Mothers of the Lie

Many people of narcissistic mothers meet and share a similar anxiety and shame, yet when they compare notes,  they are surprised to discover  their mothers are so different. This is because they don’t realize there is more than one type of narcissistic mother.  


In his book, “The People of the Lie,” M. Scott Peck talks about parents who lack empathy. it seems both engulfing and subversive narc mothers belong in this category and it is often evidenced either by their lies or the lies they expect you to tell.

Probably the biggest issue with an engulfing narc mother is she suffocates you and overtakes your boundaries through her demanding and confrontational personality. An engulfing narc mother has zero respect for your boundaries. She will call you at eleven o’clock at night to ask if you’re having sex. She will gift you with a red sweater even though she knows you hate red, then demand you wear it to the next family dinner. An engulfing narc mother will snoop through your diary or emails and take a sandwich right out of your mouth while telling you that you are too fat. She might even wear black to your wedding and threaten to kill the groom.

An engulfing narc mom feels the need to control you by her very presence and she will do that by threatening, manipulation and lying. Think of that eighties show Roseanne. Roseanne made people laugh because she was on TV, but no one wants a mom like that in real life. If your mother acts like Roseanne you will have to provide the distance between you because she won’t. You might want to move to another continent ASAP and save yourself the time to read the rest of this article.

A subversive narc mother on the other hand might never do any of these obvious things, but the silent rules are there and you might be expected to lie for her and to her to keep her happy. The subversive narc mom rarely tells you what she wants—she prefers to communicate through hints or go through a third party-AKA triangulating.

The main difference between a subversive narc mother and the engulfing narc mother is that when the subversive narc mother is upset with you, she will act in a passive aggressive manner, while the engulfing narc is very confrontational. An engulfing narc mom will keep texting and calling and stalking you while the subversive narc mom will ignore you completely like you no longer exist.

The subversive narc mother is not any more satisfied with your choices than the engulfing one, but she is more reserved and will rarely yell as loud, but make no mistake and assume she is not watching because she might be quiet, but she is always keeping score.  She is just more subtle about it. The subversive narc mom can still wallop you with shame and knock yourself-worth to Mars with her stink-eye glare and shunning silence.

Of course, the ultimate evil of any narcissistic mother is that she expects you to behave exactly like she would. Your free will and conscience are of little value to her, because she’s all about control, narcissistic feed and appearances. Did you get hurt? She will say, “Keep a smile on your face and don’t act sad or Jesus will be disappointed in your witness.” Were you raped? She will caution you to “Keep that yucky talk to yourself or you’ll never find a husband.” These comments are about saving the family’s reputation, but offer  little empathy to your wounded heart.

Much of what a narc  mother is worried about is what other people think, while you are grasping for identity and authenticity and just struggling to survive in what seems like an undertow–often in the tsunami of her own making. You can see how this is not a healthy environment. If you follow her advice you might even drown.

With both of these types of narc mothers, it’s hard to know where you begin and she ends because each type of mother has tried to imprint you to be her mirror. She might think telling you what to do is love, but it’s not, and love can’t grow where it’s either forced or stifled.

Many narcissistic mothers–engulfing and subversive, view their children as a mirror and an extension of themselves and look for ways to belittle you and tear out your heart whenever you fail to meet their expectations. Don’t allow them to do this. You were not created to live out their dreams–God gave you your own. No one ever mourns on their deathbed regretting they hadn’t pleased their mother more–most say the complete opposite. They wish they had taken control of their own lives.

What’s missing in a relationship with a narc mother is your own sense of self. Until you can find out who you are, being around such a mother will constantly strip you of self-worth until you know yourself and find your boundaries. The best thing you can do is separate from your mother adn let go of any trauma bonds long enough to discover who you are and find out what makes you happy. In order to do this, you might benefit from taking the Myers-Briggs and Enneagram personality profiles.  it might take some studying and experimenting to really discover yourself, but these tests can help you recognize the differences between you and your mother.

If your mother can accept your differences and demonstrate honesty and respect, you might be able to restore the relationship, but  if she only likes you when you act as an extension of her values and likes and dislikes then you are probably dealing with a hard core narc.

