Emotionally immature parents are incredibly hard to live with. How would I know? Because both my parents are emotionally immature. Today I will be writing about my experiences with my mother and my dad – who is a whole other can of worms – will be doing a post on him another day. Let’s talk definitions first.
An emotionally immature parent is that sometimes it’s it doesn’t have to be extreme like narcissism or borderline personality disorder or something like that, although it can manifest in that way but a lot of times emotionally immature parents are not able to connect with their children emotionally. They are very focused on themselves and they are unable to feel feelings of or empathize with their children.
They cannot connect in any way with their children because they are so dysregulated emotionally that to actually feel the feelings of other people is almost impossible.
So how can did this manifest in my life?
How my mother was like when I was growing up
My mum’s EI behaviour most likely stemmed from her family and her own childhood, which seemed quite un-nurturing, like she didn’t quite get her needs met or her emotions addressed. She seemed to always feel like an outsider as well, as the eldest she wasn’t given much attention and opportunities. Living in Post WWII-era, her parents were more concerned about making ends meet and money, so caring for their children’s emotions were far from their mind.
She also experiencing quite abit of bullying in school and otherwise, with very overly harsh and strict parenting/disiplining, which she carried into her caregiving of me. Her siblings are also the same way, very loud and EI, tending to be passive-aggressive towards one another, unpredictably hot and cold with random lashings out.
Has your relationship with your EI parents contributed in part to poor personal boundaries? Find out below!
- She had very stormy moods. I always could never predict what she was feeling or what she would say next. She also had a very tumultous, abusive relationship with my dad and I always wondered why she bothered staying
- She over-shared and couldn’t emotionally regulate. She’d tell me things about my dad, like how bad he was, that he may be having affairs etc
- Constantly thought the worst of everyone and had very toxic, negative beliefs about life and people. She would constantly share these with me which affected my outlook on life and love later on
- Overly harsh and forceful parenting, which was humiliating a times. She’d spank me very hard and when she was angry, shout or kick things around and break stuff. I remembered once being very fearful of going on stage to perform, and instead of being sensitive and nurturing about it, she’d beat and pinch my hand so that I’d be forced to go up. She pinched me so hard once the skin on my palm tore open, and scolded me in front of the whole class. I ended up crying so hard from the pain the teacher had to send me back anyway. I was so humiliated, that now almost 30 years later, I still remember this incident so well.
- Came across very cold sometimes. I still remember she’d get annoyed with me when I was sick and found it irritating that I’d fall sick sometimes right before an exam
- Never took my side whenever I was bullied or had difficulties with someone in school. Whenever I shared what I tried to do, she will put me down and criticise my actions.
- Openly showed her disappointment with me and in everything I did. She made it seem like it was always my fault, and I was never good enough, especially with grades and school.
- Constant criticism of my looks and dressing. As an incredibly looks-obsessed and image-vigilant person herself, my choice of clothes and hair. I never knew my own style until I hit my late 20s because she was always so controlling and critical of how I looked.
- Overly controlling. I could only do things, cut my hair for instance, in a style that only she likes
- Cold-shouldering me when she was upset with me. Basically acting like a petulant spoilt child and left me feeling very confused and guilty
How she is now that I’m already grown up and an adult
Oh if you think that EI parents change the minute their children become adults? Nope, still the same as ever! My mum still has the same stormy, unpredictable moods, still cold-shoulders me (LOL), still sides with other people whenever I tell her about a situation at work, still thinks then worst of everyone – she’s always in some sort of unhappy situation with some colleague or other, still perceives people negatively and like they are all out to get her, is still harsh/rude and overly critical.
Nope! Nothing has changed! 🙂
Has an EI parent affected your self-esteem and self-worth too? Find out below!
How her relationship with my has affected my outlook on life and relationships
EI parents tend to inflict some real emotional damage on their children that can carry on into adulthood and can take a lot of healing and awareness to come to terms with. Some never realise it and carry on the trauma and treatment they received from their EI parents to their next generation. These were the ways I had been affected.
- I had a very negative outlook on people, life and love, which took decades to undo and heal. It affected everything from my friendships and how I chose them, romantic relationships and how I selected romantic partners
- Poor emotional regulation and was emotionally unavailble: I couldn’t connect with my emotions well, never really understood why I felt certain things and was emotionally unavailable for the longest time. Emotions were triggering and I couldn’t handle stress and difficulties, I was always helpless
- Deep-seated anger and resentment: Because of limited and controlled so much in childhood, I had very huge temper issues that only started to come out in my late 20s, pretty recently actually. It feels very comforting in a way to be able to express that anger. I used to struggle with anger and was very passive-aggressive in expressing it or completely repressing it to an unhealthy extent.
