36 thoughts on “10 Signs Of Having An Emotionally Unstable/Unavailable Parent

  • January 25, 2018 at 2:47 am

    Hi Tamara,
    I’m not sure I should be commenting these past several days since it has been less than a week since my abuser (former stepfather) died suddenly. I am numb and not sure how much sense this will make.
    Reality is front and center right now–more so than usual. I say that because under normal circumstances I bet I’d write that I was fortunate to at least have one parent (my mom) who was emotionally available but reality is, my bio dad lived several hundred miles away and I never saw him and my then stepfather was definitely NOT emotionally available or supportive so that left my mom. We got along well (and still do) and I know she loved me then and now but due to the abuse and also my mom working nights outside our home as well as working several mornings per week, I felt that even she was emotionally unavailable.
    The twisted dysfunctional family dynamic put me as an “acting parent” –a role I did NOT want to be in! I couldn’t turn to her because of the secrecy and threats.
    I also think that a parent being mentally or physically ill could make them emotionally unavailable–through no fault of their own. Substance abuse can do the same as you have mentioned. Unfortunately it’s not always pleasant being a child.
    Did you read/hear about the case of the Turpin children that has been unfolding recently? I can’t imagine treating kids or anyone else like that! I pray they can get the help they need to heal!
    Oh, not sure if you saw it, but I emailed you lol.

    • January 28, 2018 at 4:20 pm

      Hi Lori,
      I’m sorry to hear this. This isn’t good for your emotionally or psychologically.
      I think what you point out is something a lot of people struggle with within their families. Being what psychologists call the “parentified child” is a difficult spot to be in. In some cases, it can be traumatizing as well. As you point out in your own situation, the “twisted” family dynamic creates emotional chaos for you and causes you to shut-down in order to survive.

      The case involving the 13 children is absolutely despicable and my heart breaks for the children. I plan on doing a youtube video discussing this and the many reasons for why abused, neglected, and traumatized children/teens/adults find it difficult if not impossible to escape.

      Take good care

      • October 4, 2019 at 9:57 am

        I honestly think am emotionally unavailable to my child. n am pregnant again n so sad n angry. I grew up in a very unhealthy unstable emotional environment n I too I have been through a lot now it is really hard for me to balance my emotional state. I find myself angry shouting at my 3 year daughter n I can see sometimes she is scared.i feel so bad.i wish I can just be over this but it’s hard I try is very hard for me. I find myself treating her n making her pay for things that she doesn’t even know n regret deeply regret later please help me.please

    • May 23, 2019 at 12:25 am

      I had an emotionally unavailable parent, abusive, mean,scary. I have dealt with PTSD all my adult life as a result of it. Sometimes I am very weary. I remember when I was a young woman, and had my first baby, I started subscribing to Good Housekeeping magazine. One week on the cover, one popped out at me,” Letters President Bush wrote to his daughter in college”. I was astounded! I did not believe it, literally could not conceive of a father loving his daughter, writing to her, TALKING to her. After I read the articles I cried for two hours. Talk about an emotional void. I was so jealous, and angry. Still am. I had an interaction with my dad the other day. My mom is in the hospital with heart problemsDad called to see if I was coming after work, I said I was on my way. I had to stop for gas, when I got to the hospital, dad had my route timed, and I was five minutes too long. He berated me about it saying I should not need gas. Then he went on to graphically describe how he has to sit there, twisting his thumb in his asshole to pass the time. ( What a difference from President Bush). Instantly My mind snapped down, I felt my skin start to crawl, vomit came up in my throat. I was terrified! I started to breathe deep, tell myself that I am not a little girl anymore. It went on for twenty minutes, I stood silent, eyes averted, no verbal response. Disassociating, self loathing. I wanted to be there when my mom woke up, help take care of her. At the end, he said, “ I will buy your dinner”. Trauma, anxiety, low self esteem. When mom woke up she said,” I am so glad you are here”. How was work?

  • January 25, 2018 at 7:29 am

    I read this and I feel like my spouse definitely has some of these issues as the parent and I can relate to some of them myself as a parent. I was much more ‘the parent’ when my children were hunger but now with my adult children I do try to be their friend more than their parent per say because they are making adult decisions and some of them I don’t agree with I have told them so but carry on and let it go after being said once. I want to keep my relationship with them and a careful not to burn bridges.

  • January 28, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    #3; 5 and 10 hit home in my situation, new wife, ex wife is not happy. She was emotionally, mentally and financially abusive to dad and from day one did her best to keep him from bonding with his two boys. Two years into the marriage he had his own room and the marriage was over but she was a closet drunk so he didn’t feel he could leave her alone with the kids. Ten years later… he finally left. The boys are 10 and 12 , the ten year old is gifted and can see through most of moms manipulating so is a loving kid but the 12 year old hates his father. He still calls them mommy and daddy, just stopped sleeping in her bed this year, puts up fits of smacking himself in the head he doesn’t want to go with dad. After he moved, she made them get rid of the dog saying now that he left they can’t afford it but now have two cats. She is beyond narcissistic, a master manipulator, like on her Facebook put on her page for the ten year anniversary that they were still going strong. She put the boy in therapy but has the therapist believing she is not who she actually is. We copy and document everything we can, even the ten year old say his brother loves mom to the point of it being creepy! He knows he has lost his son and knows he should have fought more to spend time with them, stand up to her but can’t change it now. The therapist has blocked him from calling now and we now it is hopeless. We will not ever turn from him and if he ever wants dad then he will have him but she won. They tell the other boy he does not want to go with dad, when he stopped at the house the other day the 12 year old was screaming for his brother not to open the door cause he was going to steal them. It should be illegal for a parent to turn the kids against the other in a divorce. That boy is so messed up now, I feel his mental state will never b good.

