165 thoughts on “7 Consequences of Having an Emotionally Detached Parent

  • March 9, 2016 at 11:12 am

    This is me. The article correctly identifies most behaviors that I have had to/ am struggling with during my life, and on a daily basis.I am 56, and still feel the void of not having had a parent. I am beautiful, successful, have many friends, but no best friends, 3 failed marriages and emotions too huge to control. How does one deal with such a huge void…counseling will not erase such a void.

    • March 21, 2016 at 8:00 am

      Oh Hyacinth, me too.
      I am a 52 year old woman with exactly the same profile. Also intelligent, was very successful in my career u til depression set in and I am frequently told I am beautiful. I also have three failed marriages and no best friends (although I have a handful of fairly good friends). I am desperately lonely and can’t bear being without a partner, but ether latch on to them far too fast or just cant find one that is attractive.
      I’m sitting here in bed at noon with no incentive to get up.
      I see a super psychologist regularly, but wonder if it’s pointless and we’ll always be like this.

      • December 22, 2016 at 12:35 pm

        Well that makes 3 of us. I’m 55 financiallly stable and beautiful, have no problem getting men; I just don’t want any of them. 2 failed marriages because they were more unstable than me. Don’t want marriage; have no problem making female friends which is new for me because I use to hate women; I was my mothers scape goat and my other sister the saint. And they use to gang up on me and my mother egged her on to beat me up when I was 5-8. I don’t remember but I love women know. But I despise when I woman is hateful to me because she’s jealous and I do know the difference most of the time. Men in my opionion either just want sex or money. In addition it’s 12:32pm and I’m laying in bed with my kitty on my chest; mostly because I’m getting over the flu but also because well I can. I’ve travelled all over the world including Antarctica and I have a pretty active socia life but honestly chose myself.

      • December 29, 2016 at 1:38 pm

        Dear All,
        I am 55 and I have an emotionally detatched mother.
        I grew up priveleged but my mother did not give care or attention to me .For most of my life I was trying to please my parents and did not marry or make my own life because I did not think I deserved. When my father died I decided to move to Paris.
        I have spent a lot of time developing friends and feel worthless alone.I am generous with gifts but also attention and care for thier children overgiving . same with men
        It took me years to understand that it was not my fault my mother did not love me and wasted my life but I am trying to make up for lost t time .i had early cancer in 2014 and I take excellent care of my mother giving her what I wished.I write to help younger.
        Horses and dogs gave me confidence

      • May 22, 2017 at 1:42 pm

        I am so sorry to see how pervasive this problem has been for so many. I have lots to relate to here.Both parents were emotionally stunted and were more interested in sustaining a sick explosive relationship with little to no boundaries and little to no love for each other or us as kids. they had their agenda and it was constantly trying to win. Thier conflicts were thier only focus. We were just something that either got in the way of thier peace or got in the middle to stop them from killing each other. For the most part my siblings and I were never valued as anything of importance outside of what we could do for them. There was zero tolerance for any autonomy zero regard for any emotional state we had….in response to any emotional impact we may have been voicing or seeking confort for( e.g I was bullied for three year s in a row at a school my mother wouldn’t take me out of because she wanted me where i was with my brother and he wasnt having problems there so the concept of moving him too wasnt even a consideration) we were always told, usually with a twinge of disgust “come on…your just kids” as if that dulled emotional impact for us. As we got older my mother started having us watch each other..supposedly due to some valid mistrust one of us was guilty of as a character trait which didnt really exist. But what she was actually doing was dividing up our ability to be sulportive of each other in exchamge for the priviledge of being unquestionably supportive of her. My dad drank alot and thought like someone who did even when sober. Even to this day he will do anything to demonize my mom to all of us. Regardless of how it impacts us. When I was 23 he told me that “your mother never wanted you guys”….really…so in his mind that was supposed to bring me to his imaginary side that they are both still using us to fight for after being divorced 30 years? It probably wasnt true but even if it was….lets damage the kids further to keep up the power struggle….any way I stopped trying to have romantic relationships over ten years ago for a variety of reasons. The first is that I kept finding watered-down or sometimes overly exaggerated Renditions of both of them in every guy I met. The second is that my parents are still somewhat a apart of my life even though I’m really busy and keep myself really busy…..at some point anybody I woukd con sider normal is going to have to deal with a lot of this triangulation confabulation unnecessary drama etc. and that’s assuming that I would ever be able to sift through all the warning signs big and small to eliminate all the people that are just like them. I honestly don’t know that I have the energy for that anymore because it comes with the price of having to live through some of it in order to eliminate it. Its draining….tjose maladaptive behaviors that make it a struggle just to have reciprocal respect or consideration… I was lucky enough to have my grandmother be a huge part of my life my whole life and she was unconditionally loving so I do know what that looks like and I do know how it feels. however she passed away about 9 years ago and there’s been a huge void in my life ever since. Everything seems harder and more cumbersome to maneuver through in her absence. I don’t feel anywhere near as emotionally strong as I did when she was still living. So the person that was talking about horses and I believe dogs in her post…. I completely get it, and as far as I’m concerned I think that her ability to love her mother through that cancer situation unconditionally the way that she had always wished to be loved….. is a huge Testament to her resilience and her strenght as well as a Testament to her ability to heal herself through some of this,because she is able to Unconditionally Love. I think sometimes even though there’s a void it’s easier to try to give the thing that you want to others than to keep seeking it out. I think that’s sometimes one of the best ways to experience something is to be the change you want to see. And animals are wonderful…and they are unconditionally loving and they need us to be unconditionally loving in return. it can be something so small is coming home on lunch to let them outside to go potty and give them some treats or some lunch themselves.If youre not someone who loves animals it can be volunteering with people who end up at the worse end of the spectrum due to living through stuff like this… people who end up homeless people who end up in shelters people wind up in mental health care facilities. The Strangers that they come across that show them what unconditional love looks like are the reason that they will begin to heal. so I guess my advice for all and the way that I’m getting through all this is to be the change I want to see. I have animals who I love dearly and who I know love me in return dearly but even if they didn’t it’s joyful for me to care for them .and no that’s not anthropomorphism that’s dedication and loyalty and unconditional love and nurturing at its peak. either and what I’m providing or what they are reciprocating or both. part of the struggle in learning how to love is that we feel we feel we need it. this can end up in a situation where you’re not thinking straight because of the neediness. anyway for me my solution has been to be what I think I need. it’s not always as complete as it could be I guess. but it actually is way more satisfying than just not doing anything at all. when you’re in the middle of really truly giving yourself in time effort and love a lot of the Void disappears. I’m not talking about in a narcissistic situation where you were the only one consistently giving over and over and over and the only one holding up your end of anything. I’m talking about giving selflessly to somebody who needs it because you love them not because they’ve backed you against a wall in order to receive their support acceptance or time or attention or love. but just because you saw a need and felt compassion enough to help. Compassion goes a long way in helping other people/animals/important causes but it will also help in a roundabout way with your own healing. This is how I have coped. nothing is perfect and nothing works for every person but this is my method and so far it’s working OK for me. Maybe at some point I’ll decide to try to tackle a romantic relationship again but right now Im pretty content.

      • August 30, 2017 at 7:08 am

        could you tell your parents what u stated here??
        And if they try to get you or your siblings to referee. You could say you two need to work it out im not the referee anymore.

      • November 13, 2017 at 8:47 pm

        Your story was so right on with me. My detached parent is/was my Father. I agree with you. You have to be the change you want to see. I’m 46 years old. 2 children and divorced after 10 years of marriage to a narcissist. I’m figuring it out. I’m seeing how my patterns effect my life. This is how I came to this site. Kinda makes me feel better that I’m not the only person coming to this realization. I’m so glad I found this blog and read your story.

      • September 17, 2018 at 1:10 am

        You people are such beautiful human beings. I just love and admire how you’ve decided to love again and repair a heart that was broken before you even had a say. I’m 18 going through very similar situation dysfunctional family etc and you guys have inspired me to get up dust my heart off and love again so thank you and God bless you all I hope you guys are doing well.

      • June 28, 2017 at 12:32 pm

        I can relate to the above women. I have a very hard time feeling anything. I feel nothing. I feel empty alone,I desire to be able to feel love and to let someone live me.

      • July 2, 2017 at 9:02 pm

        Hi Lavery,
        I am so sorry to hear this. I’m sure this is a rather lonely place to be. I think we all experience loneliness from time to time. But for some reason, loneliness can seem more intense when one’s parent is emotionally detached and aloof. Have you tried therapy or speaking with a pastor or support group? Sometimes the emotional healing we need cannot be found in an office setting with a licensed therapist but in a church, with a pastor, or support group. If you are interested in searching for a therapist, you can type in your zipcode at http://www.psychologytoday.com and click on “find a therapist.”

        I wish you all the best

      • November 29, 2017 at 2:47 am

        Dear everyone, this is me too… I’m 29, at the peak of my career and have everything to be happy for, but can’t wrap my mind around love, relationships, or even marriage… I have tons of failed relationships and the thought of having a family of my own scares me … life is a very dark cloud, despite all my amazing accomplishments, how do you guys cope?

      • February 7, 2019 at 10:22 am

        God helps me cope…research kat kerr…alot of my emotional pain was helped when i watched her videos, also investing in a relationship with God made me resilient

      • July 23, 2019 at 8:40 am

        Love this. Thank you for sharing. I think it’s pretty rare for someone to grow up in a truly perfectly balanced home, but the emotionally void one is harder to understand as being imbalanced and the root of a lot of our own emotionally instability. I am FINALLY coming to grips with it all, and I thank God He is not an emotionally void God. He is relationship focused and loving and kind. He is our Great Physician and Healer.

      • December 26, 2019 at 1:21 pm

        I have to add, hoping someone will read my comments and be encouraged … I have learned that there are different reasons for parents being this way, but the bigger lesson to learn is why it happens at all. It has taken me a long time to come to grips with this, but now that I understand, I am so thankful. I believe God allows pain knowing that it can teach us that He is the answer to our pain and to everything else. When we turn to him, He fills us with love, hope, and peace when it is absent in our homes. He was rejected as a sacrificial lamb. And in real life, when the mother sheep rejects the lamb, the lamb becomes a bummer lamb that has to be raised by the shepherd, and that bummer lamb gets to know the shepherd in a way it never would have before. The absence of God hurts us, but the presence of Him heals us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-P0S0XDazA God bless.

      • February 21, 2019 at 6:43 pm

        It’s to love again. I too grown up without a mother and father in my life. I too am scared to love and to be intamite. These lyrics are the solution to our problem and i wanted to share this with you.

        Under pressure by queen and bowie excerpt

        Give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?
        ‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
        And love dares you to care for
        The people on the edge of the night
        And love (people on streets) dares you to change our way of
        Caring about ourselves
        This is our last dance
        This is our last dance
        This is ourselves under pressure

    • November 7, 2016 at 4:25 am

      Dear all,
      I sadly read your situations. I am a victim of an emotionally unattached mother. I am 39 and still abused by her comments etc to the point that just some time ago, ı asked her cryingly ‘and you call yourself a mother’. She said to me ‘you become a nothing.’ ı wish ı said to her ‘well ı become a good person’, isnt that the whole point? And you people please think of this, you all sound like good persons. Please hold on to your good beautiful beings. You are who you are, with your failures and successes, with your goods and bads. Give the love in yourself to those who are in need of love. This is the only way to make yourself feel good to be in this world. Our mothers are not our enemies, they are actually more disturbed than us. So grow up, cut your belly bound. A person is in fact born two times, once from their mother and second from themselves. So give birth to who you are and nurture yourself. This world is filled with disturbed people who commit bad actions, this shows that we with the good intentions are rare and we are actually needed. Embrace the life given to you, you have only one chance in this life and thats a fact. Soon you will get old, lose some of your physical ability, so stop wasting your time by allowing yourself haunted by your past’s ghosts, clean your inner house from dust:) and go out and invite people in! We are all alone even if he had a very loving mother, and trust me we would have lots of problems too cause then it is very likely thar we would overidealise her. So please work on your problems so that you can break your own ill traits and also try your best to actualise the good potential in you. My best wishes to my soul sisters:)

      • December 22, 2016 at 12:47 pm

        Excellent advice. Well said and so true. Love to you all.

    • October 24, 2017 at 10:40 pm

      Dear H

      This guy helps me laugh, think he’s known as the drunken prophet.

      I sure do relate to your letter and hope this helps even if only in a small way.

    • April 18, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      I come from the opposite perspective. I was /am the emotionally devoid parent. I am a recovering alcoholic working through my steps. I have dealt with mental issues all of my adult life. I had to raise 3 children with no financial or emotional support from the ex. I worked two jobs to keep food on the table and a roof over my head. I sought escape through relationships with men and my children were neglected from my lack of physical presence to emotional abondonement. I had nothing left to give. As part of my AA recovery process I had to write amends letters to those I hurt, even though I was not an alcoholic when they were growing up. My children were required to write me a letter stating how I had hurt them causing anger and resentment. I was at a loss when I received my middle daughters response. It was like a novel. Naturally I felt a lot of remorse. I am seeing a physiatrist and therapist. I was told by my therapist today my adult daughter is starving and still seeking the emotional support I failed to give her when she was growing up. To top it all off, I now live with her and her 3 children. I am actively working to right the wrongs committed. I see her involved in a 10 year relationship who is an alcoholic and also does not meat her emotional needs. He promised to marry her 3 times and backed out all 3 times. He lives here too. He finally told her he never wants to get married but loves her and wants to stay with her. Several nights a week he doesn’t come home till after 9 because he stops for drinks with the guys. I am almost 66. My daughter is 41. I am trying to make time to bond with her in the morning when she sits outside with her coffee and cigarette and in the evening when she comes home and goes outside with her glass of wine to do same. I am completely responsible for the daily functions of keeping a house running smoothly and pick up my grandkids from school. I bought her a card about having faith and a book with a journal and highlighter. Any suggestions you can offer up would be greatly appreciated.

  • March 21, 2016 at 8:01 am

    Is there any evidence that people like Hyacinth and me can be helped.

    • March 23, 2016 at 9:43 pm

      Hi Miranda,
      My understanding is that people like the two of you can definitely be helped. We cannot predict if treatment will be successful for you, as there are many variables. But therapy with a focus on self-esteem or existential (philosophical) questions/challenges can be very helpful. I love existential therapy (my specialty) because it allows clients to process their spiritual questions, fears, and concerns. Even just journaling your thoughts and feelings and “meditating” (sitting quietly with your thoughts or what you have just written) can be helpful in helping you heal.
      Take good care of yourself

      • March 24, 2016 at 6:19 am

        Thank you for taking the time to answer. I am having Schema therapy. I will ask my psychologist about existential therapy.

      • August 6, 2017 at 8:15 pm

        I am receiving behavioral, schematic therapy for the wounds of my mother’s emotional abuse. Can you explain to me what is existential therapy?

      • August 9, 2017 at 10:20 pm

        Hi Kathy,
        Existential therapy is a philosophical approach to treatment. It focuses on exploration of life principles, belief systems, goals, morals and values, and purpose in life. Logo-therapist Viktor Frankl is often associated with existential therapy. He worked from the framework that we all, as humans, are often searching for meaning and a life without meaning is a lonely, unproductive life. Although I am a trauma therapist, I too am an existential therapist because every single situation my clients bring to me I see through the lens of spirituality and existential/philosophical principles. I love existential therapy because it isn’t as rigid and “controlling” (some may call it) as other types of therapy like CBT – cognitive behavior therapy or DBT – dialectical behavior therapy.
        All the best

    • October 24, 2017 at 10:46 pm

      If the powers that be would allow more research into DMT we may have better chance. It is natural chemical produced by the pineal gland and it is transformative. But they made a part of our brain illegal…😓 go figure!

  • November 3, 2016 at 9:49 am

    I can relate on every single point. Tragic is the word. No matter how much I process the hurt, there is a never-ending abyss filled with it trying to drag me in.

    The intra-familial dynamics and pathologies are mind-boggling, and I say that as someone still subject to their abuse. I’m the family scapegoat. I’m not allowed needs or wants or choices, or even rights or common decency. Being the family scapegoat, all are in agreement that this is right and proper. My refusal to accept the role only demonstrates my obstinate hatred of everyone, according to them.

    My detached parent did not have an easy life. She habitually made a deliberate choice for convenience when it came to our “family problem” (me). Easier and quicker to go along and lead as the ultimate arbiter, or at least figurehead if it meant she got to exercise the outward forms (encouraging others to manipulate her). She’s the center of the clique if she goes with it as opposed to joining me in a futile battle to set something right. “Right” is whatever she decided it was, not what was needed from a parent.

    54 year old male, middle child of three, siblings are females. I stopped my father from beating my mother to death when I was four. This led immediately to the divorce. My mother thought he had killed me.

    • January 3, 2020 at 4:32 am

      I’m so sorry that u had to grow up protecting your mother at age four. My heart breaks for you. You are not alone.
      I know all too well the feeling of fear when a father screams at your mother for no reasons, the feeling of your heart dropping into your stomach sort of fear. I’m 60, female, one of 7 girls and 1 boy in the family, talk about emotionally void parents. My father was an alcoholic and I had a poor mother who was abused emotionally and sometimes physically, who didn’t have enough time for herself, let alone 8 children to take care, or enough love to pass around. My father died at 48 and we recently lost my mother 3 mo ago. Moms death made me realize that I never really knew my mom as she was still numb from her abuse from my dad. How did she do it all those years. So sad. I cry.
      In caring for mom brought out an ugliness that I never expected from my siblings. Our family is now divided due to the hurtful things said and done during her decline. I cry. Where do I go from here? This is the first time I’ve written on a blog and I just want you to know that you’re not alone, that we all hurt to some degree of not having that perfect family. My best to you😊.

