Narcissistic mother, narcissistic father – here are their traits

Narcissistic mothers and fathers have most of the following traits. How many apply to your situation?

Narcissistic parents are… self-absorbed, authoritarian, know-it-alls, negative, highly critical of others, yellers, secretive, possessively close to the child, cunning, manipulative, exploitive, stingy, pathological liars, envious and competitive, play favorites (and it’s a rotating favorite list), deaf to other’s opinions, bad listeners, braggers and exaggerators, ungrateful, boundary-less, inept at basic manners, lacking a sense of humor (especially at themselves), feel superior to all others, and are masters in making others feel guilty.



About John

John Thomas Steinbeck is a parental alienation consultant. He and his son's relationship was under attack in a deplorable campaign of parental alienation. In this blog, John shares his insights, techniques, and tools in combating emotional child abuse. He did it-- today his son's love has been restored-- and you can too!
  • Eliza

    These posts are touching on issues that are everyday realities for me and my partner with his narcissistic ex.

    He and his ex have been divorced for over a year, separated for almost two, though they lived together for 6 months following their decision to separate while she sought a new residence. His ex initiated the separation and then took her time to find a new home. This was very uncomfortable for everyone, most of al their 12-year-old daughter, having two separated parents under one roof sleeping in separate bedrooms. Looking back, my partner acknowledges that this should have been his first indication of the narcissistic behavior that was to come.

    His ex continues to put pressure on their daughter in ways that he has no control over. Since he and I have started dating, his ex’s behaviour has become worse. She now badmouths me and makes inappropriate comments about my partner and myself on social media sites within full view of their daughter. Many friends of his who also know his ex have brought the inappropriateness of her behaviour to her attention but her reaction is to blow them off as if they are over reacting or to simply “defriend” them. She has also pressured their daughter to not communicate with me on social media sites and – being a good kid – their daughter has obeyed her mother. My partner asked his daughter about this and she cited feelings of fear of being punished for not adhering to her mother’s wishes on the subject.

    This is just two of the many cases of inappropriate behaviours that his ex exhibits: Constantly texting their daughter (saying she worried) to the point that their daughter feels very guilty when she forgets to text her mother when she arrives ANYWHERE; starting conversations with their daughter about things discussed with her father and openly disagreeing; she has even “helped her daughter carry things” into my partner’s home (uninvited) and then commented negatively on social media sites about seeing my underwear hanging in the laundry room….totally inappropriate and frankly silly considering it is a laundry room and she should not have been there in the first place.

    All of these things are hurtful for my partner and give his daughter the sense that his actions and opinions are wrong. We have also started to see behaviors consistent with narcissism in his daughter in that she is not willing to listen to others’ opinions and constantly forces her opinions on on us in a complaining manner. The adage “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” has become a contant in his household.

    When his daughter is with us we are not negative about her mother and try to make my partner’s home a place where his daughter can communicate openly. We are now at the point that we don’t know what to do next. Help!

  • need advice

    need advice……step daughter (whom I raised) ran off, got married (to a jerk) got pregnant, let them both live with me then he left her 2 months after baby born….me and my family (me, my mother & sisters) raised Chloe (baby), step daughter never had to buy anything (formula, diapers, pay for dr appts,…..) then she got her own apt, 2 weeks later she had a “jerK’ move in with her….long story short…….he has “brain washed” not only my daughter but my granddaughter….she is now about to be 11 yrs old…he got her a cell phone for xmas….she was “allowed” to spend the weekend with me but he texted & called her (up til 2:30 am) and it was to the point that i could not even get 10 words out of my mouth and he was texting again. I finally had enough & said something to her and she replied but he LOVES me….explained to her that I was not questioning that but that I had wanted me and her to have a “girls” weekend then afterwards (at 1:00 am) after she got another text, she claimed she had to take a shower….so I called my sister crying about what was going on and realized I didn’t hear the shower running….found her in my closet with the door shut talking to the “step dad”………….then I broke down telling her I didn’t understand why she felt she had to lie to me. then he shows up at 9:00 am to get her (without my step daughter) & I had the slide lock engaged on the front door which he BENT & just about had the door pushed open which not only scared me but my granddaughter was terrified….he came in and screamed at her & she ran out and didn’t tell me goodbye or even hug me (which has never happened) haven’t heard from her or my step daughter. my husband is out of town so I really feel like if he were here this would not have happened…..something just isn’t right with this…..also when I picked up my grandaughter HE informed me that she is suppose to tell him when she gets her period…. REALLY??? WTF??? I am sick over this….need advice…………

  • John

    John I have recently joined the family and love my wife dearly and i understand what you are going thru – there is no love there.