  • February 15, 2018 at 12:21 am

    This is interesting. Thank you. My parents used the, “you are too stupid” approach to keep me from dating, driving, or developing any thoughts or style of my own. This has done life long damage. It was to ensure my being around to help in their old age, which I did until their final two years, when my heroic sibling swooped in and took over their care. Parents cut me out of her lives at that point. These people should never have had children.

    • February 16, 2018 at 12:56 pm

      Hi Judy64,
      Thank you. I’m glad you found it helpful.
      This is a very common approach for parents who are emotionally devoid, unavailable, and immature. Their own limitations are being projected onto the innocent child. It’s very sad, to say the least. Sadly, I agree. Some people aren’t well enough to be parents.
      Take care

      • June 18, 2018 at 1:25 am

        My mom, i cant say is mentally abusive i act like a angel towards her but my brother act normally and get treated like trash, My mother also change emotions from time to time one second she can be happy screaming of joy and the next she can be depressed locking her eyes on to social medias, She had quite a few partners and most times they don’t work out i didn’t want to be rude by posting this but because she acts like a favorite to me but don’t to anyone else it seems kinda off?
        I’m just somewhat scared and wanna see if im right about my mother being emotionally off? or something

      • June 28, 2018 at 11:58 am

        Hi KittyKat,
        Thanks for your comment.
        It sounds as if you have a very strong feeling that your mom has problems but perhaps you aren’t 100% ready to accept that? It’s not easy accepting that the very person we rely on to help up, support us, and care is ill themselves. Your mom may benefit from counseling or at least an evaluation to see if there is something going on that can be treated with therapy and/or medication. Therapy may also be a good idea for you too just to have someone to talk to and share some of your concerns with. You can try http://www.psychologytoday.com and put your zipcode into “find a therapist” to find a therapist who takes insurance in your area.
        Take good care

  • July 20, 2018 at 9:28 am

    I can not classify my Dad but reading your list of traits I see that this is as close as I can to doing so. He was volatile. He is now 76 but I still picture him in his suit at about 45/50 years of age. We learned to guage his mood by his habits. If he played the piano when he got home it was to be a good night for example. He couldn’t stand the smell of incense, we couldn’t often eat outside due to insects, the sound of a spoon on a bowl drove him to distraction and I still find it impossible to blow my nose in public, eat an apple in front of people, eat at all in front of people…!

    He wanted me to be his friend so used his christian name with me signing off cards etc when I longed for a Dad. He was terrifying and we learned to duck to avoid flying objects and to be ready to run on a split second’s notice. Mum put him before us saying his stress was greater and rarely tried to shield us from his violence saying that he didn’t mean it…I didn’t remember the violent episodes before I read my diaries one day.

    Outside the house there was never a more beautiful charming father. Inside the house there was never a more volatile one. If people came to the house we would quickly get it together and receive with smiles all six of us.

    I come from a family with lots of money. I had everything you could wish for. It was impossible to complain and surely for people to understand that our life was so abusive behind closed doors. My sister once told me that when she found out people ate together and talked about their days as a family she couldn’t believe it. Nor could I. I don’t remember one quiet meal without a flying object, tears or slammed doors. Every topic of conversation was banned so we simply ended up not talking anymore and were warned about the consequences of any talking or behaviour that was not approved of.

    I went on a school trip once and he sent a picture of a demolished house saying it was mine. I was ten years old. It was supposed to be a joke but it looked like my house and I was inconsolable.

    When my sister asked my dad for an apology as an adult he said he didn’t remember doing any of this to us but that he did we surely deserved it.

    I fear so much being like Dad as I am so anxious and I find daily life hard but I am always there for my children and I love them and give them ample affection. I hope they will be alright. They seem to be as they can go away from me easily and happily and trust others. I will never ever hold on to them. I am here forever but they must be confident enough to fly.

    I don’t blame Dad. I do wish someone had helped us. Someone must have known.

