How To Deal with A Narcissistic Mother in law?

How to deal with a narcissistic mother in law? Has this question been bothering you lately? Is it because you discovered you are living with a narcissist? If so, then let me tell you, you are not dealing with a person you are dealing with a type of mental disorder, which is hard to curtail.

Narcissism is a type of personality disorder. In this disorder, the person feels superior to himself or herself. A narcissist is possessed with inflated self-importance and patronization. They crave appreciation, admiration, and importance for their physical and mental attributes. 

Usually, we think a mother in law is being unfair to a daughter in law when we find such qualities in her but when you know the signs and when you see her interacting with others in the same fashion, then you need to understand that this is a side of her personality. Maybe other family members along with you are finding it hard to adjust to her overpowering nature.

How to deal with a narcissistic mother in law and save your sanity

In addition to a wife’s relationship with a husband, the relationship between a daughter in law and a mother in law is very important for a prosperous household. Some are blessed, and they hit the jackpot while others don’t. But you can always make ways to understand your mother in law and try to find ways to deal with the root cause of the problem. This will help you understand her and hence you can bridge all gaps in the relationship.

Do you know that there exist nine types of mother in laws in India? From compassionate to greedy, from fearful to needy, we have seen all but the mother of all the mother in laws is the narcissistic mother in law. And before I tell you how to deal with a narcissistic mother in law, let me tell you that your mother in law will never agree that she is a narcissist.

How to deal with a narcissistic mother in law? A person with such traits is a great manipulator and they love their image. They will stay good in front of others, pretend to be very compassionate but they are not how they appear to be. Dealing with such personalities is itself a very challenging job; Hence, we can start by identifying if we are dealing with a narcissist with the help of the below-mentioned points.

How to deal with a narcissistic mother in law

Five signs your mother in law is a narcissist

One cannot expect empathy or consideration from a person with such behavioral issues. If you have to live with someone like this and especially if that someone is your arrogant mother in law, then your question, how to deal with a narcissistic mother in law is very much valid and thought-provoking. To deal with a narcissistic mother in law, you need to recognize her first.

We cannot choose mother in laws or any relationship, but we can only try to make things work with what we have got in this life. Relationships are a great contributor to any individual’s life, as the right relationship can help you bloom and a bitter relation with someone in your life could completely destroy your mental peace. You know your mother in law is a narcissist when:

1. She needs constant admiration
2. She frequently demeans others
3. She is very defensive about herself
4. She is full of herself
5. She can never empathize

1. She needs constant admiration

A narcissist mother in law is always hungry for admiration. She believes she is the sole owner of the house and everything belongs to her. People should appreciate her for everything she does. It is not only sad for a daughter in law to get to live with a mother in law who is self-possessed and hellbent on ruining things. But the other family members also might suffer because of her outrageous behavior.

I remember an old incident; I was newly married and my mother in law was cooking some authentic south-Indian food. There were many items out of which I could not eat one item; I politely refused with a smile. It somehow hit her ego, and she threw the serving spoon and said, you think you are a better cook or what? No one ever refused to eat what I prepare, how come you have a problem? I was stunned as from my point of view I just refused to eat something I can’t, and even at my house before marriage, there were a lot of food items which I didn’t like to eat, even if my mom forced me to, I used to get annoyed and she always laughed teasing me. But how situations change when you cannot even politely refuse to eat something you don’t like, how does it define her cooking skill? When it is just a matter of choice.

We all have our own tastes and preferences, but living with a narcissist leaves us with no choice but to appreciate them in whatever they do. After this incident, I was labeled that I don’t like her cooking and I could not help but gulp everything she ever made. She made it because I am not allowed to cook. The kitchen is strictly her area, and I might be a trespasser who could prohibit it. I identified this sign and drew a distance.

2. She frequently demeans others

It is all about power for a narcissist person. They enjoy dominating people, manipulate them, and even fake smiles to show they are pure and happy souls. If you are an emotionally volatile daughter in law then the situation would be worse for you as the probability is your mother in law will not only demean you but your parents and your children too. Taking over is their nature; they create situations wherein you look like a culprit and then they take advantage of the situation.

She could be sarcastic and belittle you in front of others. Looking at these warning signs, you might ponder even more than how to deal with a narcissistic mother in law. In my post, why do Mother in Laws cause Problems in Family and Relationships? I have specifically tried to outline many reasons a mother in law cause problems and how her ignorant behavior could lead to ruin the peace and harmony of the house.

