Hey there, fabulous readers! Let’s embark on an exploration to spot the signs of emotional immaturity within our parents. Today, we will talk about what emotional immaturity means, the impact this may have, and the resources that are available to handle this.

So, what does it mean to be emotionally immature?

Have you ever seen that viral video of that family fighting at Disneyworld? Yes. At Disneyworld. It is known as the most happiest place on earth, yet these people were not emotionally mature enough to respond instead of react.

Being emotionally mature means you can handle different emotions without letting them take over or control you. It means being able to step back and look at a situation from different angles instead of just reacting on impulse.

You can handle stress, disappointment, and conflicts thoughtfully, making decisions based on reasoning rather than just how you feel in the moment.

The 2 Major Signs you have Emotionally Immature Parents

1. Constant Mood Swings

Growing up, I always thought mood swings were reserved for those teenage years. BUT, little did I know that the drama could continue well into adulthood, thanks to some learning that I got about emotionally immature parents.

So, what’s it like navigating this emotional roller coaster? Let me share some insights.

It’s that one day when you were peacefully watching your favorite show, and suddenly, your parent’s mood takes a nosedive. One moment everything is sunny sunshine and rainbows, and the next, it’s like a storm has taken over the living room.

And yes, as the saying goes, all emotions are valid. However, someone’s emotions might not be so valid if they are hurting others as a result. 


2. Abundance of Communication Hurdles

Trying to communicate with emotionally immature parents can feel like talking to a brick wall – frustrating and unproductive. You might find that they aren’t the best at expressing their feelings. You may try to get your main point across but at the same time, it is like attempting to solve a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded.

Communication hurdles can present itself in a couple of different ways:

More reactive than responsive

Are your parents more thoughtful in their response or do they respond more like a reflex? Let’s consider a scenario.

Imagine a mother, let’s call her Jillian, who is more reactive than responsive when she receives news that her 20 year old daughter is pregnant. One day, during a family evening dinner, the daughter gives her mom the news.

Instead of taking a moment to process the information, Jillian immediately reacts by raising her voice and expressing frustration about the pregnancy.

In this scenario:

  • The Reactivity is: Jillian’s immediate and emotional response without pausing to think about the situation or consider alternative solutions.
  • The Responsive Behavior Would Have Been: A more measured and thoughtful approach that would involve Jillian taking a moment to absorb the information, asking questions for clarification, and then expressing concerns or proposing solutions in a calm manner.

In contrast to being reactive, being responsive involves a thoughtful consideration of what is occuring before reacting emotionally. Emotional immature parents usually have a very hard time doing this.


Projection occurs when someone reflects on their own situation and then places it on someone else.

For example, lets imagine an adult child, Leah, who expresses her desire to pursue a career in the arts. Her father, who had once aspired to be an artist but didn’t follow that path due to practical reasons, reacts by saying, “You’re being unrealistic and impractical! I wanted to be an artist too, but I had to choose a stable job. You’re just dreaming and not thinking about your future!”

In this scenario:

  • Projection is: The father projecting his own past desires and decisions onto his adult child. Instead of acknowledging his own choices, he is attributing his unfulfilled aspirations and fears to Leah.
  • The Responsive Behavior Would Have Been: The father acknowledging his past desires, expressing his concerns about practicalities, and engaging in a supportive conversation about Leah’s career choice, considering both passion and practicality.

In this case, the use of projection can create tension, as the father may unconsciously impose his own unfulfilled aspirations onto his adult child.

This could potentially impact Leah’s ability to make decisions based on her own interests and goals.

Lack of empathy

Having a lack of empathy means that a person struggles to understand or share in the feelings, emotions, and experiences of others. Empathy involves the ability to recognize and connect with the emotions of others, to put oneself in their shoes, and to respond with understanding and care.

When someone lacks empathy, they may have difficulty grasping the perspectives, needs, or emotional states of those around them.

Let’s consider a real-world example of a father demonstrating a lack of empathy towards his adult child:

Imagine an adult child, Jessica, is going through a difficult time dealing with stress at work and is feeling overwhelmed. She opens up to her father about her struggles, expressing her emotions and seeking emotional support. Instead of showing empathy, the father responds with indifference, saying, “I don’t understand why you’re so stressed. It’s just a job. You should be able to handle it.”

