How To Deal With A Covert Narcissist Mother
How To Deal With A Covert Narcissist Mother

Are you dealing with a covert narcissist mother, and it feels like you’re walking a tightrope of emotions? Understanding the complexities of this relationship is your first step towards healing.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the subtle yet impactful world of covert narcissism. Discover how it shapes maternal relationships and learn practical strategies to not only survive but thrive. Your well-being matters, and by the end, you’ll have the tools to reclaim your emotional balance.

Let’s explore how to deal with a covert narcissist mother, one step at a time.

What is Covert Narcissism?

Before we delve deeper into how to deal with a covert narcissist mother, it’s crucial to grasp what covert narcissism is and how it differs from its more overt counterpart.

Covert narcissism is a subset of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) that is often characterized by a more subtle, hidden, and insidious form of narcissism. Unlike overt narcissists, who display their grandiosity and arrogance openly, covert narcissists operate in a more understated and deceptive manner. They can be emotionally manipulative, subtly controlling, and experts at playing the victim.

Here are some key traits and behaviors commonly associated with covert narcissism:

  • Emotional Unavailability: Covert narcissists often appear emotionally distant and detached, making it difficult to form genuine emotional connections with them.
  • Manipulation: They excel at manipulating situations and people to meet their own needs, all while maintaining a façade of innocence.
  • Attention-Seeking: Covert narcissists crave attention and validation but may not seek it overtly. They may use subtle tactics to elicit sympathy and admiration.
  • Needy and Dependent: They rely heavily on others for emotional support and may project their insecurities onto those around them.
  • Victim Mentality: Covert narcissists frequently position themselves as victims, painting others as the aggressors or oppressors. This can lead to feelings of guilt and confusion for their victims.
  • Gaslighting: Gaslighting is a common manipulation tactic where the narcissist makes you doubt your own reality, leaving you feeling confused and powerless.
  • Entitlement: Despite their covert behavior, they maintain a sense of entitlement, believing they deserve special treatment and recognition.

Understanding these traits and behaviors is the first step in dealing with a covert narcissist mother. It’s essential to recognize that you are not to blame for her actions, and there are strategies you can employ to protect your emotional well-being.

Now that we have a clearer understanding of covert narcissism, let’s explore how it manifests in a mother-child relationship, and what specific challenges it can present.

How Does a Covert Narcissist Mother Behave?

A covert narcissist mother’s behavior can be a perplexing and emotionally tumultuous experience for her children. Understanding the common traits and actions that characterize her behavior is essential in order to navigate this challenging relationship effectively.

Here’s how a covert narcissist mother tends to behave:

1. She Deploys Manipulative Tactics

Covert narcissists are masters of manipulation. They may use guilt, passive-aggression, or emotional manipulation, including giving compliments, to control those around them. For instance, they might play the role of the victim to gain sympathy and compliance.

Recognizing these covert narcissist tactics meant to manipulative is crucial to maintaining your emotional boundaries and is often a precondition for learning how to deal with a covert narcissist mother.

2. She Is Emotionally Unavailable

These covert narcissist mothers often appear emotionally distant and self-absorbed. They might be physically present but emotionally absent, leaving their children feeling unheard and unimportant.

3. She Gaslights

Gaslighting is a common tool in a covert narcissist’s arsenal. They may deny events, conversations, or actions, making their children doubt their own memories and perceptions. This can lead to confusion, self-doubt, and a sense of powerlessness.

4. She Has A Need for Constant Validation

While covert narcissists may not seek attention overtly, they have an underlying need for constant validation. They may use subtle means to ensure they remain the center of attention and that their needs are met.

5. She Resorts to Victim-Blaming

Covert narcissist mothers often avoid taking responsibility for their actions by blaming their children or others. They may deflect accountability by portraying themselves as the wronged party in various situations.

6. She Violates Boundaries

Boundaries are essential for healthy relationships, but covert narcissist mothers often have difficulty respecting them. They may invade your personal space, make decisions for you without your consent, or use emotional blackmail to breach your boundaries.

