24 thoughts on “Never 21 or Infantilization by Narcissists

  • June 11, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    Oh gosh how I feel that pain, though thank god my parents divorced and I “ran away from home like an ungrateful brat” when I was 14 to live with my father. I can remember the vicious clothing, granny shoes, and and home perms that burned my hair and head… all the while mommy dearest undersigned clothing, weekly hairdressers visits, and shoes for every outfit. The ONLY time I looked half way decent was when we were wearing lookalike out fits(what fun…I was mini-me).. I finally got to wear what I wanted when I wanted except when I visited her. I stoped going after I told my father about her throwing away or burning my “inappropriate” clothing.

    • June 11, 2016 at 7:50 pm

      And that should say designer clothing.

  • June 11, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    Hedious clothing…not vicious although I suppose it could be considered vicious action by her…lol

  • June 12, 2016 at 11:37 am

    Dear Lenora and Friends, back in the early 80s, i can still remember my sister saying something about seeing moms dressed to the 9s, while their kids looked more like urchins. One time, one of her friends came over, and the friend’s daughter was in pants that were way too tight for that growing child. This mutha wasn’t a fashion queen – no, she was just typical trash. That was evident in the way she didn’t bother to provide adequate clothing for her child.

  • June 12, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    This is exactly how it was for my ex. She was 32 and her mom still drove 20 miles to clean/tidy her apartment. When we discussed moving in together it turned out that her mom had said “no way” and my ex dutifully deferred to her. Her mom was devious, giving the impression that she was letting her daughter spread her wings but in actuality has her completely under the thumb. The mother had manipulated her so that my ex was 100% dependent on her. Imagine a 32 year old saying “mom and dad would kill me if I moved in with you”

    • June 16, 2016 at 4:57 am

      At 43 my mother would still say that…

  • June 13, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    In the 7th and 8th grades I was not allowed to take a bath or wash my hair. I would have to go to school with my hair so dirty and oliy that it stuck together in pieces. I could only wear what she would let me wear.

  • June 14, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    I hit “check” to most of your experiences. I was raised by nannies till i was 9 then sent off to boarding school, till high school ended. Uni too was under the watchful eye of a staff nanny. At 21, my commitments to education ceded, and i was ready to explore a parent child relationship. I regret the last 10 years of exploration. All those age appropriate activities were taboo to me. Forget boyfriend, i had restrictions in befriending people. Everyone was a threat to them hence no one cud be my friend. They instilled deep fears in me regarding my survival outside their camp. My mom would make me quit jobs faking illnesses, n dad would act needy n emotionally take away my income. In hindsight i feel it was to ensure i never gain self sufficiency. Im 31 now and m still struggling to figure out and fit in to whats normal .

  • June 14, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    I’m glad to know there is a name for this. Now things make more sense. Like the commenters above, I was not allowed to look nice, had only one dress in my closet, when they left me off at college I had nothing to wear so had to borrow my mother’s clothes. First thing I did was to date a man with a dark skin color. My mother cried and cried, she also cried when I was at the peak of my successful life without them, she said “but you don’t have a man”, my step father told me I was too ugly to get married, but I had 6 proposals. I always wondered why they wanted to marry me? The one I did marry is a narcissist 🙁 Back to grandparents, for presents they gave their grandchildren at least my kids, gifts that were years under their age or grade levels. We started to just accept money from them. I was not allowed to take college classes that were in my area of talent which was art. Sigh. If someone is interested in art in the family the first thing they hear is “how will that ever pay bills”. :/

    • January 19, 2018 at 4:55 pm

      You might just be me! I had to look twice to make sure I hadn’t written it.

  • June 16, 2016 at 1:03 am

    Emotional infantilization. My father did this to me. I was nerver to be lectured by mom, or havet to clean or do chores. No conflicts, unless I wasn’t living up to his expectations (to be a creative care free child). Then I was met with deadly rage or flat out ignored and he felt disdain for me. And mom hated me for getting fathers attention. Socially I got sick every time I was with other kids. I had been too spared of human relations.

  • June 16, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    My mom still thinks she knows better than me. I’m 37. I’m pretty sure I know what utensils I need in my kitchen. I have a holder for my toothbrushes mom, thanks. I have some thing to hold my kitchen sponges already. “Gifts” that I don’t need are always being given. Things she thinks I need because I’m too lazy or stupid to have them already.

