As told to the writer
“I was talking to one of my friends when she shared this realization – almost all of us in our generation were raised by narcissistic mothers.”
These women who were born after the war grew up in the ‘beauty queen generation’ where looks were put on a pedestal, and all they had to do was marry a rich man, settle down, sit on their laurels and keep up with the image of being a trophy wife.
Since all they had to do was stay at home (they had no work and just relied on their husbands) and make babies, all their focus was on their kids. Through them, they want to show their peers that, ‘Hey, my genes are better than yours.’ Since they did not have a goal, they use their kids as their sense of purpose.
So like other children in my generation, I experienced being controlled by my narcissist mother. And as narcissists go, they put themselves on a pedestal and are masters at manipulating, bribing and guilt tripping you to do what they want.
When you have a narcissistic mother, everything you do is based on fear. You have to get home right away because that she will get mad if you don’t, you have to do well in school because she will get mad if you fail.
They rely on you to keep their image untainted, even if that means prioritizing your achievements over your growth, and teaching you to be competitive for the fulfillment of their own dreams.
One thing that’s hard about having a narcissistic parent is you will always have the hope when you’re living with them that they could change, but they cannot and they will just keep disappointing you.
A narcissist is set in her ways which she thinks is the best. And as their looks fade and their laurels become irrelevant, they become worse to the people around them.
But they will always do something to keep you hanging and give you a little bit of hope to stick around, like breadcrumbs. They buy you nice things, trips abroad and luxuries to make you realize that everything is good as long as you agree with them and they have their way with you.
Narcissistic mother. | Image from Freepik
So as much as I loved my mom, I knew I could never be truly happy and free while I’m still living with her. So I left home and was on my own at age 19. I paid for my own tuition fee in school and took on different jobs so that I could support myself and discover my own path.
After a while, I felt bad so I went back to reconcile with my narcissistic mother, but not without establishing my independence first.
I got married and raised my kids differently than how I was brought up. I let them do chores, gave them the freedom to choose what they want and instilled in them the importance of empathy.
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Now that I’m an adult, my narcissist mother has took on the role of a narcissist grandma to my kids and my brother’s kids.
I noticed how she still controls my nieces and nephews, to the point where she has a say in their schedule. The kids are into music and arts, and my mom would prohibit them from doing so. She’d tell my sister-in-law, “Bawal yan.”
This was pre-Covid. Bawal lumabas, bawal to talk with friends, lahat bawal. If they would enroll in music class, maraming sasabihin, because my mom decided to control all the funds. That’s why she has power over them.
“She wants to appear like she’s such a good person for funding their school and other needs, when what she actually wants is to control them.”
For me, I would rather control my own money no matter how little it may be, but at least I’m free to choose. I bring my children to guitar or whatever they want. My sons had to secretly give their cousins musical instruments just so they have an outlet for whatever they’re feeling
My niece cries every night because of this. This horrible situation manifested when her best friend died. At the wake, instead of giving a eulogy, my niece talked about my mom and how scared she is and she’s depressed because she doesn’t have a friend anymore who can understand her.
She expressed her fear for her grandmother who won’t let her speak with other people on the phone or use the internet.
If you’re raised by a narcissistic parent (or grandparent), you never talk about feeling loved. You will automatically talk about how scared you are of the parent and how strict that person is.
We don’t live with my mom so my kids just see her on special occasions. But in those instances, she makes it a point to show us how ‘better’ our life could be (chauffeured car, helpers) is if we lived close to her.
But even without those luxuries, my kids grew up very happy and free. We may not be billionaires, I may not be able to take them on expensive trips every year, but we’re happy.”
How to spot a narcissistic parent?
The word “narcissist” gets thrown around lightly when describing someone vain or someone who takes self-love too seriously. However, according to Mayo Clinic, narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental condition in which a person has an inflated sense of his or her own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, seeking control in his relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.
But behind this mask of enormous confidence lies poor self-esteem that’s vulnerable to even the slightest criticism.
Narcissists usually have a problematic relationship with the people around them because of their controlling and competitive qualities.
As parents, they can be described as someone who’s very possessive and competitive with the other parent and even their own kids. The child would somehow get the impression that their narcissistic mother’s love is conditional and they are only as good as their achievements. They don’t feel accepted for who they truly are.
Narcissistic mother. | Image from Freepik
If you are living with a narcissistic mother or father, chances are you already know how they are and how abusive and manipulative they can be. But just in case you’re still wondering, here are some ways to spot a narcissistic parent:
They have an inflated sense of self
They would put themselves in a pedestal even to the point of bragging over something that they did not achieve.
In order to gain the upper hand or get approval, they would pit other people against each other (for instance, your mom telling your dad about something bad that you did before you can even have the chance to explain, just so he would take her side when you’re arguing about something).
Denying or lying when they did something wrong and shaming or guilt-tripping the other person for thinking that way. “That didn’t happen, you’re being too sensitive. It’s all in your mind.”
They love to be in a position of power where they will be seen as good or righteous.
They want people to know that they’re being a caring or hands-on mom, and even get into the good side of the child’s friends or fellow parents.
They’re all about appearances.
They are more concerned about the image of their children and their family than their own development (They only show up in school when their child has an award).
They’re extremely competitive.
Because they treat their children as an extension of themselves, the child has to excel too. They’re very interested in academics, even to the point of asking their child’s teacher about every detail of a grade or a project.
Instead of teaching the child empathy, they will encourage the child to be in a position of power as well. In other words, they will encourage the child to bully.
Image from Freepik
Being in a destructive relationship has negative effects on a child’s self-esteem and his ability to cope and be independent. In most cases, children who grew up with narcissistic mothers become narcissists themselves or develop other mental disorders like depression or anxiety.
Sadly, the only way to end this vicious cycle is to distance yourself from the narcissistic parent.
If you’re in a relationship with a narcissistic person (it can be your mother, father, or even your spouse), it’s best to cut ties with them or establish some boundaries without ever hoping that they will change.
Do not be afraid to walk away from toxic situations and relationships. Instead, find yourself a support system where you will feel loved and accepted as yourself and not as a trophy.