If you are the daughter of a narcissistic mother then you probably have always known that there was something different about the relationship when it came to you and your mother. Mothers are typically supportive, understanding, and loving.
They are the first connection most children will experience in this world and will set the stage for all future relationships you will have in your life. Unfortunately, this connection happens regardless of whether or not our upbringing was good or bad. If you were raised by a narcissistic mother, here are some things you may have experienced.
Narcissistic mothers live through their daughters.
Instead of allowing their daughters to grow into their own individual beings with their own feelings, thoughts, desires, and needs, narcissistic mother tends to see their kids as an extension of themselves, rather than as individuals. As a result, they are more likely to be criticized if they go against their mother’s vision of what they deem to be right or wrong. They are not praised, encouraged, and understood for having unique ideas or needs.
They want their daughters to be like many versions of themselves. They want their daughters to dress the part, look the part, and act the part. They will put extreme pressure on them forcing them to live up to their expectations of what they consider to be perfect.
As a result, these narcissistic mothers will not hesitate to apply excessive pressure on their daughters to get their way. A few examples of what they may criticize their daughters about are the way they wear their hair, the way they dress, their weight, the friends they choose, the hobbies they take up, their looks, and just their choices in general.
For instance, if their daughter decided to join drama club because it’s something they’re passionate about and actually excel at it, they may say things like “I don’t know why you’re wasting all your time in drama club is stupid! What are you going to do with that in the future? When I was your age I was into sport, you need to take up volleyball as I did”.
Her mother may never encourage her daughter’s true passion and talent for drama club by not taking the time to listen to her when she needs to talk about it, or never attending any of the events. Instead, she continues to downplay it and tells her she should have made a better decision as she did by playing volleyball, even though volleyball may not be something her daughter enjoys or excels at.
Over time, this plays with the daughter’s self-esteem and confidence and makes her start to second-guess her choices, making her feel like she’s incapable of making good decisions for herself, or by herself. In some instances, this constant intense pressure may make her give up on her dreams altogether to follow in her mother’s footsteps. The daughter may actually go ahead and play volleyball, even though she’s not happy and is much better suited for the drama club.
Just to try to get the love, support, and attention she so desperately desires from her narcissistic mother. Once she does her mom will probably be really supportive in the beginning by helping her pick out her sneakers, getting all the accessories she needs, and excitedly coming to her first game. The daughter finally thinks she found the connection she so desperately wants and needs from her mother.
But nope, doesn’t quite play out as planned. Now her mother is criticizing her because she’s not a very good volleyball player, she tells her she’ll never be the player she was when she played. This further diminishes the daughter’s confidence and self-esteem. This is one example of how it can be living with a narcissistic mother.
Narcissistic mothers love displaying their daughter’s qualities in order to be admired by others. Even though they may criticize them at home, they enjoy seeing other people’s approval of their talents, appearance, or accomplishments. In the example previously discussed, the narcissistic mother discouraged their daughter from drama club, yet if their daughter actually did get the leading role in a play, well that of course is totally different.
Let’s say she gets the leading role as Juliet from “Romeo and Juliet” Now her mother is suddenly excited. Not necessarily for her daughter and how excited she must be to have gotten a lead role after all the hard work she put in. No, the narcissistic mother is actually more excited because now she can post on social media how wonderful and talented her daughter is.
In fact, so talented she was able to grab the lead role from 20 other girls who tried out for the same part. Now, remember initially she discouraged drama club but now that she realizes her daughter is really talented, and it’s something that will make mom look good, well that’s a different story. This is superficial praising.
If her daughter later had a bad read and gets a smaller role in the next play, she’ll then chastise her and blame her telling her she could have done much better. A normal understanding mother may say “I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t get the part. Unfortunately, we can’t win them all, but I thought you still did a really good job with your character, you really made it come to life.”
The normal response exercises empathy and sets expectations by letting her know it’s okay not to get the leading role, and she still praises her for a job well done. The narcissistic mother instead may become angry and blame her for not trying hard enough because now she has nothing to brag about.
You see her daughter’s accomplishments are more about her than her daughter’s; she will only be praised when it makes her look good to other people. When the daughter succeeded it never really was about a job well done. It’s about praising the narcissistic mother’s good job and raising her.
Daughters of narcissistic mothers will likely experience a lack of empathy.