  • June 16, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    My mother came up to my house (we live in different states) unannounced and uninvited 2 days before I was be induced. She reorganized my entire kitchen and cleaned my entire house to the way she liked it. I had to keep calling her to ask her where everything was, which I’m sure she loved since she got to be in control. She then took over in the delivery room, which she wasn’t even supposed to be in, and I ended up having to get a c section because she pushed for so many drugs and everything stopped. I’ve finally gone NC after I found out she was going to come up again unannounced and uninvited.

  • June 16, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    The infantilization never ended with me until I went no-contact. I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, and as a little girl I was dressed as if I were one of my mother’s 1950s baby dolls, then as I became a pre-teen I was constantly dressed like someone’s grandmother. I used to figure maybe fashionable clothing just wasn’t available in my size since I was tall but, well, tall catalogs existed even pre-internet and I eventually found out the truth – tall women could dress as if they were younger than 70 and not headed into a board meeting, too. My mother always insisted on curling my hair, especially on special occasions, which people who see photos from back then today remark made me look like a much younger child. I wasn’t allowed to do anything for myself. I couldn’t even bathe without supervision until my late teens (nice crossover between the infantilization and the covert molestation there). Dating of course was out of the question when I became the typical age to date. Occasionally I managed to get a few dates in, with my mother generally driving us somewhere, picking us up, and usually hanging out eerily nearby; one of my few early dates said “you know, we’re never going to be able to get married – your mommy won’t give you permission to go to the church that day.” I wasn’t even allowed out of the house by myself until I was in high school. Got my driver’s license at 16 but wasn’t allowed to drive until no one was available to drive me back and forth to and from college. (I lived with my family through graduate school, of course – they had me thinking I’d die if I rented an apartment.) Even after I moved out I was always told I wasn’t washing my hair properly and wore weird outfits and didn’t know how to dress for a social occasion. I was eventually disowned in my 30s for not changing my travel plans as per my mother’s instructions. Needless to say she continued contacting me after disowning me – apparently she only disowned me as a daughter, but hey, lose a daughter, gain a stalking target, right? – but we’re done.

  • September 24, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Ah, you know the grandparents issue is a huge fear in the decision to go nc. Just anther thing you wonder if you’re capable you’re getting right. Believe her, dear readers, you children WILL be better off.

  • March 31, 2017 at 12:38 am

    Hm. While I appreciate that it wasn’t right for the authors parents to engage in such controlling behavior towards her, some of the milestones mentioned will vary from culture to culture. For example, it’s not uncommon for New Yorkers to not get a drivers license until they hit 30, and in Italian or Italian-American households kids can generally live at home until they’re either 40 or married–and that goes for guys and girls. Being pressured to move out when you’re not ready and feeling abandoned and rejected by your parents (and being shamed by other adults for not feeling comfortable living on your own) can be just as harmful as being forced to stay home when you want to move out.

    • March 31, 2017 at 12:42 am

      Oh, and I should note that not moving out is common in Asian and Asian-American households as well, where multigenerational families living under one roof (or right next door to each other) are the norm. Really, living single is a construct of 20th-century Western society–throughout most of history, it was the exception rather than the rule. I mean, if that’s what feels right for you, then by all means no one should stand in your way, but it’s not what feels right for everyone.

  • July 9, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    This is spot on. I had to babysit and use my own money to get my hair cut AND to buy feminine hygiene products!!! My mom didn’t want to spend the money for either. She of course had very expensive hairstyling. I bought ALL my own clothes, shoes, etc. in high school except my school uniform.

    I now am married with two kids. I worried that I would be like my mom but I realized one day that I say to my kids: “I love you” and “I’m sorry” when I made a mistake and I let them be who they are, no image making! My in-laws are wonderful loving grandparents so I allow my kids all the time they want with them. My parents, no way! I have gone No Contact to avoid the pain they inflicted on me being inflicted on my kids and husband. I guess it dawned on me one day that when I visit my in-laws we all leave with happy memories but when we leave my parents, my kids and I cry for three days. And people wonder how I can be so “cruel” as to go No Contact? Never felt better and I have a happier family. My husband and I have recently moved overseas and I never bothered to tell my parents. Their response would be, “That is really stupid, you should….”

  • January 13, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    My husband’s parents both had these characteristics. In grade school we used to make fun of him because his clothes were “weird”. I didn’t realize that his mother was the daughter of an overbearing mother who still controlled her. When he needed clothes for school, his mother and grandmother took him shopping and the grandmother decided what “looked good”. This continued into his late teens. Yikes!

