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8 Things You May Struggle With If You Grew Up With Emotionally Immature Parents

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Emotionally immature parents might exhibit behaviors and responses that are self-centered, impulsive, controlling, and intrusive.

If you were raised by emotionally immature parents, the path to self-discovery can be particularly challenging, and it’s important to take the time to heal.

These are some things you might struggle with if you grew up with emotionally immature parents.

I Go to Therapy took to Instagram to share some common experiences that may affect people in their adulthood if they grew up with emotionally immature parents.

RELATED: 3 Signs You Have An Emotionally Immature Parent, According To Experts

1. Feeling like you have to 'monitor' the feelings of everyone around you.

If you are 'hypervigilant' of the feelings of those around you, paying attention to any signs of anger or frustration, you may have felt emotionally suppressed as a child.

Your parents likely responded to you with high emotional reactivity and extreme emotional outbursts, or at the other end of the spectrum, with emotional unavailability. This environment of extremes results in a hyperfocus on other's emotions as a defense mechanism.  

2. Feeling 'responsible' for making sure the people around you are happy.

According to Lindsay C. Gibson, author of "Adult Children Of Emotionally Immature Parents," parents with emotional immaturity will subliminally depend on their children to take care of them because they don’t know how to take care of themselves. 

   

   

This causes their children to grow up believing they must always “go over the boundary of what is their responsibility, worrying about the feelings, and the needs, and the life of other people.”

3. Feeling 'disconnected from your own emotions'.

If you grew up with emotionally immature parents who didn’t know how to manage or regulate their emotions, this likely led to a disconnection from your own emotions. You may have experienced moments where you attempted to express your feelings with your parents, only to be shot down and invalidated, leading you to believe your emotions don’t matter. 

   

   

Because you were never taught or shown the importance of expressing your emotions, you likely grew up adopting avoidant behavior, neglecting your needs, and struggling to understand your feelings.

RELATED: 8 Little Ways Your Childhood Trauma Still Tragically Affects You

4. Feeling like you 'don’t have the right to set boundaries'.

On TikTok, Jenn, a content creator who focuses on inner child healing, explained this is likely because many parents perceive their children as “extensions of themselves,” and don’t see the need to give them space to have their own boundaries. 

   

   

This leads to individuals struggling to set their own boundaries in adulthood because as a child, “it was modeled to you that you shouldn’t have any.”

5. Struggling with feeling empathy for others.

Because you struggle to understand your own emotions, you likely aren’t sure how to empathize with others when they express strong emotions. This stems from having parents who weren’t able to empathize, connect, or acknowledge the feelings of their children, causing them to grow up feeling isolated and confused.

   

   

If this resonates with you, it is not your fault, and you have the ability to learn how to feel your emotions in a healthy way. According to BetterHelp, using relaxation techniques like journaling or mindfulness will help you learn to recognize your emotions and reframe negative thought patterns. 

Fostering empathy for yourself and your experiences will help you learn to empathize with the people you care about. 

RELATED: Psychologist Reveals 5 Tiny Signs A Person Has Low Emotional Maturity

6. Being a 'perfectionist' and seeking 'approval through achievements'.

Children with emotionally immature parents likely didn’t receive the emotional validation from their parents that they desperately craved. 

As Jessica Good, EMDR therapist, explained in a TikTok, growing up without validation can lead to adults who doubt their abilities and seek approval by exceeding expectations as an attempt to “earn” their parents’ love.

   

   

“No matter what you try to do, as much as you try to achieve, [emotionally immature parents] might not even say that they’re ever proud of you and that all of your accomplishments are just a reflection for them to other people about how great they are,” Good explained.

The problem with this perfectionist behavior is that these children grow up unable to validate their own experiences, and they get stuck in a neverending rat race of overachieving to fill a hole that is never full. 

7. Experiencing loneliness and shame.

You may struggle with opening up, trusting, or displaying affection with others in your adulthood due to growing up with emotionally immature parents who didn’t show you love as a child.

You likely crave connection with others, but when someone does make an effort, you feel unworthy of their attention and hesitate to accept it. This might cause you to struggle to build strong relationships due to your subconscious defense to push people away, leaving you feeling lonely and ashamed.

   

   

This is a natural response to growing up with parents who struggled to show you the affection you needed, but you aren’t alone, and it’s possible to find the right support system and open up again.

RELATED: 4 Painfully Bad Habits That Interfere With Emotional Maturity

8. 'Struggling with low self-worth and self-esteem'.

Because your parents frequently invalidated your feelings and experiences as a child, with responses like, “It could have been so much worse,” you may now struggle with low self-esteem and self-worth, and find it difficult to love and validate yourself

On TikTok, Micah Stephens, a family relationships coach, explained this is because your parents’ emotionally immature responses to your experiences taught you “not to be happy” with yourself, your good qualities, or your achievements. Rather, they focused on the things you did wrong or didn’t do. 

   

   

As you face these challenges in your adulthood, Stephens shared that it's possible to “train yourself” to appreciate and love who you are, unapologetically. As you recognize the flawed behaviors your parents exhibited, choose to become different and grow from these struggles.

Unlearning the toxic behaviors you grew up witnessing can be a difficult journey, but you have the power to change the narrative of your experiences.

The mental struggles people experience in their adulthood due to having emotionally immature parents is a contributing reason many of them are going “no contact.” This is because the only way people can find peace in their lives is by removing the ones who frequently breach their peace. In this case, it's their parents.

While there are cases of character development in individuals with low emotional maturity, there is no guarantee that a parent will be able to acknowledge the pain they might have caused their children.

RELATED: 8 Tiny Habits Of People With The Highest Self-Esteem

There are healthy ways to deal with emotionally immature parents.

Some ways you can try to improve your relationship with an emotionally immature parent are by accepting your parents at their emotional level and developing a healthy detachment to them while still maintaining love for them. PsychCentral also suggests enforcing personal boundaries, detaching from parents when necessary, and clearly communicating your feelings, whether they respond maturely or not.

   

   

This is not an easy journey, as the situations we experience during early childhood leave deep scars.

The truth is, the same way your inner child has emotional wounds from past experiences with your parents, your parents likely also had emotional and attachment needs that weren’t met growing up, causing them to carry on the same toxic patterns they were born into. 

Be kind to yourself and embrace the feelings you experience. Find emotionally mature individuals to surround yourself with, and continue learning and growing as you have the power to break and heal from the generational cycles that deeply affected you.

RELATED: 10 Ways To Heal (And Move On) From Your Narcissist Mother

Francesca Duarte is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team based in Orlando, FL. She covers lifestyle, human-interest, and spirituality topics.