8 Red Flags That You’re Dealing with a Narcissistic Mother

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Do you feel empty when you hear your friends talk about loving relationships with their mothers?

Their mothers sound supportive, compassionate, and uplifting.

But you? Well, you couldn’t use any of those words to describe your mom.

Once the realization hits you that you’re dealing with a narcissistic mother, you feel cheated – like your childhood and even much of your adulthood was stolen. Accepting that your mother is a narcissist takes courage because it forces you to question everything you’ve ever known. When you do, however, other issues you’ve faced in your life all start to click into place.

8 Signs You’re Dealing with a Narcissistic Mother

The TV show, Arrested Development, is named so for a reason. Lucille Bluth is the archetype of a wealthy narcissistic mother. Now, not every narcissistic mother is so obvious – sometimes the signs are a little subtler.

The first step towards recovering from chronic narcissistic abuse is understanding what that abuse looks like.

1 – You Struggle to Define Yourself and Your Identity

Sons and daughters of narcissistic mothers struggle to create an identity for themselves outside of basic characteristics like career accomplishments and titles.

Dealing with a narcissistic mother, you spend your most vulnerable years subjected to chronic gaslighting and emotional abuse, so you never have the chance to figure yourself out.

The things you enjoy are usually considered stupid. Every hobby you want to pursue is ‘wrong’. You might even find yourself speeding down a career path you don’t necessarily care about because your mom insisted that’s what was best for you.

2 – She Doesn’t Remember Anything You Say

Oh, she’ll remember a few things – things that hurt her ego. But when it comes to things YOUR’E excited about, proud of, or interested in, you can bet that she’ll never remember a thing you tell her.

No, it’s not because she’s busy. She really just doesn’t care.

Narcissists don’t believe anything you say or do has value unless they can milk it for their ego boost.

You’ll notice that you’re repeating yourself over and over. Dealing with a narcissistic mother can get frustrating because she’ll shout over you every time you open your mouth.

3 – Your Self-Worth Comes Entirely from Accomplishments and Approval

Narcissistic parents LOVE to brag about their children’s accomplishments. Many times, they’ll even take credit!

As a child, you were conditioned to believe that all your self-worth should come from material accomplishments. If you aren’t married with kids and a white picket fence by 30 and you feel guilty about it, you can probably blame a narcissistic parent for that.

To a narcissistic parent, producing something of value is of the utmost importance. If you haven’t lived up to their illogical expectations (like getting a specific degree), you can be sure that your parent never talks about you to their friends. That’s the sad truth.

4 – She Has No Respect for Your Belongings, Opinions, or Feelings

Dealing with a narcissistic mother becomes even MORE frustrating when you distance yourself from her for any period.

When you return, you suddenly realize how unbelievably disrespectful she is of anyone and anything she doesn’t consider worthy.

A narcissistic mother will laugh at you and say “it’s not that bad” when you tell her you’re hurt. If you press the issue, she’ll turn herself into the victim. A narcissistic mother will throw away all your sentimental belongings and tell you “well they looked like garbage to me.”

To daughters and sons of narcissistic mothers, gaslighting feels completely normal because it’s all you’ve known.

5 – You Let People Walk Over You (or the Opposite)

Sons and daughters of narcissistic mothers learn at a very early age that it’s easier to just agree and move on. There’s no use setting up boundaries and trying to enforce them because your mother will just laugh, break them down, and treat you like a doormat.

Sadly, there’s a good chance you carried this trait over into adulthood as you built other relationships with friends and romantic partners.

On the other hand, many times we try to grasp for control outside our abusive relationships. In this case, you may find yourself putting up walls quickly or lashing out if you feel people are taking advantage of you.

6 – She Has a Favorite Child

No mother or father should ever openly say they have a favorite child – but narcissistic mothers will.

Many times, it is extremely obvious which child is the favorite and this dynamic destroys the relationships between siblings because there’s always unhealthy competition.

Make no mistake, that’s exactly what your mom wants: children competing for her affection.

7 – You Feel More Like a Friend or Partner Than a Child

If you were “lucky” enough to be the favorite child of a narcissistic mother, you may find yourself in a covert incestuous relationship.

Covert incest, also known as emotional incest, refers to a relationship where your mother relies on you for emotional support like a best friend or a partner.