  • admin

    Thanks, John. It’s such unnecessary contempt…

  • RR

    I too am living somewhat of the exact situation as Eliza and would appreciate some advice. Thanks

  • barbara

    My son and his wife have been separated three years, they have one sone now 6; the mother is engaged to another but still married, she is an entertainer. She has told their son that I am evil and everyone loves her and that if they don’t love her they can’t love her son. I wasn’t allowed to speak to my grandson for 12 weeks because she told lies about something I did, I live thousands of miles away and work 14 hour days; I don’t get involved. Last night my grandson was at the babysitter and he wanted to speak to me and told me that I had to talk to his mother, love her hang out with her then all would be ok , that he liked my hugs and when I visit but I was evil and tricking him and that if I did anything wrong his mother and boyfriend planned to put me underground. I had a good relationship with my grandson and when I said I loved him, he said I was evil and if I didn’t love his mommy I didn’t love him, I said I loved his father but he said that wasn’t true and mommy told daddy that he had to get rid of me.
    I’m staying away and not pushing anything, one I think they need to get a divorce. she writes things in facebook that everyone loves her her finance and including her ex and his brother, isn’t she a lucky gal to be so loved. He is six years old, he should not be brainwashed like this, my son should deal with it, so I’m staying out of it but fear for my grandson who now hates school because he can’t wear pretty clothes he has to be like the others, his mother put a shirt on for class pictures instead of uniform and they took it off and he wore a t-shirt and couldn’t be in the group picture, he has missed 18 days 10 tardies in 1st grade, she pulls him out of school and now told him he will travel the world with her. I’m afraid for him.

  • Looking for Advice

    Okay I’ve divorced for a year already, but the damage actually began occurring 16 yrs ago. What started out as a friend helping me with my eldest son because the father wasnt pulling his weight…..turned into a relationship that by all rights never should have been because while we were friends I could tell something just wasnt right about his family. We would be out for the day & would stop by the house for a few moments & his mom would come walking in acting all kissy kissy with her kids…..tryin so hard to make it seem as though her family was more like the Brady Bunch. Much of the time I felt like I was in some bad Twilight Zone show…..I was always looking for cameras lol. Being the open-minded person that I am I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Well during our relationship I began to have flashbacks of my childhood & of course my mom wasnt exactly the greatest mom in the world herself, but she was always a good provider. During her times as a single mom, I had been molested & abused on many different accounts & my family tried desperately to intervene, but my grandparents (whom tried to take custody of me) were told they were too old so the abuse continued with my family members sitting helpless on the side lines not sure how to help. Anyway, the flashbacks that seem to occur always came out of nowhere…..usually when i was in the middle of taking care of my oldest son so my ex being the nice guy would come in and take over so I could get away to clear my mind. Well eventually as time went on the flashbacks got better & I became a bit more able to handle things, but living in the same state as my family I was placed in constant chaos between my family and his. If my mom wasnt degrading me then his mom was asking questions such as “If you had to chose between your girlfriend or me, who would you chose?” What mother honestly does that to her own kid??? We were consenting adults just tryin to get ourselves together so we can actually make a life. Well eventually the situation became worse. His parents divorced in 1997. It came out of the blue, but I suspected his dad had been having an affair. I brought it up to his mom & she became irate. I’m not actually surprised by it since she always tried so desperately to make it look like she had an awesome family & was so loved by her kids as well as spouse. Anyway through the divorce most of the truth began to surface, but having come from a divorced family myself I knew the ones who usually paid were the children & even though these kids at this point were all adults even they paid heavily with that divorce. During all of this I was hearing different things from his mom such as one moment it was that she felt badly about the way my mom treated me, but then it was my fault her son & ex husband got into a fight or it was my fault that her son had a heartattack…..eventually this all lead into comments such as I would never make a good mother because I had been abused…..I shouldnt be tryin to make anything out of myself because I have kids and they need me home. “My son should be the one promoted not you. You dont need to be spending so much time at work.” It got to the point after hearing this so often and not having anyone to talk to that I began to believe alot of it & I fell into a very deep depression. My oldest and middle son wound up going to Foster care & then the kids were split up one lives with my mom and the other lives with his mom. And since our split up he moved back to FL to live with his mom, filed for divorce when my youngest son was suppose to be coming to spend the summer with me in Savannah & I havent seen my son now since 2009 when they headed back to FL. Yes I am leaving alot of info out because my situation is very long & frustrating. Most of it is very negative and I sometimes wish I had really acknowledged the red flags cause there were too many to count, but much of the time I was in a lose/lose situation & had noone to turn too so I couldnt find a way out, but my current problem is this. Even though my divorce papers state that I am suppose to have 51 days a year with my youngest son. I have not seen him in 2 yrs. I have done all I can do in the situation, but everytime I make arrangement to get my children…..they come up with some excuse as to why the children cannot go. I do not have the money for an attorney due to the economy being so rough & the fact that I havent worked in 5 yrs. I’m at the end of my rope. Now my middle child has told me on several occasions that his dad is mean to him and that the family yells at him. He called me one day with a horrific story of child abuse claiming his father punched him & that his grandma did nothing about it & since I will not live in FL anymore due to all the chaos & my fear that they will try something….I contacted DCF to file a report. When the case worker went to investigate my son claimed that I had misunderstood him and he never said that……but yet he had his baby brother tell me it happened & my youngest knows better than to lie to me & he also had his Aunt who is mentally challenged tell me it happened & of course I believed him because I thought I could. According to all accounts he is doing well in school, but since he has begun doing Tae Kwon Do and entered Junior High he seems to have become more aggresive….making threats to his older brother to beat his ass & hanging out with kids that seem to have home issues themselves. I just dont know what to do & to top it all off I get a call from the same case worker that informed me about all the meds my ex is taking. He suffered a stroke this past summer & has lost the ability to walk so he’s been in therapy plus they cant get his blood pressure meds adjusted correctly so his blood pressure is always either too high or too low. The concern the case worker had was not for my 12 year old, but for my 8 year old whom my ex husband filed for custody of behind my back & apparently she claimed that all the meds he is on made her question whether he can care for the child, but nothing has been done about it. My ex admits that the meds make him sleep all the time & there is no actually adult in the house…..the great-grandmother is 84 and on a walker as well as the sister is mentally challenged so I just dont know what more to do. I am suppose to be gettin the boys for Spring Break, but I doubt that one is gonna happen because they want me to fork out all this money to pick them up and bring them back which I cannot due. As it is my fiancee and I are using our rent and utility money to pay just to go get them. My eldest one will be coming up as well, but his arrangements have already been taken care of. My parents will be picking him up at the end of the week. I have asked them if they would be willing to take the other 2 back & they refuse to be involved because as it is they are never permitted to see their own grandchildren. So honestly I’m stuck!!!! If anyone has any advice it would be greatly appreciated……I can use all the help I can get…..Thanks

