health professional to validate what you suspect. The label doesn’t matter. How you feel is what’s important.

Remember, narcissistic abuse can be subtle, leading many children to grow up believing that the toxicity in their home is entirely normal. I promise, it’s not normal.

1. She has a constant Need for Attention

A narcissistic mother craves the spotlight, often at the expense of her children’s needs. Perhaps you had a special occasion or accomplishment that still wound up being about her?

How does this impact daughters of narcissistic mothers?

You struggle to ask to have your needs met because as a child, you were taught that nothing is ever about you. Your world revolved around your mother, meaning you never had a chance to learn how to develop a sense of self.

2. She doesn’t express empathy

She struggles to show genuine empathy for her children’s feelings and experiences. Narcissists often struggle to understand or appreciate the perspectives and emotions of others because they are primarily preoccupied with their own experiences and concerns. This leads you to feel incredibly alone and misunderstood.

How does this impact daughters of narcissistic mothers?

You feel a constant need to gain a sense of empathy from her because, for a brief moment, it helps you feel loved and accepted. You may wind up becoming overly empathetic because you have to constantly read her emotions and react accordingly.

3. She manipulates you to get what she wants

Narcissistic mothers frequently use manipulation to maintain control and you may not even realize it. These mothers may use guilt to make their children feel responsible for their happiness or to manipulate them into doing what the mother desires.

Read 10 Manipulation Tactics Narcissistic Mothers Use To Control Their Adult Daughters

How does this impact daughters of narcissistic mothers?

When you’ve spent most of your life being manipulated by your mother, you are easily manipulated by others in life. Do you attract partners in relationships who abuse, neglect, and treat you awful? It’s because you were taught that this is “love,” and it’s not.

4. She gaslights you

A narcissist mom will deny your feelings and/or reality, making you question your own sanity. This constant invalidation can make you question your own reality leading to intense shame and self-judgement.

“I don’t remember that happening.”

How does this impact daughters of narcissistic mothers?

You struggle with trusting your own judgment. So, when you make a decision independently, you try to hide it from her to avoid criticism. You are also afraid to trust yourself because your mother never gave you a chance to develop autonomously, to make mistakes, and to learn.

Finally, you may find yourself frequently apologizing, even when it’s not your fault because you are used to being blamed. Ultimately, constant gaslighting erodes your self-esteem and leads you to feel inadequate and unworthy in adulthood.

5. She competes with you

A narcissistic mom will view her children as competition and try to outshine them, even taking credit for their accomplishments.

How does this impact daughters of narcissistic mothers?

You don’t want to share accomplishments with your mother because you fear her reaction. This can lead to a deep pain and feeling you are betraying her by withholding parts of yourself.

6. You are an extension of her

Narcissistic mothers treat their children as extensions of themselves instead of separate and unique independent people. You may even feel like her property because you are molded to accommodate her in every way. From how you act, talk, and even show up in the world—you do everything to appease her.

How does this impact daughters of narcissistic mothers?

You walk on eggshells to ensure you don’t upset her because disappointing her is too difficult to bear. You also struggle to set boundaries even though she constantly invades your personal space. At the end of the day, you feel like you can’t have a life that is yours alone because she wants to control every aspect.

7. She has boundary issues

She often invades your personal boundaries, making it challenging to establish autonomy. If you attempt to establish boundaries or request personal space, she may respond by suggesting that it implies a lack of love or care on your part.

How does this impact daughters of narcissistic mothers?

You struggle deeply with boundaries because they feel selfish. You learned that you don’t get to express your needs and this leads to deep pain and confusion. Yet, when you aren’t able to express your boundaries and needs, it deeply hurts you spiritually.

8. She is emotionally neglectful

Not all abuse is physical abuse. Emotional abuse can be just (if not more) damaging. A mother is supposed to nurture and support her children. Narcissistic mothers dismiss your emotional needs and prioritize their own. This is the mother who yells at her crying child when hurt or ignores her teenage daughter when she’s crying in her room.

How does this impact daughters of narcissistic mothers?

