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Emotionally Immature Parents and Estranged Adult Children with Kayla Tricaso

Jul 27, 2023


The term emotionally immature parent has become a popular topic of conversation recently. Though you can find and endless amount of social media posts about emotionally immature parents, the popularization of emotionally immature parents comes from a book. The book, Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Clinical Pyschologist Lindsay C Gibson, highlights a parent child dynamic that many can resonate with and feel connection to.

On this episode of the Get Naked with Dr. Kate, Dr. Kate Balestrieri and Officer Manager and Intake Specialist at Modern Intimacy, Kayla Tricaso, discuss the nuances of coping with an emotionally barren family and how both parents and adult children can heal.

Defining the Emotionally Immature Parent

So, what does it mean for a parent to be emotionally immature? Emotionally immature parents are parents who struggle to show up for their kids emotionally and support their children’s emotional needs. They might be very successful at providing all the material necessities a child needs, but there is a lack of sincere emotional connection.

Emotional intimacy is something most people need, and children especially need to feel emotionally safe and nurtured to develop healthily. When a child lacks secure and consistent emotional attunement from a parent, the child can start to feel as if something is wrong with them, that they need to hide certain feelings, that they need to take care of themselves and not cause too much of a fuss, and that they won’t be empathized with.

On a deeper level, these beliefs in a children can manifest into core beliefs about themselves that can increase overtime and follow a person into adulthood.

Impacts of Growing up with an Emotionally Immature Parent

It’s possible for emotionally immature parents to impact their children in myriad ways. Most family members who struggle with emotional maturity aren’t purposefully trying to harm their children. They may have the best intentions and feel they are doing what they can to provide a stable childhood for their child/ren. Even if the intent wasn’t to harm, it’s important to acknowledge when harm is done.

One way an adult can be impacted by growing up with emotionally immature parents is that they can struggle to feel as if their feelings and needs matter. If, as a child, they were not emotionally attuned to for provided for, they may struggle to be open and vulnerable about emotions with others. They may feel like they need to put their feelings on the backburner so that they don’t take up too much space.

Relationship wise, growing up with emotionally immature parents can make adult relationships challenging. In relationships, adult children often neglect their own needs as a way to give more space for their partner’s. If they grew up with rejecting parents, they need fear that their partner will reject them as well and that can be hurtful as it can serve as confirmation that they are not worthy, which of course, is not true.

Mending the Relationship

If you are an adult child or the parent, repair is possible if you want it and if everyone is willing to put down their defenses in order to have a production conversation and path forward. It’s absolutely possible for someone to develop emotional maturity, look at the way(s) they might have missed the mark emotionally as a parent, and make amends.

Kayla Tricaso is the Office Manager and Intake Specialist at Modern Intimacy and has been working in the mental health field for 6 years. She currently is in graduate school to eventually become a therapist who specializes in helping people heal from trauma. Kayla has been interested in and written a blog about the effects of emotionally immature parents on their children and the heartache it brings often times in that strained relationship.

This podcast addresses the parents and their children. Kate and Kayla talk about and give suggestions for parents to embark on conversations with their adult children in hopes of everyone really hearing one another, not placing blame, giving confirmation of feelings for each other and not being judgemental.

They also talk about evaluating the history of the relationships and making a definite decision of wanting to repair the relationship or not, and if the choice is to try to mend it, to remember nothing gets fixed overnight. Everyone involved needs to have realistic expectations and time frames.

This is a poignant conversation about the pain of estranged relationships of parents and children with a healthy dose of optimism for the future.

This is the cover for the Modern Intimacy with Dr. Kate Balestrieri podcast.
Dr. Kate Balestrieri, host of Modern Intimacy, a licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist, helps people live more fulfilled lives by shattering stigma and erasing shame. Dr. Kate invites you to join her as she investigates the relationship between sex, mental health, relationships and modern society.


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