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Signs of a Narcissistic Mother (It’s Not Easy to Spot!)

Signs of a Narcissistic Mother (It’s Not Easy to Spot!)

A narcissistic mother is a parent with narcissistic personalty disorder who is “psychologically constructed to garner attention, be it from charisma, beauty, smarts, or finance.” [1]In this definition, there exists a catch. When the world views a charismatic, attention-seeking woman- and chances are she will be in a powerful position for all to admire, such as a lawyer, judge, head of the PTO, etc. – the family witnesses the other, unpolished side of the coin.

Children of narcissistic parents go through their lives feeling confused and lost, and in search of love they never received from home. They expect their mothers to nurture and support them, but when they are dealing with narcissistic mothers, they aren’t given the love and support that healthy parents provide. The signs of a narcissistic mother are not always easy to spot, but once known, there are ways to deal with the situation.

15 Traits of a Narcissistic Mother

Do you suspect you have a narcissistic mother? The signs are not always easy to spot, and some well-intentioned, but misguided parenting can be misconstrued as narcissistic. Narcissistic mothers share these traits:

They like to keep control

They like to have complete control over all aspects of their children’s lives, from friends, to music, to clothes, and habits. Manipulation is their game, and they play it well. They use guilt trips through emotional blackmail to make their kids dance to their music.

“You need to take computer science if you are going to amount to something- not waste your time in that art class!”

They divert the conversation to center on themselves

Their children may be trying to communicate a problem at school or an issue with friends, but their mothers will take control and change the direction of the conversation to focus on themselves.

The child may start talking about how sad they are because their friend is moving away and suddenly find themselves off topic: “Mackenzie is fine, but when I was your age I had a dozen of friends and my best friend and I roomed together in college…”

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They get angry when things don’t go their way

They lose temper quite easily and they always throw the blame at their children and others, instead of acknowledging that they may be the problem. Their children and spouses tend to tiptoe around certain subjects in fear of releasing the dragon’s wrath.

“That check never arrived. You didn’t put it in the mailbox, did you? It’s your fault!” They place blame- never shoulder it.

Ironically, they care what people think about them

They go out of their way to make themselves look good in public, at the expense of their children and spouses.

Before the public outing, the family will hear: “Don’t you dare forget to say “please” and “thank you” to my boss. Fix your hair. It’s a rat’s nest!” Once out with her boss: “My Jimmy received the Presidential Medal! I’m so glad I made him do those sit-ups everyday and pushed him all the way.” She turns her child’s victory into hers so that she will look good.

It’s all about them!

Narcissists are self-centered and they feel the entire world should revolve around them. The moment they come in the door, they expect everyone to come running. They feel they are the most important member of the family instead of being one of the team.

“I’m home! Someone help me with these bags. I am so tired. I worked such a long day. I- I -I.” They forget to ask anyone else about their day.

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They carry grudges

This last for a long time. If someone slights them or doesn’t do what they think should be done, or chooses a different lifestyle choice, they harbor the resentment for a very long time. The recipient will receive the cold-shoulder or find themselves disinherited for a slight that happened years ago that anyone else would have forgiven and forgotten.

“Well, I picked Frances to inherit my business because she never abandoned her mother for four years!’ “But mom, I was in the army!”

They use love to reward and punish.

Narcissistic mothers know that the most powerful weapon over their children is their love. They don’t often part with it, and when their children receive it, it’s usually in full public view to make them look good. However, they withdraw their affection as punishment for when their kids fall short- which, in their eyes, is often the case.

“You are my favorite child now…”

They treat others as their servants.

The child of a narcissistic mother will often act as a personal slave in hopes of catching a sliver of affection.

“Get me a glass of water and grab those grapes while you’re at it. Put a pot on for the spaghetti.” The list become endless, and leaves the child feeling like Cinderella.

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They are in competition with their children.

The boundaries between child and parent become blurred. This can happen with narcissistic mothers who feel their beauty and sexuality are being challenged by their adolescent daughters.

