How do you deal with a narcissistic mother?

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I am 64 and my mother is 82-I recently moved to the area she lives in. She lives by herself in a retirement community. She is selfish, controling and is alway lying. Now she is always been this way but getting worse. I am trying to help her but when I do -she says I need to mind my own business. If I cant go take her someplace she pitches a fit like a 5 year. Please someone give me some advice. I have seen therapists in the past and all told me I needed to divorce her. Not sure I can because of guilt and also thinking about my dad-who died four years ago-he loved her even though she was awful to him. Please what should I do

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Grandma, the best way to deal with a dysfunctional parent is how you would deal with a neighbor's barking dog. First, put up a fence to keep it from trespassing and crapping on your property. This also keeps it from biting you. You might try being nice to it, but you choose how much energy to put into that before ignoring the dog becomes your best option. On the one hand, your mother built the bed you can now make her lie in. On the other hand, most dysfunctional people had their dysfunctions abused into them. Compassion for her is not unjustified, but martyrdom is. Give your mother the time, support and affection you can afford, and take control of how you react to how she reacts. Reward good behavior, ignore counterattack after protecting yourself. Find the tools to support yourself. Do your best and let that be good enough. Good Luck. God Bless You.
Why is it that aging mother's seem to be so difficult with their families? playagrandma, my mother also has a personality disorder (schizoid personality). She has always been abusive, distrustful, paranoid and most importantly...she is never wrong. When I was in my twenties, I realized my mother would never love or accept me. I was her personal property to treat as she wanted for her own needs. That was a turning point for me where I was able to disengage from her on an emotional basis. This is not the same as divorcing her but it protects you from being hurt because you can now love yourself and accept yourself. Disengaging emotionally from her means you no longer need her to love you. When you reach that point, dealing with her is so much easier. You will have to stand up for yourself, set boundaries and stick to it. I also hold her accountable for the things she says and does. She does not hurt me anymore because I have no emotional attachment, I only do what I have to do to provide for her care and see that she can be independent. It takes practice doing this but it works. My sister is only now learning how to do this with out mother. My sister has spent her 59 years enabling our mother's behavior and she has suffered for it because she wanted to be loved by our mother. Believe me, my mother is incapable of living anyone. People with personality disorders manipulate others for their own needs. They can not empathize or feel anything for another person because their world is all about themselves. I may sound harsh but for you to persevere and protect your emotional well being. Emotionally detaching requires that you change many of your attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. Detaching is not about enabling your abuser; it’s about disarming your abuser by eradicating her or his ability to hurt you. There is a great many books and articles out on this subject. God Bless you and I hope you find peace in all that is going on around you.
Why do we with a narcissistic parent put up with the verbal and psychological abuse that we would divorce such a spouse for. Because we were trained to and they planted those buttons in us for their emotional blackmail in us long ago so that they could continually hoover us into their drama using fear of making them mad, obligation to their needs alone, and guilt if we even have an idea, feeling or want a life or our own.
I have a friend who is dedicating her to an extremely selfish and greedy mother. My friend does not have a life at all. She works all day, goes home to a screaming,selfish mother, who demands all of her. My friend says that her mother ran her father to an early grave, being the type of person she was. As I tell her, and she seems to be getting it, STEP AWAY. Your mother seems to be in good hands. It isn't as if you are deserting her. You would not allow a friend to abuse you. Why allow your mother these privileges. Abuse is abuse no matter who it comes from. Incorporating this stress will only weigh heavily on you. You can always keep an eye on her to make certain that she is being treated well. Maybe you need to do as she says, and "mind your own business." See how that works out for her.
The other day I saw "Now Voyager"with Betty Davis...and even though I had seen it before...since my mother died, I have been able to see a lot more clearly and with a less emotional response.

My mamma was for sure a Narcissist...and unfortunately raised my brothers with a lot of defense mechanisms...so they are both bullies and have continued her work of ripping into me whenever they get a chance. Their wives mock and ridicule me and my children with a spite that makes the blood grow cold. They have no idea how crewel they are...for they are driven by an internal insecurity and arrogance which just clouds any love there may be to and from them.

There seems to be an epidemic of these types of late. It also is interesting that my mamma was a religious pontificate, both my brothers are atheists and their wives also. They ridicule my faith and my belief in God.

My therapist...yes I have to have one in order to deal with the crazy people in my world....suggests I avoid as much interaction as possible with them and to find myself a new "family" He pointed out that I may love them for they are my relatives and I have a history with them...but I do not have to like them, nor do I have to keep trying to show them that I am loveable. It is because they see me confident that they abuse me at every turn. It is because I have internal peace and enjoy the little things that they taunt me....My very being gets on their last nerve...the only way to get into their world is to become as toxic as they are...To forgive them for they know not what they do is the only way to keep them in my world...

I must also learn to detach with love...and leave Karma to do the rest. Keeping at them to get them to love me is a waste of time and life. They are in a dark cave and do not want my light...their eyes would not allow them to see..for they live in darkness.