  • October 29, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    So I have no actual right being on here as the problem is with my (maybe) to be mother in law. I live with my boyfriends family and after reading this…. am actually terrified. She refused to teach him to drive as it was “unnessecary” couldn’t be bothered to teach her kids how to be independent. Has no interest in her Gandkids unless she’s getting something emotional or materialistic out of it (money mainly) chooses her one night stands and relationships with married men over her own children. And will bring her diabetic self to a point of hospitalization if it means she gets the sympathy she wants and her way. She also neglects her youngest daughter until it serves her to be nice. She cannot be bothered by adult responsabilities. And if it weren’t for the fact that she has to work to support herself and her youngest (13 year old taking after her almost identically) then she would be in a pretty bad situation. Like I stated first line I have no right to be here but no one will stand up to what she’s doing….. and her youngest is tarting to take after her trend……. and it actually scares me

    • November 8, 2018 at 10:11 am

      Hi Krytal,
      Thanks for sharing your story and experience.
      This sounds like a case of parental alienation, invalidation, and the fostering of dependency. From what you have shared here, it is possible that his mother has emotional voids that she is filling by keeping him “needy” and dependent. I encourage you to do some research on dependent personality disorder and consider counseling for your boyfriend. He may learn how to become more independent and learn some skills for managing her.
      Take care

  • November 22, 2018 at 11:44 am

    Hello, I am 27 and I still live with my parents. After recently having horrible yelling fights with my mom that have always happened I realized that no matter how old I am it won’t stop. Even when asking her for advice she makes negative comments towards me such as calling me useless, bitchy, obsessed. When she is really upset she will scream at me untill I cry and then still won’t stop until I leave the house. She frequently guilts me for living under her roof and eating her food. My dad lives with us but never interacts with me. Even when I was young he would lock himself in his computer room. My mom says it’s because he wanted boy children, and also they weren’t prepared for me because I was an accident. He is motivated to talk with my boyfriend but not with me. My mom also likes to interact with my boyfriend and she talks about me to him like I’m not there when I’m beside them. I suspect my mom has covert nassisism and that my dad is unavailable emotionally I guess. Their behaviour makes me feel angry and fearful. What should I do to improve my situation?

    • December 4, 2018 at 11:42 am

      HI Jenna,
      This is tough and I”m sorry to hear this. Are you seeking therapy? A good therapist can help you develop the needed skills to deal with your parents. It certainly sounds as if they are emotionally and psychologically incapable of being good parents to you. It is obvious that you feel abandoned and alone. A therapist may be able to help you develop healthy boundaries with your parents and even involve them in some of your sessions. When I see clients in this position I often encourage them to gain employment, save their money, and then move out for their sanity. The sooner the better.
      I wish you well

    • December 15, 2018 at 8:13 pm

      Hi Jenna,
      I’m so sorry to hear about this. This has to be very tough for you to experience. It sounds like your family is very much dysfunctional in the sense that everyone has lost their connection to each other. Perhaps both of your parents are also void of maturity needed to discuss things with you and manage emotions when the conversation intensifies. Have you thought of counseling for yourself? Counseling may allow you to talk things through, develop a healthy relationship with an adult, and then learn ways to manage your parents.

      You may also like the book “Adult Children of Emotionally Detached Parents” on Amazon.
      Take good care

      • March 8, 2019 at 9:05 am

        Good morning Tamara Hill I hope you are having a great day. The issue I bring to you today is that I have a sister 30 years old. She recently had two loving beautiful girls which are now 2 and 5. She has recently told me that she had kids in order to keep the father and now that the father is not there the kids have lost their value to her and she lets them do whatever they want in order for her to feel like she has no responsibility to them. I really care about these kids and when I looked over your article you were hitting every point on the head. The kids lack discipline because even thou she is a parent she brings herself down to their level and makes them into her equal. The results from this is becoming destructive and even worst when we are out in public. If I am not with them they would literally walk up to strangers and start addressing them which is highly dangerous. Also she tries to buy her kids instead of raising them and when I try to offer a different approach its like stepping in front of a firing squad.She literally yells at them like a coach would yell at a players but with little to no remorse. The behavior has become so toxic to the point the kids are starting to rebel against her both physically and verbally at the young ages of 2 and 5 by charging into her when they do not their way. I know your a busy professional but is there any advice you can offer so that I can try to get the kids in line to save them from a uncertain faith and probably enlighten her on her toxic behavior before it is too late. Thank you

      • March 16, 2019 at 10:30 am

        Hi Antwan,
        Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story. This is not unlike anything I’ve ever heard before when it comes to parents. You’re dealing with a very common situation.

        First step is having a frank conversation with her of your concerns. Once that happens and despite how she responds, I would either find a therapist for yourself to help you cope and figure out what to do, or you can go to counseling sessions for co-parenting. Either way, it’s clear that you guys need some intervention or a mediator.

        You can also print out articles on discipline and share them with her or leave them around so that she will pick them up and possibly read. This is a tough situation.

        I hope this will get you started in the right direction.
        Take care

        http://www.psychologytoday.com to find a therapist.

  • November 26, 2018 at 8:48 am

    I am 26 years old and it has only recently became apparent that I have been experiencing the negative effects of emotionally unavailable parents for a decade or more. In this time, I have always suffered chronic depression and anxiety – developing a generally negative view of the world and not feeling like a real or valid person – factors that I now realize in hindsight practically robbed me of reaching my potential during my youth and are still affecting me to this day. These feelings got to the point where I was experiencing intense suicide ideation so I am now addressing these issues through medication and therapy and am on a better track.

    My mother and father were 18 and 19 years old when I was born – a decision that I’ve always considered irresponsible and in which they were undoubtedly ill-prepared given the circumstances of their lives at the time.