“You’re going to a school dance? Well I’m going to a real dance at a night club!”

They find constant fault in their children and compare them with other “perfect” kids.

Their unreasonable expectations set the bar too high for any child.

“Can’t you be more like John? He always says ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and holds the door for me.” or “Allie gets straight A’s, is on the Honor Role and is captain of the cheer squad. Why can’t you be like her?” Chances are, if John or Allie were their children, they wouldn’t be good enough either!

Their children live in an emotionless void

Children raised by a narcissistic parent grow up missing the nurturing love they should have received. They feel little or no emotional attachment or closeness to their parent- only confusion. The years of manipulation take their toll.

Narcissistic mothers lack empathy

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Because they are so super-focused on themselves, they are unable to sympathize with their children or their children’s plights. They are blind when it comes to seeing situations from their children’s viewpoint.

“I see a “D” on your report card. A “D” is unacceptable. I don’t care what you have to say.”

They have low self-esteem

Their grandiose, supermom act is an empty facade hiding the fact that they suffer from low self-confidence. Though they won’t let the world see them crumble, their children see the other side, and often have to pick up the pieces and deal with their bouts of depression.

They never want to let you go

All parents know their kids will grow up and leave the nest. It may be painful, but they can accept this fact of life. However, a narcissistic mother will hold on to her child as long as possible- even into adulthood to maintain control. She will use every tactic in the book to make them feel dependent on her. “You can’t leave me. You need me!” The truth is that narcissistic moms need their children and their full attention!

How Their Children Are Affected

Children of narcissistic mothers often deal with a roller coaster of childhood emotions. Sapped of a carefree youth, they spend their time trying to please or appease their mothers, sometimes walking on eggshells so as not to invoke anger from the one person who should be providing them with unconditional love and boosting their self-confidence.

Instead, their highly-judgmental parent pokes at all their faults, criticizes their choices, and manipulates their childhood to suit their own needs. They will be accused of being ungrateful. They will be told, “It’s my way or the highway.” They will feel they aren’t enough, and for narcissistic mothers they never will be.

These children will spend the rest of their lives, desperate for a love they never received- an approval that didn’t happen. Some will turn to therapy for help, others will unwittingly seek out narcissistic partners subconsciously feeling that if they can “fix” that relationship they will be able to “fix” the one with their mothers, and still others may become narcissistic parents themselves, continuing the cycle.

Breaking Free from a Narcissistic Mom

If you feel that you are dealing with a narcissistic parent, you can learn ways to cope. If you visit your friend’s houses and are able to view other family dynamics, chances are you’ll realize something is wrong. That sliver of enlightenment can set you free.

  • Avoidance: Choose not to be goaded into situations and caught in uncomfortable encounters by avoiding the perpetrator. It may take evasive actions worthy of a spymaster, but it is possible.
  • Maintain privacy: Living with a narcissistic mother can sap the energy from anyone. Maintain a personal space where you can escape the drama and find peace, whether it’s your own room or Grandma’s house.
  • Seek outside support: Sometimes you need to talk with someone who will actually listen, be it the guidance counselor, a therapist, or a relative.

Adults may still find themselves under their mother’s influence, but as an adult you have far more options available:

  • Therapy. You may need to talk to a professional. Narcissistic parents can emotionally wreck their children, and cause them to unconsciously seek out equally damaging narcissistic partners. Consider getting professional help.
  • Distance. Sometimes the best avoidance is distance. You may find you have to move away to remove yourself from your narcissistic mother’s manipulations. It’s easier to put down a phone to end a conversation than to walk from a room.
  • Choose not to follow suit. Just because parent acts in a certain way doesn’t mean you have to as well. If you see the problem for what it is- a personality disorder- you can choose to break the cycle by not becoming a narcissistic parent.
  • Didn’t receive love or praise in your childhood? Hug your kids every day and shower them with affection. Tell them that you love them and leave no doubts in their minds about that love. Be the parent of your dreams.

