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47 Hurtful Signs & Effects of Being the Daughter of a Narcissistic Mother

If you’re the daughter of a narcissistic mother, then you suffered as a child. Read on so that you can start the healing process and love yourself more.

daughter of a narcissistic mother

What is a narcissist? A narcissist is a person who cares about no one but themselves. And that is a horrible thing when you are the daughter of a narcissistic mother.

Narcissistic personality got its name from the Greek Mythology character Narcissus who simply couldn’t stop himself from falling in love with his reflection in the water.

That is how narcissistic people are, they love themselves and everyone else is just a means to their end. 

For a daughter of a narcissistic mother, those traits in a mother can be highly damaging and have some real consequences for her future sense of self, her behaviors, and the future relationships she has. [Read: Do narcissists know they are narcissists – or do they lie to themselves?]

What is a narcissist?

We mentioned that many people occasionally show the odd small sign of narcissism, which is true. However, that doesn’t mean that you’re a narcissist if you occasionally act selfishly or forget to consider someone else’s feelings. 

A person with narcissism has a personality disorder called Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). 

The problem is that most people with this condition are never diagnosed, simply because a narcissist thinks that they have no problem. To them, it’s everyone else who has the problem! [Read: 15 off-putting and obnoxious symptoms of narcissism in a person]

The truth is that being around a narcissist for any length of time can be damaging. But a daughter being raised by a narcissistic mother has a pretty hard time with it. 

To show you why, let’s check out the main signs of narcissism.

1. An inflated sense of self/illusions of grandeur

2. An inability to see anyone else’s point of view – their opinion is always right

3. Manipulative behavior 

4. A lack of empathy [Read: Reasons why empathy is important in a relationship]

5. Will bully, belittle, and upset anyone without a second thought 

6. Must have the best of everything, including material items

7. A constant need for validation 

8. Lives in their own world, usually where they are at the center of everything

9. Will exploit or manipulate others without any shame at all [Read: Am I manipulative? 20 signs you constantly use the people in your life]

10. Unpredictable

The problem is that a narcissist won’t show these signs all the time. They’ll flick back and forth between so-called “regular” behavior and then show their true face. Being around a narcissist is exhausting and can leave scars. 

[Read: What types of narcissism should you be on the lookout for?]

Unmistakable signs that you may be the daughter of a narcissistic mother

Constantly trying to please someone who can’t be pleased over a lifetime can take a real toll on your psyche. 

Unfortunately, many people don’t even know that they have been a victim. To the daughter of a narcissistic mother, she was just a “little demanding.”

Being the daughter of a narcissistic mother is quite arguably the worst form of child abuse that anyone can endure – only made worse because it is internalized. [Read: Manipulative people – how to spot them and stop playing the victim]

There are no outward signs of the abuse, and when the child tries to make sense of what is going on, narcissistic mothers will do something called “gaslighting.”

That means that she will tell the daughter that she is crazy and is making it all up in her head. 

Making everything more stressful, where there is a narcissistic mother, there is typically a codependent father who is more than happy to back up the “you’re crazy” notion. [Read: Gaslighting – 16 signs someone’s totally messing with your mind]

Here are the long-term signs that you are the daughter of a narcissistic mother.

1. You suffer from low-self esteem

Narcissistic mothers show affection only when they want something. Typically, they are demanding and never satisfied, which can leave a daughter of a narcissistic mother feeling like she is never good enough.

Continually trying to find approval from someone who uses it for emotional manipulation purposes, daughters raised by a narcissistic mother often never feel like they are never enough and suffer from low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. [Read: How to build self-esteem and love life with simple life changes]

2. You have some level of self-loathing

Never feeling good enough, or as if you can never do the right thing, can leave you disliking who you are. 

If you can’t ever make the one person who is supposed to love you unconditionally happy, you form an opinion about yourself that you aren’t worthy of love. That can lead to self-loathing and transfer over into poor decision-making later in life.

3. Self-care is an issue

No matter what you looked like when you were young, you were either too fat, too thin, or just not pretty enough. [Read: Signs of a narcissist and ways to break up with them]

That can take its toll on you during the formative years when you develop your sense of self. If you can’t ever please anyone, then why continue to try?