So when it comes to spending time with your mom at family gatherings, it’s good to remember these three things:

  1. You are NOT your mother and cannot be her–even to please her. Get to know yourself so you can stand strong in her presence.
  2. To hang out safely with your mother, you need to know yourself and protect your boundaries. Until this can happen, you might need to stay away and communicate to her that you intend to be yourself and only yourself.
  3. If your mother cannot accept you for who you are and chooses to dismiss your feelings and refuses to be honest and shows a lack of respect, you will need to take a break from her. Remember no contact or low contact does not have to last forever, but respectful  boundaries do need to be set so you can continue in a healthy relationship with her.


  1. After reading this, I can see that my mother was the subversive type. Except in private, she often we into rages. Thank you for sharing this post. It is most helpful as I continue to learn about narcissistic mothers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was such an excellent post, Cherilyn! I am sharing your link this morning on The Silver Lining Facebook page. It relates to some posts I have coming from, so I’m glad you posted it! It was the perfect intro into some blog posts I’m sharing for Mother’s Day. I wanted to take this year and recognize that not all of us have empathetic, compassionate, loving Christian mothers; but Jesus will take care of us, and God will bless us anyway! Thank you for such an informative post that I can share with my readers to help them bettter understand narcissism. God bless you, in Jesus’ name! 💙


  3. Mothers who enable narc husbands and betray you with their silence share similar traits with a subversive narc mother. Wow. Thanks.


  4. Written beautifully, humorous but very sad that there are actually mothers like that. it is very interesting that even subtle narc are there…on the whole very thought provoking..thank you!


  5. It seems passive aggressive people can hold it in only so long before detonating.

    I’m looking forward to reading your memoir Lynette. I also appreciate all your reblogs about writing memoir. I have been checking and going over my own as I edit it to make sure all the moving pieces are in place. Whew! Writing memoir is not for the faint of heart. Congratulations on finishing yours! May 30, here we come!

    I hope many people read your book!

    Peace and freedom!


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Jo,

    It is possible to have two narc parents. They would be different types and would have a sort of narcissistic feed that each want. In this way they work in tandem to gaslight their children and manipulate the family. Either way though a enabling parent basically ends up as an extension of the narc. I’m sorry if you have had to put up with that. No one deserves it. Blessings on your life and relationships and as always my wish for everyone who reads my blog is for peace and freedom.



  7. Hi Rita,
    Thank you for commenting and sharing. I think we live in a world where there is a constant battle between good and evil and selfishness and love. Teh typical attributes of a narcissistic personality are lack of empathy well empathy is love. If we become so consumed with self that we lack empathy for others we are not much better than these full blown narcs. What I find sad is the number of people who write me to tell me about their mothers who have done just unconscionable things to them. The world is crying out for the kind of love that we see in the life and teachings of Jesus. If only Christian parents could reflect Jesus better, maybe we would have less religious narcissists and more loving parents.

    Thanks for stopping by,

    Peace and freedom to you!



  8. Well written, and thoughtfully explained. I really enjoyed it. I recognize some of these traits in my dad. He might’ve have somewhere in the middle. He was mentally ill, however, so those traits were eventually forgiven. They affected all of my siblings negatively. I remember most the expectations he had for church, and his abuse of the bible to assume control. Thank you for bringing these points to light.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi April,
    Yes, it is confusing to figure out what is a mental illness or just plain selfish behavior. I’m glad we don’t have to judge people and we can forgive them. When you run into Christians in what I call religious narcia it is really hard as a kid. Now that I am an adult I see through all that junk and ignore those kind of Christians.

    Peace and freedom to you!



  10. I know I’ve said it before, but how I wish I could print out your whole blog and mail it back in time to teenage me. Resources like this just weren’t easily accessible back then, but how helpful are they! I kind of wish every child of narcissists got a manual on what they were dealing with, from birth. It would be a start… and so much better than groping around in the dark. The Internet has lots of mud, but some gold – and what you’re writing is gold, and it makes me happy to think that today’s teenagers, and indeed anyone at any stage, can come across this by googling. It’s still like finding a needle in a haystack, but it’s a knitting needle and at least there is a haystack! 😉

    Thanks and God bless. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you. It’s been a long journey. No, writing memoir is not for the faint at heart. Reading your blog, especially your last post, Mothers of the Lie, which really hit home with me with subversive narcissistic mothers, I’ve learned so much. I can’t wait for you to read my memoir too!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you Andrea!
    What kind words! Yes, I started writing this blog because I wanted to share with others what has helped me. It is a volunteer effort and I am honored that people follow me and share my blog! Thank you again!

    Peace and freedom to you!



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