Table of contents:
- The purpose of this article is not to explain where the narcissistic mother comes from, but to help the adult children of narcissistic mothers develop positive self-esteem. You may find yourself among people from “healthy” families who cannot even imagine how a mother can treat a child the way your mother treated you. Thus, they implicitly devalue your experience
- Why a narcissistic mother is so scary and dangerous
- Weapon of a narcissistic mother
- The child is not responsible for the mother's narcissism
- It's time to look at yourself through clear glass
Video: Narcissistic Mother: One Of The Scariest Characters In Life - Self-development, Society
2023 Author: Oswald Adamson | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 20:18
The purpose of this article is not to explain where the narcissistic mother comes from, but to help the adult children of narcissistic mothers develop positive self-esteem. You may find yourself among people from “healthy” families who cannot even imagine how a mother can treat a child the way your mother treated you. Thus, they implicitly devalue your experience
I highly recommend working with a professional, understanding psychologist, counselor, or coach to help you effectively heal and recover from childhood traumas.
Why a narcissistic mother is so scary and dangerous
We first learn about ourselves and the world around us through interaction with our mother. Our sense of self-worth is shaped by how it feeds us, cares for us, and protects us from harm. We learn about our value from her expressions of empathy in response to our feelings, wants, and needs.
The relationship with the mother is the foundation of our growth as an individual and our integration into the world. However, if this underlying foundation is tainted by emotional, verbal, and even physical abuse, it is possible that the child will grow up with an increased risk of anxiety, depression, self-doubt, low self-esteem, self-devaluation, and self-contempt.
If a healthy mother protects her child from dangers and harm from the outside world, the narcissistic mother herself becomes a source of fear for her children, thereby distorting the child's perception of himself. Instead of gaining knowledge and tools to form and maintain a healthy self-esteem, children of narcissistic mothers become the soil into which the seeds of self-doubt and low self-esteem have fallen, which later determine the entire being of these people.
If a healthy mother surrounds her child with unconditional love and acceptance, thereby instilling confidence in him and creating a safe place for exploring the world around her and growing the child in accordance with her nature, the love of a narcissistic mother is primarily an external, as well as conditioned manifestation, and a reward that required for this manifestation, is constantly increasing. This creates a constant sense of anxiety, self-doubt and distrust in the child.
This is where the psychological problems of these people begin. Narcissistic mothers have a detrimental effect on their helpless children, who are trusting, dependent on mother's love, attention, appreciation, guidance and protection.
Weapon of a narcissistic mother
Your mother says or does something that hurts your feelings, and when you try to talk to her about the effect it has had on you, she replies sarcastically, “Oh, poor thing. Have I hurt your pitiful feelings? " - or accuses you of being "too sensitive as usual." Sometimes it may even be such an answer: "After all, this does not bother anyone else, why should it bother you?"
Tonya, a single mother, 28 years old, told me:
As a teenager, I had weight problems, which, as you can imagine, gave me a lot of inconvenience. So much so that I practically avoided any kind of social interaction. But the worst were family meetings. Every time my relatives flew in, my parents forced me to go to a meeting with them, and my mother always began to make fun of my weight and appearance in front of everyone. As I understand now, this was possible thanks to the support of my father, who joined her jokes just to curry favor with my mother.
I immediately got hysterical, or I managed to run out of the room to avoid it. Mom always called me after that and, laughing, said: "Well, why arrange such scenes?"
Sometimes your feelings show complete disregard: "No, that was not." And when others compliment you, talking about your kindness, intelligence, dedication and ability to help, your mother quietly whispers: "How you fooled them!" or "How lucky you are that they don't know who you really are."
My client Juliet discovered that her husband, with whom she lived for 12 years, was cheating on her. Naturally, she felt devastated and turned to her mother for support. However, the first thing her mother asked was, "What did you do to make him cheat on you?" In the following weeks, Juliet periodically began to cry. But instead of words of love, compassion and support, she heard from her mother: "Stop making everyone around you unhappy."
