Ah, Mother’s Day. Many of us take this holiday to appreciate motherhood, celebrate the relationship we have with our mothers, and, ultimately, honor our mothers for all they have done and will continue to do for us. But how does this work if you no longer have a healthy relationship with your mother? Or if you’ve had to remove your narcissistic mother from your life completely for your sanity? 

When you face a parental relationship with a narcissist, navigating the holidays can be incredibly challenging, especially this one. It may include flashbacks to childhood traumatic events and unmet needs. Beyond the relationship you have with your narcissistic mother, this particularly challenging Sunday in May also requires adjusting to social situations with peers, coworkers, and family members who may or may not understand what it’s like to have a narcissist in the family.

Navigating Holidays with your Narcissistic Mother 

In the days leading up to Mother’s Day, you may wonder about several things: Should I call her? Do I buy her a gift and a card ( Tip- get a blank card and write your own sentiment that might say ‘ Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Have a great day, XO (or Love if you feel moved), ( your name)’? How about attending the family gathering? As you prepare to see her, you can already imagine how it will go: she will find something wrong with the dish you bring, she will comment on what you wear, she will watch what you eat and comment on how much. 

Having a narcissistic mother can make Mother’s Day particularly difficult, just as it can be a challenge to survive the holidays when everyone else is celebrating, and you aren’t. As we realize these thoughts and experiences are painful, although vital, topics to discuss, we have compiled a list of tips to help you cope with Mother’s Day while honoring your healing and reflective process.

On Mother’s Day…

  • Safely distance yourself emotionally, or physically, from your narcissistic mother
  • Determine what “healthy boundaries” look like for you and enforce them— As an added note on this, putting up boundaries can be very tricky and it’s important to be strategic in how you go about this on Mother’s Day when you do choose to be in contact
  • Remain calm and show little to no reactivity to her comments if you are in the same space as her; this will not give her the satisfaction she is seeking (We’ll tackle this idea of hypervigilance in another blog post)
  • Practice your response and exit statements so you can reply or leave when a conversation exceeds its boundaries
  • Recognize when you need to limit or discontinue contact with your narcissistic mother
  • Pay tribute to the women who have positively influenced your life
  • Try to avoid being dragged into familial guilt trips and the family narrative around you ( another big blog topic we’ll dive into soon)
  • Use this time to find support — on Facebook and elsewhere online there are groups of people who experience the same dynamic.  Connect with members and be part of a community of people who understand narcissistic relationships and can support you during this time

Grandmother, mother and daughter lying together on a bed enjoying Mother's Day together.

How to Create Space, Care for Yourself, and Honor Your Emotions

It is not uncommon for adult children who have grown up with narcissistic parents to feel alienated, rejected, and carry a sense of guilt, shame, and hurt due to not feeling loved or not having received adequate positive praise, support, and love from their parents when they were children. 

No matter how much pain your narcissistic mother (in this case) caused you, you may feel guilty for not sending her a card on Mother’s Day or for cutting off communication when she is elderly or terminally ill. When you hear about people who have healthy relationships with their mothers, you may continue to feel isolated or even more cut off from your family of origin. It is important to remember that while you cannot change who your mother is, regardless of what you do or say, you can change how you deal with the feelings you associate with her.

10 Things You Can Do to Help Your Heart on Mother’s Day

  1. Identify the feelings you are experiencing (in a safe place, alone, or in therapy) and acknowledge what is causing them. Once you have done this, remind yourself that it is okay to feel whatever you feel.
  2. Reach out to trusted friends and family to share your experiences, increase your support network, and be acknowledged for what you have been through
  3. Appreciate your ability to love
  4. Begin or continue to set and enforce boundaries, safely, to limit your relationship with a narcissist
  5. Be prepared for your mother to reject your boundaries
  6. Practice self-compassion, and instead of taking responsibility for your past, forgive yourself
  7. Being patient with yourself can help you heal
  8. Limit the amount of time you spend with your mother.
  9. Do not feel obligated to defend or explain your feelings to anyone who questions them
  10. Invest in yourself, get professional support

Women holding hands in a supportive manner, discussing the challenges of having a narcissistic mother and distancing yourself on Mother's Day.Find the Support You Need at West Hartford Counseling & Coaching

Whether this is your first or fifteenth Mother’s Day away from your mother, it is crucial to remember that it takes time and patience for you to heal. When you’re ready to begin or continue your healing but aren’t sure where to start, West Hartford offers comprehensive therapy from a therapist who, from personal experience, understands what it means to have a relationship with a narcissist

Our goal is to ensure that your healing journey is successful and completed on your terms. For more information or to schedule your free 15-minute consultation, you can contact me on my website or call 860-385-1574. Remember – Mother’s Day is just like any other day, and you have the right to celebrate however you want.