A narcissistic mother is one of the most toxic parents a child can have. The nature of narcissism causes them to be incredibly self-centered. What’s more, they expect everyone around them to be solely focused on their needs. They even see their children as mere extensions of their own identity, and they expect them to act accordingly. It’s an extremely toxic parenting style, and for sons of narcissistic mothers, they are often damaged for life.
The narcissistic mother is about as far from the stereotypical nurturing mother as you can get. Unlike healthy mothers, she never puts her children first, and she expects her children to put her needs ahead of their own. Because her children don’t know they are being abused until they are older if ever, the damage she does is often difficult to reverse.
If you’re involved with the son of a narcissistic mother, you’ll want to know these 17 signs her narcissism has damaged him and how you can help him heal.
1. Negative Relationship Patterns are Common
The sons of narcissistic mothers have trouble interacting with romantic partners. Having a narcissistic parent has a devastating impact on a child’s ability to form strong attachments. This is particularly true when the narcissistic parent is a mother.
Furthermore, because of the mother-son bond, sons are often discouraged from trusting other people by their narcissistic mother. She doesn’t want him to be independent, and she doesn’t want to lose the source of narcissistic supply he represents. She cultivates in him a fear of getting too close to other people.
For that reason, his romantic relationships are often short-lived and plagued by constant conflict. He may shut people he cares about out altogether or cling to them to the point of suffocation. In either case, he sabotages those intimate relationships.
2. No Boundaries
Any child of a narcissistic parent has troubles with boundaries, but once again, the nature of the mother-son bond makes this a big problem for the sons of narcissistic mothers. She will intrude into every area of his life, including his romantic relationships.
He has learned throughout his life that he doesn’t have boundaries. His narcissistic mother never allowed that, and so, he often doesn’t even understand the concept of personal boundaries.
As a result, he will have difficulty keeping his narcissistic mother out of his romantic relationships. Moreover, she will not hesitate to interfere in every part of his relationships, from dating to child-rearing.
The sons of narcissistic mothers have great difficulties with self-blame. Of course, their mother blamed them for everything that went wrong when they were young, but they also carry the weight of the cultural norms associated with manhood.
They feel as though they should be providing for their narcissistic mother, and of course, she has encouraged that, but as with any narcissist, they can never do enough for her. She is hypercritical of what they do for her, and she always wants more.
The narcissistic mother’s son takes on responsibilities no child should have to bear, and when they receive only criticism in return, they integrate that critical attitude as part of their own identity. It can have devastating effects on their life as it can impact not only their intimate relationships but their professional life as well.
4. Constant Shame
This is a hallmark of any child of a narcissistic parent, and it’s particularly evident in children of narcissistic mothers. Instead of nurturing, they receive criticism. They are rarely, if ever, praised for anything they do.
As a result, they become ashamed of who they are, and in fact, it can lead to the development of narcissistic personality disorder. Shame is also one of the most damaging emotions of which humans are capable.
As research professor and social worker, Brené Brown has famously said, “Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” It’s very difficult to heal the shame that a narcissistic mother has bred into you from the moment of your birth.
5. Low Self-Esteem
Another characteristic of the damaged son of a narcissistic mother is low self-esteem. Given the constant criticism and blame-shifting a narcissistic mother does with her children, it would be a miracle for her son to have a healthy self-esteem.
Not only does he hear her critical commentary in his head, but he also adopts that as his own inner voice. It can keep him from healing the narcissistic abuse he has suffered, and it can definitely interfere with everything he does in life.
It affects every aspect of his personality and keeps him from reaching his full potential. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what his narcissistic mother wants so that he will be dependent upon her to help him make every decision in life.
6. Lacking Self-Confidence
Because his narcissistic mother constantly criticized him and never let him do anything on his own, the son of this kind of toxic mother lacks self-confidence. Children build self-confidence by being allowed to try things and fail until they succeed.
Once they are successful at something, their confidence grows. But the children of narcissistic mothers never get that chance. First, she never lets them do anything on their own, so they don’t really get the chance to succeed or fail.
Second, she criticizes them even when they do something well. That kind of constant criticism erodes their self-confidence. As adults, they aren’t sure they can do anything well.
7. No Sense of Self-Worth
Your sense of self-worth is the knowledge that you have value no matter what you have done. You have value simply as a human being. The sons of narcissistic mothers learn early on in life that love is conditioned upon their good behavior.
What’s more, the way their mother defines good behavior is all about pleasing her and little else. Additionally, she is never happy, and so, her sons learn that they have little value.
They can’t make her happy, and that’s what she bases their value on. Since she’s never happy, they constantly get the message that they are worthless, and they take that to heart.
8. Ignores Personal Needs
Narcissistic parents cultivate two kinds of children: narcissists or codependents. If the son of a narcissistic mother doesn’t become a narcissist himself, he will likely be codependent.
Codependents are people who, because of abusive situations, learn to ignore their own personal needs in favor of the people they love. For some sons of narcissistic mothers, this can be a survival mechanism.
They focus solely on keeping their mother happy to avoid her harsh criticism. They carry this tendency into adulthood and their other relationships.
9. Inability to Control Emotions
Narcissistic abuse is incredibly toxic in that there is no real rhyme or reason to a narcissist’s behavior. A narcissistic mother will alternate between guilt-tripping, blame-shifting, and shaming her children.
The only time she’s loving to them is when she needs something from them. The rest of the time, it’s a confusing mix of ups and downs. Nothing is ever right for their mother, and they can’t do enough to make her happy.
As a result of this toxic behavior, many children of narcissists experience post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. They experience a mixture of emotions and have great difficulty controlling them. This causes problems in every one of their relationships.
