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The most insightful and helpful book I’ve listened to in years was “Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents.” In it, Lindsay Gibson, a clinical psychologist, breaks down the characteristics of an emotionally immature or unavailable parent or caregiver and the harm that it has on their children for years to come. Even if you don’t consider your parents to be emotionally unavailable, it’s likely someone in your life has some experience with it.
This book has helped me understand many of the reasons I am the way I am and given me insights that can help me break generational cycles in my own parenting. It certainly gave me many examples of what not to do.
She explains the types of emotional immature people (externalizers and internalizers) and asks questions to help you determine whether your parent exhibited these traits and behaviors.
One of the biggest takeaways I had was not to keep expecting them to be different. Gibson offers suggestions for how to manage the difficult relationships in your life, such as by accepting that they are the way they are and maintaining distance.
I found her method of describing what is happening around you to be helpful in responding intellectually and rationally rather than emotionally. In a tough situation, I plan to use this to calm myself down. Dispassionate analysis is something emotionally immature parents don’t do.
I also realized while listening to this book (and in therapy) that I am hyperindependent because I was left to manage my emotions on my own growing up.
“Knowing the cause of your emotional loneliness is the first step toward finding more fulfilling relationships,” she writes.
Sadly, people with emotionally immature parents often end up in similar relationships as adults, because they are familiar.
If you relate to anything I’ve mentioned so far, you might benefit from listening to or reading this book. I especially liked the exercise to write down what you were like before you learned to judge and criticize yourself and tried to change yourself.