In this scenario:

  • Lack of Empathy is: The father fails to understand or share in Jessica’s feelings and struggles. Instead of offering support or acknowledging her emotions, he dismisses her concerns.
  • The Responsive Behavior Would Have Been: The father expressing understanding, offering emotional support, and showing concern for Jessica’s well-being.

In this case, the lack of empathy can create emotional distance and may leave Jessica feeling invalidated. A more responsive approach involves recognizing and acknowledging the emotions of the adult child, fostering a connection based on empathy and understanding.

Silent Treatment

The silent treatment is a form of emotional manipulation or communication where a person intentionally stops speaking to another person or avoids any form of communication. This can involve refusing to respond to messages, calls, or any attempts at conversation.

Essentially, it’s a deliberate and prolonged period of silence as a way of expressing disapproval, anger, or frustration.

Picture this example.

Imagine an adult child, Michelle, makes a decision about her career that her mother strongly disagrees with. Rather than expressing her concerns or engaging in a conversation, the mother becomes upset and gives Michelle the silent treatment.

She avoids talking to her, doesn’t respond to her messages, and withdraws emotionally.

In this scenario:

  • Silent Treatment: The mother uses a form of emotional withdrawal, refusing to communicate or acknowledge her adult child in response to her decisions.
  • Responsive Behavior: A more responsive approach would involve the mother expressing her concerns or disagreements calmly and openly, fostering communication and understanding between the two.

Using the silent treatment in this situation can create emotional distance and strain the relationship. Emotionally immature parents are not able to have a responsive approach allowing for open communication, even in the face of disagreements.

Blaming and lack of accountability

Meet the Blame-Game MVP – the parent who never loses at pointing fingers.

One hallmark of emotionally immature parents is their tendency to play the blame game. Whether it’s blaming you, the weather, or the alignment of the stars, emotionally immature parents have a knack for finding a scapegoat for almost everything.

Let’s go over an example.

Imagine an adult child, Roxanne, starts a new business venture with her mother and unfortunately, faces financial challenges leading to some setbacks. When Roxanne discusses these challenges with his mother, she responds by saying, “This is all your fault. You never think things through, and now you’re expecting me to bail you out again. When will you learn to be responsible?”

In this scenario:

  • Blaming and Lack of Accountability is: The mother shifts blame onto Roxanne, attributing the difficulties solely to his actions, and avoids taking any shared responsibility for the situation. She also expresses frustration without acknowledging any potential external factors contributing to the challenges.
  • Responsive Behavior Would Have Been: The mother expressing understanding of the challenges, discussing potential solutions collaboratively, and offering support without placing sole blame on David.

In this case, the blaming and lack of accountability can strain the relationship and hinder constructive problem-solving. A more responsive approach involves acknowledging shared responsibility and working together to address challenges.

All this means for you is to learn to detach from the blame game. It’s crucial to understand that the mood swings of emotionally immature parents aren’t you. You’re not responsible for fixing everything.

Sometimes, it’s okay to let emotionally immature parents play their game while you focus on building your own emotional resilience.


emotionally immature parents

What impact does having an emotionally immature parent have on me?

The impact from having emotionally immature parents can be TREMENDOUS or little. Oftentimes then not, having emotionally immature parents can make it harder for you to talk about your emotions.

You may develop a fear of vulnerability which makes it hard for you to open up to people.

Research by Roberts and Bengtson (1990) suggests that parents serve as role models for children’s future relationships, impacting their approach to intimacy and emotional connection.

It can make you more susceptible to having a consistently low self-image and constant self-doubt.

It is also possible to have identity confusion when it is paired with projection and the silent treatment.

But, fear not. All of these things that can occur or the things that have happened in the past does not have to define you.

The Self Worth Accelerator bootcamp is great for unpacking core beliefs coming from your childhood so that you can turn your headaches into a hero story.

Can emotionally immature parents change or improve?

Yes! Change and improvement is always possible for emotionally immature parents. Especially in the world of infinite possibilities.