- Poor self-esteem and a weak sense of self: I mostly identified with her personality and moods that it was hard for me to establish my own identity. My fashion for the longest time just took after hers. Her constant criticism and disapproval of me just made me feel pretty worthless and like I didn’t belong anywhere and I struggled with low self-esteem til my 20s
- Was a huge people-pleaser and always needed her approval: In whatever I did I always had her approval at the back of my mind and I limited much of myself and what I did
- Didn’t know how to enjoy myself: I always felt guilty for putting myself or my needs first, in many situations. And lost that connection with my inner child, the one that just wanted to be joyful and have fun
How I am healing to move forward
I don’t think all hope is lost when you have an EI parent. When you are aware that they are one, alot of things start to make sense. And there are plenty of ways you can start healing and getting your power back.
#1 Setting boundaries – with the parent and in general
When I used to feel upset, guilty, confused and sad when my mum unleashes her temper or unpredictable moods on me, now I just steer completely clear and ignore her. I read a book, listen to music or watch something nice. When she cold-shoulders me? I no longer take that personally either, just feel sorry for her for being so childish and just tend ot my own things.
Whilst her unpredictable treatment of me and her refusal to apologise or own up to things she has done is something I still struggle with, I just have to keep reminding myself of how caught up in her own mind and web of emotions she is. That alot of it is really not that personal – she actually is like that to everyone she meets.
But setting boundaries with her has also given me the strength and confidence to set boundaries with other people in general and to not accept or engage behaviour that I do not stand for. Sometimes, these boundaries look like low or no contact with the EI parent. And if that is something that you feel helps your mental health, don’t feel ashamed to do it.
How do feel about yourself? Has being with an EI parent affected your degree of self-love too? Find out below!
#2 Reconnecting with my inner child
My inner child had been repressed for so long that it felt super strange to be doing things that I wanted to do. To know that I have the freedom to do them. And that I actually could live a life that I wanted? The concept was so foreign to me. The first thing I had to do was get used to this feeling of fun and try not to feel guilty about it. To give myself permission to do the things I want.
My inner child is currently one of my biggest intuitive guides. I check in with her often and she tells me what I need to do and should be doing. I turn to her when I’m stumped. And whenever I give her a voice, I’m honouring the little girl who had no voice for various reasons when I was younger, I allow her to thrive and I free her. It feels amazing!
#3 Having self-compassion & Knowing my Self better
Much of healing from a relationship with an EI parent is to be compassionate and start loving yourself more. Alot of the treatment we experienced from them would most certainly have made us feel guilty, ashamed of ourselves, have led us to not accept ourselves. And it’s time that we start treating ourselves differently, treating ourselves better.
To start accepting ourselves and showing compassion for our experience and our pain and the sadness that we experienced all those years ago. To feel compassion and show kindness and gentleness to the parts of ourselves that are hurting and continue to hurt.
Most importantly, to not treat ourselves the same way our EI parents treated or are still treating us, we deserve better.
#4 Having compassion and forgiveness for my mom
I know this is difficult to hear for children of EI parents, but alot of them actually came from pretty emotionaly deprived childhoods themselves – either as a result of the era they were brought up in, their families or the culture. But their emotions weren’t met as kids and they weren’t given the tools to develop their emotions in a healthy manner.
We know better now because we have the tools, information and the ability to regulate ourselves emotionally, but times were different back then. For my mum, she didn’t grow up in a great environment. So that understanding has led me to be more compassionate towards her and to forgive her for her behaviours past.
While it may be a little too late for her to change her behaviours and thoughts, I’d be making sure none of this EI behaviour is gonna be passed on to my children. It ends here. But if you have it within your heart to feel compassion for your EI parent… do so. It can be freeing. Whenever they are throwing tantrums or their emotions around, see them as a 5 year old child throwing tantrums, not a 62 year old parent.
I do love my mum, don’t get me wrong. Love for a parent or for anyone doesn’t always look shiny and perfect like on TV. But spending too much time with her is still not something I’m able to do now, and if that is you too – don’t feel bad or ashamed. Hope this post helped!