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: The Narcissistic Mother

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Sally White

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Published on September 21, 2020

The Danger of Overscheduling Your Kids

The Danger of Overscheduling Your Kids

I am a parent of three children aged 8, 6, and 6. Like many parents, I struggle with knowing the right balance of activities for them. I don’t want my kids to miss out on opportunities to play sports and participate in activities that will enhance their lives and help them grow as individuals. However, I also don’t want them to become overscheduled kids, to the extent that they get worn out and stressed out.

There is a balance in providing activities for our children and overscheduling them. The tendency for the latter is prevalent these days. Our lives — and the lives of our kids — are increasingly overscheduled and overworked. Thus, we need to understand the dangers of having overscheduled kids and how to prevent this from happening in our own families.

What’s Wrong with Overscheduling Your Kids?

1. Overscheduling Can Burn Out Our Kids

When our kids are on the go and scheduled to the max from a young age, their potential to get burned out before reaching high school is quite high. The New York Times reported some research on burnout and found that burnout with kids relates to their workload, along with their parents’ propensity to experience it.[1] This means that overworked children are more likely to get burned out than others. Similarly, overscheduled parents tend to have overscheduled kids more often than not.

Burnout

When a person is burned out, they feel overwhelmed and exhausted by what others expect them to get done daily. Children who are involved in too many activities with little to no downtime have a high chance of experiencing burnout. When parents place too many expectations on their kids, they also have an increased potential to burn out.

If you get the sense that your child is feeling overworked or overwhelmed by their daily activities, you need to know which ones can be cut back. If they have too many activities outside of school work, for instance, then that is one area that likely needs to be downsized.

An overworked child will present various symptoms like moodiness, irritability, crankiness, despondency, anger, stomach aches, headaches, rebellion, etc. Cutting back their activities will help to relieve their stress and reduce the said burnout signs. If your kid has severe burnout symptoms, though, then professional help from a pediatrician or therapist for children should be sought.

Downtime

Downtime is key to helping relieve burnout. If children don’t have free time during the day to have any rest, they are more likely to become burned out than others. Downtime means unorganized free time to do what they enjoy or relax. Cut back your kids’ extra-curricular activities if they don’t have downtime in their schedule.

Here are more tips on creating downtime for the children: How to Create Downtime for Kids.

2. Overscheduling Kills Playtime and Creativity

Kids need time to be kids. When their schedules are filled every day with activities like organized ballet, soccer, and music lessons, and they only take a break for dinner and bedtime, then they are overscheduled. They need to have free time after school to relax and play. When they don’t have that and proceed from one scheduled activity to the next, they are missing out on playtime.

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Playtime is crucial to child development. If they cannot get enough time to play, then their ability to develop their creativity decreases. The Genius of Play explains that there are six major developmental benefits that children get from playtime:[2]

  • Creativity
  • Social skill development
  • Cognitive development
  • Physical development (i.e., balance, coordination)
  • Communication skills
  • Emotional development

If children don’t have time to play because they are always on-the-go, then they are missing out on the developmental benefits of play.

Children need downtime after school so that they can unwind, play, and decompress. Research from the Journal of Early Childhood Development and Care showed that kids need to play to deal with anxiety, stress, and worry.[3] Playtime provides an outlet for them to manage these emotions in a healthy manner and helps with the development of their creativity.

Children need free time to play every day. Fifteen minutes at recess is not enough. They need time for it after school, at home, outside of the constraints of scheduled activities.

Solution

Ensure that your child has time to play after school. This is especially important for young children who greatly benefit from playing. Limit organized activities so that your child is not scheduled every day and can play after school. If they have an activity every hour, then it doesn’t allow for playtime.

3. Overscheduling Causes Stress and Pressure

When kids are overscheduled because their parents are so intent on having high-performing children, then they will feel stressed. Parental pressure upon a child to do well in academics, music, multiple sports, and religious studies is a reality for many kids. The children scheduled in all of these activities can often feel stress and pressure, especially when they are expected to succeed in all of them.

