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Women's hour - narcissistic mothers

(25 Posts)
Still Tue 06-Jun-23 20:27:13

Today on women's hour a mother called Bethany shared her story on narcissistic motherhood and her deteriorating relationship with her daughter. It's the start of a series and I found this episode honest and profound. Anyone else listening?

NotSpaghetti Thu 08-Jun-23 07:01:06

I can't believe there are no comments on this thread!
Just thought I'd give it a bump!

Aldom Thu 08-Jun-23 07:08:43

I didn't hear the programme, but will try to catch up with it after the weekend. I hope others will come on to the thread with their thoughts.

NotSpaghetti Thu 08-Jun-23 07:45:22

I think it's maybe on all week Aldom as it was the mother yesterday and a daughter is apparently on today.

Aldom Thu 08-Jun-23 07:48:20

Thank you NotSpaghetti.

VioletSky Thu 08-Jun-23 07:55:58

The interview starts at 31 minutes in

It was very sad actually

I don't know what to say other than "Bethany" clearly did not have a loving upbringing herself and whether she actually has become narcissistic as a result or has a horrible case of learned behaviour from her own childhood, her honesty and ability to admit she was selfish and absent was, well, something many estranged children lack.

lyleLyle Thu 08-Jun-23 12:13:13

This is all quite sad. Was blessed with a self-less, kind mother myself. My husband on the other hand…All these years later and I still feel sad for him. Bethany has a sense of self-awareness, so there is hope for proper healing.

VioletSky Thu 08-Jun-23 16:04:26

Yes I do think there is hope

I have a few things in common with the daughter. My mother absolutely would never take any responsibility though and would deny those things occured. Even when I made it clear that without accountability and change I would go no contact.

I truly hope this relationship can be salvaged and both mother and daughter can heal

VioletSky Thu 08-Jun-23 16:33:39

I've just listened to the second part and "Bethany" does struggle to see herself in the letter her daughter wrote to her and the book that was sent. The interviewer said something very powerful, not the exact words but she said "you were devastated when you read that letter and your daughter was clearly devastated when she wrote it".

One thing the mother said that stood out to me was that now her daughter has labelled her a narcissist, she wasn't sure how she could ever shed that label and where the path to healing might be. But she also sent her daughter a text saying she would always be there if her daughter ever wanted or needed her and that if what her daughter needed was to cut her out of her life she would accept that" her daughter did reply that she would take time to think about what had been said. That was a perfect response.

Now a lot of estranged children I know have spent time with narcissistic parents. What would I say about the path to healing and what this mother is willing to admit about fault as well as how she has responded?

I would say there is hope. That reading a book is not a diagnosis and that such a label can be shed because we know about fleas (learned behaviours) and we know about learning to be a better parent with no good guidance on how to do it...

A bad case of fleas may look like a narcissist but any mother who is able to unlearn bad behaviour, take responsibility and change, is not a narcissist... None

Most of us never wanted to self orphan

NotSpaghetti Fri 09-Jun-23 07:52:16

Thank you Violet

Dorrain Fri 09-Jun-23 08:09:57

Well I'm the product of a narcissistic mother and unfortunately I married an narcissistic man. After the breakdown of our marriage I saw a psychiatrist for some time and she then referred me to a psychologist.
I also saw a social worker early on and she actually pinpointed the problem with my husband on a white board.
I was stunned, she could see what I plainly couldn't articulate.

When I became a parent I would check my reactions if my children upset me, I decided that I didn't want to follow a similar pattern of parenting. I then decided to basically react the exact opposite in order to break the cycle.
Narcissism is a mental illness, it took time but I forgave my mother and cared for her when her dementia began to impinge on her safety. I moved in with her until she passed away, and I think I grew as a person because of the experience.

Dorrain Fri 09-Jun-23 08:10:46

Will definitely look at this program, thanks for sharing Still.

Dorrain Fri 09-Jun-23 08:48:00

VioletSky, I think you make some good points but what I found was that Bethany didn't once mention asking her daughter what she wanted and if/how she can help her mother change. Talking through specific traumas and experiences is not only cathartic for the daughter but it can provide examples that Bethany can reflect on.
I think the older one gets the more we get stuck in our own heads and the harder it is for us to change.
Funny thing is when I'm stressed I still revert to my mother and have to think deeply about my reactions in order to empathise and think more clearly.
I'm so glad we talk about this sort of stuff nowadays, years ago it wasn't even discussed.

LRavenscroft Fri 09-Jun-23 08:55:51

I am sorry but I don't think that Bethany is a narcissistic mother. Her daughter sounds neurotic to me. Bethany is reasoning out where she went wrong and is trying to make amends. This is not narcissism. I know someone who has a narcissistic mother and, having met the mother myself, I find her the most toxic and poisonous individual you could wish to meet. She accepts absolutely no responsibility for her actions and is deaf and blind to the effects she has on others.

