It is difficult to deal with a narcissist when you are a grown, independent, fully functioning adult. The children of narcissists have an especially difficult burden, for they lack the knowledge, power, and resources to deal with their narcissistic parents without becoming their victims. Whether cast into the role of Scapegoat or Golden Child, the Narcissist's Child never truly receives that to which all children are entitled: a parent's unconditional love. Start by reading the 46 memories--it all began there.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

She's infantile and petty: Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers Pt 15

 The black text is a shortened version of an original work by Chris, The Harpy’s Child. Original at  Copyright 2007, all rights reserved

[There are two basic types of narcissistic mothers, the ignoring type and the engulfing type. These may—and often do—overlap but most NMs have a basic style and will be primarily one or the other. Some of the following points may not apply to your NM simply because they describe an engulfing characteristic when your NM is an ignoring type—or vice versa. But our mothers are not the only narcissists we will encounter in our lives. In fact, being raised by a narcissistic parent actually sets us up to be prey for more of the self-centred emotional vampires as we go out into the world, from girlfriends who are anything but friends to lovers who love themselves best to husbands who are the mirror image of dear old mom. So, whether something looks like it applies to your NM or not, read and consider it carefully—it may give you the awareness necessary to avoid the predator lurking around the next bend. As ever, my comments are shown in violet. -V]

It's about secret things. The Destructive Narcissistic Parent creates a child that only exists to be an extension of her self. It's about body language. It's about disapproving glances. It's about vocal tone. It's very intimate. And it's very powerful. It's part of who the child is. ~ Chris


15. She's infantile and petty.

“The narcissist remains stuck at the infantile level, displaying many of the characteristics of the omnipotent and invulnerable child. (Kohut, 1977).”  This is the way of the narcissist, although individual narcissists will often find their own unique ways to demonstrate their immaturity. They are classic cases of arrested emotional development, never growing beyond the young child’s belief in his entitlement and thirst for revenge against those who thwart him.

Narcissistic mothers are often simply childish. If you refuse to let her manipulate you into doing something, she will cry that you don't love her because if you loved her you would do as she wanted.

Or, if she is a malignant NM, she will not cry, she will get mad because how dare you deny her anything she wants? She will perceive you as defiant and insubordinate and insolent, even if you are 30 years old and have lived on your own for more than a decade. And, if she is angry enough, she may even decide to do something for revenge—she believes that if you don’t give her that which she believes she is entitled to, she is thereafter entitled to vengeance upon your person…and whatever it was she wanted but you denied her, as well.

If you hurt her feelings she will aggressively whine to you that you'll be sorry when she's dead that you didn't treat her better. These babyish complaints and responses may sound laughable, but the narcissist is dead serious about them.

Or you’ll be sorry when she’s gone or you’ll be sorry when she changes her will or you’ll be sorry when…the theme here is that if you aren’t treating her with kid gloves, something will happen to cause you to regret not treating her like the precious little princess that she believes she is. And that something could be an act of nature (or your overdeveloped sense of responsibility) or it could be the result of her vengeance upon you.

How do you hurt a narcissist’s feelings? Can you really? Or can you really only provoke them, “hurt feelings” being one of the masks they wear to try to convince you to do their bidding, to make you feel sorry for them, to elicit NSupply? I am not convinced that a narcissist’s feelings can be hurt, they keep the vulnerable parts of themselves so well armoured and deeply buried that striking that mark would have to occur only by mere happenstance.

But while whether or not their feelings are truly hurt may be an open question, the certainty of them being provoked by your refusal to give up the goods is not. A narcissist will be peeved anytime she is thwarted, even if it was done for legitimate reasons. And she will play on your insecurities by manipulatively wailing “if you loved me you would…” just like a teen-aged boy trying to get into his girlfriend’s panties…

When you were a child, if you ask her to stop some bad behavior, she would justify it by pointing out something that you did that she feels is comparable, as though the childish behavior of a child is justification for the childish behavior of an adult.

I find it inconceivable that a DoNM child might ask the NM to stop some kind of behaviour, but I suppose with the non-malignant type, it is possible. Asking my NM to stop anything would have resulted in an immediate onslaught of Nrage, starting with accusations of insolence and something like “Just who the hell do you think you are, telling me what to do?”

But the childish “tit for tat” mentality exists in malignant Ns as well. I can remember hearing “well, two can play at that game, missy—suppose I “forget” to buy things for your lunches next week like you “forgot” to hang out the wet laundry?” It is as if a child expressing the natural qualities of childhood, chiefly immaturity, somehow gives the NM permission to behave in the same manner, which is ludicrous.

“Getting even” is a large part of her dealings with you. Anytime you fail to give her the deference, attention or service she feels she deserves, or you thwart her wishes, she has to show you.

If I had to describe my NM in one word, “spiteful” would have to be one of the words I would strong consider. She lived to “show” the other person, no matter how petty the perceived insult. And since I was a captive participant in her little game show, I was “shown” more times than I could count.

