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Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  2,925 ratings  ·  362 reviews
If you grew up with an emotionally immature, unavailable, or selfish parent, you may have lingering feelings of anger, loneliness, betrayal, or abandonment. You may recall your childhood as a time when your emotional needs were not met, when your feelings were dismissed, or when you took on adult levels of responsibility in an effort to compensate for your parent’s ...more
Paperback, 201 pages
Published June 1st 2015 by New Harbinger Publications
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Kirsten Em Absolutely - very easy to read. Clearly set out in logical chapters with exercises and case studies interspersed to help illustrate practical…moreAbsolutely - very easy to read. Clearly set out in logical chapters with exercises and case studies interspersed to help illustrate practical application of the advice given. Fantastic book. (less)
Amr Abughazala It is about saying We and Them. We developed countries and them developing countries. We women and them men. We rich and them poor. We mature and them…moreIt is about saying We and Them. We developed countries and them developing countries. We women and them men. We rich and them poor. We mature and them immature.

Then using all the word that you might know in the dictionary against those bad, evil and immature people.

Reading it made me feel that I am afraid on this pure, mature, good people from me. This is depression that this book helped me into it and it is speaking only to one side mocking the other.

The person who is right in thinking and in attitude, there are no two that will be different on him/her. That is totally broken by the author.


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Hands down one of the best Psychology books I have ever read. I love this book so, so much. As anyone who has read my blog knows, I grew up with pretty awful (i.e., abusive) parents, so this book validated my experiences in such a profound way. I appreciate how Lindsey Gibson honors the emotional experience of growing up with an emotionally immature parent through her immense empathy and compassion. She makes space for the suffering and the painful yet necessary transformation of a helpless ...more
Beth Frost
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Agh! I want to give this book five stars soooo badly, but there is one thing holding me back. The book talks in detail about emotionally immature parents, and how to recognize the behaviors. It also talks at length about internalizing and externalizing as responses to those behaviors.

What it doesn't talk about is recognizing those same emotionally immature behaviors in yourself, and what you can do to mature in those areas. Of course, we'll have reactions to the behaviors of our parents, but
Two words: Life altering.

It's hard to review such a book without getting personal. I'm not interested in sharing my dirty laundry or my family's, but this book has completely changed my life.

I learned I wasn't alone, and I learned many "whys." More importantly, beyond explaining the "hows" and "whys," the author gave tools for interacting with family, finding and making new emotionally mature relationships, inner change, and more.

I would pick up more of Gibson's work in a heartbeat. I'm
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a book you pick out for a very specific reason, and it is hardly possible to review it in a neutral way. So I won't.

I hope that I don't have to recommend it to anyone, as it means opening up a Pandora's box of unresolved issues with major impact on who you are and how you deal with life.

Let's just say this: if you have the feeling that something was missing in your life, and that you were distinctly different from other people with regards to your family relationships, this book may help
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I wish I had read this book sooner! Finally validation that my family's repeated claim that I am "too sensitive" is more a reflection of their own emotional deficiencies than my own!

Even though I knew my parental relations were not entirely healthy, they were still my primary model for relationships and, consequently, I had unwittingly come to see some dysfunctional behaviors as normal. This book made me realize that much of what I thought was just my personality were really defense mechanisms
This book has a long enough title as it is but it could also tack on..."How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, Self-Involved Parents, or Parents Who Never Parented You But You've Always Parented Them and They Expect You To Do So Until the Day They Die...and Is It Me or Are They Getting Even More Infantile in Their Old Age?"

I'm guessing anyone that reads this book could slap a picture of one, both, or all of their parents into the book as the very definition of an Emotionally Immature Parent. I
Rosie Campos
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Truly amazing. There's no shortage of self-help books in my house, all of which I've purchased in a feeble attempt to pinpoint that *thing* that's not quite right.

