While most narcissists are men, women can be just as malignant. In fact, the covert narcissist mothers are becoming more common.

Narcissistic females are thought to be rarer than their male counterparts. In fact, 75% of narcissists are male. Recently, however, studies have shown more and more covert narcissists are women. The covert narcissist mother, being one of the most malignant of the group, can cause some of the worst damage as well.

How children are really affected

You would be surprised just how much damage is done to children with covert and dangerous mothers. Yes, I said dangerous because later in life, this upbringing can cause mental health problems and even suicide.

So, what does this type of mother do to her children that’s so heinous? Maybe you will understand the serious nature by delving into the effects of the narcissist.

1. She devalues her children

One thing the covert narcissist type of mother does to her child is devaluation or triangulation. This means she uses one child as a scapegoat and the other as the perfect child.

This creates competition within the mind of the flawed child. This sibling tries desperately to please their mother which is almost impossible. In the meantime, their mother is doting on the golden child and offering praises day after day.

This sort of covert and venomous narcissist mother can leave her imprint way into her child’s adulthood. The effects surface by not being good enough and always comparing themselves to other people.

2. She has two faces

One way the covert style of the narcissistic mother affects the children is by the utilization of two faces. What I mean by two faces is that the mother is loving to her children when presenting them to the outside world, but behind closed doors, she is quite the opposite.

She shows off her children, then punishes them for small things later on. Sometimes she passes her duties as a mother to other people when no one from outside the home is around to see her true actions.

3. Invalidation and gaslighting

One of the most horrible things a mother can do is invalidate the feelings of her children and make them feel like they are the crazy ones. This type of mother does negative things and blames the actions of her children as the cause of her negative actions.

She doesn’t validate the feelings of her children as real concerns. This is because the covert narcissistic moods of the mother show no empathy. If something occurs that’s obviously the fault of this mother, she resorts to gaslighting to defend the truths of actions.

4. Her children are parts of her personality

A narcissist’s children are not individuals in her eyes. They are simply a part of her being, created by her, and under her control. She dresses her children in certain ways to represent herself, otherwise, she will have a reputation she does not want.

In public, she brags about her children, but in private she pushes them to be better – she tells them to lose weight or to dress better.. Her children are possessions, or better yet, extensions of herself which must represent her and not an individual person.

5. She competes and crosses boundaries

The covert version of the narcissistic mother will cross strange boundaries with her children. These are boundaries that are extremely disturbing sometimes.

If she has a female child that is developing and maturing physical, the mother will compete with her daughter’s youthful looks. She may try to dress more provocatively than her daughter and even try to steal her boyfriends or seduce them.

She crosses these boundaries because she is aware of her aging and no child of hers will be better than her in any way.

6. Outside possessions are more important than her children

A covert narcissist will always find greater pleasure in providing for herself over the need of her children. For instance, she rather purchase new clothing for herself than for her children, even if they need new school clothing.

She is a selfish person and doesn’t care how her children see her. She will buy them the bare minimum and then again, show her children off to the world in their few new outfits. If you pay attention, you will notice the covert mother has more new clothing than her children.

7. She invades their privacy

A covert and intrusive narcissistic mother will always break boundaries when it comes to her child’s privacy. Yes, you should, as a mother, be able to check up on some of your children’s actions, but not constantly. Sometimes it is best to let them have some privacy and figure out things for themselves.

An unhealthy relationship with your child will turn into unhealthy relationships when they grow older, destroying future relationships and causing others to resent them for their intrusive behavior.

Let’s be honest: Are you a covert narcissistic mother?

Look within and ask yourself, do you fit any of these indicators of being a parent like this? If you relate to any of these things, please try to change as much as possible for the sake of your child’s future. The treatment they receive now will be the foundation of their adult lives.

If you know someone who is a covert narcissistic type of mother, please provide help for their children if you can. Remember, you cannot break boundaries either or the mother will only punish the children for that as well. If anything, get anonymous support or help.

I hope these indicators and words of hope have helped you as well.


  1. https://thoughtcatalog.com
  2. https://blogs.psychcentral.com
Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

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This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Thomas Hansen

    Scaringly accurate description of my mother. It was hell for both my sister and I growing up with her as our mother. Please heed the author’s advice and seek help if you recognise behaviour like this in your own life. You deserve it.