  • November 4, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    Hi, me again.

    I’ve come to some realizations regarding my family history and the root of so much of my pain. Basically, it comes down to this: Me giving permission for them to be human beings.

    Although my mother is still physically alive, owing to her personality type and her own issues, I basically “lost my mother” around age three or so, I think. The reason and details don’t matter. The type of person she herself was at that time does matter.

    By age six, one sister had taken a baseball bat to my head. Second concussion from a “loving” family member, (first one was from my father at age four). By this time, it was all about “saving the family” like some super hero if only I could be steadfast and hold the faith for everybody long enough as only a young boy can.

    The damsel in distress was my detached mother. No matter how many castles I stormed, I couldn’t find her. If I could see her, she would always somehow disappear like fairy lights by the time I could get close. The pain I carried around for so much of my life was/is the pain of a young boy chasing and trying to protect something which didn’t exist.

    The mother I was being so strong and faithful for didn’t exist. That was MY definition for her as a person. It was not HER definition for herself as a person. That was her right to decide and her choice to make, not mine no matter how “unjust” or “unfair” or “wrong choice” it may have been.

    My “right to a mother”, specifically what MY definition of what “mother” was, is what I was holding onto so strongly and what I was fighting for.

    Likewise my sisters. They have a right to choose to be what they are (don’t ask), and they themselves chose to not be my “sisters”.

    The damage from a detached mother is deep and wide. But I must keep in mind that *I* have no “entitlement” to a storybook June Cleaver mother, nor to sisters who know how to actually love.

    • November 5, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      Hi Still Crying,
      Thank you for your comments. I am sorry to hear about your situation. It is indeed saddening and heart-wrenching. I admire your strength and courage in continuing on in life with these challenges. That says a lot about you.
      I will say that damage from an emotionally detached mother is something that never ever goes away. It is trauma. It is a traumatic situation for a child to be brought into the world, cared for as a baby, and then dropped emotionally and psychologically. It’s like a shock. To make matters worse, siblings who are stuck in the middle and who may not completely understand the family dynamic, can compound the trauma.
      It is difficult.
      I wish you all the best

  • November 6, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Thank you Támara for your understanding.

    Realizing that my pain exists within the worldview of a young child helps me to understand why it hurts so much. Realizing that my interpretation of the facts of the events is also based on the worldview of a young child helps me to own pieces of it rather than be overwhelmed by it all, as I was as a child. By being able to own parts of it, there seems to be less “rejection” of it as “my reality”.

    I think you are right when you say the damage will never go away. I accept that, and by accepting it, I can take responsibility for what I do with it.

    Family violence is a lifelong thing. Physical, verbal, emotional, it’s all the same. Don’t pass it on.

    Thank you so much for the help!

  • November 8, 2016 at 8:28 am

    I appreciate being able to make these posts. I’m finding them very helpful.

    I think I’ve started the mourning process. I was crying earlier. 54 year old grown @ss man and I’m not ashamed to admit that I was crying earlier.

    Here’s what I’ve come to realize. That night when I was 4, he killed my mother. Murdered her just as completely as if he had killed her body. The human being who was my mother survived and I am extremely thankful for it. But my mother didn’t.

    No matter how hard I tried… and I tried really, really hard with all the might of a 4 year old… no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t save her. I tried but I failed. I think this is what I didn’t understand as a child. I couldn’t save my mom and she died that night.

    This is what I cry for. The loss of my mother and my inability to save her. My only regret is not trying to stop him sooner.

    I still have the person who used to be my mother. I think I can interact with her better now.

    One of my sisters has been verbally / emotionally abusing our mom again because of her own pain and problems (step-dad says he put a stop to the harassing phone calls). I don’t think she realizes she is beating mom exactly the same as our father did. The only difference is instead of using fists my sister is using feelings.

  • November 10, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Words to my younger sister:

    Find an appropriate balance between your ego and your conscience. They are both two sides of the same piece of you. They aren’t separate. Don’t constantly indulge the one while beating and denying the other.

    That’s always been the war between our older sister and me, hasn’t it? Her catering to ego while denying conscience exists, and me catering to conscience while denying ego. It was the only way I was ever allowed to fulfill the requirement “You behave (or we’re all doomed)!”.

    I’m sorry you were caught in the middle of the devastation. None of us chose the circumstances we were born into.

    Find a balance. Trying to tear the two apart is literally trying to tear yourself apart. I speak from extensive experience. Find a way for your ego and your conscience to work together and both be happy. They are two sides of the same part of you, and that’s what that part of you is for, to help you. You CAN do it. Really, you CAN.

    I’m sorry I couldn’t save our mother that night when you were two. I tried but I failed and it almost killed me. But thankfully mom is still around and her feelings go just as deeply and painfully as yours do. She only wants your love.

    Your Brother.

    (Maybe some of my fellow “brothers and sisters” with detached parents can find some healing in there)

  • November 26, 2016 at 2:06 am


    I am the emotionally detached mother that managed to seek counseling & get emotionally healthier during my childrens’ late teen years. My husband was the emotionally detached father who joined me in some counseling & is somewhat healthier.

    Over the past three years we have finally established a very close emotional relationship with two of our three children (all are in their early twenties & away in college).

    One son however remains very distant from our whole family. We have no desire to rush anything beyond his comfort level. He is an introvert & has always been the quiet one. We do however need to find a way to connect because he needs to heal in so many ways.

    Do you have any comments? Thank you.

    • December 3, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      Hi there “Regretful but Hopeful,”
      Thank you for your email and for your question.
      I will say that it may be difficult for me to give you sound suggestions as I would need a lot more information to do so. But I can say that my experience with similar families is that honesty, building of trust (i.e., through love, compassion, forgiveness, warmth), and humility can be a very powerful way to “win” someone back into your life. Some people believe that once you offend them, that’s it, you get no more chances. Others, however, will forgive and try to rekindle an emotional bond, as it sounds like your other 2 children have done.
      You might find my most recent book review for PsychCentral helpful in exploring this topic: http://psychcentral.com/lib/book-review-done-with-the-crying/. Done with the crying is a book created by a mother of an estranged adult child. Although I wasn’t completely satisfied with the book, it may be a good start for you to begin exploring your relationship with your son.

      All the best to you

    • December 27, 2018 at 6:45 pm

      I also am an emotionally detached mother. For many reasons and I hate myself for all of them. I hate that I am ruining fans hurting my children. I feel they are better off with out me. I have many mental issues that make me a horrible person. I really feel alone in life. I push people away purposefully. I feel like my kids are better off with out me. I have hurt them in many ways and out of my regret and being sorry and then hating me and withdrawing from me. I did the same. I owe them that so they no longer have to have memories of horror from their mom. Maybe they will just remember me as withdrawn not mean.

  • November 26, 2016 at 8:59 am

    I just thought I would fill you in a bit more for your understanding. I left home at that age of 14 no job and no education. I had my first daughter at 16. The longing to have a child was overwhelming and i had no clue why. Though now as I’m older I know why. Always searching for love cause I never got that at home. I got that with my kids. And thought ahh life is great something to love that will love me back. I Just wish I would have known then what I know now.
    I clung to my children so much and feared on a daily basis that I would die and no one could take care of them the way I did. I swore I would never let them feel the way my mother made me feel. The thought of me dying or something happening to them was terrible. It was a vicious circle in my head. So I never really work cause I wouldn’t leave them with anyone.
    Then comes the fear of failure, it’s crippling! more now that I’m older then ever before cause I had the girls to focus on and there was no way I was going to fail them as a mother like mine did to me!
    I’m a worry wart from the word go. I’ve always been that way which is why I was always in therapy. I will never forget how much my mother never showed me love. It’s terrible to feel like that.
    I know I should let it go, and for the most part I have. But there is something that always brings it back.
    My therapist once said to me “Angie who are you” I said, I’m a mother. She said no that’s what you did not who you are.
    I’m still at a loss to this day as to being able to answer that question. In my mind that’s who I am. I’m a mother I raised three heathy strong woman. I’m a worry wart, I’m a giver, I’m a sap and wear my heart on my sleeve, I’m a total empathetic, I’m stubborn, I’m a people pleaser, I’m neurotic, I’m a perfectionist.
    I like facts and could sit in a courtroom all day long. I’m hyper, I don’t sleep much. And truly most people scare the hell out of me.
    You can never be to safe! “Always my fear” And that leaves me to where I am now. No job no money and scared of life cause I’m use to being taken care of.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had jobs none that ever last. There is that failure thing again! I either quit or I get fired.
    When the going gets tough I get going. I don’t know why I’m like that. I guess it’s easier to run than to face the drama “I hate drama” which is funny cause my life is nothing but drama at the moment. I can’t stand where I’m at in life. I just want someone to hold me and say it’s all going to be ok! To love me the way anyone should be loved. Hugs kisses soft jesters and kindness. Opening doors the little things. The words “I love you and mean it” I truly believe in love and when I love I love all the way. I give up myself cause all I think of is what the other half needs to be comfortable and happy.
    I don’t judge people, I love people from all walks of life. I seem to cling to the needy “probably because I’m needy myself ” and I feel their pain.
    I love deeply when I fall in love and age color race or creed doesn’t matter! I don’t judge people as I don’t like to be judged myself. I’m a kind soft caring soul….. I hope this letter gives you a better insite as to the person i am. Have a great day!

  • November 28, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    This describes me almost perfectly, too. Parents divorced when I was 3 or 4, father committed suicide a week before my fifth birthday, and my mother has severe emotional problems and was verbally and psychologically abusive towards me my whole life. There were no other strong adult relationships in my life — her emotional issues tended to push even the most well-intentioned people out of her life and, by extension, out of mine. Her own father had died when she was young, she had a strained relationship with her own mother. I never connected with relatives on my father’s side, either, as they were far-flung and significantly older than me (he was 25 years older than my mother). I think they may have actively avoided an ongoing relationship with my mother because they never approved of my parents’ marriage (long story) — but their refusal to accept her for personal reasons also meant a refusal to accept or acknowledge me indirectly, cutting me off from yet another potential source of adult love and guidance.

    My mother remarried, and while my stepdad was never a bad person, he was never a real parent figure, either. Their relationship was not good, and they divorced in my teens. He’s got his own psychological issues and has never really “grown up” — he’s kind of emotionally stunted, hasn’t been able to establish a viable career for himself, and has spent most of the decades since the divorce living in his mother’s basement. So, in short, not an abuser by any means, but not a capable adult role model or healthy father figure, either.

    I have several much older half siblings from my father’s first marriage, one of whom has always made a strong effort to stay in touch, and who is a wonderful person. But she has always lived far away, and has of course been busy with her own career and her own four kids. I also have one much younger half-sibling from my mother’s second marriage. Needless to say he has his own issues, and we’ve only ever been able to be a certain degree of close to each other.

    I’m 38, described as beautiful and likeable, but have never really felt beautiful or likeable. I’ve always had extreme difficulty connecting with people, even people who like me. I’m also extremely intelligent, have always aced everything I tried, but have spent most of my life aiming painfully low and severely underestimating myself, doing nothing with my life as I struggled every day to cope with my emotional pain and loneliness, and trying desperately to understand how to integrate my damaged, fragmented, uncertain sense of identity. I spent almost my entire 20s working at a dead-end waitressing job at a chain restaurant by a suburban shopping mall, thinking this was the best I could do. I actually believed that I wasn’t good enough to “upgrade” to being a bartender there, and when I decided to leave for a “nicer” restaurant up the road I struggled with prolonged anxiety and worry that I wouldn’t be good enough. GOOD ENOUGH to carry some different plates around in a different shirt.

    I’ve managed to maintain a handful of close relationships over the years and my best friend for the last 7 or 8 years is a totally amazing person. But most of my other close friendships have kind of cycled to an end at some point or another, and I feel like it’s because I don’t know how to maintain them for more than a couple years. My romantic relationships have always been difficult and unsuccessful, and by my late 20s and early 31s, they got shorter and shorter.

    Fortunately now, after years of counseling and several years of successful treatment with antidepressants I’m past some of it. I have a well-paying professional writing career, I live somewhere that’s much more aligned with who I am and what I care about, and I’ve been married for just over two years. I’ve managed to surmount the biggest challenges to finding functional stability as an adult.

    But even though my husband really cares for me, lately we’ve been struggling with the same issues my relationships have always had, as vulnerability and attachment are really difficult for me to even understand, much less experience in a stable way that works. I don’t have any close relationships anymore outside my husband and my best friend — nobody I can really call to go to a movie with if both of them are busy, etc. I have good professional relationships with my coworkers but haven’t been able to make the “jump” to real outside-the-office friendship, even though I can tell a few of them are interested.

    I consciously struggle almost every day with this deep, deep need for some kind of stable parental relationship that can sort of circumscribe all my other relationships, provide an emotional safety net, a stable source of advice and admiration and approval. Even though it doesn’t prevent me from functioning up to my adult potential (well, about 75% of it anyway) anymore, the physical pain of heartache is still there, just under the surface, all of the time. I have to actively deny it or shut it out to truly enjoy my day-to-day life. It gets to be a routine, something I don’t have to think about — shutting out the emotional pain is like, I don’t know, shutting out environmental distractions to focus on a task or something. It’s hard to describe. But lately it’s been getting harder and harder to shut out.

    I recently had a dream that a famous person I admire who’s in his 70s met me and took a sort of fatherly interest in me, making a point of regular contact and encouragement for me. I don’t know why I had this dream now, but it’s definitely affected my ability to shut out the pain and the grief. It’s forced me to admit how badly I’ve always wanted a parent in my life, real or “adopted” through friendship, and I’m feeling really lost. I don’t know if it ever gets better.

    • December 3, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      Hi Maggie,
      Thank you for sharing your story. Believe it or not, so many people have a similar life story and I consider it traumatizing (emotionally and psychologically). You ask if it ever gets better and I have to admit I don’t know. But I can say that I believe that there is hope and that we can find some peace with what has happened in the past through faith. I do believe that whatever we experience in our lives somehow becomes a life-long thorn in our side. But we can learn to cope with it, find purpose around it, and possibly even overcome it with the right “tools.”

      I don’t blame you for feeling lost and I can’t blame you for wanting that parent figure. I believe that parents are, in a strange way, the foundation of our identity and without them, we lose a sense of who we are. But that doesn’t have to continue to be the case for you if you strive to overcome those feelings of “feeling lost.” That may be through prayer, through faith, through therapy, or through self-introspection (exploring your own thoughts and feelings, possibly in a journal or book).

      It’s a very tough position to be in Maggie, but you are not alone.
      I wish you all the best

  • December 2, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    If my sisters are reading this I have a message for both of you.

    It is done. I declared victory for ALL in the Cosmic War Between Good And Evil. The PATH is forgiveness from step-dad.

    I love you both.

    Your Brother.

  • December 7, 2016 at 8:49 am

    My mother and father split when I was 7 & we didn’t see much of him at first. I was always a daddy’s girl and felt so sad when he didn’t see me. He left the country to be with a lady when I was 11. This further confirmed my feeling of being unwanted and not good enough etc.
    Reading this article, I can relate to some of the actions and ways of being and wondered maybe it has come from this childhood situation. I have a 5 year old son, no long with his father and have not been able to maintain ‘love’ in my life.
    I love my son immensely and we have a close bond but I worry my childhood may have a similar affect to hims as u describe above???
    Any advice or help or thoughts would be gratefully appreciated.

    • December 7, 2016 at 11:35 pm

      Hi Sam,
      I understand your concerns. Any good parent would feel like you do. It is important to keep in mind that although things for your son may be similar to your childhood, your son has a host of genes, environmental influences, and possibly even supports that may make things easier for him. Even if he misses his father and may struggle in some ways, that doesn’t mean he will grow up to struggle with other relationships. Thankfully, we’re all “designed” differently and with the right amount of love, support, and opportunity, your son may be just fine. If you become more concerned, you may want to consider getting him a therapist who he can confide in and vent to.

      I wish you well

  • January 2, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    Reading through the article and the comments here this is very similar to my life. I’m 47 now and love my family dearly but very rarely express it or show outward emotions. I consider myself intelligent and very professional at work but have very few if any social interactions there or at home. I literally have no true friends I talk to on the phone or buddies I hang out or do other things with. I don’t feel like a bad person in any way and I don’t think I’m depressed by definition but I feel that something is and has been missing. I have been in this mode for a very long time now and had attributed to childhood and later military service. The detachment from family and friends has become noticeable (has been mentioned by spouse, family and coworkers in casual or joking conversation) but dismissed as simple personality or habit. I do not wish to be perceived as cold or distant in any way, much less have my “condition” rub-off on kids or affect family, coworker or other interactions. It kind of sucks now as kids are getting ready to do college — damage likely already done. Can anyone advise on how to treat or get help for this condition? I mean how does a psychologist or other medical professional go about diagnosing and if necessary treating this condition? While I think talking about it is helpful, it is hard for me to see that talk alone would be enough to change the behavior for something that has been in place for so long. Please reply as I am interested in changing for the better. Thanks for any replies to this.

    • January 2, 2017 at 12:48 pm

      Hi Tommy,
      Thanks for sharing your story. I will start out by saying that I cannot give information based on a few details. But I will say that your puzzlement at how a therapist will “diagnose” or “treat” what you call a condition is correct. It is difficult to categorize the “symptoms” or personality traits that you mention.

