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Narcissistic Mothers: What is a controlling mother? (Lessons from "The Waterboy")

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

Mothers are incredibly sacred. They carry a stewardship and a role that no man could ever provide - to carry a child and bring life into this world. To nurture them, to raise them and to bond with them to make sure that they feel safe in the world.


Yet sometimes that maternal drive to make sure a mother's child is 'safe' can go too far. You might well know someone who had one of "those mums" growing up as a kid. They always had to pick them up from a late-night to make sure they were safe. They were always worried about whether their "little angel" would be safe going out with their friends. They thought that their child was the most perfect child in the world...


Maybe that was a mum of a friend, maybe that was your mum. Whatever the case, overbearing, controlling, doting mothers can be incredibly harmful in the name of protection, care and love. You might have heard these kinds of mothers say things like...


"I just want the best for you."


"I just want to know you're safe."


"Can you blame me for caring about you?"


"I didn't realise that loving you was such a selfish thing to do."


Here is an eerily accurate example from a comedy film, “The Waterboy” starring Adam Sandler:






While the clip (and the film) is funny and a brilliant take on the mother-son dynamic, it has crucial life lessons. Controlling, domineering mothers are incredibly damaging to the health of their child - all in the name of love, when actually it's about the mother not losing her identity. Mothers are sacred but when their responsibilities to their child become more self-serving than serving their child, it is extremely detrimental.


I am developing a group for people who have, or have had narcissistic, controlling parents and want to start reclaiming and building their own lives. If you'd like to learn more about being a part of one of these groups, please do get in touch with me at sukh@lighthouseglobal.family


If you want to understand in more detail and depth about narcissism and toxic narcissism in families, here is a thorough and necessary article from Sally Davis.


To read the real-life, personal mentoring experiences of people who have grown up and out of these toxic environments, click here.


Find out more about our further discoveries into human potential from the last 18 years through our pioneering research on our social media channels.

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12 Comments


Cheers for sharing, I actually watched this quite recently and yes it is funny in context but tragic too in respect of the consequences and controlling narcissistic pathology. Appreciate your example here Sukh so thank you.

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654
654
Jan 17, 2022

This is such an important article Sukh! Really appreciate you writing this 😊.


Narcissism is only recently starting to gain some attention whereas narcissism in parents goes virtually undetected for a very long time!


Raising awareness around this issue is so important to help liberate people from this toxic dynamics, and this article goes a long way in doing that, so thank you ☺️

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Sukh Singh
Sukh Singh
Jan 17, 2022
Replying to

Cheers Ella, Paul Waugh my mentor has helped me literally extract and this is one of THE silent pandemics behind young people getting depressed, ending their own lives, going way off the tracks because the very nurture they ought to receive turns into control and alienation and disconnect... learning to disassociate rather than learning the critical need for empathy from a young age! Thank you x

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Jai Singh
Jai Singh
Jan 17, 2022

Thanks Sukh, while this is a very funny movie I appreciate you making a very serious point with this. Unfortunately controlling parents suffocate their children and stunt their growth and I have had personal experience of this as I know you have. So important to be raising awareness of this.

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Gillian Watson
Gillian Watson
Jan 17, 2022

Thank you for using an example from a popular mainstream movie, to help us understand what they have highlighted in that role of a controlling mother. While they have chosen to use humour to highlight the absurdity of her behaviour, in real life, that control might not seem so ridiculous or obvious when it's in your own relationships.

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Sukh Singh
Sukh Singh
Jan 17, 2022
Replying to

Absolutely, I know it's only now, years later that I can look back at (some - not all) of my experiences and see the funny side. I remember Paul said to a few of us recently that all comedy is actually highlighting the reality of narcissism...thanks Gill

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James Mills
James Mills
Jan 17, 2022

Thanks Sukh for writing and sharing this... it's so important to be addressing the subject of parental narcissism because of the damage it can do. At the same time I appreciate how sensitive this area is and value how you've used humour to introduce this. The other article that I've appreciated in this area is this other one on Psychology Today about the 10 signs of a narcissistic parent. Personally speaking I've experienced parental narcissism in a different way to this above... in the name of given choice and freedom I experienced neglect. That's why I've personally needed to invest in my own mentorship and coaching to get what I didn't receive growing up.

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