Accomplishment-Oriented Narcissistic Mother

by Michelle Piper

If you have an accomplishment-oriented narcissistic mother, it is all about what you can do and how you appear, not who you are as a person. Your accomplishments are hers and you are a direct reflection of her amazing parenting. It is the same for the narcissistic mother in law’s expectations of her children and grandchildren.

It is all about getting straight A’s in school, getting into the best colleges, winning the beauty pageants, and racking up as many trophies as humanly possible. To her, you are just another trophy. But only if you achieve what she wants you or her grandchildren to do.

If you or your eventual children do not accomplish what she wants you to, she is humiliated by your embarrassing defeat. She may even respond with rage and fury to get her point across that you messed up and that you are not good enough.

This kind of pressure places so much weight on a child’s shoulders. And, as an adult child of a narcissist (ACON), you may be unpleasantly reminded of how she treated you when she expresses expectations of your own children.

Due to her lack of empathy, your narcissistic mother doesn’t care if you want to do something or not. If she wants you to do it, she feels you better believe you’re going to.

As you, or her genetic material like her grandchildren, are likely to be seen as an extension of herself, she merges with you and lives vicariously through what you or your children can do for her.

A narcissistic mother is obsessed with competitions and achievements and will stop at nothing to make sure you or her grandchildren are the best. This may include making you study until your brain is about to explode so that you can get a perfect score on your SATs. Or, making you practice the piano until you can play each one of Bach’s masterpieces from start to finish.

She’s preoccupied with what you can do for her and how you make her look to her peers. At home, away from an audience, she is belittling and cruel.

But in a crowd, you or her grandchildren are her pride and joy and she’s so grateful for you. This leads other people to believe that you are a cherished child and your narcissistic mother truly loves you.

Usually, a narcissistic mother sets the bar too high, much higher than her child is capable of reaching. This sets her kids up for an inevitable failure with punishment to boot.

If the child doesn’t fail and is good at meeting the mother’s expectations, often the hero child, then the child is overwhelmed with the ever growing weight of narcissistic mom’s hopes and dreams.

Either scenario can lead children to become angry and frustrated with a sense of never being good enough, making them question themselves. When always being pushed to do more and better things, a child never feels complete or worthy.

A child may have a natural gift for sports, but if their narcissistic mother decides that she wants him or her to be a famous violinist, the child must abandon athletics to pursue music lessons and recitals and non-stop practice to master this instrument he or she may have no interest in whatsoever.

They are not allowed to listen to their own inner voice, the one that’s telling them that they have potential to do something that their narcissistic mother wants to take no part in at all.

When a narcissistic parent takes the credit for their child’s accomplishments, it can leave the child feeling like his mom or dad violated his identity. This carries later into life as well. To overcome this, you must realize what is best for you, not your narcissistic mother, as nothing will ever be good enough for her.

Believe in yourself and your talents, your intelligence, and your own intuition. When you find something you feel passionate about, go after it no matter what your narcissistic mother may think.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Roger January 15, 2013 at 1:08 pm

My NM definitely only saw me for what I could do for her, not what I enjoyed or what I wanted to do. I loved to play sports as a kid, had a knack for football, but my NM didn’t want me to play because practices and playing with friends kept me from studying and being the “A “student she wanted me to be. Instead of being able to try out for the football team, I would have to stay in and study because anything lower than an “A” was not acceptable and punishable according to her. It makes me sad to realize I gave up something I loved for her. And what do I have to show for it? Nothing.


Meg March 31, 2013 at 9:24 am

This is my mother in law! This is exactly what happened to my husband. He is an incredibly talented musician and she wanted a doctor. She also has never understood his Bipolar Disorder and what he needs in order to deal with that. I am afraid she is now trying to make our sin her new Golden Child. Something to watch out for.


El August 25, 2014 at 3:17 pm

This is an absolutely perfect, spot-on description of my so-called “mother.” It’s like this post was written about her in specific. But I guess she’s not the only narcissist of this particular stripe.

All she cared about was having a child who got perfect grades, won every academic award, got into a prestigious school, and became a doctor or lawyer. She stood over me throughout elementary and junior high school and drove me to the point of near nervous-breakdown to earn perfect grades and scores, and when I “failed” (by getting B’s now and then, or not having the highest GPA in the class, or not winning the essay contest), she screamed at and vilified me. My entire worth was based on my academic acheivement. Since my grades weren’t perfect, I was always a failure, always a disappointment.

I was discouraged from any activity that wouldn’t “help with getting into college”, so I couldn’t pursue my own interest. Having friends and socializing were fobidden as a “waste of time,” so I was isolated and lonely. I never got to puruse my own interests, or even to really figure out what they were, until I left home.

It was like growing up in some kind of brutal academic prison work-camp, except the horror was invisible from the outside. Everybody thought she was a wonderful mother who “cared about education” wanted to “help her child succeed” (what a load of nonsense – all she cared about was herself). And because she confined herself to verbal and emotional abuse, it’s especially hard to convince most people that I was abused.

I’ve excaped that horrible excuse for a mother, but I still feel every day like nobody I know has ANY IDEA what I went through.


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