Her perpetual focus on her own agenda may lead her family to perceive her as being cold or disinterested in theirs.
Carly was almost 3 when her single mother decided to leave her with her grandmother for a month in order to go hiking in Nepal.
Carly remembers being scared that her mother was never coming back. Carly was too young to understand what a month was and cried for days.
When her mother showed up suddenly one day to take her back home, Carly started crying and ran to her and clung to her leg. Her mother got angry and told her to “stop being a baby!”
5. She Expects Her Children to Be Perfect
The Exhibitionist Narcissist mother expects her children to perfectly represent her in the world and is disappointed and angry when they don’t live up to her expectations.
This is because she cannot separate her internal image of herself (what the object relations theorists call her “self-representation”) from her internal image of her children.
As a result, when her child does badly, she feels badly about herself. Similarly, when her children do well, she feels good about herself.
It is as if their image and her image overlap in her mind (what the object relations theorists call “a fused self and object representation”) and their boundaries are permeable.
This usually leads to her putting a lot of pressure on her children to be perfect and special, and a lot of screaming, punishment, and withdrawal of love when they do not live up to her expectations.
The Exhibitionist Narcissist mother may choose one child as her favorite and devalue the other.
In some families, she may change favorites on a whim. Often the children are pitted against each other: “Why can’t you be more like your brother?”
6. She Is Moody and Will Create an Uproar When Things Are Not to Her Liking
The Exhibitionist Narcissist mother can be quite moody.
She may be happy and warm to her family when she is feeling special and the center of admiring attention, then suddenly turn angry and negative the moment things are not going the way that she wants.
She is hyper-sensitive to anything she considers a slight and will retaliate immediately in a way that is wildly disproportionate to whatever occurred.
She is also likely to devalue anyone who does not agree with her. She cannot grasp that there can be different and equally valid ways to perceive a situation.
When her children or husband do not agree with her point of view, she takes that as a personal criticism. She is likely to angrily lash out as if she has been personally attacked.
She may try and bully everyone into agreeing with her opinion and they may give in and agree just to restore peace.
The whole family gets used to organizing itself around Mother’s moods: fearfully tiptoeing around to avoid her wrath when she is angry, and coming out again when she is happy.
Sometimes one or more children devote themselves to getting mother out of her “bad mood” by focusing a lot of positive attention on her and saying what they have learned she wants to hear.