That can leave a daughter of a narcissistic mother to give up trying to make herself presentable to the world. 

After all, what is the point if all you get is negative feedback? [Read: How to take care of yourself as a woman – 19 ways to empower yourself]

4. You talk negatively about yourself

A daughter of a narcissistic mother tends to talk very negatively about herself. 

Mirroring the statements she heard about how and what she was growing up, she will mimic the disapproval that her mother bestowed upon her through her own verbal self-definitions.

Downplaying her own good features and characteristics, she is very unlikely to relish any good qualities that she possesses. [Read: Positive self-talk – what it is, where it comes from, and how to master it]

5. You seek out poor relationships

You spent your entire childhood trying to please someone who couldn’t be pleased. Although having nothing to do with you personally *that was all on your mother*, that disapproval you felt continually takes its toll.

That can leave a daughter of a narcissistic mother feeling very unworthy of love, attention, or approval and may have her seeking out people who mistreat her. [Read: 15 types of toxic relationships to watch out for]

6. You feel as if you have to hide who you really are

You learned very early on that you weren’t who you were supposed to be. So, you pretended to be who you thought your mother wanted.

When you did show your true side or feelings, you were quickly debased and told that you weren’t good enough.

A daughter of a narcissistic mother often hides who she is both physically and emotionally, hoping just to blend in and not make waves. This only leaves her further vulnerable to criticism and ridicule. [Read: 45 truths and real questions to get to know yourself on a much deeper level]

7. You have a tendency to self-sabotage

Being disappointed so many times growing up, you likely learned that luck and good things just aren’t in the cards for you. 

Trying to protect yourself from further abuse, you have a tendency to sabotage the things that are good in your life as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you don’t love someone, you can’t get hurt. If you don’t desire things, they can’t be taken. It is a protective mechanism that is way more destructive than protective. [Read: Sabotaging your happiness – ways you’re ruining your own life]

8. You are burdened with perfectionism that isn’t obtainable

It is not uncommon for a daughter of a narcissistic mother to try to attain perfection in everything she does. 

From always getting straight A’s to having eating disorders, she is always trying to fly under the radar from criticism by being the epitome of what she considers perfection to be.

Unfortunately, even if you ever attained it, you wouldn’t know because you would think it isn’t good enough. [Read: Dating a perfectionist – things you must know before you date one]

9. You make less of your successes

Your mother never allowed you to celebrate your accomplishments or who you were, so you tend to carry that disallowance of celebrity into your adult life.

If you do something amazing, you typically give credit to things outside of yourself and your control. 

Downplaying your own success, you have a hard time thinking you are capable of doing anything good or right. [Read: 25 signs of covert narcissism – a different kind of mind game]

10. You downplay any tragedies in your life

Likely, a daughter of a narcissistic mother was told that any tragedy she mulled over made her a “drama queen.” So, she is quick to downplay major disappointments or any bad things that happen.

Learning to let it go and get on with it was a part of growing up. So, a daughter of a narcissistic mother just put a band-aid on a seeping wound and carried on.

11. You are overly fearful of those in authority

Fearful of your mother’s disapproval and often hurtful behavior, you have a fear that all adults will treat you with disdain. Growing up, that feeling transferred to anyone in authority. [Read: Emotional manipulation – ways people mess with your mind]

Giving them way too much power, you fear anyone who has influence or power over you because you have learned that they don’t typically rule with fairness.

12. You have a very hard time setting boundaries with family and friends

A daughter of a narcissistic mother doesn’t usually have “no” in her vocabulary. 

Being a pawn, maid, and servant to a demanding mother growing up taught you that saying “no” isn’t an option. That leaves you as everyone’s punching bag and worried about everyone but yourself. [Read: Healthy relationship boundaries – how to talk about them and set them]

13. You worry that you may be a narcissist yourself

The worst thing that you can imagine is that your mother’s behavior has somehow rubbed off on you. You worry about your decisions and continually question your own behaviors and motives for fear that you are becoming someone so hurtful.

