Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents – the book

Since Kaia was born, I haven’t had much time or energy to read any books. I figured it would be temporary and that eventually, I would start reading again since I’ve always been a reader. Only recently have I started listening to podcasts again, and though I’ve attempted to sit down to open a book, it hasn’t really worked out. Part of me doesn’t want to spend time reading when I could be spending it playing with and watching my baby grow. Every day she’s growing so quickly and doing new things, and the idea of missing out on something new she does always makes me a bit sad.

Well, I had a book I was waitlisted for via the NYPL / Libby app since last summer that I finally got off the wait list for, and it was a book that I read about called Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents. I think it got mentioned in one of the parenting groups I’m in because a parent was really scared about repeating the same mistakes of her parents. I think one part of how to tackle this is first beginning with self awareness, recognizing that not everything your parents did was “right” or what you want for your own kids, and having checks in place to ensure you do not repeat the same behavior. With parents of the previous generation, a lot of growing up was just about survival, especially if you were the child of immigrants who were just trying to keep the roof over their heads and food on the table. They didn’t have the time or energy for self reflection on how they could do better than their own parents; they focused simply on the physical aspects of shelter and food.

I started reading this book. A lot of the examples provided are very much centered on the white family experience, but I can see how it could be adjusted slightly to account for cultural differences. At the end of the day, I believe that the majority of parents try their hardest to raise their children to the best of their ability. But many do not think about what they could improve, and instead raise their kids how they themselves were raised. I think that’s what my dad did: his parents worked all the time, so they never had the time to teach him anything, so he took it upon himself to learn everything he knew. That’s why he had no patience to teach Ed or me even the simplest things, like how to tie our shoes or ride a bike, or the more complex, like changing oil on a car or driving. He just expected us to learn on our own. He communicated mostly by yelling; that’s what his parents did with him. His parents criticized him constantly; that’s what he did to Ed and me. He knew no different, so he did the same with us and perceived that as “normal.” My mom got disregarded completely as the 10th and last child of her mom. She experienced zero affection or love from her mom. She tried to learn from that and showered me with love and affection, but alas, it ended up becoming more suffocating than anything. So while I get frustrated with both my parents, I recognize that they were just limited by the experiences they had, and they thus lacked the emotional maturity to improve how they parented. But because they are emotionally immature, they will never recognize or admit their faults. The book also describes how children of emotionally immature parents tend to have a higher level of compassion and empathy. I guess that’s one way Ed and I benefited from having unrealistic and immature parents.

The book gets redundant with its examples, though, and it doesn’t give much in the way of coping mechanisms. I thought the whole point of the book was to help identify toxic behavior and then address how to deal with it all and live a healthy and happy adult life?

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