Engulfing & Ignoring Narcissistic Mothers

There are two types of narcissistic mothers- ignoring & engulfing.


As the name implies. the ignoring narcissistic mother ignores her child.  The child’s interests, needs, & feelings mean virtually nothing to the mother.  She may meet her child’s basic needs for food, clothing & shelter, but it is done grudgingly.  Other needs such as teaching & nurturing aren’t met.  The ignoring narcissistic mother simply doesn’t want to be bothered with her child.


Engulfing narcissistic mothers are the polar opposites of ignoring narcissistic mothers.  They are deeply involved in every aspect of their child’s life.  They control how their child dresses, the child’s interests & even friendships (if friends are allowed, that is).  Engulfing narcissistic mothers see their child as an extension of themselves, so they do their best to mold them into what they want the child to be.  What their child wants is of absolutely no importance.  This is the type of mother I grew up with.  I wasn’t allowed to choose my own clothes even in high school- my mother had to approve everything.  I wasn’t allowed to spend time away from her other than at school or work, & even then, she would often spend my lunch hours with me during my last two years of high school.  Everything about me was scrutinized & criticized.


Both ignoring & engulfing narcissistic mothers also get upset as their children get complements.  Narcissists are known for being incredibly envious, especially when it comes to their children.  When their child is complemented, they will tell the child the person was lying or reasons why the complement was wrong.  Narcissistic parents do NOT want their children to feel good about themselves even for a moment.  The worse a child’s self-esteem, the easier that child is to control.


Once the child of an engulfing narcissistic mother gets older, big problems really begin.  As a child grows up & naturally becomes more independent, narcissistic mothers take this as a betrayal.  They want their children to stay young & obedient forever.  Growing up is unacceptable, & narcissistic mothers often act like their child is doing it simply to hurt them.  Ignoring narcissistic mothers seem to be more relieved that their child is no longer their responsibility anymore, although some do get angry their child is becoming an adult & harder to control.


Once the child becomes an adult, engulfing narcissistic mothers continue to try to be engulfing.  They try to monopolize their adult child’s time, even if the child has a spouse & kids.  They demand their child spend holidays, birthdays & special occasions with them.  They demand their child frequently visit them.


Ignoring narcissistic mothers often carry their lack of interest in their child into the child’s adulthood.  They often even show little to no interest in their grandchildren.  Or, they may show some interest in them until the grandchild is old enough to start forming her own likes, dislikes, opinions & personality.


Interestingly, often narcissistic mothers swing back & forth between ignoring & engulfing.  This is especially confusing for their child because of the very mixed signals they send.


Both types of narcissistic mothers create a great deal of pain for their children.  My mother was an engulfing mother & her mother was ignoring.  She used to tell me how she always knew her mother never wanted her, from the moment she found out she was pregnant with my mother.  She worked her entire life trying to gain her mother’s approval, which never happened.  Heartbreaking, isn’t it?  Yet, my mother went on to go in the complete opposite direction with me, which caused me awful anxiety, low self-esteem, C-PTSD & more that I still live with even in my mid 40’s.


Whichever type of narcissistic mother you had, I hope this post reminds you that she was the problem, not you.  Nothing you did or didn’t do could have made her treat you as she did.  xoxo


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

15 responses to “Engulfing & Ignoring Narcissistic Mothers

  1. In my FOO our NM ignored some and engulfed others. The ignored were those she considered of little value to her needs and the engulfed were those who were most likely to meet her needs (for attention, validation, and money). Although she often claimed to love all her children equally it was apparent that this was a lie.


    • Sheesh.. that is awful. My mother went through that with her mother too. Her sister was the golden child (how she turned out with any sanity is beyond me!) & my mother the scapegoat. Yet, when my mother confronted her mother, she got right in my mother’s face & said “I treated you girls exactly the same!” Nope- not even close!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. My mother was definitely the ignoring type.


  3. Reblogged this on An adult daughter's struggle to recover from narcissistic parents and commented:
    A very clear & excellent description of these 2 types of narc mothers

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A real eye-opener this article. You explain difficult things in such a simple way that it can be remembered. I have a daughter in law who seems to be engulfing her children when photos are being taken. Everything matches, nature the colour of their clothes. In the times in between such staged situations the children are in their own little worlds without explanations or structure of the day. It’s sad and it grieves my heart to see all this from a distance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Maria! That’s very sweet of you to say!

      Wow.. that’s not good how your daughter in-law is behaving with her kids. I hope she changes her behavior. That engulfing thing creates a LOT of anxiety in children, & it lasts into adulthood. Of all the parts of having C-PTSD, anxiety is the hardest part for me, & it all stems from childhood & my engulfing mother. Do you think she would listen to you if you said anything to her about her behavior? Would your son listen?

      Liked by 1 person

      • If I said anything that would remind them of a critique they would brake the connection with me. She is a Christian but we don’t have genuine fellowship and the small children seem understimulated in regard to language and emotions. My son works day and night to earn for their living. She doesn’t even look after her home. It’s hard to witness as I have worked as a health visitor for 30 years. I have never seen anything like that. I pray that she would wake up and take responsibility for the home and the children as she doesn’t work

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Private Bad Thoughts

    Thank you, there’s not enough information/support out here on this


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