There are a few key signs that can indicate your mother is narcissistic. These include her lack of empathy for your feelings and needs, her inability to admit fault or accept criticism from others, and her frequent need for attention and admiration from those around her. She might also demand perfection from you in all areas of life, criticize your choices, and manipulate you into doing things that she wants.
Narcissistic mothers often make their children feel as though they are constantly being judged and never quite doing enough to please them. From belittling remarks to gaslighting, narcissistic mothers can use phrases like “you’re too sensitive” or “I was just joking” to exert control over their children. Such attempts at manipulation create an atmosphere of fear and insecurity for the child, making it hard for them to feel secure in their own identity. If you notice these behaviors in your mother, it may be a sign of narcissism.
47 examples of things narcissistic mothers say to their children
1. Continuously evaluate your actions in a critical manner.
Narcissistic mothers often criticize everything that their children do, no matter how small or trivial. The comments are usually negative and undermining and can be hurtful. These comments can range from criticizing a child’s relationships, career choices, or even talents. The constant criticism is a way for the narcissistic mother to control her child and maintain power in the relationship. These criticisms can also cause long lasting emotional damage to the child’s self-esteem.
- “You will never amount to anything”
- ”You should have done better”
- “I can’t believe how lazy you are”
- ”I’m not a fan of the boyfriend you are seeing.”
- ”Even your friends are using you”
2. Using Guilt-trip
Narcissistic mothers are also known to use guilt-tripping as a way of controlling their children and manipulating them into doing what they want. Guilt tripping can take many forms, including suggesting that the child is ungrateful for all the things she has done for them, using guilt as a weapon to punish them for not following her expectations, or comparing her child to other people in order to make them feel inadequate. Guilt-tripping is a very common tactic used by narcissistic mothers in order to control and manipulate their children, and it can have long-lasting emotional damage on both parties in the relationship.
- “I did so much for you”
- “You owe me”
- “It was all for nothing”
- “You are the reason me and your father separated
- “If your friend can do it, why can’t you?”
- “Do you think I do all this for nothing?”
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which one person causes another to question their own beliefs, memories, and perceptions. It involves making the victim doubt themselves by relentlessly denying facts, shifting blame onto them, or continually contradicting them. It can cause severe psychological distress, leading to feelings of confusion and powerlessness. The ultimate goal of gaslighting is to undermine the victim’s mental well-being and control them through psychological means. Gaslighting is serious behavior that should not be taken lightly; it can have lasting effects on an individual’s confidence and trust in themselves.
- “You’re too sensitive.”
- “You’re imagining things.”
- “You must be misunderstanding me.”
- “You can’t do anything right.”
- “You’re being too emotional/irrational/overreacting/blown out of proportion”
- “It’s all in your head.”
4. Lowering confidence
Narcissistic mothers can have a profound negative impact on their children’s self-confidence. By routinely criticizing and invalidating their children, these moms make them feel inadequate, incompetent and insecure. This type of parenting also teaches children to constantly seek validation or approval from others as they do not get it from their mothers. Furthermore, narcissistic mothers may even go as far as making their children feel like they are incapable of succeeding in life, leading to decreased confidence and self-esteem in the long run.
- “Why can’t you be more like your siblings?”
- “You’ll never make it in life.”
- “Your ideas are worthless”
- “No one else will ever care about you as I do.”
- “I’m the only one who understands you”
5. Having favorites
Narcissistic mothers often say things that reinforce their favoritism of one child over another. They may tell the favored child they are more talented, smarter, or special in some way compared to their siblings. Narcissistic mothers can be cruel and malicious when it comes to the less-favored children, usually taking pleasure in belittling them or tearing them down for the sake of her own ego. Ultimately, these toxic words have a lasting effect on children, causing long-term emotional damage.
- “You’re not as special as your brother/sister.”
- “There’s nothing about you that stands out like there is with your brothers”
- “You can never measure up to the standards set by your cousins”
- “I wish you were more like them.”
- “You’re not worth my time and energy.”
6. Her way or no way
Narcissistic mothers have a tendency to demand their children do things exactly the way they want or else suffer the consequences. They often use a series of tactics such as guilt and manipulation to force their children into compliance. Children who grow up in this environment often feel like they can never do anything “right” and that no matter what they do, it will never be enough for their mother.
- “There is only one right answer, and that’s mine.”
- “Do as I say, not as I do.”
- “You know I can’t be happy if things aren’t done my way.”
- “If you keep arguing with me, then this won’t end well”
7. Creating drama
Narcissistic mothers are often known for creating drama or chaotic situations to fulfill their own needs. They may make unrealistic demands of their children and then become angry when the child is unable to meet those demands. This can lead to consequence-based discipline, with the mother alternating between blaming her child for not meeting expectations, and then punishing them by way of manipulation, guilt-tripping and emotional abuse. Narcissistic mothers use these tactics as a means of regaining control after feeling a loss of power in other areas.
- “My own daughter won’t let me get to know my grandkids.”
- “After I bought a new dress, my son told me it was awful.”
- “It’s like no one cares about me, not even on my birthday – I didn’t get a card!”
- “No one offered assistance when my dog was sick and injured.”
- “Your brother never cared for your spouse very much.”
8. Everything is about them
In the world of a narcissist, all that matters is them. They view themselves as the center of their own universe, with everyone around them existing solely to meet their needs. They are also extremely dismissive of their children, believing that without them, their children would be nothing. This can lead to feelings of guilt for the child and make it difficult for them to feel seen or heard.
- “All you care about is yourself.”
- “My life has been wasted on you.”
- “If it weren’t for helping raise you, I would have had a career”
- “You’re nothing without me”
- “I dedicated my life to providing for you, but I get nothing out of it.”
9. Competing with their children
Narcissistic mothers often engage in excessive competition with their children. They may be driven by a need to be better than or superior to their kids, viewing them as rivals who must always be outperformed. In their minds, they must always be one step ahead and come out on top in any situation. This kind of competitiveness is damaging to both the parent-child relationship and the child’s self-esteem, leaving them feeling inadequate and unworthy if they cannot keep up with their mother’s high standards.
- “I was so much younger when I started learning new languages”
- “Your hair is a mess; did you get it from your father?”
- “My physique is superior to yours.”
- “It looks like you rushed getting dressed. You don’t have my eye for fashion.”
- “You’re so clever. Must be my genes.”
- “Your cooking is amazing, but I think a few more lessons from the pros wouldn’t hurt.”
Navigating life with a narcissistic mother can be extremely challenging. It is important to set boundaries and find your own support system. Some helpful resources include therapists, self-help books or online forums, and family members or other trusted people who can provide a listening ear. Ultimately, the goal should be to maintain a healthy amount of separation from the narcissist in order to protect yourself emotionally. Doing so can help make living with a narcissistic mother just a bit easier.