Are you worried that your mother is a narcissist? This blog post looks at the signs of narcissistic abuse in mothers and why it's important to answer the question.
A narcissistic mother treats her child as an extension of herself as she is an adult who never grew up. She is someone whose emotional maturity became stunted a very long time ago. And as such, she cannot function in the way that you would expect or like.
A narcissistic mother filters everything through her feelings, needs and insecurities. It's never about you - it will only ever be what she wants it to be at any given moment in time. She will deny saying or doing anything wrong even if caught red handed! It's about what is best for herself, how she currently feels or any insecurities that have haunted her since childhood. Her thoughts create an emotional universe where she can't live without validation from others.
The narcissistic mother lacks empathy. She cannot understand why her demeaning name calling or insulting your intelligence might hurt you. She lacks emotional intelligence and cannot be there for you like a mother. Whether you are getting divorced, have lost a job, or suffered an accident, she will swivel the attention right back to herself as her problems are of far more importance than yours at any given day of the week.
Narcissistic mothers tend to have a naturally controlling parenting style that is, to put it mildly, stifling to both children and adult children. She believes she is entitled to know everything about you and to have an opinion about it too. Your privacy, your choices and your space will all be invaded. She will never knock on your bedroom door, preferring to swing it open dramatically, as though expecting to catch you watching porn or something. When asked to respect your privacy she may make the effort once or twice. Returning to her old ways she will justify her behaviour with, ‘It’s my house, so they’re my rules.’ Not knocking is a way of asserting control and says that your boundaries, your personal space don’t matter to her, and she has the right to monitor everything you do.
These mothers have an exaggerated need for attention and praise. She will be extremely unhappy about your inattentiveness if you become busy with your own life and successes. Although she always painted the picture that you were reliant on her, it was always the other way around. You leaving to start your own adventure in life is not something she will appreciate or cope with. She will call you several times a week, if not every single day (if you let her) and expect you to give her the time of the day while you are juggling your own daily life and problems.
This mother will always be the victim in every situation. Apparently, all her ‘good deeds’ have gone unnoticed by the world. Everyone owes her their understanding and compassion. According to her she has always been kind and giving. It’s impossible for her to comprehend why you do not want her in your life or refuse to allow her abuse or insults and opinions. Her tricks will often involve letting loose a flood of tears at the drop of a hat or she might feign sudden onset of illness due to the stress and agitation others’ are causing her.
As a child, you may not have been allowed to enjoy the freedom to socialise. Sleep overs or random catch ups with large groups of friends at your house were never allowed. And your requests for play dates at your house were foiled with a million excuses. Your mother was too busy or it was bad timing or she had to tidy the house first… The mother - daughter talk about relationships and dating probably didn’t happen and you may have had to sneak around when dating. Young girls (especially) need someone supportive and experienced advising them and being there for them, the narcissistic mother will have something much more important to attend to and leave you vulnerable and possibly even exposed to danger.
A narcissistic mother cannot accept responsibility for any of her actions because that would mean she would have to say that she was wrong. In a narcissistic mother’s dictionary, there is no word such as self-reflection. No one can have the last word in an argument including her husband because everything she says, no matter how absurd, must be treated as right. She frequently uses prolonged silent treatment on anyone as a way to intimidate and shame all those who don’t agree with her or do exactly as she likes. She believes she is above others and that her opinion is a fact. If her children disagree with her, she will demonstrate rage or she will act as though you are just stupid or have inaccurate opinions. She cares more about controlling you than seeing you being happy and independent. The perpetual negativity is the narcissist mother’s special power and something she constantly employs in her daily interactions.
For those adult children who have been able to separate themselves from their narcissistic mothers, they report feeling noticeably more relaxed. “Just my mum phoning me makes me feel uptight because I never know when she’s going to start having a go at me about something or giving me a lecture”, explains one of my clients in her mid twenties.
If you believe your mother is a narcissist you may be facing the choice about when and how you will interact with her, for your own mental health and personal growth. It is important it understand the impact this relationship has had on you as an adult.
Seeking help from a therapist who understands the intricacies of this abuse is a great place to start your healing journey.