Why An "Is My Mother A Narcissist" Quiz May Not Be Helpful
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.
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.
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.
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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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
What are the effects of growing up with a narcissistic mother?
There are several traits commonly displayed by people who grew up with a narcissistic parent, including:
- Nervousness. People who grew up with narcissistic mothers are often anxious and nervous as they may not be entirely sure where they stand with others or even with themselves. Because narcissism often keeps children on edge, people with narcissistic mothers can grow up to become fearful, anxious, and uncertain of themselves.
- A heightened awareness of appearances. Narcissistic mothers may be focused on appearances—whether their own or their children’ Many children internalize this constant focus on external attributes and grow up with an unhealthy or extreme focus on their appearance. This can present by constantly feeling as though you have to be “dressed to the nines,” or can present by feeling unattractive and consistently attempting to compensate for that feeling.
- Low self-esteem. Children who grow up with narcissistic mothers often have low self-esteem due to being either belittled or put on a pedestal. Although it may seem counterintuitive, children put on a pedestal often have self-esteem issues as substantial as those regularly put down because they are held to an unrealistic standard and feel as though their worth is tied to their accomplishments or appearance.
- Fear of success. The fear of success often accompanies narcissistic parents, as well, because children might worry that their success will strain their relationships with their parents. Narcissistic parents often see their children’s success as a threat of sorts, leading children to feel as though they have to hide their own accomplishments or even their happiness.
- Fear of expression. Narcissistic parents are often volatile and react in explosive ways toward their children. Explosive reactions can involve angry outbursts and crying, shouting, or refusing to speak for extended periods of time. As a result, children may feel as though they have to keep their emotions tightly reined in.
What are the signs of toxic parents?
Toxic parents have become increasingly talked about as the ripple effect of their parenting sweeps across generations of children who have grown up with mental health concerns and unhealthy behaviors to unlearn. Toxic parents may be unaware of their own behavior and, when confronted, ignore or vehemently deny the presence of a problem. The most common signs of toxic parents include:
- Control issues. Parents with control issues might exert control over a specific area of their child’s life, such as their academic career, or may attempt to control all aspects of their child’s life.
- Self-absorption. Toxic parents may often be self-absorbed parents or parents who continually make everything about themselves. These parents might turn every conversation around to discuss their own issues or tie every story into a tale about their own accomplishments.
- Dismissive communication. Toxic parents can often be seen dismissing their children’s wants, needs, and emotions. Dismissive communication can be a terse response to a child communicating distress or completely ignoring them. It is important to listen and not treat children’s attempts to communicate as unnecessary or a nuisance.
- Unrealistic demands. Toxic parents often expect a lot from their children and may place wholly unreasonable demands on them. Parents might expect their children to never have meltdowns or tantrums, never get a low grade on a test, or always look perfect.
- Inadequate support. Because parents are a child’s primary source of support in early childhood and, in some cases, beyond early childhood, parents who do not provide support to their children in the form of loving communication, acceptance, and love may be viewed as toxic. Children with this type of mother often blame themselves for this lack of support, which may create a problematic dynamic.
- Secretive behavior. Toxic parents may encourage their children to keep secrets, hide information about themselves, or manipulate other people’s perceptions of them. Secretive behavior can encourage children to feel paranoid, disenfranchised, and fearful, and may make them prime targets for different forms abuse.
Toxic parents can come from every background, socioeconomic status, and belief system and may use various tools to manipulate and damage their children’s mental and emotional health. They may have narcissistic traits, their own unhealthy behaviors to unlearn, or their own unsolved trauma influencing their steps. It can be difficult, but creating strict boundaries is a good way of dealing with toxic parents effectively.
What does narcissistic abuse feel like?
Narcissistic abuse can be overwhelming. People with narcissistic traits may use manipulation tactics and various other tools to ensure that their abusive behavior is kept carefully under wraps. As a consequence of the standard narcissistic manipulation, people often feel as though they can’t trust their perception of reality. The feelings that may accompany narcissistic abuse include:
- People who have experienced narcissistic abuse may often feel on edge, as though they need to remain vigilant no matter the situation.
- Narcissistic abuse can manipulate an individual’s perceptions, leading them to question their reality. Often, children with narcissistic mothers blame their confusion on themselves instead of recognizing the abuse they are experiencing.
- Low self-esteem. People who experience narcissistic abuse often feel as though they are at the root of their issues rather than the narcissist. A narcissistic mother, for example, may make her child feel like the only way they will be loved is by being perfect or doing everything she tells them to do. This can lead to feelings of low self-esteem. They may feel unloved, unworthy, or unimportant if they cannot live up to that standard.
Narcissistic abuse can come from a parent, a friend, a lover, or any other relationship and is even seen in workplace relationships between peers and figures of authority. Being in a relationship with a narcissist is not relegated to a single type of relationship. Although managing narcissistic abuse is possible, separation from narcissistic traits is sometimes the best course of action. It can minimize the lasting effects of this type of abuse. Determining that you are experiencing narcissistic abuse is often one of the most important parts of the healing process.
If you or someone you know are experiencing abuse, 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).
Can narcissists love their children?
Instead of definitively saying that narcissists can or cannot love their children, it may be safer to say that narcissists often lack the basic interpersonal skills required to support and nourish a healthy sense of self in their children; and they often do a great deal of damage to their children during their childhood and well into adulthood.
What are the signs of a controlling parent?
The signs of a controlling parent revolve around three specific components: communication, expression, and behavior. Parents who are constantly trying to control their children will usually try to control these three aspects of their children.
Communication control often extends to relationships, and parents might monitor phone records, budding friendships, and romantic relationships and refuse to allow their children any autonomy over their communication habits.
Parents may also tend to try to control their children’s expressions. Controlling parents often try to manipulate the way their children express their emotions and express frustration, happiness, or sadness. Children may feel as though they have to find covert ways to express themselves, such as writing poetry in a well-hidden journal or taking up hobbies outside the house that cannot be discovered.
Finally, controlling parents may often attempt to control a child’s behavior. Control can look like forcing a child to sit still for every meal, insisting that a child remain quiet at all times, or even forcing a child to take up a certain sport they do not enjoy. Control may be a common behavior among narcissistic parents, though parents from all backgrounds can exhibit unhealthy, controlling behaviors.
What narcissistic mothers do to their daughters?
Do narcissistic mothers know what they're doing?
Do daughters of narcissistic mothers become narcissists?
What are the different types of narcissistic mothers?
What happens when you ignore a narcissist?
How do I know if I have a narcissistic mother?
What is the one question to identify a narcissist?
Is my mother a narcissist or am I?
How do you prove a parent is a narcissistic?
How do you outsmart a narcissistic mother?
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