Adult Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers – What You Need to Know

Narcissistic mothers have a profoundly damaging effect on their daughters, inflicting serious psychological trauma on them as they grow up. The impact on the children lasts well into adulthood, when they struggle with issues such as low self-esteem, difficulty making decisions, lack of trust in others and difficulty establishing healthy relationships with partners or friends.

Let’s explore the impact a narcissistic mother can have on her daughter, and how the adult child of a narcissist can cope with the effects of this kind of abuse.

What is Narcissism?

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder which leads to people having an inflated sense of their own importance, believing that they are superior to others. In addition they crave admiration and do not care about other people’s feelings.

In short, narcissism is when someone has an intense focus on themselves, to the point where it negatively impacts their relationships with other people.

Narcissistic Mothers are Ambient Abusers

A narcissistic mother is self-centred and lacks empathy for her daughter’s feelings. In her eyes, her daughter is simply a prop to be used to achieve her own ends.

She will often try to control her daughter’s behaviour by criticising and belittling her, or by manipulating and guilt-tripping her. Of course, she will also use the tools in the standard narcissist toolkitgaslighting, abuse by proxy, hoovering, love bombing or smear campaigns.

The result is that narcissistic mothers raise their daughters in an atmosphere of insidious ambient abuse that harms their psychological and mental growth. The girls feel devalued, unsupported and unimportant. They are likely to have difficulty trusting people and develop low self-esteem.

Narcissistic Mothers are jealous of their daughters

A narcissistic mother is often jealous of her daughter. Instead of nurturing and supporting her child, the narcissistic mother will compete with her. This is because she sees her daughter as a threat. The idea that her daughter might become more beautiful or successful than her is more than she can stand.

This is why such narcissistic mothers are so critical of their daughters. They berate them and criticise them, in the process destroying their self-esteem. They may even tell their daughters that they are too fat, or too thin, or too pale. Nothing is too hurtful or out of bounds when it comes to “putting their daughter in her place.”

The Long-Term Effects of Growing Up With a Narcissistic Mother 

Growing up with a narcissistic mother can have long-term negative effects on the emotional and mental well-being of a daughter. Let’s take a look at how this type of relationship can affect daughters in the long term. 

Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers form a fearful avoidant attachment style

A narcissist mother does not express unconditional love and affection to her daughter. As far as she is concerned, her daughter is simply an extension of herself and exists to meet her needs. She may even see showing any kind of love or affection as a sign of weakness.

As a result the child does not feel safe or secure in her relationship with her mother, so she learns to protect herself by distancing herself emotionally. This leads to her forming a fearful avoidant attachment style, which she unfortunately carries with her into adulthood.

The impact of a fearful avoidant attachment style in adulthood can be significant. Individuals with this attachment style often have difficulty trusting others and bonding with them. They have a deep fear of rejection and abandonment, and as a result, they find it difficult to let anyone get too close. They also find it difficult to open up and share their feelings, and are hypervigilant and constantly on guard. This puts a lot of pressure on their relationships and can make it very difficult to sustain them, leading to a cycle of unhealthy relationships where the individual is constantly searching for something that they are afraid they will never find.

Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers have difficulty setting boundaries

Another impact of having a narcissistic mother is that her daughter will have difficulty setting boundaries. Narcissistic mothers often expect their daughters to meet their every need and will get angry or sulky if they don’t. In fact they often want to live vicariously through their daughters and will push them to achieve things that their mothers were themselves never able to.

The result is that the daughter grows up feeling guilty if she says no or sets any kind of boundary. She is trained to feel guilty for disappointing her mother if she doesn’t do what she wants or meet her expectations. This can lead to people pleasing behaviour and a lack of assertiveness. It can also make it difficult to say no to people in general, which of course leads to problems in both her personal and professional life. For example, she may have difficulty saying no to her boss when he asks her to work late, or she may agree to go on a date with a man even though she doesn’t really want to.

Daughters of narcissistic mothers also often have difficulty setting boundaries with their own children. They may find themselves constantly giving in to their demands, even when they are not really sure if it is the right thing to do. The result is that they can end up feeling overwhelmed and resentful, and their own children may also struggle to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem and boundary setting skills. Thus, the intergenerational trauma gets passed on from one generation to the next.

The Danger of Codependency

Daughters of narcissistic mothers often struggle with seeking approval from others due to lack of approval from their mothers growing up. They have difficulty forming healthy relationships as adults because they are constantly looking for the validation that they were never given by their mothers during childhood. This need for approval can lead them down unhealthy paths such as trying too hard at work or giving into bad relationships just for the sake of companionship.

In fact, one of the dangers of being raised by a narcissistic mother is that you can become codependent. Codependency occurs when you have an unhealthy dependence on someone else, usually someone who is emotionally unavailable or abusive. The result is an unhealthy and unbalanced relationship where one person is always giving and the other is always taking.