Dealing with a narcissistic mother, she might reveal intimate details about her sex life, ask questions about yours, try to live with you long into adulthood (and conveniently blame finances), or share a joint bank account with you.

You may not even realize this arrangement isn’t normal – let alone healthy – until your friends or an unsuspecting romantic partner tries to point it out.

8 – You Suffer from Chronic Anxiety – Especially with Decision-Making

Dealing with a narcissistic mother for most of your life, you’ll ALWAYS second guess literally every thought and decision you make.

Will she call this jacket ugly or say you look chunky? Will she criticize this new guy or gal you’re dating? Will she be happy with this salary at your new job?

Constantly second-guessing yourself and looking to approval from others naturally leads to chronic anxiety.

In many cases, sons and daughters of narcissistic mothers feel like their mom will never be happy with ANY decision they make, so they do nothing (often turning to alcohol or drug use to fill the void). Of course, this only makes your anxiety worse.

How Sons and Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers Can Overcome the Trauma

Dealing with a narcissistic mother can be quite complicated and may deprive you of a lot of things. However, the good news is that you can find a headway out of this.

Accept that Your Mother may Never Change

This is hard because we’re so conditioned to appreciate and value our mothers. For daughters and sons of narcissistic mothers, however, this narrative is toxic because it justifies and gaslights our abuse.

You must accept that there’s a chance your mother will always be like this – a narcissist. She won’t suddenly reevaluate herself and see things your way, especially if it’s something you’ve tried before.

Don’t Blame Yourself

What you’ve suffered at the hands of your mother’s narcissism is not your fault – no matter how badly she tries to convince you otherwise.

You’re her child and what she put you through is emotional, mental, and often even physical abuse.

Evaluate Your Other Relationships

After dealing with a narcissistic mother, it becomes impossible to form healthy relationships outside of the home.

Support and compassion feel like foreign concepts to us, so we don’t look for these qualities in friends and romantic partners. Subconsciously, we even believe we don’t deserve genuine love and support.

A comprehensive recovery program led by someone who has experienced narcissistic abuse themselves is critical. You’ll need to learn how to shake old habits and build healthy relationships with others – especially if you’re a parent (or want to become a parent) yourself.

Dealing with a Narcissistic Mother Isn’t Your Destiny

Narcissistic abuse recovery is especially important for daughters and sons of narcissistic mothers because the trauma runs so deep into our psyches – it’s all we’ve known for our entire lives.

You can’t make up the childhood (or teenage years or adulthood) you never had. You can, however, liberate yourself from the narcissistic abuse and spend the rest of your life in freedom.

If this article resonates with you and you know it’s time to stop the chaos, end the mental torture, and begin healing your life, then I’d love for you to join us in our Warrior Inner Circle by claiming your free Beginner’s Healing Roadmap.

You can sign up right here.

If you’re ready to go deeper and change your life right now, I offer a wide range of effective resources and techniques to protect against toxic people – in my bestselling program, The Essential Break Free Bootcamp.

I’m excited to share with you the psychological tools I and thousands of others have used to heal from narcissistic abuse.

Explore techniques derived from behavioral therapy (vetted by the psychological and neuro-psychological communities) to finally heal your life.

Learn more here!

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Leave a Comment:

Jennifer says May 4, 2022

Thank you always Kim for sharing.
Happy Mothers Day!
Your a good mom!

SR says January 7, 2022

Remember that after decades of anxiety and emotional abuse your body WILL suffer health problems especially in the G.I. system. You cannot remain in “fight or flight ” mode forever.

Steven says September 30, 2021

The only thing you can do to stop them is to go no contact. Your life is too short to waste anymore of it on them!

Hazel Steenman says May 10, 2021

It feels useless for me to recover because of my 66 years of life. As a writer, however, this very much intrigues me.
Thank you for your many good articles.

Pasha says May 9, 2021

Such a deeply insightful and empathetic article. I suffered everything outlined here, and then some more. It’s cast a shadow on my whole life over the long haul – sense of self and self-worth; being able to deeply internalize the positives I have as self-validation; relationship issues; sibling ties; sexual history. The mother truly is primary in one’s life, but not always in the ways hallowed and fetishised in nearly all cultures. And because it comes from such a source one is left in fundamental uncertainty. The waking up that s/he was not valued, was used, exploited, undermined and actually sabotaged on so many levels by a source of supposedly complete and unquestionable trust, someone whom you adored, this inflicts an unimaginable injury, the more so because it is so sneakily done by someone who after all did do a lot for you anyway. It is a sort of existential verigo that remains as a residue haunting all of your life. Thank you for this deeply understanding piece.

