Narcissistic mothers have always existed. Their styles fit certain eras. These days many narcissistic mothers are in highly competitive careers. I think that the rise of women to become prominent in many professions is exceedingly vital to every individual in the society. I am not talking about working women who become mothers, love their children and are very responsible raising them. I am speaking about the narcissistic mother who has her children specifically for the sake of her all important image which includes bragging rights and calculated displays of her perfect kids. Some narcissistic mothers insist on molding each child. She is like a puppet master, working the strings of her daughters and sons. She checks each one to see which she will choose to reflect and mirror her the best. The chosen child is often attractive, bright, talented in some way and athletic. This child is a standout in the family from the mother’s perspective. She knows this child’s destiny from the beginning. She showers this chosen one with undeserved praise and this son or daughter is given no limitations with regard to cruel behaviors toward brothers and sisters.
I have heard so many appalling life stories of children who grew up with a narcissistic mother and weren’t chosen to be the star of the family. These mothers are such hypocrites. In public they know exactly how to present themselves in the mothering role. That’s exactly what it is–a performance. Relatives, friends, even close ones believe that these mothers are extraordinary and that they genuinely love and care for their children.
The opposite is true. Narcissistic mothers are exceedingly critical, at times physically violent and psychologically horrifying with their children. Adult children of narcissistic mothers tell stories of terrifying punishments that they received even as very small children. Often they were subjected to hours of threats, told that they should never have been born but should have been aborted. Kids were forced to clean their rooms until they were spotless. Even when the chores were perfectly done, mother didn’t approve and picked the child apart, calling them names like “stupid”, “ugly”, “worthless”, “dumb”. These names coming from a narcissistic mother were deeply embedded into the children who received this abusive treatment. As adults, children of narcissistic mothers still can hear “mother’s” hateful raised voice shouting epithets at them.
Narcissistic mothers terrify their children by pitting one against the other, promising one daughter or son that he or she will be the favorite. All of this is a cruel game the narcissistic mother sadistically employs to control her children, to make them bend completely to her iron will.
These dark hidden punishments and chronic patterns of neglect are kept secret within the family. No one must ever say or even admit to himself or herself the truth about “mother.” That is the seal of secrecy that feels like a matter or life or death. These children feel so trapped. They know no one will believe them–not even other relatives or family friends. That is the essence of the narcissistic mother’s dark psychological and emotional treachery.
Some children of narcissistic mothers not only survive to tell the true tale of their lives but they heal and evolve and create. I have found that these adult children are among some of the most empathic human beings I have ever encountered.
Let your healing begin. It is a long pathway. Begin by knowing and accepting the truth about what happened to you. Next–Take hold of the truth about yourself and what a wonderful, unique human being you are. Remember your special gifts and if you don’t, ask that they will be revealed to you. Be receptive to your intuition as you move toward healing and wholeness. I am in your corner always. I have great faith in you. Honor your true self and you will grow with unbounded abundance and deep inner peace.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.