If you were raised by an emotionally immature parent (EIP), and you have a tendency to over-explain, this article is for you
This is an excerpt from a conversation between Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD and Simona Vivi H about how to reclaim your self-connection and boundaries in relationships with emotionally immature people. You can check out the full talk at the 2023 reMothering Masterclass. (check out the Programs and Classes page for the most current info on upcoming classes and events)
based on an interview with Lindsay Gibson, PsyD
By Simona Vivi H
Here's why having an emotionally immature parent (EIP) can lead to the adaptation of over-explaining:
Hallmarks of Emotionally Immature People
There are many characteristics of an emotionally immature adult; but, according to Dr. Gibson, bestselling author of Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents, there are about five or six hallmarks. One of those hallmarks is egocentricity. It can be helpful to think about it kind of like an overgrown 4-year-old.
Language without Reason
If we think about the 4-year-old experience, developmentally that stage is sometimes called the first adolescence. They are in the thick of the process where they are trying to individuate themselves from their parents and become their own little person; but they are really not able to do that yet.
With an of-courseness, we can recognize that at that age, they don’t have good judgement, and they don’t even have their own personal boundaries in place yet. Plus, they can be quite demanding. Add to that, they are talking in sentences using enough language to make it seem like you could actually reason with them. It's no wonder conversations with an individuating 4-year-old can sometimes be taxing.
Now, I’d like to invite you to think about how many conversations you have had with your EIP where you didn’t feel understood. If you think about them as an over-grown 4-year old, does their lack of attunement make a little more sense?
When a person (especially an adult!), has the power of language, you assume you can have a reasonable conversation with them where they reflect on what you are saying. But, just like that 4-year-old, listening for understanding is not typically on an EIP’s agenda.
Your Own Early Programming
Here’s a seemingly unrelated question… when you tie your shoes, do you have to think about all the steps? For most of us, through a lifetime of repetition, the task of tying our shoes runs on automatic. We just “know” how to do it. We may not even think of it as a skill that we learned, but rather it’s something we do.
Imagine if the only way you knew how to tie your shoes was the 2-loop bunny ear method. Now imagine that, at some point in your adulthood, you find out that there’s a more efficient way to tie your shoes. Then what?
For most of us, there would be a combination of feelings of grief/frustration/disappointment for not knowing sooner. And then, if it felt worth it to us, there would be the task ahead of us to shift from the 2-loop bunny ear method, to the more effective way to tie our shoes.
If you are ready to unlearn the adaption of over-explaining and replace it with something that feels more aligned, check out this year’s reMothering Masterclass. In addition to learning about remothering, you’ll also learn about setting boundaries with EIPs and how to be in relationship with an EIP (if you choose to be).
Based on an interview with 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.
Here’s why your emotionally immature parent may blame and reconstruct reality: empathy is a learned skill.
An emotionally immature person/parent (EIP) doesn’t imagine the internal psychological reality of other people, they don’t have the ability to conjure that up. Therefore, other people’s subjective experiences are really not on their radar. The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is a learned skill. As is self-reflection.
In this clip, Dr. Gibson also talks about the automatic defense mechanisms EIPs sometimes turn to, like projecting blame and distorting reality.