Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

by Michelle Piper

The road is long and winding for the daughter of a narcissistic mother. Many twists and turns along the way, with no light guiding her. She may feel lost, not knowing which direction she should turn due to lack of guidance and without the proper care and nurturing for her to be able to find her way. Yes, it is true, being the daughter of a narcissistic mother, the route on the road to recovery is not an easy one. But, once you find your way, there is light at the end of the narcissistic tunnel.

The daughter of a narcissistic mother has been psychologically abandoned and abused since very early on in life. Whether she was the golden child or the scapegoat (most likely the scapegoat), she was not given the tools to become an authentic individual. She was made to be an extension of her narcissistic mother and play by the rules her mother has created. She was made to be a carbon copy of her narcissistic mother.

When a narcissistic mother wants the daughter to be a copy of herself, she wishes to use the child as a source of narcissistic supply. Perhaps there’s something she feels she wasn’t able to do in her youth that she expects you to do in yours, or maybe you’re blamed for stealing her life when you were born. Whatever the reason, she feels you “owe her” to be an extension of herself.

Children are naturally and innately dependent on their primary caregiver from birth and the narcissistic mother intends to keep the child dependent on her for as long as she possibly can in order to enjoy a sense of control throughout the child’s entire lifetime. Often, inheritance and financial favors are used by narcissistic parents to manipulate their children throughout their lifespan. The narcissistic mother expects her child to put her needs first, no matter how she treats you, your children or your significant other.

A narcissistic mother wants complete and total control over her daughter’s life, especially when the daughter is at the point in life when she wants to establish independence and autonomy. Her narcissistic mother will sabotage her daughter’s freedom any chance she can. She is ruthless and relentless.

Having children is seen by narcissistic mothers as the perfect answer to the desire to have a captive narcissistic supply. Unfortunately, the narcissistic mother often gets overwhelmed by the natural demands of a child. Parenthood intensifies the NM’s abusive behavior and the child may then be blamed for the narcissistic mother’s inadequacies or failures. Sadly, many DONM’s are further betrayed by a father that enables the narcissistic mother’s abuse.

She yells at you? It’s your fault.
She hit you? You stressed her out.
She ignored you? You didn’t approach her in the right way.

But, you were an innocent child, not a “mini-me” of the narcissistic mother. A child is born perfectly imperfect, with the need to be protected, accepted, sheltered and nurtured. Answering these normal biological needs are seen by narcissistic parents as favors, not a precious duty, if given at all.

Narcissistic mothers want their child to do what they want, how they want it and when they want it. Many readers of this blog have experienced an “engulfment-abandonment cycle” where the mother engulfs, through boundary-less or abusive behavior, then abandons them when confronted or when something is more interesting to the parent than the child.

As these daughters grow up and become independent beings away from their mothers in order to one day make a life for themselves, select their own choices, and be functioning people in society, the narcissistic parent struggles to retain control. She will continue to force her child into whatever role provides her the most narcissistic supply, such as the blamed scapegoat, the forgotten lost, the falsely empowered golden, or the enmeshed and parentified child.

Because of being the same gender, daughters of narcissistic mothers are especially vulnerable to being seen by mom as a copy of herself. The narcissistic mother can therefore believe she may do as she pleases, physically and emotionally, when it comes to her daughter. She may expect her child to pursue the life partner she chooses. In this case, she wants the daughter’s significant other to be the most prestigious reflection of her genetic material’s potential.

A narcissistic mother will attempt to destroy her daughter’s romantic relationships so she can keep her child around for longer or if she doesn’t see the mate as being a fit counterpart. She will flirt with her daughter’s significant other, spread lies, and manipulate in order to keep her daughter all to herself and retain the narcissistic supply.

Daughters of narcissistic mothers are shocked and saddened to catch their mothers lying directly to her own children or spouse. Narcissistic moms try to cause break ups, doing whatever she can to get her daughter back to only having one person in her life: her narcissistic mother.

Sons of narcissistic mothers aren’t immune to being objectified in similar ways by their narcissistic mother, but they may experience less blatant “copy of herself” behavior, like that of buying similar clothes, for instance. Often the narcissistic mom will see your partner alternately as competition or an ally to be manipulated against you. Your well meaning spouse may not understand they’ve a narcissistic mother-in-law and fall prey to her plea for help when you’ve set a boundary and your narcissistic parent is trying to get around it.

Daughters of narcissistic mothers can become enraged as mom refuses to see them as their own person and are therefore not treated as such. Conversely, the daughter of a narcissistic mother may not realize this is happening and thus continue to become completely enmeshed with the narcissistic parent.

There are different ways narcissistic mothers keep their daughters dependent on them to maintain this source of narcissistic supply. Below are two common tactics of the narcissistic parent.

Parentification: The narcissistic mother expects her daughter to take care of her when it should be the other way around. The daughter is made to feel responsible for the mother’s physical and emotional needs. These needs can range from an unfair share of cooking and cleaning to playing therapist while her mother talks about her relationships, sex life, and other issues. These are much bigger roles than any child should have to take on, but a narcissistic mother does not care. She only cares about her own wants and needs.