  • I have a friend going through a terrible divorce and psychologists diagnosed his soon to be ex-wife as having a very gravely disturbed personality and that her relationship with the children is of strong psycho pathological risk. One psychologist thinks she is suffering from Narcissistic disorder. Reading through your post I can really see that, as she treated the children as possessions to control and use against her husband.

    Too bad the courts did not request supervised visits when she lost custody to the father. She abducted the children during her summer visitation and the father has not seen the kids since end of August.

  • Sally Jean

    At some level, it’s a parent’s responsibility to be authoritative and possessive towards their children. Although as they say, too much of everything can be disadvantageous. Parents who realize that they have that narcissistic qualities should be careful with how they deal with their kids. More often than not, their children would become rebellious, defiant and can even duplicate how their parents behave. There may be different types of parenting…
    …But it’s essential for parents to realize that how they handle their kids can definitely affect their children’s future.

  • rob

    there is someone in my family who fits this Narc. Mother catagory….she not only has EVERY SINGLE trait, but has 3 children whom i worry about..she has caused family problems also and no matter what anyone says to her, she will NOT accept apologies, forgive, she holds grudges and puts the children over pples heads (as punishment for doing or saying something she doesnt like) ex: withholds the kids from certain family members which causes a chain reaction of heartache and stress on other family members as this includes holidays, birthdays and day trips etc….we can never all be together at once because of this….she will take the kids out of EVERYONES lives if it benefits her anger and misery…..what can be done…privately if not legally?
    missing out on family

  • Tac

    Very true, Step mother has and had all of the above traits, except that she is not a male, but then again she may be more male than my Father, who let all the abuse go on for years. She ruled the roost, because she figured out she was holding all the cards early in the game.

    I used to blame her almost solely for the conditions and browbeating and constant issues, short and long term dominance, but I realized later my Father allowed it to occur, He effectivly “outsourced” the raising of his children.

    I continues to be a sad situation and we still have to deal with her, with mostly the old boundaries still there.

