The effects of parental narcissism can be far-reaching, with sons of narcissistic mothers struggling later in life.

We throw the term ‘narcissist’ around all too often, but true narcissism from a parent can affect children greatly. Sons of narcissistic mothers know this very well.

What Is a Narcissist?

We call people narcissists when they show selfish tendencies. Narcissistic Personality Disorder, however, is a recognized psychological disorder that affects around 1% of the general population. Recognizing narcissists can be difficult because we use the term so liberally. It is even more so when we are trying to recognize such behaviours in a parent.

Delusions of Grandeur

The primary defining characteristic of a narcissist us an imposing sense of self-importance. This is more than just vanity and self-absorption, it is the real belief they are special and superior to others. They believe they are too good for ordinary things and only deserve the best in any situation.  Narcissists only want to associate with those of higher status and have the finer things in life.

Narcissists live in a fantasy that they are better than everyone else, even when facts don’t support it. Evidence that they are not who they think they are will be ignored and rationalized away. Anything or anyone that threatens to burst the bubble will be met with rage and defensiveness. This forces those close to them to adhere to this twisted reality.

Need for Constant Praise

To continue their battle against reality, a narcissist needs a constant stream of praise and recognition to maintain the façade. As a result, narcissists surround themselves with people who are willing to cater to their need for constant recognition. Relationships with narcissists are a one-way street and will be quickly dropped if you ask for anything in return.

Sense of Entitlement

Narcissists don’t just want favourable treatment, they expect it. They fundamentally believe they should get what they want, when they want it, and expect everyone to comply. If you do not give them what they want, you are of no use to them. You will be met with aggression or disdain if you dare ask for something in return.

Shameless Exploitation of Others

Narcissists never developed a sense of empathy, so they are quick to exploit others without caring or even realizing the effect it might have on them. Other people are simply a means to an end. This exploitation is not always malicious since they simply can’t understand what others need, but they aren’t afraid to exploit the needs of others if it will get them what they want.

Frequent Bullying of Others

When confronted with someone they deem in a higher position or social standing than them, narcissists will begin to feel threatened. Their go-to response is anger and condescension. They will try to dismiss them, or go on the offensive and insult them, using bullying or threats to get that person to adhere to their own view of the world.

How Narcissism Effects Children

Narcissistic parents affect children in a number of detrimental ways. Not only will children not feel heard and their needs not acknowledged, but the child will also often be treated as a sort of accessory rather than a person.

Children of narcissists often grow up finding it difficult to identify their own sense of self outside achievements because this is the only thing narcissistic parents value. This is due to the fact image is more important than personal authenticity causing children to fear to be open to others.

Not only will children be fearful of being their true selves, but their emotional development will also be stunted. They will be unable to form healthy emotional connections because they were not shown how to form them from a young age.

Being raised by a narcissist means that children are not loved unconditionally and are only shown affection when they make their parent look good. This leaves them constantly vying for their parents’ attention but having to carefully toe the line between making their parent look good and not outshining them.

This leaves then confused later in life when they don’t have someone to be the subordinate of.

Why Do the Sons of Narcissistic Mothers Struggle?

Sons of narcissistic mothers will be treated as either the golden child, or the scapegoat, or completely forgotten and this can go a number of ways.

The golden child

If treated like the golden child, sons of narcissistic mothers tend to develop narcissistic tendencies themselves. They grow up believing that they and their mothers have some kind of claim in the world which deserves more than your average Joe.

He will never realize that he was never allowed to be himself and probably work to make his mother proud his entire life. He may develop unhealthy habits, such as gambling, cheating, or stealing because he fundamentally believes he deserves whatever he wants.

The scapegoat

The scapegoat will grow up resenting their narcissistic mothers and never truly feeling good enough. They will often blame themselves when things go wrong, even when it isn’t their fault.

Sons of narcissistic mothers feel that they owe their mothers because they were constantly told so growing up. They will most likely grow up trying to please their mothers, even if this isn’t actually possible.

The forgotten sons

The forgotten sons of narcissistic mothers probably grow up the healthiest of the three options. They don’t feel the need to please their mother since they were ignored and not demanded from.

They may find it difficult to form emotional attachments because their early emotional needs were not met but won’t have a lifelong unhealthy attachment to their mothers.

References:

  1. https://www.helpguide.org/
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/
Francesca Forsythe, LL.M., M.Phil.

