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Emotionally abusive and unavailable parents, what should I do?

Community Member

Hello there,

just to clarify before I get into any deeper details my life has not been overly horrible. I am appreciative with the fact that I have a roof over my head, I have food in my belly and I have the privilege of attending secondary school and going into to complete my last year of VCE. Ok, thank you for hearing in about my disclaimer. Let’s talk about mental health now!

Both of my parents have always been emotionally abusive and unavailable. My mother is emotionally immature and unavailable. When I was a little girl I was never taught how to love myself and be confident with who I truly am. I was always taught to dislike ones looks and personality, considering that is what my mother brought forward when I spoke to her about self confidence. She never spoke to me about typical mother and daughter. I did not even properly know about puberty when I entered my early teens. Due to these circumstances I have always been the ‘lone wolf’ and ‘weird girl’ throughout school because I was never taught how to wear makeup, how to dress to fit in or how to behave in a particular way in order to grab the attention from others. There was a brief time in my junior years of primary school where I was getting bullied and I consulted my mother about the situation and she said “just make friends.” just to clarify also my mother had postnatal depression when I was born. So I have never known what proper affection is which actually means I have been exposed to some unhealthy relationships and friendships where people have taken advantage of me in many brutal and unfair ways. Due to the fact my mother taught me to not to love myself I have battled with hating my body, my looks etc in my earlier teen years. My mother would compare my body to other girls. Coming to my last few years of my teenage moments I have learnt how to love myself and I have grown an individual identity which allows me to be quirky and quintessential. I basically parented myself for the most part.

on the other hand though my father can be quite emotionally abusive too. From the age of four and onwards because my mother has been emotionally unavailable I have been the “therapist” to assist with how to budget, how to deal with trauma etc. he has always come to me for advice, even at such a young age. This has put an enormous strain on my mental health considering my parents have just recently separated and now he needs me to be here more than ever. What should I do?

14 Replies 14


Hi PsychedelicFur,

Thank you so much for this contribution. It is very brave and generous of you to share. You appear to be mature beyond your years.

However mature we get though, sometimes we need to talk to others about issues like these for our own mental wellbeing. I'm sure you will find some of the answers you seek from other members of our valued Beyond Blue community who are experiencing or have experienced something similar here or elsewhere on our forums.

If you'd like to talk these feelings through in real time, please contact us anytime on 1300 22 4636 or get in touch with us on Weebchat 3pm to midnight AEDT here: www.beyondblue.org.au/getsupport . Or you could try Headspace which caters especially for young people 12-25 like you. The can be reached at https://www.eheadspace.org.au/ or 1800 650 890.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear PsychedelicFur~

I've been reading your thoughts right back to November and frankly I'm in admiration. I'm unsure of your age but guess at late teens - apologies if I got it wrong.

There are some people that find themselves early on, not many but some, and I believe you are one of them. You do not go with the herd and like what I'd mistakenly call hippy outfits, music from 60's rock onward, and do not regard people by their outside, but rather if they are honest and sincere.

You have also had the maturity to use this Forum as a sounding board for the events and feelings in your life, tapping into a huge reservoir of experience.

From the sound of it you relationship with your parents has not been a happy one, with disparaging remarks and distance from your mother, and over-reliance on you by your father - though to be fair he's probably felt lost for a long time.

I guess your mother leaving to be second fiddle to another man, and doting on his daughter is going to make you hurt, even heartbroken - and angry, as have all the remarks of your mother over the years, and the distance you have felt from others throughout your life.

Frankly that is natural, and human. And perhaps in some ways to be valued, to recognize you have been abused is to see you have worth -does that make sense? Experimenting or reaching out and ending up in unhealthy relationships is to be expected, the wonder is you recognizing the fact so early on.

So what to do? I don't know what you think. Make the best of your father perhaps? Even with faults and over-reliance I do remember you saying at one time "My father is great support and has been helping me cope." So he's a mixture.