    My father has always been closed off emotionally and completely incapable of expressing his emotions in a productive and healthy manner. During my younger days he would express vicious anger in which he would he would insult his young children with tirades of expletives, hit us and smash and throw objects when he became too frustrated. I also witnessed him grab my mother by the throat on numerous occassions during their periodic arguments and false-breakups. In public however, he was always noticeably shy and awkward which was a dynamic that I never understood as a child, but now realize is probably due to his own unaddressed mental health issues. Nevertheless, he has never been a man that I have admired, respected or aspired to be like, even now when he has calmed down in middle-age.

    My mother was less emotionally inept and would express her emotions, but only when it applied to herself. It was clear that she regretted having children so early in life and seemed more concerned with trying not to miss out on youthful experiences like partying than the emotional well-being of her children. She seemed to be convinced that she was a fantastic mother due to the fact that she would cook and clean for us and would remind me relentlessly of how grateful I should be – despite almost having us evicted on numerous occassions due to her irresponsible spending (which I later learned).

    By 14 – 16 years old I was already experiencing panic attacks, anxiety and depression. At the time I didn’t understand what was going on, and as there was no open emotional dialogue in my household, I was not only ashamed and angry for those feelings, but was utterly convinced that I must not tell anyone, especially my parents. I now realize that this was a completely messed up and counter-productive mindset that was ingrained by my parents never nurturing an emotional connection, which I didn’t know at the time. Those feelings were left to stew and worsen for over a decade before they were finally addressed by medical proffesionals. Not being able to rely on my parents for emotional support in times of need led me to have a very distant relationship with them that persists now – a relationship that I would say has no love (at least on the surface or at any accessible depth).

    My mother and father always had a strangely incompatible and sometimes toxic relationship as they seemed to be complete opposites and would often have volatile arguments. This was something that I was aware of from a young age. My mother has left my father for another man, whom she is marrying, in the last year or two – this came as no surprise as it seemed they were always just stuck together due to their decision to have children.

    My parents have never once acknowledged or apologized for their blatant shortcomings in my upbringing, and neither of them have never once enquired about my mental health or well-being to this day, despite the fact that we are still in contact – yet they still expect a relationship. A frustrating aspect of this is that my extended family had no idea what went on behind closed doors during my upbringing and do not fully understand how it has affected me, meaning that any distance or disinterest that comes across in relation to them often provokes critcism and makes me look like the bad guy – which is very frustrating and disheartening.

    My mother has informed me that she expects me to attend the wedding to the man that she left my father for – which is difficult in principle alone. She hasn’t considered that this may be difficult for her children (even though we are adults) as it could be perceived as a celebration that finalizes the breakup of our family unit and just expects us to revel in her happiness. It’s clear to me that it’s almost impossible for her to consider the feelings of others outside her own scope and she definitely has prevalent narcissistic traits. As I gain my independence in adulthood, I have considered full no-contact estrangement with both my parents, due to the long term bitterness, resentment, anger and indignation that I have experienced. I consider their past actions and current attitude and lack of acknowledgement to be unforgivable. Although I know this may be counter-productive in the long term, so I have some serious thinking to do.

    Portions of your article resonated with me as if you were writing about my own parents – it’s comforting to know that I am not alone and that there is an understanding out there.

    Thank you.

  • February 18, 2019 at 9:54 pm

    Abusive bastards, that’s what they are… don’t let your life and dreams be limited by their behavior. You are 10x better than them.

  • June 10, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    Thank you for this article. I am 28 and have a very abusive mother and stepfather. I moved out when I was 16 to my real dad’s and have gone back and forth since with having a relationship with and then trying to cut my mom and stepdad out of my life. Until my sister died when I was 25 they used her to keep control of me. She had cancer and a lot of my adult life I took care of her (my mom actually acts like I never did take care of my sister). Now my brother and other family members have been used by them to get me back in their lives. All they want with me is to control me. They shame me, accuse me of things I have never done, tried to talk me into being with someone that they knew had hit me and was emotionally abusive. The last time I saw my mom, I didn’t want to see them but felt guilted into it and could only make it there if I dropped my son off first with them so I could go to my work for an hour appointment (at a spa) and because I didn’t call them while I was working saying I would be 20 min late (I called when I was leaving work) my mom was mad and just nasty about it. I got to their house and while holding my son, my mom said that I needed to call them next time. I said I wasn’t able to call while I was working which she disagreed with and told me not to make whatever face I was making. I told her to give me my son. She said no, not until you apologize. I told her to give me my son again and went to get him and she grabbed my arm and used it to shove me back and my stepdad finally stepped in and gave me my son from her. She said she thought I was coming at her to hit her and thought I was definitely capable of it and I was disrespectful and didn’t care about anyone and I finally left once I was able to talk them into giving me my sons diaper bag. Of course, they, as always, remember it differently. That was 8 months ago. I just don’t understand why other people feel like I need some part of that. I always start doing better when they’re gone and when I let them back in my self esteem, confidence, sanity, etc., all go downhill again (my mother says that’s because when she’s in my life I am honest with myself about being ashamed of myself). Ugh.

