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I think my mum might be a narcissist and I don't want to parent like she did

(73 Posts)
doggiesayswoof Thu 30-Jul-09 12:59:08

I have a strange relationship with my mum.

We get on fine on the surface. She lives in the next town and we see each other often. I am not emotionally close to her and would never confide in her about anything. Our relationship is very superficial.

We had a terrible relationship while I was growing up. She is dependent on alcohol and has been for as long as I can remember.

Since I had my dc she occasionally makes statements like "Now you understand what it's like" (with a big smile) or "you've turned out not too badly" etc. I realise that this is her way of saying it's all ok now, really it was all your fault, but it's water under the bridge.

She takes no responsibility for anything, she has never apologised to me.

I have a lot of issues, nothing too fundamental, but have issues nonetheless. I would rather die than parent the way she did and in some ways we are quite similar so it worries me.

Can anyone relate to this?

phdlife Thu 30-Jul-09 13:08:14

think my mum is also a narcissist, and I also really don't want to parent like she did/does. It horrifies me that I do hear things she said coming out of my own mouth, particularly relatively innocent-sounding things ("oh ds, you drew a picture, I'm so proud of you") that I know contributed to the vast distance between us. I realise I just have to think that bit harder about how I parent, and practice practice practice not making the dc's achievements all about me. It's not easy because yeah, we are quite similar - at least being aware of it means I can choose to react to things differently. Sometimes.

cremeeggs Thu 30-Jul-09 13:18:18

Mine is like this. I reached the age of 39 thinking it was my fault that I am the way I am and never trusting my own judgement. Now through therapy I've realised it's because in many ways I've parented her all my life yet she still refuses to see me as anything other than a child to be bossed around and emotionally maniulated. everything is all about her and her needs and always has been. She has no idea what I do for a living as she takes no interest but I have to hear about everything she does in minute detail (down to reading emails out on the phone to me....). All my life I've felt guilty for existing and felt responsible for my parents' marital problems when I was a toddler. I've finally accepted that I am not to blame and that I am entitled to make my own decisions now, but it's been a very long and painful road and makes the relationship appear even more superficial and false.

However having awareness of this means I'm determined not to parent in the same way, so it's much healthier to get this stuff out in the open whilst it's surfacing as that way you will KNOW when you're in danger of doing the same with your own (which you're unlikely to do now....)HTH you are not alone!!

doggiesayswoof Thu 30-Jul-09 13:19:22

That's interesting - making it all about me. I do need to think about that.

The number one issue for me is that my mum couldn't control her temper and shouted at us constantly. She was very unhappy and her moods were all over the place. I worry about that a lot.

I called my wee DD a "silly girl" the other day. I know it doesn't sound much but I just heard my mum. She spent most of my childhood and adolesence calling me stupid, lazy, slow etc.

I am hyper-aware of it though, and I don't think my mum has any clue about how she comes across.

ForExample Thu 30-Jul-09 13:20:36

My therapist once said to me, when your mum looked into your eyes, she saw herself. When you look into your childs eyes, you see her.

Which i think is a lovely way of saying you will never parent like a narcissist, so have faith in yourself!

Weegle Thu 30-Jul-09 13:22:43

Yes - very much so - including the alcoholism.

The thing is - you won't parent like her. You're not a narcissist. The very fact you've posted your thread means you're not and you won't. It's all about awareness. Your mother genuinely a) hasn't a clue she did anything wrong b) believes she is right c) believes you are wrong, and nothing will ever change that, it's her make up. You are not a narcissist just because you are a narcissist's daughter - infact you will likely be so aware of it there's no chance you can have the same negative impact on your children.

The difference lies where, for e.g., my sis hasn't recognised that it was our mother with the problem (and still is) and so thinks the way to parent is the way she was parented - no awareness at all - and unfortunately history is being repeated to some degree.

doggiesayswoof Thu 30-Jul-09 13:23:01

cremeeggs it does help, thank you.

My mum is exactly the same - she never asks about me, DH or the DC but I have to listen to blow by blow accounts of the meetings she has been in (people I have never met discussing things in which I have no interest)

I don't trust my own judgement a lot of the time. I can fool people but I have a lot of trouble making decisions.

