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5 Toxic Ways Narcissistic Mothers Emotionally Abuse Their Children

The narcissistic mother engages in the following toxic behaviors:

1. She chronically shames her children. 

Shaming is a tactic the narcissistic mother uses to ensure that her children never develop a stable sense of identity or self-esteem – to ensure that they never grow independent enough outside of seeking her validation or approval. She shames her children for not accomplishing enough academically, socially, professionally and personally. She shames them for their choice of career, partner, friends, lifestyle, their manner of dress, their personality, their preferences – all of these and more come under the scrutiny of the narcissistic mother. She shames her children for acting with any sense of agency because it threatens hersense of control and power. By doing so, she instills in them a sense of never being good enough, no matter what they achieve.

2. She sets up damaging comparisons among her children as well as their peers. 

Like any narcissist, the narcissistic mother engages in “triangulation” – manufacturing triangles among her children and even their peers. She destructively compares her children to their peers, teaching them that they fall short in terms of looks, personality, obedient behavior, and accomplishments. She unfairly pits two or more siblings against one another, always asking, “Why can’t you be more like your sister or your brother?” She stirs up competition, drama, and chaos. She might make one child a golden child (doting upon them excessively) while making the other a scapegoat. This form of devaluation can leave a painful imprint; it causes her children to compare themselves to others as a way to evaluate their self-worth.

3. She treats her children as extensions of her.

The narcissistic mother micromanages and exerts an excessive level of control over the way her children act and look to the public. Her children are objects and must be pristine and polished in every way, lest their reputation or appearance “taint” her own. Though she criticizes them and treats them with contempt behind closed doors, in public she shows her children off as if they were prized possessions. She brags about how little Timmy always gets straight A’s and how her darling Stacy is the prettiest little girl in town. Yet behind closed doors, she is pouncing on Timmy with reprimands about what he has yet to accomplish and picking on Stacy’s weight.

 4. She competes with her children, disrupts their transition to adulthood and crosses sexual boundaries.

It is common for narcissistic mothers to compete with their children, especially their own daughters. The narcissistic mother is likely to overvalue her own looks and sexual prowess. Female narcissists exhibit internalized misogyny and often view other females as competition. The daughter is thus looked upon with fury, jealousy, and envy – her own offspring is viewed as a threat.

As a result, she may devalue her daughter’s appearance, criticize her body and shame her. On the other hand, some narcissistic mothers will objectify their daughters and demand physical perfection. She may expose her daughters to inappropriate discussions about sex or flaunt her body, placing an emphasis on the value of appearances. She might teach her daughters and sons that a woman derives value from her body and her ability to please men sexually. If the narcissistic mother has histrionic tendencies, she may even seduce the friends of her children to demonstrate her superiority over her younger competition.

In other cultures where sexuality is far more restricted, the narcissistic mother may instead attempt to stifle her daughter’s burgeoning sexuality and punish her for being anything less than abstinent. She may fail to provide her daughters with the proper education concerning sex and their growing bodies.

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.

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