  • June 25, 2019 at 7:39 am

    Thank you, Tamara. I have read several articles and blog discussions on this topic, but you are the first to mention a child of divorced parents being associated with the Divorcee. When my mother fled with my brother and I because my dad was on a violent rampage, he told my mother he was no longer responsible for me and my brother. His actions toward us were consistent with that idea. So much, in fact, my mom never received support until my dad’s wages were garnished. My father consistently called my mother names, and because I was her child, he said I would be whichever derogatory term he was using that week. However, in my situation, there is another dynamic I’ve experienced that I have not seen in any discussion on this topic: What happens when a sibling of the absent father participates and adds to the rejection of the children? For example, my dad is mentally ill and was recently in the hospital. My aunt only put herself and her husband as relatives as if his children didn’t exist. The doctors recommended a guardian and under our state law, I am considered next of kin. My dad contested my petition, and my aunt (not considered an interested party under the law because she is not a child) hired herself a lawyer, in my opinion, to get me out of the way. At the hearing, my aunt accused me of being an interested party for only monetary reasons, and my father went along with her. Granted, my relationship with my dad was extremely distant and I was always expected to make the effort. This meant, if I called or visited, it would be another few months before I heard from him again. The worst of it all, is they did not see me in the waiting area and proceeded to talk about me. Resulting in my overhearing of my dad’s real thoughts about me and my brother. As of this writing, I have cut ties with them and am attempting to heal. But I am curious to know if anyone else has had this experience, or if any research has been suggested pertaining to this topic specifically. From my experience, my aunt’s participation helped maintain his distant and destructive behavior leading to a non-relationship. I’d like to hear your expertise on this because as I stated earlier, I have not discovered any information on other family members assisting in a parent’s emotional absence. I don’t believe my situation is unique, and if this information would be helpful for myself, as well as others, I want to learn more.

    • July 13, 2019 at 2:18 pm

      Hi Robin,
      Thank you for sharing your story with us. And I’m sorry to hear this. This is never easy to deal with and has an impact on our future relationships. A good book to start with is Adult Children Of Emotionally Detached Parents by Lindsay Gibson. I did a book review on Psychcentral.com under book reviews on this author. I think this is a really good book for conceptualizing what happens to adults who were raised under emotionally unstable parents.

      I inform many of my clients dealing with the same things to strive for independence and distance themselves as much as possible.
      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.
      Take care

  • June 26, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    My mother was born in 1954 , the youngest of three daughters. Her mother was a hitter and a kick in the pants kind of grandmother before my parents put a stop to her idea od what was old world spanking a child who misbehaved . Thsnkfully, this did not scar my duster and I since we were young enough to have let it go. She is 94 and turning 95 this july.

    My father’s family consisted of himself, his mother and italian grandparents snd many family members in 1955. His dad left for Califirnia snd was a gambler. Dad’s grandpa forbade his dsughter from moving away with her two year old. So he was raused by them snd became a baseball playing , just do it kind of adult.

    When he met mom,she was just turning to the age back then when you’d be classified an old made. It was never pressured as much but dad’s family was in love with kids. A family thing so mom wasn’t ready for a long time. She had to confer this with her therapy group just to say yes,the story went. As soon ad they are on a honey moon,mom almost questions marrying fad tight away. Still, 91, they have two girls and mom has a mini breakdown since dad works from the city till late every night…

    At four years old I was diagnosed with aspergers from some test by a neurologist Nothing was done for my accomodations until the school said adhd and medication in second grade. My math was never good, I was shy and mom was not the ‘warm and fuzzy type.’

    I went to work with her alot and did not evrn get used to being with so many classmates that I used to run to the back of the room and remove myself. I was then called shy, but it was difficult when they got a divorce in 97. It just happened and we were confused, my twin had an idea since she was not diagnosed and ended up being a braniac anyway..

    I repeated fourth grade two times to help eith math. I wa a grade behinf my sister and my reading due to withdrawing myself with a teacher’s permission,I learned how to invest mu time in reading in the school’s library. My favorite topics were Egyptology and world history. Mom had moved to anappartment that did not pay to stay in , and we were carted back and forth until my sister wanted to stay with my mom. She was not old enough to stay home alone one time and had pnemonia . Mom was miles away in Suffern at her job and my twin and I were allowed to stay home alone. Coincidence?

    My dad was gabing trouble and had to leave his job in the city to work many jobs and ran his credit down the toilet just to see us as happy kids. But I still was failing in math, no accomodations we had to fight for- instead I had speach classes not math.

    My reading level was up to that if an eight grade level in fourth grade. I enjoyed everything but math and some sciences. Was still reserved and afraid to integrate with peers unless they were into pokemon, etc. I was an odd ball and didn’t mind that but my confidence was troublesome to my parents whenever I had an overload due to my condition. Today, I still feel like I sm barrrling through my part time job and come out war torn only after what felt like a whole month of forcing myself to get back up.

