In this post, we discuss narcissistic mothers and we give you tips on how to write about them.
To celebrate Mother’s Day, I wrote about the 15 most memorable mothers from the books I’ve read. Some of the them were caring, some were psychotic, and others were tragic.
What is a narcissistic mother?
Mark Banschick wrote a superb article in Psychology Today, where he says, ‘She’s a winner, at least in public. She’s the woman everyone admires—she’s a judge, lawyer, doctor, or teacher. She’s on the PTA or is the power behind your church or synagogue. She smoothly balances being socially nimble, while contributing to the community in a way that leaves others in awe. In their eyes, she’s superwoman.
Most people don’t know that this superwoman has a secret. Like everyone in this world, she has a flaw. No one is the epitome of perfection, and in mom’s case, the issue is narcissism.
The outside world may embrace her, but you know mom as self-centred, brittle, easily angered and ‘always right’. She may be loved by her friends and colleagues, but they don’t know the mom you know. You get maternal love now and then, but it’s unpredictable and punctuated by control, anger and a need to walk on eggshells.’
12 Ways To Tell If You Have A Narcissistic Mother (& Tips For Writing About One)
- An apology is not enough for her and you never know how to please her.
- She accuses you of taking her for granted, always telling you how much she does for you and how you do not appreciate her as a mother. As Mignon McLaughlin says, ‘The only mothers it is safe to forget on Mother’s Day are the good ones.’
- She finds fault with you. You feel inadequate and lack self-confidence. She instils self-doubt in everything that you do.
- She is controlling at home. She demeans and criticises you.
- She takes offence easily.
- She is brilliant at manipulating you. The term passive-aggressive was invented for her.
- She is opinionated, and condemns others in private, while pretending to be more forgiving of them in public. She is friendly and even talks to those people she secretly despises. She saves her criticism and opinions of them for home.
- She makes you anxious.
- She makes you feel like a failure if you do not do what she wants.
- She needs to look good in public. Do not even consider embarrassing her or contradicting her.
- She will compare you, unfavourably, to somebody who is a good child in her eyes.
- The world revolves around her. She has to be the centre of attention always. She needs to be adored and her needs taken care of and you are responsible for making sure this happens.
Writing Tip: Use as many of these 12 points as you can to show how a narcissistic mother behaves.
Follow this link to find out more about the characteristics of a narcissistic mother and the effects they have on their children.
9 Famous Narcissistic Mothers
- Ingrid Magnussen from White Oleander by Janet Fitch
- Olive Kitteridge from Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
- Joan Crawford from Mommie Dearest by Christina Crawford (Please note this is a memoir rather than fiction.)
- Aurora Greenway from Terms of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
- Charlotte Phelan from The Help by Kathryn Stockett
- Gertrude Morel from Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
- Violet Weston from August: Osage County, a play by Tracy Letts
- Emma Funnell from The House of Women by Catherine Cookson
- Miranda Priestley from The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
Do you have any that you can add to this list?
If you enjoyed this, read The 15 Most Memorable Mothers in Literature
[TOP TIP: Use our Character Creation Kit to help you create great characters for your stories.]
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