14. You are still afraid of her and her reactions, no matter what age you are

When you hear her call, or you do something wrong, you cringe because you know there is no comfort in her contact… only reprisal.

Whether you are two or sixty-two, you know that there is a verbal lashing and a verbal assault that will crush your spirits waiting around the bend. [Read: 16 reasons why you’re always being taken for granted by others]

15. You are still trying to get her approval to no avail

You probably know that you aren’t ever going to get it, but you never stop trying. Our society has taught us that mothers love their children. That is just the way it is. And you can’t understand why you don’t feel love from yours.

So, you constantly, and will forever, crave her approval even if you rationally know it is unattainable.

16. You want to cut her out of your life, but then become afraid and confused

How many times have you said “that is it” and cut your mother out of your life? [Read: Guilt-free ways to handle guilt trippers in your life]

There is something in you that knows how destructive she is to you, yet, you still can’t let her go. That is the guilt, fear, and push and pull you felt growing up. 

You want to cut yourself free and find peace, but you always get sucked back in.

17. You have problems with abandonment and trust

If you can’t trust your mother, then who can you trust? [Read: I have trust issues – 18 steps to start dating and open your heart to love]

If the person who gave birth to you and was responsible for your well-being did anything but make you well, then how are people who aren’t related supposed to care about you?

18. You don’t feel as if the world is safe

It may seem that the only people in the world who you can truly ever depend on are the people who brought you into this world. And if they aren’t your safe place, then there is none here on earth.

A daughter of a narcissistic mother is often fearful, anxious, and views the world and its inhabitants in a negative and threatening light. [Read: How to stop selfish people from hurting you]

Being the daughter of a narcissistic mother is one of the harshest forms of child abuse that any child can endure. The first step to recovery is recognizing that it isn’t your fault. 

You have nothing to do with your mother’s continual self-absorbed, emotionally-manipulating, and indifferent behaviors toward you.

As hard as it is to shed the past and re-evaluate the way that you see the world, you likely have other people in your life who love you, care for you, and give you the unconditional love that your mother was not capable of giving. [Read: Father-daughter relationship – daddy issues it can lead to]

If you want to break the cycle, you have to first try to forgive your mother for not being capable of being the person she should have been. Then, you have to forgive yourself.

19. Depression and anxiety are not uncommon 

After either being overly controlled or neglected, it is not uncommon for daughters raised by narcissistic mothers to be prone to depression and anxiety. 

Never feeling in control of themselves, their decisions, or their own lives, daughters of narcissistic mothers have very little hope for their future. [Read: Signs of anxiety – how to read the signs ASAP and handle them better]

They often feel helpless to change their life circumstances.

20. You keep things to yourself 

Everything good you did, she criticized. Everything nice you had or cared about, she probably broke or took away. So, you have a tendency to keep things to yourself rather than fear that you are going to lose them.

21. You don’t feel worthy of love

A daughter who is raised by a narcissistic mother doesn’t know the feeling of unconditional love. In her world, no one has to love and accept you. [Read: How to respect yourself – secrets of self-worth and self-belief]

In fact, the very person who you are told has to love you, doesn’t. It is not uncommon for you to feel like you must have done something to make her not care for you. 

After all, that was her job.

22. You were often made to feel crazy through gaslighting

Gaslighting is a technique used by narcissistic mothers to make their daughters feel as if they are going crazy. 

By changing the story and convincing children that they don’t know what they know, narcissistic mothers control and emotionally abuse their daughters using this manipulative tactic. [Read: How to spot gaslighting in a relationship and shut it down for good]

23. You had to grow up quickly 

When you are raised by a narcissistic mother, you have to grow up quickly, because often, the parents need parenting. 

Switching roles, the daughter is left to clean up the mess of her mother, be responsible, and cover up for her shortcomings – or else she’ll face ridicule and anger. 

24. Not everyone was treated the same in your family 

When a daughter is raised by a narcissistic mother, there is typically one child who is the “golden child.” [Read: Pistanthrophobia – understanding the fear of trusting someone]

One child can do no wrong, and they are held in the highest esteem. Using them to compare the rest of the children to, they are a tool to make everyone else feel less than, and also unworthy.

