The short and simple answer to the title question is “yes,” almost certainly. Narcissistic mothers have particularly fraught relationships with their daughters, because the daughter feels like a replica of herself. And the toxic abuse a narcissistic mother heaps on her daughter can last a lifetime.
Narcissistic mothers have a very difficult time letting go of their daughters, needing to see themselves reflected—and reflected well—always and all the time. Mom feels like her daughter is merely an extension of herself, and thus, she has a hard time allowing her to develop her own personality or express her own individuality.
If the daughter exceeds expectations or otherwise counters mom’s narrative, then jealousy and rage are sparked.
If you are the daughter of a narcissistic mother, or know such a person, continue reading for an explanation of why mom becomes so envious and what you can do about it. You can also check out this post for more information on dealing with toxic parents.
What Motivates Mom?
The narcissistic mother is motivated mainly by her need for the narcissistic supply of attention and admiration, and her daughter often becomes her most important source.
So, the narcissistic mom begins to depend on her daughter for validation and support—and also to serve her self-interest, of course. This dependency can be read as weakness, so mom has to deceive herself and her daughter about the extent of her reliance.
Typical moms are quite proud of their daughters and will champion their successes. However, a narcissistic mother feels something quite complicated.
On the one hand, the daughter is an extension of herself, so she must be superior in all ways to reflect mom’s opinion of herself back. On the other hand, the daughter is also a threat, because she could outperform the mom in whatever arena.
The daughter can also be an existential threat, because she could actually draw the spotlight away from mom. If the father dotes too much on the daughter or the grandparents get involved in her life, then the narcissistic mother becomes enraged and vengeful toward her daughter.
This is, in turn, completely confusing to the daughter. She is told to do really well in everything she attempts and to look beautiful while doing it, but never to outshine mom. If she does, then there is a significant amount of payback from mom.
Jealousy and Denial
Narcissistic mothers are envious of their daughters over many things. They might be envious of their academic abilities or their innate talents. She might grow jealous of her daughter’s beauty, especially as she starts to fade into middle age.
She might eventually be jealous of her daughter’s career or partner or family or material wealth. Every accomplishment by the daughter eclipses the mother’s dominance.
The mother is also prone to live vicariously through the successes of her daughter, lavishing her with praise—at least in front of other people she wishes to impress.
In private, however, the narcissistic mother is often casually cruel or sarcastic about the nature of her daughter’s success. She will undermine the accomplishments by claiming they weren’t really a big deal, or snipe that the daughter didn’t actually deserve the accolade.
In addition, the narcissistic mother will vehemently deny that she harbors feelings of envy and resentment toward her daughter.
Instead, she will make the daughter believe that she is foolish to think her mother is jealous, emphasizing her superiority and greater worth. Mom makes herself feel better by devaluing the daughter, who remains a threat to her fragile sense of self.
What Happens to a Daughter?
The result of this contradictory set of maternal responses—praise and jealousy, criticism and rage—is to cause the daughter great confusion. She cannot understand why her mother would be jealous of her, because her mom has taken such great pains to let her know she isn’t worthy. Daughters of narcissistic mothers often struggle mightily with issues of self-esteem.
Because the mother figure is the primary role model for the young female, daughters of narcissistic mothers remain underdeveloped, emotionally and psychologically speaking.
They aren’t given unconditional love or nurturing encouragement, so they don’t value themselves once they reach the age of self-awareness. This could result in a lifetime of unsatisfying or abusive relationships as the daughter repeats the pattern her mother set for her.
Oftentimes, as well, daughters of narcissistic mothers feel basically unappreciated and unloved. They are frequently lonely and have difficulty forming meaningful bonds with others.
If their own mother couldn’t love them, so the distorted thinking goes, then how could anyone else love me? This can lead to behavioral disorders, addiction, and even suicidal ideation.
Dealing with Maternal Envy
So, how do we break the spell that the narcissistic mother wields over her daughter? This is a difficult problem to tackle, of course, because it is so hard to disrupt the power a mother holds over her daughter.
It’s also fairly taboo to speak of maternal jealousy, because “good” moms are supposed to be proud, and your narcissistic mom doesn’t ever want to look “bad.”
The first step in dealing with your mom’s envy is to understand that it isn’t really about you. It’s about her insecurities and her psychological disorder.
While this isn’t easy to internalize, spending time not reacting to her tirades or taunts will eventually give you the space to see that it really all stems from her. You don’t have to apologize or feel guilty for anything, because you are not trying to be a threat to her. She is distorting the situation.
You should also discard any urge you may have to confront her about her malicious envy. She will only dissemble and deny it, and you will be left feeling uncertain and emotionally torn.
Instead, focus your emotional healing on building your own self-esteem and learning to forgive her—or, barring that, learning how to detach from her or walk away altogether. Constructing your own happy and healthy life is the best possible path forward.
Daughters of narcissistic mothers face a whole host of challenges, not least of which is the jealousy mom feels toward her. This makes the relationship competitive and strained, with the daughter losing out on a positive role model.
The daughter is sent conflicting messages about acting and looking perfect, so she reflects well on her mom, while constantly receiving criticism and envy when she achieves something.
The mom unjustly perceives her daughter as a threat, which impacts her daughter’s emotional development. Ultimately, you have to release yourself from your mother’s envy, forge your own identity, and find your own happiness.
This article can also give you some more insight into whether or not your narcissistic mother even realizes she’s hurting you.
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