Mothers should put their children first and love them above everything else in their lives. But daughters of narcissistic mothers don’t get that precious love. As a result, they can struggle in later life.
For the vast majority of us, our mothers are our primary caregivers. We learn about the world through our interactions with our mothers. We crave our mother’s attention and love. When we get our mother’s love, we become more confident and venture out into the world with a solid sense of who we are. The love from our mother validates us and builds our self-esteem. But how do daughters of narcissistic mothers cope?
When all that essential love is focused, not on ourselves, but the very person we crave it from, it affects our personality and character.
John Bowlby knew the importance of forming strong attachments with our primary caregivers. Bowlby formulated that infants are predisposed to form attachments with others. In human evolution, babies that stayed close to their mothers would have had a better chance of survival.
But attachment isn’t just about surviving. It is essential for our psychological well-being. More to the point, if an infant fails to attach then they could face serious problems in adulthood. So what happens if our mother is a narcissist? Narcissists only care about themselves. They put their needs first. So how does this affect the daughters of narcissistic mothers?
Here are 6 struggles daughters of narcissistic mothers may face in later life
1. Crave attention
The one thing we crave from our mothers is attention. We need constant feedback and interactions with our mothers so that we can learn about ourselves and the world around us. However, if that attention is lacking, you’ll spend the rest of your life seeking it elsewhere. And probably in all the wrong places.
This can manifest itself in several ways. It’s easy to become self-destructive. You self-harm or get involved in the wrong crowd. Some daughters of narcissistic mothers change their appearance to stand out. You might dress inappropriately for your age, or dye your hair a shocking colour. You want to shock people into noticing you. The problem with this is that the one person you want to take notice of you isn’t interested.
2. Low self-esteem
Mothers are there to build us up ready to face the world and all it throws at us. If your mother was more concerned about her own needs, you won’t have this validation. All you will want to do is please your mother. You’ll do all you can to enable her, whilst at the same time your self-esteem and confidence are being neglected.
You have learnt that you don’t really count, it’s your mother that is important. What she needs is the attention and validation. She’s not concerned with how you feel about yourself. As such, there’s never going to be a time when you can shine and take centre stage.
3. You can’t form meaningful relationships
You have to be stable in your own mind to be able to form a meaningful relationship. If you don’t love yourself, how can you expect someone else to love you? Daughters of narcissistic mothers have never been shown what proper love is like. As a result, they don’t recognise it when it comes along.
Instead, they might get stuck in abusive relationships because of their lack of understanding and low self-esteem. They might think they’re not good enough for true love and settle for a partner that doesn’t meet their needs.
4. You are always pleasing others
You grew up learning very quickly that to keep the status quo one person had to have their needs met above all others. Now, as an adult, you cannot put your needs first. As such, you find it hard to say no to people, and you bend over backwards to accommodate others.
It doesn’t occur to you that you can put yourself first. You go out of your way to please others. This affects every aspect of your life; from work, relationships, even your own children. You simply don’t feel good enough about yourself to even consider that you have needs. It won’t ever occur to you to put yourself before others.
5, You think everything is your fault
Narcissistic mothers blame everyone but themselves when things go wrong in their lives. Daughters of narcissistic mothers have a particularly hard time when it comes to the blame game. This is because narcissistic mothers are jealous of the younger versions of themselves.
As such, they’ll do everything they can to undermine their daughters. They will blame them for the failures in their own lives. Even the fact they were born in the first place can be a source of disappointment and missed opportunities for the narcissistic mother. As a result, daughters will grow up believing that they are responsible for other people’s success or their unhappiness.
6. You are never good enough
You learned at an early age that whatever you did was never good enough for your mother. Now, even though you are an adult, you still feel the sense of displeasure from your mother. It doesn’t matter what you do, you can never satisfy her demands. Her criticisms and controlling nature are all you know.
As a child, life was all about pleasing and living up to your mother’s unrealistic expectations. Now you are older, this sense of never quite being good enough permeates your adult life too.
So can daughters of narcissistic mothers ever live up to their full potential and live their own lives? It is possible. Narcissistic mothers are flawed individuals. Unfortunately, there’s no rule that we are all lucky enough to be born to loving and caring parents. However, what we make of our lives is in our control. For some of us, it’s just that little bit harder.