I've never had counselling and often wonder if it would help.

doggiesayswoof Thu 30-Jul-09 13:27:28

I like that forexample - one to remember. I wish I could have faith in myself.

Weegle that is helpful. I know I am not a narcissist. I love seeing my DD doing things separate from me and making her own way in the world (in a limited way as she's only 5 obviously)

That's a shame about your sister.

My sister recognises the issue but she was so cowed by my mum that she has trouble standing up to people and her DD walks all over her. Dsis is so terrified of confrontation.

Weegle Thu 30-Jul-09 13:30:31

Therapy has really helped me untangle it.

I no longer give her the rope to hang me by - she knows very little about my life, including inane details which really would seem unlikely to give her anything but she feeds off anything. I accept that phonecalls and conversations are about her only and I don't seek what I feel I needed from a mother from her - I have accepted it's not going to happen. Yes that's crap and it hurts if I think about it too much but much less hurtful than constantly thinking it's me with the problem. I've built a great network of friends who have become my family and I trust people like DH that I'm doing ok as a parent and that I am not like my mother. Therapy really did help with that. Trusting your judgement is not easy when you had a childhood of having it contradicted but just being aware of that being an issue seems to help and enable me to go "ok I'm not perfect but I'm not her".

phdlife Thu 30-Jul-09 13:35:17

ForExample I do still worry though - just because without meaning to I reproduce some of the things she used to say. I also know my mum is brilliant with babies and small children; it was only once they start to rebel that she gets really horrible and controlling. I know I share some of those control-freaky tendencies!

doggie counselling can help if you (a) know what you want to get out of it, and (b) make sure you find a good counsellor - ditch anyone who makes you at all unhappy/uncomfortable.

Weegle Thu 30-Jul-09 13:36:43

yes that's so true - the relationship with the counsellor is paramount, as is a willingness to be completely honest with yourself (something else you wouldn't be able to do if you're a narcissist grin)

llareggub Thu 30-Jul-09 13:37:48

You could be talking about my mother. I am stunned and what you've all posted is giving me lots to think about. Will come back in a while when I have thought some more.

ForExample Thu 30-Jul-09 13:42:33

I know, but even worrying about and recognising those tendencies mean that you are not narcisstic - the rest of it is stuff that everybody deals with, their learnt behaviour, what they don't want to replicate, and so on.

But yes, my eldest is getting to the age I was when my mum started to lose it,and I worry too.

doggiesayswoof Thu 30-Jul-09 13:45:48

phdlife my mum loves babies and is very good with them - until they start moving around and displaying a will of their own

then they become too much trouble and have to be dragooned into submission.

I can also be a control freak blush and I am really trying to work on this

She used to babysit occasionally when we just had DD but has never looked after DS and DD together, not once, and I wouldn't ask her to tbh.

Weegle I also accept that my mum will never be a mum to me and conversations will be all about her. The closest I have to a mum is my dad's wife (not really my stepmum as I was an adult when they married)

stressed2007 Thu 30-Jul-09 13:51:11

oh my goodness advice please (I hope that by asking it does n't prove I am a narcissist?):

"It horrifies me that I do hear things she said coming out of my own mouth, particularly relatively innocent-sounding things ("oh ds, you drew a picture, I'm so proud of you") " I do that all the time - am I doing s.thg wrong - I thought this ws a nice thig to do

" don't trust my own judgement a lot of the time. [I can fool people] but I have a lot of trouble making decisions. "

This could be me - I so don't trust my own judgement. Quite possibly due to parenting but my parents are loveky and very kind people they just do things a bit oddly sometimes.

