Is Your Mother a Narcissist?

by Sasrah Treleaven

Keeping the mother-daughter bond healthy can be challenging even at the best of times. But if your mother is a narcissist, your relationship can become exponentially more difficult and damaging. Dr. Karyl McBride, author of ‘Will I Ever Be Good Enough: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers,’ explains maternal narcissism and offers guidance on how to cope.
Q: What kind of behaviour defines a narcissistic mother?
A: The trademark of maternal narcissism is lack of empathy and the inability to provide unconditional love. The narcissistic mother is ‘all about herself’ and cannot tune into the emotional needs of her children. She is exploitative, envious, judgmental, critical, needy and sometimes secretly mean. She can be either engulfing or ignoring.
Q: What impact and long-term damage does a narcissistic mother have on a daughter?
A: The daughter internalizes negative messages such as: ‘I’m not good enough no matter how hard I try; I am valued for what I do, rather than for who I am; I’m unlovable; l can’t trust my own feelings,’ etc. This has ramifications for parenting, love, relationships, career choices and self-doubt in decision making. The daughter grows up with the wrong notion of what love is about.
Q: Does the behaviour of a narcissistic mother have a more damaging impact on a daughter than a son? Why?
A: I have not done the research yet on men, but I found that narcissistic mothers tend to favour the sons so there is a difference there. Also, the mother’s effect on the daughter is significant because the mother is the primary role model for the daughter in being a wife, mother, friend and woman in the world.
Q: How does a narcissistic mother’s behaviour toward her daughter change from child to adult?
A: The narcissistic mother may do better with the daughter when the daughter is young and she can totally control her. As the child grows and matures and becomes more aware of the world around her, the mother loses control and more of the damaging, controlling or ignoring behaviour will rear up as this happens. As the child begins to develop her own thoughts, beliefs and individual voice, the mother becomes threatened. The mother will then attempt to stifle the daughter’s emotional growth and normal development.
Q: What’s your advice for a daughter dealing with a narcissistic mother?
A: This is a loaded question, as in ‘it takes a book’ to explain



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