I've suffered from anxiety and depression most of my life. I've also found it very difficult to connect with anyone on more than a superficial level, and most interactions left me drained. I couldn't be myself when I interacted with anyone. I was always preoccupied with being judged than establishing a friendship based on intimate
Kenzie Swanson
Jul 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Good introduction to the concept, helps you see your parents clearly. Not much there, though, on how to overcome the defenses you built in response and change your own thought process/behavior. It's discussed, but it's very high level and not very helpful. "Do this," not "Here's how you can do this." This isn't necessarily a book for people who recognize their parents as emotionally immature already and want to know how to overcome that influence in their own lives. If you're already on board ...more
Apr 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow! Very insightful to the point that I think the author followed my mom around and took notes for the book. In all seriousness, very eye opening.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be extremely helpful for my life. Currently, I'm in a position where I'm re-evaluating relationships that have failed and identifying why.

As the books says, it's common to find parents that fulfill your physical and financial needs without fulfilling your emotional needs. This applies to my parents. In this kind of position, this is confusing to understand because while growing up, there might have been a tendency to imagine that there is a infallible, understanding, loving
Rachel Robins
Dec 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an EXCELLENT book if you deal with emotionally immature people. The emphasis is obviously on adult children recovering from poor parenting but it was applicable in so many areas of my life. Just.Wow.
Laszlo Mag
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic piece of work. I've been stacking up on psychology books lately but this one gave me perspectives I haven't come across anywhere else. If you've been dealing with anxiety or any type of emotional distress for most of your adult life you might find some clues to the origins of your pain in this book. Some sections felt a bit thin and I would have loved to see the exercises dig a little bit deeper to facilitate further emotional awakening, but this book provided so many revelations and ...more
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m not sure that the knowledge that their hurtful behaviour is unintentional helps. However, this book was helpful in accepting the reality of the relationship with my parents. I now notice and understand their behaviour more clearly. It also sheds some light on why I loved some stories as a child, stories that at the core were about how children must fend for themselves after their parents have neglected or abandoned them.
I was already familiar with many of the effects of EIP on children
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
A good co-worker of mine bounced up to me excited, shoving this book in my hand, and said,"Gurrrrl, if your Filipino mom is anything like my Filipino mom, then you should read this. It's amazing and so true."

So I read it and really liked it! I appreciate the discussion it created between my husband and me, as the book breaks down emotionally immature parents into four categories. His mother was clearly two strong categories and my mother was of the other two, and as a result we both were shaped
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First of all, it's a nice, warm, validating guideline for changing the way you relate with your emotionally immature parents, so that that relationship does not further damage your well-being, does not hinder your growth anymore, etc. Full of very specific pieces of advice on how to react to provocations, guilt-tripping and such - one being to set a goal of what you want to say, expressing yourself and then letting go, not expecting for a parent's behaviour or view to change (one of the ...more
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book hit close to home and certainly had a lot that I could identify with, having been raised in a home with two very emotionally immature parents trying to do their best. I give them a lot of credit for what they did right, but the truth is a lot of the immaturity persists to this day. Fortunately, books like this can be of aid in my quest to break the cycle.

The problem I had with this book is that the author speaks authoritatively but without much citation to research. Her primary sources
This was an interesting read for me. I initially picked this one up in order to get further insight about some of the students we work with at our school that have emotionally immature parents. What I didn't expect was insight into my own family and how one of my parents fit the same category. I learned how I responded during my childhood - internalizer - and how that impacted things with authority figures and my relationships with my siblings. What I really appreciated is seeing how my older ...more
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beneficial read which sheds light on the behaviors of parents who don't quite seem to know how to parent -- either by placing the expectations too high, or by assuming the child can parent themselves, or by demanding the child take on parental roles themselves. The author uses examples from her own practice to better illustrate the scenarios she describes.

A fair amount of what she recommends for learning how to grow past it is material I learned already through trial and error, but that means
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, science
This book was extremely validating. It felt good to have a professional description of behavior and patterns I recognized in my own life put in writing and allow me to think about them in a more objective way. Secondly, the last few chapters of the book are about how to change your way of relating to your parents and partners and work on yourself with awareness of what emotional maturity and immaturity look like in action. Anyone who thinks they recognize themselves in the title of this book ...more
Travel Writing
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone and everyone

I may have lifted that from another reviewer, but it is appropriate to say it a couple more times in reference to this work.

Gibson writes a book so practical and clear that anyone who has dealt with an emotionally immature person will repeatedly say, "Oh yep. Yeah. That's happened. Oh, and that. I always felt that way and couldn't pin it down, but there it is."

