7 Signs of a Narcissistic Mother

Mother and daughter in a cafe

Have you ever wondered why the relationship with your mother feels so complicated? 

On one hand you feel guilty for even thinking about it, but a lot of the time she’s really hard to be around. You’re always waiting for the next negative comment or criticism. Even when you’re expecting it, it still stings. As an adult, you turn into that little girl again, hoping she’ll give you her seal of approval because you never feel good enough.

It might be worth considering that your mother may be high on the spectrum of narcissistic traits. 

If you want to know more about the typical signs that daughters of narcissistic mothers experience, read on.  


She is extremely critical of you. How you look, what you eat, how you prepare a meal, your career choices, your friends, the kind of music you like, how you parent. The list goes on. If there is a negative comment to make about what you’re doing, or how you’re doing it, your narcissistic mother is sure to let you know. 

Presents a false self 

She can be warm and charming in front of others but seems like a different person when you are alone. You may notice that she often talks badly about others after immediately speaking warmly with them. It often feels like there are two sides to her personality. The one that you get to see and the one she presents to everyone else. 

Walking on eggshells 

You often feel as though you are walking on eggshells. When you are in her presence you find that you go into people pleasing mode. You don’t want to cause upset and end up placing more importance on meeting her needs than your own. You forget your adult self and turn into the 12 year old version of you. Wanting to feel seen and validated. You crave her acceptance and feel devastated that no matter what you do, it never feels good enough. 

Violation of boundaries 

She has no respect for your boundaries or boundaries in general. When boundaries do matter, it’s when it works in her favour and suits her own needs. She is unable to recognise your needs as separate to hers. In her eyes, you are an extension of her and therefore your needs and wants are secondary, or not acknowledged. 

Shows manipulate behaviour

You may experience manipulation tactics used to gain control and influence yours and others thoughts and behaviours. Micromanaging is another form of manipulation where you might have noticed that your life choices have been defined by the wishes of your mother. From choosing what to study, what career path you should take and what friends you should keep. 

As you become older, it can look like undermining your parenting skills so that you feel less competent and often need to rely on her for what feels like support. Often there are strings that come attached to this support. 

Emotional neglect

As a child you often felt alone when dealing with big emotions. If you felt upset your feelings were dismissed or it went unnoticed. Healthy conversations about feelings were not encouraged. Feelings were very rarely expressed. If they were, it was often her big feelings, not leaving much space for yours. It often felt like you had to cope with emotional difficulty on your own. 

Inconsistent caregiving

At times you would feel loved and cared for by your mother. If things were going well in her life and you were meeting her needs, she would be very pleasant. Almost the mother that you wish you could have all of the time. However, when things didn’t go her way, she turned her contempt towards you. While sometimes you felt at ease in her presence, these outburst or subtle stings would make you feel tentative around her, as there was a lack of consistency in her emotional caregiving. 

If you’ve ever wondered if your mother has narcissistic traits, these signs may have you nodding along, realising that your relationship ticks all of the boxes. 

While it’s difficult to have a toxic relationship with your mother, there is always the potential to heal from the harm of emotional trauma. 

Firstly, validating your experience is real, either to yourself or within a trusted relationship can start the journey to healing. 

Once you are able to recognise the emotional needs that were unmet, you can start to meet those needs. 

Even as an adult it is never too late to repair the nurturing that we would expect from our caregivers. 

Learning more about narcissistic mothers and how it relates to your own experience can give you the courage and tools so that you no longer feel so influenced by this complicated relationship. 

If it feels too big to go it alone and you want my support, get in touch to find out more about my online program for women, which helps to heal the trauma of harmful relationships. 

If you are ready to stop the pattern of people pleasing, to have healthier relationships and to set boundaries with confidence and ease, get in touch to book your free 15 minute discovery call. 

More To Explore

improve emotional wellbeing blog; online therapy for women

3 Ways to Improve Your Emotional Wellbeing

While we can’t always control external stressors, when we take the time to address emotional wellbeing, it can build your capacity to handle stress and increase your resilience.

attachment healing blog

Moving Past Self Awareness in Attachment Healing

Are you very self aware but still get stuck on feeling triggered and insecure in your relationships?

People who are self aware are often excellent at intellectualising their feelings.
What this does is take people away from feeling emotions.