The idea that children have emotional needs that require attention is a relatively new concept in the United States. In the past, many parents believed that “children should be seen and not heard.” Unfortunately, this way of thinking has led to a pattern of emotional immaturity that has been passed down from generation to generation. It’s important to note that we do not judge or criticize our parents for their actions. They were doing the best they could with the knowledge and resources they had. However, we must acknowledge that many of our emotional needs were neglected as a result.
So, what exactly is emotional immaturity? According to expert Lindsay C. Gibson, author of Adult children of Emotionally Immature Parents, emotional maturity refers to a person’s ability to think logically and conceptually while maintaining deep emotional connections with others. Someone who is emotionally immature might struggle with thinking logically, connecting with others, and putting others’ needs first.
Some characteristics associated with emotional immaturity include rigid thinking, an inability to manage stress, being ruled by their feelings, lacking objectivity, disrespecting differences, prioritizing one’s ego, being overly self-involved, needing constant attention, promoting role reversal, having low empathy, and being insensitive to others’ emotions.
If a child is raised by an emotionally immature parent, they may learn to manage others’ emotions to avoid outbursts or maintain a stable home environment. They may also become introverted and avoid interactions with others. Furthermore, they may prioritize others’ needs over their own and believe that they must do so to be loved. Unfortunately, children do not have the ability to externalize their parents’ actions and often blame themselves for their parents’ negative moods. This can lead to a pattern of perfectionism, unstable relationships, and an inability to advocate for oneself. Adults raised by emotionally immature parents often report a pervasive sense of “emotional loneliness” or an ongoing sense that they are unable to truly connect with others on an emotional level.
The good news is that once we understand the origin of our emotional wounds, we can begin to heal our inner child. We can learn to validate ourselves, soothe ourselves, and be there for ourselves. We can let go of the notion that someone else will come and save us or that we will find a relationship where the other person never needs us. We can develop our emotional maturity to form healthy relationships and put an end to the generational pattern of hurt parents unintentionally creating hurt children.
If you are interested in healing your inner child, please reach out to schedule a free consultation call.