    1. Sherrie Hurd
      Sherrie Hurd

      I knew a mother who would beat her children and drag them by the hair. She had a favorite, although, who would get much less of this treatment. Now, she is gone, one child is dead, one is still struggling with addiction and as for the others, they have other problems. Rest this mother’s soul, she is gone now, but she scarred her children and it’s difficult for them to have a life void of constant fighting and competition. I stay away.

  2. Avatar

    Do you think a covert narcissistic mother might dress her children better than herself if she uses that as evidence of her sacrifice for them? Especially if the mother became socially isolated, physically disabled, and/or obese, do you think she could begin to feel so ashamed of her own appearance that she turns focus on dressing her children well instead of herself? In this scenario, the mother would constantly brag about this sacrifice to others and would hold it over her children’s heads to manipulate them further.

    1. Sherrie Hurd
      Sherrie Hurd


      All I know is that a mother should never brag on money spent for her children. Spending money on children, buying food, school supplies, and clothing is a given. Doing these things do not make you an exemplary mother. It makes you a mother, period….a person who is doing what she’s supposed to do anyway.

  3. Avatar

    This describes my mum and the thing is that she knows that I dont like to be compared to my sister but she still does it anyway and I seriously dont know what to do because I’m 15 and I’m tired of not being enough and trying to please my mum just so she would be in a good mood and wouldn’t yell

    1. Avatar

      Fiona It is to your advantage that you know what your Mother is while you are so young, when you are a few years older it will be easier to get away from the cruel family dynamics for good. I was the scapegoat child and unlike you, I was 53 before I knew anything about narcissistic Mothers, and the terrible damage that they inflict on their children will stay with them for life and affect all other relationships that they have. Hugs to you.

      1. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.
        Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

        Her mother could have these dysfunctions, but she may not. I don’t think she should go at her mother with this belief 100%. There are many other reasons her mother could be doing these things. Yes, it’s important to be aware, but it’s also important to pay attention to the details as well.

    2. Avatar
      M Lycett

      Fiona, honey you are a star. I thought my dramas started when I was 15, having realised the world portrayed by the maternal unit was not indeed the world that my school, mates, everything else in the world opperated in. I appeared to be dumbed down as conditioned. I was over fed so I wouldn’t be perceived as attractive…If I’d become a nun, she’d have been delighted. (we weren’t catholic!).
      We didn’t have the webz in the 70’s so no way to look up ‘my mothers a fckn lunatic’, Librarys just don’t work that way. I’m finally seeing how abusive my childhood actually was, as too the majority of my adult relationships; and getting ‘therapied’. I’m in my 50’s now hon, and feel just a bit ripped of.
      Sweetheart hang in there, u’ve survived her for 15 years, can u manage a few more months till u hit 16? (Guessing ur in USA, and have Legal Emancipation at 16 years if neccesary?).
      Now ur aware of how Ur mum’s head works, u’ll find it easier to stay out of the firing line, u’ll start to be able to predict her ‘next move’. Keep learning as much as can about personality psycholgy. Not just how narcs work, but the effect they have on targets psych. Mix up ur study tho, too much psych without some entertainment will do ur head in further.
      Just observe ur mum, don’t bait her. Got a school councilor, teacher, principal that u can trust to keep confidentiallity? U need advice on Social Security benefits for technically homeless youth, how to access counciling to recalibrate damage she’s done to ur head ( ur young, u’ll get any false ideas she programmed u with dealt with real quick). U’ll need advice on housing options – maybe an accomodation on campus scholarship for the ‘disadvantaged’? Make it clear before confiding with this adult that they are dealing with you , there can be no letters being sent home advising ” Your daughter attended counciling… Should you like to discuss further….”. They must understand that it would cause intensified abuse for you.
      Keep safe, keep learning, beware of i’net narcs, and good luck.
      (We all are, but ) never forget you are a star. You are allowed to shine. You’re entitled to courteous dealings with people. You are allowed to ‘draw the line’ with how cheaky, or smutty others can act towards you.
      Have a wonderful life x

      1. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.
        Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

        Thank you for reading and your help.