Anonymous says July 15, 2020

Kim, I have been reading your email blog articles now for 18 months and I never had the knowlege of the term NP dissorder…and this was the ANSWER to all my confusion as to why I suffered Stockholm syndrom taking care of 2 unhappy, alcoholic parents who enjoyed my cooking but never appreciated all the hard work or effort I invested in caring for them for 15 years. Then to realize it is very true…they are not capable of loving me but use then ignore me in favor or NPD sister. I wish I knew about this decades ago. But thank you for aswering all my questions why? why? why? I feel free and scared I trusted these 2 for soooo long. But I have good friends who love me and support all my efforts to break free and detach from them completly. Every word you wrote or said is very true. It is like they are all programed to act in exact predicable fashion. I am angry at my self from time to time that I could not believe they do not love or care for me. The use everyone. I am not the first person and not the last person. I thank God you answered all my questions and I have to move on and not look back. I have a wonderful daughter and I taught her over the years to never trust people like My parents or sister as the alcoholism makes them all very mean & manipulative.
I taught my daughter to tell anyone who dare ” suggest” she drink alcohol or try drugs ..that they are not your friends! and tell them Alcoholism runs in both sides of your family tree. If they insist …know they too are NPD alcoholics already. They have no conscience. It is very scary to see how they behave…but they forgive their atrocious behavior all the time. They move on and never hear you nor do they hear how they speak ! They have no shame. I could not believe it was my entire life experience as how you described. God bless you for giving us permission to walk away and not look back. I always wished my parents could listen to me or.appreciate all that I did for them. But I see…they are like a Mirage of a pool of water in the desert. When you arrive there is no water. Only an illusion of water. I know now I am not alone in having delt with these manipulative parents. It is like they never really were ” there for me” but I had to be ” there for them” always on duty to serve them like Cinderella. Fortunately, I had great grandparents who loved me and my sister. They taught us love and always defended me when they were alive. I miss them and their time, love and positive attention they provided till I was 34. My grandparent never approved of my parents critical treatment of me and always stood up for me. Anyways, I am very grateful I had their healthy example of a loving couple and I miss them. Many thanks for the Truth !!! It was a real punch in the gut. But I know it explains everything !!!

NA says May 11, 2020

This article is awesome. My mother got married young in a “husband do as they will and you be a good wife generation”. The emotional abuse of control she has allowed my Dad to inflict for 50 years (still married) is replusive. She has no life, education, just supports him and my “Can do no wrong older brother”. So she comes after me, stalks me on FB, has no respect of boundaries (invading privacy etc), has fits of rages, embarrassing me in public, and to anyone who listens often labelling me as the “Mean and evil one” who treats her so bad. Never telling the whole truth of what gets me to that point, or why I have limited relationship with her. Currently I have only limited & partial contact with her and my Dad (who’s controlling also). Lately the gaslight of “Praise me in public to make her look good, but secretly hates me” is her thing. Couple months ago, we were supporting my sister at a event, in the middle of the conversation she says to people who never met me “She’s the mean one”. I was hurt, embrassed and all I could do is play it off not to show I was pissed. It’s like she has a level of envy. I’m in my late 30’s single and no kids, have traveled, had career (before illness), live on my own, and she…. It’s sad she rather not try to live the remainder of her life full, instead to be toxic to her youngest daughter.

Anonymous says May 10, 2020

This is so empowering! I have learned and confirmed a lot of signs. And I needed that. I am a daughter of a narcissist mom. It has plagued me for years. But I have made great progress once I succumbed to the truth. Boundaries boundaries boundaries! Thank you!!

Shabana says May 10, 2020

Hi Kim

Thank you for this wonderful article.
I’ve always felt unloved by my mother, she’s always been unaffectionate, critical and cold towards me. I’ve never felt supported and have never been able to confide in her. For years I was in a very bad marriage, I had no confidence, two children to raise. Not once did she offer me a place to stay to seek refuge from the situation.
I have two siblings, the family connection is broken, she favours my brother and has recently built a house for him next door to her.
I hate feeling petty and needy but I still sometimes have that need for her to find me important, to put me first, to say I’m fine just the way I am .
But I know it will never happen, I’m nearly 50 years old , from time to time I still feel sad I don’t have a mother I can connect with .

