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Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  6,326 ratings  ·  718 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 behavio ...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 applicat…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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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 ma
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 chil ...more
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 etern
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
Morgan Blackledge
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I avoided this one for a good minute.

For some reason I just ‘wasn’t in the mood’ for it.

But I’ll be ding danged if it didn’t hit the bullseye 🎯

Sometimes we (I) avoid the the best stuff, and go for the close but not quite thing, or even the wrong thing altogether.

Funny how that works.

And that’s kind of what this book is about.

It’s about how being emotionally neglected in childhood, by an emotionally immature or self absorbed parent, can get you in the habit of ‘putting out fire with gasoline’
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 cou
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 comm
Carrie Poppy
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read dozens of research-based psychology books, and a large handful of self-help books (way more if you count spiritual texts), and only three stand out as hugely meaningful to my life: Mind Over Mood, Driven to Distraction, and this one.

If you were sidelined, neglected, or constantly criticized as a child, this book is for you. My copy is so marked-up, it could be a diary.

I’m a little skeptical (perhaps too much) of clinical psychologists. Unfortunately I think it’s a field that has far to
I found this incredibly helpful. I especially liked that she detailed both the different kinds of emotionally immature types you could encounter in parents and the the content of the two broad responses to experiencing this parenting (internalizing and externalizing). The first part really helped me because I was definitely one someone who internalized and so I had the “but maybe my parent wasn’t immature enough for me to complain about” thought and resisted reading this at first. It made me fee ...more
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 wi ...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
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
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 beca
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.
During this pandemic, I am reading books that fall under the category Problems I Don't Have. (Other books I've read recently feature problems such as marrying someone and finding out you can't stand them, piracy, and being beheaded.) This book made me so happy that I grew up with parents who were interested in me and cared about my inner life, even though I was sometimes exasperating.

Anyway, this book is full of practical advice on how to respond (or not respond) to the emotionally immature peop
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.
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.
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Give this book a try if

1. you have unresolved issues from childhood that you carry to this day
2. the title of this book rings a bell
3. you think you have done everything imaginable to fight long-term depression, anxiety, or any other mental conditions, but they do not seem to go away
4. you blame yourself for the predicament you are in
5. you come from a dysfunctional family, and now you are a parent

This book can be a life-saver. It was for me.
Alexa White
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help
This book had a lot of good information wrapped up in a lot of biases and harmful statements.

The basic framework of the book and the language of emotional maturity vs emotional immaturity is something genuinely freeing, and genuinely really good to be aware of. I'm able to evaluate my relationships in new light and generally feel like I have a whole new toolbox available.

The problem is this book is highly biased against those with low empathy (empathy =/= the ability to express compassion), thos
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent book. Totally on with everything, at least as far as my life is concerned. It's a little thin on coping advice, I would say, which is the only reason why I would give it 4 stars. The DBT-style emotional observation technique is useful, but if you are required to have frequent contact with your parent for whatever reason, it might be useful to have more than one tool in your toolbox. I understand that the same author has a new book coming out and I would be interested in reading it as w ...more
Additional thoughts from second reading March 2020
I got so much from this book the first time that I did not wait to reread it but started it up immediately. I was getting so many great insights again so I slowed down my second reading to just a couple of pages a day, taking extensive notes as I read. Upon completion, I reread all the notes prior to writing this review.

Once again this was a painful read. At times I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach as I had to admit to myself my own im
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
Aron Strong
Jun 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: counseling
Helpful for individuals who grew up without the love and affection every child needs, Gibson does a great job describing how emotionally wounded and stunted people behave toward their children. The book is full of compassion for children of emotionally distant and/or emotionally abusive parents.

However, in her desire to empathize with adult children, Gibson stigmatizes broken parents by minimizing them to purely their maladaptive attachment strategies. It's as though her compassion for adult ch
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've been hesitant to add all the self help/psychology books I've been reading lately since some of them feel a bit too revealing, but I decided to just say fuck it and put them up. This book was fantastic and I recommend it to anyone who has ever or will ever deal with emotionally immature people (i.e. literally everyone). It's laid out well, is easy to understand, and is very widely applicable since it doesn't focus on any specific clinical diagnoses. You should give it a shot if you're intere ...more
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 a ...more
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Well, this was exhausting but worthwhile. Every time I thought I've learned it all I realize that there is still more.

The book clarifies what a emotionally immature parent is, how such a parent affects their child and how it still affects the adult child later on. It contains examples and tips how to cope with it all and also little questionnaires to find out more about your parent, yourself or emotionally immature people in general. There was a big part about how children of EI parents can beco
Gabrielė Bužinskaitė
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Brilliant book that helps to understand where the inner loneliness is coming from, when it seems you have it all.

“Emotional loneliness” is a term that suggests its own cure: being on the receiving end of another person’s sympathetic interest in what you’re feeling. This type of loneliness isn’t an odd or senseless feeling; it’s the predictable result of growing up without sufficient empathy from others."

The author mainly focuses on parents who aren't emotionally mature, which means they can do
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 t ...more
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 sho ...more
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“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” 22 likes
“Emotional loneliness is so distressing that a child who experiences it will do whatever is necessary to make some kind of connection with the parent. These children may learn to put other people's needs first as the price of admission to a relationship. Instead of expecting others to provide support or show interest in them, they may take on the role of helping others, convincing everyone that they have few emotional needs of their own. Unfortunately, this tends to create even more loneliness, since covering up your deepest needs prevents genuine connection with others.” 21 likes
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