    My mom has post partum and still likes to drink wine since her boy friend also drinks( he recently had to stop thankfully.) But she takes medication so that worries me the most. She was the kind who ciuldn’t be bothered unless you were really in peril. Sick as a dog or last case scrnario since she thought we could handle it. My sister is a copy of her sometimes and my dad still thinks crying is useless even if I’ve been doing it for these years up to 27…Whatever they expect, my mom thinks I am not emotionally capable of going to college or driving a car because of what she went through. Yet dhe used my $3000 of my savings when I was a teen to go back to college since she thought it would help us. As strong as everyone says she us, I was put into special ed which destroyed the balance I had when dad had gotten me a tutor during my last years in elementary school. Middle school textbooks were outdated and I was never mainstreamed. I was told I needed anti anxiety meds after things got yo be too much ehen on the side aide was my real goal. When a parent says let the school handle it, the results are left as scars you carry on for a lifetime. I was being treated like I didn’t matter. My sister is not able to go to law school after becoming a poli science major due to mom holding back. Now she wants to pay for everything by working non stop while mom lives better than both her children. I live with my parent and could not thrive in a community college with the drunk teacher teaching english.If i go back to learn math ftom high school, i have to go back to forth grade and keep it together until I catch up and retain everything into 12th grade. I was on a medication that could have left me a vegetable until dad pulled the plug and had me weened off. Now, I am aggressive but kerp trying to dig at my mother since she is unresponaive and claims that she did ehat she could. My daf was unallowed to see us for more than ten years. I don’t know how to interperate if both of them are in the wrong or if it was inevitable unless I leave where I am and push until I can stand on my own two feet without them. But , without them, I feel lost and that is why I still am stuck on ssi with my mother’s house as my home until after three years when I can work 40 hours like my family. Social security does not allow that and i can’t pay for my own medical.Medicaid paid for what my other plan woukd not so I feel stuck. Is there any facility or college that would reward a scholarship to someone who wants to work with their strengths in english? I want to write as much as I can to encourage others who will gladly read and understand my suffering with an open heart. Is this too long and should I take this to someone else? Thank you and I hope this post is not closed

  • July 12, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    Hi Tamara,
    My mom and dad are both emotionally unavailable parents-
    my mom emotionally distant, 2 personas at home and away, and is extremely emotionally erratic, while my dad does the whole no boundaries(tries to be my best friend ) thing and low stress tolerance (has smacked me before when angry). He comes from a family where his dad repeatedly beat him and dysfunction was commonplace. Same thing with my mom (had emotionally abusive father who would hurl terrible words at her and constantly monitor and cause terror in her household. Now to me:)
    I’m a 19 year old male in a lot of stress, just been trying to pick up how exactly my childhood went so bad and why i could never put a finger on my gut that said, while we were rich, something was never right and i never really felt safe or comfortable, despite having a father who made so much money and a family that had the appearance of being quite good. It was like keeping up a lie and was all fake and phony.
    Today, after discovering this, my parents hat eme and hit me, constantly use money to threaten me, and hurl obsceneries my way at every turn. They have just gotten worse and i cant wait until i move out

    • July 13, 2019 at 1:57 pm

      Hi John,
      I’m really sorry to hear this. This is not easy for a young man your age. Have you thought about reaching out to a therapist? You don’t need the permission of your parents, of course, and you may be able to use insurance for sessions. If you find a good therapist, they may be able to assist you in building a defense against your parents so they won’t impact you as much. You can always go to http://www.psychologytoday.com and click on “find a therapist.”
      As far as your parents, I would practice distancing yourself from their toxicity as much as you can and finding strength in other areas of your life (your education, your relationships, your employment, etc).
      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.
      Take care

  • July 31, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    My mother was always emotionally unavailable. I don’t ever remember getting a hug from her or saying that she loves me. Ever! When my daughter was born she had zero interest blaming my husband saying he was too controlling and that because she didn’t have a key to my house, she did not feel welcome. She also looks down on my adult daughter saying “ Well I hope she doesn’t get in withhold the wrong crowd”. Just put downs disguised by concern. With my oldest sister, she was my mother’s confidant since she was a teenager and my eldest sister was put in a motherly role. My eldest sister is bi polar and refuses to admit the diagnosis. She found this out when she took her child to a psychologist. My mother had full control of my sister’s 2 daughter’s, a key to her house and she also was a meddler in my sister’s relationship which ultimately broke up when my sister’s common law bf walked out and eventually gave up his parental rights so he didn’t have to pay child support. My sister ended up marrying a narcissist like my dad and she is estranged from my parents but has dumped her daughter off on my mother and my mother raised her since she was 8 years old and she is now 16. She would go home to my sister’s on the weekend. There is no communication. She just shows up at my parents and dumps her off. My mother likes to be the hero saying she had to take care of her granddaughter and also likes to diagnose everyone. They are either depressed, have anxiety, had ADD or bi polar. She sits on her perch and diagnoses when I’m sure she has all these things. I asked her for advice the other day and she became passive aggressive saying I have a problem with authority and the reason I’m overweight is because I’m an alcoholic which is laughable because I don’t drink. That’s when I hung up on her and cried for 3 hours after. My youngest sister is the drunk and completely estranged from our family. My father is a total narcissist and the 3 of us who are the oldest were physically abused. I’d often go to school with a black eye. My mother denies any of this happening although the beatings would happen when she wasn’t home. I have major anxiety depression and get mad easily. I also had addiction issues for a short stint in my early 40s and got clean myself and still am. I feel like I have zero worth and don’t have any friends. My mother would always get rid of them saying they weren’t right for me. My dad pounded on my friend’s door once at 3 am when I was 17 when I ran away after a beating and then showed up the next day calling my friend a slut right in front of her parents. Her parents were weird too and didn’t say a word. This is what I grew up with and just now at 43 I am beginning to get angry and am considering going no contact. They really don’t care. I’m the one always calling them because they are in their old age but one of my other younger sister’s ( a high functioning alcoholic)who they treat as the golden child will ultimately take over. Her and I don’t really talk and if we do it’s on a superficial level although we had lots to talk about when we got high together.. Bottom line my mother was treated as a child and her mother tried to hold her back and as a result my mother is emotionally unavailable and still immature in some ways. My dad controls her and doesn’t let her go anywhere. He buys thre groceries and doesn’t let her do them or doesn’t let her drive. He stole her driver’s license out of the mail and forged her signature on her income taxes so he could get the refund instead of her. When she called him on it, he threatened to throw a chair at her. He also choked her early on in the marriage and my sister who was 4 years old at the time witnessed him kick my mother in the stomach as he came down the stairs. She has major issues and hasn’t dealt with them and realizing now she will never be able to bond emotionally with any of her children. The basic needs were met but that was it. The only way she can show affection is through giving us food when we visit. My daughter tried to hug her and my mother stands there like a robot or a little pat on the back. It’s so sad. I too have been emotionally unavailable with my daughter always being stressed out when she was a child but at the time I always supported her and told her I loved her multiple times a day and made sure she felt loved despite what I was going through with my own personal struggles.. Today we talk and while I admit my shortcomings as a mother, she understands the family dynamic and how dysfunctional it is. I just wish I could have been a better mother and had a better role model.

