Parenting is a complex journey that profoundly shapes children’s lives. A parent’s emotional maturity, or lack thereof, can have far-reaching effects on their adult children, impacting not only their careers but also their mental health and how they perceive themselves and the world around them.

In this article, we’ll explore the intricate interplay between parental emotional immaturity and its consequences for adult children, shedding light on the challenges you may face in your career if you grew up with emotionally immature parents.

In the extended YouTube version of this article, I’ll also discuss how growing up in an emotionally immature home can affect your mental health as well as your worldview, and I’ll offer insights into navigating these complexities. You can watch it here.

Before we get into the details, I want to stress that there is no blame here whatsoever. Emotional immaturity is often unconsciously passed down from generation to generation until someone consciously decides to do something different, stopping the seemingly endless cycle. We call these people ‘cycle-breakers’.

Understanding Parental Emotional Immaturity

Emotional maturity encompasses the ability to understand, manage, and express emotions effectively.

Emotionally mature parents are typically adept at providing love, support, and guidance while maintaining healthy boundaries and coping with life’s challenges in a constructive manner.

Conversely, emotionally immature parents may struggle with regulating their emotions, communicating effectively, and responding to their children’s needs in a nurturing way.

This is typical because they weren’t taught how to do those things by their parents! Again, there is no blame here.

If you have/had emotionally mature parents, this may all come as a bit of a shock to you, and you may have trouble identifying with what I’m about to cover.

However, the information I’m sharing will hopefully allow you to understand and have even more compassion if you encounter an emotionally immature adult in your work or personal life.

The Impact on Adult Children’s Careers

Parental emotional immaturity can significantly influence the career trajectories of adult children in various ways:

1. Career Decision-Making

Adult children may internalise their parents’ fears, insecurities, or unfulfilled aspirations, leading them to make career choices based on their parents’ expectations rather than their own passions and interests.

I frequently work with clients who come to me when experiencing a mid-life career crisis, often around the late 30s or early 40s. They come to me for help and guidance when they realise how unhappy and unfulfilled they are with their careers and, often, with life in general.

Many recognised that they had found themselves in a career they didn’t choose but that their parents had chosen for them.

Many emotionally immature parents will not see their child and their child’s needs as separate from their own. Many believe that they know best about what their child needs. Some may also aim to fulfil their own unmet needs, careers, and opportunities through their children.

If you’re a parent, I would like to give you one piece of advice from someone who has dealt with hundreds of people going through mid-life crises: Please let your child choose a career where they will be happy, not what you think will make them happy and give them the most job security.

There’s no such thing as job security these days, anyway!

By all means, guide them, even challenge them. However, the final choice should be theirs. They will have to live with the consequences of their decision for many years to come. Being happy with what you do for a living is EVERYTHING.

2. Fear of Failure

Growing up with emotionally immature parents can instil a fear of failure or a reluctance to take risks. As adults, we may avoid pursuing ambitious goals or challenging opportunities because we fear disappointing our parents or facing criticism.

3. Low Self-Esteem

Emotionally immature parents may inadvertently undermine their children’s self-esteem through criticism, neglect, or invalidation. This can leave adult children feeling unworthy or inadequate, impacting their confidence and ability to pursue career advancement opportunities.

4. Boundary Issues

Adult children raised by emotionally immature parents may struggle to establish and maintain healthy boundaries in the workplace. They may have difficulty advocating for themselves, asserting their needs, or navigating professional relationships effectively because they weren’t allowed to do so when they were children.

Again, this behaviour becomes programmed and is difficult to change in adulthood without conscious awareness, practice, and, in most cases, a great deal of therapy.

5. Communication Challenges

Effective communication is essential for success in any career. However, adult children of emotionally immature parents may struggle with communication skills, having grown up in environments where open and honest dialogue was lacking or discouraged.

6. Fear of Conflict

Fear of conflict or saying ‘no’ is a big one for people who were brought up by emotionally immature parents – especially if they were authoritarian. That early programming not to answer back or to say no can be deeply ingrained, and feel incredibly unsafe even as an adult.

7. Overexplaining

For many of us raised in emotionally immature households, overexplaining can be a huge issue. Whenever a client goes into ‘overexplaining mode’, I know there’s some childhood ‘stuff’ lurking deep beneath the surface.

I won’t go into detail on this here. A dedicated article on this topic will be published next week.

The Wrap Up

The impact of parental emotional immaturity on adult children’s careers, mental health, and worldview is profound and multifaceted. However, by recognising the challenges stemming from parental emotional immaturity, seeking support, practising self-compassion, setting boundaries, developing coping strategies, challenging negative beliefs, and breaking the cycle, it is possible to navigate these complexities and cultivate a fulfilling and meaningful life on your own terms.

Remember that you are not defined by your parents’ limitations, and you have the power to create your own path to happiness and fulfilment. But it does take work and courage to break free and to break the cycle.

What Next?

If you’d like further reading on this topic, I highly recommend two books:

  • ‘Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents’ by Lindsay C Gibson

  • ‘How to Do the Work’ by Dr Nicole LePera

As I mentioned earlier, in the extended YouTube version of this article, I also discuss how growing up in an emotionally immature home can affect your mental health as well as your worldview, and I’ll offer insights into navigating these complexities. You can watch it here.

If you head over to YouTube, please do me the biggest favour by hitting the like, subscribe, and notification buttons. It seems so insignificant, but it really does make a HUGE difference in supporting me in delivering all the free content I publish. I’m just trying to make the world a better place!

Finally, if you enjoyed this article and haven’t yet signed up to get my weekly newsletter straight to your inbox, hit the ‘Newsletter’ tab at the top of the page.

As always, thanks for your continued support.

FREE Guide, 'How to Hack Your Happy Hormones!'

Unlock exclusive insights and stay up-to-date with the latest news by subscribing to my newsletter today - your source for valuable content delivered straight to your inbox! 


Claim your FREE gift: Instantly access my 32-page 'Happy Hormones Hacks' mini-course, a £39.99 value, as a token of my appreciation!

You have Successfully Subscribed!