    Look, out the children “me”, come out sort of angry about things sinacle, and can’t trust anyone in a relationship level.

  • Michele

    Just came across your site, Oh My Goodness, this describes my husbands ex-partner. I fear for his children and we are fighting this in court, but things have just gotten worse and we believe his children are in grave danger through the mental abuse and this so called hold she has over them, it is so bad that they believe anything that she says to them. If anyone can help us out we would grately appreciate it.

  • Ric

    I lost my 14 year old son 3 weeks ago in Florida through suicide. Due to a a narcissistic mother. With professional degrees .A pathological liar.

  • Mark

    My ex I realised too late has a narsassitic personality disorder. I knew she lied but trusted she wouldn’t lie to me as no reason to. Hummmm…

    Two children later and a very messy divorce six years ago, it is still ongoing as she obviously knows my childhood history after 14 years. All the issues I had to face then I am having to relive almost every moment of every day as she manipulates and lies and plays guilt tricks on our daughter (my son managed to get to live with me – by the skin og my teeth because she lied to the court and if she did what she said she was going to she’d lose her control over her new partner). Anyhow, my daughter doesn’t answer my emails – I can’t call for fear of putting my daughter in a more difficult position with her mother on the other end. I can’t call around as she’s already lied to the police on a number of occassions, one of which involved my arrest and being charged – there were other neutral witnesses she wasn’t aware of who came forward on my behalf and said what they saw. The charges against me were dropped but no charges lodged against her because of her actions. As a man, I feel powerless as the legal and policing systems seem to assume that the woman is innocent and the man guilty. And I’m a Health Visitor/ Public Health Nurse! She continues to lie play guilt tricks and is a nurse. All I can do is to continue to go through the motions of legal actions knowing that I’m doing it for me, so at least I can face myself knowing I’m trying to do something within the legal framework….

  • Dave

    Here is a video of my experience with Parental Alienation. My wife has numerous BPD/Narcissistic traits, though she has never been diagnosed.


  • Lynn

    I was married for 21 years and at the time my oldest daughter was 14 years old when things went down hill. She will be 18 this month and since my divorce she has had nothing to do with me or anyone on my side of the family. This has been going on for 3 years now and it is just getting worst. She had a relationship with me, her great-grandmother, grandparents, uncles, aunts and neighbors. Now she will not speak or have any contact with any of us. I have tried counseling through the courts, but her father does not believe in counseling. There is a court order for her to attend counseling however the father made sure he dragged it out by only making four appointments over the last year and a half . She turns 18 this month and will no longer have to attend, and 4 appointments were not enough knowing that the father and his mother do not believe in counseling. Does anyone have any suggestions? I have tried to get the school conselors involved and the courts and have not got anywhere. Any suggestions what I could possible try?

  • great list – thank you. These are also the parents who are “brainwashing the children” and emotionally abusing them to get revenge on the parent that left the marriage.

  • CC

    One of my step-childrens therapist talked to us about my husbands ex’s parenting style. It’s called FOG. It stands for parenting by Fear, Obligation and Guilt. Very narcissistic…….The chldren are fearful of her rage and tyrants. She has always made them feel obligated to her for going to work and putting food on the table. And if they step out of line and “You owe me for all the sacrafices I have made for you” doesn’t work, then she applies guilt. Since there is 3 children w/ 3 different temporaments, FOG has affected them differently. The oldest absorbed ALL of the FOG, the middle child is fearful of her but almost despises her, and the youngest has turned it around to where others are fearful of him, should feel obligated to him for just being nice that day, and is always the victim. He tries to make his mother feel guilty for not giving him enough love but she’s a narc. so we all know how that guilt trip is going…. It’s a complete mess 🙁

  • Carrie

    Wow…this is my mother. I am amazed at how very opposite of her I turned out. I am so grateful, though. I never even knew how bad the problem was until I became an adult and friends, etc would not believe the things she does and did…then at marriage counseling in my new marriage with my wonderful husband, I learned and it hit me hard, that my mother is severely abnormal. These parents hide it so well in front of others. She likes to makes jokes at the expense of others and is very controlling, arguementative, a right-fighter…so many negative things and it is terrible that i dont have more positive things to say about her. I really wish i did. I cannot trust her with basic mother – daughter matters. I have struggled with this for so long…the fact that I do not enjoy spending time with my own mother. So sad. It is abusive behavior and it ruins so much within a child’s heart and continues to into adulthood. I wish she’d get mental help, but this is such an elusive mental problem and the worst part is that these individuals are the hardest ones to ever get to admit they have any inkling of imperfection. Thanks for the info here. Very insightful and I am taking it all in, trying to get things into perspective and deal with this problem within my own life in a much more positive way for my own good. it seems like a small thing, since she lives a few hours away, yet it nags at me and it is a pretty big deal to feel like you only care about your parent simply out of obligation:( I try so hard to just be nice and treat her respectfully, yet she continues the terrible behavior and is clueless to my aggitation with her. God Bless and best wishes to anyone else dealing with anyone like this.