There are other 'old souls' and with your penetrating view you will find one that fits and can be part of a pair, a pleasure you have yet to experience. I'm not saying it is about to happen, however you had patience in your younger years when things were not good, you can endure and find pleasure in smaller things until you meet a complimentary soul.

I've not said much that's an instant fix or even made practical suggestions, just talked about your worth.

"My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends. Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends"

I would like it if you came and talked some more.


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello PsychedelicFur, we can see that you've been involved quite a bit on the forums which is great, but firstly can I also suggest Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 who counsel people from the age of 5 up to 25 and dress in casual clothes which can be a huge relief in forming a connection.

It's been a difficult time for you and there is no doubt at all about this and certainly makes growing up to be so uncertain as to which direction to take or being forced to make a decision against your wills.

Compassionate parents would indeed be more supportive and understanding, however, this didn't happen, instead, the opposite happened where your dad has asked you for advice, maybe this has happened to keep you thinking that you are the person who needs to be considered just to try and make you feel that you're not left out, unfortunately, it seems to have gone the other direction.

There is only so much we can do to help our parents and in circumstances like this you need to isolate yourself so you can get the help you need, because your parents will pull you in opposite directions.

Best wishes.


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello PsychedelicFur

I gather from Croix and Geoff's posts that you are an active member of this forum and impressed both of them. Many congratulations. Unfortunately I have not read your previous posts so am responding to you from a fresh perspective. I can see you are quite resilient which is a great attribute. Not many people can bounce back and even fewer can use their experiences to help others.

Parenting your parents is a delicate job. It seems you have done well with this and learned on the way to care and love yourself. This is a great asset as we do need to be self-reliant. Please find people in your life who you can lean on at various times. We all need this however strong we are. It is this trust and support that's gets us through life at those sticky times. I see Geoff has suggested you contact the Kids Helpline if you are under 25. They have a web site which you may like to explore. https://www.kidshelpline.com.au/ They also have a 24/7 phone line in case you become particularly distressed. 1800 55 1800

Like Croix I have not offered suggestions, other than the helpline, as I am unsure what you need. So please continue to post in here, even if just for a chat.


Thank you very much. The kind words you provide have really made me think of things from a more in depth and deeper perspective. My father is wonderful support to me and is helping me cope with all I have to deal with at the moment. It just sometimes gets to me that he brings a lot of his problems onto me. Perhaps it is because I’m such a mature and understanding individual who acknowledges other people’s pain and heartache. Thank you again.

Dear PsychedelicFur~

I often get the feeling it can be a partnership between parent and offspring, not an authoritarian setup. True a parent is older and hopefully will have garnered more experience, however the younger may be able to proved fresh insight, perspective and even strength, all in an atmosphere of mutual affection.

Such mutuality takes an exceptional and mature younger partner.

Perhaps if you viewed your father in that light ?

Do you think I'm saying things that relate?

"You and I have memories
Longer than the road that stretches out ahead


Quite right, quite right. Thank you for responding with your insight.
He is the one who has stood by me for so long and I honestly appreciate that more than anything. Thank you again for the reply.


Hello there,

my dad is trying his hardest to support me. He is taking on new roles and I appreciate every little thing he does. How can I support him more and be there for him?


Dear Psychedelic Fur~

I remember there was one thing I wanted to say before but plain forgot, it has to do with herds. I remember you saying some time ago you noticed a hesitation or inability to get close quickly by some others. A lot of humans are vestigial herd or tribal entities and things outside their normal sphere take special regard, not the easy ways of the familiar.

It's no reflection on you, just a limitation in some others, and may not altogether be a bad thing. Pre-sorting the sheep from the goats as it were can be a useful tool to start to form an opinion about someone.

I can't see you wanting to be too close to those that are overly-conventional, I suspect your mind is too agile.

Incidentally if you don't mind an observation your avatar always reminds me of the Beatles "Lucy in the sky the diamonds", I expect you can guess which Beatles song is more appropriate for me.