The narcissistic mother is a mother in name only. She gives her child a “cold embrace” if she makes any effort at all. These mothers are incapable of empathy–the capacity to understand and put ourselves into another person’s place psychologically and emotionally.
Narcissistic mothers have different ways of not mothering. Some of them appear to be ideal mothers on the outside. They are obsessed with creating and molding the perfect son or daughter who will reflect their perfection and provide them with a source of constant narcissistic supplies. “Your daughter is so beautiful and bright. You are doing an incredible job raising her.” “Your son is a superior student. You are the inspiration for his search for excellence.” The stories from outsiders accumulate to create mountains of praise and adulation for the narcissistic mother. The child is being forced to become a false self and discard his individuality and genuineness. The narcissistic mother is only concerned about how her child enhances her image.
Some narcissistic mothers discard their children and let them know that they were never wanted and are a burden. They do this in various ways. Many narcissistic mothers send their children to boarding school, even at a tender age, to get them off their hands. Putting a child in a prestigious school fits the bill for them perfectly. After all, the child is getting a fine education and from their point of view is being well cared for. It all looks so protective and legitimate from the outside.
Some narcissistic mothers are painfully direct with how much they dislike or even loathe their children. They are neglectful and emotionally and physically abusive. Small children are often left alone for long periods of time with only a neighbor with a key as protection. Some narcissistic mothers don’t even bother. They let the children fend for themselves and they are often left alone at night.
I have heard from a number of children of narcissistic mothers. It is remarkable how many of them have turned out to be strong, kind and productive human beings. Recently, I spoke with a daughter of a narcissistic mother. She told me that as a small child she recognized that something was very wrong with her mother. She was not real or caring. She vowed to grow up and not be like her mother. She had succeeded beautifully. Recovering as the daughter of a narcissistic mother is a complex process but well worth the journey. To learn more about identifying narcissists, understanding their psychodynamics and childhood roots and learning how to successfully deal with them, visit my website: www.thenarcissistinyourlife.com
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.