The pain of emotional neglect runs deep. You feel unlovable… If my mother can’t love me then who would? You struggle to let people care about you because it feels selfish and wrong.

9. She can’t take criticism

Narcissistic mothers can have quick tempers, leading to major outbursts when their views are challenged or when they feel questioned—almost like an adult temper tantrum. They often resort to passive-aggressive tactics because they have such a fragile self-esteem. You learned to do anything possible to avoid this reaction from your mother.

How does this impact daughters of narcissistic mothers?

You struggle to have a conversation with your mother because you don’t know when something might be misconstrued as criticism. You are constantly overthinking because you are afraid of saying something that will cause her to explode. So, you take responsibility for handling her emotions because she can’t. That’s a heavy burden to bear.

10. Everyone else thinks she’s great

At home, she is a terrible abuser, but when she’s out in public, she pretends to be happy, and everyone loves her. This leads you to believe this is normal behavior for everyone… to be mean in private but nice in front of others. You can’t reconcile internally how such a “great person” causes you so much pain, so you ultimately believe you are to blame. Clearly, she’s not the problem; everyone loves her, right?

How does this impact daughters of narcissistic mothers?

You learn to have a very toxic perspective of how people can treat you. So you accept abuse from anyone; whether it’s a work colleague who keeps unloading their work on you to a partner who drinks constantly and doesn’t help around the house.

11. She is entitled

She believes she’s entitled to special treatment and can be dismissive of your needs. For example, she believes she’s entitled to YOU and your time. A narcissistic mom’s entitlement might be consistently insisting that her children cater to her demands or preferences, such as expecting them to rearrange their schedules to accommodate her plans without considering their needs or commitments.

How does this impact daughters of narcissistic mothers?

You plan your life around your mother to ensure her needs are met; it’s not reciprocated. For example, you want to make special plans for the weekend, but your mother expects you to come to dinner, and you struggle to tell her no. Moreover, if you want to make a major decision in life, you feel like you have to evaluate how it will impact her. So, you are constantly limiting yourself or backing away from things because of how it will affect her.

12. She’s the victim

A classic trait of a narcissistic mother is her victim mindset. If you happen to criticize her or even if you make a mistake, she’s the victim. She can’t even comprehend that perhaps she’s creating pain for anyone else. She’ll often complain about being left out and mistreated and never taking any accountability for her own emotions.

How does this impact daughters of narcissistic mothers?

You feel like you aren’t able to express your emotions and needs to your mother. You feel invisible to her, and deep down, that is painful, but you still feel a need to take care of her. You are probably sick and tired of hearing about her all the time. Any conversation you have is always turned back around to her and how she’s a victim.

13. She revels in the drama and gossip

Narcissist moms need to be the center of attention; a great way to do that is to constantly fuel the rumor mill. She loves drama and gossip and always wants to share. Of course, if you try to set boundaries and ask her to stop sharing, she will be offended that you don’t want to spend time with her.

How does this impact daughters of narcissistic mothers?

You constantly feel torn between spending time with your mother and having separation for your mental health. The negativity she spews whenever you see her drains you emotionally, yet you still keep going around because “that’s your mom.”

14. She love-bombs you

You know that familiar feeling of having a moment of love from your mother… It creates a pattern in your life. You chase that feeling, hoping to get it again by appeasing her and finding ways to make her happy. Narcissistic mothers use love-bombing as a form of manipulation. She can be charming and loving one moment, then distant or cruel the next.

How does this impact daughters of narcissistic mothers?

You crave love from your mother, so you are always trying to find ways to gain her approval. For example, you may experience love bombing from your NPD mother when you are struggling. Your mom might suddenly shower you with affection, praise, and gifts, creating an intense emotional connection and making you feel incredibly special.

However, as soon as your situation stabilizes or you begin to assert your independence, your mother withdraws the affection and support, leaving you feeling confused and emotionally manipulated. This inconsistent pattern of love and rejection can lead to you constantly (subconsciously) seeking your mother’s validation and approval, even at the expense of your own well-being and independence.