Sago Fri 09-Jun-23 09:31:03


I am sorry but I don't think that Bethany is a narcissistic mother. Her daughter sounds neurotic to me. Bethany is reasoning out where she went wrong and is trying to make amends. This is not narcissism. I know someone who has a narcissistic mother and, having met the mother myself, I find her the most toxic and poisonous individual you could wish to meet. She accepts absolutely no responsibility for her actions and is deaf and blind to the effects she has on others.

A good narcissistic mother will make out the child is neurotic.
Narcissists are clever manipulators.

I have a whole branch of my family that believe I was cruel to my mum, took money from her and refused to speak to her.

She had lunch with us every Sunday, I took her shopping once a week and I would go and clean for her when I could.
The most money I ever had from her was £40 on my 40th birthday, she spent £100’s on my cousin for her 40th!!!

She would tell anyone who would listen what dreadful daughter I was.

LRavenscroft Fri 09-Jun-23 13:00:59

Good point and thank you for sharing the other side. I can only go by the example I have come across, but, as you say they can be master manipulators and perhaps that is why many of us get taken in by them at first. I hope you have found a way forward to a happier life. Since I no longer have contact with my 'toxic' relatives, my life is much happier and guilt free.

Allsorts Mon 26-Jun-23 07:36:37

Bethany made mistakes, granted, I wouldn’t ever forget a birthday, holiday without my children etc, they come first, she’s been extremely thoughtless on occasions . however she’s not a narcissist, they don’t do reflection and admit to mistakes, they wouldn't take not being the central figure and walk on eggshells to try and have a relationship with their child, they control. In fact it’s the daughter who has control, who is being manipulative getting her own back on her mother for past mistakes. She is not interested now in her mother and she’s is out. The best thing Bethany can do, is send a letter, no good talking to her daughter as she won’t, say how very sorry she was absent when she shouldn’t have been, was thoughtless and wish she could turn the clock back, but she can’t, that she always loved her and failed to show that. Then get on with her life. If the daughter could go to all the trouble of buying and sending that book, underlining past mistakes but give no opportunity to connect, it’s pointless and cruel.

Primrose53 Mon 26-Jun-23 08:44:46

I am currently reading “my mother, munchausen’s and me” by Helen Naylor. Her mother was a narcissist. A most disturbing read.

Smileless2012 Mon 26-Jun-23 13:41:18

Very good post Allsorts. Thoughtlessness is not symptomatic of narcissism and as you say, don't self reflect and admit to mistakes.

Are you sure it's munchausen syndrome and not munchausen by proxy Primrose as it's the latter that's been linked to narcissism which is where someone feigns, often by inflicting real physical harm on another to fabricate illness and/or injury, in order to get attention for themselves.

Wyllow3 Mon 26-Jun-23 13:51:03

The trouble with real narcissists is that they can pretend contrition.

I have only heard part of the programme so can't comment on it fully.

But narcissism (I got divorced from a coercively abusive narc last year) does vary in degree.

It is possible for someone with "tendencies" to genuinely wish to change and "repair", just very very hard to do because personalities can be so hard wired.

Smileless2012 Mon 26-Jun-23 14:29:03

Yes that's true Wyllow and it's because the contrition isn't genuine that the behaviour will be repeated.

welbeck Mon 26-Jun-23 15:25:09

i came across this quite by chance recently, and found it interesting.

Beetlejuice Mon 26-Jun-23 16:23:50

welbeck thank you for pointing me in the direction of that video. Lady CC is an extraordinary character, always so much larger than life and appears to be so confident and self assured. I knew that she'd hailed from a very wealthy family in Jamaica and had been misgengendered at birth but I had no idea of the cruelty she and her brother had endured at the hands of their parents. I'm not at all sure that I could bear to read the book - too upsetting.

Wyllow3 Mon 26-Jun-23 16:28:14

(Phew yes and very extreme as it included serious vioence)

I'm with a counsellor to try and understand whats happening to me and of course why narcissist abuse is. so - quite a lot - as am already trained as in that field (little good it actually did when happening full on to me.)

But in terms of further learning, this "top lady" on U tube covers every aspect you might want to consider, and every kind of abusive relationship including parent/children.

Go to U tube and google "Dr. Ramani narcissistic abuse" and a whole page of choices will come up, most of them maybe 6 mins long.

welbeck Mon 26-Jun-23 16:41:38

i also like dr les carter on youtube, covers various subjects, inc narcissists.
he has a warm, encouraging, humane manner.