Signs of Covert Narcissistic Mother

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder that primarily affects a person’s behaviour, thoughts, and self-image. When a mother is diagnosed with NPD, her behaviours translate into a lack of empathy for others, and she will put her own interests and desires ahead of those around her. Although narcissism is often overt, some mothers develop subtle tactics that make it challenging to identify their narcissistic behaviours. These mothers exhibit covert narcissism, which can have an incredibly damaging effect on their children.

What Is Covert Narcissism?

Covert narcissism is a type of narcissistic personality disorder in which the individual’s self-centered behaviour is less overt compared to other types of narcissism. A person with covert narcissism will often appear shy, withdrawn, sensitive, or a victim when they desire attention or pity from others. They may also feel entitled to special attention and privileges, and at times have a passive-aggressive attitude when trying to get their way. Covert narcissists may also display traits such as insecurity, low self-esteem, and anxiety, which contrasts with an overt narcissist’s arrogance and grandiosity.

Signs of Covert Narcissistic Mother

1. Control Freak

A covert narcissistic mother will go to great lengths to maintain complete control of their children, often at any cost. They will use emotional manipulation to make their children wholly dependent and make them believe they can’t succeed without their mother’s help. This control often leads to estranged relationships between the mother and her children as it makes the children feel like they are not capable of doing anything independently.

2. Emotionally Manipulative

A covert narcissistic mother will use guilt, shame, and emotional manipulation to get what she wants out of her children. She will often put her children in situations where they feel like they have no choice but to do what she wants. This manipulation can cause psychological damage to children as well as disturb their emotional well-being.

3. Limited Empathy

A covert narcissistic mother will often lack empathy for her children and others around her. She will show little concern for their physical or emotional pain and can often blame her children for their troubles. Children with a narcissistic mother will frequently feel like they can’t turn to their mother for comfort as their mothers show very little interest in their children’s feelings.

4. Projection Behaviour

A covert narcissistic mother will often project her insecurities and flaws onto her children. She may make her children feel guilty or ashamed of things they haven’t done or accuse them of unhealthy behaviours. Often, these feelings or behaviours are a reflection of the mother rather than the child, but the mother will try to transfer the blame from herself onto her child.

5. Lack of Boundaries

A covert narcissistic mother will use her children for support, attention, and even for maintaining her self-image. She may share intimate details about her personal life with her children that are not age-appropriate or treat her children as more of a friend than her children. She may also make unreasonable demands of her children while failing to follow the traditional roles of a mother-child relationship.

6. Low Self-Esteem

A covert narcissistic mother will exhibit low self-esteem or present themselves as a victim to gain others’ attention and pity. Her insecurities always make her feel like she is in constant competition with others and make her overly critical of her children. This low self-esteem can also lead to a damaged relationship with their children as she is often too focused on belittling them instead of building their self-esteem.


Identifying a covert narcissistic mother is challenging due to the subtlety of their manipulations. Children of these mothers may carry this trauma throughout their lives, leading to long-term emotional and psychological issues. Despite the struggles faced, it’s essential to understand that children raised by withholding, controlling, and manipulating mothers can overcome their experiences and lead happy and successful lives. Support, therapy, and self-care are vital to living a fulfilling life and moving on from the trauma of having a covert narcissistic mother.


FAQs about Signs Of Covert Narcissistic Mother

What is a covert narcissistic mother?

A covert narcissistic mother is a mother who presents a false self to the world, hiding her narcissistic traits behind a façade of an empathetic, caring and selfless person. She manipulates others to satisfy her own needs and desires, often at the expense of her children’s emotional and mental well-being.

What are some signs of a covert narcissistic mother?

Some signs of a covert narcissistic mother include being overly critical of her children while simultaneously demanding their undivided attention and admiration, making her children feel guilty for not meeting her unrealistic expectations, a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy and an inability to take responsibility for her mistakes.

What impact does having a covert narcissistic mother have on a child?

Having a covert narcissistic mother can have lasting and damaging effects on a child, including low self-esteem, anxiety and depression, difficulty forming healthy relationships in adulthood, and an ongoing struggle with guilt and shame. It is essential to recognize the signs of a covert narcissistic mother and seek help as early as possible.


1. Raskin, R. N., & Hall, C. S. (1981). The Narcissistic Personality Inventory: Alternate form reliability and further evidence of construct validity. Journal of Personality Assessment, 45(2), 159-162. doi: 10.1207/s15327752jpa4502_10

2. Golomb, E. (1996). Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents in Their Struggle for Self. William Morrow Paperbacks. ISBN-10: 0688140718

3. Durand, J. F. (2019). The covert narcissist: Recognizing the signs and coping with the effects. Psych Central.