7 Consequences of Being an Emotionally Distant Parent | carers, family & friends (2023)

Those:7 Consequences of Being an Emotionally Distant Parent | carers, family & friends

VonTamara Hill, MS, LPC

(Video) Consequences: Emotionally Detached Parents -Psychotherapy Crash Course

Do you know an emotionally avoidant and distant parent/guardian? If so, what makes this person so emotionally unavailable? Is it a mental illness, a personality disorder, or something else like a job, career goal, or education? Whatever it is, having an emotionally unavailable parent or guardian can result in a lifelong journey of unstable or failed relationships, emotional neediness, empty voids, confusion of identity, poor attachment to others, low self-esteem and self-efficacy (the sense of mastery) lead ), etc. Research has established the importance of all infants and developing children having an appropriate, warm, and loving attachment to a mother figure during the developmental years. Without an appropriate, warm, and loving parent figure, children are likely to develop multiple personality, emotional, and psychological difficulties. For many of my clients, the lack of a loving parent figure has led to an increase in psychiatric symptoms, academic and academic difficulties, fears of abandonment, and many other challenges. This article discusses the aftermath or consequences of growing up without an emotionally available parent.

Parents who are emotionally unavailable are often immature and psychologically affected themselves. As hard as it is to believe, emotionally unavailable parents have a lot of problems of their own that can stretch back to their own childhood. There is often a deficit in parents who cannot meet the emotional and psychological needs of their child. In a way, some emotionally empty parents deserve sympathy, as they are often emotionally burned adults who have no way of dealing with their own emotional and psychological needs. As a result, this type of parent becomes one of the following: dismissive, emotionally distant, immature, self-centered, or narcissistic, or driven to succeed in life. Emotionally, these adults are not what their stated (or chronological) age suggests they are. They are pseudomature in many ways, often pushing the child towards premature adulthood and emotional independence. The parent, due to a lack of self-awareness, maintains negative behavioral patterns that often affect the child in more ways than one as the child sinks deeper and deeper into despair. Unfortunately, those same children grow into emotionally needy teenagers and adults who crave love, security, and affection they never received.

Symptoms often representative of adults who areemotionally immature and distantinclude but are not limited to:rigidity(unwillingness to be flexible if necessary),low stress tolerance(inability to endure stress in a mature way),emotional instability with aggression(Outbursts of anger characterized by threats of physical aggression, suicidal gestures, cutting behavior, or other acts of self-harm)bad borders(the desire to be their child's friend rather than a parent),unstable relationships(multiple partners or friends creating more trouble than peace) andattention seeking(looking for awards, recognition or support at any cost) among many other characteristics. Tragically, the affected children often grow into teenagers and adults who are also struggling with life.

(Video) 7 Types Of Invalidating Toxic Parents - Role Play

Some of the consequences of growing up with immature and emotionally empty parents are:

