A narcissistic personality disorder is a psychological personality disorder (1). A mother who has narcissistic tendencies often shows traits such as feeling superior, lacking empathy, and often exploiting her children. She tends to look down on others and is hypersensitive to criticism.
A narcissistic mother often uses her children to advance her goals, even when they do not appreciate it. It is because she believes that she deserves special treatment from everyone. For instance, she may ignore her unwell child while excessively complaining about her own tiredness, leaving the child feeling invalidated, inferior, and unloved. Keep reading the post to know about the signs of a narcissistic mother and how to deal with her.
Signs Of A Narcissistic Mother
Children look for love and warmth from their mother. But if a child is constantly making efforts to please the mother and she is ignoring them instead of comforting them, it is not a healthy sign. Here are a few signs of a narcissistic mother that can be damaging for a child.
1. She is needy and self-obsessed.
Every conversation rounds back to her. She often ignores and neglects her child, along with others around her. A narcissistic mother talks only about her achievements, ignoring her child’s.
2. She exaggerates to create a false picture in front of others.
A narcissistic mother brags about her child’s achievements only to show that she is a good mother. She might express that she sacrifices a lot for her child, which is not the reality. But she doesn’t acknowledge and praise the child personally.
3. She can’t take criticism.
When something wrong happens, she doesn’t hesitate to blame the child instead of understanding that the issue stemmed from her behavior. Even when things go wrong at home, she wouldn’t take the criticism.
4. She is manipulative.
A narcissistic mother may manipulate others into something that is not true. She might cry, saying her child doesn’t treat her properly or disrespects her, but in reality, she may be controlling her child through tantrums.
5. She takes her child on a guilt trip.
To fulfill her desires, she might constantly nudge and make the child feel guilty. She can brag about how much she has done for them to get something in return. Even after they give her what she needs, she may not be satisfied.
6. She is harsh.
A mother with NPD characteristics could be strongly opinionated. She may put up a fight with anyone she dislikes, even at home. She may have an unforgiving personality and does everything she can to be on top, hence appearing ruthless.
7. She makes her child anxious.
A mother with narcissistic tendencies may not understand her child’s desires and expectations. She may even question their abilities and hamper their confidence, leaving the child with anxiety symptoms.
Effects Of A Narcissistic Mother On Children
- Mothers are caretakers or nurturers of their children during the most formative years. And if this significant person is a narcissist, the process of building a symbiotic relationship between mother and child is threatened. This may lead to difficulties in socialization in the later stage of the child’s development.
- There is a higher risk of the children becoming narcissists as they have grown in such an environment. This encourages them to pick up the same narcissistic traits.
- Since the child has witnessed no form of empathy from the mother and has only been subjected to her aggressive side, they may develop a hostile relationship with the mother and other people.
- Studies have shown that children raised by mothers who have psychiatric illnesses such as NPD are affected by the lack of empathy and may grow up struggling with emotional difficulties.
How To Deal With A Narcissistic Mother?
Sometimes, there are certain factors behind a narcissistic mother’s behavior. It could be her past or she may have a few unfulfilled expectations from her children. Understanding them can help the child deal with her mother.
1. Understand narcissism
It will help the child understand the characteristics they are dealing with. If they are more aware of their mother’s experience, it will reduce the communication gap and help her seek professional help.
2. Set healthy boundaries
The child should talk openly with their mother and be firm about how they want certain things in life. They may even express that they do not appreciate overindulgence from her side.
3. Give some space
It does not mean that the child should not contact their mother. But at the same time, they should let her know that they need space. Spending alone time gives time to think and analyze.
4. Know her point of view
It is not about agreeing with what she wants, but learning to empathize with her and trying to know more about her past life. It will help in loosening the emotional chokehold she has.
5. Focus on mental health
To help the mother deal with her behavior and to bridge a gap between the mother and child, mental wellbeing is essential. A calm mind helps to come out of uncomfortable situations without making them chaotic. Hence, the child should surround themself with positivity.
6. Seek support
This could come from your relatives, cousins, friends or professional counselors. It needs to be someone who cares about you and listens to you. If there is a place that feels warm and welcoming, visit it more often.
When the child is brought up in a narcissistic environment, it is difficult for them to have a perspective on the situation. They often grow up to adapt the same parenting style that they received as children. But with guidance and support, children can overcome the situation.
- P Mitra and D Fluyau; Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- The Narcissistic Parent;
- B. N Bach; The impact of parental narcissistic traits on self-esteem in adulthood; The impact of parental narcissistic traits on self-esteem in adulthood (smith.edu)