    3. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.
      Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

      Since you are 15, you still have to abide by the rules of the household, and any dysfunction will come with that. I do believe mothers should listen to their children too sometimes, and kids and teens are right sometimes…GASP! hehe. Anyway, on the other hand, parents will act in ways you don’t understand, and that’s because you are still young. Some of the yelling could be coming from somewhere else and she is frustrated. Although comparisons between children aren’t good, it does happen, sometimes unintentionally. Right now, you are going through a hard period in your life, but after a few years, things won’t bother you as much. Soon you will be grown and on your own. You just be the best you can and try to respect her authority. Some of these things will look different when your around 45. Any bad things are done, just don’t repeat them with your children. Yes, there are narcissistic parents, but I’m not sure if she is. She just may have some things you don’t know about that is causing her to interact with you the way she does. I’ve been guilty of all these same things before.

      I wish you the best in the remainder of your teen years.

  4. Avatar
    Gene Stephens

    I myself went through quite similar circumstances.myself. She was the Stay st Home Mom of the 1950’s on. My Dad Traveled 3 weeks out of the month. So, she had both my Brother & I to take care of. Naturally there was the normal Sibling Rivalry, as in most Families. Difference here was it my Fault, not my Brothers. He was the youngest, but an instigatore, but did no wrong in Moms eyes. Mom would tell me in no uncertain terms, “Just wait until your Father get home”
    Shortly after his return, whatever the Issue was, she would Multiply it by Ten Fold. Far worse that the actual event.
    Then came the beatings from my Dad. If I tried to set the story straight, it was considered Talkng Back.
    Occurences like this continued until I Graduated High School. Then joined the U.S. Navy & Bailed out for good.
    This one just one of many other things I experienced in those years. Only resulted in a hatred for her. Too many to continue on further. I figured she was JUST CRAZY until later in life I began reading & learning that this is truly a disease.
    Only then, could I begin to have a shred of forgiveness in my heart. I thank Quora and all who contribute to this Site.
    Keep spreadng the knowledge.

    1. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.
      Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

      In your case, Gene. Your mother probably did have a personality disorder. Unfortunately, she didn’t get help during your childhood. I am sorry. I hope things are working out well for you now, and I hope you can forgive her. This doesn’t mean you have to endure any more punishment from her. Spend as much time with her as you can, but leave when you feel those gaslighting and manipulating tactics start.

