Destroying the Lives of Children Everywhere
Written by Randi Fine, Narcissistic Abuse Expert
Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine
Narcissistic mothers are not loving, comforting, protective, supportive or reliable. They are as far from the idealized version of a mother as one can get.
Motherhood is supposed to be an instinctually selfless endeavor. Loving, nurturing and protecting another person are the right reasons to have children. Narcissistic mothers are motivated to procreate by self-centeredness, and the only instincts they have are self-satisfying ones.
One reason maternal narcissists create children is to reproduce their own images of perfection. Unattractive children, disabled children or children who for any reason reflect parts of the narcissistic mother she detests are considered insulting to her. But the primary reason narcissistic mothers give birth is to grow their narcissistic supply. Healthy infants and young children are considered guaranteed providers.
It is natural for babies and children to adore their mother. The narcissistic mother knows this and banks on it. Believing her children are her property, she expects the attention and adoration they supply to last a lifetime.
The narcissistic mother is a mother in title only. She does not really parent her children, though does not want to be thought of that way. Her efforts, the minimum ones necessary, make her appear motherly so others are fooled, but it is only a facade. She may go through the motions of tending to her children’s physical requirements, but she never attaches in ways that meet their emotional needs.
Everything given to the children is given with an ulterior motive; the mother always benefits somehow. It is hard for children to distinguish the difference between real love and conditional love. Only when they displease her and she snatches back what she gave them, which is often her “love,” does it become apparent.
The narcissistic mother’s children are conditioned to believe that every punishment they receive is their fault, not hers. They are never allowed to be needy or imperfect; never allowed the right to be children.
The narcissistic mother steals her child’s right to suffer because she thinks she is the only person who is allowed to hurt. Her child’s pain becomes her pain, though not in any way that supports or comforts him or her. She may pretend to feel for her child and do it very convincingly, but devoid of empathy for anyone other than herself she is unable to.
Not only does the maternal narcissist steal her children’s pains, she also “one up’s” every problem they have. No matter her situation it is always worse than her children’s. If they have a cold, she has the flu. If they are injured, their pain does not come close to the pain she suffers every day. No matter how important or trivial her children’s issues are she will always trump them.
The self-centered maternal narcissist wants all sympathy directed at her. She could care less about how her children feel. Even worse than that, she is sadistic towards them. She delights in her ability to manipulate and upset her children. It is a form of entertainment for her. She is an emotional vampire who feeds off the pain she causes.
Her strength is in her children’s weaknesses. She stockpiles sensitive, injurious information about each child through careful observance, friendly "chats", and selective listening, and then uses it at a later time to hurt them.
So adept at controlling their children through words, tone of voice, or particular looks, most narcissistic mothers do not need to physically abuse. Some still will, but most do not. They expertly train their children to obey and fear them without having to lift a finger.
Cagey enough to never be caught, these methods work perfectly. How do you accuse someone of looking at you a particular way or using an inflection of their voice? These things are clearly deniable.
Every cruel thing the narcissistic mother does flies just under the radar. Either no one is witness to it or it is done in a way that is not recognized as abusive. She criticizes in ways that sound like concern. She sabotages things her children look forward to and then blames it on forgetfulness. She deflates her child’s good news by countering with something a sibling did better.
Narcissistic mothers know how to come out smelling like roses, no matter what they do. They fool many people, often their spouses and sometimes even their children, into thinking they are wonderful mothers. They typically boast about it. Whether the children buy into that portrayal depends on how overtly or covertly they have been abused.
The narcissistic mother wants no boundaries between her children and her, therefore establishes none. What’s theirs is hers.
Her children’s accomplishments are only recognized if she can somehow take credit for them. She likes to credit the successes of her children with her excellent parenting. If she cannot steal her children’s thunder she will try to undermine their success by ignoring it, diminishing it, tarnishing it, insulting them about it, or preventing it from happening altogether. She may try to taint their success or accomplishment before-hand by creating drama with them right before it happens so they cannot enjoy the experience.
Narcissistic mothers, so preoccupied with their self-image, see everything their children do as either reflections of them or reflections on them. When her children do something wrong that others may learn about, the first words out of her mouth are, “What will people think,” “What will the neighbors think,” or “How can I show my face in public?”
Whether her children are guilty of doing something wrong or are being falsely accused of doing something wrong, she will not likely defend them, especially if there is any chance her reputation could be tarnished.
Though her family’s image must be spotless, she shamelessly gossips about other people’s problems, even those of her “best friends.” Narcissistic women do not love or care about their friends, they just fake it well.
Narcissistic mothers fake everything. They are “Satan” to their families and “Suzy Sunshine” to the rest of the world. It is astonishing how quickly and effortlessly they are able to switch from one personality to the other.
The narcissistic mother must win at any cost. If she feels she is losing or is challenged in a way she cannot wriggle out of she will resort to helplessness, drama, and tears. She’ll lament, “I’m sorry that I am such a bad mother,” or “I was only trying to help.” That is a strategy used to deflect her child’s anger and redirect the attention back to her.
She turns things around, making her children look like the bad guys for hurting her. The children end up apologizing to make her feel better, or reassuring her that she isn’t a bad mother. No matter how abusive the narcissistic mother is, she expects her children to excuse her behavior and tell her she really is wonderful.
The narcissist mother is quite the actress. If she isn’t getting her way or she wants attention, she feigns illness. Suddenly the pain and intensity of pre-existing ailments may surge. This is done to guilt her children into dropping everything and running to her side. If faking it doesn’t work she will actually make herself sick; sometimes severe enough to land her in the hospital. The underlying message is, “How could you treat me so badly (or ignore me) when I don’t feel well.”
Narcissistic mothers must be the center of their family’s attention at all times. No matter the problem or need, they demand the immediate attention of their children. Some insist that they are waited on. Others play the martyr—they’ll do everything themselves and then complain about it.
After a lifetime of seeing your mother as the all powerful Oz, it may be hard to accept that she is nothing more than a weak little lady hiding behind a curtain pushing buttons. No matter how old and big you get or how old and small she gets, it is hard to shake that frightening image. This is a trick your mind plays on you. The only power your mother has over you now is the power you give her. It is time to put her in her place.
It is only natural for mothers, good or bad, to eventually get blamed for something they did, whether responsible or not. If your mother is a narcissist do not feel guilty about placing that responsibility upon her. Take comfort in knowing that it is not you who has the problem, it’s her.
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Randi Fine is an internationally renowned narcissistic abuse expert and coach, and the author of the groundbreaking book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing and Recovery Second Edition, the most comprehensive, most well researched, and most up-to-date book on this subject. In addition to helping survivors recognize their abuse and heal from it, this book teaches mental health professionals how to recognize and properly treat the associated abuse syndrome. She is also the author of Cliffedge Road: A Memoir, the first and only book to characterize the life-long progression of complications caused by narcissistic child abuse.