29 Things Narcissistic Mothers Say To Their Sons To Hurt Them

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Narcissistic mothers are among the most toxic narcissists there are. They are exactly the opposite of what you expect a mother to be. Their relationships with their children are marred by manipulation tactics like gaslighting, triangulation, and projection.

They are often jealous of their daughters, and they sometimes form an unhealthy attachment to their sons. They may be loving and seemingly sweet outside the home, but they turn into a nasty, critical, emotional abuser. They will often say horrible things to their children. 

My narcissistic mother regularly criticized me for virtually everything I did. She never wanted me to become independent, to live my own life, and this is characteristic of narcissistic behavior. That can be even more true for a narcissistic mother’s son.

Narcissistic mothers always see their sons differently from their daughters. They sometimes develop an enmeshed relationship with their son. They groom them to be a replacement in a form of emotional incest. That doesn’t stop them, however, from saying some horrific things to their sons. 

It’s helpful to understand a little more about the relationship between a narcissistic mother and her son is like to fully grasp how hurtful the things she says to him can be. Their relationship is complicated, to say the least, and it can result in lifelong dependency.

It is also distinctly different from the relationship that a toxic mother has with her daughter. Understanding those differences can illuminate why she treats her son the way she does and the reasons for the terrible things she will say to him. 

Table of Contents

What is the Relationship Between a Narcissistic Mother and Her Son Like?

The relationship between a narcissistic mother and her son often involves enmeshment, and as you can see in the video below, it can be very damaging. In psychological terms, enmeshment is when two people form an unhealthy attachment such that one or both of the individuals lose their individual self-identity. 

A narcissistic mother wants to become enmeshed with her son, in part because she sees him as both a long-term source of narcissistic supply and a potential replacement spouse. Narcissists often know that people will tire of them and leave them behind. 

The expectation that this might happen with her spouse, can drive a narcissistic mother to turn to her son to fulfill that role. Though she might never have sexual relations with her son, she commits a form of emotional incest that is just as damaging. 

Researchers in psychology at several US universities note that “enmeshed boys showed greater emotional dysregulation across analyses.” They also demonstrated other symptoms associated with a negative mood and problems managing interpersonal tasks. 

What is the Relationship Between a Narcissistic Mother and Her Son Like

Even though she may see her son as a replacement spouse, that doesn’t mean she treats him kindly. She will often tell him things designed to tear down his self-esteem and keep him dependent on her for virtually everything in his life. 

As an adult, a narcissistic mother is jealous of any relationship her son might have with another woman. She undermines it in any way she can. She will tell him that his chosen mate isn’t good enough for him, and she may even lie or use triangulation to drive a wedge between the two. 

Does a Narcissistic Mother Treat Her Daughter the Same Way?

As I know well, narcissistic mothers treat their daughters differently than their sons. They are jealous of their daughters and often view them as competition. Their jealousy for their daughters is distinct from that of their sons. 

“Daughters of narcissistic mothers absorb the message
‘I am valued for what I do, rather than for who I am.’”

Karyl McBride, Licensed marriage and family therapist and author

Their daughters represent competition for them, whereas the jealousy they feel about their sons is related to someone who might steal them away. Because they can’t stand to have the spotlight on anyone other than themselves, the narcissistic mother will tear her own children down in horrific ways. 

She berates and devalues both her sons and her daughters, but she often seeks to destroy her daughters while she is looking to enslave her sons. No one escapes unscathed. 

What are Some Things Narcissistic Mothers Say to Their Sons?

What are Some Things Narcissistic Mothers Say to Their Sons

So just how does a narcissistic mother try to tear down her son in order to bind him to her for the rest of her life? Narcissistic relationships go through stages. The first is idealization, the second is devaluation, and the third is the discard. 

Early in her children’s lives, the narcissistic mother often idealizes her children. They are, after all, the product of a superior person. She will brag about their early development and how they are achieving much more than their peers. 

As they mature and begin to challenge her authority, however, the relationship enters the devaluation stage. This is where the narcissistic mother will ruthlessly berate her children to tear down their self-esteem and make them dependent upon her for their interpretation of the world around them. 

This is where there are some distinctions made between a daughter and a son. The narcissistic mother wants to crush her daughter’s sense of identity, but she wants to bind her son’s sense of identity to her own. 

The focus of devaluing her daughter, therefore, is qualitatively different than that of her son. By the time the relationship enters the discard stage, it is often the daughter who initiates the discard by leaving home and going no contact. That’s what I did. 