10. Exhibits Narcissistic Behavior
The sons of narcissistic mothers are particularly prone to developing narcissism themselves. Because of the nature of the mother-son bond, her sons are often idealized over other children.
Of course, that idealization lasts until the child starts pushing back, as commonly happens as they grow up. The narcissistic mother comes to resent her son, which breeds resentment in him. He has already developed a sense of entitlement, and now, he has a growing sense of rage directed at his mother.
It’s very easy for this process to develop into narcissistic personality disorder. This is particularly true given that is what has been modeled as normal behavior from his mother.
11. Reliant on Mother for Approval
This is a direct consequence of a son’s lifelong effort to win approval from his mother. Narcissistic mothers never give their children praise unless they need something from them. This is true even for narcissistic mothers who favor their son.
Additionally, narcissistic mothers don’t let their children make their own decisions as part of their effort to control and manipulate them. As a consequence, the children never learn to do things for themselves, and they constantly seek their mother’s approval.
This behavior continues into adulthood and affects their romantic relationships and friendships. It can even affect their professional performance.
This is a common consequence of narcissistic parenting styles. The children of narcissists learn quickly that they must do everything they can to keep their narcissistic parent happy, or they will suffer as a result.
The sons of narcissistic mothers are raised to believe that their mother’s happiness is their responsibility. When they are not able to keep her happy, they feel as though they are failures. This increases their people-pleasing behaviors.
A son’s desire to please his narcissistic mother can easily result in him placing her needs over his own. This is codependency, and codependent people often seek out narcissistic romantic partners or other abusers as adults.
13. Problems with Intimacy
Both sons and daughters of narcissistic mothers can have problems with intimacy. Narcissists have this kind of problem, and thus, they avoid becoming too close to anyone in their life.
Of course, narcissistic mothers don’t get too close to their children. They do want to know everything they can about their children so they can manipulate and control them. But a narcissistic mother doesn’t want to give her children the same advantage.
As a result, the children learn that getting close to someone is something dangerous to be avoided. They learn how to keep their cards close to the vest, as it were, and this creates difficulties with intimate relationships.
14. Deep-Seated Resentment
Whether the son of a narcissistic mother ever recognizes the emotional abuse he has endured or not, he holds a great deal of resentment against his mother. Often he is not even able to identify exactly why he feels that way, only that he does.
He has endured years of criticism and blame, and he has developed a profound sense of shame as a result of it. There is actually a lot for him to be resentful about, but without some honest self-reflection, he may never be able to discover the cause of his feelings.
Unless and until he does that, he is unlikely to be able to heal the wounds created by the narcissistic abuse he suffered in childhood.
15. Communication is a Form of Warfare
For the child of a narcissist, communication truly becomes a form of warfare. Any information they willingly give up to their narcissistic parent becomes something that can easily be used against them.
Additionally, they learn from their narcissistic parent how to use words to wound the people around them. They see how their narcissistic other takes what they have told her and twists it into something critical.
Children learn by observing their parents, and even if the son of a narcissistic mother doesn’t become a narcissist himself, he still learns how to use words to wound his loved ones. He carries this communication style with him into his close adult relationships.
Dissociation refers to a defensive mechanism used by people who are abused to distance themselves from what is happening to them. In a sense, they go to their happy place in their mind and pretend they are not the ones being abused.
It’s a common technique for both narcissists and those who have suffered narcissistic abuse. What happens when you dissociate, however, is that you erase the memories of those events. Narcissists rely on other people to fill in the gaps, and they often make things up too.
Children of narcissists who suffer dissociation have memory problems, and it can complicate their adult relationships. You might have an argument with the son of a narcissistic mother, for example, and his dissociation can cause him to blot out the memory of the event. That’s frustrating for you and can prevent progress in your relationship.
17. Stress-Related Health Problems
Life with a narcissistic mother often causes her children to suffer from chronic anxiety and stress. Over time, this can result in chronic health problems. Stress is related to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and many other serious health conditions.
Because children of narcissists often don’t recognize the abuse they are suffering, they fail to do the things they need to do to recover from it. They can suffer from complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), and without proper therapy, they may not be able to heal from that.
Sons of narcissistic mothers, like other men, often fail to seek the kind of help that can really alleviate their symptoms. Additionally, if they are overly bonded to their narcissistic mother, she may prevent them from realizing the truth of why they are suffering. It can have tragic consequences.
What Can You Do to Help the Son of a Narcissistic Mother?
As you can see, sons of narcissistic mothers suffer incredibly life-limiting effects from the trauma inflicted by their mother. The first step toward helping them is to educate them about narcissistic abuse. The more they know, the more they are likely to recognize the signs they have a narcissistic mother.
Once they understand why they feel and behave in problematic ways, they may be more open to considering therapy to help heal those old wounds. That can help them learn more effective communication techniques and methods for relieving anxiety and stress.
With loving support from those who are close to them, they can eventually heal their inner child and learn to establish appropriate personal boundaries. If they can do that, then even if they are still in contact with their narcissistic mother, they can prevent further emotional abuse.
There are many ways a narcissistic mother can damage her son. Because of the narcissistic abuse she inflicts on him, she undermines his self-esteem, self-confidence, and sense of self-worth. She wants him to be dependent upon her for all of his life decisions. That affects his ability to form lasting relationships as an adult. It can be devastating if he doesn’t recognize the abuse and take proactive steps to heal.
If you’re in a relationship with the son of a narcissistic mother or if you’re her son, you need this free copy of my 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers. It can help you recognize the emotional triggers your mother uses to control you, and it can help you heal that damage. Just click on the link and I’ll send it directly to your inbox for free!
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