It truly is sad that mamma passed on her ability to control and demean and bully on to them...and they willingly have adopted it as a better way to live. They see kindness as a weakness and gentle forgiveness as a personal failure. They can't forgive anyone anything and hold on to their self righteous indignation over the slightest thing...it is impossible to have fun for long with such as these...no matter how charming they are and how apparently manipulative they can be....after a while the snake always comes in for the kill.

I made a collage of this called.."Everyone I love is charming"...for they fool everyone with the appearance of love but the sting of hate, jealousy and revenge once they get close.

My younger brother, who I thought was one who "flew over the coo coos nest" became so enraged over a comment I made to a friend ....so enraged was he that he threatened me and refuses to make any amends, even though I have apologized, though it truly is he that owes me an apology, he invests in his anger so he can feel justified in squandering my portion of the profits from the sale of my mammas house. I have no pension, no income and am disabled now, after a lifetime of giving to the family. He is very wealthy and has a powerful position, they lack for nothing financially, yet they are not happy...for if they were they could not enjoy hurting others so.

He said.."Whatever happens from this point on you brought on yourself." These words were the exact same from my mom when she would find insidious and crewel ways to punish me when I was a child and so hungry for acceptance.

His cruelty was hidden till after my mom died. He needed me to be her caretaker so he manipulated me with his charm and pretended to respect me..The moment she died and I asked for his help with all the paperwork and financial burdens he took over, pushed me aside and now is stealing the little left me.

This he did while I was under psychiatric care from a breakdown. So you see....there is an insidiousness not virtue in toxic selfishness...especially when God is left out. Dickens wrote about such people in his novels....and they walk among us for sure.


I know exactly what you are saying and I can empathize totally! I have found, as my three other siblings have found helpful, is to not engage with her rants. It does no good to argue, as in her mind, she feels she is right and deserves the attention (which is what individuals who are narcissists want). It won't matter how hard you try to please or how much you spend or how much you give her. She will NEVER be satisfied no matter how old they get. That is a narcissist! It's a very, very, difficult personality to deal with. She's had it for years, probably her whole life, as my own mother has, and it will not improve. You have to be the one to take the bull by the horns (or the narcissist in this case) and not allow yourself to be bullied, berated, or discounted. You are a good and kind-hearted person who has given your whole life up(almost!) to her, as your dad did. What good did it do your dad?

You need self-care and NOT feel guilty about it! Get a good therapist to help you recognize your self worth. This has been your mother's script in this life, as it has been my own mother's. It is not your job to make someone happy, especially someone who has never appreciated the obvious. My mother created this for herself and I've reached a point, as my other sibs have, where we are not going to take ownership of her behavior. We love her and will give her what will benefit her. If she does not like it, no matter-- we've done our best and move forward with our heads high. Mind you, this took some time for us.

When our own 86 year old mother launches into her childish behavior (which she's done since I can remember...) we now simply say, "Mom, I can't stay just now and I'm leaving (or I'm going to hang up the phone) . I'm not going to listen to this inappropriate behavior. Perhaps we'll talk later when you calm down." Then leave abruptly or hang up. My mom has followed me right out the door continuing to rant and holler negative remarks, and it does make us feel lousy, but follow-through with either leaving or hanging up. I later check up on her and if she does it again, I end it. Sometimes there is carry-over, sometimes not as quickly, but you cannot engage with her, as it fuels the behavior. It has surprised her, certainly.

It is not okay to allow yourself to be a walking mat, even though this person is your mother and you care about her--and even if your dad allowed it. That was your dad's issue and their marriage. Falling into her trap of rants and demands will wear you out physically and emotionally, fast! You have to act as the parent and hang tough, girl!