It might have been easier to deal with if I had warning…you know, like, “If you leave your bike in the driveway again, I am going to sell it,” or some such thing. I always warned my kids about consequences of their actions (or inactions) and at one point my exceedingly stubborn youngest child had almost no toys or books in his room due to them being taken away as a consequence…but he always knew in advance what item(s) were in jeopardy and what he had to do to keep me from temporarily confiscating them. Not so with NM.

When I was about 7, we had a Collie. They are beautiful, loving animals but their coats are a misery to brush out. I had Collies again as an adult, and I used to take them to a grooming parlour because my arms were simply not strong enough to shed out those heavy coats. But at age 7, I was tasked with brushing out the dog and it was literally impossible for me to do so. NM’s solution to the problem was to punish me for not brushing Duke’s coat by giving him away. “You won’t take care of him so I’m getting rid of him.” This was to punish me for my defiance (not brushing out his coat was defying her orders). This was to show me that she was in command, not me.

She lived for moments of vengeance. When none presented themselves, she created them. She spent years blackening my name to the FOO (Family of Origin) so that by the time she decided to avenge herself on my defiance with regard to keeping a baby she wanted me to abort or adopt out, the whole family rallied behind her, not me. When she took a dislike to one our neighbours, she mounted a campaign against her that ultimately caused the woman to move and I can remember NM muttering “I’ll show her, the old bitch,” or some such noise.

When I was very young, she behaved herself in such a way that she became the scourge of our small town. All of the respectable ladies would avoid her and she was very effectively ostracized. Rather than learn her lesson and begin to behave respectably, however, we moved to Southern California whereupon she embarked upon a campaign to “show those old biddies” that she was even better than they were. We lived in a barely furnished low-income fourplex and she spent every penny she could scrape up making fashionable new clothes for the whole family and hiding them under the bed in suitcases. When the suitcases were full, she badgered my father into buying a new car (a late model used car was all he could qualify for, though) and then she packed us all up and we went back to Oregon on a “vacation” to show off our newfound affluence to the townspeople who predicted she would amount to nothing. That our affluence was a false as her bottle blonde hair, that the truth was that we lived a hand-to-mouth existence in Southern California she would never let on…she never did learn the lesson their shunning was intended to convey. She was a narcissist and all that mattered to her was the image she could convey and the vengeance she believed it wreaked on the people who had ostracised her. In her mind, they thought they were better than she was so she was going to show them that she was better than they were with her fake affluence and sham sophistication.

Narcissists do not live in the reality we do. They create their own and when they bump their noses against a reality that will not yield to their fantasy world, they cry “foul!” and believe themselves entitled to avenge their wounded sensibilities. They are the most immature and selfish people you will ever have the misfortune to meet and the wise among us avoid them like the plague.

Next: Part 16. She's aggressive and shameless..


  1. I'm not at all certain "vindictive" begins to cover the retaliation in which they will engage for real or perceived "slights." Mine would scream at me even as a small child, maybe 4/5, "I'll SHOW YOU!" and honestly, I have no idea then-or now-what I had done to provoke such rage. It was just terrifying. And her 18 yr. post NC until her physical death vendetta was unbridled MN at it's worst: They are hell-bent on revenge. She threatened me repeatedly for years growing up, "You're either WITH me or AGAINST me!" (And of course, "You'll NEVER amount to ANYTHING!")
    That first one was the most honest statement/threat that MN bitch (please excuse my profanity) ever made and she certainly made good on it. Ignore a threat from an MN at your peril.
    "The wise among us avoid them like the plague" and they WILL continue to pursue you to the ends of the universe if they have the financial means to do so. Put nothing past them and take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones proactively. You can't prevent every possible outcome, but you can't afford to sit back and take a "wait and see" attitude either in my experience.

    1. I couldn't find a stronger word than "vindictive" although "vituperative" did cross my mind.

      One of the things that came to me while divorcing my N exH was that he had done his level best to make me feel as stupid as possible--he, therefore, could be smarter by comparison. It took a while for me to realize that he was using the same tools NM had used: I would never amount to anything made HER feel better about having amounted to very little. Mine also engaged in the "with me or against me" dichotomy, along with "my way or the highway," never acknowledging there were other choices: she was the queen of digital thinking while living in an analog world.

  2. OH MY GOODNESS THE FRUSTRATION! It is literally like dealing with a child. The part about asking your NM not to repeat a certain bad behavior. Mine had the nerve to tell me that theres been times when I'VE done "a, b, and c" and she never said anything. Maybe so, OR maybe the fact the i'm 15 YEARS OLD and shes a GROWN WOMAN, and I shouldnt have to tell her not to reveal parts of her sex life to me. Ugh sometimes I wish she would just grow up!

    1. Sadly, Bree, she probably never will. You, however, don't let her or your resentment of her behaviour lead you astray. You seem to have a strong inner core and a lot of resilience, so try to see this as "dues" you have to pay in order to get to the point where you can launch yourself into the world on your own. Learn lessons from not to behave and what constitutes narcissistic behaviour so you don't end up getting involved with narcissistic men (we are at grave risk for that). Let it give you an edge rather than tainting your future. Just a couple of more years and you are free...



