Have you ever wondered if your mother or your Mother-In-Law was a toxic parent? Chances are you or your beloved romantic interest might be a Narcissistic Abuse survivor, raised by a self-centered, egotistical, vain, and ultimately self-aggrandizing mother.
“Narcissistic mothers [and Mothers-In-Law] have a grandiose air about them…” shares self-love blogger Jenna Ryan. The following list base was originally compiled based on her list called 100 traits of toxic people, shared here for reader comparison to the behaviors of toxic mothers (as well as mean Mothers-In-Law who historically represent the worst parenting skills on the planet).
While the list comprehensively describes a handful of typical behaviors by narcissistic or mildly anti-social Narcopaths, understand that to an infant, toddler, child, teen, young adult, or adult child of a Narcissist of Narcopath, growing up spending a lifetime striving to please such unpleasable people can truly be socially, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually devastating. As such, whether or not you are reviewing the list to understand your own bio-mom’s behavior or that of your spouse or romantic interest’s, it’s important to note that the following list represents a compendium of the most commonly reported Narcissistic Abuse behaviors:
- Narcissistic mothers flatter people they want to impress by giving them an inordinate amount of compliments, flattery, attention, money, gifts or time — while leaving their preferred abuse target feeling left out, estranged, alienated, disrespected, unloved, unwanted, and comprehensively feeling unappreciated; the game is used to manufacture sibling rivalries and triangulations that keep the abusive parent holding all the emotional validation cards.
- NMs simply cannot admit faults or flaws; says, “I don’t have any,” and mean it seriously.
- The ultimate hypocrites and situational abusers, NMs are not true to values and norms of society; they are lacking in character.
- Narcissistic mothers and Mothers-In-Law [or MILs] compulsively by both habit and nature tend to disrespect you overtly as well as covertly; they do not return your telephone call(s), ignore you, and avoid you unless they themselves want or need something, treating you in an utterly dismissive fashion when and if you need something but hawking your tail when they are aggrieved.
- They refuse to deal with issues in the relationship that you bring up including but not at all limited to their role in the family as a grandparent, Mother-In-Law, or aging senior citizen as a parent.
- MILs and toxic parents blame you for their errant of callous actions when you’re inevitably upset because of something they did to you or failed to do that directly impacted you, your family, your romantic partner, or the kids.
- Many covertly narcissistic parents or in-laws may present themselves as overly agreeable (even doting) at first when and if plans are being made, but inevitably they always find a way not to respectfully cooperate.
- Toxic moms unilaterally try to make YOU feel guilty when you’re concerned about something they did to directly disrespect you; masterful at blame-shifting, they perpetually expect an apology from their victims.
- The most toxic of parents use ridiculing or shaming “humor” to invalidate and disempower other people; toxic moms and toxic fathers tend to enjoy teaming up to make fun of their offspring, doing things like making fun of voice, face, or life decisions in a ridiculing mock-joking but sincerely cruel, sadistic, and ultimately demoralizing of all possible manners.
- Puts you down or leaves everyone around them consistently feeling both unappreciated and insulted.
- Blames the world and anyone else they can think of for their problems — especially their spouse, parents, any people they stereotype, and their own children.
- Show up late for appointments, pulls disappearing acts without warning, or cancels plans without warning or valid excuse — typically always at important times or at the last minute.
- Expects you to always come to them, do for them, bring for them — rather than offering any reciprocity or adult versions of respectful social dynamics of “give-and-take”.
- Does not listen to your concerns about the relationship or interactions.
- They are actively addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, etc… and do not care about the effects of these behaviors on the mental and emotional health of their offspring.
- Narcissistic mothers need an inordinate amount of attention or high regard from those around them.
- They are continually worried about position or rank.
- They are overly competitive.
- They put you down in any way.
- Try to make you envious by rubbing your nose in their good fortune.
- Seem to be envious of you.
- Set-up outings with your other friends without inviting you.
- Try to create triangles by involving 3rd parties into your disagreements.
- Talk behind your back or gossip about others.
- Continually down, depressed, and having catastrophes.
