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Can a Narcissist be a Good Mother?

Reviewed by Karis A. Williams, MSMHC, LPC

Most of us who have had any experience with narcissistic family members understand the damage that occurs in the family dynamic.  We know that in public, narcissistic mothers can look like mother of the year.  But we also know that behind closed doors, narcissistic mothers are often unempathetic, cruel, and angry, among other things.  So, can a narcissist be a good mother?

A narcissist can appear to be a good mother.  And she can do good things with her children.  What she cannot do is relate to her children on a personal level.  She will often be jealous of her children’s success.  And she will desire to control them, even after they are adults.  Unfortunately, the narcissistic damage that is done will overshadow the good things that also happen.

When can a Narcissist be a Good Mother?

The vast majority of the time, a narcissist cannot be a good mother, even though she will do some good things with her children.  This is because once she sees her children as “not good enough,”  they will never be good enough in her eyes.  And as she and her children get older, the narcissism tends to get worse and more out of control.  Thus, the relationships a narcissistic mother has with her children will continue to spiral downward.  Without the right boundaries in place, the relationship will beocme unbearable.  And even with good boundaries, you still may not be able to have a healthy relationship.

But, believe it or not, there is the rare occasion where a narcissist can be a good mother.  The biggest qualifier for this is when she falls lower on the narcissism scale.  This would be someone who shows narcissistic tendencies rather than full blown narcissism.  But then, does it really count?

We can all show selfish or narcissistic tendencies.  But when narcissism dominates a person’s thinking and behavior, it is impossible to relate to them on a healthy level in any relationship.  And that is when we think of someone as a narcissist.  A full blown narcissist cannot be a good mother.  For more on narcissists and parenting, check out this article.

Narcissists Think They are Good Mothers

Narcissistis women think they are great mothers when they are in public or in front of someone who could be watching them.  That is not what they really think.  Deep down, they feel shame and the need to cover over it in any way possible.

Because of this dichotomy of what they want people to think and what they really think, narcissistic women (as well as men) tend to be angry.  They don’t feel in control as much as they need to.  This makes them anxious, angry, and a whole host of other negative emotions.  And they tend to take that out on their children behind closed doors.

Okay, so let’s get back to the subject!  Because narcissists have to look like “mother of the year,” they will perform greatly in public.  Which actually looks more like talking a big talk.  They won’t do a whole lot in public to help unless they know it will make them look better.

Most narcissistic mothers will make sure their kids are clean, well fed, and have what they need to look like they are well-cared-for.  But everything must still be under her control.  The children can’t wear what they want, unless it matches what Mom wants.  They will like the foods she chooses for them.  And they will play and do what she wants them to.

When they go to college (if she allows them to), they will study what she wants them to.  Being an adult doesn’t release the child from the narcissistic mother’s control.  It will last a lifetime.  Until they set some very necessary boundaries.  If you are not sure what setting healthy boundaries looks like (or even if you do but would like to read an excellent book to bolster your knowledge), Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend is an amazing book.  It is a life changing book for the vast majority of people that read it. My own copy is quite dog-eared because after reading it a couple of times, it has been a perfect reference for me and my family and friends.


Why it is so Hard for a Narcissist to be a Good Mother

There are several reasons that a narcissist cannot be a good mother.  Let’s take a look at some of the major ones.

It’s Hard for a Narcissist to be a Good Mother Because She Doesn’t see her Kids as People

Just like any other narcissist, a mother who shows narcissistic tendencies can only see herself and what she wants.  She sees her kids needs in a few different ways.  First, she sees them as inconvenient.  She has needs of her own, and her kids need to take care of their own needs.  She has no time for that!

Second, while a narcissistic mother doesn’t see her kids as people, she does see them as a means to promote herself.  Whether it is how great her kids look, how well they perform, or what a great job of raising them she’s doing, she will take all the credit.  That is why they aren’t “allowed” to have their own views or ideas.  It has to be all her. BUT…they cannot outshine her.  They must be perfect, but not too perfect.  Essentially, they can’t win or figure out how to win.  The goal posts just keep on moving.