      Most individuals with personality disorders do not have the insight needed to see that they need help. Often, individuals with personality disorders such as narcissism, borderline personality disorder, or even sociopaths do not get “help” unless their spouses or family members/jobs push them to. So perhaps you can rule out personality disorders.

      Your next path would be looking at genetics and environmental influences, depression, family dynamic(s), etc. The fact that you may feel isolated and want to change is a good sign. I would encourage you to seek out a therapist (www.psychologytoday.com and click on “find a therapist” or therapytribe.com and enter your zip code) who may be able to diagnose you or ease your worries. Sometimes “talk therapy” can cause you to explore thoughts and feelings you may not have explored before. One sentence, one thought, one challenge, or one suggestion may unlock something. That’s what therapy is all about.

      All the best

  • January 14, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    I always knew i felt different, without an identity and spent years searching for the answer. I have changed my identity as i went along pretending the past being was less and that the new being would fulfil ‘something’. As i struggled with my identity, my past, i then had a child and knew that i did not want to mimic the past with him, so i read every book to learn how to be a parent, a good parent as i did not want to be my Mum. I wanted better for him. I then delved into to world of education, studying a degree in sociology which was like therapy for me, helping me understand the world, the mad world i was born into. But graduating didnt make me feel or be the person i would be post graduation – confident, career focused, happy. I then did a job that was rewarding but at the same time unrewarding to my sense of self. As i would flit from one thing to another i decided to stay in the job, to commit to something as i had never been able to commit to anything long term. I even avoided relatioships as i knew that my up/down mood was not fair on someone else and more importantly not fair on me to have to negotiate my moods while being in a relationship.

    I then had a breakdown, spent 4 months off work, not sure how i actually looked after my son or maybe he looked after me. Saw a psychiatrist once, didnt think i revealed much but apparently my symptoms were that of Attachment disorder – i was shocked – family was always core to me. I was always in close contact with my Mum. Then i realised the dynamics of my family, our relationship and the pecking order. My Mum had spent my entire childhood in depression, in bed all day, paranoid,mood swings, non-nonsensical communication. I beleive she has had hallucinations and delusions and we were all raised this way, this was our norm. She refused any help and her children suffered. My Dad a successful businessman ignored the problem, guess it were easier that way. One of my brothers has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and the other one is showing signs of delusions of grandeur, narcissism and manipulation. I am the only one who is functionally doing something with life. For me education changed my direction. I am angry with my Mum for her being unloving, neglectful (we were lucky to be fed) and giving up on trying and for not recognising the damage she was doing to her children . Even now she refuses to be honest about life and situations, she would prefer to hide things away from society. We were brought up on benefits (when benefits were minimum)as she refused maintenance money of my Dad – she refused it as she didnt want him to ‘buy her’! Even now i explain that money was for her children to have a better life and not to do with her and she still stands by her decision even though the family is in disarray!

    Moving forward, although i am in contact i do not involve myself too much as it hurts when she turns the knife with her poisonous and vicious tongue. Afterwards she cannot remember what she has said but will not back down, she will continue to shout until you are on your knees apologising to have an easy life. But then again, i know everything negative i have gone through in my life as a result from her upbringing was also a reflection of her upbringing too…its a dominos affect. Her Mum was emotionally distant, she just made sure the kids looked good in front of others. Her Mum also spent alot of time in her bedroom….depression again i think, or maybe more…So it just continues. My Mum was 1 of 6, 2 boys and 4 girls. One of my auntys had kids but didnt look after them, the other ones had abortions…..I just wonder this lack of pro-creation had something to do with them avoiding the domino affect of their childhoods…?? who knows, unless someone says. But they are all secretive. I was brought up not to tell others about things…..but i am nearly 40 and i refuse to hold onto the secrets anymore!

    Although i was not beaten or anything like that…the scars of being unloved, uncared for, neglected have carried me through life how i feel about myself, my self worth. I have had to learn to love myself and realise that i do have feelings and that they do matter…..this is something as a child i was not taught. So if you have low self worth this will reflect in your relationships…..i have only cared for relationships where people have wanted to treat me like nothing….then i was fulfilled as this is the only thing i knew about love…and the cycle goes on…

    i just hope with my awareness of this, that it does not reflect on my son and that the cycle has stopped.

    • October 27, 2017 at 5:24 am

      Hi your story sounds similar to mine but I have stayed in the same marriage for 30 years but my husband has only realised how abusive my mother was over the past few years he also probably onlys knows 50 percent of who I really am as the rest of me remains under a “GIFT WRAP” that I hide. My mother is still verbally vicious to us at 80 and she is the victim because we dont love her enough or arent subservient enough.My sisters ran away in their teens to get away from her.I was the scapegoat I stayed to please my father and get love from him.He knew what she did but didnt have the strength to tell her she was wrong,he worked double shifts to avoid her,and he smoked himself to death and died of lung cancer when I was in my early 20s she never divided the inheritance with us as we arent worthy .She has gotten worse since he died and spreads her dysfunction to make the younger siblings insult the older ones there is so much two faced dynamic when she sits with them.I have backed of like you and refuse to be humiliated just to please her . Last straw is when she insulted my daughter in laws and grown up children.I would advise people not to swallow the bait and the poison from cold abusive mothers.Get a hobby as a means of self expression or get counselling.The pain wont go away but you can own the pain, talk about it,and understand it and avoid repeating it in your own family,Give your love to others who need it and deserve it .Be better be bigger be stronger never sink to a level where you allow yourself to be humiliated.

      • January 8, 2020 at 8:31 pm

        Great words & advice verylike my situation

    • October 27, 2017 at 6:04 am

      Hi chameleon, your story sounds similar to mine but I have stayed in the same marriage for 30 years and brought up successful children, but my husband has only realised how abusive my mother was over the past few years he also probably onlys knows 50 percent of who I really am as the rest of me remains under a “GIFT WRAP” that I hide. My mother is still verbally vicious to us at 80 and she is the victim because we dont love her enough or arent subservient enough.My sisters ran away in their teens to get away from her.I was the scapegoat I stayed to please my father and get love from him.He knew what she did but didnt have the strength to tell her she was wrong,he worked double shifts to avoid her,and he smoked himself to death and died of lung cancer when I was in my early 20s she never divided the inheritance with us as we arent worthy .She has gotten worse since he died and spreads her dysfunction to make the younger siblings insult the older ones there is so much two faced dynamic when she sits with them insulting us all behind each others back.I have backed of like you and refuse to be humiliated just to please her . Last straw is when she insulted my daughter in laws and grown up children.I would advise people not to swallow the bait and the poison from cold abusive mothers.Get a hobby as a means of self expression or get counselling.The pain wont go away but you can own the pain, talk about it,and understand it and avoid repeating it in your own family,Give your love to others who need it and deserve it .Be better be bigger be stronger never sink to a level where you allow yourself to be humiliated.

  • January 14, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    I’m a 58 year old male, I grew up with absent parents. They Divorced when I was 3 after my mother had an affair and had a child with that man. My eldest sister basically raised me until I started School, always came home to an empty house after school and had to fend for myself often cooking my own meals. My mother died when I was 23 and I took care of my father until I married myself at same age and had a child of my own. I am divorced now for 14 years, my ex wife was bi polar bordering on schizophrenia. She would always blame me for her problem even though it was diagnosed and she would not accept she was like her mother and her mothers family. One year before our separation I started seeking sexual encounters and had multiple partners. After the divorce I was with another female for 10 years, she turned out to be a control freak and whenever I expressed any feelings. I was told I was wrong, did not know what I was t alking about. Called a liar and a cheat often, I was mentally abused and sometimes bashed by her. Two years before we separated she went home to care for her parents. I stayed behind for work reasons and commuted the 14 hour journey every 4 months and stayed a week or 2 before returning. During that time I again seeked out sexual partners, only because I was accused of cheating which was not true. Because I was labelled that I thought I may as well have affairs to make them true. After our split I would have other girlfriends but after a few months would grow very tired of the relationships. During a trip to Thailand I had a sexual encounter with a ladyboy, I liked it a lot and have had many shemales or ladyboys since as well as females. I am sure I am now bi sexual but before then I felt straight. I am now in a relationship with a Vietnamese women who takes care of me very well and no abuse but sexually unsatisfied. I’m just 4 months into the relationship I have again looked and have had a different sexual encounter with another woman and have organised a sexual encounter with a shemale. I have been trying to find out why I’m like this until I read about absent parents and abusive relationships, now it all makes sense.

  • February 16, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    I have found that being a person who was denied parental emotional comfort
    I have migrated towards a Narcicissist man who wont give me any emotional comfort
    He blames me for everything ehen all I want is to be loved. I have never experienced such a selfish person in my life I need help I need to heal

    • February 19, 2017 at 10:13 am

      Hi Karen,
      I am so sorry about this. For your protection, I have removed your phone number from your comment. You would not want anything, who might exploit you, to call you or harass you. But I do understand your desperation. I would be the same way in your situation.
      Have you thought of seeking a therapist? Perhaps you would benefit from someone who can help you put everything into perspective and possibly leave an unhealthy relationship. You can type in your zipcode for a therapist at http://www.psychologytoday.com or therapytribe.com.
      Take good care

  • February 23, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    Hi, I’m a 50 yr old from Australia, I came across this article and the comments and can relate to so much of it. I spent my childhood with emotionally vacant parents, they are good people, but both of them had emotionally vacant childhoods too so the path was laid out. I was closer to my Dad growing up as we both liked watching sport, that’s about the end of the connection though, he passed away 20 yrs ago. My Mum was closer to my brother and still is – he’s the favourite, but he’s also emotionally vacant – a family tradition!!.

    I like may of you have many friends but have never ever let someone get close, I feel like I have a wall inside me that keeps people away. I have had many partners during my life, only one really got close and I really knew what love felt like – to give and receive. I am a really good person, i’m a social worker and give my all to clients but when it comes to friends and partners I hold back and as I hold back I often feel a volcano inside me that eventually explodes because I cant express what I need – I cant express what I need because as a child I was ridiculed when I opened my mouth and told that I wouldn’t amount to anything, I mumbled my way through my childhood because I didn’t have anything worth saying or listening to.

    I am fearful of talking about my emotions because they are “silly” and i’ll be judged, people aren’t interested. I actually get so anxious at the thought of having to open up about emotions.

    I can only remember once in my childhood my Mum showing me love, and it was after I had run away from home – once !! that’s crazy isn’t it?.

    But I am 50 now and the key I think is that I am now aware of my ‘blueprint’ – this is me, is it comfortable? – hell no! – but I am aware of why I am like I am. I think the key now is to challenge myself, take opportunities to step out of my comfort zone, open up to people, let people in, connect with people – start to rewrite my blueprint – I know this will take time, but better late then never, not all at once, take each challenge as it comes, look for opportunities to safely challenge the old blue print – I have choices now – I can leave it as is – or I can chose to do something about it.

    Obvioulsy, as a therapist myself I believe in it – and awareness is the key – however, its what you do outside of therapy in the day to day that really counts, its challenging yourself to step outside the blueprint – small steps that will help you become the person you want to become – be patient, be brave, be kind to yourselves. And for once i’ll take my own advice 🙂

    • February 24, 2017 at 10:25 am

      I think that is the key, be kind to yourself.
      Its so hard to explain this to others because by the age of 30 + you are meant to have dealt with it. But for me i only truly understood the consequence of neglect and childhood more recently in my life. My mental health was all over the place and then i managed to link up what was wrong and why and then the process naturally unfolds..

  • March 30, 2017 at 3:23 am

    I grew up in a household of a mother that had neither mother nor father and a father that had a detached mother and abusive father. Talk about a recipe for lifelong challenges. My mother and father never got along and the fights and verbal abuse between them was cyclical and continual. My brother and I were polarized very early in our lives as my mother coddled him to protect him from my father and I was left orphaned in my own home when he was born when I was 3. My father did not believe my brother was his son and that further added to the family dynamic over the 19 years that I lived under their roof. I was provided with food and shelter but my narcissistic father exploded every time my mother bought anything…………including socks and underwear for me for school. We were made to feel worthless and my father’s obsession with money was his control over all of us. Both my brother and me have had three failed marriages. I was married 20 years the first time to a man that I married trying to please my parents and escape their emotional, psychological and physical abuse. In addition to the home issues they used religion to control us to the maximum extent possible. On Sundays we were supposed to represent the perfect family but the minute we left the church all hell broke loose. I struggle every day with the desire to understand their behavior and to find some peace. I am amazed and outraged that there are so many of us. I am 64 years old and still feel the grief and pain of feeling like I never had a mother or father.

    • March 31, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      Hi “Lost Child,”
      Thank you for sharing your story. This is really tough. Anytime a child has to cope with the emotional, psychological, or relational challenges of a parent, the outcome is hardly ever positive. Why? Because the child is then left to his or her own devices and will, in many cases, end up overlooked, confused, or in bad relationships themselves. It sounds as if you experienced quite a bit. It is also obvious, based on what you have stated (“we were made to feel worthless), that you and your siblings were clearly abused. Understanding their behavior may never be something you are able to do. Some of these cases, sadly, aren’t as easy to understand as we would like. I wish I could offer some input on this but cannot via social media. But it is clear that you and your siblings were abused, mistreated, and possibly even traumatized. Being able to separate yourself emotionally is probably the only way you are going to heal (if you haven’t already).

      I wish you well

      • August 19, 2017 at 4:47 am

        I am 60 now, my father past away 10 months ago, my mom 20 years ago. I am an only child. both had emotional problems, in one way or another, I grew up taking care of my parents when they needed me, because of their health problems, my father worked every day, I got what I needed, and so did my mom. I was not shown how to really love someone, and I am learning that now. I love animals, I have a dog and a cat. All I can say is I wish they were here, so I could tell them I love them both. And how I will miss them when they are gone.

      • August 25, 2017 at 1:24 am

        Hi Irish/Italian,
        Thanks for sharing your story. You point out an interesting fact about animals. There are various kinds of therapy that focus on introducing animals into the lives of children or adolescents who have experienced trauma or some kind of emotional disturbance. Animals cause us to access a different layer of ourselves as humans and can cause us to feel motivated to show love and affection to it. This in turn can lead to a greater expression of emotions toward other people. I’m sure there’s some research about this. You may be interested in Googling “therapy dogs” or “therapeutic animals.”
        I wish you well

  • April 6, 2017 at 2:45 am

    Hi, my wife has this issue she has only recently discovered this about her relationship with her Mother but she has suspected this to be the case for a long time now.

    I am trying to support her but constantly find she shuts me out and I am trying to support her but often feel that she will not talk to me.

    Any advice would be gratefully appreciated as I want to help her and also fear for her relationships with our children.

    thanks in advance,

    • April 9, 2017 at 4:18 pm

      Hi there,
      It sounds as if your wife may be so vulnerable that the only way she knows how to protect herself is by shutting people out. Some people also only shut the people most close to their hearts out. Why? Because the pain that could result from disappointment is too great for them. Perhaps there are other reasons why she is shutting you out such as feelings of shame, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, embarrassment, etc. We don’t really know. Have you mentioned she might benefit from talking to a therapist? If not, I encourage you to. Perhaps you could go with her so she doesn’t feel it’s “all about her.” You can also suggest that you are investing in her health and relationships by accompanying her to therapy. The more you highlight the benefit to everyone involved, the more open she may be to you.
      Take care

  • April 9, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    What a relief to read this article! I am the 57 year old survivor of two emotionally absent parents. This article gave me verification that my feelings of hopelessness and self-loathing are not just some quirk of my genetic makeup, but also a result of years of feeling unloved. I have just decided that I want to seek professional help in learning to like myself. I want to stop eating my emotions, thereby slimming down and learning to enjoy life. I have wasted my entire life being a doormat, am horribly thin-skinned, am judgmental of others, fall for anybody who shows me attention, in other words- I’m the entire mess of symptoms. Thank you so much for this eye-opening reflection of a horrible mindset. I’ve never understood why my parents are the way they are and with that in mind I have been a complete marshmellow of love and physical affection for my 2 girls. I never want my daughters to go looking for love because they never got it from me. Thanks for letting me say my piece. Am calling a psychiatrist tomorrow to book an appointment.

    • April 9, 2017 at 4:11 pm

      Thank you NJ for your kind comment. I’m so glad this article was helpful to you. I know when I am looking for something because I am disturbed by the stress in my life, reading an article that confirms my feelings and thoughts are normal or okay means so much.
      Take care

      • April 9, 2017 at 4:31 pm

        No.. thank you, Tamara, for posting this article. I’m not even as close to being together as my note would appear, but I feel that now I have some understanding of why I am the way I am and am hoping for some normal before I get too much older. Just have realised my “wasted” life can be changed and am now hopeful instead of wishing I was dead every day for the past 50 years. I feel sorry for my parents, but have come to regard them as immature and maybe even they must have experienced some type of abuse, I’m not sure. I’ll be glad to work at getting over this longing for acceptance and just maybe I might consider myself worthy of loving myself… hope so.

      • April 9, 2017 at 4:43 pm

        Absolutely. It is a journey indeed. I’m glad to hear that you are willing to walk that new journey/road and see how you can heal. Depression and anxiety seems to be at the core of your challenges as well. I don’t blame you. It sounds, from the bit you have shared, that your parents may have had some issues themselves which created even more issues for you. Sadly, immature and unstable parents would do better to give their children to someone who can truly raise them and provide a stable and reassuring environment. The fact that you see what happened, is a good first step.
        I wish you all the best, take care.