Narcissistic mothers are masters of devaluation. With regard to themselves, you are only allowed to have emotional responses that are acceptable to them. They neglect your feelings and your commendable qualities so that they can treat you as they please. This allows them to manipulate the situation and dictate to you what you are allowed and not allowed to feel.
Do you understand what happens to you as a result? You become unable to clearly identify and acknowledge your emotions. You will constantly ask yourself how you are feeling and even how acceptable it is to feel how you feel about what is happening. For example, if you are unable to trust your feelings of fear, how do you know when you are in danger and can do something to protect yourself?
2. Seeking out reasons to shame and be considered wrong
So you finally got the grades she demanded from you, and what is her reaction? "Do you think you did it once and it should impress me?" Or perhaps you have carefully chosen a gift for her, hoping that this time everything will go well. But she gives him a quick glance and says: "I already have it." Or, with obvious disappointment, "how sweet." Or nothing at all.
Your narcissistic mother always manages to find flaws in you. And even if you put in a lot of effort to change and become better, she is unlikely to acknowledge your merits. She always leaves you with the question, "Why can I never be good enough?"
Ashley, the former beauty pageant winner, admits …
In fact, this whole topic about the beauty queen is not mine, but I participated in the competition because my mother really wanted it. I thought it would help us get closer. But when I first won the competition, my mother's reaction surprised me: “Congratulations, honey. It's a shame that you didn't have time to lose a little more weight. The camera adds another 10 pounds, did you know about that? You are lucky that the judges did not notice and still gave you this crown."
A narcissistic mother uses shame to prevent her children from developing a stable sense of their identity or self-worth. They block the growth of their child as an independent individual, setting traps for him so that he constantly needs her approval and confirmation of his worth.
3. Triangulation and comparison with brothers, sisters and peers
A narcissistic mother creates troubled relationships and sibling competition. The usual means is to have a negative conversation about one of them with another, or the classic topic “Why can't you be like your brother?”, Or even “Nobody asked you to dance? How strange. Boys are always fighting to get your sister's attention! " The goal is to sow the seeds of anxiety and tension in relationships between children. Then they will constantly compete to win the love, approval and attention of the mother.
Bethany is now a student, she lives with her mother. The second sister, mother's favorite, is now in Colorado. Bethany tells …
One day I met my mother's friend at a party and, to my surprise, her friend said to me in a bewildered expression: “I heard about your sister living in Colorado, but your mother never mentioned another daughter living here!”
Unfortunately, if siblings from healthy families grow up to become the strongest allies, many siblings with a narcissistic mother feel alienated from each other.
A narcissistic mother will also compare her children to their peers, which helps her to ensure that they always feel unworthy in her eyes. Children often have a question: "Why does she love and appreciate the children of other people more than her own?"
It also teaches children to disdain those who are not up to their standards and preferences, and not to allow themselves to celebrate the success of others. After all, the relationship with the mother has led to the fact that if something good happens to others, it seems to them that this amount of “good” has been taken from themselves!
4. Thoughts and feelings of the child should always be adjusted to the mother's
To begin with, I want to make it clear: a narcissistic mother projects her own fears, dreams, plans and everything else onto the child, but such a projection is natural for a healthy mother. This is our own little man, and we mothers fantasize about how adorable our children will grow up! My child will change the world!
But the difference is that a healthy mother ultimately frees herself from her projection, so that the child has space to understand for himself who he is and where he is in the world. But not a narcissistic mother. Her child will forever remain for her an extension of herself and her reflection. The child's thoughts and emotions will always have to match her own.
Simon, father of two teenagers, shared …
My mother recently told me that I need to secretly monitor what my children are doing on the Internet because she heard that there are websites that motivate children to become criminals. Actually, I think this is absurd. I told her that I periodically check what they are doing online, but I don't feel the need to cheat with them. Moreover, websites alone will not be able to turn responsible children with certain values into criminals.
My mother immediately exploded and said to me: “Why is it so difficult to talk to you? Why can't you just agree and do what I tell you? You really enjoyed arguing with me!"
