8 Toxic Ways Narcissistic Mothers Emotionally Abuse Their Children
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8 Toxic Ways Narcissistic Mothers Emotionally Abuse Their Children

8 Toxic Ways Narcissistic Mothers Emotionally Abuse Their Children

Our mothers are the foundation of our first attachment to the world. As infants, we learn by her example how to bond with others. We derive our initial sense of our self-worth from how she cares for us, nurtures us, protects and shields us from harm.

A mother’s capacity to provide us with a healthy attachment, to tune into our emotions, validate our pain, and meet our basic needs has a fundamental impact on our development, attachment styles, and emotional regulation (Brumariu & Kerns, 2010). When this initial attachment is instead tarnished by psychological violence, it can leave scars that can take a lifetime to heal. Emotional and verbal abuse by a parent can hinder our learning, memory, decision-making and impulse control in adulthood; it can also heighten our risk for anxiety, suicidal ideation, addiction, and depression (Bremner, 2006; Teicher, 2006; Brumariu & Kerns, 2008).

An abusive, narcissistic mother sets up her daughters and sons for inevitable danger due to the nature of her disorder. Her insatiable need for control, excessive sense of entitlement, stunning lack of empathy, tendency towards interpersonal exploitation and constant need for attention overrides the welfare of her children (McBride, 2013).

Not only does the narcissistic mother fail to protect us early on from the terrors of the outside world, she becomes the source of our terror. Rather than affection, we are exposed to unhealthy enmeshment, chronic rage, and egregious boundary-breaking. Narcissistic parenting distorts our self-perception; instead of being given the building blocks of a healthy self-esteem, we internalize a nagging inner critic and a perpetual sense of self-doubt (Walker, 2013).

The narcissistic mother’s erratic shift in emotions, her ever-conditional “love,” her constant shaming tactics and her ruthless comparisons terrorize us, creating a persistent sense of anxiety where safety and security should be.

What toxic parents all have in common is their inability to provide their children with a safe, nurturing, and loving environment. If they are narcissistically abusive, they are without empathy and sometimes even conscience. This type of ruthless behavior has a damaging impact on our early development as well as the way we navigate the world as adults.

The narcissistic mother engages in the following toxic behaviors:

1. She chronically shames her children.

Shaming is a tactic the narcissistic mother uses to ensure that her children never develop a stable sense of identity or self-esteem – to ensure that they never grow independent enough outside of seeking her validation or approval. She shames her children for not accomplishing enough academically, socially, professionally and personally. She shames them for their choice of career, partner, friends, lifestyle, their manner of dress, their personality, their preferences – all of these and more come under the scrutiny of the narcissistic mother. She shames her children for acting with any sense of agency because it threatens her sense of control and power. By doing so, she instills in them a sense of never being good enough, no matter what they achieve.

2. She sets up damaging comparisons among her children as well as their peers.

Like any narcissist, the narcissistic mother engages in “triangulation” – manufacturing triangles among her children and even their peers. She destructively compares her children to their peers, teaching them that they fall short in terms of looks, personality, obedient behavior, and accomplishments. She unfairly pits two or more siblings against one another, always asking, “Why can’t you be more like your sister or your brother?” She stirs up competition, drama, and chaos. She might make one child a golden child (doting upon them excessively) while making the other a scapegoat. This form of devaluation can leave a painful imprint; it causes her children to compare themselves to others as a way to evaluate their self-worth.

3. She treats her children as extensions of her.

The narcissistic mother micromanages and exerts an excessive level of control over the way her children act and look to the public. Her children are objects and must be pristine and polished in every way, lest their reputation or appearance “taint” her own. Though she criticizes them and treats them with contempt behind closed doors, in public she shows her children off as if they were prized possessions. She brags about how little Timmy always gets straight A’s and how her darling Stacy is the prettiest little girl in town. Yet behind closed doors, she is pouncing on Timmy with reprimands about what he has yet to accomplish and picking on Stacy’s weight.

4. She competes with her children, disrupts their transition to adulthood and crosses sexual boundaries.

It is common for narcissistic mothers to compete with their children, especially their own daughters. The narcissistic mother is likely to overvalue her own looks and sexual prowess. Female narcissists exhibit internalized misogyny and often view other females as competition. The daughter is thus looked upon with fury, jealousy, and envy – her own offspring is viewed as a threat.

As a result, she may devalue her daughter’s appearance, criticize her body and shame her. On the other hand, some narcissistic mothers will objectify their daughters and demand physical perfection. She may expose her daughters to inappropriate discussions about sex or flaunt her body, placing an emphasis on the value of appearances. She might teach her daughters and sons that a woman derives value from her body and her ability to please men sexually. If the narcissistic mother has histrionic tendencies, she may even seduce the friends of her children to demonstrate her superiority over her younger competition.

In other cultures where sexuality is far more restricted, the narcissistic mother may instead attempt to stifle her daughter’s burgeoning sexuality and punish her for being anything less than abstinent. She may fail to provide her daughters with the proper education concerning sex and their growing bodies.

5. An obsession with the external, at the expense of her child’s needs.

To the narcissistic mother, appearances are everything. She may construct the false image of being a sweet, loving and charitable person to others all while gossiping about others, engaging in petty one-upping and abusing her children emotionally, physically or even sexually. She enjoys the social status of being a mother without doing the actual maternal work.

She shows off her children without properly tending to their basic emotional and psychological needs. To her, how things look is far more important than how they actually are. Depending on her social class, the narcissistic mother may enlist the help of others to care for her children while neglecting to give her children affection or attention when they are around, treating them as nuisances rather than as human beings. She may even be callous and cold to the point where she refuses to touch her children altogether.

6. Engages in horrific boundary-breaking.

At the other end of the spectrum, the narcissistic mother may become so enmeshed with her children and overbearing that she engages in covert emotional incest. She makes her children the center of the world and responsible for fulfilling her emotional needs.