Finally, her children are there to please and serve her.  As long as they are going out of their way to do what she wants, then life is good.  But the minute they are unable to read her mind and deliver whatever behavior or service she wants from them, there will be hell to pay.  Life in the home of the narcissistic mother is walking on eggshells with no end in sight.

It’s Hard for a Narcissist to be a Good Mother Because She is Emotionally Immature

Those diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are believed to have the emotional maturity of a 5-year old.  Of course, that is an estimate.  But even if you estimate it to 6 or 7 based on your narcissist’s circumstances, it doesn’t really improve the circumstances, does it?

The reason that they are “stuck” at that age is because that is the age that the trauma tends to break them.  So they just stop dead in their emotional growth.  This is actually very sad.  They never really  had a chance because of the way they were treated as children.  And that is the way they saw as survival.  That is incredibly unfortunate because at that age they don’t understand how much that mask they don will cost them over the course of their life.

Not all children who are traumatized at a young age become narcissists.  While all abused children grow up with emotional issues, many are able to work through them at some point in their life.  But for whatever reason, when abused children become narcissists, they are largely unable to recover and put down the issues in order to heal.  And that is how they become emotionally stunted at such a young age.

It’s Hard for a Narcissist to be a Good Mother Because She Cannot Relate to Her Children

Narcissists are probably most notable for having no empathy.  They don’t FEEL anything for those around them.  That unfortunately includes their children.

So, in keeping with a narcissistic mother’s need to be seen as the best mother, she will often show her children affection in public.  But it is very mechanical.  She is checking boxes.  She isn’t showing affection because of affectionate thoughts or feelings.  For more on this, check out my article, Can Narcissists Love Their Children?

Narcissistic mothers know they should be doing things with their kids, like hugs or kisses.  So they will do them as part of a list of “what mothers do.”  Granted, normal mothers do the same things.  But there are some feelings of love for their children.  That is a huge difference.

Narcissists do have feelings for their children.  But they are conditional.  They feel “love” for their kids who perform up to their expectations at the moment.  But the minute something doesn’t go well, the love is gone.  Contempt quickly takes its place.  And the child feels it acutely.

The child tends to bounce back and forth between wanting the affection, hoping that it will bring some normalcy to the relationship, and not wanting the affection, because it feels artificial.  Generally speaking, they maintain a safe distance or walk away as adults, knowing they will never get an authentic relationship with their mother.

The Narcissistic Mother and her Daughter

The way a narcissistic mother treats daughters and sons is vastly different.  Unfortunately, the mother/daughter relationship tends to be more toxic.  There are a few reasons for that.  Let’s take a closer look.

First, narcissistic mothers view their daughters as competition.  But oddly enough, they also view their daughters as an extension of themselves.  Thus, there is constantly a battle going on in the mind of the mother.  She doesn’t want people to think her daughter is better than she is.  But she also wants everyone to see what a success she has raised her child to be.

This creates a constant battle within the narcissistic mother’s mind.  But it also creates a battle between her and her daughter.  This, in addition to the inability to relate to her daughter emotionally, causes a world of psychological damage.  Adding gaslighting, lying, denial, blame shifting, and all of the other narcissistic behaviors just makes life that much more difficult for the poor daughter.

Generally, the only way to escape this life is to just leave and go no contact.  But because it is their mother, most daughters choose to stay in the hope that one day things will get better.

The Narcissistic Mother and her Son

While things can definitely get very bad in the mother/son dynamic, it isn’t quite the same as with a mother daughter relationship that has been tainted by narcissism.

Because their son is their legacy, narcissistic mothers put a lot of pressure on them to “make something of themselves.”  If their son is the best in sports, academics, or whatever activities they are doing, then Mom can take the credit for raising such an amazing son.