It is hard enough for kids to be good or succeed at a single activity. For a parent to overschedule their child and expect superior performance in various activities, that is a recipe for a stressed-out child.

Solution

Parents should not schedule kids in multiple activities with the expectation of superior performance in all. They should also consider the child’s interests. If the child is not interested in one activity, then they are likely to feel stressed and pressured to do it.

For example, if Suzy has been taking piano lessons for four years, and she no longer enjoys learning the instrument, then perhaps it is time to take a break. If Suzy is forced to continue with the lessons and daily practices, then she may feel pressured to continue performing simply because her mom wants her to do so. This can lead Suzy to resent her mother for forcing her to keep on doing something that she doesn’t like anymore.

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Let your child help in selecting the activities that they get involved in. Also, put a cap on the number of activities they are doing. If they have a different activity every weekday, then they are likely overscheduled.

Kids need downtime and time to play, too. If they need to do a new activity every day, that downtime is diminished, considering the time at home or outside of the scheduled activities is limited. This limited time is then filled with homework, mealtime, and bedtime prep. Eliminating activities several days a week will allow the child to have some time to play freely. The younger the kid is, the more time they need playtime. As they get older, they can take on more activities; however, under the age of 13, playing daily is a must for children.

4. Healthy Eating Falls by the Wayside

Any parent who’s busy chauffeuring multiple kids to different activities after school knows how tempting fast food can become. Fast food, however, leads to less healthy food choices. French fries and hamburgers — the staple combo in most fast-food joints — cannot help your child thrive nutritionally.

When families are overscheduled, they tend to go for easy and quick meals. When rushed, many of us make poor food choices because we aren’t taking the time to think about a meal’s nutritional value and a balanced diet for our children.

5. Family Mealtimes Become a Thing of the Past

When we are taking our kids to sports and other extra-curricular activities that fall during dinnertime, the family often misses out on sharing a meal at home.

This is true in our own home. There are certain nights of the week that we have practices, and so we either eat together early (if possible) or eat separately, depending on what our schedules allow.

There is so much value in having family dinners. It provides an opportunity for family members to discuss their day, including their work and school activities. It is a time when technology is set aside so that everyone can truly focus on communicating with one another and catching up on what is happening in each other’s lives. When a kid’s activities are scheduled every evening, then that family time at the dining table gets lost. Dinnertime becomes a thing of the past as we overschedule kids and ourselves.

Try learning more about family time here: How to Maximize Family Time? 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Immediately.

Solution

Assess our schedule during the week to ensure that there’s always time for dinner with the family. Make it a point to establish a dinnertime schedule for the evenings that you do not have prior engagements scheduled. Remember: the time that you have with your kids under your roof is fleeting. Before long, they will be grownups and start living on their own. You need not dismiss or minimize the opportunity to bond with your children over meals.

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Having family mealtimes also allows you to make excellent food choices. This way, parents can create balanced and healthy meals and teach their children about the importance of eating good food for their bodies.

How to Turn Things Around?

1. Fix the Displaced Ambitions

Parents with overscheduled kids often mean well. They want their children to succeed, so they give them every chance to make it happen. They sign them up for various lessons, sports, and activities that may help the kids find success in life.

In other cases, the parent probably didn’t get such opportunities when they were young and felt that they missed out on many things. Hence, they provide those missed opportunities to their kids during their own childhood.

Carla is an example of such a parent. Carla always wanted to take dance and ballet classes as a child. She heard her friends talk about dance classes and performances, and they would even bring recital photos to school, showing their beautiful, detailed costumes. Carla wanted to be in those dance classes and learn ballet and have the opportunity to perform in a beautiful costume in front of an audience. Unfortunately, her family could not afford to give her that opportunity.

