Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a psychological condition that is characterized by a specific set of personality traits. A narcissistic mother is often self-absorbed and has no qualms about using her children for personal benefits. She claims to be superior and craves special treatment from everyone, including her children. Examples of a narcissistic mother include ignoring her sick child, complaining of being tired all the time, not attending to the family’s needs, and leaving the children feeling unloved and inferior.
In this post, we talk about the signs of a narcissistic mother and how to deal with her. A narcissistic personality disorder is a psychological condition (1). A narcissistic mother tends to cement her authority on the child, put herself before the baby, lack empathy, and even exploit her little one. She also plays the victim card and takes on those who criticize her. Denied the warmth of love and affection and the security that results from it, children of a narcissistic mother may grow up lacking self-esteem and confidence. In this post, we talk about the signs of a narcissistic mother.
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 centers around her. She often ignores and neglects her child, along with others around her. A narcissistic mother only talks about and glorifies her own 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 in front of others 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 won’t take criticism in a constructive manner.
4. She is manipulative.
A narcissistic mother may manipulate her child by gaslighting them. 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. She may try making the child feel as though something was their fault or admonish her child for overreacting. She may deliberately misinterpret details and lie when confronted.
5. She takes her child on a guilt trip.
To fulfill her desires, she might constantly rebuke and censure to 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 rage and throw a tantrum if thwarted and 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, appearing ruthless. She is volatile by nature and subject to sudden mood changes.
7. She makes her child anxious.
A mother with narcissistic tendencies may not understand her child’s desires and expectations. She may make them participate in activities in which they may have zero interest, overriding their individual preferences. 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 interference from her side. They must protect their well-being and honor their own needs by setting and implementing healthy boundaries.
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. Use your ingenuity to stay out of her way.
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, which may be responsible for her disorder. Her condition may be the result of her own abusive childhood and the lingering unhealed wounds of being raised by narcissistic parents. 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.
Growing up in a narcissistic environment hampers a child’s overall development and makes it difficult for them to have an opinion or perspective on the situation. Soaked in self-obsession, a narcissistic mother ignores her child and blames the child for everything wrong. Controlling her child with tantrums and taking them on guilt trips are signature traits that make the mother-child relationship toxic. Since a troubled childhood can scar a child’s heart and mind, educating about narcissistic mothers and their traits is essential. Setting clear boundaries and seeking professional help can help a child overcome the situation.
- If a mother constantly neglects her children, makes them feel guilty, or behaves harshly, she may have a narcissistic attitude.
- Children growing in such an environment may deal with hostility, lack of emotions, and difficult social interactions.
- To deal with narcissism, talk openly about your feelings, understand her thoughts, and seek professional support when required.
- 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)