  5. Avatar

    Hi Sherrie, I’m Marlene and would like to know what your opinion would be in regards to my current situation living with my narrsisistic daughter and my 2 yr old grandson who at times is mistreated at times by his mother. Sometimes she seems to be in a good mood and spends time singing to him, playing with him or watching cartoons with him giggling which doesn’t last for too long because suddenly she’s yelling at him, calling him a monster or telling him that something is wrong with him and he’s being a very bad and disobedient child. Basically putting him down with negative and angry words which I know in my heart even though he’s not talking yet, that he somehow understands that his mother is verbally abusing him and he feels scared and confused by his mothers sudden change in her attitude and treatment towards him because as I’m hearing all of her negative and aggressive behavior towards him followed by him crying and in happy, I get up and approach her and say ” whats going on here? Or What’s wrong with the baby? Is he ok?” I’ll even attempt to pick him up immediately and get him away from her but doing it in a rather calm and non peaceful manner because she has reacted in a aggressive and non supported way towards me refusing to let me take him with me and removing him from her, and slamming her door in my face and continuing her name calling to him saying ” your a bad baby and this is all your fault! You caused this mess on purpose and you knew better! Your making me go crazy and your nothing but drama, drama, drama!” I feel so my pain inside me and I become desperate and feel like breaking down her door and taking him away from her presence regardless of her demands. I see the sadness in his eyes and wanting to come with me. My grandson and I share a strong bond between us from the time he was born and she resents me for that. She’s told me before that it makes her uncomfortable to see him wanting to be with me rather with her and that that’s not right and she’s the mother not me and he needs to be broken from that bad habit that I’m inflicting into him and teaching him to disrespect her by not acknowledging her as his mother. I can’t believe her actions and accusations towards me almost as if shes making it all up just to put me down and all of a sudden now I’m a part of the problem and me and him are creating the drama and caose just to attack her and ruin her peaceful day. We’re the trouble makers and she the innocent victlm. I’ve always had issues with her since she was about 10 yrs old, finding her doctors to evaluate her mental health not to mention being on prescription medication only to stop taking them and becoming more out if control against me and on 2 occasions, becoming physically abusive towards me eventually having the need to go to the hospital for treatment. She finally became an adult and moved out but soon enough she’s always found me and apologizes and asking me to help her because she’s homeless and has no support from anyone. I eventually forgive her and take her into my home thinking she’s changed and learned her lesson and will be a better and loving daughter but it doesn’t last for long. This time she’s showed up to my front door 7 months pregnant and I could find it in my heart to turn my back and leave her in the street, homeless. My grandson means everything to me I would give my life for him and I know in my heart she’s the problem and she has mental issues but not looking for help or not allowing me to help her get help. My grandson is a normal and innocent toddler who’s only doing what all toddlers do as they grow and go thru stages in life. I found out her reason for becoming upset with him and verbally mistreating him was because he spilled his juice on him self and floor and she had just cleaned the floor but now he caused a mess so she has to drop everything and clean his mess over again which became an convince to her and he’s trying to drive her crazy??? I no longer want to maintain the peace to avoid confrontation with her I feel she knows my good intentions and is taking advantage of my approach to allow her to get away with her behavior and continue to behave this way with him and now me. It tears my heart and I fall into a deep depression crying myself to the point where I just want to get him and run away with him and spare him from her hurt full treatment. I’ve thought many times to call CPS and report but in reality, I’m not financially able to take care of him if they removed him from her leading him to be taken away from his loving family but more so from his grandmother. I fear that I won’t see him again and won’t even know where he would be. It would break my heart and be devastated for the rest of my life. But still this situation is not right and he’s being mistreated when shes feeling miserable and needs to take it out on someone this case it’s him and he does not deserve this and continue to be exposed to this cruel and harmful treatment. In well aware of this in the meantime, I’m lost in taking action and doing what is right and giving him the peace and safe enviornment he deserves. I love my grandson with all my heart and just don’t want to lose him. It would devastate me, he would realize I’m not there anymore and not in his life. Not to mention what it would do to me, so devastating! I appreciate your thoughts or opinion on this situation that I’m lost in thought. Thank you.

    1. Avatar

      I apologise for any mispelled wording on my recent comment and able to clearly read without problem. Thank you.

    2. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.
      Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

      As you already know, this is a delicate situation. It’s clear from what you’ve told me that she has an anger problem. I cannot attest to the other illnesses or disorders she may have because I simply don’t have a diagnosis. I will tell you this, even though it’s hard seeing these things, at least you are there to stop it from going further. If you weren’t there and she did become physical with him, then you couldn’t stop it. BUT, if her behavior is dysfunctional, she is imprinting these words upon his life. One thing you can do is every time you get to be with him alone, you tell him good things about himself, hug him, love him and make sure that he’s getting just as much positive energy as negative.

      Now, there is a line that must be drawn. If you see physical abuse, you are supposed to try and stop it or call someone. And although you think you can’t afford to take care of him, there are many places that help mothers and grandmothers in need, as far as helping with children. Most DHS workers want to keep children within the family. But let me say this, I’m not saying you should try to take him from her at this point. I think you should keep trying to get her to see her actions right now. Maybe record her when she does it so she can see how she acts, but only if you know for sure she will not react and run away when you show her the recording or let her listen to herself. In some cases this happens. Otherwise, keep talking to her to try and prove her actions. Some people don’t even realize they are being abusive. Keep trying to show her and keep feeding your grandson with positive words.

      Also, Keep trying to get her to seek help. Maybe she will eventually agree. Offer to go with her and talk things through in counseling. Tell her about how her words will affect him as an adult. According to my psychology teacher in college, the first 7 years of a child’s life are the most crucial. Look it up and show her so she knows the damage that’s being done.

      Just try. I know it’s got to be hard for you, but raising your grandson right and keeping the family together is the best goal if you can attain both.

