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Symptoms of Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers



If you grew up with a narcissistic mother, there are some symptoms that you may display as an adult because of this. You may suffer from anxiety, depression or PTSD. You may also have perfectionistic or people pleasing tendencies that stem from childhood.


When you first come to realize that your mother is a narcissist, it can come as a shock. I know it did to me. After having this realization, I did as much research as possible about narcissistic abuse, and how it had effected my life.


A relationship with a narcissist growing up can do lasting harm to your psyche and your self-esteem, even into adulthood. As women, having a positive relationship with our mothers shapes the way we view relationships with our own daughters, friends and coworkers. When your mother is a narcissist, you may struggle in other relationships as well.


If you think your mother may be a narcissist, you can take a look at these symptoms from Choosing Therapy, and see if it fits with your experience. Often, daughters of narcissistic mothers are:


  1. Extremely self-critical

  2. Poor Boundaries

  3. Perfectionism

  4. Poor Self-Esteem & Negative Self-Image

  5. Difficulty Identifying Emotions

  6. People-Pleasing

  7. Difficulty Developing Trust

  8. Fear of Rejection & Abandonment

  9. Codependency

  10. Anxiety & Depression


If any of these sound like you and how you relate to the world, you may have developed these maladaptive coping skills in order to cope with your narcissistic mother. You may have grown up feeling like everything you did was a performance, and you were constantly on display.


Often, narcissists see their children as extensions of themselves, so they will put immense pressure on their children to put forward a favorable image. This can apply to looks, or to performance in school and extracurricular activities. Whatever the narcissist deems as important becomes what is important to the child as well.


You may have learned from an early age that it was important to always please your mother, or the consequences would be intense. Because of this, you may have learned to be fearful and people pleasing. I learned this from a young age, and learned that I had to excel in everything I did, or love would be withheld.


Normal parents don't withhold love from their children as a punishment. But with a narcissist, everything is about perfection and performance. You aren't raised to feel an inherent sense of self worth. You learn that love is always tied to performance on specific tasks. This can be psychologically harmful.


Setting Boundaries

As the adult daughter of a narcissistic mother, it is important to learn to set firm boundaries to protect yourself. This can mean limiting contact and phone calls, or steering away from certain topics of discussion.


If there are things that your mother does that are especially hurtful, you can learn how to stand up for yourself and shut down the behaviors. Calling out a narcissist on their constant criticisms of you is a starting place to setting boundaries.


As adults, we decide how we will allow others to speak to us or treat us. We don't have to tolerate the same forms of abuse that we did in childhood. We have autonomy and freedom now, and get to dictate terms of our relationships.


Stepping into your personal power, and setting boundaries is important with a narcissist, so that you can protect your mental health and your feelings.


According to Wellbeings Counseling, here are some steps to setting boundaries with a narcissistic mother:


  • Determine your boundaries

  • State your boundaries directly, briefly, and consistently

  • Set consequences you can and will enforce

  • Enforce your consequences

  • Stand your ground

  • Don’t argue

  • Know when to let go


When you first try to set boundaries with a narcissistic mother, it will be difficult. The first time I told my narcissistic mom that I was setting a boundary about how I would be treated, she went so far as to tell me that I didn't deserve to have boundaries. This is typical about the way that narcissists think. You are just a pawn in their game.


If your boundaries aren't respected, you may need to physically remove yourself from a situation. It helps if you always take your own car when you meet with your narcissistic mother, so you can leave at any time. This gives you greater freedom over yourself and what you will allow.


During phone calls, don't be afraid to assert your boundaries either. Tell your narcissistic mother that if she speaks to you in a way that belittles you, that you are going to end the call. Then, make sure you follow through.


Make sure you are consistent with stating your boundaries, and removing yourself from the situation if they are violated. This way, you show that you aren't afraid to follow through on what you have stated to your narcissistic mother.


If setting boundaries is not reducing the hostile and belittling behaviors, you may need to reduce the amount of contact you have with your narcissistic mother.


Moving on

In addition to changing the way you interact with your narcissistic mother, it is important that you get assistance with your mental health. It can be incredibly healing to work with a therapist, life coach or support group. This way, you can learn coping skills and prioritize your mental health.


If you have anxiety, depression or PTSD as a result of the relationship with your narcissistic mother, working with a mental health professional is key. In addition to talk therapy and learning coping skills, you may also be prescribed medication to help even out your moods.


Taking control of your mental health is an important step in your healing. When you prioritize yourself, your mental health and self care in your life, you will begin to transform the way you view the world and your place in it. You can still go on to be successful in spite of having a narcissistic mother.


According to Psych Central, some of the most helpful therapies to move forward from narcissistic abuse are:


  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): talk therapy that helps change negative thought patterns

  • Trauma-Focused Therapy (CBT): treatment for children and adolescents impacted by trauma

  • Integrative therapies: options like motivational interviewing can support recovery by enhancing motivation

  • Psychologically‐orientated interventions: treatments like art and music therapy use self-expression to help heal trauma

  • Humanistic therapies: supportive counseling and non-directive therapy can help people going through recovery feel more understood


When you are looking for a therapist, it is important to find one that specializes in working with childhood trauma and narcissistic abuse recovery. This way, they will be best able to assist you with your healing.


I have found therapy to be incredibly helpful and healing in my own life. I have worked in talk therapy, as well as EMDR and coping skills training. All of these approaches really helped me in coping and coming to terms with my childhood trauma.


Knowing that you are not alone in your healing is so helpful. This is why there are many support groups on Social Media and in person that are dedicated to healing from narcissistic abuse. If you can connect with others who have been through something similar, it can be quite helpful.


On my healing journey, I also wrote an ebook about healing from narcissistic abuse. It is called "A Narcissist Destroyed my Life: How do I Rebuild?" You can find it on Kindle Unlimited and in Paperback.


Also, if there are additional topics you would like me to cover here on the blog, leave me a comment and let me know! I want to provide as much help as possible.



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