Competitive Narcissistic Mother

by Michelle Piper

In some of our survivor stories, you’ve seen competitive narcissistic mothers who can’t bear to have their child be better than them or to outshine the enmeshed other, the Golden Child.

You got it? She wants it. You’re smart? She’s way smarter. You’re pretty? She’s beautiful. Your handsome? Your hers, a representation of her success and don’t you dare put anyone or anything else before her. This is how a narcissistic mother thinks.

Everything you are, she’s better. At least this is what she tries to believe.

She envies your accomplishments and doesn’t approve of anyone else being better than her or letting anyone steal her spotlight. Or, she can’t deal with you outshining her identified Golden Child. The one she has objectified, put on a pedestal and will defend.

If you have a narcissistic mother, you know how awful she can be. She is so competitive to the point that it affects your life, even into adulthood.

Adult children of narcissists (ACONs) know that when you are always being told that you are never good enough, certainly not as good as them, it can either turn you into an over-achiever who is never satisfied with your own achievements, or a self-saboteur with bad relationships.

The “never good enough” feeling can stick with you for years to come because this is what you have always known to be true.

Narcissistic mothers loves to take credit for their children’s accomplishments, saying that if it weren’t for great parenting and advice, you would have never gotten as far as you have.

Or, she did the same thing as you did…only much better.

If she doesn’t think your achievements are worthy of praise, you are ignored or disdained.

If there’s an event where she’s not the center of attention, don’t bother hoping to see her there. She won’t show up to anything where it’s not all about her, or she isn’t able to make it all about her.

If she absolutely has to be there, she will try to spin it to make the spotlight shine all over her. She can manipulate people well. Even if there is no reason for her to be the center of attention, she’ll find a way to be.

If you have something your narcissistic mother wants, she will stop at nothing to get it. She may even steal it right out from under your nose. If she can’t have it, she will spoil it for you.

Or, better yet, she will get the same thing as you, only hers will be much better. She has a way of belittling anything you own or accomplish due to downright jealousy. Nobody is ever allowed to out-do her.

When a narcissistic mother has daughters, she will try to compete sexually with them. She may dress scandalously, flaunt her body, and show everyone she’s still “got it.” You can never be prettier than her. She may forbid you to wear make-up, not allow you to groom yourself properly, and keep you away from the dating scene as long as she possibly can. If you do have a significant other, such as a boyfriend or spouse, she will flirt with this person and even try to damage your relationships. Being the daughter of a narcissistic mother can be incredibly hard and exhausting.

When narcissistic mothers have sons, they believe they should be the partner of choice for their sons. A wife or significant other is an annoyance to be put up with at best and someone to be competed with and shunned at worst. Competitive narcissistic mothers are very stressful mother-in-laws.

A competitive narcissistic mother’s toxic behavior creates chaos in the relationships of the people in her life. She will never be happy for you and the things you do because, on the inside, she is miserable.

In this case of a competitive narcissistic parents, the best thing to do is separate yourself, physically and emotionally, from him or her in order to protect the healthy relationships that you have.

Cut off contact or go low contact with the narcissistic parent by setting boundaries and limiting your expectations that you’ll have a normal and loving relationship with a narcissist.

Sometimes a competitive narcissistic mother forces you to refuse to accept that you two could be any more than biologically connected. You don’t have to continue her legacy. You can refuse to pass along her painful behavior in your own relationships and protect those you love from the narcissist.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Quercus November 12, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Love it! Well said, Michelle! 😀 Thanks for giving us permission to walk away – permission isn’t exactly forthcoming from our own psyches or from our FOOs!


Michelle Piper November 16, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Hi Quercus,
Your survivor story was part of the inspiration for this post so I’m super glad you liked it:), Michelle


Christine December 10, 2012 at 11:15 pm

This is my mother exactly.
I had not seen my mother for 5 and 1/2 years until my recent 40th birthday. She and several other close relatives came to visit, her unfortunately for the whole weekend. She looked very quiet as my husband showed her around our house. Apparently our house is much nicer than hers. (We had both moved cities in that time period).

She did not say one thing ( positive or negative) about me on my birthday. The tears were turned on at my house when she wasn’t the centre of attention at the restaurant.
On the night before she and her partner left she came to me suddenly and out-of-the blue listed all of the academic awards she had received while doing her undergraduate degree. At first I was astounded – I wasn’t a potential employer at a job interview!

I quickly realised the true motives though. I was too happy, I had it too good and she was miserable because of that. I rejoiced when she left the next morning.