Narcissists in general and narcissistic mothers are not understanding the thoughts or feelings of other people. They only think about themselves, they often see other people as objects, attachments, or competition. They don’t view people as individuals with varying needs and different emotions. As a result, they can’t tell you how you feel about your experience because you’re different than them; they can’t put themselves in your shoes.
Instead, they’ll usually make you feel bad if you think or feel differently from them. When the daughter of a narcissistic mother experiences pain or hurt, they’ll just tell them to pull themselves together and get over it. If they dare to tell them that something their mother has said hurt them. They’ll blame them for being too sensitive instead of really trying to understand how they hurt them and change their behavior.
They will rather shift the blame back to them. This in turn can make the daughter feel like she’s not being hurt and her feelings aren’t justified. She’ll start to think maybe she has no right to feel the way she does; she’ll start to believe maybe she is too sensitive. She’ll stop expressing her feelings to people when she’s upset because of the fear of rejection. This will cause her to repress her feelings and can lead to bouts of depression and a lack of boundaries.
Daughters of narcissistic mothers will feel neglected. Some narcissistic mothers are so preoccupied with themselves that they have no capacity to genuinely raise their children. The daughters of a narcissistic mother may feel more like they were raised by wild animals. They never had any rules or boundaries, and they grew up to be someone who needs these things to thrive.
Instead of caring for you, they may have focused all their time and energy on their career, hobbies, or intimate relationships. In these cases, even though they may have provided all the basic needs their daughter needed to live, the emotional piece is lacking. They never took the time to build the emotional connection that is needed in a parent-child relationship.
Children need to be loved, heard, understood, and supported. Daughters of narcissistic mothers will often feel like they have no real emotional connection to their mothers, they may have never heard “I love you, I’m proud of you, or don’t worry I’ll take care of it” They may have never gotten a kiss on the forehead out of the blue, a hug, or reassurance.
This not only makes it difficult for their daughters in this relationship, but it makes it difficult for them when they start to move on and create new relationships on their own. Daughters of narcissistic mothers often have dependency issues. Narcissists often try to make their children feel responsible for their emotional, financial, and physical needs. As a consequence, they may try to persuade their daughters into making impossible concessions in order to fulfill their needs.
They will lean on their daughter for their emotional needs. This can mean taking their anger out on them when they are upset or relying on them for their emotional support in dealing with other failed relationships or situations in their life. Which over time, can drain their energy and make them feel bad because they don’t know how to help them, they clearly see that in most situations their mother is the problem. But how do you tell your mother that?
When they try to give them some advice to solve their problems or point out where they may have been at fault in a situation, it makes matters worse because they really just want you there to listen to their problems and agree with them, they don’t want your opinion unless it mirrors theirs. In these cases, it makes their daughters feel like they have taken on the role of the parent.
Daughters should be able to go to their mothers for advice on how they should maneuver through this world, but in this relationship, it will feel like the roles are reversed. This goes on throughout their life, long after the daughter has left the house and maybe even started a family of their own. Once they’re gone, they may lean on their daughters financially and make them feel guilty if they aren’t able to provide them with their monetary needs.
They may try to manipulate them by saying things like “All that money I spent on you when you were a child you owe me for the rest of your life, the least you can do is help me out.” If you tell them you found a new job out of town, they may guilt you into turning down the job because they need you to stay close to home by them. They may say things like “what would I do without you I need you here.” A normal parent may also be sad that their daughter is moving away, but would also be happy that they’re finding their way in life.
The narcissistic mother’s immediate thoughts will not be to look at the benefits their daughter may be received by getting a better job; instead, their focus will be on how their new job may negatively impact them and their situation.
Realistically, it’s important for you to understand that your narcissistic mother will never be happy with any decision you make unless it mirrors her own, in her world, you would simply do whatever she wanted and live your life according to her wishes. This is an ideal.
If you do exactly what she wants, you’ll be unhappy for sure. You’ll get tired of being her puppet and resent her for your lack of any meaningful relationships or worse still turn into a dependency narcissist yourself. It’s likely that during your childhood she spent most of her time parenting herself- even if she was there physically, she probably wasn’t there emotionally.
She didn’t choose her behavior, but she can choose to stop it. So don’t let her abuse you for her own issues. If possible, distance yourself from your narcissistic mother and limit contact as much as you can. Don’t be sucked in by guilt trips or attempts at manipulation- remain firm.
As she has no true empathy for you, she likely won’t be able to understand why you’re not willing to do what she asks- so don’t bother trying to explain, just stick with your guns and watch her try every trick in the book to lure or force you back in line.
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