Rather than taking on the responsibilities of being an authority figure and parent, she “parentifies” her own children, making them feel obligated to cater to her arbitrary desires and expectations. She violates her children’s basic needs for privacy and autonomy, demanding to know every facet of their lives. She might enter their rooms without knocking, read their diaries, and interrogate them constantly about their friends or romantic partners. She keeps her children in a state of perpetual childhood by punishing them for growing up – whether that means moving out of the house, getting married, going on a date or becoming aware of their sexuality.

7. Becomes enraged at any perceived threat to her superiority.

The narcissistic mother is not unlike any other narcissist in that she feels entitled to have her way and endures narcissistic injury when this sense of superiority is questioned or threatened in any way. As a result, her emotions tend to be a psychological rollercoaster from start to finish. From the sudden outbursts of rage when you “fail” to obey her demands to the abrupt love-bombing which occurs when she needs something from her children, there is little consistency in a household with a narcissistic mother. Her children walk on eggshells every day, fearful of encountering their mother’s rage and punishment.

8. Emotionally invalidates, guilt-trips and gaslights her children.

A child’s reactions to her narcissistic mother’s abuse are frequently met with invalidation, shaming and further gaslighting. The narcissistic mother lacks empathy for the feelings of her children and fails to consider their basic needs. A narcissistic mother is prone to telling her children that the abuse never occurred. It is common for the narcissistic mother to claim that her child is being “oversensitive” or overreacting to horrendous acts of psychological violence.

The narcissistic mother has no qualms about using her emotional outbursts to control and manipulate her children, yet when her children express their emotions, she invalidates them completely. She redirects the focus to her needs and guilt-trips her children at every sign of perceived disobedience. She provokes her children and is sadistically pleased when her put-downs and insults have staying power.

Empathic mothers are attuned to the emotional welfare of their children; narcissistic mothers represent a perversion of the maternal instinct.

This article is an excerpt from my new book for children of narcissistic parents, Healing the Adult Children of Narcissists: Essays on The Invisible War Zone.

References

Bremner, J. D. (2006). Traumatic stress: effects on the brain. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 8(4), 445–461.

Brumariu, L. E., & Kerns, K. A. (2010). Parent–child attachment and internalizing symptoms in childhood and adolescence: A review of empirical findings and future directions. Development and Psychopathology, 22(01), 177. doi:10.1017/s0954579409990344

Brumariu, L. E., & Kerns, K. A. (2008). Mother–child attachment and social anxiety symptoms in middle childhood. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29(5), 393-402. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2008.06.002

McBride, K. (2013). Will I ever be good enough? Healing the daughters of narcissistic mothers. New York: Atria Paperback.

Miller, A. (2008). The drama of the gifted child: The search for the true self. New York: BasicBooks.

Teicher, M. (2006). Sticks, Stones, and Hurtful Words: Relative Effects of Various Forms of Childhood Maltreatment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 163(6), 993. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.163.6.993

Walker, P. (2013). Complex PTSD: From surviving to thriving. Lafayette, CA: Azure Coyote.

Featured image licensed by Shutterstock.


Shahida Arabi, Bestselling Author

Shahida Arabi is a summa cum laude graduate of Columbia University graduate school, where she researched the effects of bullying across the life-course trajectory. She is the #1 Amazon bestselling author of three books, including Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself, featured as a #1 Amazon Bestseller in three categories and as a #1 Amazon bestseller in personality disorders for twelve consecutive months after its release. Her most recent book, POWER: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse, was also featured as a #1 Amazon best seller in Applied Psychology. She is the founder of the popular blog for abuse survivors, Self-Care Haven, which has millions of views from all over the world. Her work has been shared and endorsed by numerous clinicians, mental health advocates, mental health professionals and bestselling authors. For her undergraduate education, Shahida graduated summa cum laude from NYU where she studied English Literature and Psychology. She is passionate about using her knowledge base in psychology, sociology, gender studies and mental health to help survivors empower themselves after emotional abuse and trauma. Her writing has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline, Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, Salon, MOGUL, The Meadows, Thought Catalog and Harvard-trained psychologist Dr. Monica O’Neal’s website.


36 thoughts on “8 Toxic Ways Narcissistic Mothers Emotionally Abuse Their Children”

  • September 28, 2018 at 8:53 am
    Spot on analysis.
    My mom to a “T.”
    8 for 8.

    I’ve just pre-ordered your book.

    Thank you.

    Reply

  • September 28, 2018 at 12:39 pm
    Oh my god this describes my mother to a T. She is a horrible, horrible person, totally unaware of the damage she inflicts and how she has destroyed every relationship she’s ever had. I’m so glad I went no contact two years ago. I only wish I’d done it 30 years ago! It was hard and sad to come to terms with the fact that she was incapable of loving me, or anybody really, and that my sister was her golden child. Thank you for this article; it has provided me with new insight into the machinations of narcissists such as my mother.

    Reply

    • June 11, 2019 at 6:11 am
      I see my child going through this. I am not sure what is more sick her mom doing it. Or the therapists who cheer her on and stonewall me or the schools and a system that rewards schools with money when they classify a child a special needs. In my opinion the professionals are the real problem. I tried to bring the matter up to them and was ignored or rudely told to go away. There must be accountibilty. These professionals should know better or not have the job. A parent is not an expert but the professionals say they are. There is a lot of money being thrown their way. Money is corrupting the process. Perfectly ok kids are being labled as special need by schools. The schools are rewarded by taxpayer money for helping gaslight kids. This system must be investigated and the money incentive removed.

      Reply

      • February 15, 2020 at 6:46 pm
        Amito, I’m not sure. Are you saying that you identify with the “mothers”described in the post?

        Reply

      • May 27, 2020 at 2:16 am
        Agree.

