Narcissistic parents and relation to procrastination
I came across this Psychology Today article and it applies to me for sure. Though my mother has shown love in her own way and means well ... still a major lack of empathy there due to severe denial and possibly delusion. The path to hell is paved with good intentions in my family of origin.
I used to be an overachiever but since my late 30s into my current 40s I've gone the opposite route with my avoidance and procrastination, being a self-saboteur and living in poverty. I always knew my father was a narcissist, but never realized my mother was too -- key identifier: lack of empathy for me. (Parents currently are teaching me a lesson by pulling away rent help, while I face possible eviction).
tend to throw around the descriptor "narcissist" when we really mean
"selfish," but the term can properly refer to someone who consistently exhibits narcissistic traits as well as to someone with a full-blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
The APA estimates that 1.5 million American women are "official"
narcissists, meaning millions more can be found on the lower end of that
McBride, Ph.D., has spent more than 20 years studying and treating
women who grew up with narcissistic moms. I interviewed her about her
new book, Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing The Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. Here's an edited version of our conversation:
What are the hallmarks of maternal narcissism?
An inability to give love to, and show empathy toward, the child.
How would you describe the typical husband of such a mother?
spouse has to revolve around her, often, in order to stay in the
relationship. He may practically worship her. That means he may never
help or protect the child who is being ignored. Some fathers I've talked
to realize the damage being done to their child, but feel that they
can't do anything about it. Others seem to not be aware.
You found two typical patterns of behavior in daughters of narcissistic mothers.
There's the high achieving daughter—I call her Mary Marvel—who appears
to be perfect in all she does. One of the main messages that gets
internalized when your mother is narcissistic is, "You are valued for
what you do and not for who you are." So Mary Marvel is constantly
trying to prove to herself that she does have worth, by mastering
The other kind of daughter is a rebel. She's an under-achiever who self-sabotages. She may end up on welfare or addicted to drugs
or alcohol. It's interesting, the two types look very different on the
outside, but their internal landscape is similar. The self-saboteur also
thinks she's not good enough, but has given up on disproving it.
What determines which way a daughter goes?
was really interested in this question, especially since my sister and I
fit this pattern— where I'm the "Mary Marvel." It's not entirely clear,
but it seems that in the case of the over-achiever, she had someone in
her life—maybe a grandmother—who gave her unconditional love.
What typically happens to these daughters in their own romantic relationships?
daughters learn a distorted view of love. They learn that love is about
"what I can do for you and what you can do for me." They may be overly
dependent on their partners, or choose people who are entirely dependent
on them. A healthy relationship, meanwhile, is based on the back and
forth of interdependency.
How can an adult daughter "recover" from narcissistic mothering?
the book I outline a 5-step program. The first part is accepting that
you had a mother that didn't love you. This is very hard for some women
to acknowledge, especially because daughters in these families were not
taught to deal with their feelings.
Then the daughter must
separate psychologically from her mother. Part of that is tapping into
who she is and figuring out who she wants to be. It's also important to
end the legacy, to prevent the next generation from suffering in the
How can these women avoid becoming just like their mothers, then?
It's really about internal changes, and changing how they interact with other people.
can learn how to be empathetic with your children. That doesn't mean
loving "my kid the ballerina" or "my kid the soccer player," but really
tuning into who your children are as people. And it's not about praising
them just to praise them. That leads children to feel entitled, which
is a narcissistic trait.
If these women treat their mothers differently, will the mothers react differently?
a daughter starts setting boundaries in the beginning of this process,
the mother's bad behavior may in fact escalate. That's why I often
recommend a temporary separation.
The mothers may not change. I
wouldn't want to give daughters hope that they will. But once a daughter
understands her mother's narcissism, her own anger and resentment will fade. She can approach her mother in a loving way, and not as a victim.
really about accepting your mother's limitations. One of the women on
my online forum described her old mentality toward her mother as
something like this, "It's like my mom is colorblind, and I keep asking
her to appreciate a rainbow."
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