As a result, children of enmeshed family systems often develop emotional ties that elicit confusion, and they may fail to develop autonomy. An underdeveloped sense of autonomy may make it difficult for the child to act on desires that differ from the parent’s or lead a child to feel guilty when attempting to act on their own feelings. The enmeshed parent may also take it personally when a child attempts to demonstrate autonomy or independence, which can have a harmful impact on the child and the family dynamic overall.
Another way of looking at it is to think in terms of “absorbing” the emotional pain of the parent. A parent who is projecting emotional pain is likely not consciously aware they are doing it but simply repeating the cycle that played out in their childhood.