Why Narcissistic Mothers Are Considered One Of The Scariest Personalities Of All

For most of us, the initial encounter we have in our lives is with our moms. We initially cultivate a sense of self-worth, self-respect, assurance, and emotional intelligence through their nurturing, backing, affection, and focus. However, having narcissistic parents can negatively hinder personal growth.

Having a close bond with our mothers gives us a model of how to engage with the world constructively - how to build connections, understand and sympathize with others, and cherish the important people in our lives.

However, a relationship that is abusive in any way or carries a subtext of emotional toxicity exposes us to the risk of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and a diminished sense of self-worth.

If you frequently recall hearing phrases such as: "Why can't you be more like your brother?" or "Oh, poor you. Did I hurt your little feelings?" or if you have frequently pondered throughout your life, "Why can't I ever be good enough?" it's possible you may have a mother with narcissistic tendencies.

What Is A Narcissist?

Narcissism is a widely-used term to depict an individual who seems to be overly self-absorbed. Like most other personality characteristics, narcissism is considered a spectrum, and most individuals fall somewhere in the middle.

At the far end of the spectrum, you have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Defined by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, an intense craving for excessive attention and admiration, problematic relationships, and a deficiency of empathy for others, NPD is relatively uncommon. It can only be diagnosed by a mental health expert.

On the surface, individuals with NPD may seem to possess exceedingly high confidence and self-regard, but truthfully, the opposite is factual. Highly delicate self-esteem leaves these individuals susceptible to even the slightest criticisms, and thus they go to great lengths to boost their self-image.

To achieve this, those with NPD often strive to socialize with people they consider talented or exceptional in some way, and they persistently seek excessive admiration and attention from others.

People With NPD May Exhibit The Following Characteristics

An exaggerated sense of self-importance

Obsession with fantasies of boundless success, power, intelligence, attractiveness, or perfect love

The conviction that one is exceptional and can solely relate to particular individuals or establishments

An excessive requirement for admiration

Taking advantage of others

The absence of empathy

Feeling envious of others or believing that one is the target of envy

Behaving or having attitudes that are arrogant or haughty

NPD can hurt one's job, relationships, and finances. If they do not get the attention they feel entitled to, they will likely become very dissatisfied and disappointed. These individuals frequently find relationships unsatisfying, and many do not enjoy being in their company.

They can be successful, but their incapacity to handle criticism negatively affects their performance. When faced with defeat or complaint, they may retreat or pretend to be modest [2,3].

Individuals with NPD have a greater likelihood of experiencing substance abuse, mood, and anxiety disorders, possibly due to their tendency towards impulsive behavior and feelings of shame.

Psychologists are yet to determine what causes someone to develop NPD, but it can be treated with psychotherapy to help them develop a more empathetic way of relating to others. Treatment can be challenging, however, as those with high levels of narcissism are often defensive and may struggle to acknowledge the issues with their behavior.

What Does A Narcissistic Mother Look Like?

Narcissism in motherhood can manifest in several ways, all of which can make it incredibly challenging and even dangerous to the mental health of the child of a narcissistic mother.

A common trait of a narcissistic mother is disregarding her children's feelings, emotions, and accomplishments. When her child attempts to talk to her when they are sad or upset, the narcissistic mother will often brush aside their feelings instead of offering support and guidance.

Sometimes, the mother herself may have caused her child's emotional distress, in which case she is likely to dismiss her child's feelings as being overly sensitive or exaggerated.

Narcissistic mothers often disregard their children's emotions to manipulate the situation and dictate which feelings are deemed acceptable for them. This behavior can leave the children struggling to identify and understand their surfaces.

Children with narcissistic mothers frequently ask themselves, "Will I ever be good enough?". This is because a narcissistic mother always finds faults in her child, even when they try to impress her. In her constant pursuit of validation and approval, she inflicts shame upon her children, making them strive for her affection.

What Are Some Things A Narcissistic Mother May Say?

A narcissistic parent may say many things, but according to psychotherapist Lena Derhally, some examples include the following:

1. "That never happened. You must have imagined it."

2. "I do so much for you, and you never show appreciation!"

3. "You should try being more like your [another person]. They're so wonderful."

4. "Why can't you just get over it already?"

5. "Don't waste your time. It's probably too hard for you."

6. "You're always so busy with your life that you don't even think about me."

7. "I'm so tired of doing everything for you."

