In Lindsay C. Gibson‘s 2015 book Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents, four types of difficult parents are identified:
▪ The emotional parent instills feelings of instability and anxiety
▪ The driven parent stays busy trying to perfect everything and everyone
▪ The passive parent avoids dealing with anything upsetting
▪ The rejecting parent is withdrawn, dismissive, and derogatory
These parents create a childhood atmosphere of emotional neglect. In a family headed by distant or self-absorbed parents, the most sensitive and perceptive child often takes on the family role of attending to other people’s problems and needs. These children prematurely adopt adult sensibilities that can inhibit their natural childhood spontaneity. They also experience emotional loneliness and secretly feel unworthy of asking for attention. As adults, they continue to neglect the needs and instincts of the true self. They feel guiltily obliged to pay close attention to others, but find little coming back to them. This leads to psychological exhaustion because they end up doing most of the emotional work in their relationships.
Below are some signs of emotional immaturity:
When things go wrong, it is always someone else’s fault. One of the easiest ways to spot emotional immaturity is finger pointing. People who are emotionally immature rarely assume accountability for problems in their lives. It is always everyone else’s fault. They refuse to see things from someone else’s point of view or own up to their role in things.
Emotionally immature people are highly sensitive to things done to them, but are blind to the things they do to others. More than likely, they often feel persecuted by any behavior they deem as unfair or insensitive. Unfortunately, their perceptions are often skewed and inaccurate.
Emotionally immature people are victims. They refuse to see how their poor choices often lead to consequences. As victims, they will often greatly distort reality, omitting certain things that happened or take words out of context. They often seek drama because drama allows them to reinforce their victim role and to seek revenge over things that did not play out as they had hoped.
Relationships are often short lived. For the emotionally immature, it is challenging to maintain relationships of any substance. Compromise is almost impossible for the emotionally immature. They will cut off ties with people who will not give into them all of the time. Or, people will distance themselves from the emotionally immature, as they quickly become overwhelmed with their unreasonable demands.
As you can see, emotionally immature parents can create various types of dysfunction in relationships both when we are children and as we move toward adulthood. While emotionally immature parents can cause us to feel a variety of emotions such as neglect, blame and guilt it’s important for you to discover ways to heal from the pain and confusion caused by your childhood.
By freeing yourself from your parents’ emotional immaturity, you can recover your true nature, control how you react to them, and avoid disappointment. You’ll also learn how to create positive, new relationships so you can build a better life. If we can help you on this journey, please feel free to reach out and contact us.