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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