15. She’ll turn family against you (and each other)

A narcissistic mother often manipulates family dynamics to serve her own needs and maintain control. She might employ a range of tactics to achieve this, like creating divisions among family members, fostering a sense of competition, and strategically playing one sibling against another.

By sowing these seeds of discord and insecurity, the narcissistic mother effectively centralizes power within the family, ensuring that her opinions and desires take precedence. This manipulation can lead to long-lasting consequences, with siblings struggling to trust one another and feeling the ongoing impact of the narcissistic mother’s divisive tactics in their adult relationships and personal development.

This is especially true if you decide to speak up and challenge your narcissist mother.

How does this impact daughters of narcissistic mothers?

You struggle to assert yourself even when you are ready to begin to heal because you aren’t just risking your (unhealthy) relationship with your mother. You know you are possibly risking all relationships in your family because you know she’ll play the victim and turn family against you.

This leads you to accept the abuse a lot longer than you should, even when you know it’s unhealthy. Because you grapple with the daunting prospect of facing life without them—despite the deep emotional wounds they inflict.

16. She makes you codependent

Everything a narcissist mother does is ultimately to make you dependent on her. You don’t learn autonomy or to have your own thoughts. You aren’t encouraged to pursue your passions or interests. You are taught to obey and appease her. Your entire life is molded to accommodate her so that she can feel good about herself. This erodes you to the very core leading you to feel empty, anxious, and depressed.

How does this impact daughters of narcissistic mothers?

You feel dependent on your mother, “how can I do this without her?” You have a need to tell her everything and get her opinion. As a grown adult you still feel like a small helpless child who can’t have feelings or thoughts.

Having a narcissistic mother truly causes significant damage to you at a core level. Unfortunately, mental health care providers don’t often talk about this. You may even hear pushback about, “well is she a diagnosed narcissist?”

It doesn’t matter if she’s diagnosed. The label doesn’t matter.

What matters is how you feel about your relationship with her and how it impacts your life.

Do you recognize these traits? Were you triggered by some of these? Then your mom fits in the category of having narcissistic traits and you have some healing to do.

A mother wound is one of the deepest invisible scars you can ever experience. You’re not alone.

How does having a narcissistic mother impact adult daughters?

The influence of a narcissistic mother on her adult daughters is a complex and often emotionally charged topic that doesn’t get much attention. Often because narcissistic mothers are good at hiding in plain site.

Yet, it’s essential to recognize the profound and lasting impact this dynamic can have on us. Here are some of the effects of having a narcissistic mother.

  1. Low Self-Esteem: Adult daughters often struggle with self-esteem issues due to growing up with a mother who may have consistently undermined their sense of self-worth.
  2. Boundary Challenges: Establishing healthy boundaries in relationships can be difficult, as they may have learned that their needs and boundaries are secondary to their mother’s demands.
  3. Validation-Seeking: Adult daughters may seek external validation and approval from others to compensate for the lack of genuine maternal support and validation.
  4. Difficulty Trusting Others: Trust issues can persist, making it challenging for them to form trusting and secure relationships.
  5. Emotional Challenges: Anxiety, depression, and other emotional struggles can linger into adulthood due to the emotional manipulation endured in childhood.
  6. People-Pleasing Behavior: They may exhibit people-pleasing tendencies, constantly seeking to avoid conflict or gain approval, which can affect their overall well-being.
  7. Fear of Rejection: A fear of rejection is common, making them hesitant to express their needs or concerns in relationships.
  8. Health issues: From physical issues like chronic pain and autoimmune disorders to mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
  9. Impact on Parenting: Adult daughters who were raised by a narcissistic mother might face challenges in their own parenting styles, either repeating harmful patterns or overcompensating.

It’s important to note that the effects can vary from person to person, but having a narcissistic mother can leave deep emotional scars that often require time, self-awareness, and therapy to heal and overcome.

What’s the best way to cope with a narcissist mother?

Coping with a narcissistic mother is a journey that many adult children find themselves navigating. It can be demanding and emotionally taxing, but there are strategies that can provide a path to empowerment and healing. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, these strategies can help create a foundation for personal growth and resilience in coping with a narcissist mother.