        Reply

  • October 17, 2018 at 9:47 am
    Now what do I do about it? Your article describes my childhood/adulthood experience perfectly. I have sort of taken myself out of life with zero motivation. I used to love to act (but was told that was a pipe dream, went to a great college, people generally like me when I put myself out there, but I have never felt what it means to be loved. My quest in life is to give to others what I never received knowing that what I put out there will open me up to receive the same. That is when I have the strength. The only love I have ever felt was and is from God. I am so incredibly grateful for this connection. But I need human connection too. I so badly want a life of love – to love and be loved. I’m 45 and it has yet to happen. I used to be hanging on by a thread, but today I’m more in a state of acceptance and feel like I’m just passing through.

    Reply

    • October 29, 2019 at 1:23 pm
      You are not alone brother. I have had the been dealt the same hand. It is so friggin lonely its unbearable. I go through periods where I’m okay with it and I have periods of complete resentment of every one and everything. Take it day by day, do your best, have compassion for yourself and love god.

      Reply

  • November 8, 2018 at 4:53 am
    I am shocked right now! This describes my mother and all sisters, including one who is a licensed counselor, to a “T”. I have seen all these characteristics in them over the years. They are absolutely horrible people who damage and destroy anyone in their way, especially anyone who dares to stand up to them like I did. This list is so accurate in every detail. I feel validated, finally. My mother and sisters had me falsely arrested some years ago when I “dared” to finally call the police on one of them for coming at me and her children with a butcher knife (for the third time) after I “dared” to question her terribly abusive and threatening behavior towards us. They all circled the wagons, lied to the police who arrived, and had me arrested instead. My mother had been threatening to arrest me for the past 35 years before that, since I was about 5 years old, and she gleefully lied to the police along with the others and accomplished her wish. I was shocked, had never had any dealings with police or the law before, did not know how to deal with them when they did not believe me but believed my mother/sisters who said I had assaulted one of them instead (the police said a mother educated with a PHD knows what she is talking about). I spent the night in jail with police banging repeatedly on the cell door and yelling that I might be schizophrenic (they told me that my mother and sisters said I was, which was another outright lie by them to destroy my reputation). Apparently the police had their own emotional issues they were taking out that night. I was stunned by the treatment I received. I was not allowed to call an attorney despite continuing to ask to call one, and the judge said he had never seen so many family members show up to court on behalf of the “victim”, my sister who had chased me screaming with the butcher knife. He said he believed them due to their solidarity and sheer numbers. I gave up and ended up pleading guilty to a false charge of assault since my family had threatened to kill me if I resisted, etc. I was terrified with no one to turn to. It was a very traumatizing experience. I had been a professional with an established business for many years up to that point. Once they got done contacting my clients and talking slander about me around town, I went from making the usual $5-8000/month with employees, down to making $500 per month. It has taken years to rebuild my life, and 10 years later I still haven’t recovered financially. They continue to spread horrible lies that they were victimized by me and that I am “dangerous”. I have chosen to forgive them, but it has been a terrifying ordeal to recover from. I’m sorry this is so long. This article brought up some memories for me.

    Reply

  • January 30, 2019 at 7:55 am
    Wow. So many in one family after the same person. I feel for you. I.May have become split. During abuse. Not knowing. My husband was doing it to my son’s and daughters as well. The lie he told !y kids is that. I did not care about them or !ove. And I would not help them. And when my son starting to become alpha. At a very young age. He was turning into all muscle. He beat in his face. Cause he knew he wouldn’t be able to for much longer. And he told me son.I was ok with it

    Reply

  • February 20, 2019 at 1:07 pm
    My mother has many of these qualities but was rarely cruel that I could remember. However I think that she may have scared me enough when I was too young to remember so that I never threatened her authority after that. In the rare times as an adult that I did, I saw a rage reaction.
    I had to go no contact with her bc she could never accept any criticism about herself. I tried for many years but to no avail. One thing that stands out with her was this tendency to react with inappropriate rage that resulted in a fight, flight or freeze reaction in myself (usually freeze). I realized that she once she saw the effect it would have of neutralizing me and others, she would use it to wield power. Then 5 minutes later, she would be loving and nurturing without having been aware that she was just very harsh. This was clear evidence of compartmentalization of her hostility. Definite sign that she had no integrated different aspects of her personality.

    Reply

  • March 12, 2019 at 7:29 pm
    In my case, my mother began sexual abuse at age 2 til 4, then picked up again at 7 for about 8 months. Add in all the other dynamics from the article and what others have shared here, including the intense, ongoing shaming and controlling, and you’ve created a child-man, one whose manhood has been stolen and broken. I’m 70 now, and have done much to heal over the past 30 years, and am doing quite well. I’ve broken through and, as you all might know, it’s been hard, but worth getting through. For those who are still suffering, I’d recommend a good counselor, one who is astute to this issue, and some ‘spiritual training’ as in Buddhism, etc.; I don’t advise Christianity as such it is so limited and fraught with misunderstanding.

    It’s hard to imagine, as you grow up, that the one who bore you as her child, would end up ‘feeding on you’ for her own ‘needs.’ I discovered the ‘hate’ I had for her when I gave up trying to ‘win’ her affections; I cut her off cold. Our last conversation was civil, 8 months before she died of cancer at 83 in California. Living 800 miles away, I let the facility handle her remains, and washed my hands of her. Sometimes that’s just the way you need to handle it. POINT: it was NEVER your fault. I’m reminded of a scene near the end of the film, “Good Will Hunting,” where Robin Williams (as the therapist), tells Will that “it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault…” Like Will, I broke down when I had seen the film again in my home.

