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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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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It)

Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It)

Children, just like adults, can be depressed. Sometimes seemingly normal children with no major life issues can become depressed. It is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes clinical depression to occur. There are specific signs that you should recognize in your child if they are depressed. Getting them help and treatment is crucial to their mental wellness.

In this article, we will look into the signs of depression in children and how parents can help them to overcome it.

Signs of depression in children

The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder) is the widely accepted instruction guide that professionals utilize for diagnosing mental disorders. The DSM characterizes a Major Depressive Episode as depressed behaviors that consistently last for two weeks or longer. Therefore, if your child has been “down in the dumps”, feeling hopeless or having sadness for more than two weeks, it should be cause for concern and investigated.

Below are signs of depression according to the DSM manual. The individual must have at least five of these behaviors present for a period of two weeks or longer to be officially diagnosed as having MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). Below is a summary/generalization from the DSM manual:

  • Feelings of deep sadness or depressed mood that last most of the day (for two weeks or more). For children they can present as irritable rather than sad.
  • Diminished interest in activities (again majority of the day or all the time).
  • Significant weight loss (not through dieting), or a decrease in appetite. In children, they fail to make expected weight gains while growing.
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
  • Either a slowing of psychomotor abilities/actions or an apparent agitation of these psychomotor abilities. This means that they either have moments that lack purpose and seem to be done because of agitation and tension or there is a significant slowness/retardation of their speech and physical actions.
  • Fatigue and loss of energy.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt every day.
  • Difficulty thinking, making decisions, or concentrating every day. This may be reflected in their grades.
  • Preoccupation with death and dying or suicidal thoughts.

Please note that if your child is suffering from the loss of a loved one and is processing through the stages of grief, it is normal to have these signs of depression. If they seem to be stuck in the depression stage, then it is time to pursue grief counseling to help them along in the grieving process.

However, if they are not suffering from a bereavement or a medical condition that would cause the above symptoms, then they should be taken to a professional for possible diagnosis and treatment of MDD (Major Depressive Disorder).

How to help your child with depression

Depression is not to be taken lightly. Especially if suicidal thoughts are present. The child’s feelings and emotions are real and must be taken seriously. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide is the number two cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 34.[1]

Professional help is recommended if you believe your child fits the criterion for MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). You can take your child to their paediatrician for an evaluation and referral. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, they may benefit from medication such as anti-depressants.

Most professionals do not dispense medication as the first remedy for depression. Instead therapy is the first line of defense against depression, with medication being paired with therapy if the therapy is not enough or the symptoms are severe enough.

Testing

There are assessment tools that professionals can utilize to help in properly determining whether your child is depressed. The three tools used in assessing depression in children are:

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  • The Children’s Depression Rating Scale (CDRS)
  • Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI)
  • Clinical Global Impression (CGI)

Taking your child to a professional mental health counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist can help ensure proper testing and assessment occurs.

Therapy

There are many types of therapy available today. It is important to find a professional that specializes in childhood depression and the treatment of such.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the leading therapy methods in treating childhood depression. For younger children, play therapy is useful in treating childhood depression as children are often able to better communicate through play than conversation alone.

What parents can do at home to help their depressed child

Besides seeking for professional help, there are a couple of things that parents can do at home to help their depressed child:

1. Talk with your child about their feelings in a compassionate and empathetic manner.

It can feel high pressure to sit face to face and ask your child about their feelings. However, going on a walk, playing a board game or playing alongside your child (chose whichever is age appropriate for your child) can allow them to relax and open up about their feelings.

Ask your child open ended questions that require more than a simple yes or no to engage in more meaningful conversations. Never judge while they are being open and honest with you because it will inevitably cause them to shut down and move away from being open with you.

It is okay to allow for periods of silence during the conversations because sometimes the child is processing their thoughts and emotions during your time together. You don’t have to fill the space and entire time with talking as silence at times is helpful.

2. Provide activities that help them relax and de-stress.

For smaller children, there are simple ways to help them relax.

Provide play opportunities that they find relaxing such as coloring, painting, working with Play-do or clay, or playing with sand and sand toys. Again, find activities that interest your child and are age appropriate are helpful in making them relaxed.

3. Limit screen time.

Technology is not helpful in making your child less depressed. It can often be an escape that keeps them from further opening up about their feelings and emotions.

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Limit time in front of the TV, laptop, smart phone, video games and tablets, etc. Any electronics that seem to prevent your child from face to face interactions should be limited. Ask Dr. Sears cites that researchers have found kids who have higher levels of screen time are at greater risk for anxiety and depression.[2]

Provide alternate activities to replace the screen time such as hiking, crafting, drawing, constructing, biking and playing outside, etc. Some children may be so dependent on their screen time as their source for entertainment that they may need you to participate in alternate activities alongside them in order to get engaged in the activities.

You can’t simply tell your child to go outside to play if they are suffering from depression, lack friends and are used to sitting down and playing video games each day after school. Go outside with your child and do a nature hike or take your child to a playground and have fun together to get them engaged in these alternate activities.

4. Promote outdoor time and physical activities.

Encourage your children to take part in activities that especially involve nature such as nature hikes. Do these activities with them to help them engage in the activities. Again this is an opportunity for open conversations to occur and quality time to take place.

