We got this question from our community: “What do narcissistic mothers do to their daughters?” I looked into it. Here’s what I learned.

6 Things Narcissistic Mothers Do to Their Daughters

  • They erode their self-worth and identity.
  • They cause them to develop severe trust issues.
  • They cause perfectionism and a fear of failure.
  • They cause emotional dysregulation.
  • They make them feel responsible for others’ emotions.
  • They compromise their ability to set boundaries.

In this article, I’ll guide you through each of these to help you understand the detrimental effect narcissistic mothers have on their daughters.

1.) They Erode Their Self-Worth and Identity

Daughters of narcissistic mothers often grow up with deep-seated struggles regarding self-worth and identity.1 

Since narcissistic mothers typically give love and affection conditionally, based on achievements or behavior that reflects well on them, you might find yourself constantly seeking validation outside of yourself. 

For example, you might choose a career path that earns you high praise from others, even if it doesn’t truly make you happy, because you’ve learned that your value comes from others’ approval, not yourself.

The daughter of a narcissistic mother feeling poorly about herself.

This quest for external validation can lead you to question your own desires and priorities, making it challenging to know who you really are or what you genuinely want out of life. 

The effect is a pervasive sense of emptiness or loss, as you’ve never had the chance to develop a strong, independent sense of self.

Related: 7 Ways Narcissistic Mothers Treat Their Daughters

2.) They Cause Them to Develop Severe Trust Issues

Having a narcissistic mother can significantly affect your ability to trust others and, subsequently, form healthy relationships.2 

If your mother frequently used emotional manipulation, such as guilt-tripping or gaslighting, to control you, you might find it hard to believe that others can have genuine intentions and won’t do the same.

For instance, when someone shows you kindness or love, your first instinct might be to question what they want from you in return rather than accepting the affection at face value. 

This skepticism stems from growing up in an environment where love was conditional or used as a tool for manipulation. 

As a result, you might push people away or sabotage relationships to protect yourself from being hurt, leading to a cycle of loneliness and reinforcing the belief that you’re unworthy of unconditional love.

3.) They Cause Perfectionism and a Fear of Failure

Daughters of narcissistic mothers often develop a deep-rooted sense of perfectionism and an intense fear of failure.3 

Because narcissistic mothers tend to value their daughters based on achievements and success, you might feel an overwhelming pressure to excel in every area of your life. 

For example, you might stay up late to re-do a project for work because it’s not “perfect” the first time, driving you to exhaustion. 

A daughter of a narcissist feeling scared and anxious.

This behavior isn’t just about wanting to do well; it’s driven by the fear that any mistake will make you unworthy of love or respect. 

This can lead to significant anxiety and stress, as the possibility of failure becomes a terrifying prospect, not just a normal part of learning and growing. 

Over time, this relentless pressure can lead to burnout, anxiety disorders, and chronic dissatisfaction with oneself, as the bar for success is always just out of reach.

4.) They Cause Emotional Dysregulation

Having a narcissistic mother can also lead to emotional dysregulation and difficulties in coping with stress in a healthy manner.4 

Growing up, if your emotional expressions were frequently dismissed or punished, you might learn to suppress your feelings, viewing them as something to be hidden or ashamed of. 

For instance, you might find yourself overreacting to minor inconveniences or completely shutting down in emotionally charged situations because you never learned how to process and express your emotions healthily. 

This inability to regulate emotions can make everyday stressors feel insurmountable and can lead to the development of unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse, disordered eating, or self-harm.

The lack of emotional support and validation from your mother means you missed out on learning how to navigate your emotions, leaving you ill-equipped to handle the normal ups and downs of life.

5.) They Make Them Feel Responsible for Others’ Emotions

Daughters of narcissistic mothers often have an ingrained belief that they are responsible for managing and catering to their mother’s emotional needs. 

This can extend into adulthood, where you might find yourself constantly apologizing even when you haven’t done anything wrong or feeling compelled to make everyone around you happy at your own expense. 

For example, you may go out of your way to ensure a colleague’s project is successful, sacrificing your own time and resources because you feel it’s your duty to prevent them from experiencing disappointment or stress. 

A daughter of a narcissist feeling responsible for the emotions of others.

This pattern of behavior stems from a childhood where your emotional boundaries were not respected, leading you to believe that your own needs and feelings are less important than those of others. 

Over time, this can result in emotional exhaustion and a loss of personal boundaries, making it difficult for you to advocate for yourself and prioritize your well-being.

6.) They Compromise Their Ability to Set Boundaries

Growing up with a narcissistic mother, who likely disregarded your boundaries, can lead to difficulty recognizing and asserting them in adult relationships. 

You might find yourself in situations or relationships where others take advantage of you because you’re unable to say no or express your discomfort. 

For instance, a friend might repeatedly borrow money without repaying, and you find it challenging to confront them or refuse future requests because you fear the conflict or potential loss of the relationship. 

This struggle stems from a childhood environment where asserting your boundaries was either punished or ignored, teaching you that asserting your needs leads to negative consequences. 

Consequently, you might remain in unhealthy or one-sided relationships because setting boundaries feels unfamiliar and frightening, perpetuating a cycle of neglecting your own needs and rights.5

For more helpful information like this, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.


That’s the end of this article!

I appreciate you reading it until the end

If you have something to say, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. I’d love to engage with you and hear your thoughts on this topic.

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About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

Unfilteredd has strict sourcing guidelines and only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our content. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, actionable, inclusive, and trustworthy by reading our editorial process.

  1. Morgan Mandriota. (2021. October, 21). How a Mother’s Narcissistic Behavior May Affect Their Daughters Long Term. Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/disorders/narcissistic-personality-disorder/narcissistic-mothers-the-long-term-effects-on-their-daughters ↩︎
  2. Anna Drescher. (2024. January, 23). How A Mother’s Narcissistic Behavior May Affect Their Daughters Long Term. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/daughters-of-narcissistic-mothers.html ↩︎
  3. Maggie Holland. (2023. June, 30). 10 Symptoms of Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. Choosing Therapy. https://www.choosingtherapy.com/symptoms-of-daughters-of-narcissistic-mothers/ ↩︎
  4. Kaida Hollister. (2024. February, 17). 12 Worrying Symptoms of Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. Marriage.com. https://www.marriage.com/advice/mental-health/daughters-of-narcissistic-mothers/ ↩︎
  5. Pamela Li. (2024. January, 20). 10 Symptoms of Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. Parenting For Brain. https://www.parentingforbrain.com/daughters-narcissistic-moms-signs/ ↩︎


  1. I don’t know where I fit in all of this. But here’s my story. I’m a middle child. Left at 18. Came to live with my mother and (drug addicted youngest brother). Because of a divorce. Brother has repeatedly stolen from me, broke or damaged my bedroom things. Mother won’t acknowledge what he is doing. He’s acting out severely. He’s 57. What can I do?

    1. Hi Melody,

      Thank you for leaving a comment.

      I’m sorry you had to go through all of this.

      If you have time, please email us at elijah@unfilteredd.net so we can figure out what your options are for moving forward.

      It’s hard to give good advice without knowing more about your story.

      We do this for free so anyone else who reads this comment and would like some help, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

      We’re always here to support you you.

      I hope to hear from you soon Melody!

      All the best,


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