For her son, however, the discard is frequently initiated by the narcissistic mother, and it takes the form of emotional abandonment. The goal is to make him desperate for his mother’s attention and approval. That way, she can ensure that he will never leave her. 

Toward that end, here are 29 of the most damaging things she says to her son. When you view them in the light of her ultimate goal, however, you can see how they are designed to bind him ever more tightly to her side. 

1. “You made that up, or you imagined it because that didn’t happen”

This is a great example of narcissistic gaslighting. A narcissistic mother will say this kind of thing to her son in order to make him doubt his own interpretation of reality. 

Signs of Gaslighting
  • Gaslighters deny what you know is true
  • Gaslighters use what you love against you
  • Gaslighters tear you down then build you back up
  • You feel like you’re losing your sense of self
  • Gaslighters accuse you of being crazy
  • Gaslighters say one thing and do another
  • Gaslighters create confusion
  • Gaslighters accuse you of something they’re doing

To get it right, he will need his narcissistic mother to recount what happened and what it means. If she can cause her son to doubt himself, she can ensure he will stay close to her to understand the world around him. 

2. “I’ve done so much for you, and you just take me for granted!”

I’ve done so much for you, and you just take me for granted

This kind of thing has two important effects on a narcissistic mother’s son. First, it reminds him of how important she is in his life. She is reiterating how much she has done for him. 

The second thing it does is accuse him of mistreating her. Of course, he likely doesn’t see it that way, but she has sowed the seeds of doubt in his mind about his own interpretations. He is chastised for not being good enough to her. 

Of course, he will never be good enough no matter what he does, but he can’t see that truth. He is blinded by his mother’s toxic gaslighting and other forms of emotional abuse.

3. “I wish you were more like [another person]. They’re such a great son.”

This is designed to make her son feel jealous that she thinks someone else is better than he is, but it’s also designed to undermine his relationship with that person. It makes her son feel insecure about his relationship with his mother and his own abilities. 

A narcissistic mother doesn’t want her son to be able to trust anyone other than herself. She will do almost anything to undermine his relationships. It makes him more dependent on her than ever before. 

4. “Oh, just get over it, will you?”

This statement minimizes and invalidates her son’s feelings. He is being told, in a sense, that he’s too sensitive and needs to ‘get over it.’ 

It also makes him doubt his own responses. He comes to think that perhaps he is being too sensitive. The more unsure he becomes, the more he has to depend on his mother. 

5. “Don’t even try. You won’t be able to do it.”

This is another statement designed to undermine her son’s confidence. It prevents him from trying new things, something his mother sees as threatening. 

“A child should never feel
as if they need to earn a mother’s love.”

Sherrie Campbell, Psychologist and author

She doesn’t want him to gain confidence and think he can leave her. She wants him to need her for absolutely everything he needs or tries to do. 

6. “You only think about yourself. You never think about my needs.”

You only think about yourself. You never think about my needs

This is another way of saying that you are not enough. You never do enough for me, and you aren’t thinking enough about me. It is designed to refocus his attention on his narcissistic mother. 

To think about anyone else is defined as selfish. It is another form of gaslighting designed to make the son of a narcissistic mother doubt his own perceptions. 

7. “I’m so tired of taking care of you. You never give anything back.”

There are three effects when a narcissistic mother says something like this. The first is that it makes her son doubt his abilities. She is implying that he can’t take care of himself. She wants to undermine his self-confidence. 

The second thing it does is it makes him doubt his own compassion and kindness. It’s a form of gaslighting whereby she makes him feel like he hasn’t done anything for her when he likely has catered to her needs his whole life. 

Finally, it sends the message that no matter what you do, it will never be enough. You are not enough.

8. “Nobody likes a fat boy. You need to lose weight.”

This is clearly designed to undercut her son’s self-confidence. She’s body-shaming him to make him further doubt himself. 

It’s another form of control. Your narcissistic mother is placing herself in the position of judge and jury, and guess what? Her son isn’t good enough. 

9. “You think you’re so smart. You’re not that clever.”

This is another way to undermine her son’s self-confidence and let him know he’s not enough. It’s also a way to let him know how much he needs her. 

She’s effectively saying that you need me because you’re dumb. It’s an insidiously destructive thing to do. 

10. “Nobody cares what you have to say.”