My mom will always continue her behavior, but I am not going to choose to listen and engage with her any longer--it's OKAY to do so. I'm finding I have more energy to be a better caregiver, and I like myself a whole lot more. It's not easy, but necessary and the guilt subsides when you become stronger. Glad to hear you're on the path toward healing. Life is messy, huh? Take it from a 'NOT washed up woman' (golfgirls post) with TWO wonderfully capable children! Be strong and hugs to all!!
There are levels of difficulty for co/caring for a dependant person and each one is different to the next. So many different factors come into play to create its own unique pattern.
Majority of care-giving comes from family members, who take this difficult task on-board without being armed with first-aid knowledge, psychology understanding, emotional & physcal handling training, or a degree in medicine. They just step up and do the best they can with what they have.
Both independant living co-care and live-in care come with their separate set of problem areas. It's like anything. You can try to explain something to someone till your blue in the face, but that person can never understand until they themselves have walked in that person's shoes for a bit. Only then, can one truly empathise with that person's feelings.
A lot of times there are never any easy-step solutions to care-giving, apart from simply wiping your hands of it all and walking away. Every case is different and are compounded with physical, mental &/or emotional strains.
NM's are already emotionally damaged goods....add anything else into the pot and suddenly one has a broiling pot of steamy mush, instead of a palettable stew.
It's one thing to know one needs to remain calm and composed when dealing with these frustrating types, but quite another to keep inventing new coping skills to not allow them to affect you.
All frustration requires a healthy outlet, which is often difficult to source when cooped up with the source of frustration 24/7. Even more difficult when you have no avenue of escaping for that well-earned breather. I'm lucky in that respect. I can get in the car and drive home and shut it all down, but many can't with live-in care. It doesn't go away and there's little escape unless you're blessed with a team of reliable family members.
This thread is a terrific source for venting built-up frustration when one cannot find another satisfying source of release. It provides a healthy outlet for those sufferers who know the 'deal', but just need for someone, somewhere to hear them. They are already self-taught experts in the 'how to' manual and could probably write their own Technical Tips Manual. That's not what they need here. What they want here is to connect with others who are going through similar frustrations. Those who can read, understand and not judge what they should, or should not be doing, but someone who can say " awww..so sorry you're having a bad day ~Hug~".
It's not that they come here because they are 'martyr junkies' and need another quick-fix to pile on top of their huge heap of NM put-downs. At least for me, NO! I am always one to take on constructive criticism if I feel it can lighten my load. The last thing we need is for someone to tell us we're doing it all wrong, or are 'victims' of our own making. Telling me I'm being a victim is like a cold-hearted slap in the face. All that does for me is to confirm that this 'speaker' has not an ounce of understanding of what another has whole-heartedly, and without exception, taken on.
We don't abandon our loved ones and shurk off a duty-of-care. We are totally aware of what a huge task we've given ourselves. Not because we have an inferiority complex of wanting to be 'needed', but because no one else puts their hand up for the job. I'm sure there is the odd case of wanting to be needed, but I think most of us are pretty good at spotting these types...and I don't see any here!
I know if I dug deep enough, I could find that cold dark spot within me to 'shrug & walk away' without turning to look back. At times I even wish it were more prominant within my make-up, trust me. Without the caring souls in this world, there would be no nurses, social workers, aids or caregivers. They aren't martyrs. They are genuine, caring people who volunteer to step up and look after YOU in your old age. So don't be so quick to dismiss these types and write them off to 'another victim' or 'lost causes'.

Footnote:-
Last night my good-hearted partner decided he would give me a break and drop over his own home-cooked fish n chip meal for my NM. The thoughtful deed turned into a nightmare for him as he locked horns with dearest NM whose eyes are blind, ears are deaf and tongue is a cutting sword. He lobbed in with raging eyes and steam pouring from his collar and I thought "ohooooo!" Now he fully understands my NM ranting and I reckon NM has just crossed off another recruit to her help-list and so have I :-(. On the way out the door she yelled to him an assertive demand to send over her daughter tomorrow, which has just earned her another non-visit for the day from me. According to my partner, this weak, pain-racked, bed-ridden, helpless little old lady, turned into an upright, arm-waving (claiming that her once-broken-arm is useless), tongue-stinging monster ready to pounce and tear his throat out. I rarely see my partner upset, but it took 4 beers to begin to calm him down.

So understand that people like us are NOT dealing with the 'ordinary'. Don't assume there is a logical solution of 'one fits all'. And above all, we are intelligent people who can also be easily insulted by subtle hints of being 'whiners'.

Thanks & Cheers

playagrandma, the characteristics of a person's personality often intensifies as they get older like you are seeing with your narcissistic mother.

What are you feeling guilty over? It sounds like your mother is very effective at using emotional blackmail on you which comes in the package of F.O.G. fear, obligation and guilt.

Your mother sounds like she is functioning fine in her retirement community as a narcissistic self and you can't force her to accept her help as long as she is considered competent.

If you are hoping for her to change and become the mother that it sounds like you never had, then you can put that idea aside. You didn't make her how she is. You can't control her. Nor can you fix her and make her better. All you can really do is chose a healthy path for yourself (boundaries) and stay on that path no matter what she does or does not do.

While I am sure that I would not use the word divorce, I would say you need to emotionally detach from your mother and show her love in terms of making sure she is safe and when she needs more help is taken care of. I would avoid bringing her home to live with you. That would be a horrible experience.

There is a thread "The Caregiver & Dysfunctional Families: How are you doing?" where you can find several people dealing with narcissistic parents.

Well, my take on it is....
For all that my mother has or hasn't done. For all that she is or isn't in my eyes, I am alive because she gave birth to me. I have got to be thankful for that, right?
So although the card is never fitting in its wording, I take the plunge and buy one anyway, because no matter what it says, the point is that I am not playing the same game as her..intentional or not.
When she's gone and there's no more cards to buy, at least I can feel okay that I didn't fall into the same trap and live with my choices. So I swallow my hurt and pride and go for it. Make yourself feel good and pick something outrageously ridiculous, regardless of what it says or doesn't say. Afterall, its one day in the year and you know how you feel for the rest of the year anyway. It's just a card.
thank you so much and of course deep down, I knew what I need to know. I am the oldest of four but have lived away from all the family for many many years. The other four have been dealing with her for years but of course she has become worse since our father passed away. They have boundries and they do not step away from those boundries. Its looking like the oldest needs to take some valuable lessons from the others. Thank you

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