13 Traits of a Narcissistic Mother and How I Unlearned Them as a Mom

Have you ever wondered why some mother-child relationships are marked by emotional turmoil, a constant struggle for validation, and an unrelenting sense of inadequacy?

Do you think your mother’s behavior is more than just typical parental strictness?

I certainly did.

These are the questions that filled my mind as I navigated the stormy waters of my own relationship with my mom.

Little did I know, I was grappling with the traits of a narcissistic mother.

But through self-awareness, I’ve been unlearning these patterns, determined to break the cycle and provide my son with the love and support I craved.

In this article, I want to share my experiences with you, so you can hopefully untangle similar complexities in your own life.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • If you feel overshadowed by your mother’s need for admiration, it’s essential to set boundaries to ensure your voice is heard.
  • Navigating a relationship with a mother who displays extreme self-importance can challenge your self-worth. Don’t let it impact how you feel about yourself.
  • Seek understanding and emotional support outside your relationship if your mother consistently fails to empathize with your feelings and needs.

13 Traits of Narcissistic Mothers

Growing up with a narcissistic mother often means that you don’t realize something is wrong until much later in life.

By then, wounds have already been inflicted, and the path to healing lies solely in your hands.

The first step, of course, is awareness. If you suspect that you have a narcissistic mother, look out for these traits.

1. Constant Need for Admiration from Others

Do you often find yourself in situations where your mom’s insatiable hunger for admiration takes center stage?

In my own life, one memorable incident occurred during a friend’s birthday party when I was around 10 years old.

As the evening progressed, it became increasingly apparent that my mother’s need for attention knew no bounds.

She dominated conversations, incessantly highlighting her achievements and qualities, often cutting off others to redirect the spotlight onto herself.

Her narcissism left me feeling like a spectator in my own life, my thoughts and contributions dismissed in favor of her relentless self-promotion.

Tip
Dealing with a parent’s excessive need for admiration can be challenging, but setting boundaries is crucial. Assert yourself when necessary, and gently redirect conversations to ensure your voice is heard, too.

2. Inflated Sense of Self-Importance

Have you ever wondered if your mother’s sense of self-importance is a bit too much? I’ve certainly pondered this question in my own life.

One striking example stands out, etched in my memory like a scene from a movie.

It was a family celebration. As the event unfolded, her narcissistic personality became increasingly evident and she believed the entire gathering revolved around her.

She made extravagant demands, expecting everyone to cater to her whims as if no one else’s needs or feelings mattered in comparison to her towering self-importance.

It left me feeling like an extra in her narrative, a mere accessory to her larger-than-life persona.

Navigating a relationship with a mother whose ego eclipsed all other considerations is challenging.

You may also find it hard to find a place for your own feelings and needs. But remember that you deserve recognition and respect, just as much as anyone else.

Tip
Someone with a narcissistic personality disorder thinks the world revolves around them. If your mother is the same, don’t let her grandiosity overshadow your self-worth.

3. Having a Hard Time Understanding Others’ Needs and Feelings

Does your mother lack empathy? Mine sure did.

In fact, it often felt like my mom wore a blindfold when it came to recognizing the needs and feelings of those around her.

I remember countless instances where she dismissed my emotions or failed to acknowledge the significance of what I was going through.

If I was facing a personal crisis and came to her for support or empathy, she would shame or belittle me.

It was disheartening to realize that my mother’s inability to understand others’ needs and feelings left me feeling isolated in my struggles as if my emotions were invisible to her.

The lack of emotional connection and empathy in our relationship was a constant source of frustration.

It made it challenging to share my joys, fears, or sorrows with her, knowing they would likely be met with indifference or redirected back to her own experiences.

Tip
To prevent lasting emotional scars from a narcissistic mother’s lack of empathy, seek understanding outside of the relationship. A loving and supportive network of friends and loved ones who value your feelings and needs will help you nurture your emotional well-being and self-esteem.

4. Highly Skilled at Manipulating Others to Get What She Wants

Narcissists tend to be masters of manipulation. They’ll say and act one way in front of others but do the opposite once you’re alone.

My own mother enjoys having power and control, even over her adult children. And she’ll hold on to that no matter what.

It’s like an intricate dance of deception that I’ve witnessed my narcissistic mother perform with ease.

She possessed an uncanny ability to manipulate her children and even entire situations to satisfy her desires, often at the expense of others.

I’ve seen her use guilt trips, emotional manipulation, and even feigned vulnerability to get her way.

One glaring example was during a family decision-making process.

She skillfully manipulated the discussion, subtly influencing everyone to align with her viewpoint, while disregarding the valid concerns and opinions of others.

Witnessing this manipulation was both frustrating and disheartening.

It highlighted the lengths a mother with narcissistic tendencies will go to ensure her needs are met, regardless of the significant impact on her children’s emotional well-being.

5. Take Advantage of Others, Including Her Own Family

One of the most common narcissistic mother traits my mom has is the willingness to exploit others, including her children.

A narcissistic mother may view her children as tools to achieve her goals, rather than individuals with their own needs and desires.

