5 surefire signs you grew up with an emotionally immature parent

“There is no such thing as a ‘bad child’ – only angry, hurt, tired, scared, confused, impulsive children expressing their feelings and needs in the only way they know how. We owe it to each and every one of you to always remember that.” ~Dr. Jessica Stephens

All children look up to their parents from the moment they enter this world. They have this beautiful, pure, unconditional love pouring out of them. The parents stand on a pedestal. They’re the ones who know what’s best! They are the adults showing us how to make life!

We don’t think for a moment that they could point us the wrong way.

I, like many others, worshiped both my mother and father. I couldn’t see their flaws, their pain, or their trauma. I just loved them and wanted to spend time with them. When they yelled at me and told me I was wrong, I trusted them to be right, no question.

When I had low self-esteem, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts because I didn’t think I was good enough, I blamed myself 100 percent. I had subconsciously recorded all those moments of not feeling good enough because of their behavior as my own fault for being “bad”, not considering that they might have had something themselves.

As I struggled in romantic relationships, always chasing unavailable men, I felt responsible for myself and didn’t think for a minute that this pattern of behavior stemmed from my relationship with my parents. I believed what they had told me in different ways – that I was the problem!

The reason I struggled in relationships, as I later found out, was that my parents weren’t really doing well because of their own trauma from raising me and being emotionally immature.

Here are five signs you had emotionally immature parents and how it may be affecting you.

1. Her feelings and needs were more important than yours.

Emotionally immature parents can be incredibly self-centered and distracted by their own feelings and emotions, and they want their child, you, to regulate them.

For example, when my mother was upset, I would be loving to her and calm her down. As I got older she got mad at me when I wasn’t there to comfort her when she needed it, saying I was selfish and she had no one. I believed her.

I was away to play with my friends and be a kid, but that wasn’t allowed if it meant I couldn’t meet their needs or soothe their feelings. As a result, I learned that it wasn’t safe to put my needs ahead of hers as she would withdraw her love that felt so scary. My heart would race and I would feel terror take over my body.

As an adult, this meant that I believed I was responsible for other people’s feelings and if they were angry or upset, it was my fault. So I would always walk around on eggshells in case someone might attack me for upsetting them. Because I believed that any pain was my fault, I attracted more relationships like my mother. These relationships made me feel powerless.

2. Expressing your feelings or needs was not safe.

When you express a feeling and it meets with a negative reaction from your parents, a world of panic arises in your body. For example, sharing your issues could have been answered with a comment about how her life was so much worse and you should stop being so dramatic.

Expressing a need, like asking for a ride, could have triggered an attack on how selfish you are—and didn’t you realize how hard your parents worked!

So what happened? You stopped expressing your feelings and needs and buried them deep. (For me, I doused them in ice cream and sugar for comfort.) Now, as an adult, you may be so cut off from your own emotions and needs that you pretend you don’t have any.

3. They took no responsibility for their actions.

They would say or do something that really hurts you, but they wouldn’t acknowledge it or apologize. In fact, they may have carried on as normal.

It didn’t fix her relationship with them. You may have tried to resolve the situation, but you were the only one trying, and you may even have been blamed for something you didn’t even do. The whole situation would make you feel crazy and like you don’t know what is true. You may even have started to think it was your own fault.

As an adult, you may repeat this dynamic in other relationships and feel powerless to repair and resolve problems as they arise. This leads to resentment and staying in unhappy relationships because you don’t know it can be otherwise.

4. They have no idea how to regulate their emotions.

They walked around all day driven by their emotions. They had no idea how to rebalance themselves. They came home from work exhausted, but instead of doing something to unwind from the day, they got stuck in their chores and then took out their feelings on others because they were annoyed at being so tired.

Or maybe they had no idea what they were feeling. Maybe they were constantly angry because they didn’t have the confidence to recognize when they were actually feeling sad or afraid or overwhelmed. And because they didn’t know what they were feeling, they had no idea what to do to feel better.

5. You were forced to grow up ahead of your time.

It wasn’t okay for you to be a kid. You found it way too stressful so you were encouraged to be a little adult. Maybe even a small adult who raised them. It wasn’t safe for you to be a kid either. You couldn’t be loud or silly as they might have lost your temper so you walked around on high alert and waited for it. Maybe you learned to keep calm because your parents weren’t.

I got involved in their very adult arguments as a kid just to try to keep the peace in the house. This is not a child’s role. If you’ve had the same experience, you might find yourself attracting similar codependent relationships as you grow up.

If this childhood sounds like yours, you are not alone. We are many. There is an inner child within you that has missed out on so much love, caring, encouragement and balance which could be why you are struggling now as an adult.

It’s not because you’re not good enough or because everything is your fault. That’s because you were raised by emotionally immature parents. In fact, you were raised by children in adult bodies.

You might still be dealing with these patterns as an adult with your parents as they might now be children in even older bodies!

Learning how to mature emotionally yourself so that you don’t repeat the patterns with your own children is a wonderful gift to give them, but it also means you can have healthy relationships and find inner peace. Healing and reparenting your inner child means you’ll be able to express your emotions and set boundaries so others don’t think it’s okay to do the same to you.

I used to feel powerless when people treated me like this, not only with my parents but in other relationships as well. I would try to be what they wanted, but they would still respond the same way no matter what I did. Stepping away from them and focusing on healing my inner child, understanding their feelings and needs, and making space for them has changed my life. I was able to become the parent I had always longed to be.

I now understand that my parents were emotionally immature as they also grew up with my emotionally immature parents. They were mature with money and jobs but with emotions, they were overwhelmed because nobody showed them how to use it and unfortunately they never learned.

But we can be the generation that breaks this pattern by being the emotionally mature parents we needed. We can be the example of a healthy relationship dynamic that we never had.

5 surefire signs you grew up with an emotionally immature parent

About Manpreet Johal Bernie

Manpreet is the creator of the Heart’s Happiness podcast, in which she speaks about intergenerational trauma, and is also a coach who helps people make peace with their past and rewrite their history through learning about themselves and theirs loving inner child Check out her FREE Freedom From Anxiety MASTERCLASS, where she shares her own technique to help with anxiety as we change our relationship with our emotionally immature parents.

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