Narcissism is a personality disorder that affects individuals’ ability to form and maintain relationships. A narcissistic mother can have a lasting effect on her daughter’s life, leading to difficulties forming healthy relationships with others, low self-esteem, and an increased likelihood of developing the same traits as her mother. However the question is – do daughters of narcissistic mothers become narcissists themselves?
Do Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers Become Narcissists?
The answer to this question is complicated.
While it is true that daughters of narcissistic mothers are more likely to develop narcissistic traits than those whose mothers are not narcissists, it is not inevitable.
Recent research has shed light on this topic and revealed that while some traits may be genetic, it is not an inevitability that daughters of narcissistic mothers will become narcissists.
In fact, it has been found that children are often quite resilient, and that many daughters of narcissistic mothers are so appalled by their parent’s behavior that they go out of their way to avoid becoming like their mother when they grow up.
It is important to note, however, that even if a daughter does not become a narcissist herself she is still bound to struggle with the effects of growing up in such an environment.
How do narcissistic mothers treat their daughters?
Narcissistic mothers are emotionally abusive towards their daughters. While some regularly belittle or berate their daughters for not meeting their impossible expectations, others employ gaslighting and emotional manipulation as tools of control.
Controlling behaviour: Narcissistic mothers often try to control their daughter’s lives, from what she wears and how she acts to who she befriends and where she goes.
Emotional manipulation: A narcissistic mother may frequently pit her children against one another or outright lie in order to maintain control or manipulate her child into doing something she wants.
Verbal abuse: A narcissistic mother often assaults her daughter verbally – belittling, berating, and punishing her daughter for things that are not necessarily her fault.
Expecting perfection : Constant criticism is one way narcissistic mothers strive for their daughters to reach an unattainable level of perfection .
Gaslighting: This psychological manipulation technique is used to make someone doubt their own memory, perception, and even sanity by shifting the blame onto them. It is perfect ammunition for an emotionally abusive parent like a narcissistic mother.
Prohibiting boundaries: Narcissistic mothers will rarely allow their daughters to have any boundaries as they view it as an affront to their power and authority over them as opposed to respecting them as individuals with rights of their own.
How narcissist mothers impact their daughters
Narcissistic mothers can have a profound and long-lasting impact on their daughter’s sense of self-worth, emotional stability, and relationships.
The effects of an emotionally abusive upbringing caused by a narcissistic parent can be pervasive, with daughters often struggling to overcome feelings of guilt, shame, insecurity and fear.
Low self-esteem: A daughter of a narcissistic mother may suffer from crippling low self-esteem, feeling constantly devalued and not good enough in their mother’s eyes.
Guilt and shame: Feeling guilty for not meeting their narcissist mother’s expectations can lead to daughters feeling like they haven’t done enough, even when they have.
Anxiety and depression: Developing insecurity and doubt caused by growing up with a narcissistic mother can manifest itself in physical symptoms such as poor sleep, stomach problems, or even anxiety attacks.
Difficulties in relationships: Growing up with a narcissistic parent can make it difficult to form healthy relationships later on in life due to trust issues, fear of rejection, and difficulty connecting emotionally with others.
Lack of independence: A daughter raised by a narcissistic mother may struggle to make her own decisions outside the control of her parent, leading to feelings of inadequacy or helplessness when faced with making choices on her own.
How Narcissism Is Passed Down
A Genetic predisposition
It is well known that narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is linked to genetics, meaning that the children of a narcissist are more likely to develop this disorder themselves.
Research shows that having a parent with NPD increases one’s risk of developing the disorder by up to 6 times.
Additionally, a study conducted in 2012 found that as many as 75% of people with NPD reported having at least one parent who also had the disorder.
Therefore, genetically there is indeed a case to say that there is a higher risk that daughters of narcissistic mothers become narcissists themselves.
It is thus important that they are aware of their heightened risk and take measures to reduce the potential for the disorder to manifest in any way.
However, it is not only genetic factors that may result in narcissistic traits. Parenting styles and behaviours also play a role.
A child’s environment plays a large part in the development of their personality; when they observe someone with narcissistic tendencies, children can learn to internalize those behaviours as normal or desirable.
In the case of a daughter living with a narcissistic mother, she may come to believe that acting in self-serving ways is acceptable and even expected.
The impact of emotional abuse
Additionally, the children of narcissists experience higher levels of emotional abuse than those whose parents do not have NPD.
This abuse can manifest itself in several ways, from verbal putdowns to withholding affection, and can create feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem in daughters.
Such distorted views of self-worth often extend into adulthood with highly detrimental effects if left unchecked.
More dangerously, they can create a narcissistic injury, leading to the development of narcissistic personality disorder as the child grows up.
On the other hand, many daughters of narcissistic mothers are able to recognize their mother’s behaviour for what it is, an unhealthy way to interact with others, and reject it as adults.
This rejection could manifest itself in various ways, from refusing to engage in similar behaviours or taking steps toward healing past wounds caused by their mother’s actions.
Ultimately, only time (and good therapy) will tell how each daughter deals with her individual situation and the legacy her mother left behind.
My mother was a narcissist – what can I do?
It is important to note that while these effects can be difficult to manage they are not insurmountable.
With time and effort it is possible for daughters of narcissistic mothers to work through their issues and build healthy relationships with themselves and others.
Educate yourself: Learn about narcissistic personality disorder, the impacts it can have on family dynamics, and its relationship to genetics.
Create healthy boundaries: As an adult, understand your own needs and take steps to create clear boundaries that will help protect both you and your mother.
Seek professional help: Consider finding someone who can work with you to process emotions and help improve your interpersonal relationships.
Find supportive people: It’s important to have people in your life who support you, listen to you without judgment, and will challenge any unhealthy behavior from both parties.
Prioritize self-care: Taking care of yourself is essential for coping with difficult family dynamics or stressful situations in general.
Make sure that engaging in self-care activities like exercise, meditation or journaling are non-negotiable parts of your daily routine.
Professional therapy can be particularly helpful as it provides an opportunity for individuals struggling with the effects of growing up in a narcissistic household to explore their own experiences in a safe space and learn new strategies for managing their emotions and building healthier connections with others.
Final Thoughts – Do Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers Become Narcissists?
In conclusion, while daughters of narcissistic mothers are more likely than those raised by non-narcissistic parents to develop similar traits themselves, it isn’t an inevitability.
It is in fact possible for them to lead happy lives without succumbing to similar behaviours as long as they work through any unresolved issues from childhood using therapeutic methods such as counseling or coaching.
Moreover, these same women can use what they’ve learned from growing up in such an environment, such as resilience and strength, to help them create better lives for themselves going forward.