3. She is very defensive about herself

Due to her overpowering nature, she can never take criticism. Even when a family member will try to take a stand for you and if at all that person is your husband and her son, you make her your biggest enemy. A narcissistic mother usually raise either a very sensitive or a narcissistic child, you are in double danger if your husband is like her as well but if you find him empathizing with you, then believe him; he understands because the probability is that he has been a victim of his mother’s personality disorder more than you.

How to deal with a narcissistic mother in law? As to defend herself, she might go to any extent because her image is very important for her. In order to prove her right, she will put blame on others and manipulate things. 

4. She is full of herself

Yes, they are. Everything is about her. Her life, her achievements, her story, her parenting. The one listening to her gets completely lost in the middle of the conversation because such type of person leaves no room for others to enter and be a part of the conversation. they just want to be heard and appreciated for their stories.

Whenever I tried to strike a conversation with my mother in law, as an attempt to let her get to know me as a person, I realized she was never interested. If I would say I loved to dance, she would say she was a stage performer. These in-active listening skills are conversation killers and you completely shut down yourself and let things go out of your way because you realize you cannot win a space for yourself in her life.

5. She can never empathize

The worst thing about a person with the traits of a narcissist is that they can never empathize, they can never understand the amount of hurt and disgust their behavior could cause to others living around them. They cannot love unconditionally for them everything is an exchange. If they love their children, they want their success and achievements as their trophies of parenting. 

As a mother too, a narcissistic mother lacks empathy for the feelings of her children and does not consider their basic needs. If you find yourself stuck with a mother in law who can never understand your pain, then understand she will never ever listen to your side of the story. She will criticize you behind closed doors and in public, she will show you her prized possessions.

Tips to deal with a narcissistic mother in law

Now, with the help of the above warning signs, I am sure you can identify if you landed up with a narcissist mother in law and now I will share five quick tips to deal with one. How to deal with a narcissistic mother in law? You need to deal with her staying mindful and show her you can live with it, and this is how:

1. Become less accessible 
2. Don’t blame yourself
3. Give up on changing her
4. Stay assertive in your approach
5. Don’t let her negativity enter you

How to deal with a narcissistic mother in law

1. Become less accessible 

How to deal with a narcissistic mother in law? By being less available for her. Start by drawing healthy boundaries and becoming less accessible to her. The more you will confront her, the more it will destroy your mental peace, remember sign number three you cannot win over a narcissist.

2. Don’t blame yourself

The most natural phenomenon is that when a person fails to manage something he or she doubts himself. No, you cannot be responsible for everything. Especially when you are dealing with an arrogant mother in law who is least interested in your feelings. You need to choose yourself over someone who cannot see things beyond her.

3. Give up on changing her

I insist that you leave all the hopes of changing her; you cannot change her. Understand if a person is a narcissist then it is a part of his personality that can hardly be altered. The more we will urge on changing that person, the more he will become defensive and things will go haywire. Stop making efforts to change them rather start taking efforts to maintain distance and stay positive to create a balance.

4. Stay assertive in your approach

Stay positive and stay assertive. It will help you fight the daily problems caused by your mother in law. The best part is that in such cases most of the time husband and the other family members also know of the mother in law’s nature so you do not have to prove anything to anyone. Involve your husband so he is aware of the frequent crashes. Just be yourself and be kind to others.

5. Don’t let her negativity enter you

It is a quite natural thing to happen when you are surrounded by so much criticism, bullying, and demeaning you loathe. You cry and you curse your situation, but just imagine what it could lead to? Your mental health. Dealing with someone so hard is already a pain in life and now when you decide to let her negativity enter in you, you pass that negativity to your husband and your children, think about it and regain balance.

Steps towards Mental Wellness

Dealing with someone who continuously criticizes you, belittles you, and demeans you is the most difficult part of anyone’s life and it gets worse when you have to stay with them. Situations like such will only create a stressful environment and make things worse at a cellular level. Understand that you need to take care because things like these take a toll on our sanity and we go into a no-hope zone.

  • Take time for yourself
  • Indulge in a little self-care
  • Pursue a hobby
  • Meditate
  • Let go

A very important part of human life is that it has to go on despite what may come. You are allowed to cry; you are allowed to complain, but giving up should never be an option for you. You need to continuously work on yourself while dealing with external factors. Dealing with a toxic mother in law is worst but you can always take positive steps towards a healthy you from the inside which will lessen the effect of the outside factors. Take charge of your life. Let no domination and overpowering behavior of others rule your life.