7. She is Inconsistent and Unpredictable

Covert narcissist mothers can be unpredictable. They may alternate between being excessively loving and harshly critical, leaving their children feeling unsure about how to please them.

8. She Lacks of Empathy

One of the defining traits of covert narcissism is a profound lack of empathy. So, covert narcissist mothers may struggle to understand or acknowledge their children’s feelings and needs.

9. She Has Unrealistic Expectations Expectations

They often have unrealistic expectations of their children, demanding perfection and excellence. This can lead to chronic feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt in their offspring.

10. She is an Isolationist

Covert narcissist mothers may attempt to isolate their children from other family members or friends to maintain control over them. Isolation can make it even more challenging to seek support and perspective outside the family unit.

Recognizing these behaviors and being aware of all the bizarre things a covert narcissist can say is the first step in learning how to deal with a covert narcissist mother.

It is important to understand that her actions are a reflection of her issues, not a reflection of your worth or capabilities. In the following sections, we’ll explore effective strategies for coping with and ultimately healing from the challenges posed by a covert narcissist mother.

How to Deal With a Covert Narcissist Mother

Dealing with a covert narcissist mother is undoubtedly a challenging journey, but it’s not one you have to undertake alone. Remember that you deserve love, respect, and emotional well-being. By setting boundaries, practicing self-care, seeking support, and focusing on your own growth, you can navigate this difficult terrain and emerge stronger and more resilient.

#1. Set Healthy Boundaries

Setting and maintaining boundaries is crucial when dealing with a covert narcissist mother. Boundaries protect your emotional well-being and help you define what behavior you will and won’t tolerate. Here are some steps to establish healthy boundaries:

  • Identify Your Limits: Determine what behaviors are unacceptable to you and where you need emotional space.
  • Communicate Clearly: Express your boundaries calmly and assertively. Use “I” statements to convey your feelings and needs.
  • Enforce Consequences: Let your mother know that crossing your boundaries will have consequences. Be consistent in enforcing these consequences.
  • Seek Support: Reach out to a therapist, counselor, or support group for guidance on boundary setting. They can provide valuable insights and strategies.

#2. Practice Self-Care

Self-care is essential when dealing with the emotional toll of a covert narcissist mother. Prioritizing your well-being can help you maintain your resilience. Here are some self-care practices to consider:

  • Set Aside “Me” Time: Dedicate time each day to activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
  • Physical Health: Ensure you’re eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Physical health can significantly impact your emotional resilience.
  • Mindfulness and Meditation: These practices can help you stay grounded and reduce anxiety.
  • Seek Hobbies and Interests: Engage in activities that you’re passionate about. They can serve as healthy outlets for stress.

#3. Seek Support

One of the most crucial steps in dealing with a covert narcissist mother is seeking support. The isolation and emotional turmoil caused by such a relationship can be overwhelming. Here’s how you can effectively seek support:

  • Open Up to Trusted Friends and Family: Share your experiences and feelings with friends and family members you trust. Let them in on what you’re going through, as their understanding and empathy can provide much-needed validation.
  • Join a Support Group: Consider joining a support group specifically designed for those dealing with narcissistic parents or emotionally challenging relationships. These groups can offer a safe space to share experiences, learn from others, and gain perspective.
  • Therapy or Counseling: A qualified therapist or counselor can be a lifeline. They are trained to help you navigate the complex emotions and challenges associated with a covert narcissist mother. They provide a confidential, non-judgmental space to express your feelings and work towards healing.

#4. Manage Expectations

It’s crucial to approach your relationship with a covert narcissist mother with realistic expectations. Here’s a deeper look at how to manage those expectations:

  • Accept Limited Change: Understand that you cannot change your mother’s core personality or behavior. Narcissistic traits are deeply ingrained and resistant to change. Adjust your expectations accordingly to protect yourself from ongoing disappointment.
  • Focus on Self-Growth: Instead of hoping for your mother to change, channel your energy into your own personal growth and well-being. By improving yourself, you can become more resilient in the face of her behavior and better equipped to handle difficult situations.