I am going to give it a few days and read it again. It truly is that useful and practical.
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
If you look at the title of this book and it makes you squirm a little (like it does to me) or if you have even a flash of thinking it might apply to you, I recommend giving it a chance. Not always easy for me to read/face, but It is SO helpful (and not just for parent relationships). After reading this, I now think all humans are probably at least a little bit emotionally immature, but awareness and handling of it is what counts. Read it!
Jessie Drew
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: january-2019
Great starting point for anyone who is healing from being emotionally &/or physically abandoned in childhood.
The author is fair & I appreciated how she doesn’t want to just point the blame but wants us to empathize if we can and then shows us how to let it go & move forward.
Would recommend.
I found this to be very insightful, and it explained to me a lot about the choices I have made in my life. It was a very humbling read as I fit both sides of the coin: adult child of emotionally immature parents and, in many more ways than I wanted to see, an emotionally immature parent. I will definitely reread this as I am sure that a lot didn't soak in the first time through the book. The only drawback of the book for me was its lack of a Christian perspective. Leaving relationships, both ...more
Allison Isaacs
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book!!! I found it incredibly valuable both in better understanding my own parents as well as other individuals around me that may have grown up in lacking emotional environments.

I think the title could potentially deter some people who may not be willing to admit that they believe their parents are emotionally immature, or who don’t want to be seen reading such a book, BUT please don’t let it! This book could have value for absolutely everyone who reads it.

Bryn Hammond
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rules of thumb for how to deal with an emotionally abusive parent who cannot communicate on an adult level. Useful knowledge to avoid being self-defeating. Main practical takeaway: Only disconnect, as E.M. Forster didn't say.

When it came to ways to rescue yourself from a situation, I found it only outlined strategies. But that's what the sequel is for: Recovering from Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Reclaim Your Emotional Autonomy and Find Personal Happiness.

The author is a psychologist in
Bianca Elena
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
Really helpful, oriented to emotionally imature persons as an example. Easy to understand, since English is not my native language, and The abundance of examples in The book makes it very relatable, therefore, it is really powerful and empowering. Great book!
That was rough but probably good for me
Rachel Nabors
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wish I’d read this years ago. I understand why I had the burn out, the divorce, and now this sudden feeling of “waking up.” I understand the loneliness I’ve felt through all of my life. And I know what to do going forward.

Child of an absent narcissist father and borderline mother here. If your parents were messed up and you feel lonely all the time, this book is for you.
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Somewhat ambivalent on this one, because the way the author talks about childhood emotional neglect it might as well be endemic in Western society (whether or not this is the case is not something upon which I feel qualified to comment, lacking any sort of parenting experience myself). I feel in part, though, that that's based on the social pressure on parents to put a child's emotional needs above one's own instead of working to find a balance. Despite Gibson's sensible advice on dealing with ...more
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction


The extreme sensitity with which Gibson approaches the topic of this book is its greatest strength. Reading it felt very much like sitting in a therapist's office, chatting about your day and receiving validation and encouragement. The tone was almost uniformly gentle, but with valuable and necessary firmness. The structure is logical and easy to follow, with just enough anecdotal interludes and scholarly references.

I say "almost uniformly gentle" because there were moments of clear author
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“Remember, your goodness as a person isn’t based on how much you give in relationships, and it isn’t selfish to set limits on people who keep on taking.” 9 likes
“Because they’re so attuned to feelings, internalizers are extremely sensitive to the quality of emotional intimacy in their relationships. Their entire personality longs for emotional spontaneity and intimacy, and they can’t be satisfied with less. Therefore, when they’re raised by immature and emotionally phobic parents, they feel painfully lonely. If there’s anything internalizers have in common, it’s their need to share their inner experience. As children, their need for genuine emotional connection is the central fact of their existence. Nothing hurts their spirit more than being around someone who won’t engage with them emotionally. A blank face kills something in them. They read people closely, looking for signs that they’ve made a connection. This isn’t a social urge, like wanting people to chat with; it’s a powerful hunger to connect heart to heart with a like-minded person who can understand them. They find nothing more exhilarating than clicking with someone who gets them. When they can’t make that kind of connection, they feel emotional loneliness. From” 9 likes
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