5. Help your child when problems and difficult tasks arise.

Assist them by helping them break down the task into smaller and more manageable parts. Children with depression often have difficulty taking on large problems and tasks and find them overwhelming. Helping them by breaking down the task into smaller and more manageable tasks will assist in helping raise their confidence when the small tasks are mastered.

Small tasks mastered lead to bigger tasks being mastered over time. It is a process over time, patience and a willingness to work alongside your child. This does not mean doing the task or taking on the problem solely yourself. Many times all the child needs is for you to break down the larger task into smaller more manageable tasks and for you to patiently talk your child through the completion of these smaller tasks.

6. Help your child reduce life stress.

When children are depressed, they have greater difficulty handling life activities in general. Cut back on activities that cause stress to increase and look for ways to help reduce stress in your child’s life.

7. Foster a positive home atmosphere.

Reduce or eliminate negative attitudes, language and conversations. Also avoid raised voices, passive aggressive behaviors and any form of physical violence in the home.

Make your home a safe haven for your child instead of an atmosphere that is ever volatile (in words, emotions or physically). Make it a calm environment that makes your child feel safe and secure mentally, emotionally and physically.

8. Help your child see the positive in life situations.

Point out the positives in a situation rather than the negatives. Help them see the bright side of any situation.

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Be a model of seeing the positive in life by speaking words that are uplifting, encouraging and positive. Resist the temptation to voice negative thoughts that come to mind as your child can feed off your emotions and words.

9. Believe your child when they talk about how they are feeling.

Listen to them patiently and take their words seriously. Do not discount or minimize their feelings. Express empathy and compassion when they do open up about their feelings. Help them utilize “I feel” statements in expressing their emotions.

10. Keep watch for suicidal behaviors.

Such behaviors include your child/teen researching this topic online, them giving away their possessions and a preoccupation with death.

Seek professional help immediately with the presentation of suicidal behaviors or thoughts. Keep this number on hand and use it when in doubt: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number 1-800-273-8255.

11. Keep all prescriptions, alcohol, drugs and weapons locked and away from children and teens.

This is a given for all children, but even more imperative for children who are depressed as they have an increased likelihood to abuse drugs and alcohol. They also have an increased likelihood to attempt suicide. So keep weapons and tools such as ropes and knives that can used for suicide out of the child’s ability to use.

12. Spend quality one-on-one time with your child.

Make the time during your day, every day, to spend quality time with your child. You may have limited time and cannot provide an hour or more a day to dedicate to one-on-one time with your child, but you should provide a minimum of 20 minutes a day with your child spending quality one-on-one time together. Try the suggested activities listed in point #3.

13. Be an encouragement and supporter of your child.

Show love and not frustration or anger because of the situation and your child’s condition. Help keep your attitude positive so your child can also see the positive.

Provide daily words of affirmation that are not based on end results (such as a grade or a win) but instead praise the effort they put forth. If you praise the outcome, they will be disappointed when their efforts don’t pan out. If they are praised for their efforts regardless of the outcome, their confidence is built based upon something that they can control (the effort they put into things).

14. Help your child to live a healthy lifestyle.

Sleep is a very important factor in your child’s mood. Not getting enough sleep can cause an entire day to be upset. According to Sleep Aid Resource, children between the ages of 3 and 18 need between 8 and 12 hours of sleep each night:[3]

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    Ensure your child is eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting physical activity/exercise daily and plenty of sleep time.

    15. Help your child foster positive relationships and friendships with their peers.

    Set up play dates for your younger child and encourage older children to invite friends over to your home.

    16. Talk about bullying.

    It can be one of the causes of your child’s depression, so discuss their life outside of home and their interactions with their peers. Help them recognize bullying and discuss how to handle bullying properly.

    17. Help your child follow the treatment plan outlined by their doctor, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist.

    Make sure you know the treatment plan that your child’s health care professional has outlined for child. This may include counseling session recommendations, medications and recommendations to follow through with in the home. Completing the plan will help provide optimal results for your child in the long run. A plan doesn’t work unless it is followed.

    18. Recognize that professional treatment takes time to show results.

    Don’t expect results for the first few weeks. It may take a month or longer, so be patient and understanding with your child.

    Depression in children is curable

    Depression in children can happen for a variety of reasons. It is quite treatable.

    Professional help is recommended if your child can possibly be diagnosed with a depressive episode. There are interventions that can be implemented in a professional setting, at home and at school. The key is having a plan of action to help your child.

    Ignoring the problem or hoping the depression will just go away is not a good plan. Treatment is imperative to curing depression in children.

    The first step is talking to your child’s paediatrician to get the ball rolling. He or she will refer you to specialists in your area that can help your child overcome and conquer their depression one day at a time. With you by their side, each step of the way you will get through it together and it is quite possible for your relationship with your child to be strengthened in the process as well. That can be your silver lining or positive outlook on the situation at hand.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] National Institute of Mental Health: Suicide
    [2] Ask Dr. Sears: It’s a Virtual World: Setting Practical Screen Time Limits
    [3] Sleep Aid Resource: Sleep Chart

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