- Try to leave you out of the crowd.
- Refuse to acknowledge your needs.
- Fail to look you in the eye when you’re talking. (Look over your shoulder at others instead.)
- Lacks compassion for what you’re going through.
- Refuse to share about themselves equally.
- Label you or stereotype you.
- Refuse to acknowledge mistakes.
- Refuse to apologize for wrongs.
- Acts entitled to special treatment.
- NMs lie, exaggerate constantly.
- Downplays your accomplishments.
- By your side when you’re down, then withdraws from you when you’re doing well.
- Defensive about everything they do.
- Refuse to validate your perception of reality.
- Attempt to tell you how you feel or tell you how you are.
- Criticize constantly.
- They act like they worship the ground you walk on one day, then like you don’t exist the next.
- Makes you feel worthless.
- Orders you or bosses you around.
- Are overly reliant on other people.
- Won’t go out of their way for you, even when you go out of your way for them.
- Ignore your texts, emails, or calls at any time as a covert method of showing abject disrespect.
- NMs do not support you socially or emotionally more than physically or financially.
- Belittles your ambitions.
- Speaks negatively about your friends, job, life.
- Acts like she is always in a hurry, with very little time for you.
- Acts as though she is doing you a favor by talking to you or listening to you.
- Treats you as less than if you do not prescribe to their dogma, religion, or doctrine.
- Talks bad about those who are mentally ill, sick, or hurting.
- Tries to turn you into their administrative assistant (call to remind me, pick-up my cleaning).
- Confusing attitudes that change day-by-day.
- Does not keep their word (hardly ever) or answers a direct yes or no request for a promise with a dismissive remark like “We’ll see…” (meaning any request will be ignored and other person’s need invalidated).
- Seems to be more interested in power than in the relationship.
- Seems to be more concerned about what others think than about your relationship.
- Treats you as though she is angry, without giving an explanation.
- Knowingly makes comments that are contrary to your convictions in order to bait or slight you.
- Tries to change you.
- Insults your body, clothing, personality, or anything about you.
- Not available when you need her most.
- Cannot talk about anything other than surface, materialistic, or vain topics.
- Does not do what you want to do. Always needs to control your time together.
- Does not share information with you that they have that may help you excel in life.
- Constantly complains or whines.
- Has anger issues, rages, hates.
- Plays games such as striving to triangulate you with family and family, meddling in your marriage, or striving to estrange you from your own children.
- Narcissistic moms are relentlessly judgmental, knowing better than God.
- Continues to ask the same question after you’ve told them you don’t want to answer it.
- Chews you out or makes snide comments routinely as a “stress reliever” for their own tensions (typically while striving to make themselves feel more in control of life or powerful).
- Controlling every aspect of social interactions — constantly demanding, always spoiling a positive mood by intentionally setting an attention-grabbing tone.
- Uses money, withholding of affection, or flattery to control you.
- Tells you what to do, how to think, what to feel.
- Tells you one thing, then denies she said it or pathologically lies at will to their own advantage; convenient memory syndrome.
- Brings up your faults, flaws, or past mistakes constantly while never once admitting or factoring in the potential influence on you of their own.
- Brings up topics every time you see them that they know you’d rather not discuss.
- Blows up, flies off the handle for no reason.
- Always needs to be in the center of attention and in command.
- Cool toward you when you succeed, get attention, or look good.
- Taker who is never pleased or satisfied with what they get.
- Challenges everything you say.
- Negative, undermining, always critical.
- Black or white thinking – no gray area.
- Moves too fast, wants to become instant friends, lovers, in relationships.
- Ignores the boundaries of your human rights consistently and without apparent remorse.
- Exploits you for her own personal gain, always at your expense of time, emotion, and physical labor.
- Idealizes you (setting up her own imaginary version of who or what she thinks you should have been capable of doing or should as a personality type should be), then thrashes you for not meeting “expectations”.
- Acts pompous towards you.
- Acts condescending towards you.
- Agrees with your adversaries instead of supporting you.
- Acts as if they know more than you, better than you about what you need to do in your life.
- Bitter, vindictive or vengeful.
