A Narcissistic Mother: 7 Signs And Tips to Cope With

Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Lori Pace

Children depend on their parents for support, love, and consistency. These emotional needs can be neglected by a parent and it can have a negative impact on the child’s growth. Mothers with narcissistic personality disorder can’t give their children the attention and care they need. They often mistreat their children because of their entitlement. A narcissistic mother may use her children to fulfill her needs.

The complex condition of narcissistic personality disorder is called NPD. Anyone who suspects that their parents might have a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is advised to understand the signs. Although narcissistic abuse is often very dangerous, many children learn to believe that the toxic effects of their parents‘ household are perfectly normal. Many blame themselves for their distress.

Narcissistic personality disorder can have a lasting and negative effect on a mother’s children. You can heal and live a happier life if you believe you were raised by a mother suffering from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

However, if you are a parent who is co-parenting with a narcissist, you may consider a different approach.

How Do You Know If Your Mother Is Narcissistic?

There are many ways to tell if your mother is narcissistic. You can look up the DSM-5 traits and check if your mother matches them. You can also check in with yourself. If you feel invisible and unheard, your mom is probably narcissistic. These feelings indicate that mom is not compassionate towards you. 

Signs That Your Mother is Narcissistic

No Respect For Your Boundaries

Parents must respect the boundaries of their child in a healthy relationship. They must respect their child’s choices, even if they disagree with them at times. This is what people with NPD have to struggle with.

Narcissistic mothers are often driven by a need to control and be in power and will often go against the rules to get what they want. A mother with NPD may claim that she was just in the neighborhood and trying to be kind after unannounced visits to your home (after you have made it clear that she should call you before coming).

Lacks Empathy (or Seems to Turn Empathy On & Off)

Lack empathy is a huge sign!

Parents feel great pain when their child suffers. They then try to understand their child’s needs and likes. Many parents feel guilty or ashamed when their children don’t connect with them. This dynamic is different in narcissistic relationships. Children of NPD parents often report that they feel invisible to their parents and it seems like their parents are uninterested with the idea of understanding them.

Competes With You

Parents want the best for their children and want their children to live a better life. However, narcissistic mothers are often competitive with their children, especially with daughters. They might resent their success, youth, and beauty. They might be critical of their children’s youth, beauty, and success, or they may try to undermine them.

Gaslights You

Gaslighting can be a complicated term but it basically refers to psychological abuse that makes another person crazy. It can take many forms but may look like:

  • You’re being told that you are too dramatic or overreacting for feeling something.
  • Lies about one’s behavior, even when confronted.
  • It was an attempt to convince you it was a joke.
  • You are misunderstanding or not remembering details.
  • Try to change your feelings (“you should feel grateful!

Treats You Well Only in Public

Narcissistic moms can appear like two completely different people. They might act cruelly, dismissively, or largely detached when no one is looking. However, when they’re out in public, they might be showing off, bragging about your accomplishments, or loving you. This is not usually a sign that they are truly concerned about your welfare. These efforts are often motivated by the desire to be a good parent.

Presents as the Victim

Narcissism is a way of feeling different and unique from others. A narcissistic mother may try to manipulate the situation to gain sympathy and attention. She might complain about being misunderstood or singled out. It may seem that she enjoys the drama of an adverse event.

Takes Advantage of Others

Narcissists often shun personal accountability and rely on others to fulfill their needs. They may also bend to the rules of society in order to conform to their preconceived ideas about how things should work. A narcissistic mother may try to “get a deal” with someone or “pull an easy one”. They often choose friends based on the potential benefits they can offer, rather than how they feel.

What To Do If You Have a Narcissistic Mother

It is not easy to deal with narcissism and it can seem impossible to deal with narcissism in the presence of your mother. Although you might not have a perfect relationship, there are steps you can take to ensure your well-being as well as your individual needs. You can take control of your mother’s behavior, but you can take care of yourself.

Learning More About Narcissism

Narcissism can be confusing and new research suggests that there may be different types of narcissism. Understanding this condition can help you better understand your mother’s behavior.

Do Not Blame Yourself

do not blame yourself because of a Narcissistic Mother
Don’t blame yourself! Be confident!

Your self-esteem may have suffered if your mother was narcissistic and constantly shamed or condemned you. Perhaps you grew up believing that you were the problem. Children deserve love, respect and compassion. NPD is a mental illness and it’s not your fault that your mother behaved the way she did.

Implement Boundaries Firmly

You probably already know that your mother is not good at setting boundaries. You might also struggle to set boundaries because you don’t want to cause a fight. However, boundaries can only be as effective as the willingness to enforce them. It is important to take the time to think about your limits and then identify and own them. Then communicate them clearly and concisely.

Practice Gray Rocking

To avoid narcissistic abuse, many people adopt the “gray rock method“. This can work if you need to keep in touch with your mother but want to avoid arguments and heightened emotions.

Gray rock is basically about disengaging yourself from another person. It is a conscious effort not to be interested, bored or responsive. Instead of picking up on arguments, you might reply with one-word answers. Your mother may become more frustrated over time. However, she might also begin to look elsewhere for drama.

Find Support

Reach out to people who can validate your struggles and fears. It is important to surround yourself with people who love you and have your best interests in mind.

Stop Trying to Change Her

It is known that personality disorders can be difficult to treat and it can be very difficult for a person to change. Your mother might not be aware that she is suffering from a problem. Trying to help her will often lead to more manipulation and abuse. Instead, focus on acceptance. This is your mother and it’s impossible to change the past. But you can choose how you want your future to look.

Consider No-Contact

Sometimes, a no contact approach is the best option. It is what it sounds like: you cut all communication with your mother. If nothing else works, or if you are ready to end the relationship, this strategy might be the best.

When & How a Therapist Can Help

Therapy can help you deal with the complex emotions that come with narcissism. It can also help you deal with a mother who is narcissistic. Group therapy can be helpful in some cases. It might be worth looking for a group that is only for children of parents with NPD. You might also find support and solutions in 12-step groups.

Look for a therapist who has experience with NPD treatment for children. If you have other mental health problems, it is worth looking for therapists who are qualified to help. A professional directory will help you find the best practitioners and narrow down your options.

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!