  • August 20, 2019 at 10:49 am

    From the 1st day that I was born, my mother hated me, she refused to touch or hold me or show any type of affection except rejection or avoidance. Thankfully, my older siblings and her co-workers aided with my care.
    My mom was abused by her mom and unfortunately I look just like my grandma, my mom also Hate’s my biological father in whom I have never met, but she takes it out on me regardless. My memories of my mom consist of being beaten because I act like my father, being told that I would be a crack head because I look just like my addict aunt and being forced to listen to all the details of my mom’s marriage to my step dad. I.e sexual and financial woes.
    As a child, I was always truant from school because I had to stay home and help my mom with her business. Neither of my parents ever came nor supported me in school although I was an honor student and active in the orchestra. As I got older, I desired to participate in sports to get away from the house and my mom would tell me no because I was either too sick or I would be raped. She definitely instilled fear and anxiety in me.
    My mother’s marriage to my step dad was pure hell, my siblings from the first marriage and I were treated less than my half siblings and endured unspeakable acts of abuse at home and in church. I learned how to walk a tight rope and on eggshells at home because my step dad had a violent temper, we were forbidden from talking about our family and I learned how to wear a mask of perfection in public all the while dying internally.
    This madness drove me to alcoholism, self harm, suicide and addiction before I reached high school and during while maintaining A.P courses.
    I must admit that I still struggle with depression, ptsd and not trusting anyone till this day, although I have forgiven my mom, it’s a struggle to be around her because she hasn’t changed one bit and to make matters worse because I have decided to step off the crazy train, she has turned my siblings against me which is painful because they are the only family that I have.
    Sadly my parentals are highly regarded in my community which silences me into the facade and keeps the blame and guilt on me.

  • December 11, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    I’m always angry because of this and I behave weirdly in public as other people say..ok i know it too..i dont even like people ..my siblings can act like nothing is happening in public but I can’t.. I can’t pretend to be happy..one parent is unattached and the other is narcissist…

  • December 29, 2019 at 4:52 am

    My parents were and still are emotionally unavailable. Mum had problems with anxiety and depression since before she was married and before I was even born. She had a breakdown about 25 years ago. Until then she did display some warmness of character but don’t remember her hugging or kissing us. Dad was always unable to show love, believed ‘flattery’ i.e saying nice things or praising people as a sin, but was quick to criticize. The only physical contact we had with him was when he was spanking us or slapping us around the head.
    I am the eldest if three daughters. We have all ended up with issues. I was painfully shy as a child and well into adulthood I was riddled with insecurity especially about my appearance.
    I’m now 49, have never had a proper boy and no kids.
    I don’t live at home but was helping my now elderly parents 3 times a week. I stopped 3 months ago. The last straw was my dad telling me to throw something I bought for his birthday in the fire (it was a religious book which happened to have had some if the wording modernised). A few minths later he told me the dinner I made was ‘rubbish’ and said ‘there should be 3 items on that plate’. When I stood up to him he told me I am the problem. I haven’t seen him since and have no desire to. Mum is not a bad person but is indifferent.
    My 17 year old niece is trying to avoid me. She loves her grandad and tells me I hate him. I tried telling her that he wasn’t very nice to me but she says he doesn’t mean it. She doesn’t understand.
    For the first time ever I had Christmas alone and found I was more relaxed and far less lonely.
    It has taken 6 to 8 weeks but I feel generally more relaxed, less agitated and feel I am more confident.
    In hindsight he was controlling me to some extent and I didn’t even notice it.
    I feel very sad when I dwell on the situation too much as I wanted to be part of a loving supportive family. It will never happen though.

