Growing up in a nurturing and supportive environment is crucial for healthy self-development. However, for daughters of narcissistic mothers, this fundamental need often remains unmet. The dynamic between a narcissistic mother and her daughter can have profound and lasting effects on the daughter's self-relationship. In this Journal post, we'll explore the intricacies of this relationship dynamic, its psychological implications, and strategies for healing and self-restoration.

Understanding Narcissistic Mothers

Narcissistic personality disorder is characterised by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. Narcissistic mothers exhibit these traits in their interactions with their children, often prioritising their own needs and desires over their child’s emotional well-being. They may be manipulative, emotionally unavailable, and critical, creating an environment devoid of warmth and validation.

Impact on Daughters

The impact of growing up with a narcissistic mother can be profound and multifaceted, particularly on the daughter’s relationship with herself. Here are some ways in which daughters of narcissistic mothers may be affected:

Low Self-Esteem:

Constant criticism and invalidation from the mother can be incredibly damaging to a daughter’s self-esteem. When a mother consistently belittles or dismisses her daughter’s thoughts, feelings, or accomplishments, the daughter internalises these messages and begins to believe that she is inherently flawed or unworthy of love. This can manifest in a pervasive sense of inadequacy and a persistent fear of rejection or abandonment. Daughters of narcissistic mothers may find themselves constantly seeking external validation in an attempt to compensate for the lack of validation they received from their mother. They may struggle to believe in their own worthiness and may shy away from pursuing their goals or dreams for fear of failure or judgment.

Identity Confusion:

Growing up with a narcissistic mother often means that a daughter’s sense of self is overshadowed by her mother’s needs and desires. From a young age, daughters may be expected to conform to their mother’s expectations and preferences, leaving little room for the development of their own unique identity. As a result, daughters may struggle to differentiate themselves from their mother and may feel uncertain about who they truly are. They may find themselves constantly seeking external validation and approval, unable to trust their own instincts or preferences. This can lead to feelings of confusion, insecurity, and a lack of direction in life.

Boundry Issues

Narcissistic mothers often have a difficult time respecting their children’s boundaries, viewing them as extensions of themselves rather than autonomous individuals. As a result, daughters may grow up with a blurred sense of personal boundaries and may struggle to assert themselves in relationships. They may feel guilty or ashamed for setting boundaries or expressing their needs, fearing that they will be met with anger or rejection. This can lead to a pattern of people-pleasing behavior, as daughters prioritise the needs of others over their own well-being in an attempt to avoid conflict or disapproval.

Emotional Dysregulation:

Living in an emotionally volatile environment can take a toll on a daughter’s emotional well-being. Narcissistic mothers may alternate between love bombing and devaluation, leaving their daughters feeling confused, anxious, and emotionally unstable. Daughters may struggle to regulate their emotions, swinging between extremes of anger, sadness, and numbness. This can manifest in symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, as daughters grapple with the lasting effects of their upbringing on their psychological functioning.


Narcissistic mothers often demand perfection from their children, setting impossibly high standards and expecting nothing less than excellence. Daughters may internalise these expectations and develop a fear of failure or rejection if they fall short of perfection. They may become perfectionists themselves, striving tirelessly to meet their mother’s impossible standards in an attempt to win her approval and love. This relentless pursuit of perfection can be exhausting and self-destructive, leading to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and burnout.

The impact of growing up with a narcissistic mother on a daughter’s self-relationship is profound and far-reaching. From low self-esteem and identity confusion to boundary issues, emotional dysregulation, and perfectionism, daughters of narcissistic mothers face a myriad of challenges as they navigate the aftermath of their upbringing. However, with awareness, support, and a commitment to self-healing, daughters can begin to reclaim their sense of self and cultivate a healthier, more compassionate relationship with themselves.

Healing and Self-Restoration:

Healing from the wounds inflicted by a narcissistic mother is a complex and challenging journey, but it is possible. Here are some strategies that daughters of narcissistic mothers can employ to cultivate a healthier self-relationship:

  1. Seek Therapy: Therapy can provide a safe space for daughters to explore their experiences, process their emotions, and develop coping strategies for dealing with the aftermath of narcissistic abuse.
  2. Set Boundaries: Learning to set and enforce healthy boundaries is essential for daughters of narcissistic mothers. This may involve limiting contact with the mother or establishing clear boundaries around what behavior is acceptable.
  3. Practice Self-Compassion: Cultivating self-compassion is crucial for healing from the wounds of narcissistic abuse. Daughters must learn to treat themselves with kindness and understanding, recognising that they are deserving of love and acceptance.
  4. Explore Identity: Taking the time to explore and define one’s own identity outside of the mother’s influence is an important part of the healing process. This may involve pursuing hobbies, interests, and relationships that bring joy and fulfillment.
  5. Connect with Supportive Others: Building a support network of friends, family members, or support groups who understand and validate their experiences can be incredibly healing for daughters of narcissistic mothers.

The impact of growing up with a narcissistic mother can have far-reaching effects on a daughter’s self-relationship, leading to issues such as low self-esteem, identity confusion, and boundary issues. However, with time, effort, and support, daughters can heal from the wounds of narcissistic abuse and cultivate a healthier, more compassionate relationship with themselves. Remember, healing is a journey, and every step taken towards self-restoration is a triumph worth celebrating.