15 Definite Signs You Grew Up With An Emotionally Immature Parent

15 Definite Signs You Grew Up With An Emotionally Immature Parent

When you’re a kid, you believe your parents have all the answers. They’re the ones there to help guide and support you as you grow up, to provide you with the love, encouragement, and teaching you need to be happy and successful in life. However, sadly, things don’t always work out that way. If you relate to any of the following in your adult life, chances are you had an emotionally immature parent.

1. You often find yourself mediating conflicts.

Growing up, you learned to navigate and diffuse tense situations, making you the go-to mediator among friends and family, even when you’d prefer not to be. This role has made you adept at understanding different perspectives, but it can also be draining. You always tend to get caught in the middle of other people’s drama and it’s up to you to get their issues ironed out.

2. You’re the person your friends turn to for advice.

Because you had to be self-reliant from a young age, your friends see you as wise and grounded, and they often come to you for opinions and advice on various situations in their lives. While it’s rewarding to be trusted, it sometimes adds pressure to always have the right answers. You’re just as lost as they are sometimes!

3. You’re skilled at changing the subject to avoid discomfort.

You’ve developed a knack for steering conversations away from any kind of potential conflict, which is a habit formed from years of avoiding uncomfortable discussions at home. This skill helps maintain peace and harmony in your relationships for the time being, but it can also prevent you from addressing important problems head-on.

4. You prefer to handle things on your own.

woman walking with attitude through city

Your upbringing taught you to be independent, often to the point where asking for help feels like a challenge you’re not quite ready to tackle. This independence is a strength, but it can also isolate you from the support and understanding that other people would love to extend to you. It’s okay to not do everything alone, you know.

5. You tend to overanalyze situations.

Having been conditioned to anticipate the unpredictable, you often find yourself overthinking every single decision you make because you’re trying to prepare for every possible outcome. This meticulous planning is useful, but it can also lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety. Sometimes you have to just trust your gut and go for it.

6. You’re learning to establish personal boundaries.

After years of having your needs overlooked, you’re now navigating the complex process of setting and enforcing your own boundaries. It’s a liberating journey, though it comes with its own set of challenges as you learn to assert yourself. The more you do it, the easier it will become — and the better you’ll be able to protect your time and energy, as well as your dignity.

7. You’re good at reading people’s emotions.

Your childhood required you to be perceptive of other people’s emotional states, which makes you sensitive to the moods and feelings of those around you. This empathy is a gift, but it can also be overwhelming when you absorb too much of what other people are feeling. It starts to affect your own mood, so it’s important you find a way to offload that excess emotion to maintain your equilibrium.

8. You apologize more than necessary.

A history of trying to keep things peaceful has led you to develop a habit of over-apologizing, even for things beyond your control or that are in no way your fault. This reflex can diminish your sense of self-worth since you might feel responsible for situations that have nothing to do with you. Reserve your “I’m sorry”s for when they’re warranted.

9. You always plan for contingencies.

Your experiences have made you cautious, always preparing for the unexpected, especially since stability was often lacking in your home environment. While being prepared is generally a good thing, it can sometimes prevent you from living in the moment and enjoying spontaneity.

10. You find comfort in familiar routines.

ginger man standing in kitchen with tea

Stability was scarce in your upbringing, so as an adult, you find a sense of security in maintaining consistent routines and habits. This predictability is comforting, but it can make adapting to change more challenging. If you freak out anytime things deviate even slightly from plan, you have to find a way to take it in your stride a bit better.

11. You’re trusted with keeping secrets.

Fitness young man and woman walking together over a walkway bridge in city in morning

Your role as a confidant in your family has carried over into your other relationships, making you a trusted keeper of secrets among your friends. This trust is a testament to your reliability, though it can also be a heavy burden to bear. Some people are holding onto some dark stuff! It’s okay to tell people that you don’t want to be dumped on.

12. You have a knack for softening bad news.

You’ve learned to deliver difficult information gently, a skill developed from trying to avoid upsetting an emotionally volatile parent. While this approach is often appreciated, it can also be emotionally taxing for you to always cushion the blow for other people. Sometimes you just have to give them the cold, hard truth.

13. You appreciate predictability and structure.

woman stretching outdoors in sunshine

The unpredictability of your childhood has led you to value structure and predictability in your adult life, meaning you often plan your days meticulously. This love for order brings clarity and efficiency, but it can also make unexpected changes more jarring.

14. You tend to tackle problems solo.

Your upbringing made you self-sufficient, often defaulting to solving problems on your own, even when collaboration might be beneficial. This self-reliance is empowering, but it can also limit the perspectives and solutions you might consider.

15. You manage your emotions privately.

You’ve become accustomed to keeping your emotions in check, a habit formed from living in an environment where expressing feelings was often discouraged. While this has made you resilient, it’s also important to find safe spaces where you can express yourself freely and be vulnerable.

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Sinead Cafferty is a writer who has authored four collections of poetry: "Dust Settling" (2012); "The Space Between" (2014); "Under, Under, Over" (2016); and "What You Can't Have" (2020). She's currently working on her first novel, a dystopian romance set in the 22nd Century, that's due out in 2024.

Sinead has an MFA in creative writing from NYU and has had residencies with the Vermont Studio Center and the National Center for Writing.