Many people with C-PTSD suffered at the hands of emotionally unavailable parenting from one or both of their primary caregivers. When it’s both, life becomes doubly as tough and the long-term effects on their mental health can be devastating.
Q: If a child has had not one, but two emotionally unavailable parents, what is the outcome usually like for the child as they grow up?
EE: Nothing good, is the short answer!
The long answer I can only give from my own experience of emotionally unavailable parenting:
The outcome is grim.
A Threat To The Status Quo
My sibling is as emotionally unavailable as both of my parents which is clearly why they get along so well. I myself am a huge mess of emotions and deep thoughts with feels spilling out all over the place. This makes me a big threat to the status quo
My mum refused to engage with deep emotions unless she had no choice. She made it her mission to punish, shame, belittle and frighten me into keeping mine hidden, purely so she didn’t have to deal with them. And as we all know, little kids have big emotions.
My dad stopped maturing emotionally sometime around the mid-teens and my sensitivity confused him deeply. They were both on the same page, basically.
An Example of Emotionally Unavailable Parenting
We had a kitten who was killed on the road outside the house. Eight-year-old me was devastated, long beyond the one allotted hug from mum. My parents couldn’t understand why because in their mind, I’d been comforted so it was time to get over it. I couldn’t.
There was nobody to talk to about how sad I felt or my guilt at not having been there. kids blame themselves for weird stuff. There was no one to ask about the terrifying reality of someone you love disappearing overnight or what happens after we die. All the stuff that would, in an emotionally healthy family have been talked out, was missing.
All attempts to express grief were shut down. Both parents’ weapon of choice was abject shame and I was yelled at for attention-seeking enough times to give up. This left me obsessed by my own grief, to the point of deciding to dig up the cat and see for myself. It wasn’t pretty and I caught hell for being ‘ghoulish, morbid and weird.’
History Repeating Itself
Not until adulthood did I understand that emotionally unavailable parenting is hereditary. My mum grew up lauded for her stoicism while her sensitive younger sister was made an example of.
And boy, did history repeat itself.
My entire childhood was about being wrong for expressing my feelings. Consequently, I’m a somewhat self-absorbed adult with excess empathy, a deep sense of shame and zero self-belief.
I’m hardwired to despise everything about myself and frankly, it sucks.
My sibling? Well, their entire childhood was about being the golden child to my scapegoat. Consequently, they are a confident, assertive, successful, hypocritical, deeply inauthentic covert narc with breathtakingly snobbish views on those considered beneath them.
.I cut my toxic sibling out of my life last year and have yet to feel one moment of regret.
To answer your question, it’s my experience that a child of emotionally unavailable parenting can go two ways: tow the party line and become emotionally crippled themselves or grow up unable to shake the belief there is something inherently wrong with them for feeling as much as they do.