Michelle January 1, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Thank you for the excellent article. I have the “pleasure” of dealing with a competitive narcissistic mother myself, but not in a parent/child relationship. I am a stepmom to her and my husband’s biological son.
Your comments about the narcissistic mother taking credit for every child accomplishment, along with the belittling and jealous behavior, encapsulates mine and my husband’s daily life. She promotes her “parenting abilities” via text message, phone calls, social media, at a nauseating rate. I cannot even count the number of times this past month that she has announced to the world (or anyone who will listen) that she is an amazing mom, she’s a good mom and always has been, she’s a great mom, the best mom, etc. How does this work to a narcissist? Is she trying to convince herself or the rest of the world? Or perhaps this is a jab at our parenting abilities? I am not sure.
When my husband and I develop an idea or a plan to help the child’s development, the narcissistic mother refuses to get on board; she won’t admit there is a problem. If she does finally get on board, the idea becomes all hers.
Not only must we endure the pain of her immature narcissistic behavior, but I worry constantly about the permanent damage she is doing to the child. As the other mother figure in his life, I am an obvious target. According to her, I am not to project any type of maternal, protective, or caring behavior toward her son. Nor should he ever under any circumstance call me mom or even think of me in that way. I honestly cannot fathom how a mother would not want her child to be loved by others. It breaks my heart.
Worst of all, he is just 7 years old and has so many more years under her reign of terror. My husband and I have him just 3 days a week. This isn’t enough to undo the damage she does the other four. As a survivor do you have any tips that might help someone in my unique position?


barwin January 3, 2013 at 6:05 am

Hi Michelle,
My heart goes out to the little boy. I’m really glad he has you and his dad. To have
Just one other person who he can feel true connection from will help.
And loving him for who he is (even when he’s naughty) not for anything he
Does is important. Spend time with him – make sure he knows you enjoy
Having him, listen, take an interest in his doings – all things you probably do
Already. Just keep it up. Its really hard – especially in this situation. Can you
Try to ignore the mother up to a point? She will do anything to poison things I
Suppose. Even tho there’s little you can do about how her ways and decisions affect
Him if you are just a good and loving influence in his life it will help. Ignore her
Trying to control how motherly you are to him, how ridiculous! And horrible for her
Son. I have a narcissistic mother and had a stepmum from the age of 5. Unfortunately
Our relationship wasn’t good – she was young and rigid anout kids having been brought
Up by a similar mother to mine I suspect. Anyway I had behavioural problems as a result
Of the lack of attachment I had with mother and then on top of that my dad suddenly
Getting a new woman in his life and my mother giving me up to their custody. So I was
Traumatised and then got in trouble for being ‘naughty’. There’s many issues that kids
Will react with when in these situations. Hats off to you for your involvement in his life.
As a child I only had a great aunt who was aware and took an interest in me as parents
were unaware/ distracted or self-involved. Anyway, I remember her with fondness to this
day just for being interested. Children know when their parent isn’t ok but its too scarey
For them and they are too young to understand.


Michelle January 16, 2013 at 10:19 pm

You are right; she does try to poison things every chance she gets! Just tonight the little guy told his dad that my biological children (from a previous marriage) are more like his cousins than his siblings, but his mom’s boyfriend’s children are his “real” siblings. Now she’s trying to drive a wedge between him and his step-siblings?! This woman is incorrigible! I can’t imagine how much psychological damage is being done on a daily basis. You can’t reason with a narcissist or help them see the damage they are doing so how am I able to protect him?


Roger January 29, 2013 at 11:52 am

Whenever I would bring a girlfriend home (which was not often because I knew better) my NM would size her up and try to get rid of her as fast as possible. At first, she would act nice to try to make it seem like she was a nice person and every time that happened I thought that maybe things would be different this time and she would really accept the person I have brought into my life. But, if she knew things might be getting serious, a switch was flipped and she would become so competitive with these girls that either I or my girlfriend at the time would be forced to end the relationship. It was like I was my mother’s property and no one could have me but her. I might as well of had a “Property of my NM” tag on my forehead. At first I thought she was just looking out for me and maybe saw something in these girls that I didn’t and wanted to keep me from heartbreak. Turns out that was not the case at all. She just didn’t want to lost me and the narcissistic supply I gave her.


Michelle February 1, 2013 at 6:53 am

Roger, I hope you were eventually able to separate yourself from your NM enough to find happiness in a healthy relationship. I can see already at his young age, this little guy will never be allowed to enjoy the company of anyone but his NM.


pall June 8, 2013 at 4:33 am

same like mine she kinds of talks rudely all the time when i call here, when i ask abt dad she says why do u want to know she even cuts out my second sister from me, i dont know what to do.


Marie July 9, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Michelle, you can help your stepson by loving him unconditionally and by doing the things above. He is of school age now and he will be at school most of the day. My teachers were my angels. They somehow knew I needed love and they gave me the attention and care I needed. Teachers have more rules these days but they are very in tune with children and will communicate with you if they feel it necessary. The more educated you are on how to counteract her conditional love, the more you will know what to say to him. Simply listening to his feelings, asking why he feels that way towards his step-siblings and looking him in the eye and saying they love him and are his family too he will be shown the other side – how it is and how it can be if he wants. Children also are very aware of energy and feelings – they know what feels good and what doesn’t. They sense who comes from the heart and who doesn’t and when they grow they will gravitate to that love and know you will be there when he needs you – and with a mother like that he WILL need you and need your unconditional love. Don’t let her let you feel you are powerless – that’s what she wants you to believe. You have the most powerful influence over your stepson – unconditional love, and support at this wonderful site.


