Ever wonder what makes Cinderella’s stepmother, Snow White’s stepmother, and Rapunzel’s adopted mother so evil? They are the most hated of characters precisely because their mothering instincts are contrary to a nurturing mother. Cinderella’s stepmother is a humiliating narcissistic parent who neglected and snubbed her daughter after the trauma of losing her father. Snow White’s stepmother is a narcissistic cutthroat parent obsessed with comparing her beauty to that of her daughter and trying to kill her because of it. Rapunzel’s adopted mother is a narcissistic helicopter parent who isolated her daughter from the world, lied about her daughter’s birth, demanded loyalty, and insisted she was always right.
Mother/Daughter Relationship. While these stories may be entertaining for the movies, it is not so amusing in real life. The real-life versions can be a combination of all three types. The impact of a narcissistic mother on their child is significant and traumatic for both genders, but even more so for a daughter. Narcissistic mothers view their daughters as competition with younger skin, better opportunities, and thinner bodies. Nurturing mothers, by contrast, are excited about the possibilities of their daughter’s future and want to encourage and foster a healthy relationship.
A Pregnant Narcissist. There is a lot of attention given by friends, family, and even strangers to a pregnant woman. For most, just the sight of a pregnant woman brings feelings of hopefulness, anticipation, and positivity. This feeds the narcissistic ego which could be in flux due to the physical changes in appearance. However, once the baby is born and the attention shifts to the child, the narcissistic mother becomes envious of the newborn. The result is one of two reactions: pulling away from the child or holding them even closer so the mother gets attention via close contact with the child.
First Stage of Development. According to Erik Erikson’s Eight States of Psychosocial Development, the first stage is a child learns is to trust or mistrust their caretaker. Trust fosters hope and faith in an infant while mistrust cultivates suspicion and fear. At the hands of a narcissistic mother, this stage promotes more extreme versions. Trust is translated into a fixation only for the mother while mistrust is converted to paranoia and panic. Both encourage the development of anxiety in a child as they try unconsciously to maintain or earn the love of their mother.
Helicopter Mother. The mother who fosters exclusive trust in a child is a helicopter parent. In front of others, this mother appears to be the perfect caring mother who is very involved in every aspect of the child’s life. In reality, this mother doesn’t allow a child to make even the slightest of decisions and completely hijacks the development of autonomy and initiative. The child becomes a physical extension of the mother’s identity which is unable to be separated. In exchange for her commitment and loyalty to her child, the mother expects the child to worship her, thereby feeding the narcissistic need for admiration. Others see the “perfect child” and then revere the mother for her excellent skills as a parent, completely overlooking any contribution the child may or may not have made to this process.
In the end, a narcissistic mother generally produces two types of children: one who becomes an adult well advanced for their years and the other who is constantly dependent on others and feels entitled. But sadly both types will require some counseling to overcome having one of the scariest personalities for a mother.