7 Signs That Your Parents Emotionally Neglect You

One of the biggest surprises about growing up is realizing that your parents aren’t perfect. Sure, maybe you already came to that conclusion when you were younger, but when you’re in your late teens and twenties…your parents’ imperfections become glaring. Maybe it’s because they have less authority over you by then, or maybe it’s just maturity and gaining some empathy for your parents that you couldn’t as a kid. But trust me, their flaws will be so glaring that you’ll be blinded by them. As you grow and have a better understanding of yourself, you’ll see how your upbringing and parents’ influence made you the person you are; the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have my mom’s curiosity and my dad’s extroversion. I have my dad’s quick temper and my mom’s high strung nature, and that’s all thanks to how they raised me.

But what if, as you peel back the onion-like layer of your parents’ personalities, you realize something a little more sinister, something that goes beyond little personality flaws and quirks. It takes maturity to realize that your parents didn’t provide them the emotional support you needed as a kid. What if you find out your parents were low key neglectful? People act like neglect must appear in a super dramatic, abusive, violent package, as if neglect means a parent doesn’t provide food or clothes for their kids. But that’s not necessarily true when it comes to emotional neglect. Curious as to what emotional neglect looks like? Check out these seven signs that your parents emotionally neglect you. This could explain a lot of feelings you’ve been unable to process until now.

Your Parent Is One Of The Following

There's a movie called Mommie Dearest in which the protagonist's over protective Hollywood mother has a massive freak out over finding a single wire hanger in her daughter's closet...because wire hangers are bad or something. Anyway, she's the definition of an overprotective parent, and she would be an ideal candidate for a parent who is emotionally neglectful and borderline emotionally abusive. But a lot of types of parents can be emotionally neglectful. Here are some primary examples: Busy parents, financially unstable parents, very lax parents, absent parents, narcissistic parents, etc. They might put a roof over your head, they might help you with your homework, and they might happily take you prom dress shopping. But that doesn't mean that they can't leave you feeling like you're starving for emotional support and guidance.

Mommie Dearest

You're Super Codependent In Relationships

Whether it's a BFF or a romantic partner, you're super clingy. Like, so clingy that you risk putting your relationships in jeopardy because of it. When you've spent years of your life lacking a strong emotional connection with your family, you might try to make up for it with friends and lovers. It's like, you're so thirsty for this connectivity that an emotional connection with someone is like a drug. You could have the best of intentions, but you could also lack boundaries and get a little possessive. Be real with yourself: Does this describe some of your relationships? Do they tend to end on a sour note?

Some Girls

They Don't Support You In A Way That Feels Good

Sure, they bought you some shin guards, but they're never at any of your soccer games. They encouraged you to take all AP classes this semester, but never feel the need to congratulate you on your good grades. You've told them that you need help in one of your courses, but they never actually do anything to prove that they intend to help you out. In other words, they don't really provide the support that you need so that you know they care about you, whether it's your accomplishments or your struggles.

That '70s Show

Your Parents Are More Concerned With How They Come Across Than Anything Else

Remember Regina George's "Cool Mom" from Mean Girls? Her character reminds me a lot of parents who perform a lot of benign neglect or have narcissistic tendencies. Your parents shouldn't prioritize looking cool or having a good reputation with your friends over raising you like a normal parent should. Your parent is your parent, not your friend. They might mean well, but this kind of attitude can overshadow basic parenting, which is neglectful AF.

Mean Girls

Your Self Esteem Sucks

Whether you like it or not, your self-esteem starts at home. When you're the child of an emotionally neglectful parent, you're not getting the support that you need from the people you need it from the most. Sure, maybe they'll have their moments, but they're moments, not a state of being.


You're Emotionally Distant

One major side effect of being raised by emotionally neglectful parents is emotional distance in your life. I mean, it's not hard to see how this happens: You grow up in an environment that lacks the emotional support that a child needs. After a while, your survival depends on lowering your expectations of receiving any kind of emotional nourishment. Sound familiar? Well, do you also find it hard to express yourself? Thought so. Unfortunately, you bring that survival mode into your other relationships, including friends and romantic partners.


Your Parents Were Emotionally Neglected As Kids

Does your mom or dad have a rough relationship with their parents? Have you witnessed your grandparents treat your parents very much the same way your parents treat you? Sure, it's possible to break free from a cycle of neglect, but it's tough. And maybe, just maybe, your parent(s) were emotionally neglected themselves, and inadvertently neglected you too. Does that excuse them entirely? No. But having a little empathy for them at leasts gives you some perspective.

My So-Called Life

Does this sound a little too familiar for you? Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Ashley Reese, on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite!

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  • That’s some of me but I can’t fault my grandparents, I’m sure my grandparents felt and did serve their childrens’ needs as best they could. They were dirt-poor and not very educated, I believe they focused on survival and trying to feed and discipline their kids. Not ideal but they did have the best of intentions, didn’t they?