As the son grows up, if he becomes successful, then Mom did an amazing job making him a productive member of society.  It doesn’t matter that she probably had very little to do with the actual work that got the son there.  She may have yelled and screamed at them to do better.  And that may have motivated them to get to where they were, among other things.  But at what cost psychologically?

Mothers that are higher on the narcissism spectrum will sometimes confuse the relationship between their husband and son.  If things are not good wsith their husband, they will behave toward their son more like he is a partner.  This can be emotionally unhealthy ways to relate, or even physical and sexual behaviors.  All are incredibly destructive ways for a mother to relate to her son.

Finally, narcissistic mothers will use their children (sons or daughters) to obtain narcissistic supply.  They will love bomb their children to get them to let their guard down so they can freely take what they need for narcissistic supply.  Some forms of supply are praise, admiration, fame, and recognition.  Not only will narcissistic mothers expect this from their children.  But if they can do things in public with their children that will allow them to get these forms of narcissistic supply from other people, that is just as good for them.  It is all about how they can get their children to give them what they think they need, whether it is directly from the children or indirectly by others.


Because narcissists don’t see any people humanely, they don’t see their children as people either.  Unspeakable harm is done to most children of narcissistic parents.  But the damage done by a narcissistic mother prevents her from being a good parent, even though she will do good things with and for her children.  Unfortunately, the motives will be unhealthy, which negates a healthy relationship in the long term.

Were you raised by a narcissistic mother?  Did you understand the issues and problems from a young age?  How did you work through it?  How difficult were your formative years?  Did you have trouble making your way as an adult?  How did you heal?  I would love to hear your story!  Please feel free to share in the comments below.  If you do not feel comfortable sharing in a public post, feel free to contact me here.

Blessings and love,

If you found this article valuable, I think you will also find the following articles valuable:

Can Narcissists be Good Parents?

Can Narcissists Love Their Children?

Will a Narcissist Hurt Their Child?

How Can You Tell if Someone is a Religious Narcissist?

Can Two Narcissists be in Relationship With Each Other?

Understanding the Tactics of a Religious Narcissistic Father 

Dealing With the Trauma of a Religious Narcissistic Mother

When Narcissism Becomes Pathological

Will God Punish a Narcissist?

What to do When Your Narcissist Threatens You

The Bible Used as a Weapon Against You:  You Can Overcome! 

What Does the Bible Say About Abusive Husbands?

The Link Between Spiritual Abuse and Narcissism

Why Narcissists Want to Apear Godly

What Healing From a Narcissist Looks Like

Why Narcissists Love Going to Church 

How Religious Narcissists Think

Are Narcissists Evil?

Narcissistic Behavior:  What to Look Out For

Praying for Your Narcissistic Husband

Are Spiritual Narcissists Overt or Covert? 

Religious Trauma Syndrome:  How to Preserve Your Spiritual Journey

How to Navigate Religious Narcissistic Parents

What Happens to the Soul of a Narcissist?

How to Heal From a Spiritual Narcissist

Can You Maintain a Relationship With a Spiritual Narcissist? 

Can Narcissists Have a Spiritual Awakening?

How Will God Judge a Narcissist?

When the Church Says to Move Back in With Your Narcissist

What Can we Say to a Christian Friend Who’s Divorcing?

Why Does God Hate Divorce? 

12 Ways the Church Helps Narcissists Abuse Their Victims

When Your Church Believes the Narcissist’s Lies

23 Reasons Why Narcissists are Drawn to the Church

What Does the Spiritual Narcissist do When You try to Leave?

When the Church Doesn’t Recognize Narcissistic Abuse

Will the Church Support Divorcing a Narcissist?

Are Narcissists Demon Possessed?

What Does the Bible say About Narcissism?

Can a Narcissist be a Christian?

Can a Spiritual Narcissist Heal?

What is Spiritual Narcissism?

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Hi! I am the founder of Navigating Religious Narcissism after being raised under a narcissistic mother and married to a narcissistic man for 31 years. It is my prayer that I can be as valuable on your journey to healing and peace as were so many who crossed my path of healing.

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