      Be blessed

  6. Avatar
    Alison Schorger

    It sounds like my mother. I remember her yelling at me and my sisters, then answering a phone call from a friend all sweetness and light! She treated her friends. better than her family. And nothing I did was ever good enough. My older sister has become like her, so I finally wrote her off after one final outrageous incident. I said I put up with Mom because she was my mother, but I don’t have to anymore with my sister.

    1. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.
      Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

      I’m sorry that things turned out this way for you. But if at all possible, I encourage you to make amends with them. Yes, they may have severe problems, yelling is verbal abuse, but I grew up in similar circumstances with my father, and I regret not making complete peace with him, now he is gone. No, you don’t have to take the abuse, you are an adult who can get away from them when you want, but please, keep loving them and occasionally, check on them. No matter what they say about you, you know who you are.

  7. Avatar

    “While most narcissists are men..”

    1. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.
      Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

      And almost every man I’ve been with intimately was. So, it’s higher odds. I think it’s worsened by testosterone. I say this because the strange behavior started in one of my children as he entered puberty. My son has episodes himself and I check him immediately about his behavior, he’s now 16 and better. When he is grown, and I hear about this type of behavior, I will go to his house and confront him. I will do this until I am dead. I hate narcissistic behavior, and yes, I hate it in women just as much. I just haven’t known but one female that exhibited this behavior toward me.

  8. Avatar


    you know what the scariest part of the mother by being narcissistic to their children??
    2 things (as far as i know)

    1. public-sided blaming

    public will “don’t care/don’t know” what happens to you but when you snap to your mother, public will like thinking you’re the one who mean to your mother

    2. god’s like power

    in islam religion, as the parent who leading the child into what they want, allah allows any women who become mother/wife to wishing anything they want “best” to their family… but unfortunately the “power” of wish of hers is guarantee-ly granted in LITERALLY HER WAY possible… meaning if she wants to wish “something” for their children IN HER WAY, that will be granted… like she wish you to be smart, YOU WILL! she wish her husband to be success, HE WILL, she ask allah to make you dumber, get a accident, not solving your problem or anything else and YOU WILL… even she wishes YOU or her HUSBAND to die… just slip of the tongue OR slip of the wish and POOF that happen HER WAY…

    3. you can’t fight her even you want it to

    Quran : al-isra verse 23-24

    23 : And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.

    24 : And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.”

    yeah basically (in general) even narcissm parents can’t be fight back even though they the one who “ugh” us (23) and (in general) the parents is assuming or totally obligatory to take care of the child

    and you just say this in the article :
    1. She devalues her children

    One thing the covert narcissist type of mother does to her child is devaluation or triangulation. This means she uses one child as a scapegoat and the other as the perfect child.

    This creates competition within the mind of the flawed child. This sibling tries desperately to please their mother which is almost impossible. In the meantime, their mother is doting on the golden child and offering praises day after day.

    This sort of covert and venomous narcissist mother can leave her imprint way into her child’s adulthood. The effects surface by not being good enough and always comparing themselves to other people.

    well… damn great… while she freely “devalues” me and “golden” my “perfect” sibling, in quran says I MUST TREAT MY PARENTS PROPERLY…

    and you said :
    2. She has two faces

    One way the covert style of the narcissistic mother affects the children is by the utilization of two faces. What I mean by two faces is that the mother is loving to her children when presenting them to the outside world, but behind closed doors, she is quite the opposite.

    She shows off her children, then punishes them for small things later on. Sometimes she passes her duties as a mother to other people when no one from outside the home is around to see her true actions.

    yep… i remember when i was little i was watching tv at night where my maid is with me… AT NIGHT!?!?

    I mean, that was like 10 pm and i like… idk… toddler??… sleeping on the matress with my maid while crying “where’s mom”… while my other sibling is WHERE THE HECK HE GOES!?!?

    i’m alone with maid sleeping in front of tv at night and my sibling is god-knows-where AAAAAND WHERE’S THE MOTHER IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT IS NOT WITH THEIR CHILD INSTEAD ASK OTHERS TO TAKE CARE OF ME !?!?

    oh boy i hope allah bring justice to my life at here and at afterlife judgement

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