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Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  1,716 ratings  ·  226 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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Cindy Wine In a word, Yes. So worth it and so easy to read. Wish I'd read it years ago....would've answered so many questions.

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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 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
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
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 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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!
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.
Aug 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Herkesin kendinden bir şeyler bulamayabileceği bir kitap. Her ailede çocuk yetiştirmekte hatırı sayılır hatalar yapılabilir ama bu kitapta kendini bulabilmek için zaten sorun çocuğun çoktan farkına varmış olması gereken boyutta olmalı diye düşünüyorum. Ben bulamadım ve buna sevindim.
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
"Bir kitap okudum hayatım değişti," dedirten, elimde olsa 5 yıldızdan fazlasını vereceğim, içindekileri hep aklımda, kendisini de başucumda tutacağım güzel kitap.
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
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 si ...more
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, 2018
I would highly recommend this book to anyone in a difficult relationship, but particularly those who struggle with a parent. I would agree that this book is a life changer. Not only was it extremely validating and reaffirming in what I already knew, but it also helped me with coping techniques. If you feel like you can't have a productive or meaningful conversation with someone, and you know you will always be the one to blame while the other person is the perpetual victim and will never take a ...more
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this! Learning to gauge the "emotional maturity" of the adults you encounter in everyday life helps keep the frustration level manageable with realistic expectations. Emotional maturity is not a question of natural maturation - it doesn't just "happen" with age. Many otherwise capable people are quite immature/insecure emotionally, and it will affect their ability to get along with others.
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
Just to be clear: my parents are great. But I needed some research on a character I'm writing, and this gets recommended a lot by advice columnists. Some really great insights. Also a tendency to view every problem as a nail, and to define "emotionally mature" as "behavior I like". Still, could be very useful to someone struggling with their own parents.
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.
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
Stephanie Meunier
Nov 26, 2017 rated it liked it
All in all, it's worth buying if it speaks to you.

This books has been very helpful in recovering my relationship with my parent. I found it as I was starting up therapy again and it has been a good companion to talking things out. It answered a lot of my questions, validated what I have been going through and gave a name to my parent's ineptitude.

I'm very grateful for it and I think it was essential to a lot of my processing, but there's a lot in there that I didn't need. Since there are at leas
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you feel like you have to bend over backwards for people, often feel steamrollered, and generally have a hard time asking for what you need, there's a pretty good chance you'd benefit from this book.

My therapist recommended this, and I'm glad he did. The book has exercises to help you sort out your parents' emotional state and the coping mechanisms you've adopted out of your childhood desperation for love and connectedness. For instance, my role self, formed as a reaction to my parents, belie
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Мне книга очень была полезна. Рекомендую ее всем, кого в детстве учили игнорировать и подавлять "негативные" эмоции - грусть, злость, тоску, отчаяние. Если вам, как и мне, в виде утешения и поддержки говорили "нечего обижаться на дураков", "мир от этого не перевернется", "просто выброси это из головы" и тп и тд - то тут вы найдете много любопытного.
Noelle Matteson
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: march-2018
4.5 stars because it was incredibly helpful. A brief but enlightening overview of subtle but damaging familial and behavioral patterns. Validating. Also pointed out behavior in myself I wanted to change. I wasn't sold on the part about internalizers vs. externalizers because I seemed to fall somewhere in the middle.
Danielle Morrill
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thought provoking, and certainly resonates with let’s of my own experience that I didn’t have words to describe before. Useful framework for those thinking through the prospects of romantic relationships. I found this particularly illuminating around topics of sibling favoritism and the “passive parent” phenomenon in the face of emotional abuse.
Andrea Levin
After decades of reading self-help books, I discovered the one that finally got through to me. This book gave me a clear understanding of my parents and the dynamics within my family. It is well written, informative, practical, research-based, and empowering. The insights in this book are liberating. It makes me wish that I could time travel and give it to my younger self.
Sharon Bright
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
“She also stopped wasting energy pretending she was less than she was so that they could pretend to be more than they were.”

This book was rich in psychological knowledge and research based descriptions of what develops in a child’s mind when they are not given the proper emotional attention by their parents. It does not encourage blame, but instead observation and objectivity in the relationships. With such terms like emotional neglect and narcissism being watered down by society lately, this b
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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.” 8 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” 6 likes
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