  • April 12, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    I’m actually not sure how to comment cause I am not good with words. As a child I had a mother but shes always been kind of unstable and because of that I didn’t really have a mother figure or something to protect me growing up. I was raped at 13 and again at 16 and even though she says she cares I often times don’t feel it. After being raped the first time at 13 I dropped out of school and at the time I was also cutting myself and constantly considering suicide and ended up losing all of my friends and distancing myself from what ever other family I had. At 16 it happened again but I don’t talk about it much because for some reason I just cant. I feel a lot of shame and still blame myself everyday even though I was told by police it wasn’t my fault I still feel at fault. Going threw all of that and barely having someone to call mother was unbearable. I’m 22 now and to this day I am still affected by both my past with my mother and the other things. I still have no real life friends and I never speak to my other family members. One of the things that was written in this blog that hit me really hard and almost made me cry reading it because I have never seen anything or anyone express it so well was this: For many adults who were raised under an emotionally void parent there is a deep feeling of loss and grief. The “loss” of a parent who is still living and breathing can seem like the most tragic experience. To look a parent in the eyes or hear their voice and yet feel so far away, is tragic. The inability to connect to the very person who brought you into this world is tragic. It is like a tease. It is like a distant fantasy. This hit me very hard.

    Thank you for making this blog.

  • April 14, 2017 at 12:29 am

    Trying to make sure we say and do the right thing.
    Ten yo boy, living with father and paternal grandparents. The adults are loving, mentally, physically and emotionally, provide extended family members who are loving and supportive. Good student, active in scouts and sports. From infancy we played the “who loves you game” verbally going thru the many people in his life. He is well rounded, well liked, mannerly and speaks openly to father and grandmother about any issues. Mother lives three hours away with spouse, three yo old half brother. Mother makes the choice to not visit or pick up for longer visits. Has never been to sports practices or games, concerts but usually has him for the summer. He “gets stuck taking care of his brother, who doesn’t mind anyone”. None of his interests, like going to the pool are ever met. He was in tears tonight because mother changed her mind about picking hm up for the five days he is off school. The three of us have never made any demeaning/negative statements about her. When questioned, our response has been, “she loves you the best way she knows how”. What else can we say or do to help him with this pain? He is a joy and delight and we are aching with his pain. We know we can’t take it away but there must be a way to mitigate it. Please, please advise.

    • April 15, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      The best thing you can do is be there for him and continue to let him know you love him and care for him. If things get too painful which they may be, then see about finding a counselor for him to talk to. I grew up with a single detached mother and I had nobody there for me but if I would have had someone there for me like you are for him even though I would have still been pretty depressed I think it would have helped a lot. Never ever give up on him and continue to be there for him and always let him know he is loved. Hes going to be depressed but I think that he will be alright in the long run as long as he has people there to be supportive and let him know he is cared for and loved.

    • April 15, 2017 at 5:24 pm

      Hi Grams,
      I’m so sorry to hear about this. This is a common scenario with many of my clients.
      I would suggest getting him a therapist. A young therapist (female or male) who is experienced working with children and unstable parental relationships may do him a world of good. He may need someone to meet with every week for an hour to discuss his feelings, play games with him, and just build a healthy adult relationship with. He obviously has you which is wonderful! But sometimes kids will open up more to strangers once they begin to trust them. It sounds as if his mother is incapable of truly relating to and understanding him. This is hurtful to him, I’m sure. A therapist would be able to delve into this pain and help him figure it out, express it, and move past it. Mitigating the pain will come not only from seeing a therapist, but having you reinforce his wonderful traits and him seeing himself succeed in his life.
      Take good care

  • April 18, 2017 at 4:56 am

    Superb article, absolutely puts everything I have always felt to be the case and mirrors my behaviour and my siblings perfectly. I belive it is fair to say through no falt of my parents as i am sure they were equally emotionally abused too.

    • April 23, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      Thank you so much Adey. I appreciate that. I appreciate your mature perspective and I agree. Most unstable parents suffer their own emotional or psychological (and sometimes physical abuse). They are often the victims of some kind of harm or abuse.
      Take good care

  • April 26, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Thank you for writing this article! I can relate to a lot of it.
    I have a question though, how do I get out of it? Is there any other way than to go to a therapist?

    • April 26, 2017 at 10:22 am

      Hi Subash,
      Thank you for your comment. I am glad you found the article helpful.
      You pose a great question that may not be easy to answer. If I am honest, a lot of therapists struggle with questions such as this because there aren’t clear answers or a wrong or right way to “get out of” a situation such as this. However, I often encourage my clients (especially if they are suffering emotionally or psychologically at the hands of their emotionally detached and unhealthy parents) to slowly back away. Slowly build distance between you and your parent(s) so as to save your sanity and emotional health. You don’t have to (unless you choose to) completely leave them. But it may be helpful to slowly back away and provide a “safe distance” so that you can re-build, over time, your emotional stamina. The more distance you put between you and the unhealthy parent, the better you will feel.
      Take good care

  • May 7, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    Interestingly I recognise many of the elements you describe on the parent aspect, for my my mother was a career woman from me being about 2 and my father was physically very abusive to me from ages 5-16.

    However, I find that I constantly crave a mother figure in my life, even now at nearly 36, I have always sought that growing up and it continues to be an issue.

    I’m the one with boundary issues, I have a therapist who I wish very much was my mummy and I find it very hard that she isn’t. I look for older girlfriends who could take on a maternal dimension to the relationship, which often sabotages the relationship.

    I feel like a 4 YO girl who is just descised as a 36YO and have, like my mother, thrown myself into my career and am constantly afraid of being found out as a fraud. I’ve had to discipline (including dismissing) team members, which is strange when I see them as ‘real adults’ and I feel like a child sat across from them taking their job away.

    I have no idea how to heal this loss of relationship and emotionally develop without finding someone to step into that maternal role, so any thoughts on how this might be possible would be greatly appreciated

    • May 8, 2017 at 12:40 am

      I should also add that like others above the emotions I feel are often intense and difficult to contain, again like a young child who bursts into tears because they cannot process their emotions

    • May 14, 2017 at 4:22 pm

      Hi Bella,
      Thanks for sharing your story. I think a lot of people, who have experienced what you have, feel the way you do. Mother’s serve such a powerful role in the development of their children. When they are not present (psychologically, emotionally, or literally), the child suffers. The child even suffers when dad is around because mother’s are usually more nurturing than fathers are. That being said, it isn’t shocking that you continue to long for a maternal figure in your life. That is a natural desire that has become a void. That void is taking a psychological and emotional toll on you, often making you feel like a needy child. It appears you are saying that the “needy child” within is really who you are, not an adult fully developed. Perhaps this is what you mean by saying “I am constantly afraid of being found out as a fraud.”

      The first step toward healing, in my belief, is recognizing and acknowledging the broken pieces of who you are. You would certainly benefit from a trauma therapist or some therapist who understands the spiritual aspects of who we are and what we long for. Someone with a philosophical, Christian, and existential skill-set would also be beneficial to you.

      Overall, instead of trying to find a way to get rid of that void, it might be better to explore ways to cope with that void and foster healthy relationships so you can not only have some of your needs met, but also have a support system you trust.

      Take good care

      • June 25, 2017 at 8:22 pm


        Many thanks for your reply.

        Yes, the child is the real me, I’ve come to visualise her as a 3YO lost in a supermarket unable to find her mummy, just scared and crying.

        My therapist is very good and as I said before I feel deeply for her, she is trying to get me to see that there are people around me who do care and has explained that a possitive step towards healing is to recognise and learn that I don’t need a mummy to step in and rescue me from an abusive situation that doesn’t exist any more. It felt pretty devastating to realise that the situation I want to be rescued from doesn’t exist any more, but also I think therin lie the problem, because I can’t be rescued from it I never will be.

        Learning to do for myself and that I don’t need a mummy seems like an impossible and overwhelming step. It’s a real shame there are not people out there looking to adopt children in descuise as adults. I bet they would be in high demand though.

        I feel like I will never be a whole person and will only every be pieces of an adult with a child as the only coherent component. It’s amazing and quite distressing to learn I’m not alone and that other people have similar feelings. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, it’s so lonely and isolating.

  • May 25, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    hi, i wud like to open up about my parents. my dad is kind of bully, nevr respects me or my elder brother nd always wants things to be done his way. he wud often insult us in front of other people. always accuse us for being deficient and not good enough. never tried to maintain any emotional attachment with me. my mother also emotionally distant. would use bad words while describing our faults and whn told it hurts turns deaf ear. she has caused much pain to me by being abusive and self centered. she wud leave dirty dishes like its my job to clean it..leave the burner dirty in kitchen while boiling sumthing amd whn asked y dint she clean it she wud say whn u saw it y dint u clean it or i was busy or any other lame excuse. she wud leave her clothes on bathroom floor in order to be picked up by me and washed. she insists the fact dat since she has given birth to me and raised me its my duty to do all her household stuff..even if ahe can do certain things herself and prefer not to. am tired of her childish behaviour.
    all of this is driving me insane. plz suggest what should i do.

    • May 26, 2017 at 10:12 am

      Hi Latlita,
      Thanks for your comment. This is really difficult because it sounds as if both parents are struggling with maturity and emotional instability. Have you seen my article on “bonded to the abuser?” You can click the link to read more about this but I’ve seen kids become so confused and emotionally chaotic at the hands of parents who cannot be what they are supposed to be for their children. It sounds as if both of your parents are incapable of being mature parents, emotionally connected, and supportive. There has certainly been, based on what you have told me, emotional and psychological abuse from both parents.

      Have you thought of seeking out therapy to work through some of your thoughts and feelings? Sometimes having an experienced therapist to help you talk out and work through/explore your feelings can be a lot of help. You can go to http://www.psychologytoday.com and click on “find a therapist” and enter your zipcode to find one near you (if you are in the US).
      In the meantime, I would suggest trying to help yourself cope with their behaviors, distance yourself from them a bit if they continue the abusive behaviors, suggest they seek out treatment, and consider recording them when they are being verbally abusive. You should, of course, let them know you are doing it for the purpose of helping them see themselves more clearly. Expect anger from them, but it might be a good way to capture their attitudes, words, and language so you can play it back to them, Sometimes this is a healthy way of pointing out behaviors that need to change. I will suggest this with some of my clients who are dealing with abusive kids or teens and I can’t remember a family ever saying it wasn’t helpful.
      Take care

  • June 3, 2017 at 11:27 am

    My daughter had looked up daughter without father on google. She is raising my granddaughter without her father. I had both parents growing up, distant and unavailable. I can’t remember much of childhood … what I can remember is my fathers anger and my moms emotional abuse. I could never do anything right. I did start softball around 7 . Would walk to park by myself and play. My couch was a great dad. He loved his 2 daughters!!! He was so good to the rest of us girls and encouraged us so… I played quite well and he entrusted me with positions requiring importance and aptitude. It gave me such confidence and security going to that ball field! He also put us in the newspaper, we were such a great team of girls! My teachers were wonderful too… Miss Finley my first grade teacher taught me how to read with such grace and patience!!! I loved her for that! I did well in reading and became a voracious reader. I also went to Sunday school where I became an integral part of the clan. Had great interactions with adults and children, and peers! I felt an overwhelming sense of a Creator God who designed all I see for me! Because of His infinite love… talk about stability… at the age of 5 I received Him as Savior and my life has never been the same. Although life at home was turbulent, I sought acceptance and love at church and at the ball field. Now, I am 58 and I’m happily single after 2 failed marriages. But, am finding it difficult to want to engage with people. Especially family members who are just as damaging as my parents were. They seem as if they have to carry the torch of belittling and making you feel rejected. I don’t drink and don’t smoke. Haven’t had issues with drugs and alcohol all my life. So glad I never turned those corners! I thank God for that! But I am feeling empty… and lonely. Scared of my future….

    • June 9, 2017 at 10:44 pm

      Hi Tides,
      Thanks for sharing your story and your faith. He is wonderful. Having Jesus Christ as Savior and Leader of our lives can truly turn our world around. And it sounds as if that’s what happened to you. I think once we accept God into our lives He does a wonderful transformation within us that causes, as you probably know, us to push damaging things out of our lives. If that is some parts (or most) of your family, push them out. If that involves “2 failed marriages,” push them out. Children of God have to “fly” and have freedom from damaging things and people. He’s come to set us free so we must be willing to set ourselves free by letting go of those things that wreck our souls and lives.

      Despite all of this including the awesome love and community of Christian believers that God gives us, that doesn’t mean life will be without pain and sorrow. For you, that is feeling empty and lonely. For me, that is struggling with worry and a heavy heart. For someone else, that might be depression. Sadly, despite our faith, we still have to go through pain.

      Do you know the Christian singer Mandisa? You might find her most recent story of interest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auiaLBFKBRw

      Take good care

  • June 8, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    A great article on a subject not mentioned enough. My fiance who was diagnosed bipolar a few years ago is definitely a detached parent. She has been in and out of therapy for years, on and off medication, switched therapists multiple times. She doesn’t except the bipolar diagnoses. Whether she is or is not, I am not sure, she definitely has a lot of the symptoms that I have learned about. But this article and this exact issue is her 100%. Ours is a very long story, but currently I feel at a cross roads. Not sure to keep hoping she can come to some kind of realization to truly get help for her issues and maintain any progress, or to call it quits. The way she is with our son who is 4, is really beginning to impact his day to day life and behavior. She began to be distant from our son when he was around 6 months old, and it has just steadily gotten worse. Now, over the last 6 months things are becoming really stressful for all of us. She ignores him, has almost no patience with him, leaves him unsupervised in the home for hours at a time regularly, she sleeps several hours throughout the day. He acts out with her and doesn’t listen, and they go around in a circle. I am just at a loss. She knows there is a problem with their relationship and we’ve talked about it. She has even said she feels like she can’t be a “normal” mom, she thinks she’s a horrible parent. She has said she wants out, she can’t deal with him, she loves him but cannot be a mom and she has left before. But I’m afraid the problems with their relationship will not begin to resolve until her personal issues are confronted. I want so much for us to be a family under one roof, but our son is at an age now where I really worry about the long term effects on him from dealing with a mom who is neglectful, emotionally detached and very quick to get angry. But if we separate that is sure to have an effect on him also. Maybe there is no right way to go from here. I have mentioned I want very much to be involved in her therapy and her mental health and she is scheduled to begin therapy again with a new therapist in few weeks. But in the past she has shut me out of any therapy saying it would be difficult to do together. I have never had any contact with any of her therapist or doctors. I hope this time she will let me take part and try to help out. Any advice or words of wisdom are greatly appreciated. Again, great article thanks so much!

  • June 24, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    I felt love up until the age of 4 or 5, mainly from my mum, as even then, my dad was cold and angry.

    My mother died a painfull, lingering death from Multiple Sclerosis. She ‘mainly’ died at home; fading away on a what must have been a hosptial-supplied bed placed in the living room because she was no longer able to walk. I remember the times when ambulance staff banged on the front door, charged in and then stretchered her off down the street to the ambulance. Apparently, she died during one night during her final hospital stay and the wider familed deemed to keep me away from the funeral.

    My father was unable to do much apart from cloth us and provide food / shelter (mainly, depending on his volatile, unpredictable mood). He frequently unleashed his anger through unexpected outbursts, provoked by the smallest thing, often resulting in escalating physical violence, the sort that makes you think you might die in the next few minutes, the sort that sometimes caused injuries classified as ABH under UK law. This was the 1970’s to 80’s, so it went under the radar – apart from the time a friend commented on the bruises during swimming lessons. I was too scared to tell anyone, I didn’t know who to tell anyway. I also felt ashamed, at the time I believed it was my fault, that my dad was punishing me misbehaving and that’s exactly how he attempted to justify it 20 or 30 years later.

    I found the violence easier to deal with, which stopped when I got to 12 or so, unlike the emotional and pyscholgical abuse; this continued in various forms until I broke off all contact with him and my brother in 2013.

    I distinctly remember a therapist telling me in 2005 that “my family were toxic and I probably needed to cut them out of my life”. I didn’t. It took a failed suicide attempt by hanging in late 2009, followed by a year in the heartbreaking world of pyschiatric wards and heavy medication to finally wake me up to the reality of my family. I was broken, on my knees, with my faith in myself and my future almost completely shattered.

    My inner flame was almost embers, but it had’nt died completely and eventually, a deep, inner mental upwards shift occurred unexpectedly. I jumped at this opportunity and kicked the door to recovery wide open. I got back into the gym and martial arts, lost the extra 6 stone, started volunteering, became a part-qualifed counsellor myself, went back into therapy and eventually in January 2015 I got back into my career.

    Apparently my dad descended into heavy, heavy alcoholism in late 2013/early 2014 and was eventually admitted to hospital to be diagnosed with dementia, he never regained any sort of independence and spent his last years in a care home before dying of complications in January. I went to see him on his deathbed, he couldnt speak or barely move; a frail old dying man, unable to breathe for himself. I felt the contrast between this and the figure of childhood domination was almost too much to believe.

    His death has brought painful things back. It also reminded I still have some work to do around trusting people fully, along with the fear of rejection and abandonment, so I’ve been working with another good therapist over the past few months.

    Instead of rehashing my chilhood story all over again with yet another therapist and wasting many months going over old ground, last week I gave her 2 pages of A4 hand written examples of childhood trauma. The re-occuring patterns of behaviour of my father were very clear to me as I wrote.

    I saw my therapist again today. She said she had a much better picture of my past, she also found it hard to believe I “was even still alive” – which I understood was an both acknowledgement of my past, the pain and also a huge complimment.

