6 signs you were raised by emotionally immature parents, according to psychology

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Mrs. Doubtfire has got to be one of my all-time favorite 90s movies.

The character of Daniel, played by the legendary Robin Williams, is an immature dad who’s unable to properly step up and parent his three kids.

Suddenly, his marriage hits a rough patch, and he’s faced with the prospect of potentially losing access to his own children.

That’s where Daniel finds himself—and then his immaturity and absurdity goes into overdrive.

Rather than tackling his problems head-on, he makes the call: to go undercover as a nanny.

And not just any nanny, but an elderly Scottish one who goes by the name of: Mrs. Doubtfire.

Of course, haven’t we all had moments where we’ve let our wildest thoughts get the best of us? 

But here’s the thing—underneath all the disguises and hijinx, there’s a real emotional depth to Daniel.

He’s a dad trying to win back his family.

But what about all of the parents who are emotionally immature to the point of destruction. What kinds of scars does that leave?

Here are six signs you were raised by emotionally immature parents, according to psychology. Starting with a big one: rejection sensitivity.

1) You are very sensitive to rejection

If, instead of wrapping you in lots of love and showering you with care, your parents dismissed your feelings or didn’t give you the attention you needed, there’s a chance you’re still paying for it now.

These days, you might find yourself flinching at the slightest taste of rejection. 

A Frontiers in Psychology study on the lingering mental impact of how we’re parented touched on how “rejection is usually indicated by negative and hostile expressions shown by parents.”

The researchers make an incredible point—if your emotional needs weren’t met when you were at this formative stage in your life, it’s natural to be more sensitive to rejection as a grown up.

So, when rejection inevitably springs up, instead of beating yourself up about it, pause.

Try to understand where those feelings might have originated from, likely, it’s rooted in childhood trauma. 

2) You are accustomed to life being chaotic

If chaos was your constant companion as a child, especially from the home front, it might be an indicator that your parents were emotionally under-prepared to raise you.

It might have looked like this: no structure, no routine, just an endless loop of unpredictable vibes.

The previous study found that “chaos is shown by a lack of consistency in rules and parental behaviors.”

Meaning that if chaos is the norm rather than the exception in your upbringing, it could be a sign that your parents weren’t natural-born nurturers.

Whether it’s a lack of structure, consistency, or emotional support, the effects can course through your later life.

3) You are easily coerced into doing things

Do you often find that you’re faced with situations where you’re easily convinced to do something, even if it’s not what you really want or need?

Perhaps it’s agreeing to plans you don’t like or going along with someone else’s ideas just to keep the peace.

Well, why does this happen? Often, it stems from your upbringing.

The previously mentioned study asserted that “coercion is characterized by strict parental control.”

This means that your parents were the type to persuade or guilt-trip you into doing things their way, or maybe they used tactics like bribery or emotional manipulation to get you to comply with their way of life.

Over time, you might have learned to prioritize their wishes over your own—even if it meant sacrificing your own needs as a kid.

Nowadays, you might still find yourself falling into this harmful pattern. You hesitate to speak up or assert yourself, fearing conflict or rejection.

 But here’s the thing: constantly prioritizing others’ needs over your own isn’t good for you.

4) You find yourself becoming aggressive 

A reason why you might find yourself easily getting angry as an adult is because of your childhood.

When parents don’t teach us healthy ways to handle emotions or conflicts with care, it can lead to full-blown outbursts later in life.

A study in the Journal of Child and Family Studies explored this link between parenting style and aggression.

Researchers stated that parents who showed “depressed mood, anxiety, and antisocial traits” were more likely to have kids with “internalizing problems” including “withdrawn behavior and externalizing problems such as aggression.”

This means that instead of addressing your feelings calmly, your parents either ignored you or reacted with anger themselves.

Which, of course, can really hurt. Then in adulthood, when you’re faced with similar situations, your default reaction mirrors what you learned as a child: aggression.

Next time you feel that familiar surge of anger, ask yourself: is it time to finally confront those unmet needs from the past

5) You’re accustomed to a lack of attention

When we’re little, we tend to be brimming with questions and eager for attention—it’s just how we roll!

We wanted nothing more than for someone to listen and care (plus with a few treats sprinkled in, of course).

But if our parents were too busy or emotionally immature to give us this attention, we might learn to settle for less. Much less.

The study found that “while negative emotions like anger and frustration are thought to lead to parental inattention.”

Often feeling overlooked or ignored isn’t just a small grievance—it’s a sign your parents weren’t great at giving you what you needed when you were young.

Do you still find yourself craving this kind of attention and validation? 

Maybe you’re always the one making plans or going out of your way for others. But no matter what you do, it feels like you’re not getting what you need.

6) You struggle to regulate your emotions

Without the proper guidance on handling emotions, children aren’t equipped with the life-long skills on how to calm down when they are upset or how to express themselves in a healthy way. 

As they grow older, these difficulties in regulating emotions can follow them well into adulthood.

A study on negative parenting and the impact on children’s psychological adjustment found that feeling rejected by one’s parents could lead to emotional dysregulation.

Researchers said: “Maternal rejection was associated with higher one year later aggressive problems, which in turn were associated with higher dysregulation of sadness.”

Basically, when parents don’t help their kids understand and manage their emotions, it can become almost impossible for the child to make sense of what they’re feeling, and that includes rage and depression. 

That’s why learning the correct way to process and regulate emotions is so crucial in childhood—it sets the foundation for how we handle many of life’s inevitable ups and downs.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

6 signs someone is probably not a great person, according to psychologists

8 signs a man’s attraction for you isn’t just physical, according to psychology