Emotional Dependency

Emotional dependency is the need to be mothered, loved, comforted, taken care of and emotionally supported. It is also a tendency to seek help from others for guidance, decision making and carrying out difficult tasks.

As babies, we are completely dependent on our caregivers for all of our needs. As we grow, we begin to develop toward a final outcome of complete independence. This is best illustrated by the following example:

As a toddler, your little girl comes to you whenever she is hurt or in need of emotional support of any kind. She continues to rely on you as she grows while at the same time she also struggles to develop her own independence. Then one day the inevitable happens. Your teen comes home from school, stomps into her room and refuses to talk about it. Our initial response is probably to offer whatever comfort and support that we can, much as we have done all of her life.

Many parents fail to realize that the scene above is merely an indication of effective parenting. Your little girl is attempting to problem solve for herself and to exert her independence. At this point, your job is to be there for her when and if she needs you. The family is the most important model in the developmental process but it was never meant to be permanent. Effective parents foster independence rather than dependency.

Emotional independence is one the greatest gifts you can give your child. Parents who excessively pamper or over-indulge their children are doing them a great disservice. These kids will grow up resentful, angry and frustrated and they will carry that well into their adult years.

Children need to learn to do things for themselves, and they need to opportunity to fail, make mistakes and problem solve on their own. Clingy, spoiled, needy children have great difficulty making good decisions and adapting in the real world.

Many submissive adults have never resolved their own dependency issues, either with their own parents or with their current partner. Submissive partners end up feeling frustrated, trapped and dissatisfied with life in general. They fail to become self-reliant people who foster independence rather than domination, fear or guilt.

Emotionally stable parents allow their children to leave the nest armed with strong feelings of self-worth and the ability to make decisions and face the consequences of those decisions. By guiding our children toward mental and emotional stability, we are doing the job we are supposed to do as parents.

Emotionally independent young adults understand that a partnership is based on allowing each partner to be the person they truly are, not the person we wish they were. To forge a healthy, productive relationship with someone else, we first need to stand alone and be independent and strong ourselves.