Internet in uproar over 'narcissistic' mother who expects kids to buy her presents on their birthdays

Woman and adult daughter yelling at each other
The woman and her mother have fallen out after she called out her mum's "ridiculous behaviour". Photo credit: Getty Images

As someone who isn't a mum and also an only child, I don't feel particularly well-placed to pass judgement on how others parent their offspring - but if I know one thing, a mum expecting her children to buy her presents on THEIR birthdays is a little bit odd.

That is the predicament of one US woman who has now been branded as the black sheep of her family for disrupting the long-running tradition. Sharing her story anonymously via social media, the 25-year-old explained that ever since she was a child, she and her three younger siblings have been expected to buy their mother gifts on their own birthdays as a token of their appreciation for her.

"Every year on every single one of our birthdays, we're expected to celebrate my mom as well. We've done it since we were little. It was taught to me as giving thanks for 'carrying and giving birth to us'. Which I'm all for, I am grateful as we wouldn't be here without her," the woman wrote in the popular Reddit forum, Am I the Asshole.

"The issue is though, it becomes less of our birthday and more so an anniversary for the day our mom gave birth. Every year on our birthday our mom gets gifts too."

The woman added that as she and her siblings have gotten older, they are now expected to spend money on their gifts, rather than opting for homemade presents or cards. The woman, who recently celebrated her 25th birthday, admitted she had been disgruntled to find that her mother had been given more lavish gifts than her on her own special day.

"I was gifted some much-needed clothes and dishware for my new apartment. My dad however got my mom a new Macbook. My siblings all got her gifts too," she continued.

"My sister pulled me aside before my birthday and said she was sorry she couldn't get me much (she got me a sweater, I love it!) and that she wanted to get me more, but our mom was pressuring her to get a certain necklace for [her]. 

"Apparently my mom had been dropping hints for month and my sister was worried our mom would be upset and feel underappreciated if she didn't get it."

When the woman asked about the price of the necklace, she was shocked when her teenage sister claimed it had cost her US$300.

"I honestly lost it on our mom and chewed into her later that afternoon when my mom opened her gifts after me. I think she's ridiculous for even wanting my sister to spend so much on a gift," the woman said.

"Mom started crying and my dad kicked me out. Mom won't answer calls but my aunt (mom's sister) called and said I was a [piece of shit] for not respecting my mother and that I'm a selfish, narcissist child for being jealous of the gifts mom got."

The woman admitted that her initial resolve has since wavered, with her mum seeming reluctant to forgive her for the outburst. 

"I thought I was in the right, but now I don't know. It's been over two weeks and mom won't answer my calls. She's been posting on Facebook inspirational quotes about letting go of the toxicity in your life, how blood doesn't equal family, and how hard it is to be a mother... [I don't know] what to think now because of how many people are on her side."

The woman is now wondering if she is in the wrong.
The woman is now wondering if she is in the wrong. Photo credit: Reddit

The woman has received an overwhelming outpour of support from the Reddit community, many of whom agreed that she should take her mother's advice and "let go of the toxicity in your life".

A number also pointed out that it was ridiculous for a parent to pressure their teenager child to spend $300 on a present.

"Your mother sounds self-centred and selfish. As far as toxicity in one's life and how blood doesn't equal family, I think you should apply that to your mother, not to you," one said.

"This whole tradition is weird. So mom gets gifts on her own birthday on each kid's birthday, Christmas and presumably Mother's Day too? Sounds like the whole family dynamic is for her to be worshipped. Follow her advice and cut that toxicity out," another echoed.

"The mom is like those toddlers who on anyone's birthday feel entitled to a gift and cake. It's so weird that the family indulges this behaviour," another observed.

"I only just clocked that the sister is 16. She wants her 16-year-old to spend $300 on her? They'd better be getting f**king epic allowances," one joked.

"Not saying she is narcissistic, but she seems narcissistic. Only mothers I know who do this are narcs. If your mother won't answer your texts, OP, consider this a damn blessing. She's trying to manipulate you. Stop contacting her. Depending on how stubborn she is, she'll start contacting you in time," one advised.

"There is something very wrong with your mother. How rich for your aunt to call you a narcissist when it's actually your mom that is. You and your siblings need to end this ridiculous 'tradition'," another stated.

Others were curious about the ins-and-outs of the gift-giving tradition and whether it extended to other generations.

"Out of curiosity - is this practice carried up the ladder to the next generation? Does grandma get presents on Mom's birthday? This is a weird tradition that I have never heard of," one wondered.

"I can kinda understand if it was the dad giving the mum a small something to thank her for giving him their child, weird but understandable. But demanding her children [to] share their birthday with her when she chose to have them, they didn't choose to have her, is just so wrong," another mused.

"I think that's what Mother's Day is for," a third pointed out.

Several revealed they had also been expected to give their mother presents on their own birthdays.

"My mum does the same. I mean I love her but this behaviour is utterly toxic," one shared.

"I just don't want my children to think this is normal and acceptable behaviour and in [the] worst case replicate this behaviour. It took me long enough to get [that] she was in the wrong and not me."

In an update to her original post, the woman thanked the community for their feedback and said she will be looking for a therapist following the family scandal.

"I think it's really eye-opening and I'm going to try to find a therapist so I can unload all this f**kery," she said.