- Selfish, stingy, or petty.
- Rushes you to make major and minor life decisions without considering giving you time to figure things out on your own and make decisions in your own best interest.
- Withholds affection or engages in a pattern of providing intermittent reinforcement.
- Kicks you hardest and most mercilessly whenever you come to them for advice or when they even begin to suspect you’re psychologically, physically, or emotionally down.
If your mother or female role model behaved in such ways either toward you or in front of you as a child, understand that while you were absolutely raised by a toxic person who abused you and that they had a personality type likely to have caused them to use and abuse any other human being who came into contact with them during the course of their lifetime, too.
If your parent failed to address your emotional needs, abused or neglected you physically, failed to protect you sexually or to be there for you as a supportive person psychologically, learning how to spot the red flags and warning signs a person with a Cluster B personality type is even in the room with you is absolutely essential for you to do. Adult children of toxic parents tend to take on people pleaser attributes early in life if they themselves are not destined to grow up to be active, malicious, and purposeful ABUSERS.
Learning how to spot warning signs of abuse can help an adult child make better choices in life about who to socialize within their friendship circles as well as develop skill sets to help them disengage from abusive or toxic relationships. But spotting the warning signs is useless if people who were raised by a toxic parent or abusive mother figure fail to connect the forensic psychology dots.
The only real way Narcissistic Abuse victims ever “get well” is through educating themselves. If one fails to realize toxicity in one’s own upbringing or simply admit on a logical, purely fact-based social level that mom simply was not right in the head, healing as an adult becomes virtually impossible.
People who claim that empathic people are “too sensitive”, not living in the “real world”, or “need to toughen up” show clear indications they have themselves been raised by people with Cluster B personality disorders. Break the cycle of Narcissistic Abuse by refusing to capitulate to their bullying or toxic shaming rituals.
Mommy Dearest might have an obsession with wire hangers, but that does not mean you have to take on her dysfunction. Similarly, a loving and kind human being should in no way, shape, or form be feeling guilty about wanting and desiring to have a loving, mutually beneficial, and respectable relationship with a birth parent.
Whether or not a child of a toxic mother likes it, the sole responsibility for the emotional care and nurturing of their own inner child’s needs falls squarely on their shoulders — never at the feet of an angry, irrational, dictatorial, short-sighted, tunnel-visioned, or abusive parent. Sometimes the best way to “honor thy mother” is to refuse to tolerate or put up with her bullshit.
One can love a parent and remain low to no contact with that person indefinitely as an act of kind, loving, and respectful service. If you make your parent miserable to be around and they are the type of human being who won’t hesitate to remind you of their low opinion of you at every social opportunity, then limiting their ability to have functional access to harm you can actually be the most loving of acts. Let them figure out in their senior years exactly why it is that having a loving family unit who enjoys your company is of benefit.
If they never figure out how to be a decent human being, truly understand SO BE IT. Their personality, lifestyle, habits, and decisions about how to treat others is a moral and social responsibility having absolutely nothing to do with the lives of their own children.
We all die alone, solely responsible for how we choose to live our lives as human beings.
Take back any power you may have accidentally given away to a toxic parent by loving them enough to improve your own life and theirs by seriously staying as far away as you can from them without forgetting to do the emotional clean-up work necessary on a daily basis to help YOU — as the victim of a lifetime of abuse and emotional neglect — to get over having been raised by them.
While the types of personality characteristics listed below might be ones replicated by men (including but not limited to toxic fathers, Enabling Henchmen, and abusive love interests), the extreme duress a MOMMY DEAREST type mother figure places on her own offspring by engaging in the following garish, attention-seeking antics are some of the most psycho-socially cruel ways in which to invalidate a child’s rights.
Such forms of extreme Narcissistic Abuse can functionally cripple any age child of a mother who thinks her own selfish needs should be met at the expense of all others she elects to harm.
It’s never a child’s fault or moral responsibility to cover for a parent choosing to act egocentrically, nor is it a child’s duty to kiss the ring of a family matriarch hell-bent on promoting her own needs over the interest of the family unit or community at large.