Dealing With Needy Parents

Written by: Ankita Kathad MA (Clinical Psychology)
Last updated date : January 31, 2023

Parents have to look after the needs of their children. Especially when they are young. But what happens when the roles swap? What happens when parents become the ‘needy’ ones in the family? Have you seen children taking up the emotional and financial responsibilities of their parents? It is not uncommon to find elder children of the house being parentified at an early age. Parentification is when the children have to take up roles as parents. Often they are the ones who are providing for their younger siblings and parents both. In this article, we will discuss what it is like to live with needy parents. We talk about dealing with needy parents, especially needy mothers.

In this article, we discover signs of a needy parent, and how it affects the children. Further, we understand how to deal with needy parents and how to heal if one has suffered from the effects.

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Chapter 1:

Needy Parents

There can be two scenarios in the case of needy parents. In one of them, the parentification of young children occurs. This is because the parents become emotionally dependent on their young children. In another case, when children grow up and parents grow old, parents become emotionally needy. This is something that the child finds difficult to handle.

There are many reasons why your parents can become needy. Sometimes, it is due to old age. In many cases, factors such as mental illness can make them needy. There is a possibility that the parent had a narcissistic or borderline personality. In other cases, mental disorders like depression can make them needy. Old age can make parents needy and dependent.

Having an emotionally needy parent does not mean that they are abusive. However, they might end up putting a lot of stress on the child. They may sometimes hurt the child by not expecting a lot from the child. When parents get old and become needy, they might even make their children feel guilty for not paying attention to them.

Chapter 2:

Signs of a Needy Parent or Needy Mother

If you feel like the parent all the time, ask yourself why. When interacting with your parents, do you ever feel like the only adult there? Are they solely focused on their needs, requesting your assistance in meeting them rather than taking care of themselves? Is this how things have been for a very long time?

Here are some signs of a needy parent or needy mother.

  • A needy parent will share all the details of their emotional state with their child. It is normal to share how one feels with someone, however, a needy parent will burden the child with their emotional demands. Additionally, a needy parent or needy mother will not like it if the child grows emotionally close to someone else.
  • A needy parent or mother will want to spend all the time with the child. They will not like it if the child goes away for some reason.
  • A needy parent will consider it the child’s responsibility to provide for their emotional, physical, and financial needs.
  • A needy parent or mother will be emotionally manipulative and will influence the child’s decision. They will also pick up unnecessary fights on minor issues.

Chapter 3:

Effects on Children

If you have grown up with needy parents, here’s how it may have impacted you.
You Become the Healer
Wanting to fix things is great, but if you have been parentified, you have this tendency to fix everything. Sometimes, it is not possible to heal everything. However, you feel guilty if you are unable to fix things. You may feel responsible for everyone’s emotions. This is because, as a child, you felt responsible to meet your parent’s needs. If you can relate, it’s crucial to remember that you are not responsible for the feelings of other people. It’s not your responsibility to continuously infer what someone else might be feeling.
You Are Always Saying Sorry
Often when the child cannot meet the parent’s demands, they say sorry a lot of times. They apologize to avoid conflict. This behavior can be seen in other relations too. For instance, whenever the parentified person argues with their loved ones, they are the ones to say sorry first. This is the case even when they are not at fault.
Difficulty in Setting Boundaries
When parents don’t set appropriate boundaries, children can struggle with boundaries in their life too. Saying ‘no’ can become difficult for them. It is also difficult for them to assert themselves in many places. This happens because they are so used to saying yes to the needs of their parents.
Parent Mode Is Always On
When dealing with a needy parent, you may always have a ‘parent’ mode on. Even when you are having fun with your friends, you are the mother of the group. This can be the cause of you not being able to have fun or let your inner child come out. This can also make you always be on your toes, watching out for your loved ones.
Disregarding Your Feelings
If your parent was too needy, you might have grown up with the idea that your feelings don’t matter as much as other people’s feelings. Your mind may make emotions and feelings seem unsafe, especially if you believe that expressing them will cause people to leave.

Chapter 4:

Dealing with a Needy Parent/Mother

Growing up or dealing with a needy parent can be tough and stressful. If your parents are old and needy, it can tire you up because you may have your children to look after. Additionally, you may have job responsibilities to fulfill. It is therefore important. However, you’ll be better able to deal with your emotionally needy parents if you try to communicate with them. You can sit and reflect on your responsibilities. Here are some ways of dealing with emotionally needy parents.
Assess Responsibilities
If you are dealing with a needy parent or a needy mother, you will notice that you are doing your part of the job. It is important to understand the roles of a parent versus the roles of a child. As a child, it is important to look after your parents. However, it is not your duty to fulfill all of their emotional needs.

If your parents are becoming needy due to failing health, you can ask for help from your siblings or relatives. You can divide the responsibilities so that you don’t have to feel pressured to take responsibility.

Set Boundaries
Dealing with a needy parent or a needy mother can make it difficult for you to understand boundaries. Setting boundaries is important in any relationship. It helps in asserting what is acceptable and what is unacceptable in a relationship. As a child, if you have always had a needy parent, it can be difficult to establish boundaries. However, talking to your parents or needy mother about them can be useful. Try to sit with them and explain to them what is appropriate and what isn’t.
Open Channels for Communication
If your parent is acting needy due to health issues, you can sit with them and come to a solution. You can check their diagnosis and talk to their doctor about the same. They may be suffering from a mental health condition or a physical condition that may be affecting their mental health. In any case, they may just be seeking support from you. It is important that you sir and have a conversation with them. This can help you understand what is it that they need.

Chapter 5:


Whether you grew up with a needy parent or are living with one, it can be very challenging. Moreover, it can affect many aspects of your life. For instance, setting boundaries in other relationships. It can stress you out and lead to mental health problems. One way to help yourself and your parents, you can seek expert help. For instance, talk to a therapist. There are other ways to address mental health issues. At Epsychonline several self-help courses can help in dealing with mental health-related problems. For instance, courses like Chronic pain can help needy parents address their pain-related issues. Courses such as low self-esteem can benefit them if they are struggling with self-worth. Additionally, some articles can help you to deal with needy parents or needy mother . Do check them out.

"Structured and engaging course" Joan

69 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount