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Unapologetically Sensitive

We explore how sensitivity weaves itself into our lives; the richness that it adds, and the strengths we have BECAUSE of our sensitivity--and some of the challenges it poses as well. You may learn to live a bolder, brighter life.

Oct 8, 2019


What is an Emotionally Immature Parent, & How to Identify a Healthy Relationship 


Lindsay Gibson, PsyD.


Dr. Lindsay Gibson, author of Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents, & Recovering from Emotionally Immature Parents explains what an emotionally immature parent is, and how this impacts their adult children.  I talk about crying when I got overwhelmed when my kids were young, and Lindsay comments on this. We talk about how to establish good emotional ties with our children, and what constitutes good enough parenting, Lindsay provides nineteen qualities to identify what a healthy relationship looks like.



  • What is emotionally immaturity?
  • Why is it important to understand it?
  • What are the main characteristics of an emotionally immature parent?
  • How do relationships with emotionally immature parents affect their children’s lives?
  • What are the main things to remember when dealing with emotionally immature parents?
  • If you’re dating, how do you pick a person who is emotionally mature?
  • How do you identify what a healthy relationship looks like?
  • What is our human Bill of Rights?
  • We talk about repair work with parenting
  • I share that I’d get really frustrated with my boys when they were young, and I’d cry because I didn’t know what else to do
  • Lindsay talks about how she views this
  • We talk about the pressures of parenting
  • Lindsay explains what good enough parenting is—which should be very reassuring to parents!
  • I share about having a tantrum when my son had a tantrum and how it felt lousy afterward
  • We’d do good repair work, but I eventually learned to stay calm
  • I would also let my boys know when I was edgy and close to loosing it. I would let them know what they could do to help me.
  • They’ve told me as young adults how helpful this was to them
  • We talk about emotional intimacy with our children
  • How do we let ourselves be known by our children when we are having difficult feelings
  • How to establish good emotional ties with our kids in a good way
  • Winnicut talks about good enough parenting
  • Research shows that it just takes 30% of being a good enough parent in order to have a favorable outcome
  • Lindsay gives an example of how an adult child could set a limit with their emotionally immature parent if they decided not to spend Thanksgiving with the family
  • When adult children set limits with their emotionally immature parents, the parent feels rejected; unloved or they have a strong defensive reaction
  • When setting a boundary, you want to stay present to your own heart
  • You want to be able to have empathy and acknowledge what it is like for the other person
  • You want to remember what your goal is for the interaction, so your intention is clear for yourself
  • You also have an opportunity to observe how the other person is reacting, and the defenses that they use
  • Emotionally Healthy Relationships
    • Is the person generally realistic and reliable?
    • Do they work with reality rather than fighting it?
    • Are they finding ways to solve problems or are they complaining about how they’ve been victimized?
    • Do they have a consistent and reliable nature about them?
    • Do they take things personally?
    • When they get upset, can they still think? Do they lose the ability to be rational?
    • Signs of temper, impatience or impulsivity should be a red flag—those are cardinal signs of immaturity
    • Another red flag is when a person gets very upset, then tells you it’s just because they love you
    • You want your partner to be reciprocal; you do something for them and they do something for you
    • You set a boundary, and they say OK
    • If you set a boundary, and your partner tries to talk you out of it, or walk you out of it, that is two red flags
    • Boundaries at the beginning of the relationship will tell you almost everything you want to know about that person
    • Being flexible and able to compromise is a sign of maturity
    • You want someone who is basically truthful; that you can trust who they are
    • Does the person respond to you in a manner that you feel safe, and seen and heard?
    • Do they reflect on their mistakes and try and change, or do they make excuses?
    • Do they reflect when you tell them you’re mad at them, or do they say, “Why do you keep bringing that up? What’s wrong with you?”
    • If they can’t accept when you’re angry and they get defensive, that’s about having a major lack of empathy
    • Your partner is thin skinned meaning they do not allow other’s reactions to happen, because that person gets so reactive
  • Nobody is more intrinsically important as an adult than anybody else
  • They way that emotionally immature people react with guilt, shame, fear and self-doubt, can make the other person start to doubt their reality
  • This is where you have to remember that “There’s good stuff in me!”


Lindsay Gibson, PsyD. has been a licensed clinical psychologist for over thirty years and specializes in individual adult psychotherapy with adult children of emotionally immature parents. She is the author of three books, the most recent being Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents and just out in May of this year, Recovering from Emotionally Immature Parents. In the past Dr. Gibson has served as an adjunct assistant professor teaching doctoral psychology students, and she writes a monthly Well-Being column for Tidewater Women magazine in Virginia Beach, VA.


Patricia Young hosts the podcast Unapologetically Sensitive, and works with Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) helping them to understand their HSP traits, and turning their perceived shortcomings into superpowers. Patricia is passionate about providing education to help HSPs and non-HSPs understand and truly appreciate the amazing gifts they have to offer. Patricia works globally online with HSPs providing coaching. Patricia also facilitates online groups for HSPs that focus on building community and developing skills (identifying your superpowers, boundaries, perfectionism, dealing with conflict, mindfulness, embracing emotions, creating a lifestyle that supports the HSP, communication and more).



Dr. Elaine Aron’s website—HSP self-test

Dr. Gibson’s book was translated from English to Russian by Elena Tereshchnkova  You can find the actual translator here--


Facebook group Unapologetically Sensitive--




Show hashtag--#unapologeticallysensitive

Music-- Gravel Dance by Andy Robinson