Category : World Health Day
Author : Sana Rubiyana

Emotionally immature parents believe their adult children’s role is not to find their own identity. It is to fix their feelings of inadequacy.

“Emotionally immature parents are not always able to recognize and acknowledge their children’s emotions,” says Dr Laura Louis. This can lead to unintentional neglect. Emotional neglect may contribute to insecure attachment styles in adulthood.

“Most emotionally immature parents will show problems with being egocentric, showing low empathy, avoiding emotional intimacy, not being self-reflective, and dealing with reality by denying, dismissing, or distorting anything they find unpleasant,” – Dr Lindsey Gibson.

Why emotionally immature parents create resentment :  Having an emotionally immature parent (EIP) can be such a difficult experience. Not because they are bad people but because the disruption in their emotional development makes them believe children are there to meet their needs.

Four types of EIP: reactive, passive, critical, and emotionally absent.

Their traits vary, but all negatively impact their kids, often into adulthood.

  • Reactive parents – are generally volatile and cannot regulate their emotions. These parents feel like their feelings rule them.
  • Highly critical parents – are perfectionists who nitpick at everything their child does. They can be very pushy and very controlling.
  • Passive parents – not standing up for the child if the other parent is mistreating them. If the other parent starts to scream at the child, for example, the passive parent will shut down or even leave the room. They do not seem to feel that protective need to help the child.
  • Emotionally absent parent- essentially acts like their child does not exist.
  • They do not respond with empathy to any of their child’s expressions.

Adult children of EIP can be expected to :

– provide for their parent financially
– make choices based on parental approval
– fix any issues their parents have
– avoid topics that trigger or upset the EIP
– not express their true emotions

Because EIPs have low self-worth, their children become an extension of themselves. Instead of being able to see their child as a unique individual, they subconsciously see their child as a way to live their un-lived life. This creates resentment because the adult child feels the pressure to perform and provide their parent with self-esteem or worthiness.

This is not only a tall order, it is impossible.

No one else can give us self-esteem.

If you have EIP, the most important thing you can do is understand that your parent’s age might not reflect their emotional age. This means you will need to set clear boundaries. You will also need to change your expectations. Your parent might never change. They may not see you in the way you want to be seen.

Your role in life is to please your parents and build your own life, take you down the path, and create a life around your unique values.

How you heal the wound from an emotionally immature parent is to become an autonomous adult.


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