Emotionally Immature Parents

Holistic cutting edge psychiatry now acknowledge that the root cause of the epidemic suffering we have in society today, suffering expressed as chronic degenerative diseases and psychosomatic disorders is specifically related to the lack of quality emotional intimacy we received in childhood. Specifically, this lack of emotional intimacy and emotional connection with our primary carer is the root cause of the common psychosomatic disorders we observe today. Disorders, or symptoms such as eating disorders, over shopping, excessive tv watching, insomnia, depression and other mental/emotional health issues. These symptoms are not diseases of the brain but expressions of adverse childhood experiences and unresolved pain and trauma.

If you grew up with an emotionally immature parent you may have observed at times that your parent was physically or emotional unavailable. Specifically, that can mean that as a child you lacked quality time with your parents to play, learn, explore and experience unconditional love. The overburdening challenges adults face today such as working long hours to pay bills and the many other competing forces for their time, means that children suffer and sometimes unintentionally. The child simply sees that the parent is occupied, unavailable and when they are available, physically or emotionally speaking, they may not be fully present, or worse, not really know how to build genuine emotional intimacy with the child. This absence can cause feelings of emotional loneliness within the child due to the lack of emotional connection and unconditional love received.

Parents sometimes compensate for their lack of time and energy by providing gifts, sweats etc to their children as a way to say sorry. This act of giving material gifts can ease the guilt within the parents mind for not being physically or emotionally available. The gift also appeases the child on a superficial level, however the child still needs emotional intimacy on a deeper level and if this human need remains unfilled there are very real consequences in adulthood. Specifically these consequences are low levels of self-esteem, self-worth, self-belief and self-confidence all equating to a weak Inner Foundation. When in adulthood, if that person does not take the time to heal, they will most likely pass these traumas onto the next generation.

There are four main types of emotionally immature parents. This article will describe in some detail the four different types, along with some of the common characteristics that they express, this way helping the reader to identify whether they grew up in a family with an emotionally immature parent.

The four types of Emotionally Immature Parents are: Emotional, Rejecting, Driven and Passive.

The Emotional Parent is the most immature of the four types. They are constantly in an emotional turmoil and can easily be upset. Parents drag their children with them into their personal meltdown and as a consequence the child experiences their parents rage, despair or meltdown. The whole family knows when this parent is angry and upset due to the raging and or sulking behavior. These parents lose their emotional and behavioral control in situations where mature adults would remain in control of their ‘emotional state’. The child is traumatized by being part of such behavior so close up, and at such an early age, and begins to develop fear, anxiety, and even shame. Due to the lack of healthy role models and the experiencing of the parents polarity of extreme emotions, the child does not have the opportunity to learn how to manage their own emotions. Often these children do not have the opportunity to explore and understand their own needs, wants and wishes because they are too pre-occupied with pacifying the parent. The young child’s inner foundation is compromised from the beginning. Later in adulthood this compromise, if not healed, will be manifest as constant mood swings of emotional polarities such as passive-aggressive behavior, anxiety, panic attacks and other psychosomatic disorders.

The Driven Parent seems to have everything under control and looks the most “normal” of the four parent types. Any appearance of self-doubt is hidden because the parent has all the answers including what’s best for their children. The driven parent is goal orientated and focused upon what the parent wants, not want the child wants. Instead of listening to, respecting and adapting to their child’s interests and needs, the parent selectively praises what they want to see in their children and ignores what they don’t wish to develop. The driven parent is worried that their child will embarrass them by not succeeding and yet is unable to provide unconditional acceptance to the child’s interests, which ultimately would in turn support the child to create a stronger Inner Foundation from which to go out into the world and succeed and achieve their dreams. The child feels constantly evaluated and criticized which often creates fear within the child to speak up and ask for help for fear of criticism. The child does not have the environment to develop their self-esteem, self-confidence, self-knowledge or communication skills. Later in adulthood they grow up without learning how to develop mental resilience and emotional intelligence. They may suffer a mid-life crisis from waking up one day to the reality that they are living a life not of their choosing but one that pleased the parent.

The Rejecting Parent is the least empathetic of the four emotionally immature parents. They are self-centered and have a barrier around them. They would rather be left alone than look after their children and develop an emotional bond. The rejecting parent does not have the capacity to provide unconditional love towards their children and instead may be distant or ignore the child’s presence. Due to this emotional neglect, at an early age the child begins to believe that the parent would be better off if they did not exist. Consequently the child learns not to approach their parent due to fear of an angry reaction or punishment. This cold environment causes the child to develop feelings of inadequacy, abandonment and isolation. Worse still negative life controlling beliefs of “I’m not good enough/I’m not worthy” start to take root in the child’s mind at this early age and will remain with them throughout their life affecting all choices, relationships and areas of their life until they heal them. Sadly these early neglectful and hurtful experiences do not allow the child to connect with their emotions and nurture their self-worth and so naturally build a strong Inner Foundation. This natural passage of evolution is sabotaged and compromised from the beginning. In turn, these negative life controlling beliefs later manifest in adulthood as ‘coping mechanisms’ to manage these psychological and behavioral disorders. We employ coping mechanisms to numb down and shut out the emotional pain and emptiness we have inside. Common coping mechanisms used by adults in our society are drugs and alcohol abuse, gambling, over-eating, prescription medication, porn addiction and over-working to name a few.