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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Avatar
    SS

    Interesting to read about Narcissistic parents and their sons.How about daughters? I would ilke to read about narcissistic women who had neither parent with this disorder or the father who had this disorder which earlier was said to be a ‘Stoic personality’ found in men who were with the armed forces, the strict diciplines that they had to follow from cadets positions to senior officers, where it was ingrained into them, that they were MEN who did not cry or show emotion etc.These men today are grandfathers but 45 years ago were dads who continued the military behaviour even at home!
    So, today those who do portray the personalitiy of a narcissisistic, actually are these armed forces trained personel. I am aware that not all Nacissitic men come from this background and in fact they do have these ugly personality traits.I would appreciate more information on siblings,at least one in the family having this personality and how normal personality siblings should interact. After all they have the same DNA and one would want them all to get along in the family.Thanks

  2. Avatar
    Brent Van Eaton

    Good read, my brother and I lived in constant dread. We would probably be “jokers”, always trying to laugh away the pain. This was pointed out to us by a very close childhood friend who’s father was a well respected doctor and obviously could see what we couldn’t at that time…

  3. Avatar
    CH

    The author “hit the nail on the head” in this article. In my case, my husband was the narcissist and I was the one catering to his needs constantly without even realizing or putting a name to this destructive behavior. He always called the shots and I fearfully followed.

  4. Avatar
    Bianca

    I’m confused though – why is this DocuSign to mothers and sons? I’m a daughter and this send to describe my situation with my narcissistic mom perfectly

  5. Avatar
    Rev. Dr. Helen-Bolden Rogers

    DOES IT HELP TO TRY TO UNDO THE MISTAKES WHILE HE WAS YOUNG? IS THERE THERAPY? I FEEL SO TERRIBLY GUILTY. HE HATES ME AND WE ARE SO VERY ESTRANGED. PLUS HIS CHILDREN ARE SUFFERING FROM WHAT I UNWITTINGLY DID WHEN RAISING HIM!

    1. Avatar
      Joe

      Stay away from him.

    2. Avatar
      Fi

      Ignore Joe. I am a psychotherapist working with children and young people from abusive backgrounds. I promise you that there is hope. It seems that you can own the mistakes you made in parenting him. That is such a huge step forward. Apologising and asking him what you can do to repair the relationship may be more powerful than you are aware. It takes time, but repair is possible. I’ve seen some horrendous situations between parents and children change over time to allow them to have a relationship together. It’s a brave thing to admit when you’ve messed up. Control what is within your power, stay present, loving and safe for him/them now. Accept that it is his right to chose how he responds to you. I wish you the best.

    3. Avatar
      Wrescr

      Rev. Dr. Helen-Bolden Rogers,

      Thank you, for showing there is hope to a son of a narcissist mother, who believes it’s his destiny to a live a life of misery, knowing his mother is a narcissist and will never change. Never believe she is wrong. Never believe what she does can be wrong. Even when they are wrong.

      Hearing your words, maybe there is a chance. Probably not, but still.

  6. Avatar
    Lisa

    My mother in law is a narcissist. I explained to my husband that he is allowed to have a life of his own and does not owe his mother anything. The massive guilt trips she used to do to him. That stuff does not work with me. We are not estranged from his mother. She knows we are not going to put up with the bs. You have to define boundaries. If those boundaries are crossed and your well being is at stake, you have every right to cut off contact. The mother in law has waged a full campaign of lies and gossip about me to the other members of her family. But I stand my ground. Narcissists don’t care about your well being. It is all about them. Always remember that.

  7. Avatar
    Paro

    My narcissistic MIL raised a golden child (my husband) & a forgotten son (my BIL). All these match but hubby hates hearing the truth…

  8. Avatar
    rohitatlap

    I think I am lucky to be the forgotten son although from childhood I was the lonewolf who always dreamt of doing something very big in the world, help my father follow his passion when I make lots of money. Unfortunately I had to accept my father was codependent son of my grandmother and heard everything about how she used to treat my father and then my mother after her marriage with my father. After my marriage I was able to see an entirely different slides of perception reeking proofs of narcissism but because from young age I always read self-help books of entrepreneurs and other great minds I was able to luckily mold my thoughts and control them even when my mother wreck havoc on my wife and she’d initially explain what was happening I would turn blind eye because it was a first time for me to face such extreme situation as before marriage my only way out was to ignore or run away and confide in my project works for startup business or in my friends but eventually I was in a position I had to take charge somewhere (I have always had fear of taking leadership position anywhere but I am great at words and moving people through motivation when they hit the bottom in life). Eventually I had to learn see things objectively and not emotionally, then I saw the faces and. infact it was so hard to stand against mother and father but I had to because of my belief that the ones who didn’t do no harm shouldn’t get harmed especially when they have come so far by my side because of their trust in me. For all the events where I have opted to run away and let my mom and wife resolve their issues, I have apologized to her for running away cowardly and not take a stand for what’s right. Since then I’ve always seen things objectively and analyze and deal with the situation. Guys it is not easy for sons/daughters raised by narcissistic parents to come to terms with reality because for being all the time with parents they dont have access to different lenses of perception and only a trustworthy outsider can show the other side of the coin but you too need to have an open mind to see things from different angel objectively and not emotionally neither is the fault of such parents for being narcissistic, they are the vessels carrying such personality, target of situations they weren’t able to control but the situation possessed them and molded them and unless they help themselves nothing can change, what you can do is accept that you were raised by them but don’t let them hijack or take decisions on your behalf ever when you realize, take charge of your own life and others who are with you.

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