  • February 26, 2020 at 1:09 pm

    “These parents would rather the school “raise” their child… I was a slow learner and was having trouble with grade 1. The teacher told my mother that it would be a good idea if over the summer I read to her so that I’d get up to speed for the next year. I was also anemic so I’d get a treat of raisins afterwards. I have memories of my mother seething with anger about this. She acted like she hated my guts. Also of course these narcissist people don’t accept any mistakes so I was in fear the whole time of mispronouncing a word. I’m pleased to say that starting in grade 2 I did well in school and got high marks in spelling. I think that at least a part of me being a slow learner was that she never read to me and rarely taught me anything besides the basics.

    Another time my class learned a square dance routine and were up on stage for the parents. My mother was there but I had a sense she didn’t want to be. While performing I was worried I might get a move wrong and she’d notice it. When I was finished she was having a panic attack, grabbed my hand to get the hell out of there. The confusing thing is that she was having panic attacks and had had what she called a nervous breakdown – so one doesn’t want to be too mean about it. But I always felt that me being up on stage where she was expected to be a real mother and appreciate her child on stage was what really set her off.

  • April 5, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    Tamara, I think what you’re doing here is so special. You’re a real hero in my eyes for listening to people and writing about this subject matter. I hope to one day read a book from you or see you on stage. Love your heart.
    Kevin Lamb

  • April 27, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    So, after reading much on the internet including the comments above, I’m starting to wonder if some of my mental issues may be linked to absent parents at different times in my life. My parents divorced when I was 10. Before this event, I was scared of my mother. We were not close and she repeatedly physically abused me after wetting the bed several times over the coarse of a few years.
    I lived with my father after she left. My father was emotionally unavailable. Every time he got a girlfriend, he wanted me to talk to them with my girl concerns instead of him. That would be our relationship throughout my life. When I was 19, my father left my State and I moved in with my mother which was a disaster. Through my 20s, I started to go to counseling because I was always sad and alone and felt no one loved me.
    At 52, married with a son away from home state, I come to realize that my parents had their own problems and did not have the capability to show me the love and affection I craved. My father lived with me the last 3 years of his life (passed 2015) and still there was not much to talk about between us. My mother is self-involved with her life. From my days in college to marriage to my husband to birth of my son, my mother has downplayed my joyous events and sometimes interfered with her own agenda.
    Along the way from childhood to now, I still have very unstable emotional events. I take medications and see a couple of medical professionals but it seems it doesn’t help much. I seem to have the symptoms of PTSD but haven’t been officially diagnosed. I have very low self-esteem and feel angry with myself most of the time that I am not good enough.
    Still, I muscle through for my family and try to put on a brave face even though I feel like I’m dying inside. My faith also helps but temporarily until another sad episode starts.
    I’m exploring some non-invasive treatments to address this but I’m not confident it will work.

  • May 19, 2020 at 8:38 pm

    Growing up, I never really understood why I had so much anger in me and why I got angry easily. I’m 20 now, finally coming to realization why I deal with these kind of emotions. I’m thankful for my parents don’t get me wrong, but I never had their emotional support. This article helped me realize why I have been dealing with this, everything you put is what I went through. It’s so hard to grow up without that emotional support, and it makes me wonder why I never got it? Years later my little sister is born and it saddens me how she gets treated. The way she gets treated is the way I wished I got treated growing up. It’s never too late to learn how to deal with these feelings but I just wished I had known sooner. I’m happy I got to see this, because it makes me feel like I’m not trapped anymore if that makes sense. The point is that I didn’t really understood my emotions and why I am the way I am until now reading this. I will most definitely look into getting some help.

  • July 15, 2020 at 7:54 am

    Hello everyone, wow when i read the article, there was so much facts that i could relate to. first of all, i am sure my dad is a narcissist. His moods is always up & down. My mom and dad divorced as she could not take the emotional abuse. unfortunately, my sister and I decided to stay with him and since then up until today i’ve moved out of his house about 4 times now. I am always so unsure on how to handle my dad, should i just completely not talk with him? As i find myself always regretting it as soon as i give him a door into my life, as he always tries to control me, never listens to what i feel, it’s literally only his way or no way, his outlook on life is ALWAYS so so negative, he ALWAYS finds fault in all people he meets, inlcluding me as his daughter. He gets these anger break outs where he yells and cuss at me annd my sister, it feels like he is always looking to find fault in everything and anyone, his love life is a wreck as he always chooses the unhealthiest of relationships, one moment he is very kind and i forget why i always feel like i am walking on egg shells aroundhim, next moment i am reminded cleary why i feel like this around him. One momnet he is nice to my boyfriend and loves him, next moment he hates him . I am 23 years old, and i’ve realized how unhealthy it is for me to be close to him, and i am not sure what to make of him… i’ve tried keeping boudaries between us, but he won’t listen and ends up emotionally abusing me or resents me. He gets angry at me when i ask him to think more positively about life.. I really need any help/ suggetions on how to handle him… sometimes i feel best would be just to cut him off for good, but i feel bad about doing that too.


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