Book notes from Dr. Lindsay Gibson's best-selling book Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents
We each come to our remothering work having traveled a different path. And while the remothering work is about us and future us, sometimes it can be helpful to look at the roots of our adaptations. Not as a report card on the parenting we did or did not receive, but rather as a tool for understanding ourselves with greater self-compassion.
In this article:
What does it mean to have emotionally immature parents?
Feeling sized up but not felt for
The pitfall of being naturally self-reflective
based on the book E.I.P. by Lindsay Gibson, PsyD
By Simona Vivi H
What does it mean to be the adult child of an emotionally immature parent?
Do you hear about those relationships where people turn to their mothers for advice and comfort and wonder if that's actually some people's reality?
That feeling of knowing you can turn to your mother is what Dr. Gibson calls emotional intimacy. In her book, Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents, she describes emotional intimacy as knowing that you have someone you can tell anything to, someone to go to with all your feelings, about anything and everything. Someone with whom you feel completely safe opening up to, whether in the form of words, through an exchange of looks, or by just being together quietly in a state of connection.
Dr. Gibson goes on to say that as children, the basis for our security is emotional connection with our caretakers. Emotionally engaged parents create a feeling for their children of being seen for who they really are. They welcome their children's moods and feelings with interest, and through that, their children learn that it's not selfish, but rather it's healthy to tune into their own heart's whispers.
Parents who are emotionally immature, on the other hand, don't notice their children's inner experiences.
Feeling sized up, but not felt for
Emotionally immature parents often leave their children feeling sized up, but not felt for. As a child, you would have felt the effects of not having emotional support, but you wouldn't necessarily have known what was wrong.
Emotionally immature parents may look and act perfectly normal, caring for their child's physical health and providing meals and safety. However, if they don't make a solid emotional connection with their child, the child will have a gaping hole where true security might have been.
Are you an internalizer?
Dr. Gibson talks about two styles of coping with emotionally immature parents: internalizers and externalizers.
Internalizers, according to Dr Gibson, try to solve problems from the inside out by being self-reflective and trying to learn from their mistakes. Internalizers see life as an opportunity to develop themselves. Children who are internalizers believe it's up to them to change things, whereas externalizers expect others to do it for them.
The likelihood of an externalizer reading this article is low, so I'll share a piece of wisdom from the book for my fellow-internalizers. For more information about externalizers (including externalizing siblings), check out Dr. Gibson's book.
The pitfall to look out for if you are naturally self-reflective
One of the pitfalls of an internalizing style is that it can lead people to do too much for others. In the language of remothering, it can lead people to be otherish and to develop adaptations such as: fixer, people-pleasing, over-caretaking, over-helping, prioritizing other's needs to the point of self-neglect, and guilt around having clean boundaries.
Internalizers are often perceptive and can react to life as if they were an emotional turning fork. As children, internalizers of emotionally immature parents may learn to tune into their parents' needs rather than learning to hear their own.
Bringing it all together
As Dr. Gibson says, "it can be hard to look at your parents objectively because it might feel like you're betraying them. But that isn't the motive here. In this book, our mission is not to disrespect or betray your parents, but to finally see them objectively".
In her book, Dr. Gibson offers assessment quizzes, coping-strategies, and tools for how to heal forward. If what you've read so far resonates, I'd strongly encourage you to check out Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD.
Based on the book Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD
Lindsay C. Gibson
Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD is the bestselling author of Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents.
She has been a psychotherapist for over thirty years as well as the author of four books: Who You Were Meant to Be, Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents, Recovering from Emotionally Immature Parents, and Self-Care for Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents.
Since its publication in 2015, her second book, Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents, has been a repeated Amazon #1 bestseller in several categories (and for good reason, it’s one of the most important books I’ve read on my own healing and remothering journey ~Simona).
Simona Vivi Hadjigeorgalis is the founder of reMothering.org, a collaborative space where industry leaders create remothering resources for independent-learning. Simona also has a private coaching practice at The Center for Remothering.