  1. Affected relationships between adults: Believe it or not, our childhood(s) influences our relationships and how we interact with others later in life. If we have been appropriately loved and cared for, we will most likely exhibit the same traits as adults. If we have been abused and neglected, we will most likely develop traits to protect ourselves as adults, such as being protective. B. Being defensive or overly protective. Some adults get angry or struggle with long-term relationships, leading to a variety of short-term and unstable relationships. It's important to note that not every child with an emotionally unavailable parent grows into a struggling adult. Some adults grow up to be better people than their parents could ever be. Every situation is different, and so are the variables in the lives of children with emotionally unavailable parents. More often than not, however, children with emotionally empty parents often grow into teenagers and adults with problems of their own.
  2. Fear of commitment and love: Children who developed under an emotionally empty parent will most likely grow into a teenager and adult who struggles to connect emotionally to others and to receive/demonstrate love. While working at a nonprofit agency, where my clients were prone to being abused (emotionally, physically, and sexually), I noticed a pattern where many of those clients not only had difficulty maintaining appropriate interactions with colleagues and associates, but also had trouble connecting with myself and other mental health professionals. Trust is an important part of a positive emotional connection. If you have not experienced the love, affection, and protection of a loving adult, you are more likely to develop defenses or protective mechanisms that in some way separate you from other people. Unfortunately, defense and protective mechanisms can prevent the person from appropriately engaging in therapy or trusting that they can be happy and secure in their relationships.
  3. Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Traits: Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are two disorders that can negatively affect anyone associated with the sufferer. The unstable, emotionally unstable moods that often characterize BPD can lead to frequent arguments, paranoia, blame, and physical or verbal aggression. The NPD's self-centered, overly confident, and arrogant behavior can leave developing children feeling emotionally alienated from that parent. Without proper treatment/therapy, both of these disorders can destabilize the home and many relationships.
  4. selfishness: I have often viewed selfishness as a personality deficiency as it is a trait not to be admired. Not being able to share with others can lead to an inability to be emotionally distant and immature behavior. I previously had a 10 year old client who loved playing games on his iPad after school. His mother, who was abused during her childhood, reported that she would not allow him to play on his iPad after school. Of course, many parents don't want their kids to play games until the homework or chores are done. But to my surprise, that wasn't the reason for restricting access to his iPad. She eventually admitted that she didn't like him touching her iPad because she'd spent so much money on it and liked that it still looked brand new. She went on to share that as a child, she rarely had anything of her own and felt the need to "protect" her investment. This kind of selfishness led to years of parent-child conflict. As her son grew older and began to question her/his behavior, he became even more resentful towards her and eventually asked to live with his father. The relationship was destroyed.
  5. Substance abuse/addiction: To cope with pain and distress, many people turn to substances that "take it away" or "numb the pain." Unfortunately, recreational or prescription use of medication becomes a habit and the need for self-medication becomes an addiction. Once an addiction sets in, the user's life becomes more complicated as relationships, employment, and other important areas of life no longer seem important to the drug addict.
  6. Lack of identity and orientation: A former teenage client once asked me this question at almost every one-to-one session we had: "How do you know what kind of relationship you should have if all of the relationships in your life were in some way abusive or exploitative?" I would always respond by emphasizing the importance of a strong moral and identity foundation. Without understanding who you really are, you are more likely to follow the crowd and let anyone into your life with the slightest interest in you. When you know who you are, what you want, and what's best for you, you're likely to be more careful about choosing other people to be a part of your life. A lack of identity can lead to a series of unstable and superficial relationships that are short-lived.
  7. Loss of hope, faith and joy: For many adults who have been raised by an emotionally empty parent, there is a deep sense of loss and grief. The "loss" of a parent who is still alive and breathing can seem like the most tragic of experiences. Looking parents in the eye or hearing their voice and still feeling so far away is tragic. The inability to connect with the person who brought you into this world is tragic. It's like a joke. It's like a distant fantasy. Unfortunately, the adult child begins to feel a sense of sadness and loss of hope, faith, and joy. Sometimes adult children internalize their feelings and begin to feel depressed, suicidal, or self-harm. This is often when substance abuse begins.

It is truly sad that a child's life can be disrupted by a parent's emotional and psychological instability and unavailability. It's as if this belief gives the unstable parent more power than they deserve. But decades of research confirm that children need to experience a caring caregiver during infancy in order to develop the appropriate skills (the ability to be emotionally available, to connect with other people, to understand the rules of social communication etc.) needed for later in life.

Do you have any questions about it? Did you experience this? If so, don't hesitate to post below as I always enjoy reading your questions and answers.

(Video) Adult Children Of Emotionally Detached & Toxic Parents: The Consequences

As always, I wish you all the best

(Video) 8 Signs of Childhood Emotional Neglect



What are the consequences of having an emotionally detached parent? ›

Being raised by an emotionally unavailable parent or guardian can lead to a life of unstable friendships, strings of failed relationships, emotional neediness, an inability to self-regulate, provide for yourself, and identity confusion.

What is an emotionally detached parent? ›

Detached: The parent exhibits distant, cool, and mechanical behaviors, suggesting that they're avoiding emotional connection. Problematic or disturbed: The parent lacks basic-level care and interaction. There may be signs of hostility and intrusiveness.