Experiencing this firsthand, left me feeling used and unappreciated, like my worth is solely determined by how I can serve my mother’s interests.

You may have also experienced situations where your mother took advantage of your kindness, generosity, or willingness to help, all without considering the impact on you.

I know that recognizing this trait can be challenging, but understanding it is the first step in setting boundaries and preserving your own well-being.

6. Resent the Success or Happiness of Others, Including Her Own Children

Does your mother perceive your achievements as threats to her own sense of superiority? Children of narcissistic parents know this all too well.

I, myself, often felt a strong tension in the air when I achieved something noteworthy.

Instead of celebrating my success, my mother’s reactions ranged from indifference to thinly veiled envy.

You may have also encountered situations where your mother’s response to your success or happiness was less than supportive or genuinely joyful.

In these moments, remember that your success and happiness are worth celebrating, irrespective of how others react.

7. Entitled to Special Treatment

A narcissistic mother may carry a sense of entitlement, expecting special treatment as if the world should revolve around her.

This belief can manifest in various ways, from expecting others to cater to her needs without question to demanding privileges and preferential treatment, even in mundane situations.

Growing up, witnessing this entitlement was frustrating and disheartening. It highlighted my mom’s disregard for the boundaries and considerations of others.

Tip
Avoid giving in to unreasonable demands or privileges that reinforce her sense of entitlement. Instead, assert your boundaries firmly and communicate your own needs and expectations clearly.

8. Fragile Self-Esteem and Highly Insecure

Behind the facade of superiority, a narcissistic mother often conceals a surprisingly fragile self-esteem. It’s like a delicate glass sculpture that appears strong but easily shattered.

This fragility may reveal itself when she becomes defensive or reacts with hostility to even the mildest criticism.

My own mom craves constant validation and reassurance from those around her, seeking to patch up the cracks in her fragile self-image.

This realization has helped me navigate our complex relationship.

It emphasized the importance of setting boundaries to protect my emotional well-being while understanding the deeper layers of her personality.

Tip
While setting boundaries is crucial to protect your emotional well-being, it can also be helpful to offer sincere, constructive feedback when necessary. Be empathetic but assertive, and avoid responding to defensiveness with defensiveness.

9. Have Difficulty Respecting Personal Boundaries

Navigating boundaries with a narcissistic mother may feel like tiptoeing through a minefield.

I remember a specific instance when my mother always displayed a complete disregard for personal boundaries.

I had clearly communicated that I needed some alone time to recharge after a long day, but she persisted in intruding upon my space, dismissing my request as insignificant.

This lack of respect for boundaries extended beyond physical space.

She often felt entitled to comment on every aspect of my life, from my choices and relationships to my personal beliefs.

It left me feeling like my privacy was constantly under siege.

Once I recognized this trait, I was able to establish and maintain healthy boundaries to safeguard my emotional well-being.

Tip
Setting boundaries is a healthy and necessary act of self-care. So, make sure you communicate your limits firmly and consistently, even if met with resistance.

10. Hate Taking Responsibility

Another one of the traits of a narcissistic mother is that she may struggle with accountability. I recall a situation where her inability to accept responsibility was glaringly evident.

It was a situation where her actions had caused some family conflict. But instead of acknowledging her role in the issue, she deflected blame onto others.

It didn’t occur to me at first, but over the years, I saw that she’s an expert at making excuses and shifting responsibility away from herself.

There were also countless times I experienced gaslighting, way before I even understood what that meant.

As you can imagine, this difficulty in taking responsibility can be a significant barrier to healthy communication and conflict resolution within the family.

Tip
Gently but firmly hold her accountable for her actions, pointing out specific instances where she could have played a role in conflicts. Stay calm and composed, and avoid engaging in blame-shifting arguments.

11. Favoritism and Neglect

Growing up, I experienced the painful dynamics of favoritism and neglect at the hands of my narcissistic mother.

It was evident from a young age that she favored my older sister and younger brother over me. The preferential treatment was unmistakable, from lavish gifts to constant praise and attention.

Conversely, I often found myself on the receiving end of neglect. My achievements were frequently downplayed or ignored, and my emotional needs were often dismissed.

It was a heart-wrenching experience to watch my mother shower them with affection while seemingly forgetting my existence.

Experiencing this favoritism and neglect has left lasting emotional scars.

It underscores the challenges of growing up in an environment where your worth feels conditional and unacknowledged.

Because of this conditional love, you will often find adult children of narcissistic parents with poor emotional and psychological health. They may also suffer from low self-esteem.

Tip
Focus on building your own self-esteem and self-worth. Seek validation and support from friends, mentors, or a therapist who can help you recognize your intrinsic value.

12. Fantasize About Having Success, Power, or Wealth

In my experience, my mom lived in a world of her own aspirations, where her desires for grandeur overshadowed reality.

I’ve observed her weaving elaborate tales of future achievements, often exaggerating her abilities and potential accomplishments.

These fantasies can be both fascinating and frustrating to witness.