#5. Use the Gray Rock Technique

The Gray Rock Technique is a strategic approach to dealing with a covert narcissist mother’s manipulation. Let’s delve deeper into this technique:

  • Emotionless Response: When your mother attempts manipulation or emotional provocation, respond with emotional detachment. Become as uninteresting and unreactive as a gray rock. Avoid feeding into her tactics by showing emotions or engaging in arguments.
  • Limit Information: Share minimal personal information with her. The less she knows about your life, the fewer opportunities she has to use that information against you.
  • Stay Consistent: Be consistent in applying the Gray Rock Technique. Narcissists often escalate their behavior when they sense resistance, so maintaining your emotional neutrality is crucial.

#6. Limit Contact

Limiting contact with a covert narcissist mother may be necessary for your emotional well-being. Here’s how to navigate this challenging step:

  • Evaluate Your Needs: Assess how often you need to interact with your mother. Determine the frequency and nature of your interactions based on what you can handle without experiencing excessive stress or emotional harm.
  • Set Clear Boundaries: Communicate your boundaries regarding contact clearly. Let her know the limits you’ve set and stick to them. Be prepared for potential resistance or attempts to breach those boundaries.
  • Use Technology to Your Advantage: In the age of technology, you have more control over your interactions. Consider using text or email to communicate when possible, allowing you time to think and respond without immediate emotional pressure.

#7. Communicate Effectively

Effective communication with a covert narcissist mother can be challenging, but it’s crucial to assert your needs and boundaries. Here’s how to communicate effectively:

  • Remain Calm and Assertive: When addressing issues or setting boundaries, maintain a calm and assertive demeanor. Avoid reacting emotionally to her manipulation or provocations.
  • Use “I” Statements: Frame your communication using “I” statements to express your feelings and needs without accusing or blaming. For example, say, “I feel uncomfortable when…” instead of “You always…”
  • Practice Active Listening: If she attempts to communicate with you, practice active listening. This means genuinely hearing what she’s saying without necessarily agreeing or reacting emotionally.

#8. Build a Support System

Building a robust support system is vital for your emotional well-being. Here’s how to cultivate such a network:

  • Lean on Trusted Friends: Rely on friends who understand your situation and can provide emotional support when needed. Share your experiences and feelings with those you trust.
  • Nurture Family Connections: Strengthen connections with other family members who may also be dealing with your mother’s behavior. They can offer empathy and shared experiences.
  • Join Support Groups: Consider joining support groups, both online and in-person, where you can connect with individuals facing similar challenges. Sharing stories and strategies can be immensely reassuring.
  • Therapeutic Support: Seek therapy or counseling not only for individual support but also for guidance on navigating family dynamics. A therapist can provide professional insights into managing your relationships.

#9. Educate Yourself

Empowerment often begins with knowledge. In the context of dealing with a covert narcissist mother, educating yourself about narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and its effects on relationships is essential. Here’s how you can expand your understanding:

  • Read Books and Articles: There are numerous self-help books and articles available that delve into narcissism, covert narcissism, and the impact on families. Consider titles like “Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers” by Dr. Karyl McBride or “The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists” by Eleanor D. Payson.
  • Online Resources: Explore reputable online resources, forums, and websites dedicated to NPD and healing from narcissistic abuse. These platforms often provide a wealth of information, personal stories, and coping strategies.

    The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website provides information on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and treatment options.
  • Attend Workshops or Seminars: Look for workshops or seminars in your area that focus on narcissistic relationships and recovery. These events can offer opportunities for learning and connecting with others who share similar experiences.