  • June 25, 2017 at 12:42 am

    This is exactly my situation word for word. The kicker here is my sibling/sister seems to side with my emotionally unavailable mom because her thought process is my mother is the victim for going through what she’s putting me through. A slow desperate spiral further and further down a never ending dark tornado of all the bad mentioned above. Not just my sister but my mothers brother also sees me as a crackhead uneducated confused lowlife and has no words or support to help me up. My question is this. Knowledge is key so now that I have read this and have adopted this as the exact situation in going through, how do I reverse this. Mindful meditation only starts to work up until I see my sister or uncle or one of my mothers friends co workers church budddies or hiking friends. Because I have asked her to stay away from me so she just goes around talking to the people mentioned above and victimizes herself to make it seem like I’m a bad drug doing crazy anger filled guy. It’s just like being acused of murder when you are on camera at a different location at the time of the murder pleading with people to listen and look at the facts only to have them change the conversation from “is he the murderer?” To “look at him yelling and begging and pleading for us to listen in an angry fashion” no matter what I’m still behind bars. How do I get set free. I set myself free I assume. So do I just cut off and ignore all the people who are no good for my emotional state of mind? But I still need a loving mother father sister and family otherwise I feel like I am just passing this disease right on to my children.

  • July 9, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    Hello Tamara,

    I can relate to all of this! Being the child of a detached mother and now I am that mother who is detached. I have 3 kids and for some reason I can show love to 2 of them but there is an emotional wall between me and my oldest. I long to hold her in my arms and kiss her and tell her how much I love her but when the time comes I ended up in a negative mood everytime she comes around. I don’t know why and I can’t seem to control it. My husband thinks it’s because my mom wasn’t able to show it to me so I am unable to show it to her but to me that doesn’t make sense because I am able to show my other two the love a long to give to my oldest. I do have a scared past with her father. He committed suicide when she was 2. We were both teens ourselves when we had our kids and I know I hold alot of anger towards him. I am seeing a therapist but I’m in the early stages of it. I’m so worried I am going to ruin her if I haven’t already. She is attention seeking, gets anxiety when she isn’t all knowing of what everyone is doing, she is a compulsive liar and does not have an attachment to anything! There is a long list of things I could go on about as to why I feel like I can’t attach to her but I know these are just things that are reflected to the lack of connection between her and myself. I love her so much and I hope I can find a way to connect with her before it is to late. If you have any advice or suggestions, please feel free to share! Im lost and don’t know what to do!Thanks

    • July 10, 2017 at 8:37 am

      Hi Regretfully,
      Thanks for sharing your story. This is tough because I don’t have all of the pieces of the puzzle. But I can suggest a few potential reasons for why attachment to her is difficult.
      I’m wondering if you are “re-enacting” the situation between you and your mom with your oldest. Perhaps she reminds you of someone or has a personality trait that causes you to remain emotionally detached. Is she like your mother? Is she like you? Could she possibly remind you of the situation between you and your mom?
      Another avenue to explore might be your own anxiety. Are you so anxious about being “attached” that you actually create a situation that makes you feel emotionally distant? Did you have a difficult pregnancy? Etc.
      There are many reasons for why this is possibly happening. Hopefully your therapist will be able to help you explore why attaching to your oldest child is difficult.

      I wish you and your family all the best

  • July 11, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    Hi im 52 and in therapy. I was diagnosed with bipolar wen younger but it took many years of trial n error to find correct meds.
    I had four children all are adults.
    Im searching to see if theres anything o can do help my children feel more loved by me. i can get into details but theyd cut me off.
    Id appreciate anyones input.
    Questions…opinions anything thank you.

    • July 16, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      Hi Elaina,
      Because I do not have all of the details, I cannot provide anything beyond a suggestion. I would suggest trauma therapy for you. Not just someone who claims to be a trauma therapist, but someone with certifications in trauma. Trauma therapy may be able to open the door to some of the reasons for why you feel the way you do. I encourage you to go to http://www.psychologytoday.com or http://www.goodtherapy.org and put your zipcode into their “find a therapist” box and find someone locally. Read their bio and/or call to see if they offer trauma therapy.
      Take care

  • July 14, 2017 at 1:17 am

    Wow number 7 hit me so hard, instant tears fell. I am only 22 years old, living with both of my parents who were never married, but lived together my whole life. They seperated when I was about 16, but have remained in the same house till this day.. talk about toxic household. I blame my dad for most of the things that have gone wrong in my life. No encouragement, and constant put downs. My brother is 25 years old and has nothing going for him.. complete loser in my opinion and just lives off of my parents. I say this simply because I’ve worked my butt off since the day I found a job in high school. I work full time and go to a University full time. Sucks to say, but the only reason why I do it all is to get out of this house and never see them again. My brother treats my mom like crap and took after my poor excuse of a father who has verbally, and at times years ago been physical towards my mom. For the longest time I had so much love for my mom and thought all I needed was her love. BUT unfortunately it seems as if she’s given up and has no hope, which in turn has made me feel like she’s weak and gives me no hope. It’s hard to explain to others, but I come home from work, change, go to school/gym, come home shower and sleep. It’s like were roommates. All I’ve ever wanted was a family, but from the looks of it.. it wont ever happen. I have a boyfriend who is GREAT, was brought up in a great family, but has no idea what it’s like to be me. He’s extremely positive and patient with me especially when I’m depressed/anxious. I just now fear that I will become a mother like this one day that is extremely distant or needy. I tend ot be extremely needy from him, always wanting to be with him, but because going home is dreadful. He has his own life with work and is very close to his family, so all of his attention can’t go to me and I understand that, but I still have a hard time with it and for some reason I get mad and tend to take it out on him. I’m the worst sometimes, and I don’t even know why I get so upset when I truly do understand why he can’t be with me, but I do think it’s because of the lack of attention/love I get at home. I’ve always wanted to see a therapist, maybe it will help me. I just feel like i’ve tried everything. I’m just tired of reaching out and I want to give up on my parents so bad.

    • July 16, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      Hi Nikki,
      Thanks for sharing your story and commenting here.
      I am sorry to hear you are struggling with this. This is very difficult because it sounds as if you feel all alone, isolated, and withdrawn from your family. Could it be possible that your brother is struggling with depression and low motivation because of your emotionally detached parents? Perhaps this is why he hasn’t done anything with his life. Perhaps you two are affected in equal ways but one is able to “fight back” (by achieving things), while the other is incapable of moving anywhere (staying stuck at home). I also wouldn’t rule out that perhaps your parents have emotional challenges or even psychological. I find that in many of my client’s lives their parents are emotionally detached and absent because they have untreated or poorly treated depression and anxiety, personality disorders, or trauma histories.
      And believe me when I say that you are not alone in fearing that you will become like your mother. So many of my clients feel the same way. But the truth is, you may find that genetically (you are not at risk), environmentally (you may have encounter examples of what it means to be emotionally attached and caring), and emotionally/relationally (you aim to be different). For me, this is enough to protect you from the emotional dysfunction of your parents.
      All the best to you

  • July 28, 2017 at 4:07 am

    I have a hypothesis that one of the positives of this type of parenting can be that the child can grow up to become compassionate and empathetic.

    I think many of those who call themselves ’empaths’ have quite likely experienced difficult, overbearing and sometimes bullying parenting.

    As a child of a Narcissist mother I have great empathy and compassion for others…probably due to needing it so much for myself.

    • September 17, 2019 at 9:19 pm

      I believe I am too an empath as a result of having a emotionally distant and manipulative mother and always having to read her expressions to see how she was going to act day to day as a young child. Now I’m 28 female have a child of my own and I’m struggling. My partner of 7 years and father of my child is amazing but I think he will leave me soon because I am constantly pushing him away because I feel like I’m not good enough and I’m ruining his life with my constant breakdowns and neediness. After our son was born I was diagnosed with separation anxiety from my partner as I would hang on to his leg when he left the house . And wait in the window for him to come home from work. Nearly an hour before he would be home. It’s almost as if I was a child . I was 21. My father was absent my whole life and my older sisters father was absent and we were never aloud to talk about them or ask any questions. My mother hid everything from us . Also my grandparents would sit us down and tell us never ask your mother about your fathers ever. It was and still is taboo. I found everything out myself when he found me at age 18 when I was in a bar. Didn’t impress me at all seemed like all he did was bitch about my mother . My mother met a new partner when I was about 5 and they hated each other , he had his own problems and was emotionally disconnected and picked on me constantly . I used to get away and basically turned friends into family. I never liked being touched because no one hugs or is ever positive in my family. There is never and never has been any love. I loved my friends so much . Now I’m at a time in my life With my mother where I’m standing up to her now as she constantly just picks at me. She’s never been comforting supportive or emotional. She’s just so cold and not there . Same with my grandparents . (They put me down constantly it’s every word that comes out of their mouth). So I just hung up on my mum a couple of weeks ago as she just wouldn’t stop going on at me about my house and I found I was crying everyday and after every phone call or interaction with them. They cannot stand me sticking up for myself! I found out my mother has been trying to turn my brother and my sister against me. It hurts when my sister rings me telling me it’s my fault our mum is losing weight and that if she dies it’s on me. If u can’t already tell I’ve always been the black sheep middle child scapegoat . I used to cut myself really badly and I’ve been diagnosed anxiety depression and separation anxiety. I myself have lost so much weight and had to quit my job recently . I feel so lost because this post is so 100 percent true and it’s absolute hell. On earth.

  • August 3, 2017 at 4:49 am

    You have just gave me answers that nobody could give me. You are totally right in what you say. Every part of what I have read is me.

    • August 9, 2017 at 10:37 pm

      Thank you Tracey. I’m glad you found my work helpful.
      Take good care

  • August 6, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    This is me. You’re article completely and accurately describes my emotionally absent mother and the aftermath of her abuse. I am 47 years old. For years I have begged and pleaded with my mother for affection, a hug, an “I love you”, to no avail. She has been verbally abusive as well.
    Today, I have anger, resentment and anxiety issues l, lack self confidence, and depression. I also have unstable relationships that don’t last. I also struggle with suicide thoughts and self cutting. I honestly don’t think I am going to survive her. :_(

    • August 9, 2017 at 10:24 pm

      Thank you Kathy for your kind comment and for your shared experience.
      I am sorry to hear that you have had to experience this. It is apparent that your mother was incapable of love and incapable of being a parent. A parent is self-less and able to put their own needs or desires aside for their children. The fact that she was unable to give you the affection you longed for, tells me that she was not ready for parenting.
      One of the things I say to my suicidal clients when they are discussing legitimate reasons for killing themselves or harming themselves is: “I do hope that you continue to hold on to life because every single day you wake up could be the day things change forever. There is no guarantee that tomorrow will be just as bad or worse than today.” I hope the same for you.
      Take good care

  • August 12, 2017 at 7:52 am

    I am also a victim of this. And its only last week that I realise how damaged I really am when I had the biggest fight with my mother. So big I nearly killed her. I said the most awful things. I wished her dead. I told her she was never a mother and didnt deserve children. Called her every evil name under the sun. I became a fire breathing dragon, shaking a dripping with sweat and screaming so loud I lost my voice. This was the worst I have ever been. My mother deprived me emotionally all my life as did her mother.
    Im a strong person and brush everything off and keep going. But now I realise that I bottle it all up till something she does or says triggers a gunfire in my brain. I explode into an uncontrollable rage.
    This happened 2 weeks ago and now she cries day and night. Not talking to me (i live with her and her partner). I regret the things I said but I couldnt help it.
    I never felt loved or wanted by her. Her life mission was her house and money. Her kids were always second. She divorced twice and currently with a 3rd partner. I havent seen my biological father since I was 3 yrs old. I remember all the spankings for the things I did wrong when I was a child. But I have no recollection of love, praise or support. I’ve had to learn to be self sufficient and stand on my own 2 feet. When ive had problems I turn to my friends for help. I had one long term partner who was mentally abusive. Broke me into pieces. And a few short r/ships all of which broke me into pieces. Ive never longed for children as I see them as a burden. And I question why I should sacrifice my life for a child when my mother never made sacrifices for me.my sister though is the opposite and dotes on her children. Ive struggled all my life without any support and thought I was ok. But im not. Never having heard the words I love you from my mum nor shown any affection has finally taken its toll. I love my mum but I dont like her. I feel so bad for hurting her with my terrible words and I fear I have damaged what little connection I had permanently.I want to move out and cant afford to yet I cry at the thought of not being around her. Shes not well and I would never forgive myself if I wasnt there if she got sick. Somehow, I think thats the only reason she wants me at her home. But I feel so lonely and isolated and very unwanted.
    Im 47 yrs old and feel like I will never have the life I want. Never feel loved by anyone thats important to me. My angels are ny horses and dog. I value them more than humans because humans have let me down. Im a very emotional and giving person with a big heart that never seems to attract the same traits. Everyone sees me as happy, bubbly and full of life. I try to be. But for too long I have been blocking out the emotional trauma of not having loving parents and I cant block it anymore. Im broken. Im tired and I dont know what to do anymore or how to deal with this.
    Maybe therapy can help I dont know. Ive always healed myself. Or thought I was.
    Im so glad to know that I am not alone. Especially when im surrounded by friends who come from loving gamilies.

    • August 15, 2017 at 9:05 pm

      Hi “unloved all my life”
      Thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry you have had to struggle with this for so long. It is always as if “emotionally detached” moms should attend some kind of therapeutic group for women who are incapable of being moms. I think a lot of women feel that all they need to be a mother is to be able to conceive, feed and clothe the child, and protect them. But, as we all know, that isn’t it. There are major emotional and psychological voids to feel in our children as they grow and if this does not occur, psychological and emotional challenges are likely to occur.
      When unloved children become unloved adults, pets are often the safest route. I think there is real power in the love between a human and a pet. That’s why pet therapy or “service dogs” have become really popular for anxiety and depression. I suppose pets can really be “mans best friend” and I don’t blame you for playing it safe. I only hope and pray that someone will show you that you can trust them.

      Take care

      • August 25, 2017 at 8:37 pm

        Hi Tamara,
        Thank you for your reply. I appreciate your understanding. Yes, my pets are my world. They are always there for me. Especially my horses. All people in my situation should have pets. It gives them a sense of purpose and belonging. Caring for pets who give unconditionally is so rewarding and heartwarming when you feel so isolated and broken. I hug my horses and tell them everyday that I love them. And they KNOW. Very sensitive souls who mirror your personality. My mother is still not communicating with me. Its hard and so heartbreaking. I sit outdide every night with ny dog to avoid her till she goes to bed. Because I feel I have no right to do anything in her house. Awful feeling. I go without food most nights or I buy takeaway and eat in my car before I get home from work. I have made attempts to say hi to her when I get home but she ignores me. So im currently sitting outside for hours to avoid seeing her. Not the ideal life I imagined. Im trying to get a job that pays a little more so I can leave and rent somewhere else. This is proving to be difficult. But I wont give up. I hope I can get past this and be happy. God only knows I deserve it.

  • September 1, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    Meeting my GFs parents in the Midwest for the first time. In years past I’ve always been great meeting parents & siblings getting by as a child talking sports in HS, etc. But tonight I felt lost, in what to do. Until I read this it makes sense to me. Being a single child, I lost my mother as a teenager to alcoholism & my military father never wanted me. Listening to all these stories of this experience & those pet stories, truly saddened me knowing I missed out on the family experience having no family growing up. First time in a home with a family in years I felt more lonely than spending Xmas days on my own. It’s so odd because I have a very social lifestyle with good friends etc but I have never felt such a feeling of lack of self worth not having family memories like that. I shut down after dinner & pretended I had jet leg just because I just couldn’t be around it anymore. I’ve never felt so uncomfortable in my own skin in my life. Like I didn’t deserve to have a good family experience as a kid bc of something I did. Which logically makes no sense. I vow to the child I raise they are raised the right way so they never have to experience the feeling I had to go through tonight.

  • September 8, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    I am 28 and I never met my dad my mother left me when I was 4. I am married but separated raising 4 kids on my own. I am so sadly depressed I have a lot of anger inside of me. I looked for love in all the wrongs places. I have a very low self-esteem. I was given drugs as a little girl and also molested by several men. It’s hard to live life

    • September 12, 2017 at 11:23 pm

      Hi Laura,
      This is really tough. Thanks for reaching out and sharing your story. Have you considered therapy? I know this is tough because there aren’t always good therapists within reach in your area. Finding a good, understanding, and knowledgeable therapist can be a challenge but I still encourage you to consider it. If not a therapist, then perhaps a pastor, a spiritual leader, or someone who understands single-parenthood. Group therapy or support groups may also be supportive for you. You can research these things in your area at http://www.psychologytoday.com and then put your zipcode into the “find a therapist” search bar.
      I wish you all the best

  • October 5, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    I realize that I have this sort of relationship with my step-mother, which was a result of her having a bad relationship with an emotionally abusive mother.

    What kind of steps can I take to mitigate becoming like my mom? I am working to have a positive self-image and to learn to forgive my mom and working on changing my own behaviour that seems to mirror some of my own upbringing. I don’t want to pass on these bad memes and behaviours to my own daughter.

    Also, is there anything I can do to help my mom to negate her behaviour? I realize that it might be a lost cause and I can lead by example, and are there any other steps recommended to take without appearing to seek her approval? I know that she won’t acknowledge she has an issue, and past family therapy did not seem to impress upon her that she needed to take steps to heal and be a more positive person.