8. "You're gaining weight and won't be able to fit your new clothes soon."

9. "I'm going to have to punish you if you don't do exactly what I say."

10. "Be quiet. Nobody cares what you have to say."

11. "It's your fault I have to punish you."

12. "Can't you see that I'm busy? I don't have time for you right now."

13. "Don't even ask me! The answer is no."

14. "I'm the only person who could ever really love you."

15. "I gave up my whole life for you, and you only care about yourself!"

16. "You would be so pretty if you just lost a few pounds."

17. "I'll never understand how I gave birth to a child like you."

18. "What's wrong with you?"

19. "You're tired? How do you think I feel?! I do everything around here."

20. "Thanks for cooking — even if it isn't very good."

21. "You don't know what you're talking about."

Sibling Rivalry

A mother with narcissistic tendencies can create sibling rivalry among her children, ultimately deteriorating their relationship. Such mothers instigate competition between their children, often making one or more of them feel like the less favored child.

A child who perceives themselves as less unique or less loved will likely feel inadequate and eventually envious of their sibling.

Competition With Her Children

This could be called the "fairest of them all" syndrome, particularly applicable to daughters of mothers with narcissistic traits. A mother with NPD may perceive her daughter as a rival and compete with her for the attention of the men in their life, including the husband/father and son/brother.

A narcissistic mother's need to be the most important person in her daughter's life can result in her sabotaging her daughter's relationships with friends and other family members, regardless of gender.


NPD mothers often see their children, particularly their daughters, as extensions of themselves. According to her, this means that their child must look and be their best at all times. An NPD mother will want her daughter to dress, act like her, and choose friends, boyfriends, hobbies, and work that she would choose.

This approach to mothering, often referred to as "my way or the highway," is an attempt by NPD mothers to undermine their daughter's ability to form their preferences and make decisions independently. This causes the daughter to depend more on her mother's approval. If the daughter tries to decide against her mother's wishes, it could lead to severe criticism and a difficult power struggle [6].

A Public And Private Persona

From the outside, the narcissistic mother presents an entirely different image. She often seems to have everything - a perfect marriage, children, and career. Her peers admire and may envy her, and they would never suspect that she could be anything other than understanding, supportive, and a wonderful wife, mother, and friend.

The narcissistic mother places great importance on her image and status. As a result, she has crafted a public persona of being selfless, loving, supportive, hardworking, and charitable, even though she is emotionally unavailable, dismissive, manipulative, and malicious in her home life [1].

How Does Maternal Narcissism Impact Children?

A mother who shows no empathy and appears incapable of demonstrating love can have a profound and long-lasting adverse impact on her children. Without their mother's emotional care and affection, children can often feel lost and alone without even understanding why.

Children of narcissistic parents often experience adverse mental health outcomes, including higher rates of depression and anxiety.

Children raised by narcissistic mothers may struggle with adult relationships, as they may internalize thoughts such as: "If my mother can't love me, who will?" Thoughts like these can often cloud the psyche of children who grow up with narcissistic mothers and prevent them from developing close relationships with others because they don't view themselves as valuable.

A child who has experienced maternal narcissism often becomes a high achiever, but they may never feel good enough or worthy of the praise they receive for their efforts. Since they have been taught that appearances are of the utmost importance, they will place great value on their physical appearance and tend to be overly self-critical of their body and looks.

When a child grows up with a narcissistic mother, they may struggle with developing a genuine sense of self and learning to identify and trust their own emotions. Because they were always expected to do what their mother wanted, they may lack confidence in making their own decisions.

This self-doubt can follow them into adulthood and hinder their achievements in various aspects of their lives, such as their careers and relationships.

Your Mother Is Not Your Fault

It is very common for the child of a narcissistic parent to take care of their parent instead of the other way around [8]. If you are the child of a narcissistic mother, it is crucial to remember that you are not responsible for her, that you are valuable, and that taking care of yourself should be a priority.

Furthermore, it's essential to understand that your mother's behavior and how she treats you is not your fault. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a genuine psychological issue, and her actions are a consequence of her inner struggles, not because you are lacking in some way.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in mothers can result in substantial emotional and psychological damage, and healing from it requires dedication and time. If you experience shame and rejection, seeking the help of a mental health professional can help you recognize that the messages you received from your mother are untrue.

You can then begin to replace the negative inner voice with self-affirming thoughts, allowing you to establish a sense of self-worth and boost your self-esteem.