  1. Start Setting Boundaries: Yes, as difficult as it will be, setting boundaries is one of the healthiest things you can do. Do your best to establish clear and firm boundaries to protect your emotional well-being. Communicate your boundaries calmly and assertively. What if she doesn’t listen or accept my boundaries? Boundaries need to have consequences. Clearly articulate with her the consequences if she doesn’t respect your boundaries.
  2. Practice Self-Care: Prioritize your own self-care and well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy and reduce stress.
  3. Seek Support: Connect with friends, family members, or a therapist who can provide emotional support and guidance. (The Mindful Evolution Progam was created with this in mind)
  4. Maintain Realistic Expectations: Understand that a narcissistic mother may never change, and don’t expect her to become more empathetic or considerate suddenly. This can be very difficult and may not come easily but when you can accept the reality of your situation, you can begin to heal.
  5. Limit Contact: If necessary, consider limiting contact with your mother to protect yourself from ongoing emotional manipulation. This isn’t an easy decision and may take some time but you do have a right to break contact if needed. It doesn’t matter who she is, no one has a right to abuse you.
  6. Therapy: Consider therapy or counseling to help you process your experiences and develop coping strategies. I highly recommend finding trauma-informed therapy. Being raised by a narcissist mother is a traumatic experience.
  7. Educate Yourself: Learn about narcissism and its impact on family dynamics. Understanding the behavior can help you navigate it more effectively.
  8. Practice Self-Validation: Focus on self-validation rather than seeking it from your mother. Know your self-worth is not dependent on her approval.
  9. Acceptance: Accept that you may not have the mother-daughter relationship you desire and work on accepting the limitations of the relationship.
  10. Stay Grounded: Stay true to your values and beliefs, even in the face of manipulation. Remember your worth and that you deserve respect and healthy relationships.
  11. Practice Grey Rocking: Grey rocking is a coping strategy where you become emotionally unresponsive to protect yourself from the narcissist’s manipulation.

Coping with a narcissistic mother is a journey, and it’s important to prioritize your own well-being and mental health in the process. Remember that seeking professional help, such as therapy, can be especially beneficial in dealing with the challenges presented by a narcissistic parent.

A few common questions when it comes to being raised by a narcissist mother…

Do narcissist mothers love their children? They may have moments of genuine affection, but their love is often conditional and self-serving.

What is the lost child of the narcissist mother? The lost child is a sibling who receives little attention and often withdraws to avoid the mother’s wrath.

What is a scapegoat for a narcissist mother? The scapegoat is often the child who bears the brunt of the mother’s blame and manipulation. Are you the scapegoat?

What happens to the narcissist mother after the scapegoat leaves? She may find a new target for her manipulation, or her behavior may intensify. If another sibling becomes the scapegoat, they may suddenly see the behavior they once didn’t.

How do you recover from being raised by a narcissistic mother? Recovery involves therapy, setting boundaries, and finding a support network to help you heal.

What’s the difference between narcissistic and borderline personality? Both personality disorders involve emotional instability, but narcissism is characterized by a grandiose sense of self, while borderline personality often involves extreme mood swings and fear of abandonment.

What is considered narcissistic abuse? Narcissistic abuse encompasses emotional manipulation, control, gaslighting, and other tactics used to maintain dominance over someone else.

Can I heal from the emotional pain of being raised by a narcissistic mother? Absolutely. While it’s not an easy journey, it’s absolutely possible to heal and find wholeness again. You deserve it.

This is an exploration of the intricate world of dealing with a narcissistic mother. I truly hope I can convey that the impact of such complex relationships on adult daughters can be profound, affecting every single aspect of your life.

While the journey may be challenging, remember that healing is possible. By understanding the effects of a narcissistic mother and arming ourselves with the right tools, we can embark on a path of personal growth and emotional resilience. Remember, you are not alone, and your well-being matters.

Your journey toward healing begins with self-awareness and a commitment to your own emotional health.

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