What would you characterize as an emotionally detached or unavailable parent?
Would you know what an emotionally detached and unavailable parent is? For most people who have endured an unstable, abusive, or emotionally unavailable parent, emotional detachment is an inability of the parent to meet their deepest needs, relate to them, or provides support and comfort when needed. I previously wrote a similar article on this topic in March of 2016. The responses from readers and supporters is astounding. It’s also heartbreaking to know that a lot of people feel their childhood was limited by an emotionally unavailable parent (to read those comments, click here).
This article will review the topic of emotionally unavailable and avoidant parents. I will also discuss this topic in a video for the launch of my upcoming YouTube channel 1/5/18. I encourage you to sign up to receive notifications on similar videos.
Research has attempted to identify over many years the significance of parental involvement and healthy attachment of all infants and developing children. Research supports the idea that all children must have emotionally available and healthy parents in order to survive. Without this, children are likely to grow up with insecurities, fears, lack of confidence and self-efficacy, emotional voids, and even mental health conditions such as panic disorder, depression, or bipolar disorder. In many cases, adults who grew up in emotionally detaches environments may also struggle with suicidal thoughts and anger management. Other research suggests that children who grew up in emotionally unstable and abusive environments may display symptoms of multiple personality disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and dissociation or depersonalization. The toll unstable parents can take on their children is major.
Parents who are emotionally unavailable are often immature and psychologically affected themselves. As difficult as it is to believe, emotionally unavailable parents have a host of their own problems that might go back as far as their own childhood. Behaviors, emotions, or “symptoms” often representative of adults who are emotionally immature and detached include but are not limited to:
- rigidity (unwillingness to be flexible when needed),
- low-stress tolerance (inability to tolerate stress in a mature manner),
- emotional instability with aggression (anger outbursts characterized by threats of physical aggression, suicidal gesture, cutting behaviors or other acts of self-harm),
- poor boundaries (desiring to be their child’s friend instead of a parent),
- unstable relationships (multiple partners or friends who create more trouble than peace),
- attention-seeking (looking for accolades, recognition, or support at all costs) among many other characteristics.
Tragically, the affected children often develop into teenagers and adults who also struggle with life. Some common signs of having an emotionally unstable parent include but is not limited to:
- Could care less about your well-being: It is natural for humans to believe that ALL parents are comforting, loving, and engaging with their child. It is natural for humans to believe that ALL parents are emotionally available and engaged with their child. But this simply isn’t true. We have parents who would give everything to support and love their child. But there are others who could care less about the life of their child. This can be confirmed in cases of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Parents harm their children in order to receive the attention of medical professionals or others who show them empathy or sympathy. The syndrome is further complicated by additional mental health challenges such as depression. Other parents may outright murder their own children or induce harm. As hard as it is to believe, these kinds of parents exist.
- More interest in social activities than family-oriented activities: Parents who are emotionally unavailable and immature may disregard the needs of their children in favor of their own desires and wants. Have you ever heard a parent say “I have to have my own life. I can’t always be a mom.” While this may be partially true, parents who firmly live by this thinking style may neglect their children in favor of partying, getting high or drunk, dating, and doing other pleasurable activities they refuse to give up. All parents need recuperation and restoration to be their best. But some parents take this way too far and indulge themselves rather than support their children.
- Has a social and home persona: I have had many young clients tell me…