Emotionally Immature Parent

How to Handle an Emotionally Immature Parent


Caretaking aging parents can be challenging because they can be difficult. Children’s relationships with their parents can be fraught with nonstop IT support requests, invasive questions about their love lives, and unasked-for health speculations. Parents acting more like children than adults is especially problematic if the relationship is reversed Emotionally Immature Parent.

Emotionally Immature Parent

“People who are emotionally immature, like two-year-olds, can be self-centered, impulsive, and tuned out, but they’re not two years old; they’re their parents,” writes Dan Neuharth, a psychologist at Psychology Today.

It can be exhausting and confusing to deal with a parent who does not treat you as an autonomous being. This parent rejects you for arbitrary reasons or does not care about your feelings. When you are the adult child of one of them, it becomes a constant challenge to navigate a fraught relationship healthily. Listed below are some suggestions for making the journey easier.

The four types of emotionally immature parents 

There are four main types of emotionally immature parents: controlling parents, emotional parents, rejecting parents, and passive parents. Children with emotionally immature parents may feel pressured or influenced inappropriately, while others may feel abandoned or rejected…these experiences result from ignorant parents. Still, they are both symptoms of immaturity,” Neuharth said.

When their children don’t measure up to their unrealistic standards, controlling parents may punish them. Usually, emotional parents experience volatile mood swings, varying from one extreme to another. Passive parents avoid confrontation at all costs, even neglecting their children’s needs while rejecting parents push their children away.

Even though it helps define emotionally immature parents by type, they can be a mixture, says Molly Alvord, a licensed clinical social worker at Thriveworks. In whatever form their immaturity manifests, their adult children need to break old dysfunctional behavior patterns.

Establish internal and external boundaries

Establishing healthy boundaries is one of the most complex parts of dealing emotionally immature parents. This can help break unhealthy patterns from your childhood. Boundaries need to be external and dictate the behavior you expect from your children. They also need to be internal, defining what behaviors you can and cannot tolerate.

The importance of internal boundaries must be balanced, Neuharth said. Setting internal boundaries involves determining what you can and cannot expect from your parents. In Neuharth’s view, establishing limitations with emotionally immature parents involves grieving what you missed out on. Deep down, you will always have a part of yourself that is still hoping they will change so that you will tolerate their problematic behavior.”

Alvord advises her patients to shut down a conversation when it repeats unhealthy childhood patterns before they get pulled into a negative discussion. “This is not an appropriate way to talk to me. I’m choosing to end this conversation, and we’ll try again later.”

According to Alvord, saying, “that’s not an appropriate way to talk to me,” often ends a conversation effectively. However, if you use this strategy, expect your parents to continue pushing your limits because they may not be emotionally mature enough to respect your boundaries.

Neuharth also recommends the J-A-D-E strategy, meaning you do not need to justify your boundaries, argue with your parents, justify your decisions, or even explain why you are establishing limitations. It’s difficult to shut down an emotionally immature parent. However, it would be best to find a way to do it, no matter how difficult it may seem.

If you can’t get what you need elsewhere, find a way to get it.

Emotionally Immature Parent

Grieving what your parents cannot provide is a part of establishing healthy boundaries. We all hope that someday our parents will come to us and say, ‘I am sorry, I had some challenges when I was growing up, and I didn’t do a great job, and I made you think you were the problem,'” Neuharth said. That will rarely happen with a parent who is not emotionally mature, who is unlikely to see outside of their own needs to realize the damage they have inflicted or are still inflicting on their children.

Neuharth said that the dream must be given up, and people must look elsewhere for it. A mentor, a friend of a parent, or another family member can often serve as a conduit for this. Through this process, you can start to undo some of the old patterns you grew up with. Alvord said you could break habits in your own life by breaking patterns with your adult parents.

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