Why An "Is My Mother A Narcissist" Quiz May Not Be Helpful

Updated January 20, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

Numerous credible online quizzes have proven helpful to many people. The Enneagram and Myers-Briggs tests, for instance, may provide guidance and insight for individuals looking for help with self-discovery, self-mastery, or career direction. Many online quizzes, however, can be harmful. Self-diagnosis tests have the potential to exacerbate the feelings of people who may be worried about the state of their physical health. Unqualified psychological tests may give the inaccurate impression that individuals possess disabilities, disorders, or mental health conditions they do not actually have.

Do You Have A Narcissistic Parent?

Some of the more problematic online quizzes may be those involving narcissism. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is more than simply having narcissistic traits. It is a serious mental health disorder that can only be diagnosed by a medical professional. A simple online quiz is not enough to quantify and contain the complexity that resides within narcissistic personality disorder—nor can it adequately and accurately describe or assess the effects narcissistic personality disorder can have on the children who grew up with a mother who has NPD.

What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder is a personality disorder characterized by several traits. For someone to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, they must exhibit five or more of the following traits.

  • Preoccupation with success, power, beauty, or love
  • An inflated sense of importance
  • Lack of empathy or consideration for others
  • Conceited conduct and attitude
  • A need for disproportionate admiration
  • Taking advantage of others to achieve personal goals
  • Feelings of entitlement
  • Belief that they are special and showing willingness to associate only with those similar
  • Envy of others and believing others are envious of them

Narcissism often does not show up until adolescence or later but usually has roots in childhood trauma and neglect. Children who grow up in unstable homes may reach adolescence or adulthood feeling as though they need to compensate for feelings of inadequacy or abandonment and start to exhibit symptoms of NPD.

There are varying degrees of NPD, but the most prominent features include entitlement; a constant need for attention, praise, and validation; exploiting others (seemingly without remorse); and belittling or degrading language when speaking to others. Entitlement and the need for praise are common ways of maintaining a sense of self-importance, while exploiting and belittling others can be a way of keeping themselves aloft while putting others down.

Narcissistic personality disorder is not something that can be diagnosed via an online quiz. Only a medical professional can properly diagnose narcissistic personality disorder and provide the proper treatment. NPD is a mental health condition that requires legitimate intervention, which can include certain types of therapy and pharmaceutical intervention, which only a licensed medical professional can provide. Despite many of the symptoms associated with NPD suggesting solidified personality traits, NPD is certainly treatable, and it is a condition that can be managed or overcome.

Narcissistic Parents

Narcissism is a disorder that can manifest in families. Because so many of the traits associated with the disorder are readily observed and imitated, children of narcissistic parents may be more prone to developing narcissistic traits or narcissistic personality disorder. Children whose parents constantly seem to see themselves as being “above the law" (real or imagined laws), set apart from the masses, and deserving of unwarranted praise, attention, and reward may be at greater risk to demonstrate these attributes themselves, as this is the example they see modeled for them in their most significant relationships.

Narcissistic parents may be neglectful and abusive, as they may be too self-focused and disconnected from others to adequately provide for a child's emotional needs. A child with a narcissistic parent might not have the unconditional love, support, and care of their parent or caregiver.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any kind of abuse, it’s important to seek help right away. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available to provide support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can be reached online or by calling 800.799.SAFE (7233).

Signs Of A Narcissistic Parent

The signs of a narcissistic parent can vary. In some parents, narcissism may manifest in deep depression and intense insecurity. In others, narcissism is demonstrated through emotional distance, where parents are present but never actually seem to be with their children. In others, parents may be cold and calculating and may use their children as indicators of their own successes or failures, rather than treating them like independent people. No matter the exact expression of NPD, some traits seem to show themselves consistently in narcissistic parents. These include:

  • Triangulating Children

Many narcissistic parents pit their children against each other, treating one child (or multiple children) as though they are wonderful for being the spitting image of the parent while mocking or deriding another child or children for not living up to the same expectations. Keeping siblings at odds this way allows the narcissistic parent to remain at the forefront of their children's love and attention. It mitigates the risk of children banding together to form support, encouragement, and, potentially, a means of escaping the parent and their behaviors.

  • Controlling Behavior

A good deal of insecurity often drives narcissists to attempt to control as much as possible. This often will extend to their children. Parents with NPD may try to control everything about their children, including how they cut or style their hair, clothes, hobbies, friends, and finances. This way, parents can remain in control, keep up appearances, and make sure that their children maintain some dependence on the relationship with their parents, despite their behaviors towards them.

  • A Fixation On Appearances

Narcissists are often lovers of appearances. Many people with NPD get into large amounts of debt, as they feel they must have the latest in everything, from tech gadgets to homes to cars. Many narcissistic parents may dress themselves in high-quality, attractive attire, though they may not put as much thought or effort into their children's clothing. They are also likely to purchase brand-name items whenever possible.

Overcoming The Effects Of Narcissism

Overcoming the effects of narcissism may not always be simple. Narcissism in a family can create a lot of emotional distress for an individual, whether through emotional neglect, emotional abuse, or a constant vacillation between excessive praise and criticism.

Because narcissism can instill a sense of instability in children, engaging in the form of self-administered healing called "re-parenting" may be useful for some individuals. The idea of re-parenting is to essentially replace a parent’s unhealthy behaviors and attitudes with your own nurturing, comfort, and love. 

Do You Have A Narcissistic Parent?

Therapy may also be helpful when trying to overcome narcissism in a family, as many of the effects are often deep seated. A fear of making others angry, for instance, may come from the dramatic ups and downs of a narcissistic parent but might seem like simple people-pleasing to someone unaware of NPD's effects. A deeply rooted need to be liked and admired could be due to NPD, though you might consider it the result of high ambition or a simple desire to fit in. Therapy may be able to help you identify and address unhealthy habits, behaviors, and patterns in your life and work out ways to overcome those habits or replace them with healthier alternatives.

Why An "Is My Mother a Narcissist" Quiz May Not Be Helpful

Ultimately, finding out that your mother is a narcissist—or suspecting she is based on an online quiz—may confirm things you were already aware of. A quiz could bring to light trauma or troubles from your childhood. If your mother is a narcissist, your steps forward may involve therapy to address trauma, attachment concerns, or conditions like anxiety and depression. The effects of growing up with a narcissistic parent may be wide reaching or quite specific, and they have the potential to crop up in unexpected places. Getting help to re-parent yourself and develop healthier mental and emotional habits may be the first step toward recovery.

Although many online quizzes can be helpful tools, some may cause more harm. More important than determining whether your mother has NPD based on an online quiz may be your ability to assess your own mental health and to determine whether you can benefit from help. While knowing our family history is important, a qualified therapist will be able to determine many of the roots of your ailments while going through your childhood and the corresponding behavior and habits of your parents.

If you suspect you have mental health-related concerns stemming from a narcissistic parent, consider reaching out to a licensed therapist. ReGain is an online therapy platform that can match you with a licensed professional to best suit your needs. They can provide tools and guidance to help you overcome any challenges you may be facing personally or within your family dynamic. Reach out today to begin your journey to a better you. Continue reading below to read reviews from people who faced similar challenges.

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