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