5 (subtle) Signs You Have A Narcissistic Mother

After all –

It is all about her, not you.

Not every narcissistic mother becomes a movie star and stands saying, “I’m ready for my close up Mr. DE Mille”. Women have been socialized to appear accommodating and self-effacing which can obscure the underlying narcissistic personality disorder dynamics in play.

Don’t be fooled.

Many narcissistic mothers have much more subtle tell tale moves. Here is how to spot them.

FIVE (not so obvious) signs you have a narcissistic mother:


  1. When you are making her look good, she glows. When you are struggling she peppers you with criticism and questions. Sadly, It’s really all about her and how you make her look.
  2. When she gives you gifts, they come at a price. Gift giving has a push me, pull me feel. She feels so empty herself that she can’t give without extracting something from you.  She may ask for it back or tell you what to give her. On gift-giving occasions, she makes requests instead of graciously receiving the gift you choose for her. She can’t receive; this would involve giving up control. This subtext is “You are not free to choose what to give me. That would imply we are equals. I will control the giving and taking.”
  3. When you have something going on in your life and are unable to immediately attend to her, she becomes quickly resentful. Again, the subtext is, it is her needs that are important.
  4. When you question her or ask for clarification, she becomes immediately defensive and fires back at you. Or she gives an overblown or hyperbolic response somewhere along the lines of I’m SO SORRY for EVERYTHING and ANYTHING she MIGHT have done. She was, after all ONLY trying to help. This move is designed to deflect blame and make you feel guilty. She is protecting emptiness inside of herself. The subtext is you are to answer to her, not the other way around.
  5. When your boundaries are not respected. Everything and anything is her business. The requests for information feel more like a demand rather than a respectful exchange. You get push back if you try and set healthy boundaries. You feel more owned than loved.

This is my no punches pulled list.  

Harsh maybe, truthful, you bet.

As a psychotherapist to women for 30 years, I have seen these manipulative moves by mothers that are more subtle than the boorish moves you might expect from a narcissistic man.

Still they are every bit as destructive to her daughter.

Calling them out, unveiling them and naming them for what they are is the first step to healing.

If you need help sorting this out- call me.

Awareness is power!