Mother’s Day is traditionally a day dedicated to celebrating and thanking mothers for their unwavering selfless efforts in raising their children. But everyday is like this if you have a narcissistic mother.

It is a day to make it all about her, pamper her, treat her, and show her exactly how much you appreciate everything she does for you.

Because, for the most part, this appreciation goes unsaid and a mother’s efforts are not acknowledged on a day-to-day basis.

But What If It’s ALWAYS About Her?

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But what if everything is already always about her? What if every day growing up was more about making sure your mother’s needs were met instead of your own?

What if you were raised by a narcissistic mother?


It’s The Worst Day!

“Worse than Christmas.  Way worse,” one daughter emails Peg Streep, writer on women’s issues in psychology. “The holiday of hypocrisy since it’s the day on which I conveniently forget everything hurtful thing my mother has ever said or done and I collapse under the pressure of filial duty and send flowers anyway.  And every year, she complains about them.”

“Buying a card is paralysing,” another remarks.  “# 1 Mum?  Um, no.   I end up buying a blank card with a benign image and then scribble something that doesn’t totally compromise my integrity.  And I end up feeling guilty too.”

“It hurts, plain and simple,” says another. “It’s a day of loss.  Just a painful reminder of the love and support I never got.”

A narcissistic mother can have this effect. The core of a narcissist are feelings and behaviours that say, “It’s all about me” and “you’re not good enough.” There is a lack of empathy and an inability to show love.

When the world revolves around your mum

They appear to have a superficial emotional life, and their world is image-oriented, concerned with how things look to others.

Rarely discussed due to its painful nature and cultural unacceptability, some people don’t have a mother who knows how to give unconditional love and empathic nurturing.

Instead they are faced with someone more aptly described as callous, dishonest, or selfish which can make facing Mother’s Day a nightmare.

How to spot a narcissistic mother

According to Dr Karyl McBride, therapist and founder of The International Resource Center for Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents, there are a number of signs that you may be the child of a narcissistic mother including:

  1. When you discuss your life issues with your mother she diverts the discussion to talk about herself, top the feeling with her own or how it will affect her rather than you.
  2. She acts jealous of you and/or competes with you.
  3. She lacks empathy for your feelings.
  4. She only supports those things you do that reflect on her as a “good mother”.
  5. You consistently feel a lack of emotional closeness with her.
  6. You consistently question whether or not your mother likes you or loves you.
  7. She only does things for you when others can see.
  8. She is overly conscious of what others think (neighbours, friends, family, co-workers) and appears phony to you.
  9. She blames things on you or others rather than own responsibility for her feelings or actions.
  10. She is hurt easily and then carries a grudge for a long time without resolving the problem.
  11. You feel responsible for your mother’s ailments or sickness (headaches, stress, illness).
  12. You had to take care of your mother’s physical and emotional needs as a child.
  13. You feel unaccepted by your mother and you feel she doesn’t know the real you.
  14. She is critical of you and you are often shamed by her.
  15. She acts like the world should revolve around her.
  16. You find it difficult to be a separate person from your mother.
  17. She swings from egotistical to a depressed mood.
  18. You feel valued by your mother for what you do rather than who you are.
  19. She is controlling, acting like a victim or martyr.
  20. She always has to have things her way.

Coping with a narcissistic mother on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day can be a harsh reminder of these traits. Here are some things you can do to help get through the day:

  1. Do something nice for yourself – You can prepare for this day in advance and commit to doing something that you know you will enjoy. Perhaps surround yourself with people who do make you feel good about yourself, or plan your favourite relaxation activity. Acknowledge that you will be feeling a little more fragile than usual and take it easy.
  2. Acknowledge the cultural pressure – Remember that the images you see around you leading up to Mother’s Day are cultural fantasies of motherhood, not reality. They represent what our society wishes all mothers could be like and are idealised. It may help to remember that no mother is perfect and that you are certainly not the only one for whom this day hurts.
  3. Follow your feelings and set boundaries – If you would prefer not to see your mother or send her a card that doesn’t feel right to you then follow your feelings and set boundaries. Try to avoid cultural “shoulds” and rather follow your own internal wishes.

Coping with a narcissistic mother in life

According to Dr Mark Banschick, psychiatrist and author of The Intelligent Divorce book series, a narcissistic mother can leave deep and lasting impressions on you. But it’s possible to survive and rise above her behaviour.

Look at others around you—like your father, school teachers, even siblings or friends who appreciate you just the way you are.

He also encourages seeing your mother as she really is. By coming to terms with your mother’s shortcomings, you can start to set yourself free.

Your mother does the best she can, she loves you as she is able to. But, unfortunately it didn’t give you a stable foundation to build on as a child.

Just remember—you were always good enough and still are. If she doesn’t understand this, that is her shortcoming, not yours.

For more information you can visit The International Resource Center for Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Do you have experience with a narcissistic mother? Tell us in the comments below.

