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The Narcissistic Mother: Classic Signs and Symptoms

Updated on April 19, 2014

You Are Just Not Good Enough!

So, you have gone out of your way to make your mother proud and all you get is the obligatory “it was nice, thank you”, only to be followed with the harshness of “well, you could have done this or that”? Perhaps, In your life you have thought it best to strive for the perfect grades in school, attend a prestigious college, make the perfect dish, or perhaps have your house clean enough for the President to visit, just knowing that your mother would be proud; however, nothing was ever “good enough”?


Are there times when you have sat there in complete bewilderment after spending some time with your mother and asked yourself a litany of questions that always ended in WHY? Some of which sounded a bit like this:

  • Why does she put me down?
  • Why doesn't she say “I love you” or “I am proud of you”?
  • Why does she hold me, and everyone else for that matter, to a higher standard than she holds herself?
  • Why won't she show emotion?
  • Why does she constantly comment that “I” am the reason my children are “messed up” or my relationships have failed?
  • Why does she feel the need to look better than everyone else?
  • Why doesn’t she understand, or care, about the way I feel?
  • Why does she value me based on my accomplishments and not on who I am?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then you are experiencing the classic case of a narcissistic mother.

Classic Case of a Narcissistic Mother

The dictionary defines Narcissism as a person who has “an exceptional interest in or admiration for oneself, especially one's physical appearance”. To go further, the Mayo Clinic describes a few symptoms of a narcissistic personality as:

  • Believing that you're better than others
  • Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
  • Expecting constant praise and admiration
  • Believing that you're special and acting accordingly
  • Failing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings
  • Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans
  • Taking advantage of others
  • Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
  • Believing that others are jealous of you
  • Trouble keeping healthy relationships
  • Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional

Now, ask yourself this question: Are you an over-achiever, or an underachiever? It is okay to be honest when answering this question because your mother is not around to judge you. Children of narcissistic mothers are either over achievers, the ones who strive to be the best in their activities so their mother will be proud, or they are rebels because they go against the grain, realizing that they are unable to master the standard of which their mothers have set forth. Either way, you will be okay. It will just take some time to heal and redirect your mode of thinking.

A Personal Story

I am a survivor of a narcissistic mother. I have spent thousands of dollars in therapy to figure out what was wrong with “me”. I have been through a plethora of failed relationships, and never understood what went wrong. I had the mindset that “I” was the problem. On top of that, I always thought that my mother did not accept me because I was not good enough. She consistently made me feel that I was a failure.

Meanwhile, to prove her wrong - I bought a house on my own by cashing in change, I hold three degrees in Accounting, I have worked on a successful television series, I have raised four wonderful children (not the way my mother would have liked) and I have become a semi successful entrepreneur, and guess what? Still, nothing is/was good enough for my mother.

It wasn’t until I married my (well, I won’t tell you what number husband), but nonetheless, my husband explained to me that the problem was NOT me. In fact, it was my mother.

So…I would like to say that I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on television; however, I am a survivor and if you feel as though you are stuck in “the narcissistic mother” world, there is help. I could give you a million statistics, and fill your head with a ton of psychobabble nonsense, but that is not what you need to hear right now. You need to hear that it is not you – it is her. Additionally, you need to hear that she learned it from somewhere, passed it on to you, and yes, you might pass it on to your children. Break the cycle and stand up for yourself. YOU deserve it!


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© 2012 bellartdesigns


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    • bellartdesigns profile image

      bellartdesigns 3 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia


      I am sorry to hear this. Go to to retrieve information on how to contact me directly. I would be happy to talk to you about "survival methods". They are just my own survival methods...but so far...they are working (semi-working). One piece of advice - BREATHE! It will get better.

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      Deanna 3 years ago

      I am a mother of two very young boys. I had to escape a very abusive relationship with a narcissistic spouse. Being a stay at home mom for the last couple of years and not having anywhere to go I was forced to move in to my narcissistic mothers home. She has given me money for attorney fees to fight for custody of my sons but her help has not come without a price. She feels she is entitled to complete control over our lives. She throws tantrums if I try to spend time with friends outside of the home and tries to sabotage any fun we try to have. She criticizes me and puts me down in front of my children. I want to seek employment to allow us to move out of her home but I have no one to watch my kids and child care is expensive. It has been a nightmare! I feel I've traded one abusive relationship for another and now I'm trapped. Do you have any suggestions?