  3. Hi everyone, i have a mother, i never ever considered that monster as my mother ever in my life. My dad was very handsome man, my mother was a ugly grown up child, she is shameless acts very childish, she dresses in pink pajama acts like a clutz. She is very childish and immature. She doesn't act childish. She is very childish. When i ignore her questions she keeps on asking it, if i don't answer her questions she comes to my room opens the door, her head comes out asking her question, and i answer it. My dad was a very good handsome he treated everyone kindly, he never treated anyone like a monster. Why did she have to appear into my dad's life? I am very ugly because of her.

  4. My moms the same way, she's mean and childish. Likes to rub things in ur face and put you down. I hate her & get this I'm an only child.

  5. Many things in your posts are reminding me about several things I have forgotten, which is very good because I am keeping a list of things that I think of that I need to write about. You mentioned above about how N's are petty and nasty. I have two daughters, ages 9 and 11. They don't like their grandmother for more reasons than I can count. She's hurt them in several ways and I am trying to stay LC with her for my girls' sakes, but my husband doesn't quite understand how dangerous she really is, although he should.

    Anyway, currently I refuse to allow her to see them without another adult present. I don't want her communicating with them without one, because she always says something inappropriate or mean or whatever. When my girls tell me what she said and MIL gets confronted, she then she lies about it ever happening. And then my enmeshed, co-dependent husband believes her or believes that the girls didn't "understand what she said" or didn't "repeat the story right." Always making up excuses for her. MIL, in the last few weeks has either forgotten the no contact thing, or is going to push it and try and communicate with them anyway. She waits until we aren't around to do this so I know she knows she's not supposed to. She's always trying to get away with stuff she knows she shouldn't do. She lives across the street unfortunately.

    A few days ago my daughter was in the driveway getting ready to go into the house when my MIL pulled into and stopped at the end of her own driveway and began yelling/talking to my daughter. My daughter immediately wanted to get away from her and didn't want to talk to her. She looked at her grandmother acknowledged her, waved hello then started walking into the house. In the meantime that wasn't good enough for my MIL so she continued yelling stupid shit at her "How was your trip, how are you?" trying like hell to get Cora to engage. Cora did not want to be rude but did not want to talk to her so, stopped, waked, hesitated, etc., but eventually didn't not answer her and went into the house. Later that day, MIL called my husband bitching and complaining that my daughter wasn't "civil" to her. CIVIL? This woman has done so many horrible things to them it's a joke. She doesn't know what civil is. My husband looks at me and says "she's their grandmother and our daughter must be civil to her." I cannot get it through his head that MIL just wants control. She wants to force our daughter to speak to her even though she doesn't want to. That's cruel. What my husband doesn't know, is that a friend of the family was standing in our garage and heard the entire exchange. After our daughter waved and tried to walk away, what was making her hesitate was the shrieking of grandma with the following language "Cora!!!! Cora!!!! Listen to me!!!! Cora!!! Cora!!! DON'T YOU DARE IGNORE ME! DON'T YOU DARE WALK AWAY FROM ME!" That was the full story, the story of the Grandma trying to control her scared grand daughter and not giving a shit why she's scared of her, but she'll be god damned if she's going to be ignored. This is the woman who cannot offer civility herself, but demands it. She didn't tell my husband about any of that shrieking abuse, but you can bet I will when the opportunity arises again. Too bad for MIL that our family friend encouraged Cora to ignore MIL and get in the house. MIL had no idea she was being heard and that it would get back to us. So much bullshit we are expected to believe but it's almost always something bad that MIL has done. Auuugh. She exhausts me.

  6. Okay, so get this. My mom does things just to get back at my sister and I. For example, today my mom refused to let me go to get something to eat because there was a single dirty dish in the sink. So I washed the dish and went back upstairs because even then, she woudn't let me get anything. So as I'm upstairs reading, I hear her downstairs calling a bunch of her friends telling them that I was 'getting out of hand' and how I 'smashed the plate on the ground'. Now, all of her friends think I'm insane or something, and won't even let me talk to their kids, because they feel that I am usafe or something. She always does this type of stuff, she does something just to be petty and then goes and tells her friends something completly wrong just to victimize herself. I don't know what to do, and I can't leave, because my clostest family member is in Philadelphia and I don't want to leave where I currently am. I don't know why, but for some reason I feel trapped.

  7. Mine thinks by not talking to me I will run back to her and become her 'bitch'. But it's a relief as I feel like I'm healing without her constant calls for attention or demands and gossip.
    She pretends she never hurt me emotionally but it's what she lives for. When I was a child she laughed as I cried and made friends with the people who bullied me. Her cruelty doesn't affect me anymore, I am one step ahead she gets surprised and frustrated when I don't yield to threats and jibes. The thing is I'm immune to it and I don't care anymore, she never was a proper mother and never will be. Time to look after me!


I don't publish rudeness, so please keep your comments respectful, not only to me, but to those who comment as well. We are not all at the same point in our recovery.

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