When Carla gave birth to a baby girl, she had visions of her little one growing big enough to take dance, ballet, and even tap classes someday. She was looking forward to dressing her daughter in dance costumes and watching her take lessons and eventually performing in recitals. When Carla’s daughter Anna was old enough to enroll at a dance class at four years old, she was thrilled. However, after a few months, it became clear that Anna was not enjoying these classes. She would cry before every lesson, begging Carla to let her stay home and not go to class. Her daughter had no interest in learning to dance.

In truth, it happens to many parents. They would enroll their kid in an activity that they wanted to do as a child but never got to try. Unfortunately, a parent’s interest is not always the same as that of their kids’. The child may humor mom or dad for some time and do the activity out of compliance. But if the child does not enjoy it anymore, they will eventually make things clear to their parents.

Parents should listen to their children. If the activity is something that they do not enjoy doing, ask the children what they think they would like to do, and then eliminate activities that they are not into. Similarly, teach them commitment by finishing a program, but don’t enroll them again in the same class if they absolutely do not want to do it.

Let the kids try different activities at a young age. Sometimes they don’t know if they like something until they try it out.

2. Try Clinics of Camps Before Committing

Don’t enroll your child in three sports at the same time to see which one they like or excel at. Doing so will make your kid overscheduled. Instead, you can use the summer break or preseason camps or clinics to try a variety of activities they are interested in.

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As an example, all three of my children said that they wanted to do lacrosse. We had already tried soccer, and it was not successful for two out of three of them. They would rather chase butterflies down the field or play tag than actually participate in their games. Therefore, before committing to lacrosse and spending a great deal of money on their gear, I signed them up for a sample clinic. It was a one-day program that intended to expose children to the sport and see if they would perhaps enjoy playing it. I was surprised to find that the three kids enjoyed lacrosse, so we signed up for the season. It was nice to be able to see them try out the sport in a clinic before committing to an entire season.

Most towns and cities have parks and recreation department. This is often a good place to check for clinics and camps for various activities. Our local department even offers art and dance classes. Most of them meet between two and four times total, so the children can get some exposure to the activity before signing them up at a private facility for a more long-term commitment.

3. Take an Inventory of Your Weekly Activities

Often, we do an activity without reflecting on how much we are already committed to doing each week. Before we commit to any more activities, we must be willing to look at everything that each family member does. Every child’s commitment is another responsibility for the parent as well. Parents must take children to and from each practice, so you need to consider the drive time for any activity.

For instance, if each of my three kids signed up for three different activities each week, I would be running myself ragged. Three activities for three kids means taking them to nine activities during the week. That doesn’t include the games that will likely be scheduled on the weekends. Three activities for every child, therefore, is too much for our family.

If some practices overlap on the schedule, then you need two parents or responsible adults to transport the children to different locations. Before you sign them up for multiple activities, you need to factor downtime, stress levels, and your ability to take them to each activity in the equation.

Consider the following before your kids can commit to various activities:

  • What is the time commitment for the child each week? Do they have enough energy and stamina for the activities? Do they get enough downtime daily to prevent burnout?
  • Is practice time required outside of their scheduled team practices and games?
  • How long is the travel time for you as a parent, along with wait time during practices? Do you have time allowances for these activities in your own schedule?
  • Does the activity time conflict with other activities on the schedule? Will it eliminate family dinners on a regular basis?
  • Does the child really want to do the activity?
  • What is the motivation for signing up for the activity?
  • Is this activity or commitment going to cause a great deal of stress on the child or other family members?

Check out these time-management tips for parents: 10 Time Management Tips Every Busy Parent Needs to Know.

Get The Kids Active and Involved!

Despite everything, it does not mean that you shouldn’t sign your child up for different activities like sports, music, dance, karate, etc. They are all great activities that can help children develop a variety of valuable life skills. The goal is to enroll them in things that they genuinely enjoy and avoid overscheduling kids by not letting them sign up for too many activities at a time.

More Tips for Scheduling Kids’ Activities

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

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