    I would like my children to have a healthy relationship, if possible, with their grandmother even if our relationship is strained.
    However, it that isn’t possible, I will do what is necessary to ensure my kids have limited exposure to the same kind of toxic environment.

    • October 7, 2017 at 11:21 pm

      Hi Am,
      Thanks for your question. This is difficult because we all know that genes are powerful but so too is your environment. I think therapy and putting yourself in relationships with others who are nurturing is a good first step. I wouldn’t be able to clearly advise you online because I don’t have a lot of details. But I can say that you can certainly be assertive (depending on the personality of your mother) and point out her behavior and how it affects you. You can say something like “I really feel bad when you say that to me because I feel like you are detached from me.” If addressing your mom is a “no-no,” you may want to pursue therapy to ask these questions and get honest feedback.

      If you strongly feel, as difficult as it might be, that your mother is toxic for your children I would not blame you for limiting contact. I think that is often the decision of adult women who recognize their parents are unhealthy. We all want our children to love and be loved by their grandparents, but if one or both of the grandparents are unhealthy we must move on without them (or at least limit contact).
      All the best to you

  • October 27, 2017 at 1:42 am

    Neither of my parents were mature but it wasn’t until 2 years ago when I broke off another relationship that I realized how the emotional distance of my Mother has hurt me. She discouraged closeness, refused me affection, warmth, comfort, love, protection, and took advantage of my nature to love and respect my parents. When I woke up scared as a child, she watched at my bedroom door while my Dad asked me what was wrong. Neither hugged me or offered me comfort. Thats just one example. I’m 59 and for the first time working to make true emotional connections with those in my life. I’ve joined a relationship group to help guide me as I can’t effectively protect myself and I recognize I need help in a healthy direction. I’m beginning to feel.

  • December 12, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Hi there,

    I can relate to many of the other stories shared. The difference is that I am going through the same experience. I am 17 years old and will turn 18 in 12 days. I currently go to school and attend a good sixth form and study good A levels, but in the last few years, I’ve been feeling more and more detached and felt less and less entitlement. My grades last year plumitted from what was expected of me. My happiness has been entirely drained and I feel like I’m on the edge of failure.

    My mother does many things for me. I appreciate the effort she makes to bring me to school and collect me a few days a week. She can be such a nice person at times, but it is becoming rare now.

    Now about 3 times a month, after collecting me at school, she breaks down during conversation during to journey. She cries vigourously and threatens that she will crash the car as she can’t handle me anymore, despite me not saying anything offensive in the slightest. There has been some physical abuse at times which hasn’t bruised me or scarred me, but I find it hurts more mentally. During a journey when this breakdown happens, she is constantly screaming and yelling abuse at me, and I’m just sitting there asking her how I can help.

    Just yesterday, I came back from an amazing school trip to Spain. During the trip, my ability to communicate had improved greatly. I couldn’t understand why people kept calling me a ‘nice guy’ or saying ‘why are you so nice’ as I was just being me. I kept feeling guilty when speaking to people and had constantly felt that I crossed the line by asking how they were, as my mother would have taken the question differently if she was in a mood swing. By the final day, I was laughing incredibly whilst communicating with people I had never met before the trip.

    One of these people reminded me of myself, what I was like before I was introverted and relied on the opinions of others. He said aloud everything he was thinking of. He had a few problems himself. He was always trying to be accepted by unaccepting people on the trip and he kept getting broken. This was one of the reasons I felt more able to approach him.

    It was the day after the school trip ended (today), where I finally realised what has been holding me back. I had one of those rough journeys after school and she was incredibly abusive and threatening. Throughout her outburst, I was incredibly worried for her and I wanted her to get better but I had no idea what course of action to take. I said I’d put her favourite music on, make her a tea, find something she likes on television, but nothing would get through to her.

    My mother has the exact traits as stated on the website. She is very competitive (not a bad thing), but she is very fast to point the finger on someone and can really act out in an aggressive manner. Once she threw a plant pot at my father just because my brother hit me when we were both young and we were just playing. Her over-the-top protective behaviour perhaps is one of the reasons she feels the way she does.

    I understand the issues mentioned above are minor compared to some others mentioned on this website, but I believe this can be easily fixed. At heart, I love my mother and want the best possible thing for her, but this constant stress and fear of upsetting her is seriously affecting my school work and I really worry that this will spiral out of control. What’s the best course of action I can take as a 17-18 year old boy?

    Thanks very much for reading

    • December 12, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      I’ve added a few more things which I forgot to say:

      Hi there,

      I can relate to many of the other stories shared. The difference is that I am going through the same experience. I am 17 years old and will turn 18 in 12 days. I currently go to school and attend a good sixth form and study good A levels, but in the last few years, I’ve been feeling more and more detached and felt less and less entitlement. My grades last year plumitted from what was expected of me. My happiness has been entirely drained and I feel like I’m on the edge of failure.

      My mother does many things for me. I appreciate the effort she makes to bring me to school and collect me a few days a week. She can be such a nice person at times, but it is becoming rare now.

      Now about 3 times a month, after collecting me at school, she breaks down during conversation during to journey. She cries vigourously and threatens that she will crash the car as she can’t handle me anymore, despite me not saying anything offensive in the slightest. There has been some physical abuse at times which hasn’t bruised me or scarred me, but I find it hurts more mentally. During a journey when this breakdown happens, she is constantly screaming and yelling abuse at me, and I’m just sitting there asking her how I can help.

      Just yesterday, I came back from an amazing school trip to Spain. During the trip, my ability to communicate had improved greatly. I couldn’t understand why people kept calling me a ‘nice guy’ or saying ‘why are you so nice’ as I was just being me. I kept feeling guilty when speaking to people and had constantly felt that I crossed the line by asking how they were, as my mother would have taken the question differently if she was in a mood swing. By the final day, I was laughing incredibly whilst communicating with people I had never met before the trip.

      One of these people reminded me of myself, what I was like before I was introverted and relied on the opinions of others. He said aloud everything he was thinking of. He had a few problems himself. He was always trying to be accepted by unaccepting people on the trip and he kept getting broken. This was one of the reasons I felt more able to approach him.

      It was the day after the school trip ended (today), where I finally realised what has been holding me back. I had one of those rough journeys after school and she was incredibly abusive and threatening. Throughout her outburst, I was incredibly worried for her and I wanted her to get better but I had no idea what course of action to take. I said I’d put her favourite music on, make her a tea, find something she likes on television, but nothing would get through to her.

      I have had counselling over some of the past 5 years as my Mum believed I had an anxiety disorder. I had previously collapsed to the floor in Debenhams as I believed I was having a heart attack when I was alone with her. I still don’t fully understand why this happened.

      Throughout last year, I have been escaping work which I had enjoyed and spent most of my time with my face pressed up against to my phone on YouTube for the most part. This escape led to me forgetting about my life at home and my slowly failing life at school. My bedroom is a complete mess and I hate the way everything is. Apart from the amazing trip to Spain which has helped me open my mind to such a situation, My last few years have been incredibly depressing.

      I have a really strong urge to be a fantastic parent. About once every month, I rehearse what I will say to my future children in certain situations.

      My mother has the exact traits as stated on the website. She is very competitive (not a bad thing), but she is very fast to point the finger on someone and can really act out in an aggressive manner. Once she threw a plant pot at my father just because my brother hit me when we were both young and we were just playing. Her over-the-top protective behaviour perhaps is one of the reasons she feels the way she does.

      I understand the issues mentioned above are minor compared to some others mentioned on this website, but I believe this can be easily fixed. At heart, I love my mother and want the best possible thing for her, but this constant stress and fear of upsetting her is seriously affecting my school work and I really worry that this will spiral out of control. What’s the best course of action I can take as a 17-18 year old boy?

      Thanks very much for reading

  • December 15, 2017 at 9:11 am

    This hit home with me pretty hard. My parents have never been there emotionally for me or my brother growing up in any way, shape or form. They would consider keeping a roof over our head, as parenting, as they put it. In my adulthood i turned to prescription pills, opiates, and went through all that phew. I can thankfully say, i have been completely sober for the past 7 years but ever since my sobriety ive been trying desperately to rebuild a relationship with my parents, but its not working at all, its like im never gonna do well enough for them to except me. Theyve never made amends for my chikdhood, bc their narcissism is so out of hand i cant even explain it. I just dont know whether to give up on them, or to just get used to them being that way. Im at a loss and tired of feeling worthless, to my parents that is.

  • February 10, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    Until I was 5 I had two parents and was a happy kid, even though my parents were heavy drinkers and fought numerous times; with that my mother still loved me and cared for me. However, at night I would here my mother being forced into sex when she was pleading no, things slamming down stairs, and yelling. Then when I was 6 I waited with my brothers and sister to give my mother her mother’s day present, but that night she had finally said enough and left; all the presents went in the garbage. From that day onward my father would go to work and then to the bar until late at night, come home and fall asleep on the couch until the next day for work again. The weekends were spent completely at the bar. We had no food, we use to have to put sugar on a piece of bread for a meal. I think I was the only 8 year old kid running around outside at 10pm doing what I pleased, the police were more parent to me then my father, at least they cared. So I matured totally alone with no parents and am now a complete loner; I have zero friends and sit in the house all day, when I worked I would never go to any parties with the staff as I felt I didn’t belong and nobody wanted me there anyway. I cannot hold a conversation, I feel horrible talking to people and just can’t wait to get away. The strange thing is up until just the last few years all of this never bothered me, but now that I am in my 50s it is surfacing and I don’t know why. I came here after watching a commercial talking about mothers caring for their kids and I felt myself go into a deep depression as I longed for what the kids in the commercial had.

    This isn’t my whole story, there is more garbage that goes along with it, such as the physically and mentally abusive girlfriend my father moved into the house to take care of us while he drank.

    I have told my loving wife some of my past, and each time puts her into tears as she grew up in a wonderful home.

    I am thinking more and more that perhaps I should go to my family doctor to get a referral for therapy, but being a man that makes me feel weak.

    I don’t know. Thank you for reading if you made it this far.

    (My wife has a friend who is psychic, she doesn’t know me at all but she said that my mother came to her and told her to tell me that she was sorry. I have forgiven both of them, my mother had no choice, and my father was a slave to the bottle, but still the damage is done.)

    • February 16, 2018 at 12:49 pm

      Hi Jimbodel,
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your story.
      It sounds as if these experiences that truly left wounds that are deep for you. Having emotionally detached parents is difficult and it leaves emotional, psychological, and spiritual wounds that aren’t easy to heal. Sadly, the consequences of having parents like this ends up negatively affecting adult relationships.

      Parents, like your story shows, are called permissive and they don’t want to set rules and boundaries. They want to have their own life which means the kids “run wild” and care for themselves. It’s a tragedy, to say the least. I’m sorry you have had to experience this. It’s never easy to overcome. It appears you may be protecting yourself in some way by wanting to be alone or get away from people. I can’t blame you! If you aren’t doing this consciously, it may be subconsciously.

      Have you thought of trying a therapist? Have you thought of trying social clubs where there are likeminded people? These things may be helpful for you. Let me know and I could pass along some information.
      Take good care

      • February 21, 2018 at 3:30 pm

        Hi Tamara, thanks for reading and replying. I have been thinking of talking to a therapist, but I am not sure what they can offer besides sitting and listening to me moan on about my upbringing, or lack thereof. I have thought of joining groups but I am so socially awkward and uncomfortable that I think it would be very hard to endure. It is also interesting to read the comments and see how many people are in their 50s and experiencing childhood trauma, as if this is a magic age or something.

        When I start dwelling on the past I try to force myself to let it go, saying “that is the past, the past is the past and not now”, sometimes it helps, other times it does not.

  • May 4, 2018 at 12:06 am

    I have an issue with my parents. My father and mother were together for 40 years and they never taught me anything. My father worked from 3 to 3am and when he had the day off he never.spent time with me at all. He did not teach me about drugs, women or life in general. Now I have a family of my own and I have been verbally abusive to my wife and kids and now my wife has divorced me because I take everything the wrong way. What do I do is it to late for me to find out what my problem is?

    • May 9, 2018 at 10:49 pm

      Hi Keith,
      Thanks for sharing and commenting.
      I don’t think so at all. I think that if you find a good therapist in your area or a spiritual mentor/pastor, etc. that you could certainly delve into what is happening to you. A trauma therapist may be helpful. If you find a good one you will most likely do a timeline (a record of series of events that may have emotionally and psychologically affected you), explore your childhood, and delve into other important issues. You can go to http://www.psychologytoday.com and put your zipcode into the search engine “find a therapist” to find someone close to you. You’d want to make sure the therapist is certified and trained in trauma therapy.

      Take care

  • May 12, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    I found this article very interesting. I grew up having a mother who was always controlling. I was referred to as ‘It’ and after episodes of urinary incontinence I would get beaten. There had been a childhood trauma of a plane crashing near to my home. Fortunately we saw nothing that affected us too much. In my teenage years I completely rebelled. I looked for support from my mum with advice on puberty and general life leasons. Always craving a mother daughter relationship, I got nothing. I got involved with recreational drugs and formed relationships that turned out to be toxic and abusive. I had no sense of self worth and trusted no-one.

    I worked in many jobs, when travelling and gained a nursing degree despite my mother telling me I could never be a nurse.

    I suffered undiagnosed with depression and looking back had episodes of anxiety and feelings of remoteness.

    I formed another toxic relationship at the age of 30. Which with the support of healthcare professionals had to leave. By this point I had had a baby of my own. My mother had told me to have an abortion. I now have a wonderful little boy and manage on my own. I have very little help from my mother and no emotional support but have come to the very difficult conclusion that my mother will never change. Its up to me to make things different. I was close to my father and sadly he died this year. I have been dealing with this very difficult time being again quite emotional. My son’s behaviour changes when I am irritable, exhaused and down and it is noticed in school for the short periods I’m down. I’m on sertraline 200mg daily, continuing to work and raising my son. I’m concerned my mood has lasting effects on my son. We’re both going through a process of loss as my dad was like a father figure to my son.

    I am not like my mother was with me and very much try to be different. I think at the moment things are a bit more challenging.

    Thank you for listening.

    • May 20, 2018 at 3:16 pm

      Hi Peggy,
      Thank you for your kind comment. I’m glad you found it helpful. Your story is a prime example of how one’s life can turn out to be a roller-coaster when emotionally detached parents attempt to raise a child. There are often unforeseen consequences to this as the child grows into an adult. Not only does the child victim grow into an emotionally abused adult, but also an emotionally confused and needy adult. It’s so heartbreaking to see a promising and strong child be “beat down” by a parent’s lack of affection, concern, or parental attachment.
      Many parents, primarily in today’s world, would benefit from parenting classes to help them avoid this traumatic experience for the child.
      Take care

  • June 17, 2018 at 9:20 pm

    I am a 29 year old woman with an emotionally unavailable father. My whole life he had told me he loves me, but I see nothing in his eyes when he says it. Its like he is expected to. Every father’s day is a chore for him. He doesn’t like to do things out of his skill or comfort level. I just got engaged and got a small hug and a congrats but then immediately money was the topic. Since I was 18, the only conversation we’d have was about when I’m going to get rent to him. We never chat on the phone, rarely text, he’s very judgemental towards my mother, and all three of his daughters feel like we’re estranged from him in some weird way. Honestly, I don’t want him to be the one to walk me down the aisle most days because my future father in law has been more of a loving father towards me in the past 3 years than my own in 29 years. Do I just accept this now that he’s almost 70 years old? I have tried to have a relationship with him but there’s no daddy’s little girl in his heart. It hurts.

  • June 17, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    I was raised with unattached parents. I struggled quite a bit growing up with low-self esteem, no confidence, and was afraid to love because I never got it growing up . I am 21 years old now and doing fairly well for myself.Im about to finish college and currently in the army reserves. I still struggle forming strong relationships and letting people in. I have forgiven my parents for raising me the way that they did, but I still hold some resentment and anger towards them. I know in time I will let go of that because after all they did the best they could.

