What Is the Long-term Impact of Emotionally Immature Parenting?

Back in the day, there were clear dynamics that separated the role of child from that of parent. Now that line has blurred or even become dotted, leaving gaps for those roles to intermingle.

Children lean on their parents in new ways while parents are befriending their children. What happens when the parents are children themselves or haven’t reached a level of emotional maturity? The effects can pour into adulthood in less than positive ways.


Wanting your child to succeed is understandable. But demanding excellence or perfection place an unrealistic reality on a child, often with punishment and consequences.

Long term, children have tendencies to become perfectionists and worrisome over minor details. They grow up to be highly critical of themselves, and often people around them. It can complicate relationships, thus creating problems where they don’t exist. Excessive behaviors with work, gambling, shopping, and other activities can lead to severe consequences if not managed well.

Higher Risk of Harmful Behaviors

Parenting can have wonderful and fun moments, especially when you are close with your children. Being the “cool” parent can get you bonus points with your kids and their friends. But there is a time and place for firmness.

Passive parenting avoids discipline due to an aversion to confrontation. An emotional negligence on the part of the parent means not being able to meet your child’s needs because it is uncomfortable for you.

Long term, allowing children to carry on potentially problematic behaviors will teach them to carry that behavior forward in life. They may learn that there are no consequences and continue on, increasing the risk of harm to themselves or others. They may not learn how to self-discipline their actions.

parent reading to their child while laying downEmotional Impact

Parents who don’t know how to regulate their emotions properly may inadvertently teach their children these patterns. Too many unpredictable emotions create a sense of instability. Not showing enough emotion may make children feel judged or distanced. Both of these situations make it hard for a child to feel comfortable sharing their own emotions either for fear of an unpredictable reaction or lack of reaction at all.

Long term, children who don’t learn how to regulate or express their emotions healthily can remain vulnerable on both the ends of the spectrum. They can grow up to become emotionally unavailable, making close connections in relationships difficult. Or they can become overly sensitive, making it hard for them to cope with the natural ups and downs of relationships.

Limited Connectivity

Parents who are not emotionally mature may avoid their children when they need support the most, either because they themselves struggle to make emotional connections or because they feel overwhelmed by caring for another’s needs. In children, this is perceived as rejection, which in many cases causes a child to have to parent themselves.

Long term, children raised in this environment can grow up to show low empathy for friends, co-workers, partners, and even their own children. They may struggle to develop productive, long-term relationships. Friendships can be difficult and they may cycle through friends quickly. Romantic relationships may be even harder.

When children grow up parenting themselves, they may become hyper-independent in adulthood. While being self-sufficient is good, being too self-sufficient blocks them from making meaningful connections with other people. They may not accept help, even when they need it.

How a person parents their child has so many lasting effects, shaping how they develop and what kind of adult they become. It also can guide how they will parent their own children. If you find you are having a difficult time connecting with or setting boundaries with your child, reach out today. We are here to help! Depression treatment or anxiety therapy can help you learn to manage your emotions to help you be the parent you want to be.