Mother's Who Are Jealous of Their Daughters
“Normal or healthier mothers are proud of their children and want them to shine. But a narcissistic mother may perceive her daughter as a threat,” claims Karyl McBride, PhD., author of Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. “If attention is drawn away from the mother, the child suffers retaliation, put-downs, and punishments. The mother can be jealous of her daughter for many reasons: her looks, her youth, material possessions, accomplishments, education, and even the young girl’s relationship with the father. This jealousy is particularly difficult for the daughter as it carries a double-message: ‘Do well so that Mother is proud, but don’t do too well or you will outshine her.’”
In fact, jealousy is crazy-making and creates huge barriers to the daughter’s ability to create optimism and build self-esteem. What is the psychological benefit of jealousy? According to the experts, it allows an insecure mother to feel better about herself, at least for a while. When she criticizes and puts down her offspring, she reduces the threat to her own fragile self-esteem. Since mothers are often entering menopause when their daughters start to develop into desirable young women, it’s often felt that it’s normal for mothers to have some touchy feelings about their own declining desirability. But Dr. McBride says that the poisonous, corrosive envy felt by narcissistic mothers is not normal. It is destructive.
Narcissism plays a large role in this. While narcissists project grandiosity, the experts say they are actually self-loathing, fragile people who do not have a solid sense of self to rely on. Dealing with a narcissist is dealing with a bully. They strike back hard to try to save their own self or credibility. They use name calling, making fun of people, putting others down, judging and being critical as a natural defense. The narcissist is just too insecure to do otherwise. “[The jealous mother] may be sarcastic, angry, give the silent treatment, or resort to personal attacks," says psychologist Nikki Martinez. "These are very impulsive reactions, and often [she] is not even aware of why she is behaving this way. It just comes out." But it leaves in its wake crippling self-doubt, intense insecurity, distrust, and hypervigilance. Since the narcissist is always wondering, “How does our family measure up to others?” their offspring spend a lifetime comparing themselves to others, as well.
If a mother is feeling jealous, she might want to one-up her daughter whenever the younger woman attempts to share some kind of success. "You can’t mention that you are embarking on a new endeavor, taking a new class, updating your wardrobe, or signing up for a marathon without your mom following close behind," relationship expert Weena Cullin, LMFT, says. "Even if your motive isn’t attention-seeking, a mom with jealousy issues will find it hard to allow you to grow or gain ground without trying to stay on your level or one step ahead of you." Jealousy is a pretty painful emotion, so your mom may try to tamp hers down by feigning disinterest whenever you share good news. This can knock the wind out of your sails, which is the intention," Cullins says. "Jealous moms have a difficult time responding to their children’s accomplishments with genuine joy and happiness, so they just might try to steal yours."
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