Shall I get help with this - I so don't want my kids getting the same hang ups as me

stressed2007 Thu 30-Jul-09 13:52:15

it would be good if I could spell too! smile

doggiesayswoof Thu 30-Jul-09 13:56:29

stressed, the prob as I see it with saying "I'm so proud of you" is that you turn things away from your DC and back to yourself - YOU feel proud, that's what your DC should focus on - your approval, how their actions make you feel

I would try (not always successfully) to say something like "you drew that all by yourself" and not say what I think of it

It sounds as though you lack confidence in yourself. That could be for a number of reasons though. You certainly don't sound like a narcissist smile

Lemonylemon Thu 30-Jul-09 13:58:59

A little story about what my mum did to me - sorry if this sounds a bit self-pitying - it's not really, honest grin

My OH collapsed 2 years ago with a brain haemorrhage. That night my Mum, sister, BIL & kids go on holiday. Mum did ask me if I wanted her to stay, but I said no, as I thought things would be OK.

Cue 1 week later and my OH dies. At the time, I was nearly 6 months pregnant and had a 10yo DS to look after too. Does my Mum get the first plane back as I was on my own? Erm, no. She stayed away for a further 10 days saying that she couldn't cope with what had happened to me. When she got home, she texted me to let me know she'd arrived home and in response to my reply that the kettle was on, said that she was too tired and would see me tomorrow. So, it was all about her.

I know I would never, ever do that to either of my kids.....

phdlife Thu 30-Jul-09 14:01:07

stressed it depends whether those things you say upset you when you heard them. Everything I did, my mum took ownership of. Instead of saying "I'm so proud of you" I do try to say, "You should be very proud of yourself" because really it's ds's achievement. For me this is a biggie, for others it might not be!

I also suffer from continually second-guessing myself and I know that's because my mum undermines me continually. Haven't yet figured out how not to pass this one on - going to take tips from my dsis who is bringing up two extremely confident dc's.

going to bed now, see y'all later

doggiesayswoof Thu 30-Jul-09 14:06:30

Lemony that is horrendous - I am sorry she treated you like that. Even if it's exactly what you expected, it's pretty harsh.

I don't even want to think about how things would pan out in a situation where normal people would expect support from their mum. Actually I think mine would probably just get pissed.

stressed2007 Thu 30-Jul-09 14:12:00

your so right - she is just 3 and she does say - are you proud mummy? oh my goodness - this has to stop now

Lemonylemon Thu 30-Jul-09 14:13:20

DSW No, it wasn't what I expected AT ALL. I expected her to come back to help.

However, when I had my DD 3 months later and my mum wouldn't hold her because of how my mum was feeling about everything - well, I pretty much expected that. Actually, when she brought us back from hospital (I had to stay in for a week as DD not well and I'd had a C-section) she pretty much ran out as soon as we got in the front door. I had to stand in the kitchen cooking dinner for DS and myself while DS kept an eye on DD in her carrycot.

So for a few months, I turned my back on her and concentrated on getting through looking after DS and DD. My mum spent the next few months doing pretty much what your mum does..... Having a parent like this is pretty pants, but I've learned to distance myself emotionally from her now.

nigglewiggle Thu 30-Jul-09 14:15:16

I've recently come to suspect that my mum has NPD. It has really become noticeable since me and my sister had children.

She favours one grandchild, doesn't buy presents for the others, or show any interest in them. She relates everything to her own parenting experience which was always much tougher. She has a habit of trying to (no longer succeeding in) ruining family gatherings/ birthday parties with her dramas.

All of these things and the general lack of emotional support I have had have taken the gloss off the experience of having children and I deeply resent that. So much so that I have decided to write a letter to both my DD's making promises about what I will do on the birth of their children. I have a memories box which I will give them when they are older and I will put the letter in there marked "to be opened on the birth of your first child."

I will promise to always be interested in the minutiae of their development. I will not favour one grandchild. I will always but them birthday presents. When my DD's are moaning, I will always sympathise and offer support and NEVER say "it was much harder in my day"!

It is comforting to hear that there are others feeling the same. smile

doggiesayswoof Thu 30-Jul-09 14:18:48

Oh Lemony sad

That is really rough.

doggiesayswoof Thu 30-Jul-09 14:21:35

niggle my mum weirdly does the opposite with presents - every grandchild gets the same, and she has to spend exactly the same amount. The way she does it is strange though, it's almost robotic - like she knows it's what she should be doing.

That is a lovely idea, writing the letter.

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