Charis August 4, 2014 at 10:55 am

I am always shocked to realize my mother is in competition with me. I have had difficulty all my life trying to figure out what I was doing wrong in that my mother didn’t love me like other mothers seemed to love their children. She could do a lot of the mother things, but when it comes to protectiveness, pride, closeness… I always wondered what was wrong with me since my mom didn’t seem to have these things for me. It wasn’t till many, many counseling sessions and self reflections later that I realized she feels more like a competitive teenage girl from junior high towards me rather than a proud, caring mother. She disguises it, because I’ve been pushing her away and she’s now desperate, but she has the uncanny ability to throw in the perfect comment to shatter me still. I wish I could let those comments slide off of me like I want. Goodness, I hope I’m not like this with my children!!


Alessandra June 19, 2015 at 10:49 pm

In my Family both my parents are narcissistic. My Mom constantly tells me how ugly I am and is very competitive. She even steals my good clothes so all I can wear are old jeans and ugly tshirts. My Dad was a tyrant. He is gone but now my Mom is even worst cause I think She figures She is still beautiful and can re mary and dump us. I support the whole family by myself and She NEVER thanks me. She acts like Im her slave. Thanks to both of them all the 3 kids have NO self esteem. They have ruined my life. I forgive them cause Im a good person but I suffer for it every single day.


Candice Burrows June 12, 2016 at 7:49 pm

Wow. Just plain wow… You hit the nail on the head with this. My daughters first birthday party has been rescheduled a month away from her actual birthday, because of my mothers traveling plans and she “has to be there.” We just were at my nephews birthday party and she was complaining that she wanted to go and we had not even sang happy birthday to him. My husband and I recently sold our house for the highest record price in the neighborhood and when the money transferred my husband told my dad and the minute I woke up that day she called me fat, that I don’t disapline my children, I smell like a wet dog, I can’t wear her tennis shirt cause I’ll stretch out her shirts and that I’m a Beverly Hills b. i. t. c. h. (spelled it out.) When my husband told me that the money was in our bank I knew she knew, because why would she try to make me feel so worthless.

Thank you for this article, it brings great insight and now I have some serious work to do to I guess ignore her.


pat November 27, 2018 at 9:26 pm

So can relate to them wanting everything scheduled around them! My parents go on some cheap all-inclusive vacation to Mexico or the Caribbean every year. My mom is a substitute teacher, my dad is self employed, so timing is flexible. When I planned my *wedding*, based upon my schedule as a law student w. a FT summer job, my mom tried to reserve the entire month of August as unavailable for my wedding- just in case she wanted to plan her 1 week trip, which had not been booked yet when I told her my intended date. I told her she could come or choose not to, it was up to her, but my date was picked. She did show up, but complained that doing the traditional “mother role” was keeping her from the cocktail hour. Then when my child’s first birthday also fell in the summer, she again complained about the date since she had planned her vacation presuming we’d do the party on the kid’s actual birthday, but we bumped the date bc of a friend’s event. and it wasn’t some big event, it was a people from the neighborhood + cake & pizza. I remember realizing she was competitive over homeownership too. When my husband and I bought our house we were fairly young and my mom felt the need to let me know that she & my father could have bought a house young too, as if there was a competition!


CocoBean October 22, 2018 at 7:23 pm

My mother tricked my boyfriend into having phone sex with her. He had called a few days after one of our very wild sessions (we experimented a lot) and wanted to remind me what turned him on. But it was my mother on the phone. She answered my phone, a private fixed line that she’s not to answer, as messages go to voicemail. She wanted to know who was calling. It was none of her business, as I was paying my own phone bill.

At the outset, she pretended she was me, and when she didn’t respond to what my boyfriend was saying, he quickly realised that he was talking to someone else. When I got home, she was giggling and boasting about successfully tricking a man into thinking she was in her 20’s. I contacted my boyfriend immediately. He told me exactly what he said to her: He was in love with me and wanted to get married. Basically, she put herself in front of what would have been a very romantic proposal. When I asked her why she did that (I was 23, she was 44), she laughed like she was so clever to trick him and that he wouldn’t have been fooled if she didn’t sound “young for her age.”

This was a complete violation of my boundaries and an unwelcome intrusion into my intimate relationship. This is my mother for you – no respect for boundaries, and she is never wrong. My boyfriend happened to be incredibly good looking. He was an underwear model who appeared in lots of international publications. Women threw themselves at him all the time so he doesn’t get flattered by that kind of attention.

I was shocked she would be so immature and deluded. Why would you seduce your daughter’s man? It was as if she didn’t sense that there would be any conflict in betraying me and my treating her with the respect she feels entitled to as a parent. She is so shortsighted, she needs to take things away from me right now even if it will hurt her in the long term. As long as she deprives me of something I want, it doesn’t matter what benefits there are to being a respectful, supportive and loyal parent. I didn’t end up marrying him because I loved him and I knew she would try to find a way to destroy my relationship. I could have had at least three children with someone who loves me. I should have married him and told her to eff off. But I didn’t know any better. I didn’t understand narcissism and I didn’t know that I needed to get self therapy to deal with toxic parents.


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