But, REMEMBER, there is an exception to this.

You are limited on what you can do to promote change or improvement in other people.

It is not right and it is not going to do you any good if you to try to force that change on them. It’s that saying that, you can not control other people but you can control yourself.

In order for emotionally immature parents to get started on change, they have to come from a place of true inner self-motivation. Let it happen through the universe.

How can I support my emotionally immature parent without sacrificing my own well-being?

Now this goes to say, dont go telling your parents “hey, youre emotionally immature“. This can actually do more harm than good.

Deciding whether to address the issue directly with emotionally immature parents is a common dilemma, as it involves weighing the potential benefits against the risks.

It might even be best to take this information as a way of gaining empathy for them and building your own emotional resilience as a way of supporting them through their own journey.

Learning patience, assertive statements, active listening, and a sprinkle of empathy can make things go a long way. While you might not be able to transform your parents into communication wizards, you can at least make the conversation a bit less of an obstacle course.

If they are up for it, a recommendation to a family therapist can help build and restrengthen family bonds and communication skills.

All in all, it is important to detach yourself from the blame game from emotionally immature parents. It’s crucial to understand that their mood swings aren’t your fault. You’re not responsible for fixing everything.

Sometimes, it’s okay to let them play their game while you focus on building your own emotional resilience.

What resources are available for dealing with emotionally immature parents?

The good news is, there are resources out there to help you steer through these emotional waves, both free and paid.

Let’s dive in:

Counseling or Coaching

For deliberating situations, the guidance of a mental health professional can be a game-changer. Therapists can provide a safe space to diagnose and treat any mental illnesses, unpack your feelings, develop coping strategies, and work on setting healthy boundaries.

Coaches can help you create a strategic individualized plan according to your needs and particular circumstances if you have emotionally immature parents. Currently, at the moment, Spiritmind Synergy is only accepting therapy clients in Michigan through Open Path Collective.

On the other hand, coaching clients are being fully accepted regardless of location, unless it is warranted that you may need therapy treatment. Send me a message here if you would like to get more information or a free consultation. 

Coping Skills Kit

Who doesn’t love a good freebie? Get the ultimate coping skills kit here which includes exercises and resources designed to help you manage stress and boost your emotional resilience when you are around emotionally immature parents.

Books involving the Topic of Emotionally Immature Parents

There are some fantastic reads out there that delve into the complexities of dealing with emotionally immature parents. Check out books by authors like Lindsay C. Gibson or Jonice Webb for insights and coping strategies.

Safe Space Communities

Connect with others who have also delt with emotionally immature parents. Online forums and communities can offer a virtual hug and some invaluable advice.

It’s like having a digital squad who gets what you’re going through.

A great place for this would be the Spiritual Self Improvement Community Facebook group

Self Worth Accelerator Bootcamp

For those wanting a bit of a turbo boost to their self-esteem and cannot afford a coach, programs like the Self-Worth Accelerator Bootcamp can be a fantastic resource. Think of it as a crash course that you get lifetime access to for you to always have the tools to recognize your values and navigating relationships from a place of strength.

Remember, it’s okay to invest time and energy in your emotional well-being. The best investment is the one you make for yourself. Building resilience and learning how to navigate emotionally immature parents on your terms is a journey.

These resources all together can lead to a lifelong opportunity to accomplish your top life goals and to minimize the impact of emotionally immature parents. But to make it less overwhelming, I definently suggest mastering one at a time.

Let these resources be your trusty companions along the way. You’ve got this!


Sabrina Valdivia

Sabrina Valdivia

Spiritual Holisitic Counselor Intern and Coach

With a wealth of experience spanning more than 10 years, I have become a guiding light for those struggling with low self-esteem and anxiety, helping them rediscover their inner strength and self-worth.

My journey into holistic therapy and life coaching began as a personal quest for healing and self-discovery and a spiritual background from my determined single mother.

Having faced my own battles with low self-esteem and anxiety during my younger years, I intimately understood the challenges that many young women encounter in their lives.

This personal struggle ignited a passionate flame within me, inspiring me to delve into the realms of spirituality, self-help, and holistic healing modalities.

To read more about my story, click here.


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