The bond between a mother and child is often regarded as one of the most profound connections in human relationships.

However, not all maternal relationships are nurturing and supportive.

Some mothers exhibit covert narcissistic traits, which can be challenging for their children to navigate.

In this article, we’ll shed light on the characteristics of a covert narcissistic mother, the signs to watch out for, and offer guidance on how to cope with this complex dynamic.

What is a Covert Narcissistic Mother?

A covert narcissistic mother is a subtle form of narcissist who conceals their self-centeredness behind a facade of love and care.

They secretly crave admiration, control, and validation.

Unlike overt narcissists, they are masters of disguise, making it challenging to detect their true motives and behavior.

Understanding them is like unraveling a complex puzzle hidden beneath a seemingly loving exterior.

Signs of a Covert Narcissistic Mother


Excessive self-pity

Excessive self-pity is a common trait among covert narcissistic mothers.

They often paint themselves as martyrs, claiming to sacrifice everything for their children while seeking sympathy and admiration.

This behavior can be compared to a never-ending theatrical performance where they play the victim role to perfection.

Invalidate feelings

Invalidating their child’s feelings is another tactic used by covert narcissistic mothers.

They dismiss or belittle their child’s emotions, making them feel guilty or selfish for expressing themselves.

It’s like having a personal emotional censor, constantly undermining their child’s emotional experiences.

Manipulative guilt-tripping 

Manipulative guilt-tripping is another skill in the covert narcissistic mother’s arsenal.

They excel in using guilt as a powerful tool to control their children’s actions and decisions.

It’s akin to being caught in a web of emotional manipulation, where guilt becomes the puppeteer’s strings, pulling at the child’s every move.

Conditional love

Conditional love is a hallmark of covert narcissistic mothers.

Their love and affection are often given with strings attached, contingent on the child meeting the mother’s ever-changing needs and expectations.

It’s like having a constantly shifting target to aim for, never knowing when you’ll hit the mark or fall short.

Emotional neglect

Despite their outward appearance of caring, these mothers can be emotionally neglectful.

It’s as if they wear a mask of concern while their true feelings and attention are elsewhere, leaving their children feeling unheard and unimportant, like a background character in their own lives.


Gaslighting is another manipulation tactic often employed by covert narcissistic mothers.

They use it to make their children doubt their own perceptions and reality, creating confusion and self-doubt.

It’s akin to having your own sense of reality constantly undermined, like living in a hall of mirrors where nothing is as it seems.

Boundary violation

Boundary violation is a recurring theme with covert narcissistic mothers.

They tend to overstep their child’s personal space and privacy, invading boundaries that should be sacred.

It’s like living in a house with doors that have no locks, leaving you with a constant sense of vulnerability and intrusion.


Favoritism is another unsettling trait. These mothers often play their children against each other or have a clear favorite child.

It’s like being in a never-ending competition where the rules are constantly changing, and the prize is their fleeting approval.


Martyrdom is something they’re exceptionally skilled at.

They present themselves as selfless martyrs, aiming to gain sympathy and praise from others for what they see as their immense sacrifices.

It’s akin to witnessing an ongoing dramatic performance where they take center stage, while everyone else is relegated to supporting roles in their story of suffering and selflessness.

How to Deal with a Covert Narcissistic Mother


Dealing with a covert narcissistic mother can be emotionally taxing, but there are strategies to navigate this challenging relationship:

Set boundaries

Setting boundaries is like building a fence around your emotional garden.

It’s a way to protect your well-being from invasive forces, allowing your emotional flowers to bloom without being trampled on.

Seek support

Seeking support is akin to casting a lifeline when you’re adrift in stormy waters. Friends, family, or a therapist can provide that emotional anchor, helping you navigate the tumultuous sea of dealing with a covert narcissistic mother.


Self-care is your armor against the emotional challenges posed by such a relationship.

It’s like putting on a shield that deflects the arrows of manipulation and guilt, ensuring your inner strength remains intact.

Limit contact

Limiting contact with a covert narcissistic mother is comparable to shutting the door to a room filled with harmful toxins.

It’s an act of self-preservation, safeguarding your well-being while allowing fresh air to permeate your life.


Therapy, be it individual or family-oriented, acts as a compass that aids you in navigating the intricate emotional maze forged by such a relationship.

It offers valuable insights, strategies, and the necessary tools for emotional healing, steering you toward a more balanced emotional landscape.


The content discusses covert narcissistic mothers, individuals who hide their narcissistic traits beneath a facade of caring and love.

It highlights various characteristics of these mothers, including excessive self-pity, invalidation of feelings, manipulative guilt-tripping, conditional love, emotional neglect, and gaslighting.

The article also emphasizes the importance of recognizing these signs, setting boundaries, seeking support, and practicing self-care for emotional well-being.

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