25. She didn’t tolerate any defiance or questioning 

No parent likes to be questioned, but if you questioned your mother when you were being raised by a narcissist, there were typically huge repercussions. 

The punishment was swift and harsh if adoration was not spewed toward your mother and her competency. [Read: How to stop selfish people from hurting you]

26. She was a master at projection 

Whatever it was that she did wrong, she probably projected it onto you. That can leave you feeling like everything in life is your fault. 

Taking the blame for the rest of the world’s ills can leave a daughter raised by a narcissistic mother feeling perpetually guilty and unloved.

27. You hide the genuine you 

Since you were never allowed to be yourself because you had to exude perfection *which was unattainable*, you probably have a hard time showing the real you to the world. [Read: How to be yourself – steps to unfake your life and love being you]

Whether you are always the “entertainer” or the “fixer,” you have learned what and who you are supposed to be. That is the person that you show to the rest of the world.

28. She had no sympathy or empathy for your pain, so you kept it to yourself 

You could have fallen off a roof and she would have barely glanced your way. So, you learned very early on that no matter what type of trauma you endure, you have to grin and bear it.

Any attempt at getting sympathy or empathy would be rebuffed with comments about being a drama queen or a whiner. [Read: Emotional manipulation – ways people mess with your mind]

29. Her love for you was conditional

In theory, a mother’s love should be unconditional for her children. However, not when she is a narcissist. Her love was dependent on how well you pleased her.

If you did something that she liked, then she might show you some love or affection. But if you did something she didn’t like, you probably felt like she hated you.

30. You display narcissistic qualities yourself

If you have ever wondered to yourself, “am I a narcissist?”, you might actually have similar qualities to your mother. [Read: How to stop having negative thoughts that drag you down]

Simply asking that question shows that you might know that you are.

After all, if you only witnessed narcissistic traits in the woman who raised you, then she modeled that behavior and it might have rubbed off on you.

31. Somehow, it was always about her

Since a narcissist thinks that the world revolves around them *or should*, then everything in your life was all about your mother. She didn’t care about anyone else’s needs or wants. [Read: Sneaky behavior – 20 subtle signs and what defines sneaky behavior in someone]

In other words, she completely lacked empathy. Your mother was probably one of the most selfish people you have ever met.

32. You didn’t know what was real and what you imagined

Because your mother probably gaslit you a lot growing up, you learned to question your own sanity. As a result, sometimes you didn’t know what actually happened and what was a lie.

Even now, you might still not remember the accuracy of reality from your childhood. You have trouble sorting out what was a real event and what is a false memory. [Read: Psychological manipulation – 16 signs and tactics real manipulators use]

33. You weren’t allowed to state your feelings and needs

Because your narcissistic mother lacked empathy and thought the world revolved around her, you never got your feelings and needs looked after. It was only about her feelings and needs.

It’s not that you didn’t have any feelings or needs, she just didn’t care about them. As a result, you probably still think that no one cares about you even today.

34. You witnessed her victims

A narcissist doesn’t just abuse their children. They will abuse anyone who lets them. And that is usually a lot of people. [Read: No one cares about me – 18 reasons why and steps to stop feeling this way]

And so, you witnessed other people being treated like crap just like you were. You might have wanted to warn or protect them, but often you couldn’t do it.

35. You worried a lot about displeasing her

Because you never knew when she was going to explode, you walked around on eggshells around her. It seemed like you could never do anything right.

So, you lived in constant fear of displeasing her. You knew that the consequences that would come your way would be devastating. [Read: People pleaser – 21 signs you’re one and how to stop people pleasing]

36. Her reputation was your responsibility

There was a likely chance that most people who knew your mother knew she was a narcissist too. And not only was it embarrassing to you, but you also felt responsible for her reputation.

You tried to prevent her from making a fool out of herself with other people, but usually to no avail. It felt like the weight of the world was on your shoulders.

37. She expected you to always agree with her

Because narcissists never think that they are wrong, your mother probably always expected you to agree with her. It didn’t matter if you didn’t actually agree with her. [Read: Controlling relationship – 42 signs and ways to love without bullying]

You just needed to pretend that you did.

