Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents
Although we’re accustomed to thinking of grown- ups as more mature than their children, what if some sensitive children come into the world and within a few years are more emotion-ally mature than their parents, who have been around for decades? What happens when these immature parents lack the emotional responsiveness necessary to meet their children’s emotional needs? The result is emo-tional neglect, a phenomenon as real as any physical deprivation.
Emotional neglect in childhood leads to a painful emotional loneli-ness that can have a long-t erm negative impact on a person’s choices regarding relationships and intimate partners. This book describes how emotionally immature parents negatively affect their children, especially children who are emotionally sensitive, and shows you how to heal yourself from the pain and confusion that come from having a parent who refuses emotional intimacy.
Emotionally immature parents fear genuine emotion and pull back from emotional closeness. They use coping mechanisms that resist reality rather than dealing with it. They don’t welcome self-r eflection, so they rarely accept blame or apologize. Their immaturity makes them inconsis-tent and emotionally unreliable, and they’re blind to their children’s needs once their own agenda comes into play. In this book, you’ll learn that when parents are emotionally immature, their children’s emotional needs will almost always lose out to the parents’ own survival instincts.
Myths and fairy tales have been depicting such parents for centuries. Think of how many fairy tales feature abandoned children who must find aid from animals and other helpers because their parents are careless, clueless, or absent. In some stories, the parent character is actually malev-olent and the children must take their survival into their own hands. These stories have been popular for centuries because they touch a common chord: how children must fend for themselves after their parents have neglected or abandoned them. Apparently, immature parents have been a problem since antiquity.
And this theme of emotional neglect by self-preoccupied parents can still be found in the most compelling stories of our popular culture. In books, movies, and television, the story of emotionally immature parents and the effects they have on their children’s lives makes for a rich subject. In some stories, this parent-child dynamic is the main focus; in others, it might be depicted in the backstory of a character. As you learn more about emotional immaturity in this book, you may be reminded of famous char-acters in drama and literature, not to mention the daily news.
Knowing about differences in emotional maturity gives you a way of understanding why you can feel so emotionally lonely in spite of other people’s claims of love and kinship. I hope that what you read here will answer questions you’ve had for a long time, such as why your interactions with some family members have been so hurtful and frustrating. The good news is that by grasping the concept of emotional immaturity, you can develop more realistic expectations of other people, accepting the level of relationship possible with them instead of feeling hurt by their lack of response.
Among psychotherapists, it’s long been known that emotionally dis-engaging from toxic parents is the way to restore peace and self- sufficiency. But how does one do this? We do it by understanding what we are dealing with. What has been missing from the literature on self-i nvolved parents is a full explanation of why there are limits on their ability to love. This book fills that gap, explaining that these parents basically lack emotional maturity. Once you understand their traits, you’ll be able to judge for your-self what level of relationship might be possible, or impossible, with your parent. Knowing this allows us to return to ourselves, living life from our own deeper nature instead of focusing on parents who refuse to change. Understanding their emotional immaturity frees us from emotional loneliness as we realize their neglect wasn’t about us, but about them. When we see why they can’t be different, we can finally be free of our frustration with them, as well as our doubts about our own lovability.
In this book, you’ll find out why one or both of your parents couldn’t give you the kind of interactions that could have nourished you emotion-ally. You’ll learn exactly why you may have felt so unseen and unknown by your parent, and why your well- meaning efforts at communication never made things better.
In chapter 1, you’ll see why people who grew up with emotionally immature parents often feel emotional loneliness. You’ll read the stories of people whose lack of deep emotional connections with their parents affected their adult lives in significant ways. You’ll get a detailed picture of what emotional loneliness looks like and also see how self- awareness can help reverse feelings of isolation.
Chapters 2 and 3 explore the characteristics of emotionally immature parents and the types of relationship problems they cause. Many of your parent’s puzzling behaviors will start to make sense when you see them in the light of emotional immaturity. A checklist is provided to help you identify your parent’s areas of emotional immaturity. You’ll also gain some insight into possible reasons why your parent’s emotional development stopped early.
Chapter 4 describes four main types of emotionally immature parents and will assist you in identifying which type of parenting you may have had. You’ll also learn about the self- defeating habits that children can develop in an effort to adapt to these four parent types.
In chapter 5, you’ll see how people lose touch with their true selves in order to take on a family role, and how they build up subconscious fanta-sies about how other people should act in order to heal them from past neglect. You’ll learn about the two very different types of children likely to emerge from emotionally immature parenting: internalizers and external-izers. (This will also shed light on why siblings from the same family can be so vastly different in their style of functioning.)
In chapter 6, I describe the internalizer personality in greater detail. This is the personality type most likely to engage in self-r eflection and personal growth, and therefore most likely to be drawn to this book.
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|April 28, 2022|
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