Dee Dee says January 27, 2020

How do I know if I am a narcissist mom? I want to fix myself if I am. My 26 year old married daughter is not speaking to me (again) after I “let her down by not staying in town to help her with her house and the kids” She tells me that I “gas light” her and that I am a selfish narcissist. I have spent so much money, time, listening, and working on healing or getting closer to her (and my older daughter) and it just keeps going south. At 54 I have taken her comments seriously, so I have checked out every resource material I can get my hands on. I have signed up for group therapy. I have joined a counseling group at my church. I am trying so hard to evaluate myself and how I am doing things wrong. I spend weekends talking it out loud, crying, praying, and reading to see how or where I can do better. I can see that I have the tendencies or selfish times when I look to the past, but I feel like I have worked on changing this as time has gone on. I mean I feel like I tried and keep trying? At least I think I have? With her last melt down, I had been babysitting all weekend for my grandson and had a diverticulitis attack (which put me in the hospital the following day). We had agreed that I bring him home around 3 pm. She was not done cleaning her furniture yet and did not want me to bring him home yet. I kept him until 6 pm but was in a lot of pain. When I brought him home she began crying and got angry at me. I froze. I did not know how to react so I told her to get a grip and rein it in. I asked her to talk reasonably. The neighbors were hearing her melt down. I asked her if she wanted me to call someone, to call a help line. I backed out of the house because I felt intimidated. She had had melt downs before but never this strong. She said I was not a “motherly” mom and that I was not caring. She said she was suicidal, just needed her mom to love her and hug her. I tried hugging her and she backed away saying it was too late. I had no idea how to handle her screaming and yelling, crying and accusing me. I tried to talk to her and she turned everything I said to horrible things. NO matter what I said to her it was wrong. I cried and said I was sorry, my first reaction to her melt down or lashing out was at first anger then shock, then just disbelief. I did not know how to react so she accused me of being a horrible uncaring mom with no compassion. I truly do not know anymore. I feel like I walk on egg shells when I am with her, I keep to myself focusing on my 2 year old grandson because she gets so angry at me if I say something that may contradict her opinions. I help when I can, (I work full time and live an hour away so I only have Sundays and a few Saturdays free) but she gets mad at me if I “leave her hanging” because I cannot stay to help her with her house, son, or any other things she may need. My husband has asked me to stop buying both my girls things and paying for things because we cannot afford it anymore. Both my daughters get so angry at me if I do not help them financially or spend weekends at their homes helping them clean or babysit for the kids. Where am I going wrong? I so want a relationship with my girls-I have tried so hard to work on where I am flawed. What can I do to overcome the “narcissist mom” tendencies my daughter says I have?

    Jan says May 10, 2020

    Dee Dee.. I really don’t think that you are narcissistic in any way, I think you are a people pleaser. Even reading self help books, exploring where you can better yourself is not narcissistic behaviour. Research your rights as a human being and learn to set boundaries… It takes practice, believe me.. I am 3 years into my journey. ..

    [email protected] says May 11, 2020

    I read somewhere that seeking change is rarely something abusive people do. That is one clue that you are not the narc.

    Dea says May 11, 2020

    Dee Dee, I applaud you for everything you’re trying to do to not be narcissistic. I was definitely raised by a narcissistic mother. I don’t know how to say this mildly but, to me, if everything you wrote is true, your daughter sounds more like a narcissist than you do. We all have some narcissistic traits (it’s what keeps us alive or we’d forget to even feed ourselves!) I have known a couple of narcissists and in their accounts they have no desire to ever change, don’t want help and all blame anyone else for their behavior… Never accepting any accountability for any of their actions. Just something to contemplate… I hope for your sake I’m wrong. ?♥️

Justin says December 21, 2019

Having a narc for a parent is one of the worst things a child could experience.

Victims are denied a childhood where they could have learned who they truly are.