    We have choices to make and such can re empower our lives to discover the joy and love that was always there…wishing you all the best

    Reply

  • April 30, 2019 at 11:24 am
    Yup, that was dear old mom:
    Criticized me constantly, to the point of embarrassing me in front of other kids at the bus stop. Chased away girls from the house when they came to visit me. She really turned up the heat when I hit puberty.
    Unequal treatment of my 3 siblings. 2 golden brothers, me, and 1 older brother that I learned much later was abused like me.
    Punishment for me that included kneeling bare-kneed on dried beans.
    Caused major anxiety in me, which caused me to drop out of college.
    I graduated college at age 58, which I think she was envious of. No congratulations. I was “crazy” for going.
    Poked her nose into my marriage. No congrats on my son becoming a lawyer.
    No congrats on my early retirement & mortgage burning.
    I used to think she was just paranoid, until I saw another narcissistic mother website depicting a scowling little girl recoiled on a chair. The last time I saw “Mom,” same display only she rocked nonstop. Childhood regression I suppose. She wouldn’t speak. It really freaked me out.
    I tried calling her after that told me to shove my phone, and continually hung up on me.
    For her final display of power and abuse, she undid dad’s will with the equally divided estate. I was cut out, golden brother got the lion’s share. The other golden brother has been institutionalized for many years, which she threatened me to keep quiet about. She wouldn’t even tell my other non-golden brother about it but I did, which I am sure got me on her non-compliant **it list. I hate to say it, but it is comforting to know that I was not the only one with a nut job mother. May she burn in Hell…

    Reply

  • May 28, 2019 at 1:11 am
    Tip of the iceberg folks! It is much more than this calm article reveals!

    Reply

  • August 14, 2019 at 4:52 am
    Sadly you have described our mother.I’m the eldest of 6 I have three sisters and two brothers all damaged by the mother who was verbally and physically abusive. When our father got home she would tell him horrible lies about us and encourage him to beat us. She constantly told me that I was the cause of all of her problems and that it was my fault that she had so many children. If I protested she would beat me and tell the other children that I was a slut who flirted with men. They were all encouraged to remind me that I was dirty. I don’t know how we survived. Dad died young and the mother made it clear that we had to get out and start our own lives as quickly as possible. I wanted a good education but mother forced me to leave school at 15. she would not allow me to study.Her reason was that she could have been a secretary if she hadn’t had me. The things she got up to and is still doing at age 86 would fill a novel. We all try to take care of her needs but we never satisfy her. She always finds something to complain about.I have decided not to visit as often and when she starts on me I say nothing and leave. She has now decided to leave me out of her will.I just don’t care. I have tried so hard not to be like her I love my children unconditionally. The mother sees this as weakness and openly tells me to beat my children. I refuse to treat my children like that.I do believe if the mother thought she would get away with it she would kill me.

    Reply

  • August 28, 2019 at 9:15 am
    Your writing is perfect! Beautiful.

    Reply

  • October 7, 2019 at 7:58 pm
    50 years old and I have only just recently discovered why my mother hated me so much and why she made my life a living hell from sun up to sun down. To read other peoples pain and experiences is such a mindblowing life shift, to read that other people suffered as I did.
    The thing that gets me the most, is the amount of people that cover up this bad behaviour. My mother successfully destroyed her family, (terrorised her own mother and sisters), destroyed her own marriage, then her new enablers family and then had a go at mine, successfully destroying my family and marriage. To the point she conspired with my soon to be ex husband to remove my one and only child from the country and then lied about it! Paid for the fucking flights 5000k’s away. Took me 6 months to get my 11 year old daughter back.
    My mother ruined my wedding day, my 21st, my trip to Europe, purchase of my new home, birth of my one and only child and any or all success I may had.
    I was the scapegoat, a role I took over from her younger sister, Lyn, who I’m even named after once Lyn moved away. I met with my Auntie, once in my entire adult life, and she told me that my mother had been an evil, cruel bitch her whole life. The words my Aunt said were ‘if you want a happy life, don’t have your mother in it!’. They are now 10 years no contact, with their elder sister, over 30 years no contact.
    My sister was not as strong as me and has not survived the abuse. 10 months younger than me, she has become a recluse, on the sickness benefit for nearly 30 years, never married, never had kids, never worked. My mother and her enabler destroyed my sisters life. I fought back, I’ve spent more years no contact, that with contact and as soon as I had a child I knew I had to remove us from her sphere as she would use my child against me, and she did. I moved to Australia for 10 years, came home, and she immediately attacked me, in front my daughter, obviously starved for supply.
    My mother’s partner of over 35 years was the biggest enabler of all. Every thing I’ve read about enablers was him to a T. The scary thing was he was a very high executive within one of the biggest banks but all the time he was hiding child abuse. While my mother targeted me, he targeted my sister and was quite ruthless and even joined in the abuse when he could.
    They would hide all this behaviour and then blame it on me.
    I’m still trying to stop throwing up, still trying to process what has actually happened to me as I came from a fairly wealthy white background and was taught that their behaviour was normal and I was the one in the wrong.
    They would say “we don’t want any drama’ . Her favourite saying to me was “I’ll fix you”! Evil, true evil in her face, I can still see it now.
    I got the bitch though, when I found out, 4 months later, that they paid for my daughter to leave the country and then lied to my face about it for months, I took action.
    Put it this way, I think its expensive to repaint an Audi, both sides, all panels.

    Reply

    • November 21, 2019 at 8:10 am
      I’m glad you got your daughter back.

      Reply

  • November 11, 2019 at 10:35 am
    Great article, thanks a lot.

    Reply

    • August 15, 2020 at 9:24 am
      Thanks for reading Sam! Glad it was helpful!