Infantilization: Never being allowed to explore her own autonomy, her daughter is kept vulnerable, naive, and scared of the world and being on his or her own. A narcissistic mother will brainwash her child into thinking the world is a cruel place in which one would never be able to survive on one’s own. This leads a child to never feel safe and fear leaving the support of the narcissistic mother, even though they may be miserable.

Both of these tactics, along with numerous other ploys, are how narcissistic mothers try to make their daughter into a clone, a copy of themselves for their own twisted satisfaction. If a daughter of a narcissistic mother tries to gain any sort of independence, it is met with rage and tactics meant to keep the child in her control, terrified of what the narcissistic mother might do if boundaries are enforced or even requested.

Daughters of narcissistic mothers keenly feel the trouble mom has in setting boundaries between the two of them. This can result in the child having psychological symptoms like “dissociating” in order to have a mental if not physical break from the narcissistic abuse.

Daughters of narcissistic mothers can also convey their distress through physical symptoms, especially at a preverbal age. Unexplained physical symptoms such as stomach aches, headaches, and muscle twitches or spasms are common non-verbal expressions of anxiety.

Narcissistic enmeshment continues into the adulthood of the daughter. The narcissistic mother will try to intrude on personal relationships, marriage, and child rearing of her child’s kids. As a narcissistic mother-in-law, she will tell her child that his or her partner’s healthy desires for privacy or boundaries are abnormal or manipulative.

Even in death, the narcissistic parent can try to control their daughters, daughter’s children and spouses from the grave by using the assets of their will and their distribution as yet another way to pit the siblings against one another. Pitting people against one another in this way is a toxic narcissistic behavior called splitting.

Sons of narcissistic mothers often are badgered by mom’s incessant desire to control their interactions with their own partners and can feel put in the middle between a mom “who means well” but is intrusive. The narcissistic mother “means well” only for herself. In the case of a narcissistic mother or mother-in-law this is, again, her inability to see her child as separate from herself. She tries to possess the child instead of support the child’s independence with love.

With an engulfing narcissistic mother, it can be very hard to get rid of her. It is important not to buy into her lies, intimidations, and manipulations. Don’t give in to her gaslighting or when she tries to tell you that you won’t be anything without her. Don’t be emotionally blackmailed by your narcissistic parent, your time is too precious.

Gain your own financial, physical, and emotional independence from her and do your best to enforce low contact or no contact (although, no contact is extremely difficult with these kinds of narcissistic mothers.) Involve the authorities if you need to or feel you’re in any danger. Protect yourself first. Set firm limits and be strong when enforcing them.

Our community is full of those who work hard to leave the old narcissistic family system. The battles a daughter of a narcissistic mother (DoNM), must fight in order to gain this hard won independence often costs time and tears. Both sons and daughters of narcissistic mothers deserve well earned peace and freedom.

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{ 108 comments… read them below or add one }

Meghann April 15, 2015 at 7:41 pm

You know, it sounds terrible, but I always thought the only way I would get away from my mother was when she died. I just hoped it wasn’t me first from stress, ultimately getting denied those few anxiety and guilt-free years. It sounds terrible but I found myself wishing she would, looking forward to the day she did so I would be released. That’s an awful thing to say and that really isn’t the person I am or want to be but yet it is really honest and self-affirming because at least it shows I believe on some level I deserve a life without this torment and abuse.

The scary thing is that realising that both my dad and sister have the same traits means that I never will be free of it while I am part of this family. It makes it a rolling grief and resentment, with no light at the end of the tunnel. No escape, no reprieve, no safe space to run to, no compassionate ear to understand, no affirmation of shared experiences. Thank goodness for your site and the joys of physical distance.

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Anonymous April 16, 2015 at 7:26 pm

I cant even begin ti tell u the pain and its happening right now….agagain. Im 48 yrs old!! I thought it was me until just,a,few,yrs,ago. She use to tell me that i have always been awful,ever since i was an infant and i “swallowed my own tongue” and had to,stay in the,hospital,for,a week. I believed this!!! U,cant swallow your own tongue! She got pregnant with me to make my father,sTay. He left. He was smart he knew she wasnt right. He eventually moved to australia!! All my life,i,was the,garbage can. I was beautiful, talented and funny. But my mother treated me like dirt. Still,does and now,she is pitting my children against me. My,sister and i have no relTionship because of her,sickness. Everyone thinks she,is just great, and she,works extra hard,for,the,people who,are close to me. I HAVE to disconnect from her because my soul,can,no longer bare her,cruelty but my kids LOVE her and thinks she,is so wonderful. I will be,left,with,nothing she will never stop! Ive lost,every family member, aunts cousins etc because,she manipulates all,of them. Im terrified she will take my kids emotionally away from me. She,has this,power ive,seen,it all my,life. WHt do,i,do?