    CC says May 9, 2021

    Hi Jason,
    My grandson’s mother is a “top of the line” (strange term, right) narc. By this I mean she is the most EVIL person I have EVER known in my life. My grandson has never known anything but his narc mother. My son, his father, has always been completely the opposite. He is very empathetic, kind, generous, and loving, and he was conned, like all narc victims from the beginning and he ended up marrying a narc, and that was a huge mistake, but what I wanted to ask you is, have you overcome the effects of being raised by a Narc mother, and I was just wondering, if so, how did you do it? My grandson is only 11 years old, and was born to a couple where the mother is an INSANE NARC, and his father is an angel, but they have both been horribly abused by the narc mother. Were you grown when you discovered that your mother was a narc or still fairly young, and I’m just wondering how you recovered from the effects of being raised by a psychopath/Narc at whatever age you were when you finally realized your mother was a narc. My son has pretty much just “cancelled” his wife now, as much as he possibly can, but they still have little choice but to live in the same house. She lives on one side of the house in her bedroom, and he and my grandson live on the other side of the house, and he doesn’t even speak to her anymore – as in at all, which I think is a very good thing, but since my grandson is only almost 11, he is between a rock and a hard place. If he doesn’t speak to his mother, he will encounter the wrath of Satan from his mother, (I’m sure you are familiar with that kind of treatment), and if his dad even wants to take him anywhere, it is a huge fight, and all peace, what little is there is gone. i would appreciate your thoughts, and any suggestions on what maybe could be done now, at age 11 that my grandson could do to deal with his psycho narco mother. Thank you so much.

H says December 16, 2019

I am assuming this also applies to fathers. Articles always talk about the mother being narcissistic. In my case, it was a father only.
Are there any particular differences between a father’s narcissism (toward a daughter) and a mother’s?
And one of the reasons I am completely turned off of marriage is because of always having an icky feeling about my parents’ relationship. My mom is no longer alive, but I remember her always letting my dad have his way and never challenging him. She also never intervened when he was abusive toward me.

    Anonymous says March 15, 2020

    I know exactly what you are saying. It was my father who was the Narcissist, too. My mother also would not protect me from the abuse…yes, it has been physical to the point I had bruises and bleeding.

Dianne says December 14, 2019

I would love to know your thoughts on narcissistic son.

Denise Patterson says December 13, 2019

WOW yup that just totally confirmed it! Just figured out what a narcissist was about 3 years ago while in a relationship with another one. We are no longer together although he did a job on my finances! Saw the playlist he used on you blog 13 things narcissist don’t want you to know they do. Thanks I just keep learning! My timeline with narcissist Mother 1957-2013 Husband also narcissist 1978-2002 narcissist boss 1979-2001 last boyfriend 2006-2009 and 2015-2018!!! I’m done!!! Thank you ! You have given me much knowledge❤️

Karin says December 13, 2019

So to the point, that it made me cry.
In my 50’s now and my whole life I thought, I was told, that I was the one not acting normal. Never could do anything well. My feelings, thoughts, things I liked were always wrong. Got the job she wanted me to do. Didn’t fit me.

About 20 years ago I went NC for a few years, advised by my therapist of that time. Later we had some letters exchanged and she seemed to be respecting me in those letters. Yeah right.
It lasted exactly 5 seconds after meeting again. My father was already ill at that time, so I kept in low contact. Still, the belittling went on and on. I was the scapegoat, my brother the golden child and my sister one of her flying monkeys.

I only recognized her being a narcissist when there came more information online, a few years ago. Although my second therapist had mentioned it. At that time it didn’t click…

The beginning of 2013, my father still very ill, I went on no contact with both of them. It was the best decision ever although I never spoke to my father again. The only family member I still was in contact with at that time turned over to be my mothers best friend after my father died. She who had seen what my mother did to me my whole life. I found out when I had told her (only to her) something and this came back at me via a daughter of a friend of my mother… So I cut this bond also after I confronted her with it.

I have no idea is she is still alive. Might be, might be not. Although I think I should have heard it when not, but I also do not read emails from that particular family member who tries to get in contact with me a few times per year, my mothers new best friend.

I live in my 7th country, I have no point of reference to how normal should be. Being traumatized and hurt is my normal. Even after 54 years…

    Kim Saeed says December 13, 2019

    I’m so sorry, Karin. I see you are a coach and I wonder if you’ve ever done any inner child work. Having a narcissistic mother leaves so many people feeling like they want to give up on life. It may help, too, to see if there is a local Shaman in your area who can help you with soul retrieval. Wishing you all the best. Thank you for stopping by.

    Kim XoXo

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