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Emotionally Immature Parenting and Addiction

Practice Emotional Maturity Individually

When an adult is emotionally mature, they’re aware of their emotions without being ruled by them. They respond to situations and setbacks reasonably and proportionately to their severity and impact. They often practice healthy, sustainable coping mechanisms and forms of self-expression. They easily empathize with and interact with others.  

An emotionally immature adult, on the other hand, has poor emotional coping skills. They will often ignore or dismiss their emotions and those of others. Or, they may display extreme emotional reactions—like angry tantrums or heavy crying episodes—in response to minuscule incidents or everyday events. They also have a tendency to speak, think, and act out in insensitive ways. 

The Emotionally Immature Parent

The emotionally immature parent is unable or unwilling to accept that their poor behaviors, insensitive reactions, and unempathetic or anti-social emotional responses harm their children’s emotional and mental well-being. While they often provide for their child’s every physical need, they may be incapable of understanding or made highly uncomfortable by their children’s emotions and respond with total avoidance, rejection, or a mixture of both. 

Psychologists have identified three main emotionally immature parenting styles, although each can overlap with the others:

  • The reactive parent
  • The unavailable parent
  • The cruel or negligent parent

The reactive parent can appear quite anxious. They have visible, openly displayed aversions to emotions that they deem undesirable. These types of caretakers may punish kids for showing emotions or penalize them for being sad when the parent feels they should be happy. They may also treat their children like a friend or as if they were another adult, a life partner, or a therapist. 

Emotionally unavailable parents may be absent from child-rearing by choice, be overly critical and cold, and avoid any affection or displays of positive or loving emotions. They may be prone to lying to their children about what they feel as well, such as denying their love for or pride in them. They prioritize their own needs over the child’s or they actively ignore their child’s accomplishments or interests.

Cruel or negligent parents can be sadistic and enjoy hurting their children physically, emotionally, sexually, or mentally. They can be highly defensive, spiteful, impulsive, and inattentive. They may also be prone to giving the silent treatment, disregarding boundaries, and bullying. 

How Having Immature Parents Factors Into Addiction Development

Waypoint Recovery Center is passionate about imparting recovery services that frame addiction as an unhealthy coping mechanism for hardship. We understand the experience of having an emotionally unstable parent as another larger issue within dysfunctional families that often robs children of healthy forms of relating to the self and others. This lack of a healthy perspective is conducive to addiction and substance abuse disorder (SUD) development. 

Additionally, there is some evidence to suggest that any type of emotionally immature parent can trigger an insecure or anxious attachment style in children that is later carried on into adulthood. This creates a child who grows up to be driven primarily by fear of abandonment, low self-esteem, and social suspicion. This type of inner mental framework can cause unhealthy adult relationships and a compromised ability to create a support system and healthy coping strategies for everyday life and its challenges. 

Lack of support and a pattern of toxic relationships can often make addiction snowball. We’ve also seen cases of emotionally immature parents enabling their adult children’s drug and alcohol addictions, further perpetuating insecurity, unhealthy codependency, and emotional stunting. 

Understanding Emotional Dysfunction With Waypoint Recovery Center

Both of our recovery centers in Cameron and North Charleston, SC, offer family services, individual therapy, and group therapy. Each avenue presents a unique opportunity for understanding what your home life was like, how it impacted the development of your SUD, and how you can establish healthy boundaries with family members in sobriety. We can also help you identify any emotionally immature tendencies that are present in you, holding you back from full recovery and well-being.  

Practice Emotional Maturity Individually and as a Family in Recovery 

We see people change and grow every day when they choose recovery. We also see the miraculous effect that growth has on the family members and friends of our residents. Contact us today to begin healing from a childhood of emotional deprivation. Remember: there’s hope for healthy coping and stress management in sobriety! 


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For more information about Waypoint Recovery Center’s substance use disorder treatment services, please contact us anytime at (888) 978-5188.

Our Locations

Outpatient Treatment
5401 Netherby Lane, Suite 402
North Charleston, SC 29420
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Inpatient Treatment
499 Wild Hearts Rd
Cameron, SC 29030
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