On one hand, they reflect her boundless ambition, but on the other, they often lead to a disconnect from the present and a lack of accountability for her actions.

It’s as if her dreams take precedence over the responsibilities of everyday life.

Navigating this trait may contribute to unrealistic expectations and an inability to appreciate the present moment.

Tip
Her dreams and aspirations may not always align with your reality. So, prioritize your own well-being by setting realistic expectations for yourself and your interactions with her.

13. Have a Strong Belief That Others Are Envious of Them

A narcissistic mother perceives envy lurking in every interaction, even when it may not be the case.

I’ve witnessed my own mom interpreting compliments as thinly veiled jealousy and assuming that others are envious of her accomplishments.

This belief can be perplexing to navigate, as it colors her interactions with a constant sense of defensiveness.

It can make genuine connections challenging, as she’s quick to assume that envy is the driving force behind others’ behavior.

This perspective likely stems from her projecting her own feelings of jealousy onto others.

In her world, she believes that if she’s envious of others, everyone else must also be envious of her.

This projection creates a cycle of suspicion and defensiveness, making it difficult to establish trust and authentic connections.

Tip
Encourage a safe space for conversations where you can express your intentions and feelings clearly. Empathize with her perspective while gently addressing her assumptions.

How My Narcissistic Mother Taught Me to Be a Better Mother to My Son

Growing up with a narcissistic mother was a challenging experience, but it opened my eyes to invaluable lessons about motherhood.

Below are some of the lessons I learned to be a great mom to my son thanks to my narcissistic mom:

  • I have great empathy and understanding toward my son. My own experiences have given me great empathy and understanding toward my child’s needs and emotions. I prioritize active listening and ensuring that he feels heard and valued.
  • I understand the importance of setting healthy boundaries with my son. Setting boundaries helps him develop not only a sense of responsibility but also respect for others’ boundaries.
  • I give my son the healthy emotional support and validation he needs. By giving my son the support and validation I didn’t receive from my mom, we’re able to create a safe space for him to express his feelings and concerns.
  • I’m more attuned to manipulation and control tactics. Having experienced them firsthand, I can now protect my son from such influences.
  • I have a strong self-reflection and awareness. This helps me be a more mindful and intentional parent. It also allows me to continuously evolve and adapt my parenting approach to meet my son’s changing needs.
  • I’m able to teach my son resilience. My experiences have taught me the importance of resilience. I make it a daily practice to instill this quality in my son, helping him navigate life’s challenges.
  • I can be a possible role model for my son. Because I grew up with a narcissistic parent, I know how not to be one. I demonstrate healthy communication, empathy, and self-care.
  • I’m open about my feelings and experiences. Regularly talking to my friends and husband to heal the wounds from my past helps ensure I can create a nurturing environment for my son.

My Personal Story of Growing Up With a Narcissistic Mother

Growing up with a narcissistic mother left deep emotional scars.

Her unrealistic expectations, relentless pursuit of admiration, and lack of empathy for others created a hostile environment where self-worth was a scarce commodity.

Thankfully, amidst the turmoil, I found solace in a family friend who became a maternal figure in my life.

She countered my mom’s abusive words with encouraging ones, helping me banish all of my self-doubt.

Although I maintained limited contact with my biological mother, I leaned on a network of trusted friends to shield me from emotional abuse.

Today, I’ve come out of that dark past stronger and more determined than ever.

I am now committed to helping others like you who’ve gone through or are going through similar situations.

Hopefully, through my experience, you’re able to see that there’s a brighter future ahead, and you hold the power to shape it.

Thanks, My Narcissistic Mother for Great Life Lessons

Being able to recognize the traits of a narcissistic mother has taught me resilience, empathy, and the importance of self-preservation.

While the scars remain, they serve as a reminder of my strength and determination. More importantly, they taught me how to be a better mom.

My experiences have given me the insight and wisdom to nurture my own child with love, understanding, and healthy boundaries.

I am committed to providing the emotional support and validation I yearned for in my upbringing.

My past has shaped me into a parent who strives to break the cycle, ensuring that my child grows up in an environment of unconditional love, empathy, and empowerment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you identify a narcissistic mother?

You can identify a narcissistic mother by traits such as a constant need for admiration, an inflated sense of self-importance, difficulty understanding others’ feelings, and manipulation to get what they want.

What if you’re feeling overshadowed by your narcissistic mother’s achievements and stories?

If you’re feeling overshadowed, it’s essential to set boundaries and assert yourself, ensuring your voice is heard too.

What should you do if you think your mother is exploiting or taking advantage of you?

If you believe you’re being exploited, recognizing this trait is the first step. It’s crucial to set boundaries and prioritize your well-being.

Why do narcissistic mothers have difficulty taking responsibility?

Narcissistic mothers often deflect blame onto others and make excuses, avoiding accountability for their actions.

How can you use your experiences with your narcissistic mother to better your parenting?

You can prioritize active listening, set healthy boundaries, provide emotional validation, protect your children from manipulation, and teach them about resilience.

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