I calmly replied, “Mom, I am their father and I trust the way we raise our children … a few websites will not be able to erase everything they have learned. They are responsible children, they constantly show their honesty."
The mother snapped back: “These are your responsible children? This is ridiculous". Look at how you disrespect your own mother! And do you consider yourself capable of raising good children? You're delusional!"
5. Competing with your children, especially daughters
No matter what you have achieved, your mother has always achieved more. Whatever difficulties you have to deal with, your mother is always going through more trouble. She absolutely refuses to acknowledge, accept and welcome you as a person who belongs to herself, for her you are just an object that she uses as a support to feel superior.
My client Maria tells …
When I was in high school, friends came to my house. Of course, the mother always went out to the boys in revealing outfits and flirted with them. I was embarrassed. I tried to explain to her how uncomfortable I felt, and she only answered: "Jealousy is unattractive."
Narcissistic mothers are known for criticizing their daughters' appearance, shaming them for their physical features, and even trying to discourage their daughters from their affection in order to demonstrate their superiority and desirability.
6. Supermom in the public eye - terror behind closed doors
She is admired by all her friends and colleagues, she is believed to have an enviable marriage, wonderful children and a wonderful career. She is an understanding and supportive relative, friend, and neighbor, constantly giving time and energy to the community, which in turn supports her in everything.
No one - literally no one - will believe you if you tell what only you know about your mother. The self-centered, easily infuriated, neglectful, devalued, manipulative, vicious mother who is always right makes you constantly aware of how insignificant you are and how much she loves her own family.
For the narcissistic mother, image and status are everything. The false image she has created for the public eye makes all your friends jealous of you for having such a mother! This is the image of a very sweet, selflessly loving, supportive, hardworking and generous person, but you know her secret. In fact, she looks at everyone with contempt, gossips about the very people she meets with a sweet smile and open arms. At home, she rarely cooks and cleans up - however, she volunteers first to cook something for church evening. This is how it really is, but she doesn't care. There is still no one behind closed doors to impress.
Tara, a mother working remotely from home, shared with me …
I kind of have a mother, but in fact she doesn't. You understand? When I told her about the breast tumor and how afraid I was of going to the doctor, she demanded that I keep it to myself and stop drawing attention to myself.
But every time I meet my mother's friends and their relatives, I always hear about what a wonderful person she is. How she helped them in the most difficult moments and how she enjoys their achievements with them.
I can only wonder: what is so terrible about me that she cannot give me the same acceptance, support and love that she gives to everyone else? Why do they have the mother in her face that I so desperately need?
7. She makes children walk on tiptoe in front of her
You never know what might cause her anger. You did your best to figure out what might make her angry, but her eccentric behavior is entirely based on her mood at a particular moment, and there is no sequence in it.
A narcissistic mother is emotionally and mentally vulnerable, so she needs to constantly receive confirmation of her importance and superiority. Her emotions are a constant psychological roller coaster.
Jennell, 24, recently told me:
My mother is just crazy. Nevertheless, for the past two weeks we have been communicating pretty well, and I decided to invite her to dinner. We chatted pleasantly over the meal, and then I asked if she would like to take a look at the dessert menu. She replied: “No! I am so full! " So we finished dinner and I took her home.
The next day she dropped my calls and did not answer my messages. Finally she said she was very angry with me for not insisting that she order dessert. I reminded her that I asked her if she wanted to see the dessert menu, but she accused me of wanting to save money on it and go home sooner.
The next day she spoke in her usual tone and asked when we would go to dinner again, because we had such a great time. What is this madness?
At any moment, she can burst out with terrible anger for not fulfilling her demands (which she never made to you, however, she assumes that you should know about them), and the next moment she is ready to simply strangle you with her love, because that she needs something from you. In household chores, no consistency can be expected from a narcissistic mother. Her children walk on tiptoe, fearing the maternal anger.
8. Complete disrespect for the boundaries of the child
Since a narcissistic mother views her children as extensions of herself and not as independent people, such a mother feels entitled to neglect the basic needs of her children for personal space and autonomy and keeps them in a state of incessant childhood.