How does an emotionally distant father affect a child? ›

Emotionally unavailable fathers have a negative impact on their children in many ways. These fathers often prioritize material things, other people, and their work over their children. They avoid emotional conversations with their children and do not facilitate a safe place for their children to discuss feelings.

What are the psychological effects of absent parents? ›

The results show that parental absence is negatively associated with the development of left-behind children. Left-behind children have a lower cognitive test score and academic test score, and they are also less likely to attend a college.

What are the effects of distant parenting? ›

Whatever it is, having an emotionally unavailable parent or guardian can lead to a lifelong journey of unstable or failed relationships, emotional neediness, empty voids, identity confusion, poor attachment to others, low self-esteem and self-efficacy (the feeling of mastery), etc.

What does emotional neglect lead to? ›

For children, affectional neglect may have devastating consequences, including failure to thrive, developmental delay, hyperactivity, aggression, depression, low self-esteem, running away from home, substance abuse, and a host of other emotional disorders.

How do you deal with an emotionally distant parent? ›

Spend some time examining yourself, your emotions, and your relationships with others. Take note of any issues that may stem from your parents. Many people with emotionally distant parents shut down or ignore their own feelings. Think about whether you're able to acknowledge and process your own feelings.

How do you become emotionally detached from family? ›

Emotional or psychological detachment:
  1. Focus on what you can control. ...
  2. Respond dont react. ...
  3. Respond in a new way. ...
  4. Allow people to make their own (good or bad) decisions.
  5. Dont give advice or tell people what they should do.
  6. Dont obsess about other peoples problems.
Apr 17, 2017

How does an emotionally absent mother affect her daughter? ›

A daughter's need for her mother's love is a primal driving force that doesn't diminish with unavailability. Wounds may include lack of confidence and trust, difficulty setting boundaries, and being overly sensitive. Daughters of unloving mothers may unwittingly replicate the maternal bond in other relationships.

What are the signs of an emotionally unavailable parent? ›

15 Signs of Emotionally Unavailable Parents
  • They Don't Listen. ...
  • They Unable To Sustain Emotional Bonds. ...
  • They Don't Ask Questions About Your Life. ...
  • They're Uninterested in Your Achievements. ...
  • They Don't Validate Your Hard Work. ...
  • They Aren't Engaged in Your Activities. ...
  • They Don't Make You Feel Important. ...
  • They Don't Say “I Love You”
May 12, 2022

What are some effects that a negative parental relationship can have on a child? ›

These negative effects can include sleep disturbance and disrupted early brain development for infants, anxiety and conduct problems for primary school children, and depression and academic problems and other serious issues, such as self-harm, for older children and adolescents.

How does an emotionally absent father affect daughters? ›

What Are the Psychological Effects of an Absent Father? To summarize, depression, suicide, eating disorders, obesity (and its effects), early sexual activity, addiction-formation, and difficulty building and holding on to loving relationships are all side-effects of an absent father.

What happens when parents are not involved in their child's life? ›

2 The children of uninvolved parents generally perform poorly in nearly every area of life. These children tend to display deficits in cognition, attachment, emotional skills, and social skills.

How does not spending time with your child affect them? ›

Working parents, who do not spend enough time with their children, might be raising emotionally distressed individuals. Since kids do not have anyone to vent their feelings to or talk about their day, they will start bottling up their emotions and become insecure.

What are the long term effects of parental alienation? ›

Results revealed seven major areas of impact: (1) low self-esteem, (2) depression, (3) drug/alcohol abuse, (4) lack of trust, (5) alienation from own children, (6) divorce, and (7) other. These seven themes are discussed at length to provide the first glimpse into the lives of adult children of parental alienation.

What are some of the long term consequences of emotional neglect? ›

It shows that emotional abuse and neglect are linked to a wide range of negative outcomes in adolescence and adulthood, including teen pregnancy, school failure, unemployment, delinquency, anxiety, depression, psychosis, substance abuse, and even physical health problems.

How do emotionally neglected people act? ›

Some effects of emotional neglect are: Higher rates of anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric disorders. More frequent negative emotions like anger, guilt, shame, and fear. Higher risk for substance use disorders and addictions.

