Five Effects On Children Of Having A Narcissistic Mother

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Make no mistake about it — narcissistic abuse has long-lasting effects on the children of a narcissistic mother. The nature of narcissism is such that the narcissist can’t empathize with the consequences of her behavior on others. 

She can’t understand on an emotional level the effect her behavior has on you. That’s damaging enough in any relationship, but it’s particularly harmful when it comes from your own mother. 

There’s little hope for the children of narcissistic mothers that they will somehow repair the relationship since their mother will never take responsibility for her own actions. The most they can hope to do is protect themselves from their own mother. Read on to discover five long-term effects on the children of narcissistic mothers. 

How Did She Affect You? 

To heal the damage done by your narcissistic mother, you’ll need to first understand how her behavior has affected the development of your own personality and the way you think about yourself. The following are five common ways that a narcissistic mother affects her children. 

1. Self-Blame

No matter the nature of the abuse you received from your narcissistic mother — be it open or insidiously subtle — the damage done to your self-esteem is devastating. You were a child dependent upon this woman for care and nurturing, and her inability to give you that eventually results in you blaming yourself for the problem. 

As a child, you don’t know any better. You only know that your mother flies into a rage at the slightest provocation, tells you that you’re the problem, and withdraws her love when you disobey. You can’t simply leave and find a new family, and so, you tell yourself that you must be the problem. 

You nurture the delusion that if you can only do better or be better, everything would be great. Unfortunately, that’s not possible because you are/were not the problem. Once you’re aware of your tendency to blame yourself for everything, you can begin to change that bad habit. 

2. Echoism

The name of this trait is derived from Greek mythology. Basically, echoism occurs when you begin to lose your sense of self as a result of the abuse you’ve endured. 

After a while, you simply echo what your abuser believes or thinks as you strive to take up as little room as possible. What’s happening is that you’re losing yourself as your narcissistic mother dominates your life. You’re becoming a mere reflection of her personality. 

This is a particularly dangerous effect since those sensitive children who adopt echoism as a survival strategy often end up with narcissistic partners as well. It will take breaking away from the narcissist to begin the process of regaining your sense of self. 

3. Insecure Attachment

Attachment refers to how you generally view the world, either as a generally safe place where your needs get met or as an unsafe place where it’s possible your needs will not be met. For children of narcissistic mothers, they generally develop insecure attachment patterns. 

These can take two forms: avoidant attachment where you shut people out because you fear depending on them or anxious attachment where you anxiously seek out the love connection you never got from your mother. 

These patterns are formed early in life, but they can affect how you experience intimate relationships for the rest of your life. Recognizing your patterns is the first step to begin the healing process. 

4. Need Panic

As the child of a narcissistic mother, you were basically not allowed to have needs. The needs of your mother superseded your needs in every way. You were only there to serve her. 

common ways that a narcissistic mother affects her children

Through the years, you learned to put your own needs aside, and because of your mother’s unpredictable behavior, you might have even become terrified of having a need. As an adult, you experience panic whenever you feel you have a need. 

During a crisis, you may panic and respond by calling on friends for constant reassurance. You want to meet your needs as quickly as possible, but sometimes this isn’t an option. That can raise your anxiety level, because you learned long ago that your needs were inconvenient and unimportant. 

5. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

You’ve probably heard about PTSD associated with combat veterans or people who have experienced a traumatic event like a natural disaster. That is one form of PTSD, but children who have been repeatedly abused throughout their lives experience another form of PTSD called Complex PTSD or C-PTSD

This can cause a number of symptoms including flashbacks and difficulty controlling your emotions. The reasons for these symptoms stems from the fact that you always had to be vigilant for the next threat from your unpredictable mother. 

Your narcissistic mother made your world a confusing place where you never knew when your mother would fly off the hand next. You learned to be always looking out for evidence of sometimes subtle changes in her mood. This was something that was vital to your survival as a child. 

That kind of repeated trauma lodges in your body, and until you are able to effectively and safely move the trauma out of your body, you’ll continue to experience symptoms for the rest of your life. These can seriously disrupt your ability to fulfill your life goals. 

Final Thoughts

Narcissistic abuse takes a dramatic toll on the children of a narcissistic mother. It can have severe long-term effects on your life that will prevent you from achieving your goals. The first step toward healing is to understand how you have been impacted. 

Once you understand what this kind of treatment does to you, you can begin to heal from the trauma you experienced. It can be a long journey, but it is worthwhile as you will regain your sense of self and learn how to have healthy relationships and how to protect yourself from a narcissistic mother

Remember, it’s never too late to begin the healing process. You should also know that what happened to you was not your fault, and you deserved — and deserve — better. 

Now that you have a better understanding about how a narcissistic mother can affect you, you might also wonder about whether your father is a narcissist. You can learn about that in the video, “What Are The Character Traits Of A Narcissist Father?


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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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