Narcissistic mothers can also become so intertwined with their children that they are in a state of latent emotional incest, making their children responsible for meeting her emotional needs and expectations.
My client Erica shared …
When I was in high school, my mother caught my father cheating. She immediately divulged to me a lot of things that children are not supposed to hear about their parents … including sexual things. I was shocked when I heard such details: “Your father is no longer ***** and not ***** to me. He probably stays late at work and there is ***** and ***** for another woman. " I said I didn't want to hear about such things! She angrily replied, “You know, I thought I could trust you. I thought you were my best friend. I guess I was wrong. Okay, I'll find someone else I can trust."
I know I didn’t do anything wrong, why should I feel guilty that I don’t want to hear anything like that again?
9. A narcissistic mother is innocent and always right
She never admits her mistakes. She buried her insecurity and self-contempt deep in the unconscious and constantly protects and feeds the false self she created. Don't dare tell her that she is wrong or point out any mistakes to her. Otherwise, you have to deal with dire consequences, including hearing again what a stupid, disrespectful, and ungrateful child you are.
Scott, a 36-year-old single father, recalls a recent event …
The whole family gathered at our parents' house. Suddenly, my brothers and sisters and I heard my mother screaming from the kitchen: “Who took the serving spoon? Well, quickly put it in place! " We all rushed to the kitchen to see what happened. The mother was furious. We told her: “Mom! We just got here, nobody touched your serving spoon!"
Then my mother looked right at me and said, “Where are you doing her, Scott? This is why you couldn't keep your marriage! You are so irresponsible! " I had no words! Moments later, my sister found a serving spoon in a container on the refrigerator. The mother apparently just left her there when she served the food.
Then her mother said to her: "You should have looked there right away, so that I would not have to search!" We all looked at each other in confusion. And of course, I have not received any apology for her attack on me.
Admitting a mistake would mean losing absolute control over its false image. This threatens her superiority over others and means that she needs to re-establish contact with the true fragile self, which she has long forgotten about - and this would mean for her complete destruction.
The child is not responsible for the mother's narcissism
Many adult children of narcissistic mothers continue to believe that the mother cannot accept them because something is wrong with them. Many are shocked when they first realize that others have experienced similar abuse from mothers in childhood.
These dysfunctional mothers inflict incredible psychological trauma on their children. The spectrum of consequences ranges from constant self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness, anxiety and inadequacy, no matter what has been achieved, to finding emotionally unavailable and abusive partners who provide habitual painful sensations similar to those associated with the mother.
The main point I want to say here is that whoever your mother is, it is not your fault. Whatever they say to you throughout your life and may continue to say until the end of time, it doesn't matter. Of course, these feelings are very painful and difficult to process, because all we see is mom. We expect her to play the role of a mother … acting like the loving mothers everyone else has. However, mothers are also people. And, like all people, they sometimes tend to get seriously ill. If you have a narcissistic mother, it means that she has a personality disorder - this disease is very difficult to cure.
It's time to look at yourself through clear glass
Dealing with a narcissistic mother may seem almost impossible, but you can learn to ignore her behavior. Reach out to someone you can trust to help you assess who you really are. You've probably asked yourself, "Why do others think I'm a wonderful person when my own mother constantly accuses me of disappointing her terribly, no matter how hard I try to prove that I am worthy of her love?"
As the child of a narcissistic mother, you tried to see your reflection in a highly distorting mirror that your mother constantly manipulated. That is why it is so important for you to reach out to the circle of those whom you trust and who can provide you with support. They can help you see yourself in a truthful mirror, not a fake one. Which reveals your beautiful true personality!
Growing up, you had to rely on something very unreliable. This is very sad, you are very unlucky. But if, as a child, you could not protect yourself, then as an adult you can already. You must begin healing and restoration in order to stop believing your mother's instilled lies about yourself.
It's time to see and accept the narcissistic mother for who she is … and more importantly, it's time to become who you really are.
- By Carmen Sakurai, Certified Cognitive Behavioral Coach, Helping Victims of Abuse by Narcissists
- Translated by Kiril Melamud