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 which 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 than 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 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.