Even if you tried to point out her blatant lies or wrongdoings, she refused to see herself in a negative light. She demanded compliance.

38. She was hot and cold

Contrary to what some people might think, narcissists aren’t always negative and horrible. Sometimes, they have a charming side to them too, and can be likable. [Read: Blowing hot and cold – why they do this, the stages, and how to handle it]

So, sometimes she might have acted friendly and loving to you. But other times, she was cold, distant, and even abusive. She just flip-flopped from hot to cold and back again.

39. She did no wrong

In your mother’s mind, she could never do any wrong. She always thought she was perfect and never could acknowledge her faults.

She didn’t have the ability to self-reflect and be honest with herself about her narcissistic personality. If she did, she would have to admit all her wrongdoings, which she never could. [Read: Relationship with a narcissist – what it really feels like to love one]

Things narcissistic mothers say

If after reading this list, you’re pretty sure that you had a narcissistic mother, then you will probably recognize some of these traits too.

1. Everything is about her

As we said earlier, she thought the world revolved around her. And she never lets you forget it. She told you directly or indirectly all the time.

2. Her feelings are important and yours are not

Because she lacks empathy, she was not interested in hearing about your feelings. Hers were the only ones that mattered. And she also made it known to you every chance she got. [Read: 24 signs of people who lack empathy to know they don’t care what you think]

3. It’s her way or the highway

She was never able to compromise or listen to your side of any story. She made the rules and you had to follow them. No questions asked.

4. She manipulates

Using manipulation techniques is one of the biggest characteristics of a narcissist, and so your mother probably used them a lot. Saying and doing things that were manipulative made her feel powerful.

5. She needs constant attention and praise

If she’s not getting enough attention or praise, she will let it be known. She will tell you to pay attention to her or fish for compliments. This need in her runs deep. [Read: Attention whore – what it is, 23 signs and secrets to handle an attention seeker]

Effects of being the daughter of a narcissistic mother

As you probably already know by now, the long-term effects of being the daughter of a narcissistic mother can also run deep within you. Here are some ways that it has probably affected you.

1. Emotional

There are a lot of negative emotional consequences of being the daughter of a narcissistic mother. Some of them include depression, anxiety, and self-destruction.

2. Psychological

Because you probably didn’t get the love you needed growing up, you probably feared being abandoned and you still do. This makes you feel very inferior to other people, and you expect them to treat you poorly. [Read: 23 raw psychological effects of being ignored by someone you love]

3. Mental

The mental long-term effects of being raised by a narcissistic mother are dire too. It might result in not being able to speak up and express yourself. You are probably very needy as well.

What should you do if you are the daughter of a narcissistic mother? 

If you were the daughter of a narcissistic mother, you might feel like you are scarred for life and have no hope for change. But don’t feel that way.

Yes, you had a very difficult childhood and it has affected you negatively. But while you can’t change the past, you can change what you do today and in the future. [Read: 23 secrets to stand up for yourself in a relationship and know your self-worth]

If at all possible, it is best to seek some professional help from a therapist. He or she can help guide you through the healing process from being raised by a narcissistic mother.

If you can’t afford therapy, then you should seek out books, videos, articles, and other online resources that can help you change your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and your life for the better.

Final thoughts

Being raised by a narcissistic mother can be unbearable. [Read: How to be happy in life – hacks to find real happiness instantly]

Learning early that you are left to your own devices, that your concerns are yours *and yours only*, and that you are not very worthy of love or praise, you develop a poor sense of self that is guided by low self-esteem. 

The good news is that you don’t have to feel the way that you do. There is a way to reprogram your brain to see the world as it really is, not as you were raised.

The first step is to recognize that you were abused, try to forgive, distance yourself, and seek out those people in your life who love you and are concerned for you.

[Read: How to think positive and reprogram your mind to stay positive]

You didn’t do anything wrong – you’re just the daughter of a narcissistic mother. In fact, you did everything you could. Now it is time to give yourself the unconditional love that your mother isn’t able to give you.

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...