      Reply

  • December 14, 2019 at 4:22 am
    Thank you for this article. My goodness me this is my mother. I felt so weak and powerless even into adulthood. She has bullied me out me down compared me to others to the extent that I’ll never be good enough called me fat despite being underweight. One day my mother told me that when she dies she is leaving everything to golden child and I would get nothing. Golden child already has and always has had more than me. I realised I was an adult and why am I sticking around for all this rubbish. Finally I was able to say well I’m not even going to get any inheritance so may as well cut her out. After I did go no contact My mother started to spread lies about me and how she no longer wants to speak to me as if it was her choice because I was so terrifying. I moved areas in the end because everyone seemed to believe little old mother who never put a toe out of place in public. Life is so much better now. If she dies so be it at least I won’t know if she leaves me nothing. I’m now no contact with anyone who believes her and life is good.

    Reply

  • January 6, 2020 at 7:53 pm
    Omg! Much of this is exactly how my mother treated me and my sisters, especially paragraphs 7and 8. We had the obligatory Golden Child and the rest of us took it in turns to be the scapegoat, but I was assigned the role most. My continual childhood refrain was (always said contemptuously with a nasty sneer), ‘And what have you been up to then’ and ‘You are just like your father, secretive and sly’.
    Anything would set off her many rages, emotional outbursts where she would storm round screaming abuse at anyone who didn’t run away in fear fast enough. Afterwards she would be lovely – until next time.
    I am elderly now and although I have done a huge amount of healing still suffer from the depression which started in early childhood. Like a previous poster I have never managed to find love or have my own family and I am resigned to it now I guess.

    Reply

    • January 10, 2020 at 10:58 pm
      Holy cow. I got the “You’re just like your Dad” comment more times than I can count. My so called mother is a textbook narcissist. Took me about 40 years to figure out WHAT was wrong, but I have known something was since I was a kid.

      Reply

  • January 8, 2020 at 10:50 pm
    This describes my mother so exactly, it’s as if you lived in my childhood home. I first wanted to leave her (home) when I was six. I needed my Dad, though, to carry my desk!
    After telling her my plan, she was furious, yelled and screamed at me, forced me to strip and marched me, naked, to the front door. She told me that I’d come into her life naked and so I could leave it the same way! Luckily, as she opened the door, Dad was just about to walk in. He was shocked, cross that I’d upset my mother, but helped me bundle up my clothes so I could get dressed upstairs while they talked in the kitchen.
    The rest of society knew her as a kind, gentle woman, who would do anything to help others. Just not her own children. Actually, my brother was the much-wanted Golden Child but she’d had to have we three girls before he came along…
    Needless to say, I became an empathic mother, who loves her two daughters very much and is not a narcissist!
    Thanks for sharing this advice 🌸

    Reply

  • January 18, 2020 at 12:00 pm
    Going no contact with narc mothers is the only way to go, setting boundaries while still in contact is useless and futile. With only conditional love growing up, any form of ‘fake’ tactics to reel you back in is only too simple for the narcissist, its their mode of living and maintaining control. Once you are reeled back in, abuse continues. Having grown up a misogynist, bipolar, people pleasing, worrying what others thought of me, really made me a total wreck. Your narcissist mother doesn’t help you prepare for the cruelty of the world, she only makes it easier for the world to take advantage of you. There is not one person in the world more damaging than a narcissist mother. After going no contact with my narc mother, everything I have ever read about narcissists started making sense, their purpose, personality, mode of operation, is pretty much already set in stone. What makes it hard for children to leave the narc is plain and simple unconditional love towards parents, something that narcs don’t have and can never give you. Your love can’t fix them, so don’t bother, the only thing you can do for yourself is let them become someone else’s problem, you are far more important than they are and you, as you are, is already good enough. They are the problem, not you

    Reply

    • May 17, 2020 at 6:11 pm
      Wow, thank you for your comment. Especially this part:”Your narcissist mother doesn’t help you prepare for the cruelty of the world, she only makes it easier for the world to take advantage of you. ” So incredibly true in my case. That hit home really hard. Thank you for sharing!

      Reply

  • February 3, 2020 at 3:08 pm
    I am a 72 year old grandfather with two grandsons, 12 and 9 yrs old. My 46 yr old son was kicked out of his home over 2 yrs ago by his covert, malignant NPD wife. She has turned the 12 yr old into the golden child and the other is the brutalized scapegoat. I have been aware of what she is for years. I tried to tell my son years ago but he denied it until she kicked him out. I then guided him to the many competent therapists and counsellors on You-tube and he now knows exactly what happened to him. We are now watching his ex destroy the two children emotionally. My son has joint custody and the youngest has been begging to live with his dad full time. The oldest has gone into a shell – he is a straight A student who has nothing to say to us when we are together and he has only one friend at school, who lives just down the street but who he does not hang around with outside of school. The scapegoat is one of the most popular kids in his class – lots of friends – going to birthday parties all the time. Over the years I have encountered dozens of reports, here and every where else from the adult victims of NPD. The stories are very similar, broken people who can’t have healthy relationships and ruined lives in general. Knowing this, why is it insisted by many professionals that you can not explain narcissism to children 12 and older ??? The past practice of waiting to explain NPD when the victims are adults seems to have a significant failure rate. I think that we should begin to educate the victims about NPD at age 12. What have we got to loose? Although I have never worked with children, I have been an addictions counsellor for 30 yrs. Mike.

    Reply

  • February 12, 2020 at 9:13 am
    Thank you for this article. My mother abused myself, brother and half sister who left home at 19, physically, mentally and emtionally. I have gotten the worst of it as l never married which is probably just as well it would have been someone like her. She has stalked me wherever l lived especially after my father died and she put him thru hell. She is now 96 l am 70 and she is still at it assaulted me 7 yrs ago a whack across the face and came close again a vew months back. She would get some of my belongings going back some years sell them or put them in the rubbish playing mind games which 30 yrs later still affects me because she still does it. Have since moved out now l know my things are safe. Has told a litany of lies about me and my brother stil, bags my father who has been dead 34 years. Was not a well man having had polio at 21, lost his brother in WW2 who he was close to so his nerves were not good. In fact none of our nerves were good, l have attempted suicide several times and harmed myself. Due to an accident at high school in gymnastics hit my head on a wooden floor suffered severe headaches for 53 yrs and now have what is called a cholesteral granuloma in my head and am in pain 24/7. Now l have to see a lawyer to clear my name of the horrific lies my mother has told. No she never loved us she came first and would tell me often in a voice filled with venom you are just like your father. Thank goodness l
    am he had a brilliant mind and was a kind caring person.