Codependency usual starts in childhood, when a child has an emotionally unavailable or abusive parent. The child learns that it is their job to keep their parent happy, so they become overly compliant and accommodating. They may even feel responsible for their parent’s happiness and go out of their way to try and meet their needs.

When they grow up, these codependent daughters of narcissistic mothers become more vulnerable to unhealthy relationships and inner struggles. They often struggle to trust their own judgment, or even recognize their own needs. As adults, they can find themselves seeking approval from others in unhealthy ways, such as indulging them in inappropriate requests or sacrificing their own boundaries out of a need to please. They may also experience difficulty expressing emotion, leading to a suppressed anger that can lead to depression or anxiety.

Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers often become narcissists themselves

One of the most damaging things about having a narcissistic mother is that her daughter is at risk of becoming a narcissist herself. This is because she has learned from her mother that the only way to get love and attention is to be perfect.

She has also learned that it is acceptable to use people to meet her own needs, and that it is okay to manipulate and control others. As a result, she may begin to display narcissistic traits such as entitlement, a lack of empathy and an inability to take responsibility for her own actions.

She may also find herself attracted to partners who are narcissistic themselves, as they will be able to understand and relate to her in a way that other people can’t. This can lead to a cycle of unhealthy and abusive relationships, since narcissists are not able to form healthy emotional bonds.

It’s important for daughters who grew up with narcissistic mothers to learn how to recognize these behaviours in themselves and others so that they don’t repeat the same patterns later on in life. Learning how to build healthy boundaries and practice self-care are also essential steps towards healing from this type of upbringing and developing into an emotionally mature adult capable of forming positive relationships with other people. 

How to deal with your narcissistic mother

If you think that your mother might be a narcissist, it can be hard to know how to deal with her. It is important to remember that you don’t have to put up with any kind of abuse or manipulation, and that you are not responsible for her behaviour.

Setting boundaries is essential in order to protect yourself from further hurt or manipulation. This can mean learning to say “no” when she tries to control you, or refusing to engage in any kind of emotional manipulation. It is also important to remember that you can’t change her behaviour, and that it is ultimately up to her to choose whether or not she wants to be a better person.

Practice being assertive in your communication with her. Stand up for yourself and don’t let her walk all over you. It can be difficult, but it is important to remember that you have value and worth, even if she doesn’t recognize it.

Avoid getting into arguments with her. It’s unlikely that you will be able to change her mind, and you’ll just end up feeling frustrated and resentful.

Finally, focus on taking care of yourself. Make sure to nurture your own needs and feelings. Do not allow yourself to get emotionally drained by your mother’s drama. Spend time with friends, practice self-care, and find hobbies that make you feel good about yourself.

Healing From The Trauma of a Narcissistic Mother

The trauma of growing up with a narcissistic mother can be difficult to overcome. Thankfully, there are options available to help you heal from the effects of being raised by a narcissistic parent. Let’s take a look at some of these strategies that can help daughters of narcissistic mothers begin their journey toward recovery.

Acknowledge Your Feelings and Take Time for Yourself

The first step in healing from the trauma caused by a narcissistic mother is to recognize and acknowledge your feelings. It’s important to give yourself space and time to process your emotions without feeling ashamed or guilty about them. Taking time for yourself allows you to reflect on your experiences, helping you gain clarity on what happened and how it has affected your life.

Find Healthy Ways To Express Your Emotions

Once you have acknowledged your feelings, it’s important to find healthy ways to express them. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be an effective way to release any emotions that are pent up inside of you. Talking with friends or family members who understand what you are going through can also be helpful in releasing any built-up emotions or frustrations. Engaging in activities like yoga, meditation, or journaling can also help you work through any unresolved issues or traumas that may be causing stress and anxiety.

Seek Professional Help

It is usually the case that professional therapy is necessary in order for you to heal fully from the experience. Working with a therapist who specializes in treating individuals with this type of upbringing can provide invaluable insight into understanding the root cause of any issues related to your childhood experiences with your mother as well as providing the tools necessary for long-term healing and growth going forward.


Daughters who grow up under the influence of a narcissistic parent often struggle when it comes to forming healthy relationships later in life due to issues such as low self-esteem and difficulty recognizing another person’s feelings or perspectives as valid.

However there are many coping strategies available which allow these women to manage their emotions surrounding these issues and even potentially repair some damage caused by growing up under an emotionally abusive parent if desired, such as seeking therapy from qualified professionals or engaging in activities like mindfulness meditation or yoga.

With an understanding of why these issues exist, daughters of narcissistic mothers now have access to powerful tools that will help them heal both physically and emotionally going forward into adulthood.

For Further Reading

If you found this post interesting, you might also find the following posts about narcissistic mothers useful –

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