  • February 15, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    Thanks for the great laugh Lenora Thompson. That was hysterical and SO true. The infantilization can really be perpetrated to sinister proportions. The irony is that in these very serious and extreme cases of neglect and psychological abuse the child actually does suffer brain dysfunction and delayed development. Frequenly they are also trauma bonded to the parent. So the narcissist strategy is actually quite effective. When I was 21 I was very very traumatized and therefore also very dependent. I was also very fearful.

  • February 26, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    After I was a grown woman and a mother in my own right, my mother:

    1.) Insisted on taking me shopping for an outfit to wear to a family reunion. What I had packed and brought with me wasn’t good enough. SHE would find me something more appropriate. So, over my objections because I hated the darn thing, she bought and insisted that I wear…. get this…. a romper. Yes, a one-piece garment like toddlers wear. It did nothing for me. I looked like a giant Easter egg in it. Meanwhile, she had on a lovely fuchsia sundress. Who’s the mother, and who’s still her little girl, and don’t you forget it? She’s making it clear.

    2.) Helped me move into a new apartment, and as she got ready to leave, looked me deep in the eye and asked, “Can you survive?” No, Mommy, I’m still a helpless little girl who doesn’t know how to be on my own.

    • February 26, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      Arbie….A Romper? It’s so bizarre that it’s actually sit-com material.

      When I was in sixth grade, I cut school and hid in the bushes on a speacial assembly day because my mother dressed me in an old world italian hand made Amish looking jumper dress. I grew up in the ghetto in New York as one of the few white kids in my neighborhood… so was already a msifit…. but the Italian/ Amish outfit really scarred me. lol

      The weird thing is that we were neither old world Italian nor Amish? I was always dressed in ways that made me feel “less than” the other kids. Kids just always want to fit in so badly. But, to be fair, I do realize that most kids in the world grow up in poverty so it’s not that unusual. My Dad, however, had an actual spare room full of special high priced suits and garments on racks. And we definately could affoard clothes because my dad was a teacher and my mom a nurse.

  • July 12, 2019 at 8:25 am

    My dad insisted he would not help my sister or me get our licenses until we were 21. The legal driving age in my country is 17. He refused to offer an explanation, and although I suspected it was a tactic for him to remain in control of us (although he resented having to drive me anywhere) I couldn’t believe his motive was actually so selfish as to thoughtlessly reinforce our dependency upon him. (-In my case, it was because he needed to keep someone around to scapegoat and verbally abuse. Sister was the parentified golden child.). So after watching a YouTube video about another woman’s same experience, I learned that my dad’s motives actually had been as petty and self-absorbed as I suspected. And not just for that; there were countless other ways he kept us down so that we couldn’t achieve more than he had in life (thus threatening his fragile self-esteem.) I only recently realised that I had picked up quite a few of the same traits of selfishness when it comes to intimate relationships; thank god I don’t have kids. I’m sure he is pleased that he outdid me on that one. He couldn’t give a fuck about my happiness or my sister’s; he frequently interrupts us if he happens to be in an environment where other people have afforded us the chance to speak. He never, EVER asks us about our lives, even if we had had the decency to call him up for a chat. My poor mother died with only a selfish asshole as her support; to this day I wonder if she knew what she was leaving us to deal with. I think so, because she asked her sister to look after us after she died. Her sister reneged in her promise to her dead sister because she couldn’t stand my dad. I half forgive her, considering.
    My life is a shambles and I am forty. Fuck that bastard.

  • August 9, 2019 at 10:02 pm

    oh my god. This is so true of my life. My mother somehow had money for perms and a long fur coat (we live in the middle of the state of GEORGIA!!) but hated spending money on decent enough clothes for me. Never listened to what I liked, always bought what she liked. They don’t see me as a person. Most of my clothes were hand-me-downs or purchased by other adults who didn’t have daughters my age and were hopelessly out-of-touch. I just had to figure it out. And she always had the weirdest attitude about it. She would say things like I was being punished for something imaginary or like she got some satisfaction out of me being “uncool”. She clearly lived in some fantasy that only she was participating in. She got so much worse when I was getting invited to parties and getting phone calls from boys anyway. i could have probably been much more socially well-adjusted.

    This is the part of narcissistic parenting that I was trying so hard to add up and I have been working on this a long, long time.


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