Nobody cares what you have to say

When a narcissistic mother makes this kind of statement to her son, she is seeking to undermine his self-confidence. Moreover, she wants to make him feel as if there is no one with whom he can commiserate. She is taking away his sense of belonging.

“An unloving mother robs
the child of a sense of belonging. The need to belong can become a lifelong quest for him or her.”

Peg Streep, Author

11. “You’re lucky you have me to help you. I don’t know what you would do without me.”

This is a blatant statement by a narcissistic mother that emphasizes her importance in the life of her son. It reflects her fears that he might abandon her at some point in his life. 

She is reiterating how much he needs her in his life as opposed to the other way around. In reality, she needs him more, but she could never let him know that. 

12. “You’re too sensitive. You need to toughen up.”

You’re too sensitive. You need to toughen up

This is another form of gaslighting. She is letting her son know that anything she says that he interprets as offensive is really just the result of his overly sensitive nature. 

It’s a way for her to dismiss any interpretation he makes that suggests she is anything less than a perfect mother. It puts the onus on him to improve himself as opposed to her having done anything wrong.

13. “If you would have done what I said, you would have succeeded.”

Again, a narcissistic mother will want to reiterate how much her son needs her in her life. She doesn’t want him to think he can be independent. 

While a healthy mother would be proud of her son’s growing independence, a narcissistic mother fears it. She knows she will ultimately lose control, and she fears he will abandon her. 

14. “What’s wrong with you?”

The real question a narcissistic mother should ask is what’s wrong with her, but instead, she asks this of her son to undermine his sense of self, his self-esteem, and his self-confidence. He feels he can never do anything right in her eyes, and he is not wrong. 

Signs of a Narcissistic Mother Effects on Children
  • Her children are extensions of herself
  • Plays one child against the other
  • Gaslighting
  • Harshly critical
  • Highly sensitive to others’ feelings
  • Insecure attachment system
  • Self-doubt and internalized guilt
  • Blame and toxic shame

    15. You’re always so slow. Is there something wrong with you?”

    This is said to make her son feel as though he is stupid or inept. It’s yet another way to undermine his self-confidence and make him feel insignificant. 

    He will grow up thinking there is something wrong with him, and that will poison his adult relationships.

    16. “You need to appreciate what I do for you!”

    This is another way a narcissistic mother tells her son that he will never be enough. He is not appreciative enough, not supportive enough, not loving enough, and he doesn’t take care of her well enough. 

    It’s a form of parentification in which the narcissistic mother expects her son to take on the duties and responsibilities that should belong to a parent, not their children.

    17. “That sport/activity is for more able-bodied kids.”

    There is almost nothing more detrimental to a young man’s confidence than to attack his physical prowess. This is yet another way that a narcissistic mother is working to undermine the self-confidence of her son. 

    It’s an effective tool for making him feel incompetent. It will not only keep him from doing things in the present, but it will also undermine his desire to try new things in the future.

    18. “Shut up! You’re so annoying.”

    Shut up! You’re so annoying

    This is yet another way in which the narcissistic mother invalidates her son’s feelings and growing independence. He is not allowed to talk or express his opinions. He is simply an annoyance that she tolerates. 

    What’s more, it’s an emotional form of abandonment. The narcissistic mother is effectively saying that her son and his opinions are of little importance to her.

    19. “You don’t care about what I do for you. You need to be more grateful.”

    You don’t care about what I do for you. You need to be more grateful

    No matter what you do for a narcissist, it will never be enough. You will never hear a narcissistic mother say, “Thank you for everything you do for me. I am so lucky to have you.” 

    “Relationship with a narcissist in a nutshell:
    You will go from being the perfect love of their life to nothing you do is ever good enough.”

    Bree Bonchay, Psychotherapist, author, and speaker

    Narcissists always want you to do more. Because they see other people, especially their children, as extensions of their own identity, they expect them to do even more.

    20. “That relationship will never work. She’s not right for you.”

    This is an example of how a narcissistic mother will try to undermine her son’s relationship with any romantic partner. She doesn’t want him to find someone who will support him. That person might, after all, encourage him to break free from her. 

    She doesn’t want him to be independent, and she will undermine any relationship that threatens to take him away from her. You can see more about how a narcissistic mother controls her adult children in this video. 

    21. “You can’t do anything right without my help!”

    This is another way the narcissistic mother tries to emphasize how important she is in her son’s life. She is trying to reiterate in his mind that he cannot do without her. 