    Reply

  • April 12, 2020 at 4:17 pm
    This is absolutely the best short summary I have ever read! I wish every narc victim could read this! Especially kids! Thank you,

    Reply

  • April 30, 2020 at 6:36 am
    Thank you for your article.
    It was very informative and supports much of the research I have done in attempting to help my ex wife and save my children.
    I dared to leave my wife, due to her increasingly damaging and abusive behaviour, despite her threats to financially ruin me and destroy my children. She has successfully used the system, lying ( by her own admission), stealing, deceiving and threatening to exact her vengeance.
    My children are doing terribly, academically, emotionally, socially and developmentally.
    I had 6 houses, $4.5 million when I left my wife. I am now homeless, at her insistence, whilst she has 3 homes debt free and knowingly continues to abuse my children.
    In the interests of keeping my message brief:
    I was raised to be a man, women and children come first. A man honours his word, I swore to love,honour and protect my wife. I have never struck or bashed a woman or child. This leaves a loving, hard working, honest man completely open to abuse from a woman with destructive behavioural traits. Further to that the system is geared to work for abused women and against abusive men. In the absence of any evidence to support the presence of an abusive man and when faced with evidence of an abusive mother the system turns to lier’s ( sorry lawyers). Evidence from Dr’s, professor’s, government agencies, family, friends,etc is excluded because it is damaging to the mothers case. The father, children, family and friends are left destroyed as the system gives the mother what she demands because it is in the best interests of the children’s safety. As stated by the barrister “ If the mother does not get what she wants, she may harm the children “.
    The result is that the father is homeless, financially ruined, has minimal time with his children and the mother continues to abuse the children and father whilst owning 3 houses and having the financial capacity to continue to inflict ongoing harm.
    My question is, How can I save my children? Who is out there to help victims of this kind of abuse? Who can utilise my years of notes and extensive experience from living with this kind of person to assist in helping others and hopefully help my ex wife?
    Any advice or assistance would be greatly appreciated.
    Kind regards.

    Reply

  • May 10, 2020 at 12:01 pm
    I am 72 years old, and I wept to read so many comments from other seniors. After all, “it’s been so many years.” “Put it behind you.” Why won’t it go away, I wonder myself. I think it’s because the narcissistic abuser gets inside your head and sets off hand grenades. And because so many people don’t realize how painful and destructive non-physical abuse can be. Show people bruises and they get it, but describing my mother is tough. She was such an actress – outgoing, friendly outside the home. Her poison was kept secret and potent for her children alone. When my mother died 30 years ago, it was a great relief. Do not feel guilty if you have similar feelings. My tragedy is that I still wish she had loved me. I’m very sad when I see a kind, loving mother. I needed that, too, and I will never have it.

    Reply

    • May 24, 2020 at 12:37 pm
      You have my full empathy. Naraccists leaving bad memories in our brains are like booty traps because you never know when they will happen and you don’t know where to look for them. Too bad our brains are not like tape recorders, CDs, floppy disks, etc. wherein those devices you can erase any information and start all over again but you can’t do it with the human brain.

      I hope you find peace.

      Reply

  • May 15, 2020 at 7:26 pm
    My mother is all this but she is an aggressive violent bully too. When we grew up and she couldn’t beat us she started doing sneaky stuff like damaging our property when we are not looking. And a lot of other stuff, too much to explain here. She is a very sick woman mentally. She worships her male child and some of her male grandchildren but I don’t think she truly loves them. I don’t think she had ever felt real love in her life.
    I have ask her trying to find a reason why she acts the way she does, but she was never abused in any way. I can’t find any reason for her to act the way she does. She is sick in a way I will never be able to understand. I’m just so glad I’m not her and didn’t turn out like her.

    Reply

  • May 15, 2020 at 10:44 pm
    Thank you so much for your work. It’s awesome, may just be the biggest thing humanity needs. Awesome work.

    Reply

    • August 15, 2020 at 8:59 am
      Thanks so much Snjezana, appreciate your kind words and glad you liked the article!

      Reply

  • July 23, 2020 at 6:05 pm
    This article 100% describes my ex-wife and her mother. It unfortunately also describes how my ex treated our two children. Fortunately she is now engaged in intense therapy to try and correct her past and make amends with our children. However, as many of the older commenters have said – the impact of a narcissistic parent carries on for a lifetime. I wish her, and all of you, the best of luck in healing your wounds.

    Reply

  • August 23, 2020 at 9:57 pm
    Oh My God !
    You just described my “Parents” to a T,
    They threw me away when I was 14 and kept the 2 children who
    kissed their rear ends, I was Emancipated by 15 on the grounds of
    cruel and unusual Metal Abuse, I went through Hell, they trashed My Life !
    Every time I encounter any of them (including the 2 other children), it turns into a
    nightmare and costs me dearly, they taught their children to be just like them; to conform
    and to hate and to Deny, I’m a mess, I may never be ok, I’m trying, alone, to come back up from
    them ripping my life up yet again, all because I tried to trust them 1 Final time. . Sad, Lost People. Thank you for opening my eyes as to who these people are, you are dead on ! , L. (a girl)

    Reply

             

26 Comments

  • sandduffer

    This is absolutely the best short summary I have ever read! I wish every narc victim could read this! Especially kids! Thank you,

  • Rev. Francine Wall

    I am 72 years old, and I wept to read so many comments from other seniors. After all, “it’s been so many years.” “Put it behind you.” Why won’t it go away, I wonder myself. I think it’s because the narcissistic abuser gets inside your head and sets off hand grenades. And because so many people don’t realize how painful and destructive non-physical abuse can be. Show people bruises and they get it, but describing my mother is tough. She was such an actress – outgoing, friendly outside the home. Her poison was kept secret and potent for her children alone. When my mother died 30 years ago, it was a great relief. Do not feel guilty if you have similar feelings. My tragedy is that I still wish she had loved me. I’m very sad when I see a kind, loving mother. I needed that, too, and I will never have it.

