7 Mind Games All Narcissistic Mothers Play

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Narcissists are masters at playing mind games, and there are some common ones they always employ to manipulate you. Narcissists are preoccupied with maintaining their image as superior people, and for narcissistic mothers, it’s important that everyone see them as a loving, self-sacrificing mother. Everyone, that is, except you. 

Your narcissistic mother has little concern for your thoughts and feelings. The main thing she is concerned about is making sure that you behave in a way that enhances her image. To ensure your actions reflect well on her, she will use many different kinds of mind games. Read on to learn about 7 mind games that all narcissistic mothers play. 

Mind Games Your Narcissistic Mother Plays

These are some of the more common mind games your narcissistic mother will use to confuse you and get what she wants. 

  • Ball’s In Your Court

No matter what you do, your mother will never acknowledge responsibility for her actions. Instead, she will project, deny, shame and blame you, and basically dodge any attempt you make to have a meaningful conversation with her. 

Her hope is that you will do what you’ve always done before — either forgive her and move on or maybe even doubt your own perceptions of what happened. That makes it very difficult for you to get out of the line of fire. 

You’re always the target in the relationship, and to get out of her crosshairs, you’ll have to set some solid boundaries and stop playing. 

  • Psyche!

Your narcissistic mother is particularly adept at this mind game. She will act as though she genuinely understands your experience, and she’ll even seem to be able to put herself in your shoes. 

Don’t be fooled, however, because once you let your guard down, she’ll pull a fast one. She’ll use whatever you’ve told her — how you’ve felt vulnerable and revealed that to her — to diminish you even more. 

She might, for example, interrupt you and shut down your meaningful sharing. She might say something that she knows will humiliate you and make you feel small. It will be perfectly timed to diminish whatever you might be talking about. 

  • Gaslight You Up

Anytime you bring something up to a narcissist, she will call you crazy. She will tell you that you are too sensitive or that you’re letting your imagination get away with you. 

She will also claim that she doesn’t know what you’re talking about or even that you’re the one who is lying. This is a particularly frustrating tactic that is used by all kinds of abusers. 

Gaslighting can cause you to question your own perception of reality. There are several ways to deal with this kind of treatment from your mother, and you’ll want to use them before you lose confidence in your own memory, reasoning, or intuition. 

  • Tear You Down

Your mother is supposed to be your biggest cheerleader, but that’s not the case with a narcissistic mother. Rather than build you up, she will tear you down. 

This is a common mind game played by all narcissists, but the damage to your ego is particularly painful when it comes from your mother. She will downplay your accomplishments, and turn everything you do into a failure. 

She’ll never give you props for what you’ve managed to do, and if you do something good that she can’t deny, she’ll find a way to take credit for it. In this way, she’ll slowly but steadily destroy your ego. 

  • Silly Child

Your narcissistic mother will always treat you like a helpless, stupid and bad child. It’s part of her need to keep you dependent on her. She quite simply doesn’t want to let you grow up. 

It won’t matter if you’re 50 years old, she’ll continue to treat you like you’re a child who doesn’t know anything. She also uses this kind of treatment to minimize anything you’ve done. 

She’ll talk to you as though you don’t deserve any kind of praise or recognition for anything you’ve accomplished. It’s to her advantage to keep you child-like since you remain dependent on her for emotional support, something she is unwilling to give. 

  • Rule Switch

One of the mind games that aids the narcissist in their gaslighting attempts is to change the rules whenever they want. This is a particularly difficult game for the child of a narcissist because you never know the right thing to do. 

Rule Switch of narcissistic mothers

When you think you’re following the rules and they suddenly change without your being informed, it can mean a dose of narcissistic rage or other types of punishment. In your narcissistic mother’s mind, you’re supposed to know the rules even if she changes them without telling you. 

  • Do You One Better

This is another frustrating mind game narcissistic mothers like to play. It involves a form of ‘one upmanship’ whereby she’s always got a better story or a worse hurt than you. 

The idea is that the narcissist will always do you one better whenever you express a need or relate a story. For your mother, she will always have a better story of how great she is or how bad you are. For her, it’s a bonus when she’s able to both prop herself up while simultaneously knocking you down. 

Final Thoughts

One of the most important skills the narcissist possesses is manipulation. These games are all part of manipulating you to beat down your self-esteem and keep you dependent on them. 

When it’s your mother playing these games, it’s particularly harmful for you. Your mother is supposed to be your best ally and most supportive relation. When she’s a narcissist, however, it’s all about propping up her image. 

Like any narcissist, her focus is on how she appears to the outside world. That’s because her self-worth is derived from external sources, and she must maintain a positive image to feel validated. 

That often means manipulating you so that you will prop up and support the image she projects to the world. Unfortunately, she’s not really capable of loving you like a mother should, and you will often have to leave her behind if you are ever to improve your own self-worth. 

Another favorite tactic of the narcissist is emotional blackmail. Learn about that mind game in the blog post, “6 Stages of Emotional Blackmail From Narcissists.


If you want more tips for dealing with narcissists, setting boundaries, and managing emotional triggers, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel


Narcissistic abuse takes a terrible toll on your life. I’m Patricia, and my mother is a narcissist, so I know what you’re going through. These blog posts will help you understand narcissism better and give you tips for dealing with the narcissists in your life. Healing starts here!

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