5. An obsession with the external, at the expense of her child’s needs.
To the narcissistic mother, appearances are everything. She may construct the false image of being a sweet, loving and charitable person to others all while gossiping about others, engaging in petty one-upping and abusing her children emotionally, physically or even sexually. She enjoys the social status of being a mother without doing the actual maternal work.
She shows off her children without properly tending to their basic emotional and psychological needs. To her, how things look is far more important than how they actually are. Depending on her social class, the narcissistic mother may enlist the help of others to care for her children while neglecting to give her children affection or attention when they are around, treating them as nuisances rather than as human beings. She may even be callous and cold to the point where she refuses to touch her children altogether.
6. Engages in horrific boundary-breaking.
At the other end of the spectrum, the narcissistic mother may become so enmeshed with her children and overbearing that she engages in covert emotional incest. She makes her children the center of the world and responsible for fulfilling her emotional needs.
Rather than taking on the responsibilities of being an authority figure and parent, she “parentifies” her own children, making them feel obligated to cater to her arbitrary desires and expectations. She violates her children’s basic needs for privacy and autonomy, demanding to know every facet of their lives. She might enter their rooms without knocking, read their diaries, and interrogate them constantly about their friends or romantic partners. She keeps her children in a state of perpetual childhood by punishing them for growing up – whether that means moving out of the house, getting married, going on a date or becoming aware of their sexuality.
7. Becomes enraged at any perceived threat to her superiority.
The narcissistic mother is not unlike any other narcissist in that she feels entitled to have her way and endures narcissistic injury when this sense of superiority is questioned or threatened in any way. As a result, her emotions tend to be a psychological rollercoaster from start to finish. From the sudden outbursts of rage when you “fail” to obey her demands to the abrupt love-bombing which occurs when she needs something from her children, there is little consistency in a household with a narcissistic mother. Her children walk on eggshells every day, fearful of encountering their mother’s rage and punishment.
8. Emotionally invalidates, guilt-trips and gaslights her children.
A child’s reactions to her narcissistic mother’s abuse are frequently met with invalidation, shaming and further gaslighting. The narcissistic mother lacks empathy for the feelings of her children and fails to consider their basic needs. A narcissistic mother is prone to telling her children that the abuse never occurred. It is common for the narcissistic mother to claim that her child is being “oversensitive” or overreacting to horrendous acts of psychological violence.
The narcissistic mother has no qualms about using her emotional outbursts to control and manipulate her children, yet when her children express their emotions, she invalidates them completely. She redirects the focus to her needs and guilt-trips her children at every sign of perceived disobedience. She provokes her children and is sadistically pleased when her put-downs and insults have staying power.
Empathic mothers are attuned to the emotional welfare of their children; narcissistic mothers represent a perversion of the maternal instinct.