#10. Consider Professional Help

Sometimes, the challenges of dealing with a covert narcissist mother necessitate professional intervention. Here’s how to approach the possibility of seeking therapy or counseling:

  • Find a Qualified Therapist: Look for a therapist or counselor experienced in treating individuals dealing with narcissistic parents or emotionally challenging family dynamics. They should be well-versed in narcissism and its effects on relationships.
  • Therapy Options: Individual therapy can provide a safe space to process your emotions, develop coping strategies, and work towards healing. Family therapy may also be an option if other family members are willing to participate.
  • Online Therapy: If accessing in-person therapy is challenging, consider online therapy platforms that offer remote counseling sessions. This option provides flexibility and convenience.
  • Support Groups: Therapy isn’t limited to individual sessions. Support groups led by therapists or counselors can be invaluable for sharing experiences, gaining perspective, and receiving professional guidance.

#11. Focus on Self-Validation

A covert narcissist mother’s behavior can significantly erode your self-esteem and sense of self-worth. To counteract this, you must learn the art of self-validation:

  • Recognize Your Feelings: Acknowledge your emotions, even if they don’t align with your mother’s expectations. Your feelings are valid, and they deserve recognition.
  • Practice Positive Affirmations: Use positive affirmations to remind yourself of your worth and capabilities. Repeat phrases like “I am enough,” “I deserve love and respect,” and “I am not defined by my mother’s behavior.”
  • Seek Validation Internally: Rely on your own assessment of your actions and choices rather than seeking external validation. Trust your judgment and instincts.

#12. Practice Emotional Detachment

Emotional detachment is a powerful tool for protecting your mental and emotional well-being. Here’s how to cultivate this skill:

  • Maintain Perspective: Remind yourself that your mother’s behavior is a reflection of her issues, not your value as a person. Distance her actions from your self-worth.
  • Avoid Emotional Reactivity: When she attempts to provoke emotional reactions, practice emotional restraint. Respond calmly and rationally, avoiding engagement in arguments or manipulation.
  • Limit Emotional Investment: Reduce the emotional investment you have in her behavior and opinions. Redirect your energy towards healthier relationships and personal growth.

#13. Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals for your relationship with your covert narcissist mother can help manage expectations and reduce frustration. Here’s how to establish attainable objectives:

  • Define Your Goals: Determine what you hope to achieve in your relationship with your mother, keeping in mind her limitations and behavior patterns.
  • Focus on Boundaries: Prioritize setting and maintaining healthy boundaries as one of your primary goals. Consistently enforcing these boundaries can lead to more manageable interactions.
  • Reevaluate Periodically: Regularly assess your goals and adjust them as needed based on your evolving circumstances and emotional well-being.

#14. Consider No-Contact

In extreme cases where interactions with your covert narcissist mother are causing severe emotional distress and negatively impacting your life, consider the possibility of no-contact. Here’s how to approach this significant decision:

  • Consult with Professionals: Discuss the idea of no-contact with a therapist or counselor. They can help you weigh the pros and cons and make an informed choice.
  • Prepare for Consequences: Understand that choosing no-contact may lead to various consequences, including potential backlash from your mother or strained relationships with other family members who may not understand your decision.
  • Legal and Practical Considerations: Depending on your circumstances, you may need to address legal and logistical issues if you decide to go no-contact, such as changing contact information and addressing shared assets or responsibilities.

#15. Focus on Your Own Growth

Ultimately, your journey of dealing with a covert narcissist mother can be an opportunity for profound personal growth and healing. Here’s how to channel your experiences into personal development:

  • Invest in Self-Improvement: Seek self-improvement practices, such as therapy, self-help books, or workshops, to enhance your emotional resilience and well-being.
  • Set Personal Goals: Establish personal goals that align with your values and aspirations. Pursuing these goals can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
  • Cultivate Healthy Relationships: Nurture relationships outside of your familial one that provide love, support, and positivity. Surrounding yourself with healthy connections can counteract the negative impact of your mother’s behavior.


In conclusion, dealing with a covert narcissist mother is an arduous journey, but one that you can navigate with the right strategies and support. By educating yourself, seeking professional help when necessary, and focusing on your own growth, you can not only survive but thrive in the face of these challenges. Remember that you are deserving of love, respect, and emotional well-being, and you have the strength to create a brighter future for yourself.