How to deal with a narcissistic mother in law

Priyanka Nair is the author of 26 Days 26 Ways for a Happier you and Ardhaviram. An NLP practitioner and Founder of Sanity Daily, helping you prioritize your mental health. Let’s build a happy community.

More insights

Journaling Techniques

​​Journaling for Mental Health – My coping skill

Journaling has long been recognised as a powerful tool for self-reflection, stress management, and personal growth. Through expressive writing, journaling can help improve mental health, enhance emotional well-being, and promote healing. In this blog, I will share various journaling methods

Read more >

10 Responses

  1. Hey! unfortunately i have been dealing with this a long time now but i don’t get that no one in my in laws family including my husband is ready to see this and how it is affecting me. Our marriage and our child. i am in love with him so it is difficult for me to part ways with him. and he is resilient to hear whatever i want to say to him. What should i do. instead i am being painted as negative or one who is having attitude issues. also mine is an arrange marriage she had manipulated stuff to get me into marriage and i am ashamed to say that neither my family nor do i had a complete understanding of what they were doing or upto as we lived in the same community and were married in good faith

  2. This is a great article! It is really important that daughter in laws don’t blame themselves for not being able to have a good relationship with a narcissist mother in law. It truly is a losing battle!

  3. Hi Priyanka ughhh I am going through and have been for years going through really horrible time with my mother in law! She is constantly angry at me and always treats me very badly. In addition I have 2 evil sister in laws about 20 years older than me, that do the same but just not as obvious in front of me as my mother law. (They smile in my face and complain and bad mouth me to my mother in law constantly, which in turn makes my mother in law more aggressive towards me.) it’s like I have 3 monster in laws. It’s torture! She finds any excuse to berate me, and really hurts my feelings. (For years) Some background, I lost both my parents to cancer at a young age, and I don’t really have any family here with me to back me up. (That’s one reason I feel like I get taken advantage of by my in laws, bc they really don’t have anyone to answer to. My husband agrees with me about my in laws, and has tried in the past to stick up for me, but every time he does they make him out to be this crazy animal. She starts shaking and acting like she’s having a heart attack, you know THEATRICS! It’s absolutely horrible! I’ve told my husband to ignore her when she does this, but it’s really hard. I feel like she does this on purpose to get a rise out of us. It’s so sad bc my husband loves his mom, but she treats both of us so badly. It’s unfortunate that I know one of the reasons we get treated so badly is bc my husband created a very successful business and has been thriving for years, and he’s about 20 years younger than his sisters and they are very jealous of him. They are constantly complaining about both of us and instead of his mom being proud of him, she is actually angry about it. I really don’t know what to say, it is really an embarrassment. And not to mention he takes care of his mom financially in every aspect and she still treats us very badly. The 2 daughters give her silent treatment and get angry with her because of that and she takes it out on us, this has been happening for years, so there is no changing that. I also have distanced myself from her which has helped a little bit as soon as I have to see her, it’s like I never left and it happens all over again. Every time I see her my stress level goes through the roof, my cortisol spikes and I am a complete mess emotionally, it takes me a couple of days to get my mental back. Please help me, I don’t want to get sick from stress like my parents did, because of her! Please help me with some other coping skills, I’m very stressed out. Thank you! 🙏

  4. This article is brilliant and frightening. I have had this type of mother in law for 26 years now. The first 5 to 8 years were the worst as I was pregnant before we were married. Everything was my fault, I was a loser, my child will be just like me. She even tried to claim it wasn’t his baby even though he was the only person I have ever been with. I was frequently shamed. We lived with her the first 1.5 years of our marriage, my husband initially was out of town every other weekend. She was a different person when he was out of town. Serving my food to me on a tray on the floor in my part of the home. I was told to be thankful for that and that it could be taken from me at any moment. However when he was home/in town, I was welcome into the other part of the home to eat with the rest of the family. I was not allowed to tell him this or I would be kicked out. I endured this while being 20 years old and pregnant. I was frequently told I ruined his life and the life she imagined for him. Twenty 26 years later, I still hear her tell stories about me being a loser, ruining his potential, my ungrateful children. The list goes on and on. It wasn’t until 26 years later that she was unable to care for herself and we had to share the responsibility of taking care of her 50 percent of the time in my home. I’m at her beckon call for diaper changes, administering medication, providing food. Doing all this while still enduring the criticisms, hearing the lies she tells those who come to my home to visit her or healthcare workers that come to treat her. I am stuck in a dungeon with my worst enemy. I equate it to being a Holocaust prisoner being pulled from their camp to come and take care of Hitler himself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *