How To Deal With Immature Parents

how to deal with immature parents

Every family and relationship is unique.

It’s not an easy decision to limit contact with your parents, but it’s not easy to be forced to work out how to deal with immature parents either.

This is a personal choice that will take some deep reflecting, but remember that is it your choice.

Here is some information and a few tips about how to deal with immature parents.


Healthy Boundaries

Immature parents often blur the lines of what is functional and healthy and what isn’t. This is hard to see because your behaviors have been shaped by your parents, your outlook has been influenced, and your ability to create boundaries is likely very limited.

When you were born with the elephant already in the room, it’s hard to see the dysfunction and even harder to take a stance against it.

Your boundaries are unique to you and the settings you find yourself in with your parents. It’s also worth mentioning that there are different kinds of immature parents. Not every approach is going to work with every parent. If substance abuse is a factor, their state of mind is another component.

What relationship do you want to have with your parents and how much are you willing to tolerate? Here are some clues that you need to take a closer look at the relationship.

  • you feel drained after spending time with them
  • you feel frustrated hearing about them
  • you make excuses for their behavior
  • you overlook their behaviors
  • you find yourself upset listening to others justify their behavior
  • you feel resentful towards them
  • you dread being around them
  • you feel scorned, judgmental, short, or frazzled near them
  • you have to hide the truth around them
  • you have to adjust yourself to be around them
  • something feels “off”
  • you feel used or taken advantage of
  • you feel alone, or lonely around them

These are all clues that the relationship could be improved. There are tons of ways to try and fix these problems and like I said earlier, every situation is going to be unique.



Limit Contact

If you want to take boundaries a bit further, you could stay at a distance. Maybe just appearing to Thanksgiving and Christmas is the extent of your visits. Maybe you just talk on the phone or send a card.

Remember that you don’t have to keep these changes for life. You can try them, see how you feel and always adjust your level of contact. 

Sometimes taking a step back and gaining some perspective helps us see a possible solution. Perhaps you’re only willing to go through seeing them for holidays or “for the kids”.

I do encourage you to remember what being a kid with them was like for you.

Are you really doing your kids a favor by keeping your immature parents around?

These decisions are hard, so take your time deciding on what is best for your situation. Understanding how to deal with immature parents means you need to come to grips with the truth and let go of the illusion of who they use to be or their potential. 



No Contact

It’s not uncommon that after backing up and limiting contact, we see our answer.

You’ve tried talking to them about your concerns and they still blatantly step on your boundaries or for whatever reason, are incapable of growth. Not having contact with our parents can mean different things.

I’ve met people that allow their kids to see them, but personally do not engage with their own parents.

Others choose to keep the parents out of the picture completely. 

This can be a hard choice but sometimes it is the right choice.

If it’s something you’re contemplating maybe try writing out a list of what you gain from having them in your life & what you lose. At the end of the day, you come first.

Don’t feel guilty about making a choice that’s right for you.

Learning how to deal with immature parents takes a lot of self reflection & difficult decisions.




You’re likely to experience a feeling of loss when you change the relationship with your parent. You can grieve a person who is still alive, even if they’re still in your life. Here are some ways to help you grieve the loss of the relationship you had with them

  • journaling
  • a therapist
  • group therapy
  • art; painting, drawing, music
  • exercise
  • reminisce and celebrate the positives
  • allow yourself to feel
  • replace what’s necessary

You may need to find another babysitter, transportation, work out partner, drinking buddy, etc.

Whatever you find yourself lacking because of the relationship being adjusted; try to find it somewhere else or replace the unhealthy aspects of the relationship you had with them into something that is positive and enhances your life.

You can try to adjust the relationship with your parents, but not everyone is willing to change or grow and that’s when you’ll have to check your boundaries and possibly put your foot down.

Learning how to deal with immature parents often involves drawing a hard line in the sand.

how to deal with immature parents



Connect With Others

It can be helpful to talk to a friend, or even a professional. Often times we’re not very good at seeing the best option because we were raised by people who made us or even preferred us to be emotionally incapable of conflict resolution.

If you’re dealing with a parent that is an addict; the truth is their enemy and you’ll likely feel ashamed to mention the addiction or even acknowledge their problems to yourself.

It took me years of working with a therapist to unravel my feelings, healthy boundaries and come to grips with reality.

I will put a couple links below too. They are (free) resources where people come together from similar situations. It can be extremely helpful to hear from people who have been there and to have people listen to you.

Observing how to deal with immature parents from another persons’ experiences and perspective can be really insightful and validating.

It can be really healthy to get support, listen to others, and have others listen to you. A therapist is an obvious choice but you could also use some free groups or even communities like Reddit and Quora. Take advice that feels right and consider your source too. Here are some resources I’ve personally used that I learned a lot from. 


Hope Recovery

A non profit organization that offers TONS of free support. They have individualized therapy and support groups for eating disorders, abuse, PTSD, dissociation, sexual trauma, grief and loss, self esteem, self care, men’s support groups, and substance abuse. They definitely have groups that talk about how to to deal with immature parents.

They have one on one services and group/workshops.


Adult Children of Alcoholics & Dysfunctional Families  | ACOA

Another amazing place to connect. ACOA changed my life. I know that many others feel the same admiration for this program. There are thousands of groups and they all have their own flavor. If you don’t like one, try another. They have guidelines to ensure that you feel safe. It’s all free.

You never have to turn on a camera or mic, or speak at all. I sometimes just join to listen to others.

Don’t be turned off if you’re not from an alcoholic family; alcohol aside; there are tons of people that are just as welcome as anyone else.

Unfortunately, many of the people in these groups have had to learn how to deal with immature parents. There are typically a good mix of newcomers and seasoned members.

Dysfunction and abuse comes in a lot of forms and so many people come together and accept each other, as they are, in ACOA. 

I prefer the in-person groups personally, but there are TONS of virtual groups too.


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Here are more posts related to emotionally immature parents:

Signs of Neglect In Adults

17 Brutal Truths About Losing a Parent As a Child

5 Mothers That Can’t Love

PTSD Journaling Prompts

Journaling For Those Who Lost a Parent As a Child