  • Inglis

    Sadly you have described our mother.I’m the eldest of 6 I have three sisters and two brothers all damaged by the mother who was verbally and physically abusive. When our father got home she would tell him horrible lies about us and encourage him to beat us. She constantly told me that I was the cause of all of her problems and that it was my fault that she had so many children. If I protested she would beat me and tell the other children that I was a slut who flirted with men. They were all encouraged to remind me that I was dirty. I don’t know how we survived. Dad died young and the mother made it clear that we had to get out and start our own lives as quickly as possible. I wanted a good education but mother forced me to leave school at 15. she would not allow me to study.Her reason was that she could have been a secretary if she hadn’t had me. The things she got up to and is still doing at age 86 would fill a novel. We all try to take care of her needs but we never satisfy her. She always finds something to complain about.I have decided not to visit as often and when she starts on me I say nothing and leave. She has now decided to leave me out of her will.I just don’t care. I have tried so hard not to be like her I love my children unconditionally. The mother sees this as weakness and openly tells me to beat my children. I refuse to treat my children like that.I do believe if the mother thought she would get away with it she would kill me.

  • Ralph Gardner

    In my case, my mother began sexual abuse at age 2 til 4, then picked up again at 7 for about 8 months. Add in all the other dynamics from the article and what others have shared here, including the intense, ongoing shaming and controlling, and you’ve created a child-man, one whose manhood has been stolen and broken. I’m 70 now, and have done much to heal over the past 30 years, and am doing quite well. I’ve broken through and, as you all might know, it’s been hard, but worth getting through. For those who are still suffering, I’d recommend a good counselor, one who is astute to this issue, and some ‘spiritual training’ as in Buddhism, etc.

  • Gregory ONeill

    Now what do I do about it? Your article describes my childhood/adulthood experience perfectly. I have sort of taken myself out of life with zero motivation. I used to love to act (but was told that was a pipe dream, went to a great college, people generally like me when I put myself out there, but I have never felt what it means to be loved. My quest in life is to give to others what I never received knowing that what I put out there will open me up to receive the same. That is when I have the strength. The only love I have ever felt was and is from God. I am so incredibly grateful for this connection. But I need human connection too. I so badly want a life of love – to love and be loved. I’m 45 and it has yet to happen. I used to be hanging on by a thread, but today I’m more in a state of acceptance and feel like I’m just passing through.

  • bskycountry

    I am shocked right now! This describes my mother and all sisters, including one who is a licensed counselor, to a “T”. I have seen all these characteristics in them over the years. They are absolutely horrible people who damage and destroy anyone in their way, especially anyone who dares to stand up to them like I did. This list is so accurate in every detail. I feel validated, finally. My mother and sisters had me falsely arrested some years ago when I “dared” to finally call the police on one of them for coming at me and her children with a butcher knife (for the third time) after I “dared” to question her terribly abusive and threatening behavior towards us. They all circled the wagons, lied to the police who arrived, and had me arrested instead. My mother had been threatening to arrest me for the past 35 years before that, since I was about 5 years old, and she gleefully lied to the police along with the others and accomplished her wish. I was shocked, had never had any dealings with police or the law before, did not know how to deal with them when they did not believe me but believed my mother/sisters who said I had assaulted one of them instead (the police said a mother educated with a PHD knows what she is talking about). I spent the night in jail with police banging repeatedly on the cell door and yelling that I might be schizophrenic (they told me that my mother and sisters said I was, which was another outright lie by them to destroy my reputation). Apparently the police had their own emotional issues they were taking out that night. I was stunned by the treatment I received. I was not allowed to call an attorney despite continuing to ask to call one, and the judge said he had never seen so many family members show up to court on behalf of the “victim”, my sister who had chased me screaming with the butcher knife. He said he believed them due to their solidarity and sheer numbers. I gave up and ended up pleading guilty to a false charge of assault since my family had threatened to kill me if I resisted, etc. I was terrified with no one to turn to. It was a very traumatizing experience. I had been a professional with an established business for many years up to that point. Once they got done contacting my clients and talking slander about me around town, I went from making the usual $5-8000/month with employees, down to making $500 per month. It has taken years to rebuild my life, and 10 years later I still haven’t recovered financially. They continue to spread horrible lies that they were victimized by me and that I am “dangerous”. I have chosen to forgive them, but it has been a terrifying ordeal to recover from. I’m sorry this is so long. This article brought up some memories for me.

  • Joan

    Thank you for this article. My goodness me this is my mother. I felt so weak and powerless even into adulthood. She has bullied me out me down compared me to others to the extent that I’ll never be good enough called me fat despite being underweight. One day my mother told me that when she dies she is leaving everything to golden child and I would get nothing. Golden child already has and always has had more than me. I realised I was an adult and why am I sticking around for all this rubbish. Finally I was able to say well I’m not even going to get any inheritance so may as well cut her out. After I did go no contact My mother started to spread lies about me and how she no longer wants to speak to me as if it was her choice because I was so terrifying. I moved areas in the end because everyone seemed to believe little old mother who never put a toe out of place in public. Life is so much better now. If she dies so be it at least I won’t know if she leaves me nothing. I’m now no contact with anyone who believes her and life is good.

