Why Narcissistic Mothers Hate To Be Ignored

Find out if you are a Good Daughter!

Dealing with a narcissistic mother can be challenging and emotionally draining.

One aspect of their behavior that might puzzle many is their inability to handle being ignored. In this blog post, we will explore the psychology behind why narcissistic mothers despise being ignored and how it ties into their manipulative tendencies.

A narcissistic mother deliberately behaves in ways that provoke and manipulate those around her. It is important to note that she is psychologically driven to do so, as it allows her to maintain a sense of control and power over others.

She gains satisfaction and a sense of superiority by intentionally triggering emotional reactions in others.

1. The Role of Ignoring as a Powerful Tool

When a narcissistic mother is ignored, it leaves her with unresolved negative emotions bubbling inside, which is an exceedingly uncomfortable place for her.

She will bait, provoke and do almost anything to get you to respond to her.

There is a deeper, darker reason she does this.

Without being able to provoke a response from others, she loses the ability to dismiss, deny, or project her own feelings onto them. Ignoring her deprives her of the opportunity to unload her negative emotions, leaving her feeling powerless and frustrated.

The inability to unload these emotions heightens her need for attention and validation from others, exacerbating her miserable behavioral patterns.

2. The Fear of Losing Control

Narcissistic mothers thrive on controlling those around them.

They revel in the feeling of power and dominance they derive from manipulating others.

When ignored, they lose control over the emotions and reactions of their victims. This loss of control is a significant blow to their fragile ego, shattering the illusion of superiority they have carefully crafted. Consequently, they become desperate to regain control and reassert their authority, using any means necessary to regain the attention they crave.

3. Coping with a Narcissistic Mother

If you are dealing with a narcissistic mother, developing healthy coping mechanisms to protect your mental well-being is crucial. Ignoring her attempts to provoke a reaction can be an effective strategy to reduce her influence over your emotions. It is important to understand that her need for attention and validation is not your responsibility to fulfill. Surrounding yourself with a support system of trusted individuals who understand your situation can also provide much-needed emotional support.


Understanding why a narcissistic mother hates to be ignored sheds light on her manipulative nature and the psychological factors contributing to her behavior. By refusing to engage with her attempts to provoke, individuals can take steps to protect their emotional well-being and establish healthier boundaries in their relationship with their difficult mother.

Do you relate?

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  1. Karla Spencer

    Hi Dr. Fabrizio,

    Love the Good Daughter Syndrome book. I have been promoting it in two self-help groups I belong to. Thank you for writing it!! Your research and words are brilliant and much-needed.

    I could use your advice. There’s not much (if any) info in the book about my situation. *First thing, I only realized my mother was narc SIX months ago!* I am 66 and she is 87. Dad passed 10 years ago, so she is alone. And clinging to me even more than she ever did before. My only sibling (brother) lives 3 hrs away and supports me from a distance and visits occasionally. He is in poor health himself. So her care always fell to me. Yes, I am the good daughter, caught in the not-good-enough and guilt traps. But I’m MUCH more aware now, thanks to you!

    She has many chronic health conditions, all worsening with time. She is blind, frail, off-balance, coughs a lot due to lung fibrosis (long-term damage from 50 yrs of rheumatoid arthritis); uses a walker. I arranged private caregivers, a few hrs each morning, to give her attention, help with pills/breakfast. I have control of her money but she is not wealthy. The last 5 years, I drove her to all Dr appts, manage her meds (still do), and ran errands for her. I found the apt she lives in and helped her move from her house. (I can look back now and see I was over-involved with her.)

    I believe she USES her health problems as a way to get attention/sympathy from everyone, incl ME. Nearly all her friends and family have drifted away from her, which is sad. She doesn’t see it though. She rarely asks about my life.

    6 WKS AGO – My brother and I agreed she was no longer safe alone in her apt. So I (bravely) talked her into moving to assisted-living as a temporary thing. Because she was scared of falling, she agreed to go. I said we would keep the apt for a month and IF she got better, she could go back. She is NOT getting better of course. Last week she fell and ended up in ER/hospital with stitches!

    We’ve had many family meetings and ALL AGREE she must remain in asstd-living and not go back to the apt. Last week, a mental health RN diagnosed her with dementia and short-term memory impairment. She is often confused about where she is and says nonsensical things.

    Even tho she’s in a safe place, she gets angry at me get angry for ignoring her – “Where are you? Why haven’t you called me?” Our dynamics are changing, because the power is shifting to me. She has less power over me than she used to. I don’t visit or call her like I used to. She has many new friends in AL, most of whom are social/friendly to her. Thankfully, the AL staff keep her on track, make sure she eats, etc. She constantly complains about how staff ignore her (because she is not the center of their attention).

    OUR DILEMMA – We are actually cleaning out that apt and letting it go April 30. Sometimes she asks about her apt or suddenly remembers she needs to pay rent. With her dementia and general confusion, we are not even sure if we need to tell her she can’t go back there. Her day-to-day life is just getting through the day. She is sedentary. She can’t see. I see a nursing home in her future.

    As I was typing this, she called me twice! Left an upset vm that she doesn’t know where she is. She considers her cell phone (AND ME) her lifelines. I feel sad and sorry for her…and a little guilty.

    What is your advice? Do we tell her the apt is being let go or just drag things out: “If you get better, we can talk about it later.” Is it okay for me to cut back on visiting and taking her calls? Yes, I know it’s the guilt-trap. It would help me to hear it from you.

    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Hi Karla!

      Thank you for spreading the word about The Good Daughter Syndrome.

      You ask an excellent question, and one I get a lot these days. Maybe that’s another book

      While I can’t give you specific advice, I can tell you what others have found helpful, and you can take from that what feels right to you.

      As a difficult mother ages and the (sometimes) role reversal becomes necessary, what has always been the unspoken becomes louder.
      The inequities of “you were not really there for me, and now I am expected to be there for you”… becomes a screaming headline in the Good Daughter’s head. And the “it’s always about you and your needs” becomes amplified in your consciousness.

      I encourage you to allow yourself to have all those feelings and thoughts without judgment. They are expected and natural.

      Here are a few principles that have helped others in your situation.
      1) No matter how hard you try, it will never be good enough, and, as you know (via my book), this is not a reflection of your efforts but rather of your Mom’s limitations.

      If you can accept that you will not get a genuine appreciation for your efforts, you can prevent setting yourself up for disappointment.

      If you decide to take on the caregiving role, do what is best for you and what helps you maintain your sanity and strength. That includes limiting phone calls and visits.

      2) Release the need to explain anything. As the Good Daughter, you’ve had a lifetime of explaining yourself. Now, you can let go of that if it will just lead to endless back-and-forths. It’s better to focus on the here and now.

      3)If your mother is regressing – becoming more demanding and anxious, she may be helped by firm limits. That doesn’t mean she will like them, but she may feel more settled because of them. Much like a toddler who can’t keep their impulses in check is helped by limits.
      A mother who is in decline is paradoxically settled by the show of someone being in charge.

      4) With narcissistic mothers who are in decline, I have found it helpful to evade questions about whether or not they are returning to their more independent living by saying we will revisit that when you are (fill in the appropriate blank). That way, you don’t dash their hopes unnecessarily, but you aren’t enabling them in something unrealistic and causes you anxiety.

      Best of luck- it is a hard road for sure.


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