  • Carrie

    CC- I have to comment on your post because you describe my older brother, myself(middle) and younger sister exactly the same based on being treated that way. I despise, my brother ignores, and my sister…well, almost like my mom, but very snippy and hurtful to others very often. Very interesting how it affects kids and sad. I am glad you see this and are trying to help your kids now while they are young.

  • Rhonda MacLeod

    Hi There–My husbands ex-girlfriend Candy Cutajar and Mother of his 25 disabled daughter is also the poster mom for this site. Candy Cutajar is also linked to a site explaining Parental Alienation. My husband has not seen his daughter in over 3 years because Candy is a hateful, insecure and jealous person. All her anger is directed to my husbands daughter who can’t handle the emotional abuse pertaining to her Father. It is a shame when a parents jealousy over the NEW Wife has to be put on the child.

    Thanks for listening
    Rhonda MacLeod

  • Elaine

    Wow, you just described my ex perfectly. The sad part is that he keeps trying to prove that I’m the one who is narcissistic, yet, I possess few if any of those traits. Going through the list, I really don’t see many in myself, but I see most in him.
    Self-absorbed-Every time you ask him for anything, however small, he asks “what’s in it for me?” Authoritarian-He rules by the fist and belt, need I say more? This is also where I see the least of myself, because I have never been this way.
    Know-it-alls-Let’s just put it this way, he has claimed to be the smartest man in the world.
    Negative-Very negative, especially of others.
    Highly critical of others-Always.
    Yellers-My kids used to call him Mufasa because he was always roaring.
    Secretive-This is the one trait that I would say I do possess, but it is out of safety concerns because of what he has done to me and used against me. I wasn’t like that before. As for him, he always has been, and I found out that it was because he was cheating on me.
    Possessively close to the child-The children were always his possessions, although until we divorced, they were my responsibility. I was also his possession while I was married to him.
    Manipulative-Not enough room for those stories here. Exploitive-Exploits everyone and every thing he can. Stingy-Only when it comes to stuff for me or our boys. Our daughter was allowed to have all that she wanted, and he was allowed to have anything he wanted. If I got a new pair of underwear, I was supposed to kiss his feet for a month.
    Pathological liars-I don’t think he even knows the difference between a lie and the truth anymore, because he’s so good at lying.
    Competitive-Everything is a competition to him.
    Deaf to other’s opinions-His favorite line is “If I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you,” but it’s not a joke to him.
    Bad listeners-Don’t get me started.
    Braggers and exaggerators-I’ll just say yes.
    Ungrateful-but you had better be grateful to him. Boundary-less- I’m not sure on this one.
    Inept at basic manners-Yes
    Lacking a sense of humor (especially at themselves)-yes, pretty much.
    Makes others feel guilty-and the one who feels the most guilty is the one writing this.

  • Hello, my name in robert
    I’am 61 and raised my grnadboys since they were 1/12 and 3. in 2007 they moved out with their father who I hoped get custoy. the mother wanted to well lyou know. I was supprised to see the father lst the kids run under hoursed, and turn over gas casn while he looded the other way so he could talk on his phone. I verrly retirive the kids thank sto the dos , and when the smalll by ran into the horsr stall i got their just in tim to keep the mare from kikkint him. thants when i religed i had to be both father and mother of the kidws so i quickt work work and watched them full time. it was’nt long befor i found my son acted as though they did’nt excest. soon my wifew quit too as it took two to rais them full time.
    as time went on, we/I found he did’t care a all for lthem. themwm after 6 years I kicked him ou only to have the eldest comet suicide a yerar larer. any anvice welcome

  • Natalia Vigil

    I feel like I can relate to this so much, I am dealing with these same exact issues, but with my father. I am just starting to realize that this is the problem. What makes the problem worse, is that he is my boss. Funny, because now I can see how that is just another controlling tactic to keep me under his possesion. I keep convincing myself that it is easier for me to stay here because I can make my own schedule, and this helps out with picking up my daughter from school, or if I have to do activities with her. I feel very lost.

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  • Cherie Thorpe

    excellent summary! may i use it on my website?