What are the signs of emotionally unavailable parents?

This article will discuss what are the signs of emotionally unavailable. It will also show you what it means to be emotionally unavailable, and how you can cope with this situation.

What are the signs of emotionally unavailable parents? 

Some signs will show you that you have emotionally unavailable parents. They can have trouble mirroring their children’s emotional state and are often impatient, or even indifferent when their children show emotions.

They also have trouble dealing with negative emotions, and because of that, they will avoid having conversations about them. And when the child shows that they have an emotional need, they will often feel overwhelmed.

An emotionally unavailable parent will also not share in the interests their child has, and can’t offer comfort to the child whenever they are in distress. But this is not only related to the child. The emotionally unavailable parent can also have trouble talking about their emotions with grown-ups as well.

They are not parents that won’t care for their children, but rather ones that will only provide the basic care they need. When interacting with their child, they can often become hostile, and can even express negative emotions such as frustration, annoyance, or even boredom.

What does it mean to be an emotionally unavailable parent? 

Being emotionally unavailable parents means that they can’t form a positive emotional connection with their children, and create an environment for them that supports their growth in all aspects, and gives them independence.

An emotionally unavailable parent may not show emotions in situations that would require them to show emotions. This lack of reaction will often leave the child without knowing what to feel, or expect of each situation. This lack of emotional engagement from the parents will be extremely detrimental to the child’s emotional development.

A good example of an emotionally unavailable parent sees their child crying because they got hurt but is unable to give them any type of support, be it physical, or even emotional. They will keep on doing their things, without addressing the matter.

But it is important to keep in mind that not every parent will be emotionally available in the same way. This availability usually happens on a spectrum, so some parents will be more, or less emotionally available.

The level of emotional availability can be assessed on a scale that addresses it in four factors: sensitivity that talking about the behaviors, and emotions that cause the parent to create a positive connection with the child. Along with structuring, that shows how a parent can support the child’s learning process.

It is also connected to non-intrusiveness, which focuses on how the parent gives their child the opportunity to experiment and care for themselves. And non-hostility centers on how the parent cares for their negative emotions do not affect the child.

It is also important to highlight that being an emotionally unavailable parent doesn’t mean that they have a mental health condition. But having a mental health condition can affect how they will be emotionally available to children. 

It can be that the parent is depressed, or even has a personality disorder, such as narcissistic personality disorder, and this affects how they will connect to their child. It may be easier to discover that an emotionally unavailable parent has a mental health condition when they are always thinking of ways to check out situations to cope with the child’s needs.

How can I cope with emotionally unavailable parents? 

Having emotionally unavailable parents can often affect your life. But it is important to know that you can cope with it. Here is what you can do.

Get in touch with your inner child 

Trying to relieve the situations and emotions that you lived through your childhood can help you reconnect with the emotions brought on by your emotionally unavailable parents. Through that, you will be able to express how you feel deep down and find ways to validate them. 

Learn how to calm yourself 

We often learn how to calm ourselves down from our parents. It is from the safety you will get from them that you will know that even though something bad is happening, you can calm yourself down, and give yourself some comfort.

When it doesn’t happen in this way, you may need to learn, as a grown-up, what are the best ways for you to calm yourself down. The first step may be being able to accept the emotions as they surface, for that, you may use meditation, or even breathing techniques so you don’t feel overwhelmed by your emotions.

Be with emotionally available people 

When you have emotionally unavailable parents you may create a pattern of surrounding yourself with this type of person, or you may also become emotionally unavailable. To prevent that from happening, you must be with people that can engage emotionally.

This will allow you to see what it feels like to be in these types of relationships, and show you that it is okay to be emotionally unavailable. To know who you can open yourself to, you may want to look for people that seem caring, it can be people from work or even people from your extended family.

Learn how to name your feelings 

Having emotionally unavailable parents may also mean that you never learned how to identify each emotion, and give its proper name. You may be constantly judging them and have trouble setting one apart from the other.

So to be more emotionally connected, you can begin to become more aware of the sensations you have, and what are the emotions that follow them. A great way to do that is through mindfulness, or even by writing your thoughts out. 

Get some distance 

When you have emotionally unavailable parents, it can be that they still don’t recognize their behaviors, and how it affects you. In that case, instead of fighting for it to be recognized, it may be important to get some distance. 

Instead of feeling guilty, it may be important to authorize yourself to get some distance, and set boundaries in the relationship with them, to care for your well-being and mental health. 

Look for professional help

Sometimes the consequences of emotionally unavailable parents can be too overwhelming, so it may be necessary for you to look for professional help. They will not only offer you the chance to identify your feelings, but also give you help in healing.  Therapy will give you a safe space to manifest your emotions, and become aware of your fears.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): What are the signs of emotionally unavailable parents? 

What are the impacts of having an emotionally unavailable parent?

Having an emotionally unavailable parent will often have a huge effect on your relationships when you grow up. We are usually a reflection on how we were raised, so if you were raised in an abusive, or neglecting environment, chances are you think relationships should always be like that. 

Because of this idea of what a relationship looks like, you may often see yourself afraid of getting close to people, and falling in love may be something you avoid as much as you can. It is also possible that being raised by emotionally unavailable parents raises the chance of someone developing a mental illness such as borderline, or narcissistic personality disorder.

Aside from that, you may have become often selfish, since being raised by emotionally unavailable parents, since can prevent them from having a healthy interaction with others in which they can learn to share. 

Finally, it can lead the person to have trouble with alcohol, or even substance abuse. And they may find it difficult to set a path for themselves in life and have a good sense of identity. All of those things can lead the person to feel hopeless, and like they have lost faith in life.

What are the worst sentences to say to a child?

Some sentences can be extremely detrimental when they are said to children. One of them is telling them they will understand something once they grow up. You should also prevent them from saying sentences that belittle them, and their feelings.

For that, you should never say that the child is being a burden, or even act aggressively when they have done something wrong. You should also never tell a child that something they are trying is no good. 

For example, if your child is learning a musical instrument, telling them to just turn it off because of the noise will not only cut them off from trying but also implies that they weren’t good at it. 

How can yelling harm children?

Yelling at a child may hardly ever be the answer, but it can surely have a lot of negative impact on the child. When you yell at them, first of all, their behavior will likely get worse, instead of solving the problem.

Aside from that, it seems that yelling can change the way the child’s brain develops since the brain will often process negative emotions a lot faster than good ones. 

It is also possible that being yelled at can lead a child to become depressed, and it puts the child under a lot of stress, which can harm their physical health. Finally, yelling at a child can be so detrimental that it can lead them to develop chronic pains in the future.

What are signs my mom doesn’t love me?

There are some signs that your mother doesn’t love you. It can be clear when she doesn’t value your efforts, or recognize what you have achieved, or even if she never shares how proud she is of you. And she may be the one trying to make all the decisions for you.

It can also lead to you not feeling comfortable sharing with them, and for them to reject you in front of other people. Your mom may also be angry all the time, or mostly display apathy with things concerning you.

If you have a sibling, you may notice your mom is always choosing them over you, and she hardly shows you any affection or recognizes your needs. It can make you like nothing you do is enough, and she makes no time for you.


This article discussed the common signs of emotionally unavailable parents. It also explained what it means to be emotionally unavailable, and the best ways for you to cope with it.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the section below.



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