What does emotional abandonment look like? ›

In the context of a marriage, the feelings of neglect, being left out, and not being heard are collectively referred to as emotional abandonment. It occurs when one partner is so preoccupied with their own concerns that they are unable to notice the struggles, concerns, or problems their partner is experiencing.

How does an emotionally absent mother affect a son? ›

Emotionally Absent Mothers

When a mother neglects a son emotionally, he may suffer “insecure attachment” issues involving avoidance of close relationships, general fearfulness of being abandoned (again) and reduced ability to experience genuine happiness in relationships.

Why am I not emotionally connected to my family? ›

Reasons for the detachment may be due to intergenerational and personal trauma, an absence of emotional intelligence, mental health issues, substance use and abuse issues, fragmented problem solving and conflict resolution skills, and a variety of other challenges.

How does broken family affect you emotionally? ›

The impact of the broken family on children by shaping children's attitudes, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, which are manifested by the increase in painful feelings of sadness, anxiety, confusion, fear, guilt, and the reinforcement of misconceptions and behaviors with the domination of some negative ideas that ...

How do you live with an emotionally detached person? ›

Focus on your own feelings

Both Neblett and Gatling agree that if you address someone's emotional unavailability, express how it's affecting you and lead with "I" statements. It's also important to have clear examples of why you think they're emotionally unavailable so that they don't feel ambushed, Neblett emphasizes.

How does an emotionally absent mother affect a child? ›

As one would expect, emotionally absent mothers are less responsive to their babies' needs. They're less likely to cuddle with them, read to them, breastfeed them, or sing them lullabies. The lack of love and attention that these infants receive during the first 12 months can impact them for a lifetime.

How an emotionally absent mother impact her son? ›

Emotionally Absent Mothers

When a mother neglects a son emotionally, he may suffer “insecure attachment” issues involving avoidance of close relationships, general fearfulness of being abandoned (again) and reduced ability to experience genuine happiness in relationships.

What is cold mother syndrome? ›

Emotionally absent or cold mothers can be unresponsive to their children's needs. They may act distracted and uninterested during interactions, or they could actively reject any attempts of the child to get close. They may continue acting this way with adult children.

When you are emotionally neglected as a child? ›

How do I know if I was emotionally neglected as a child? There are several signs such as feelings of detachment, lack of peer group, dissociative inclinations, and difficulty in being emotionally present.

How does parental rejection affect a child? ›

Whether intentional or not, the effects of rejection in childhood may include fear of intimacy, distrust, anxiety and depression, and people-pleasing behaviors. Feelings of confusion and emotional pain from rejection may lead to attachment challenges, ineffective coping mechanisms, or an overall sense of loneliness.

What does an emotionally absent mother look like? ›

“An emotionally absent mother is not fully present and especially not to the emotional life of the child. She may be depressed, stretched too thin and exhausted, or perhaps a bit numb. Many of these mothers were severely undermothered themselves and have no idea what a close parent-child relationship looks like.

What are the effects of childhood emotional neglect on adults? ›

Childhood emotional neglect may impact your adult relationships by making it hard to trust and become close to others, and increasing your chance of experiencing depression and anxiety. Neglect is the most common form of child abuse.

What is unloved daughter syndrome? ›

Lack of trust. With an emotionally unreliable mother or one who is combative or hypercritical, the daughter learns that relationships are unstable and dangerous, and that trust is ephemeral and can't be relied on.


1. Daughters of Passive Emotionally Unavailable Mothers
(Lisa A. Romano Breakthrough Life Coach Inc.)
2. Masters of "Mystery": Apprentices in History
(Reading the Past)
3. How to overcome Childhood Emotional Neglect | Kati Morton
(Kati Morton)
4. What Is Emotional Neglect? And How to Cope
(The School of Life)
5. 8 Ways Emotional Abuse Traumatizes You
6. Three Signs that ALWAYS Indicate Child Psychological Abuse by a Narcissisitc Parent, Part 4
(Jeff Morgan)


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