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Meghann April 21, 2015 at 11:11 pm

I totally relate. It sounds like you need to separate from her. There are good articles here on no contact – I’m getting pointers myself (: Wishing you peace and strength.

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JM April 20, 2015 at 1:41 am

Hi Meghann. I know how you feel. I’ve had those same thoughts. It’s not that I have a deadwish for her, I just have a deadwish for her behavior and for how she makes me feel. I’m sick of it. You’re not a bad person for having thoughts like these. I think you’re a good person for believing you deserve a better life. I’m in the process of cutting her loose and stop all contact, but I find that to be very difficult. Especially in these times with social media. She’s “infiltrated” my network on Facebook and it is driving me nuts! I have a father who I believe is also a narc, or at least shows all of the traits. He has never told me he loves me, he never reaches out to me, never helps me, never asks how I’m doing, I’m never good enough, it’s always about him and his awesome skills and bla bla bla… They’ve been divorced since I was very young and it has been war ever since. And – of course – I was their weapon of choice. They used me against each other. But, they did that all for me and my best interest. Can you believe that? Since I stopped talking to my mother, she has been very active on Facebook. I saw that she’s now “friends” with my dad AND his entire family (people she hasn’t spoken with for over 20 years). She posts and comments the nicest things in the world. All to show the world how nice she is and what a wonderful mother she is. It makes me sick, truly sick. It triggers rage in me. It’s like I’m the only person who sees her true intentions. And although I know she is sick, sometimes I feel like I’m the one being crazy. Alos, I can’t break ties with my father. He remarried and together with my stephmother has children. I really love my (half)-siblings and wouldn’t want to miss them. I don’t really know what my purpose in writing all this is. This is also the first time I’ve ever talked about it. I think I just wanted to let you know that I understand your situation and you’re not a bad person for having those thoughts.

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Meghann April 21, 2015 at 11:07 pm

Thank you JM. That means the world. Thanks for your honesty and for reaching out. (: I can’t tell you how much it means to not be alone! I hear you too and I understand your experiences so well. My parents also divorced which was similarly fodder for the drama queen for decades. I was used to personify everything she hated about him and his family and as an example of how much better the new children to my stepfather were, just to rub it in to him.

My dad sounds the same as yours – everything about him and on his terms. I count how often he has missed the big events in my life or hasn’t been there when I needed him. He throws a few bones occasionally but it doesn’t make up for the lack of contact or care.

My mum stalks me on FB too. Rarely writes unless it’s over-the-top sweet and kind too. It makes me sick. For so long I scrabbled for whatever tiny attention I could get but now I just am disgusted and angry. I know it’s hard for other people to see it – I have been blessed with a partner who sees it too and is always disgusted and appalled. After so many years the mask started to fall, so I have someone else who tells me I’m not crazy.

The sweet comments on FB or in cards actually hurt because so often growing up she told me the opposite, like how much she hates me but has to try and love me because I’m hers. I tell you, nothing steals your self-confidence more than feeling you’re so unlovable that not even either of your parents can love you, although they can love your siblings as easily as breathing. The only reason I wasn’t a suicide victim was my grandmother, beautiful friends and partners. And now, my darling children. But I feel guilty for pulling them into this pit of crazy and not being able to give them kind in-laws, grandparents, aunts etc.

You know, I understand second guessing yourself when everyone around you sees differently. I have childhood friends who I suspect don’t believe me. It’s such a manipulative form of abuse, so much grooming, isolating, secrecy and masks. But I’m sure here you have a community that truly gets it and believes you! I have found so much validation here, finding an overarching explanation for everything at long last! I wish you peace on your journey x

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Anonymous April 16, 2015 at 7:33 pm

When i was little she,remarried quite fast after the,divorce my steo father,would strip me naked and whip me from my bare back to below my knees. He would come into my an inch of my face,s creaming in the middle of the,nite because the,garbage can wasnt brought in or his favorite pen was missing. He use to take our,cat,and shoot it down the bannister of tthe stIrs he terrified me all my childhood! Later when i was 40 and had 4 kids of my,own i confronted her,about this and she,said oh that was the 70’s i just wLked away and a few yrs later i confronted her,again and she,threw out everything that was me and mine out of her house. She is a monster and my kids love her and i dont know how to get away.

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HeartPain April 23, 2015 at 10:30 am

I am so saddend deep in my heart to what I am hearing reading through these! I a only now in my 30’s finding out about this and wondering what the hell is wrong with me? As I have been feeling like a sicky feeling in my stomach all my life! This is me!!! This is it all the above I’m reading is just my life and I can not believe others have been going through the same thing. It’s terrible. I am so sorry for all of you and just want to say to remain strong and get on with your life’s ! Good advice and easier said than done I know! As I can’t seem to do it myself 100% there’s always that feeling right there of being scared like a little girl who will at some point get a slap (beating)! For something I never even new why half the time! I’m so sorry going on and on I’m still in shock that Iv come across this sight/chat/talk. Never dreamed there was such a thing. Just thought it was just me being crazy!!! As my parents always have said.

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