Growing up with emotionally immature parents reverberates in your life as an adult. Emotionally immature parents usually experienced their own childhood abuse, neglect and attachment trauma in their own childhoods.
This makes it very difficult for them to evolve and mature themselves, let alone raise their own kids. This leaves you with a lot to learn as you become an adult. Your parents couldn’t teach you what they didn’t know.
Unresolved Trauma Creates Immature Parents
Unresolved trauma perpetuates immature parenting from one generation to the next. If your parents trauma was never healed, it will often be repeated by unconsciously putting their own kids through something similar.
So, if your parent was abused or neglected in their own childhood, and never healed from it, this places them at an increased risk of repeating the same trauma to their children.
If you had parents who were distant, rejecting, needy, negative, or self-preoccupied, and generally immature parents, you might have become the parent in the relationship. You had to figure out how to cope because your parent just couldn’t.
This puts kids in a no win situation where they have no idea what to do because they are too young to solve problems on their own. Trying to solve problems without wise, mature guidance often leads to failure. This creates children and adults who are fearful and have low self-esteem, low self confidence and little self worth.
Immature Parents Are Children Who Never Grew Up
Emotionally immature parents often never outgrew how they were as young children. Young children are self-centered, see themselves as the center of the universe and do only what feels good. They are ruled by emotions and aren’t able to consider how their actions affect other people. They do not deal with stress well.
Their own needs are a priority so they can’t consider their own children’s wants and feelings. Immature parents can’t change their minds once they have formed an opinion.They have a very limited view of the world.
Emotionally immature parents can easily become overreactive and cannot calm themselves down. They are easily overwhelmed and blame others.
Since they cannot handle emotion, they wind up dismissing, ignoring and criticizing their children’s feelings. So, kids can’t talk freely without their parents becoming defensive and emotional, lacking empathy for their children needs, feelings and emotions.
Types Of Emotionally Immature Parents
Controlling and Driven Parents
These parents expect excellence and perfection. They may use anger, criticism and punishment as a means to get their child to be how they want.
A parent can be afraid that you will embarrass them if you don’t live up to their measure of success. They invade their children’s boundaries, even intervening in your life after you have left home and you are in a relationship.
They’re living through you and your achievements, which never live up to their exacting standards. An emotionally immature parent might choose you as the ‘needy child’ that they can rescue and control. Then they try to have their own identity through an intense, dependent relationship with you. So, you never develop who you really are. Instead, you become who your parent wants you to be.
As adults, these kids understandably become overachievers, over critical of themselves and others. They can become workaholics and demand too much from their partners. They can overly focus on achievements, and ignore the emotions, needs and feelings of themselves and others.
Over Emotional or Under Emotional Parents
Parents can be so dysregulated that they go from one extreme to the other. They can overreact to things, or appear distant and cold.
Distant parents are extremely uncomfortable with their own emotions or feelings. So, they really don’t want to hear it when you try to express yours. They might tell you that you are too sensitive. Or, they might say that you seem fine, and therefore you don’t need their attention.
Some parents erupt in emotional distress at the drop of a hat. The whole family runs around trying to work out what the problem is and how to fix it.
This creates a very unpredictable environment for you as a kid. You can become anxious, depressed and dysregulated yourself. You might have anger issues and feel disconnected from your emotions, leading to difficulties with adult romantic relationships.
Parents who are dismissive and push you away would rather be alone and don’t want to be bothered. As a kid, you have to fend for yourself because you know your parent doesn’t want to interact with you. If you demanded attention, your parent may even have become angry and abusive towards you.
This might make it very hard for you to sustain intimacy as an adult. It is tough to have empathy for others when you weren’t attended to as a child.You can easily become an emotionally rejecting adult. Maintaining connection might be a real challenge.
Passive And Negligent Parents
This type of parent avoids confrontation at all costs, often appearing easy to get along with. They might want to be the ‘cool’ parent and be your best friend. But, this is more what your parent wants, not what’s best for you.
This parent will often acquiesce to the more dominant parent, even to the point of putting up with abuse. They might make sure you have food and clothing, but not attend to your emotional needs.
Sometimes these parents build a wall around themselves, completely rejecting you, as if you just don’t exist. This parent is so irritated with you that you soon learn to keep your distance. You might even become scared of your parent.
Your parent may ignore your needs because they are too overwhelming to deal with. This can cause you to ignore yourself and others as an adult. This can lead to anxiety and depression as you avoid dealing with vulnerable feelings.
Emotionally immature parents will employ defense mechanisms in order to deal with uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. These include denial, ignoring a problem even to the point of pretending it doesn’t exist, and projection, where someone projects their own negative traits and emotions onto you. For example, instead of admitting you yourself are too angry, you tell someone else their anger is unacceptable.
Gaslighting is a common type of projection. This involves overwhelming you with criticism and blaming you for things that are not your fault. This makes you feel crazy, since you’re being accused of doing and feeling things that aren’t about you, but rather belong to someone else. This is often very manipulative, making you question your own observations and feelings.
When Mental Illness And/Or Addiction Create Emotionally Immature Parents
If you have a parent who is mentally ill, most of the time this makes it impossible for them to be a good parent. Things like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression are serious disorders that, even when treated, make a person emotionally immature. Untreated, these disorders can lead to extreme abuse and neglect. Refer to NAMI National Aliance for Mental Illness for more information.
Substance abuse, sex addiction, gambling and other addictions make for an emotionally immature parent. Often, the addiction takes priority over caring for children. A parent who struggles with this while their kids are young can lead to adult children having many different issues, including addiction issues of their own. Refer to ACA Adult Children of Alcoholics twelve step program for more information on this.
Having emotionally immature parents has reverberating effects throughout adulthood. When a parent becomes defensive if you disagree with them, cannot tolerate you having a different opinion and they are too immature to be able to take responsibility for their bad behavior, you are left picking up the pieces later in life.This can be really difficult to unravel.
EMDR And Neurofeedback Therapies
If you think I might be able to help, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310-314-6933.