ASK Musings

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March 2024



Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay C Gibson, Psy D

Written by , Posted in Uncategorized

Four Stars

Best for:
I mean, as it says on the tin, right? Also maybe if you’re considering becoming a parent? Might be good to consider checking it out.

In a nutshell:
Author Gibson explores the different types of emotionally immature parents, the impact that can have on their children as children and as adults, and offers ways of continuing on in relationship with such parents without further harming oneself.

Worth quoting:
“Emotionally immature parents can do a good job of taking care of their children’s physical and material needs. In a world of food, shelter, and education, these parents may be able to provide everything that’s needed. In terms of things that are physical, tangible, or activity related, many of these parents make sure their children get every advantage they can afford. But when it comes to emotional matters, they can be oblivious to their children’s needs.”

“Emotionally immature people, on the other hand, often take pride in their lack of [emotional work]. They rationalize their impulsive and insensitive responses with excuses like ‘I’m just saying what I think’ or ‘I can’t change who I am.’”

Why I chose it:
Well, I am an adult child. Am I an adult child of one or more emotionally immature parents? My therapist would probably say yes…

I can’t really review this in as much detail as I would like without revealing more about myself than I feel comfortable doing. But what I will say is that after spending some time in therapy last year, the concept of emotionally immature parents came onto my radar. I’m not going to specify which parents this might apply to; I will, however, share that I found this book to be full of highly relevant information that helped me to both better understand myself and help me sort out new approaches to interacting with the parents in the future.

The book is laid out quite well, with clearly defined and contained chapters. Gibson starts by exploring the impact of emotional immature parents on their adult children’s lives, then jumps into helping the reader sort out what an emotionally immature parent it. There’s a checklist / quiz here that I found helpful and eye-opening.

Gibson theorizes that there are four types of emotionally immature parents, and explores how they differ. There are three chapters in the middle that I found a bit less helpful than the others, partially because I think I already explored the ideas there in other ways, but these sections are probably quite helpful to most folks: they’re about different ways us as adult children react to being raised by emotionally immature parents. The final chapters are full of tips and tools for managing the relationship with an emotionally immature parent, which is really what I was in it for, and what I am looking forward to trying out in the future.

I think a lot of folks in my generation (Xennial) and younger are taking the time to explore and improve their emotional lives, and part of that work involves looking at their relationships, including with their parents. While this book might not be what my peers would reach for initially (it’s not marketed in a clever pop non-fiction way), I do think it’s worth checking out.

What’s next for this book:
On my shelf and to be referred to regularly I’d imagine.

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