7 Signs You Had Emotionally Unavailable Parents

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Namrata Roy

29 November 2023

7 Mins

During the formative years, your parents have a major influence on your emotional and mental development. They are not only responsible for moulding you into the person you are today but also for fostering your own sense of self-worth and self-love.

However, for those who grew up with emotionally distant or neglectful parents, the journey can be challenging. The absence of love, affection, and support can lead to feelings of self-doubt, low self-esteem, and a belief that they are unworthy of love and care.

The impact of such upbringing echoes in their personalities and relationships ,creating emotional struggles. It's important to acknowledge and understand these signs to heal and foster healthier connections.

Invisibility may begin with busy or disconnected parents, but we can perpetuate it through our own habits and by distancing ourselves from the world.

It can be hard to deal with neglecting parents. Feel better by connecting with a Now&Me expert and reparenting your inner child with a little more love and care.

Signs You Are Dealing With Emotionally Distant Parents

Having an emotionally distant parent can be quite traumatic and hurtful. These are the signs that you can look out for to know that you are dealing with an emotional unavailable parent.

  1. The relationship's roles might be swapped, which means you now have to look after your parents, which is clearly unsuitable for your age, rather than the other way around.

  2. You have to lie frequently in order to avoid mistreatment such as physical or verbal abuse, which is meted out even for minor inconveniences you cause your parents.

  3. Because you've always been given conditional love and care, you frequently try to please others at the expense of your own pleasure and happiness.

  4. You are afraid that if you don't keep others happy all the time, they won't love you back, just like your parents.

7 Signs Your Parents Were Emotionally Unavailable

7 Signs Your Parents Were Emotionally Unavailable

1. They don't appreciate your accomplishments

If your parents don't appreciate the time and effort you put in to achieve something, it might make you feel as if your achievements are worthless. Lack of acknowledgement and appreciation can undermine your self-worth, and as a result, you may struggle in life.

Growing up with emotionally absent parents can lead to a loss of self-confidence and the drive to accomplish anything significant in life. They are the ones who shape your self-perception, define your life goals, and recognise every small accomplishment in order to support and inspire you.

2. They don't acknowledge your efforts or struggles

Good parenting entails guiding their child through life's highs and lows. They will recognise your efforts and problems and urge you to learn from your mistakes, even if you fail. It is your parents that instil in you the never give up attitude.

However, emotionally absent parents fail to notice and recognise their child's efforts in something they care about. Such children feel increasingly abandoned and believe that their hopes and goals are unimportant or meaningless. They don't see the importance of the time and effort they put into anything, and they often grow up to have lower self-esteem.

3. They are least interested in spending time with you

A child's first companion is their parents. They lay the foundations for their mental, physical, and emotional growth, and they accompany them as they learn and explore life. Whenever you need your parents, you can count on them to listen and be by your side. A parent should spend time getting to know you and assisting you in understanding and dealing with life.

However, it is not the case for those who have grown up with emotionally absent parents. Because they were denied quality time with their own mother or father, they feel lonely, undesired, and unloved. To replace the vacuum left by their parents, such youngsters frequently seek love from outside sources. Most of the time, they feel vulnerable and alone.

4. They don’t acknowledge the important things in your life

It can be really disheartening when your parents don't care about your likes and dislikes or what is actually important to you. You always seek support from your parents first. And you feel incredibly low when they dismiss your sentiments and are ignorant of the things that excite you the most.

The parent archetype is a universal role of nurturing, loving, selflessness, and emotional openness. It's tough to grow as an adult with stable mental health if your own parents don't fit that description. Because these people grew up with little or no empathy from their parents, they downplay the significance of the small things that matter to them.

5. They never compliment you

Appreciation builds your child's self-esteem and confidence. You're teaching your youngster how to think and speak favourably about themselves by utilising compliments. You're assisting your child in learning to enjoy and acknowledge their accomplishments.

However, one of the terrible symptoms of emotionally unavailable parents is that they fail to appreciate you for your accomplishments. They are uninterested in emotional closeness, in which two people get to know and understand each other on a deeper level. It's difficult to love an emotionally distant parent who demands respect and special treatment while at the same time attempting to disregard and dismiss you.

6. They've never voiced their feelings for you

It's crucial that parents express their love for their children, so it can be really upsetting if they don't say "I love you" or show affection. A child's optimal brain development requires love and care. The way their parents react to them has an impact on a child's self-esteem, confidence, and ability to cope with stress.

Emotionally distant and immature parents, on the other hand, do not actively tell their children how much they mean to them, leading their children to assume that they are unloved and unimportant.

7. They don’t engage in meaningful interactions with you

Such parents are exceedingly self-centred, which means that everything revolves around them. When it comes to their needs, they expect you to take second place. These parents also prioritise their own interests to the point where yours become secondary. They do not seek an equal relationship.

Communication is essential for fostering a strong relationship between a parent and a child, and without it, they will be unable to form a strong attachment. Parents should make an effort to interact with their children after they get home from school or office so that they feel heard and understood by the ones who care about them the most.

How To Protect Yourself From Emotionally Unavailable Parents

How To Protect Yourself From Emotionally Absent Parenting

When your relationship with your parents is strained, the atmosphere in which you grow up can become extremely toxic and stressful. Understanding how to deal with emotionally unavailable or distant parents, as well as how to recover from the pain they have inflicted, can help you take care of your mental health.

1. Don’t blame yourself for what you can’t control

It's not your fault if your parents don't show you the affection or love you deserve. So don't feel guilty or upset, and remember that you are not responsible for any of it.

2. Practice self-care activities

When your parents are oblivious of your situation, you must take care of yourself. Basic self-care chores include getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and maintaining personal hygiene. Self-care cultivates self-love and assists you in becoming a stronger and more healed individual.

3. Set healthy boundaries

Parents that are emotionally distant may manipulate you using mind games or pop in and out of your life. Make it clear to them that such behaviours are unacceptable. To protect your mental health, set healthy boundaries and don't let anyone do anything that makes you uncomfortable or unhappy.

4. Don’t ignore your feelings

One of the worst effects of having emotionally unavailable parents is ignoring and suppressing your emotions. Allow yourself to express freely. On Now&Me, you can share them anonymously with a community of kind and compassionate people.

Remember: Your parents' actions were not a reflection of who you are. Their behaviour was not your fault and you are not to blame in this situation.

Dealing with emotionally unavailable parents can be hard. Talk to a Now&Me expert who can help you navigate through this situation in an empathetic and healthy manner for free.

How Can Now&Me help?

Now&Me provides a safe and supportive platform to connect with experienced mental health and self care professionals who can offer you guidance and support.

Our peer community is welcoming, non-judgmental, and inclusive, creating a warm and supportive environment to share your thoughts and feelings.

You can interact with like-minded peers or seek guidance from experienced experts like therapists and life coaches, instantly. What are you waiting for? Download for FREE!


A lot of things may cause someone to be emotionally unavailable, but two of the major reasons are - fear and trauma. It’s the fear of opening up, being left out, losing someone, or being betrayed and some traumatic event from the past that stops you from emotionally connecting with someone. Emotional detachment can be a choice or a consequence.

If you live with an emotionally unavailable parent, perform a self-evaluation. Check if you have become emotionally unavailable too. It's common for people with parents who have emotionally detached from them to tend to shut themselves out. Ensure that you create some healthy boundaries for yourself; you need to take care of yourself!

It may be hard to open up to your parents or talk to them because they might not understand what is going on in your life and how the events affect you. Try engaging in small talks with them and figure out their thought process. Understanding your parents more may help you feel less disconnected from them. However, this feeling of disconnection might not lead to a lack of affection.

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