The Passive Parent, compared to other three types, is more emotional available, however they can withdraw emotionally when things become too intense. Specifically, they do not protect or defend their child from other abusive adults inside the family unit. Due to their passive nature of not getting too involved, their passive behavior somehow condones and allows the more destructive and abuser behavior of another primary carer to continue. The Passive Parent is unable to teach their children how to cope with life challenges and is unable to offer wise counsel or guidance to their child to navigate the world. Worse due to their own ego-centrism and self-absorption, these parents use their children to meet their own needs. These parents may leave the family if they get a chance at a happier life. The child learns that to please their parents is the only way to have their attention and affection but deeply the child knows their parents can’t be there to help them. These relationships deeply impair the growth of the child’s inner foundation because the child does not have adequate opportunities to develop their own feelings of self-worth. They do not learn how to develop mental resilience, and instead experience feelings of uncertainty, confusion and feeling lost. Later in adulthood they grow up without learning how to overcome challenges and learn from setbacks.

How can you identify if you grew up with an emotional immature parent?

What are the common characteristic of emotionally immature parents? These parents may suffer from diverse psychosomatic disorders such as bipolar or narcissistic personality disorder however there are some common characteristics that you may look out for.

  • Self-centered, they like to be the center of the attention.
  • Entertain superficial, gossip, nonsense conversations.
  • Subjective not objective.
  • Rigid, single minded thinking, they know best, not adaptive open-mindedness.
  • Have little respect for the differing thoughts and opinions of others
  • Have low levels of empathy and compassion. Emotional insensitive.
  • Have low stress tolerance levels. Cannot control their state of mind.
  • They have intense but shallow emotions, are easily upset and, often display emotional extremes as a way to get what they want.
  • Are inconsistent and contradictive in their views, positions and opinions because they ignore facts and rely on assumptions.
Common Coping Mechanisms

How do we handle the pain and the negative impacts upon our Inner Foundation and upon our lives, careers, relationships? One way is to take responsibility for our lives and do our healing work. However often before we reach this point we develop coping mechanisms, behaviors we employ to avoid facing uncomfortable feelings and emotions related to our childhood and related to feelings of inadequacy, shame, low self-esteem, and hurt and/or trauma. We already mentioned above some very common examples of coping mechanisms and there are more such as procrastination, self-sabotage, co-dependent relationships, complaining, compulsive shopping, too much social media,  etc. We may continue using these coping mechanisms for years or for all our life. They “pay off” for which is that we don’t have to face our pain and hurt, we can avoid to do our healing work and grieve, forgive and let go of the past. But for more and more people today, there comes a point when the pain of avoiding is no longer numbed out by the coping mechanisms and then we often choose to life and to do the healing work. The alternative is bleak but very real, suicide. If you identify with what you have read here in this article and would like to contact us to learn more about our work, please do so. We would also suggest you join our Self-Empowerment course where we actively assist you to both heal from the past and redesign your future life now.

If you would like learn more about Emotionally Immature Parents you may enjoy to read the work created by Lindsay Gibson in her book “Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents” .


There are some important things you should consider when embarking upon this journey of healing and personal transformation.

  1. You must have the mindset and motivation to change your life.
  2. You will most likely need a mentor to support you on this journey.
  3. A solid healing & coaching structure in place that will ground you into practical daily steps to shift your mindset from where you are to where you want to be.
  4. You need a mentor continuation support program to help you to embed the new daily routines into your life. These new daily routines will assist the brains neuroplasticity activity in developing new neural pathways that represents your new powerful mindset.
  5. You will need to have a supportive community that respects you and is there for you when you need.


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About the Coaches

Luke and Susana HancockLuke and Susana Hancock have 20 years each of global professional experience, working in London, Europe and Asia in areas of leadership, staff training and personal development. Since 2016 they have been delivering professional training and coaching courses to individuals, schools, business and governmental organizations.  Luke is a Transformational Life Coach (ICF Accredited) and the author of the life changing book, “Own Your Power”. Susana is a fully qualified Spiritual Counselor and practitioner of Holistic Therapies accredited by the Complimentary Medical Association (CMA). She is also a fully qualified Nutritional Therapist and a Detox and Clinical Weight Loss specialist, accredited by the International Institute for Complementary Therapies in the UK and Australia. About the Coaches https://coachingselfempowerment.com/about

About Coaching Self-Empowerment

Coaching Self-Empowerment is a legal entity based in Chiang Mai, Thailand that provides an innovative and a cutting edge framework of educational training and coaching courses to individuals and organizations.  The company has three main areas of focus: Personal & Professional Development, Nutrition Detox and Urban Sustainability. The mission of Coaching Self-Empowerment is to empower individuals and guide organizations to become more sustainable by providing them with the knowledge, the tools and methodologies so they may develop their great potential and a lifestyle based on health and sustainability.  About the company: https://coachingselfempowerment.com/