  • I had a really confusing childhood when growing up with my mother and just reading this article has made me realise my mother was a narcissist up until I left. The list of spotting a narcissistic mother just blew my mind because 90% of that list reminded me of how my mother was when I was growing up. Wow I need a minute here. I always thought I wasn’t good enough even though I did everything she wanted plus more. I left home at 21yrs old because I couldn’t cope with it anymore and didn’t see my mother for years. Time went by and we got reacquainted and the funny thing is now my mother is a totally different person, you could even say a complete opposite from when I was a kid. We have a brilliant relationship now and she does so much for me and my child that I call her my guardian angel because without my mother now I don’t know where I’d be. I assume when both myself and my brother left home it triggered something in her and she changed. I can’t fault her now she goes to great lengths for me. I’m so glad I read this article it has helped me to see that it was never me, that I wasn’t a problem or useless when I was a child. It feels like a weight has been lifted so thank you so much. You have given me a light bulb moment and have helped an old wound heal. Much appreciated xx


  • I had a wonderful Mum but other family members had this trait. It’s their problem and not you causing it.


  • Unfortunately I have one too many in the family and sad to say they control many so it’s even hard dealing with the ‘normal’ ones if your talking truth. Great tips in the post…hard to detach emotionally though sometimes


  • My mother ticks every one of these signs in this article. Plus a few more!
    I’ve known for a long time she’s narsisiatic – and the damage she’s done to me will last a lifetime. But I’ve made a conscious choice to not let her ruin my life even further or into the future. I make decisions now and above all else I protect my kids. And their future.
    But Mother’s Day is the worst day of the year – I’ve tried many things over time to ‘help’ but nothing really does.

    The main thing that gets me through hard days is being present and being there for my own kids and making a future for them that’s the total opposite of what I had. And to remember that whatever you feel is ok. Trying not to feel something or pushing it back only leads to more pain.
    I know my mother will never change.
    I know she’ll never love me, but adores my siblings. It’s a hard thing to deal with. But I’m an adult now and I focus on being the best mum to my kids that I can be. And stopping the cycle of neglect, emotional pain and damage.


  • Great tips for anyone that needs them. My mum was great and my daughters are my best friends.


  • Im am very luck to say that my mum is like my best friend and nothing like that. I do feel sorry for people that have mums like that


  • No worries about that for me thankfully


  • I’m so glad my mum is nothing like this. My mum is my biggest support and also my biggest fan. I can’t imagine her being this way


  • Grateful I don’t have this issue. But I also don’t see my mum on Mother’s Day.


  • Lucky me, I was the first child & I was born on Mothers Day. So I rarely had much of a birthday. When I was in Primary School, a teacher would ring her in the morning to remind her! Being a girl baby was a huge disappointment, I was supposed to be a male to head the next generation and carry on the family name. So I never felt “good enough”.I felt like I was born to make my mothers life better, My life was entirely based on her needs. Now that I have friends who love me for being me and I stay away from toxic situations, I’m starting to see why suicide is not always a good thing.
    it,s only taken ~ 50 years to get this stable. Now I’m the narcissist – writing only about me!


  • It is sad that some lovely kids have to be in such situations


  • Yeap Yeap Yeap. My Ex was a narcissist and his Mother was worse. The world revolved around her. She was sneaky and lied to her Son about me all the time. She would constantly course trouble for us. Said and did the nastiest things to me behind her sons back..etc etc… Oh i could go on… Just plain Evil.
    My Ex, her Son was pretty much the same but he hid it from our relation for a good 3 years until his mother moved to the same state and that’s when everything went down hill for us. Her Son always stood up for her and never believed me, even when i actually had proof , he was in totally denial.

    Our Daughter was 6 months old when i left “them”. 10 years on he is still living with his mother. He now suffers severe depression, hardly works. Has no friends. His kids from a previous marriage want nothing to do with him because of how they were treated by his mother.

    She has 3 other Sons who want nothing to do with her for years. Hasnt met many grandchild . A restraining order from me for assault on me and trying to snatch my daughter from my home.

    She has no friends , no family except 1 Son, who she has destroyed his life completely. Just the 2 of them now , living in their lonely narcissistic world !
    Whow thanks for the vent .


  • Glad I dont have to put up with that


  • Ooh, this resonates with me so much. I had no idea my Mum was a narcissist but it’s something that has revealed itself in many ways over the past couple of years. I’m creating boundaries and trying to protect myself, and she is not reacting very well at all. Her reaction and behaviour has shocked me. And through therapy, I’m learning more about her and our relationship that I never understood before.


  • My Mum was a lot like this but she did have mental issues so I forgave her for a lot. Mother’s Day was difficult to celebrate with her. I once bought her a jacket that she fell in love with. It was quite expensive and when I gave it to her all she could say was “It’s nice I suppose”.


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