    This is part of grooming him to remain by her side. She wants him to be a continuous source of narcissistic supply, one that will likely outlive her, thereby providing her with a secure supply for the rest of her life.

    22. “You’ll never be as good a parent as I am.”

    This kind of statement does two things: it establishes her as superior to her son’s potential as a parent, and it subtly reinforces the idea that her son needs her. She wants to make him believe that he will always need her. 

    What’s more, she wants him to turn to her for advice on everything, including parenting styles and skills.

    23. “You’re such a drama queen! You make everything worse.”

    This is an example of projection. Projection is when someone projects their own bad behavior onto someone else. Narcissists love drama, and they often manipulate people and situations to create chaos. 

    Reasons Narcissists Love Drama
    • They feel powerful when they can manipulate others
    • They like knowing they can disrupt others’ lives
    • They feel superior when they can control other people
    • It diverts attention from their bad behavior
    • They believe it makes others see them in a certain light (as a victim or better person, etc.)

      24. “You’re so messy. You’re just like your father. He was a wreck too!”

      You’re so messy. You’re just like your father. He was a wreck too

      Narcissistic mothers frequently compare their children to other people, and usually, the child doesn’t fare well in that comparison. This kind of statement not only passes judgment on her son, but it also devalues his father as well. 

      She clearly places him in the ‘other’ category and argues for her superiority. Underlying the statement is the idea that her son needs her because he is such a ‘wreck.’

      25. “I don’t know why you can’t do this. I guess you’re just slow that way.”

      This is yet another judgment and a subtle expression that her son will always need his narcissistic mother. The implication is that he is flawed, and that’s why he needs her to help him. 

      It undermines his self-esteem and sense of self-worth. It makes him doubt his own abilities and encourages him to stay close to his toxic mother.

      26. “I gave you so much. You really owe me.”

      Narcissistic mothers always work hard to emphasize their superiority and how they have sacrificed for their children. The truth is much darker. 

      They believe that merely having the child is a sufficient sacrifice. From that point on, they believe their child owes them for their life, and they expect that debt to be repaid with their child’s life.

      27. “Do you really think that’s what I said?”

      This is another form of gaslighting that is designed to make her son doubt what he heard with his own ears. His narcissistic mother wants him to doubt himself on every level. It’s a subtle manipulation tactic that sows confusion and fear, the fear that you’re going crazy. 

      Other Gaslighting Phrases to Watch Out For…
      • If you were paying attention
      • You are crazy and need help
      • You’re being irrational
      • You can’t take a joke
      • You always jump to the wrong conclusion
      • You’re just jealous
      • You’re the only one I have these problems with
      • You don’t even know what you really want
      • You should have known that this was not a good time to talk

        28. “I had done ten times more than that by your age. What’s taking you so long?”

        Narcissists always have a need to show off their superiority, and this is an example of something a narcissistic mother would say to her son. She is saying that she is better, more knowledgeable, or more capable, but she’s also suggesting that he needs her. 

        I had done ten times more than that by your age. What’s taking you so long

        Narcissists always have a need to show off their superiority, and this is an example of something a narcissistic mother would say to her son. She is saying that she is better, more knowledgeable, or more capable, but she’s also suggesting that he needs her. 

        It serves to undermine his confidence and cause him to believe he needs her. She wants him to need her for the rest of his life, but she doesn’t want him to feel confident in his own abilities. In her mind, if she builds his confidence, he will see her for what she is and leave. 

        29. “Do it your way, and then I’ll fix it.”

        Narcissistic mothers can almost never compliment the job one of their children has done. They always have to reiterate how they could have helped or done better. 

        It’s how they try to prop up their own self-esteem while simultaneously tearing down their child’s self-worth. The truth is she needs her son more than he needs her. 

        Final Thoughts

        Narcissistic mothers say terrible things to their children that are designed to emotionally wound them. They are often successful in that regard, and when that happens, they use the triggers created by those wounds to further manipulate their own children.

        A narcissistic mother doesn’t want her children to be independent, and they certainly don’t want them to outshine her. She doesn’t care about the damage she’s doing because she has no empathy. 

        But you don’t have to let her use your emotional triggers to abuse you anymore. You can identify, defuse, and heal them to prevent her or any other toxic person from pushing your buttons in the future. I have created a 5-Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers to help you do just that.

        It’s a free guide that provides a step-by-step blueprint for identifying your triggers and ultimately healing them. If you would like a copy of this handy guide, just click here, and I’ll deliver it directly to your inbox.


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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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