    • June 28, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      Hi Steve,
      Thanks for your comment.
      I think you display a very mature view of your situation which is great. But the pain of having emotionally detached parents still remains no matter what. Have you thought about talking to someone to work through some of these emotions and thoughts? A therapist may be able to be a good sounding board for you. Perhaps a male therapist or an older female therapist might be good for you. Having trouble forming strong relationships is a sign that you are afraid of being hurt or trusting. Therapy, with a good therapist, may be a good way to work on this more.
      You can go to http://www.psychologytoday.com and put your zipcode into “find a therapist” to locate someone near you.
      Take care

  • June 24, 2018 at 8:50 am

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  • July 2, 2018 at 8:56 am

    WOWW… this is kinda scary for me to read as this is me.. I recently thought of my mom as having parents issues more seriously. like I think from when she was a kid which sucks… and here I am, taking in the effects of her not being a good parent. it was weird to think about this cos I remember one day I got really angry at her and attacked. maybe it was cos I didn’t feel the connection like others do, idk… I remember crying about it at home and at my childminder. police came to the home a few times due to my anger issues. so thank you for this as it helps me realises things… Im gonna leave her in a few years if I ever want to get better. we are toxic for each other, its as if we are in a abusive relationship

    • July 7, 2018 at 7:32 pm

      Hi Amy,
      You’re welcome. Thanks for sharing your story.
      I love how social media can help us make positive connections between our feelings and thoughts if we read just the right thing. There is so much garbage online these days but when you happen upon something that opens your perspective, that is wonderful.
      It sounds to me as if your mother (and possibly you for support) could benefit from counseling. Some kind of counseling that would allow you to vent and then explore some things. You can go to http://www.psychologytoday.com and put your zip into “find a therapist” to get started. I offer this option to so many people who write to me on here but it really is a good place to start your search.
      Take good care

  • July 22, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    I had a totally emotionally unavailable father but, fortunately, I had a wonderful mother. Looking back, I can see she tried to love and praise me enough for two parents. I got excellent grades in school and ended up getting two degrees in college. I was the “good one” at home and always obeyed the rules. After he died at 54 I was told that my father was depressed. I really didn’t understand how that could effect his entire relationship with me. Also, almost all of the time I was home, he was sleeping…be it Saturday afternoon or after work, he was always sleeping. How frustrating.
    As I grew older, I saw that my good friends had dads that were so different from mine. They actually had a conversation together. I never had a conversation with my father. Their fathers took them special places on their birthdays or told them they looked nice in a new dress. I could not truthfully imagine my father acting like that. When my father came in the family room while we were watching TV, he would sit there silently and watch the TV show and then leave. My mother told me once that I should be glad he wasn’t real strict or demanding. That hardly seemed to be something to be grateful for. My mom had to practically force him to come to my HS graduation. Another thing my mom told me was that he was voted “The Boy Most Likely to Succeed” in high school. Well, I thought he had a great job and don’t know how he could think otherwise. So it seemed to me that he did succeed; so I don’t know he could feel bad about that.
    As I said, my dad died when I was in college. After that, my mom immediately decided to marry another man, who I was not crazy about. She told me that she had to be married to someone else so I guess she didn’t like the situation as it had been very much either. Meanwhile, I transferred to a school far from home. And there I started to try to attract any boy I could. I would agree to anything they wanted just so I’d know someone wanted me. Not loved me necessarily but wanted me. That went on for about 3 years. I finally began going to a church and found out that I should not live that way. But, even though I am now married, I still am very attracted to other men and fantasize about them.

  • July 23, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    I am 52 years old, but that’s just my age. I’m really an 8 year old kid still waiting for my mother and father to show me love and affection and validate me, to make me feel like a person. But that will never happen. I haven’t spoken to my mother in 17-years years. I speak to my father, but we could be in the same room and he is so far away. I have no friends, absolutely no friends. I have no one to talk to. Everybody finds fault in me. My father tells me I don’t like myself but he’s the one that put me in this and doesn’t want to take any responsibility at all he thinks this is all my fault and I hate him for it. I hate him more than I hate my mother. I moved out of my mother’s home when I was 11 and I’ve lived with my father till I was 24. In all those years he never tried to be on my side or show me any kind of emotion. He just bought me stuff with his money so he’ll feel good about himself. So I can’t think he never did anything for me then goes around telling everybody what he’s done for me and what an ingrate I am

  • August 18, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    My two stepdaughters, now in their forties with children of their own, were raised by a mother who was emotionally detached. She and their dad were divorced when they were small, after he discovered she’d had a string of affairs; once caught, she no longer wanted to be married.

    My husband and I married five years after the divorce. It upset me to see how little attention the girls seemed to be getting from their mother. They were often left to fend for themselves while she pursued her all-consuming career and sought out the attentions of men. I felt troubled by the number of men passing through the girls’ lives; one of the girls confessed to me that she didn’t like the men who stayed only one night.

    My husband and I debated about suing for custody but felt we couldn’t win in court, not sure how we could prove neglect. Over the years the girls drifted away. Their mother is pretty outspoken in her contempt for men and tried to raise her daughters not to “need” a man. Those ideas didn’t help to strengthen their relationship with their dad.

    Thankfully, my stepdaughters, my husband and I are on good terms now. Our relationships with the girls improved once they were out of college and on their own. However, it still bothers me that while we spend time together and enjoy each other’s company, after more than 35 years our interactions are pretty much void of emotion. If we have disagreements, the daughters shut down and refuse to address any issues. Good times are enjoyed in the moment but pretty much forgotten after they’re over.

    At this stage of the game, I doubt anything will change. But still I feel discouraged about these relationships that feel more appropriate for business colleagues than family members. Do you have any advice for me about connecting with my emotionally distant stepdaughters? Thank you.

  • September 21, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    I have suffered years of depression, loneliness & failed relationships due to the fact I grew up in a cold, unloving home environment. Absent Father & depressed detached Mother. No social interaction of any kind in our home life except for going to school. Most of my life I have lived in fear of interacting socially as I feel inferior & invisible to most people. I emotionally trust no one! There were 5 of us children & none of us ever really interacted with each other due to age differences & fear. To this day we are not real close emotionally. Buried myself in my work. Tend to be used by people because I can’t stand to say “No” or see anyone sad or hurting!

    • September 25, 2018 at 12:57 pm

      Hi Marilyn,
      Thanks for sharing your experience. I am sorry to hear this. It is obvious that your childhood has negatively impacted your adult life. It’s a common phenomenon that I wish would never happen. But sadly, some people just shouldn’t have children. It’s unhealthy for everyone. It’s obvious that your boundaries are “fluid” because of the type of parent-child relationship you endured. But you can work through this with a good therapist who understands trauma and inter-generational trauma. I talk about this topic on my youtube channel if you’d like to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCAPrlXqB-E.
      Take good care

  • October 24, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    “Loss of hope, faith, and joy: For many adults who were raised under an emotionally void parent there is a deep feeling of loss and grief.” Wow. This hit me hard: living without those for as long as I remember. Always saw the emotionally-void parent as my old man, who was violent, emotionally and mentally abusive. Increasingly I have thought about my mother’s role in it all: a victim of the abuse herself, she’d demonise him to us all day then I’d hear them in the bedroom. So there was a sense of confusion and anger toward her too. I left home after he pulled a loaded 9mm, yet even then she stuck with him. When he shunned me for years, she did too. I heard my mother had little to do with me for the first few years of my life. I arrived unplanned 11 months after my sister, and I guess she was suffering from post natal depression. I have pieced things together from aunts and uncles: he apparently threated my mother with a knife when she was pregnant with me. I don’t think I was supposed to be here I guess. Anyway, your article is on point. Thank you.

  • October 28, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    I have a different story as it isn’t my own, but one I am having to witness. I have 2 grandchildren, not my own, but through my husband, and his daughter. I love them very much. However, their mother, is a single mom, and, from the very beginning, has had an obvious dislike for her first born daughter. She is not a touchy feely person, I have never heard her tell either of her kids she loves them, never have I seen her hug them, but gives more attention to the younger who is a boy. Her girl is now 8, and is made to do her own laundry, does the cleaning, and is made to bring in groceries and put them away etc without being praised for it. She is told, if you want a good relationship with me like your brother, then you need to make that happen and not irritate me etc……. we are seeing constant lying from both of the kids….stealing at daycare and school….[ their mom lies often and is very self involved ] I am heartbroken over this situation…..we have the kids every wk end, and we give lots of hugs, we tell them we love them….I do crafts with them and play games, color etc…..the older one who is emotionally abused, has a very disrespectful attitude we have seen this even a few yrs ago…she mocks what we say…etc….It is understandable because of her situation, but also baffling at the same time, she loves us, and hugs us and is always so happy to see us and never wants to go back home…….what can we do to help these kids? Already it is getting harder to want to be around them, the older is constantly lying and mocks our authority at times, I am afraid this will only get worse…..we do and have talked to both of the kids about lying and stealing etc…From, you who were raised with an emotionally absent, and emotionally abusive parent……what is your advice to us, to best assist them?

  • November 17, 2018 at 8:19 am

    Hi, I am a 54 yr old woman who at the age of 8 my daddy went to work & never came home, he dropped down dead at a bus stop on his way home. He was 36 yrs old..obviously my mum was devastated!!!
    I had 2 older brothers at the time aged 11 & 12 and my mum was 8 months pregnant with my little brother..Not only did I lose my Dad that day I lost my mum too as she fell into the deep depths of clinical depression…We were told our Dad was dead but I never understood what that meant.I never found out how he died until I was 15 when I found an old local paper, In my Mums cupboard the front page said ” Man fit as a fidddle drops dead at bus stop”.
    I soon became a mother to my baby brother my life totally changed overnight. My Mum could not get out of bed, constantly sleeping. she kept me off school a lot. I could not go out to play with other children as I was busy with a baby, I used to watch all the kids outside playing from our front room window wishing I was with them laughing, smiling having fun. I feel I haven’t laughed/smiled or felt at ease in myself since, I have pretended to be whoever I was as I have no clue to my own Identity.
    Next few years were a total blur.
    I couldn’t make friends easily and that is still true to this day, I find it hard to be close to people, even my husband.
    I am emotionally numb, blocked .
    As I approached Big school, my mum was working in pubs and soon strange drunk men would be at our house, I have caught my mum in all sorts of sexual positions with these men, by just walking into a room, I would lay in bed at night crying and hear her having sex, laughing, I hated all of them. Where was my Dad I needed him to come home.
    My mum knew a few times that I had walked In as eye contact was made but there was never a conversation about it from a mother to her child..It was all totally ignored by her.. No hugs, kisses, or words of comfort from her, no sense of trying to help me understand the situation NOTHING!!!! If I saw my mum putting in her hair rollers I knew what was going to happen that night when she came home with her drunk..I would lay in bed at night waiting to hear two sets of footsteps walking up the wooden stairs…I hated my Mum at that time…she made sure her needs were met , but she didn’t even acknowledge that the death of a Dad could affect her children at all It only affected her…
    For years she was in and out of psychiatric care, for weeks/ months at a time, me & my brothers got split up & I was carted off to my aunts houses, but I never knew where my mum or my brothers went and that has only been a recent discovery. Once my Mum came out of hospital we all went back home as if nothing had happenened, we were always told by other adults, to be good and not to upset our mother. This continued for many years, I did not have a clue what was happening and I realise now that from that day and for the rest of my life my emotions, feelings & sense of self worth didn’t count for anything, we didn’t matter to anybody. As I got older I soon ended up seriously hating my mother. I Hated being my Mothers mother,
    I soon went from the frying pan into the fire as I was so desperate to get away from my mums house I ran straight into an abusive relationship and had 2 children. I didn’t even realise I was In an abusive relationship until i got sent to counselling many years later… I absolutely hated sex but I thought thought If you slept with somebody they would love you, look after you, keep me safe… How wrong was I. I thought it was normal to say no to sex but the father of my children would take it anyway while I cried for hours during & for days afterwards.
    6 years later after living in fear everyday and night of his aggression, insults and threats I escaped with the children into a womans refuge and started counselling & family counselling with the kids.
    As my children got into their teens I didn’t really know how to handle them with their head strong opinions, I felt Intimidated by them.like I was the child.
    My children soon had their own partners, houses and children of their own and the birth of my first grand child Lily- Mae, brought light to my life I absolutely adored her, we had such a close bond. I would have her at every opportunity as we were silly together. We would laugh, go swimming, museums, all sorts but I loved watching her as she had a lovely personality and was a funny little character…
    After 17 years of being on my own an old male friend got in touch, we had feelings for each other years before but he had a family and was not free to be mine so I walked away from him which was incredibly painful for me.
    We met up and all those feelings were still there plus the hurt if letting him go as I knew I loved him.
    After some time we got married but my children did not like it ( he is a very nice man ) and stopped me seeing my grandchildren, by this time I had 2 grandchildren who I adored and have been heartbroken everyday now for 6 years…my own children finally broke me and eventually had an emotional breakdown so hence getting more counselling and realising it stems from my emotionally absent mother, Who I do not blame anymore now that I understand…
    Sorry its so long.
    bless u all 😍😍

    • November 19, 2018 at 8:02 pm

      That’s so beautiful thank you for giving me hope. My email alerts me whenever anyone comments so I always drop by and read what people say. Are things going better for you? Take care

  • November 19, 2018 at 10:28 am

    Thank you so much for such a helpful and honest article about emotionally distant parents. It was very eye-opening and affirming. I am presently working with a therapist who, last week, made me cry for the first time time in our six years of work together. ( when a professional makes you cry it is not always a bad thing!) What he said was that I was, as a child, mourning the loss of my mother, because, although she was usually always around, she was not “there” for me when I needed her. I asked him, “How can you mourn the loss of something that was never there?” I had never thought of it this way before. How I coped with the absence of my mother was to go into my room, shut the door, and do art and listen to my Julie Andrews records. I substituted Julie for my mother. I made art because it made me forget that my life was painful. I had an abusive half-brother who had made my life a living hell when I was younger. It had taken a great toll on me. But I am making real strides now. My mother is a very old woman now – nearing 100 ! Through the years we have both worked to catch up on all the lost years. We have changed; my brother has too, and believe it or not, we are closer now than we ever had been. At times it has been very awkward. But there IS hope, and there is redemption! Thank you again for this wonderful article.

    • December 15, 2018 at 8:20 pm

      Thank you Loonlight for your comment. I’m glad you found the article helpful!
      It’s interesting that you would ask how you can mourn something that was never there. Logically, this doesn’t make sense. But emotionally it does. You may not be morning something that was never there, but rather mourning what you hoped would be there. I think adult children of emotionally detached parents mourn what they hope their parent(s) could or should be to them. It’s a constant hope for many adult children who have never experienced the love and affection of a caring parent. Heartbreaking to say the least. But I’m glad you have someone there fighting this battle with you.
      Take good care

  • November 24, 2018 at 12:45 am

    I am so very upset that all of you are going through the same thing. my story starts at a very young age. Age 7 to be exact. My baby brother & baby sister were who I became a mother too. My physical abuse started even younger, if I wet the bed I would get the buckle end of the belt from my Dad & my mother never intervened. Things just became worse as I got older. I had an older brother & a brother 1 year younger than me. They were brutal to me by telling me how fat I was, and ugly but that didn’t stop them from trying to sexually abuse me! Fortunately I was old enough to stop them. I would have told my parents but they always favored them instead of me, they never would have believed me. But then I caught my older brother sexually abusing my 5 year old year sister, and I wanted to tell my parents but again they never believed me. I was an outcast in my family and yet I was the one who never got in troubled. I still received beatings on a regular basis, willow branches, my dad’s shoe, the belt etc… I don’t understand, why was I singled out? I felt hated, unloved, unwanted, and just felt like I didn’t belong. So as you can see, that is why I feel like all of you & feel like I don’t belong anywhere!!!!!
    Sandy, wish I could die

    • November 26, 2018 at 6:55 pm

      Hi Sandy, Wow, your story is really something… First of all, you are a beautiful person. I have never met you, but I feel your beautiful soul! It’s easy to get very depressed when your own family treat you so terribly. My mother would’ve ignored what I wanted to say to her, but my brother threatened to kill me if I did, so of course I kept my mouth shut! I don’t know how old you are, but there are people outside your family you can talk to. It’s a scary thought, but one to consider. If you are in school, you can talk to someone. If you’re older, you can see a social worker anywhere they might be found. Hospitals have them, for starters, and I don’t think they charge for their services. Your situation sounds bad, but there are always those who want to help and can help. Back in the 1950’s when I was growing up, I didn’t even know that I could ask for help! Keep your hopes high, dear Sandy. There IS a way through this. Isn’t it wonderful that you discovered this website? I will be thinking of you and believing that your situation WILL change.

    • November 26, 2018 at 7:28 pm

      Sandy, YOU ARE LOVED !!! And you are being PRAYED for !

  • December 9, 2018 at 10:02 am

    I am a 22 year old female, and last week for the first time in my life I was encouraged to think about my relationship with my father, when a friend asked me how i felt it affects my relationships. It took me a week to get back to her, I couldn’t find the words to describe my relationship to my dad, its painful to think of it, but i do not have many memories with him. I love my dad, and i learnt that he loves me too, by now I had accepted that he is not an emotional vocal person. He is german and grew up with strict german parents, I guess emotions were not something you speak of. He was physically always around, sometimes emotionally as well, but he was never the type of dad that would praise and encourage one.
    Anyway fast forward to now, I have realised that i flee relationships, everytime im interested in a guy and he reciprocates those feelings, i start to feel suffocated, and i start disliking them, and i just literally flee the relationships, since i have a harf time confronting people, i use the oddest methods to break up. Problem is, how do i fix this, how can i learn to accept love.

  • January 3, 2019 at 3:04 am

    Both my parents are like that. The part from not even trusting therapists I get. The moment that they say “oh my, that you didn’t commit suicide or your so brave to get trough it all.” I turn the tables and start to help the “therapists” with their problems.
    My only fear is that I will pass some of my fears to my sons. So I’m always asking myself is this the way parents are suposse to react or am I over protecting or just to pussy in making my boys be in control of their feelings and life.

  • January 15, 2019 at 11:01 am

    I’d like to tell you about my life as briefly as possible in hopes of getting some advice about how to do better.
    I was adopted as a toddler. My adopted family, in particular the mother, was abusive. She didn’t like me at all. I remember being constantly told that I was a greedy fat pig. I was hungry all the time. I wasn’t allowed to drink, I was screamed at for being a thief if I was caught drinking water from the tap. I remember that one of my chores was cleaning the dog poo from the back garden and spending hours freezing in the snow, chipping it from the ice. All day every day she watched everything I did and everything I did was wrong. I was a slut and stupid and ugly and I stank and was disgusting. This is too much detail, will take too long.
    I had two adopted brothers. I was the slave of the oldest one. I was abused by other kids in the neighbourhood because I had to do what they said or they would tell my parents bad things about me .
    I stole food, I ran away a few times, I made a mess of it all. They put me back into care when I was 10.