  • David Black

    My mother has many of these qualities but was rarely cruel that I could remember. However I think that she may have scared me enough when I was too young to remember so that I never threatened her authority after that. In the rare times as an adult that I did, I saw a rage reaction.

  • Seen It All

    This article 100% describes my ex-wife and her mother. It unfortunately also describes how my ex treated our two children. Fortunately she is now engaged in intense therapy to try and correct her past and make amends with our children. However, as many of the older commenters have said – the impact of a narcissistic parent carries on for a lifetime. I wish her, and all of you, the best of luck in healing your wounds.

  • Neja

    Wow. So many in one family after the same person. I feel for you. I.May have become split. During abuse. Not knowing. My husband was doing it to my son’s and daughters as well. The lie he told !y kids is that. I did not care about them or !ove. And I would not help them. And when my son starting to become alpha. At a very young age. He was turning into all muscle. He beat in his face. Cause he knew he wouldn’t be able to for much longer. And he told me son.I was ok with it

  • Michael Doherty

    I am a 72 year old grandfather with two grandsons, 12 and 9 yrs old. My 46 yr old son was kicked out of his home over 2 yrs ago by his covert, malignant NPD wife. She has turned the 12 yr old into the golden child and the other is the brutalized scapegoat. I have been aware of what she is for years. I tried to tell my son years ago but he denied it until she kicked him out. I then guided him to the many competent therapists and counsellors on You-tube and he now knows exactly what happened to him. We are now watching his ex destroy the two children emotionally. My son has joint custody and the youngest has been begging to live with his dad full time. The oldest has gone into a shell – he is a straight A student who has nothing to say to us when we are together and he has only one friend at school, who lives just down the street but who he does not hang around with outside of school. The scapegoat is one of the most popular kids in his class – lots of friends – going to birthday parties all the time. Over the years I have encountered dozens of reports, here and every where else from the adult victims of NPD. The stories are very similar, broken people who can’t have healthy relationships and ruined lives in general. Knowing this, why is it insisted by many professionals that you can not explain narcissism to children 12 and older ??? The past practice of waiting to explain NPD when the victims are adults seems to have a significant failure rate. I think that we should begin to educate the victims about NPD at age 12. What have we got to loose? Although I have never worked with children, I have been an addictions counsellor for 30 yrs. Mike.

  • Daughter-of-a-Narc-Mom

    Oh my god this describes my mother to a T. She is a horrible, horrible person, totally unaware of the damage she inflicts and how she has destroyed every relationship she’s ever had. I’m so glad I went no contact two years ago. I only wish I’d done it 30 years ago! It was hard and sad to come to terms with the fact that she was incapable of loving me, or anybody really, and that my sister was her golden child. Thank you for this article

  • Lynda

    50 years old and I have only just recently discovered why my mother hated me so much and why she made my life a living hell from sun up to sun down. To read other peoples pain and experiences is such a mindblowing life shift, to read that other people suffered as I did.

  • Trina fuson

    My mother is all this but she is an aggressive violent bully too. When we grew up and she couldn’t beat us she started doing sneaky stuff like damaging our property when we are not looking. And a lot of other stuff, too much to explain here. She is a very sick woman mentally. She worships her male child and some of her male grandchildren but I don’t think she truly loves them. I don’t think she had ever felt real love in her life.

  • Kim

    This describes my mother so exactly, it’s as if you lived in my childhood home. I first wanted to leave her (home) when I was six. I needed my Dad, though, to carry my desk!

  • Mary Wright

    Thank you for this article. My mother abused myself, brother and half sister who left home at 19, physically, mentally and emtionally. I have gotten the worst of it as l never married which is probably just as well it would have been someone like her. She has stalked me wherever l lived especially after my father died and she put him thru hell. She is now 96 l am 70 and she is still at it assaulted me 7 yrs ago a whack across the face and came close again a vew months back. She would get some of my belongings going back some years sell them or put them in the rubbish playing mind games which 30 yrs later still affects me because she still does it. Have since moved out now l know my things are safe. Has told a litany of lies about me and my brother stil, bags my father who has been dead 34 years. Was not a well man having had polio at 21, lost his brother in WW2 who he was close to so his nerves were not good. In fact none of our nerves were good, l have attempted suicide several times and harmed myself. Due to an accident at high school in gymnastics hit my head on a wooden floor suffered severe headaches for 53 yrs and now have what is called a cholesteral granuloma in my head and am in pain 24/7. Now l have to see a lawyer to clear my name of the horrific lies my mother has told. No she never loved us she came first and would tell me often in a voice filled with venom you are just like your father. Thank goodness l

  • Peter

    Going no contact with narc mothers is the only way to go, setting boundaries while still in contact is useless and futile. With only conditional love growing up, any form of ‘fake’ tactics to reel you back in is only too simple for the narcissist, its their mode of living and maintaining control. Once you are reeled back in, abuse continues. Having grown up a misogynist, bipolar, people pleasing, worrying what others thought of me, really made me a total wreck. Your narcissist mother doesn’t help you prepare for the cruelty of the world, she only makes it easier for the world to take advantage of you. There is not one person in the world more damaging than a narcissist mother. After going no contact with my narc mother, everything I have ever read about narcissists started making sense, their purpose, personality, mode of operation, is pretty much already set in stone. What makes it hard for children to leave the narc is plain and simple unconditional love towards parents, something that narcs don’t have and can never give you. Your love can’t fix them, so don’t bother, the only thing you can do for yourself is let them become someone else’s problem, you are far more important than they are and you, as you are, is already good enough. They are the problem, not you

  • Beverley Mills

    Omg! Much of this is exactly how my mother treated me and my sisters, especially paragraphs 7and 8. We had the obligatory Golden Child and the rest of us took it in turns to be the scapegoat, but I was assigned the role most. My continual childhood refrain was (always said contemptuously with a nasty sneer), ‘And what have you been up to then’ and ‘You are just like your father, secretive and sly’.

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