There is an invisible burden that often goes unnoticed in our society. It is the burden carried by children of emotionally immature parents. It is a mental load, a constant pressure to conform and cater to the emotional needs of a parent, who should ideally be the one providing emotional support. As someone who has encountered countless cases of this throughout my career, I can tell you that this burden is a lot heavier than it seems.
Many people, especially those who haven't experienced it, fail to understand the weight of this load. "Don't talk about that topic. Make sure not to do that thing that sets them off. Don't share that part of yourself. Manage how they act at that event. Don't hurt their feelings. Stay in your lane. Respond the right way." These are the constant reminders that echo in the minds of these adult children, dictating every action and every word.
Imagine having to censor your words and actions all the time, not because it's the right thing to do but because you're scared of the reaction it might elicit. Imagine having to suppress parts of your personality because it might 'set off' your parent. Imagine having to manage your parent’s behavior at events because they lack the basic emotional maturity to conduct themselves appropriately. This is the reality for children of emotionally immature parents.
And it's not just about the present moment. The effects of such a childhood can seep into adulthood, affecting relationships, self-esteem, and overall life satisfaction. It can lead to anxiety, depression, and a range of other mental health issues. It's a cycle that is hard to break but not impossible.
It's important to realize that it's not your responsibility to manage your parent's emotions. It's okay to set boundaries. It's okay to prioritize your mental health. It's okay to seek help.
Remember, it's not a child's job to parent their parent. You are allowed to live your life without constantly worrying about someone else's emotional stability. You are allowed to be yourself without fear of repercussion. You are allowed to put yourself first.
It’s exhausting, yes, but remember that you’re not alone. There are support groups, therapists, and platforms like Calling Home where you can share your experiences and learn from others who are going through the same thing. You don’t have to carry this burden alone.