    I was sexually and in other ways abused in different foster homes. I let it happen because at the time it felt weird but like it was what love might be . Something wrong with me that guys wanted to do stuff to me and I didn’t really like it.
    Age 12 my ex adopted grandma took me in and then my grandfather started abusing me. I never had any friends.
    Did bad at school and my family threw me out because I was drinking.
    Got with a bloke who was very dominating and controlling but no one else would want me. Had 3 kids. Was a really bad mother. Left him because he wouldn’t stop hitting us.

    Tried so hard to be better, read loads of self help books etc. I did improve but too late for my kids. They are all grown up now, all suffering severe mental illness. I have continued to look after them as best I can and to try to be better for them but really they would have done better if I’d put them in care when they were little. I love them so much and spend my life trying to make it better for them but it’s no good, I am no good.
    I don’t know what it feels like to be loved. I hope at least that they do even though I’ve done such a bad job of it. I just wish I knew how to make it better for them.

  • January 26, 2019 at 11:00 pm

    I am 43 yrs old and I am only recently realizing that both my parents are/were emotionally void. This has started to affect my mental health and physical wellbeing . I’m wondering if it could be worse now as my mother is undergoing serious health issues, I live in another country now. I am currently being treated for depression. I have a stable long term marriage and 3 children. I am very concerned that I am repeating some the behaviour I learned – no physical touch, no affective or words of love.
    My brother has had many failed relationships and addiction issues .
    I’m very concerned and want to make a change in my own family.

    • February 5, 2019 at 10:21 pm

      Hi Emma,
      Thanks for your comment.
      It sounds as if you have “learned” behaviors that your mother modeled. You may also have “decided” very early to “shut off” your emotions because it’s just easier and you don’t have to be hurt or deceived. “Shutting off” your emotions protects you but harms others. A combination of self-protection and learning behaviors from your mother can result in a limited repertoire of behaviors toward your own children. This can be best explored with a therapist in your area. I encourage you to reach out for counseling perhaps from a trauma therapist who understands and has been trained in childhood trauma.
      All the best

  • February 5, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    This is an amazing article and it describes my childhood to the letter! Although I would like to add that they may also suffer from Antisocial personality disorder (Sociopath). I truly believe that my mother had this disorder. Knowing that my mother may have suffered from a mental illness, help me to forgive her from all of my hurt, pain, feelings of betrayal and abandonment. Thank you for finally giving a name to something that I see everyday in my profession (Social worker for a public school).

    • February 5, 2019 at 10:14 pm

      Hi Kevin,
      Thanks so much for your comment. I’m glad you found it useful.
      I’m sorry to hear that this article is so personal to you. I personally understand the gravity of this reality as my mother and uncle experienced something very similar. It’s devastating and requires years of internal work as a “victim.”

      The good part is that you most likely can take this experience into your own work with others.

  • May 1, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    Thank you for writing this excellent article. It is the best one so far ive found. This has been my life experience, what you described, and i am stuck in life.

    • May 19, 2019 at 10:33 am

      Hi A,
      Thank you so much! And I’m really glad it was helpful to you. ☺

    • June 25, 2019 at 8:52 pm

      Hi A,

      I’m right there with you, searching for answers myself. I related to most of the points of the article

  • June 19, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Dear Mrs. Hill, Thanks for the article. A lot sounds familiar. However, I would like to know what happens with a person during life, when there is no / very seldom physical contact between the mother and the child during the first years. So no consoling, no caressing.

    • July 13, 2019 at 2:13 pm

      Hi Maurice,
      Thanks for your comment! I’m glad this article was helpful.
      Great question too! There is a lot of research that focuses on the parent-child relationship during the first few years of life. The contact is essential to proper development of children. Physical contact, emotional contact, and psychological comfort are all important and if this is not happening during the first few years of life, the child is likely to experience some kind of attachment issue that can lead to poor romantic and social relationships in the future. Lack of emotional stimulation by a parent during infancy can result in a “deadened” emotional response to things as one ages including an inability to trust.

      I encourage you to read up on attachment theory.
      Take care

  • June 25, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    This resonated with me, a 35 year old Male. Currently single, yet having dated incredible women (high morals, character and intelligence). I’ve been afraid to commit.

    Growing up, my father was around, but he struggled with his own demons (childhood neglect, alcoholic with alcoholic parents). He was neglected. As an adult he wasn’t happily married with his wife and 3 children. He’s probably the last person who should have children.

    Extreme emotions were the only ones allowed to be expressed (anger or excitement). We were never asked how we felt. We were blamed for feeling sad or hurt “well, you shouldnt have done that.” Very little affection, which felt awkward. He had very little patience for normal child behavior. In hindsight I felt like a stepchild despite not being one.

    Thankfully my mother was affectionate. I believe she thought she could compensate. In reality, it felt like we had a fatherless home and my dad just acted like an older, resentful brother.

    As a teen and young adult, I sought the company of friend’s fathers, teachers and coaches (platonically). They talked to me, told stories and were just present. I felt liked loved and accepted, feelings I didn’t receive from my father. I went hunting, camping and fishing with them, things fathers do with their sons that my father had little interest in doing with me. The little time he spent with me, always seemed like a chore.

    As an adult, I struggle. In the workplace, in relationships and with friends. I don’t trust easily.

    I’ve learned to avoid seeking validation, but it’s hard. I’ve had to accept that although I didnt receive the validation and love from my father, I must provide that myself.

    I am hopeful that I can move past my upbringing, but am constrained by the fact that it has permanently affected my mental health.

    • July 13, 2019 at 2:19 pm

      Chris, thank you for sharing your story. Emotionally unavailable parents can be very detrimental to adult children. It is often best to step back and protect yourself. You will also have to build resilience. If you would like to learn more about my thoughts on such topics, visit my youtube channel. You can go to youtube.com and type in my first and last name.

  • July 7, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    My sister and I suffer from both my parents being emotionally void. My mother is emotionally abusive as well. Number six and seven in the article really got to me. I remember explaining to my sister what it feels like. I was watching a film and it showed the connection the character had with his mother when she was alive and then the mother died and it showed the character grieving. That was when I really connected because it’s like my parents have died. There is no connection whatsoever. A lot of people can’t understand that it’s so unbelievably difficult to deal with. Some people say things like “it happened awhile ago. You should be over it already” and I keep asking myself “when is this pain going to go away?” and it makes me feel sick and I don’t mean to sound negative but I hated seeing child-parent connections because I would just be thinking “why can’t I have that?” and everything goes unnoticed in my parents eyes. All these problems they caused me to deal with. It’s more than sad. It’s more than despair. It feels like near death, like I’ve stepped outside behind the glass and I am deprived. Thank you so much for writing this article.

    • July 13, 2019 at 2:05 pm

      Hi Kiana,
      Thank you for sharing your experience. And I’m really sorry that you have had to suffer under neglectful parents. This is never easy and often leaves adult children feeling void and lost. When I see client’s who have experienced emotionally detached parents I encourage them to practice a routine of journaling and meditating (i.e., sitting quietly in a peaceful place alone and without distractions). It’s often best to journal in peaceful environments where you can process and think so that you can begin healing your mind and altering your perspective. It’s a meditative process that pushes you toward building personal insight and resilience.
      Take good care

  • July 12, 2019 at 5:23 am

    I can relate to this so much, it is oddly comforting to know other people feel the same way I do.

    I have really struggled with belonging as I have always felt defective in some way. My parents were always on me about my physical appearance and nothing else matter if you were ugly and fat.
    I used to be so funny too, the life of the party, and they hated how much attention i would get from relatives, and would always tell me no man wants the loud girl.

    I am 29 now and I have spent my whole life dwelling on my parents and how they treated me, and feeling like I needed to fix me.

    I had a turning point about a year ago where I just gave up trying to please them, and cut them off completely. It was interesting that even though I wasn’t actively in their persence, I still had their voices in my head.

    Then I started telling myself I’m allowed to take up space, im allowed to exist. Like before I wouldn’t leave my apartment if I heard anyone outside as I didnt want to be seen. Or I’d only do my grocery shopping as soon as the store opens to avoid the crowds.

    I’ve recently started meditating, where as before I used to have the TV on 24/7 or music playing, anything to prevent me from thinking and getting myself anxious for existing.

    The meditation is the only thing that has come close to feeling like I am healing, especially if I put in headphones and pair it with one of those bilateral sound videos on youtube.

    I still have much work to do but I feel I am on a path, and I can see now that hurt people, hurt people.

  • August 8, 2019 at 5:07 pm

    I feel blessed to have found this forum on the experience of enduring the childhood (also adult) abuse and neglect of emotionally absent parents. It was many years before I followed up on a determination to discover what disorder(s) pervaded my nuclear family.

    My father I tearfully told off one way or another from about the age of three. With my mother though, it was different. I repressed her inappropriate, and to me shocking, comments. My subconscious stepped right up and said, “I’ve got this Joan. Don’t give it a thought. Just go back to your favorite current project right now!
    I know how you are happy with it.” And I did.

    I am 67 years old. Last year I felt determined to work on the rage I often feel. Luckily this rage is taken out on inanimate objects, such as the jam jar that refuses to open. I am generally a mild mannered, well spoken, if sometimes quirky, individual. But at the troublesome jam jar moments (if I am alone) the jam jar is damned to #+&@$# hell, and/or worse. I am ashamed at my language at these times, but nothing else will serve for it.

    I had recently read a book on the mind and it’s amazing abilities. The author (Joseph Murphy) shared his belief that if we openly ask our subconscious for help with something, we may see a positive, even astonishing result.

    I did so. Aloud I asked my subconscious (and the Lord as well) to help me with this rage that erupts at times, causing me to sound like a pirate challengeing a rogue mutineer. But the bad language was not the worst part. That rage was real emotion I could physically feel, broken hearted, burning anger, alone in my kitchen.

    But there is a comical aspect to add. With an effort to regain composure, as attonement for my rediculousness, I sometimes formally vocalize an apology to the inanimate object, whatever it may be. “I’m sorry Crunched Up Piece of Paper that missed the waste basket, it’s all me, not you.”

    To return to my story… Repressed memories began to come back to me clearly. These were of my mother sometimes making inappropriate remarks to me. Discouraging or critical or just mean, the opposite of mothering comfort or guidance. This would occur only if we were alone together or sometimes also in the presence of my older sister.

    She wanted us to look as if all was fine and dandy. I also had two older brothers. We received all the necessary food, shelter and clothing. Our father would say, “That’s all I owe you” whenever I balked at his generally angry offerings.

    We’ll, my story is going on. I hope to share more thoughts with you in the future. I want to thank all who have shared their stories. I am a bit overwhelmed to discover I am not alone in the desperation of grief and loneliness and sense of failure that accompanies each one of us. Realizing there are so many of us is something I have to take time to think about and take in. I feel proud though too, in all our common efforts to reach out and connect, to find our dear hearts. Thank you, all of you dear hearts, so much.

    • August 10, 2019 at 8:43 pm

      Thank you Joanne for sharing your story as I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this. It appears to me as if you have struggled for years with feeling and being unheard. When you are unheard and have emotionally unavailable parents, it’s really difficult to organize within yourself who you are and what your purpose is. Rage may be the result of not having a fully developed identity and never feeling wanted or respected.

      I talk more about this on my channel through various videos that you may find helpful.

      I welcome you! https://youtu.be/8ieYOdxR7iY

  • August 9, 2019 at 11:45 am

    I am grateful to have learned I am not alone in the experience of being raised by emotionally vacant parents. It helps so much to gain understanding of the struggles and failed relationships that have haunted my memory. For the first time I feel actually free of that sense of failure. Thank you.

    • August 10, 2019 at 8:33 pm

      Hi Joan,
      Thank you for commenting! And you’re welcome. I am glad this was helpful.

  • September 4, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    I have all seven of the things listed above. As of right now, my life is meaningless, I think about suicide every day. But until recently I have always known I would not do it. Not so sure anymore. It hurts to see all of it highlighted like this page has done, and makes me feel even worse. I’ve always been a quitter, one who does not like to “put in the work”. This just highlights more work for me, work that I don;t want to do.

    • September 8, 2019 at 11:57 am

      I’m really sorry to hear this. I hope one day you will find the inner strength to keep pushing forward. I empathize with this as I’m sure a lot of people do.

  • September 26, 2019 at 11:39 am

    What does someone do if they realize they lack the sense of identity? How do they establish a sense of identity after spending their entire life practicing people pleasing behaviors and becoming a social chameleon? How do they be themselves when they’ve shamed their true self for so long that they no longer know who they truly are?

  • October 7, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    I dont normally talk about my stuff generally but especially on media- BUT I am so feeling Im with ‘my people’ as they say. So many of the comments I find deeply relative to my own experience. Im in my 60’s now , some would say predictably, still working in welfare. I have a times through life examined my struggles and had identified why and wherefor’s of all my struggles but the hardest part of dealing with this is that no matter what, I have only momentarily overcome the thought and feeling of grief and being not enough, distrusting, and huge guilt of passing this to my kids because I didnt understand earlier on what was happening with me.I think that I wouldnt have had children – my only sibling sister had no children and also suffered behavioural issues and neurosis. It was sad for my parents too and the best I can do is try to reinforce my bond with family and explain that this stuff goes back and back thru generations and try not to pass it further down line by being present enough with unconditional love/regard/ listen and let kids know we see and hear them .

    • October 20, 2019 at 11:52 pm

      I’m really sorry to hear this. This is tough. Perhaps I’m wrong but it seems that now that you are at the mature age you are you are able to examine the situation objectively and reassess. My mom and grandmother does this a lot and it’s therapeutic in and of itself. When you have inter-generational trauma it is important to look at things objectively, as much as you can, and then, as you state, avoid passing it down.
      I welcome you to my Youtube channel where there are a lot more people who experience what you have experienced. They are wonderful! http://www.youtube.com/TamaraHtherapist.

      Take care

  • October 14, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    I’m 54 years old, no close friends, marriage went down in flames.
    Now I have a healthy marriage, great and loving relationship with my son.
    However, my father has written me off. I can’t stand spending time with him. I can’t find that emotional bond!
    He’s never told me he loves me and never applied any father son time with me, ever. I have tried and tried over the decades to find a bond and to get him to open up to me and talk about the abuse by my mother but he just says it’s water under the bridge. I can’t wait to get away from him because of my frustration and I find I don’t want to see him. Being busy with a full time job and raising a family I can’t talk to him all the time and sometimes I have gone weeks not calling him and he gets angry and loses his temper and now he said he no longer wants to see me again. We are astranged now and my guilt is crushing me.

  • November 8, 2019 at 5:22 am

    I’m 16 years old and very confused and lost in life. My mother, who had never fully opened up, has a couple factors that could lead to her emotional pain and the reason why she never interacted with me like she did with my brother. My mom is a tom-boy, she’s been to the army but got discharged for mental issues when in Afghanistan, my dad cheated on her before I was even 1, and feels as if she’s the “black sheep” of the family due to her different tastes. And I’ve always felt like a lot of these factors fueled a dislike for me? I resemble my father in so many ways it’s ridiculous. At a young age we were very poor, we always had a roof over our head but my mom was going through this sort of phase where she didn’t want to work, just live off of her checks from the Army. I was often hungry, alone or with the neighbors who so happened to be my cousins. Her alcohol addiction started a very very long time ago, her aunt introduced her to alcohol at around 12. When I finally realized why the fuck my mom was acting different at nights I was like 10, she’d take my phone and tell me how much of a bad child I am and how she works and works for me to be at home sitting around and how I needed to take care of my brother. The abuse followed a couple months after. She punched me so hard in my chest it felt like I was gonna throw up my lungs. It was because I broke one of my brothers toys. It only got worse, I used to get beaten so bad with various different items and not be able to sit down for days (please don’t come with pity, I just want to tell my story) But I always forgave her when the daytime came because I knew she was hurting. Her mother died not long before when the abuse started, maybe 2 years? And her and my grandma didn’t have a good relationship either apparently. There’s so many factors, I couldn’t pin it on one. I told her one day that I was contemplating suicide and she brushed it off. She literally just looked at me and told me to stop watching those fucking medicine commercials and that I didn’t know what I was saying, then proceeded to tell my whole family that I was a lunatic. But I didn’t care, I was happy that she finally did something to acknowledge me in some aspect that showed that she cared. I was 12. It eased down with the abusing after my aunt found out. But my mom only became more distant. But I would say this year hit me the hardest. My mom stopped caring. I haven’t attended school in a year, I stay in my room at least every single day with hopes to do more in life but I can’t. She barely looks at me or talks to me unless it’s about bills, her fucking sims, weed or her son. I’m too scared to give her the letter I wrote because I don’t want anything to change for the worse. I don’t want anything from my mother besides clarity.

  • December 17, 2019 at 1:54 am

    My parents were emotionally unavailable.my dad mostly.i was raised by my aunty’s and uncles who had no special interest besides watching over me n my siblings. Parenting is way more than a roof over the head,food on the table and clothes. As a teenager I was rebellious ,then in university I tried to bond with my father but he didn’t care much about that.i couldn’t open up to them about my fears or concerns of life ,well thankfully am married to a wonderful man and we have a beautiful daughter and I just wonder how can you not show love to a child…my relationship with my parents is very formal,I feel uncomfortable visiting home.it bothers me but my mental , emotional stability and peace of mind comes first.sadly they don’t listen.

  • December 25, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    Out of everything I read or researched online, This has Made the most sense .

    • December 25, 2019 at 10:59 pm

      Thank you Jennifer! I’m glad this was helpful. You can learn more on my YouTube channel. I welcome you!

  • February 12, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    What are some useful strategies in dealing with this type of parent as an adult child?


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