Susan Hassen – How many of us were truly parented? How many of us had all our emotional needs met as children? Chances are, the majority of us did not receive the nurturing and emotional support that we needed growing up, leaving us with certain voids that we look to fill elsewhere. We can empower ourselves as adults by not looking at those voids as empty holes, but rather, as opportunities to genuinely parent ourselves as adults and feed ourselves with all the validation, nurturing, encouragement, and unconditional love we needed as children.
Why We Need Re-parenting
Very few of us emerge from our childhoods unscathed. Whether it be from emotional abuse, physical abuse, or trauma, most of us enter adulthood with wounds that we need to heal ourselves. Some of us can grow up in the most loving and supportive households, yet have many emotional needs that our parents overlooked, withheld us from, or were not capable of providing because they never met those needs in themselves.
For example, if you grew up around adults who couldn’t show love and allow themselves to be vulnerable, you may have trouble expressing your emotions and showing love to yourself and others. Maybe your parents made you feel wrong for expressing yourself or having different values or goals from what they expected of you?
If you were ever shamed or discouraged for being yourself, you may carry that in the form of self-hate and low self-worth. You don’t know how to build self-esteem. Many of us had parents who had no clear boundaries so we grew up not understanding how to respect them or assert them because our parents had no concept of boundaries for us. This in turn affects our ability to respect other’s boundaries and set our own.
The beauty of re-parenting is that you get to rebuild yourself. Whether it is from scratch, or just filling in some missing pieces, re-parenting allows you to give yourself all the love, nurturing, and validation you deserved as a child. You are given a new opportunity to love yourself unconditionally; which is the key to any self-healing. You get to say to yourself: “You are not wrong and your feelings are valid,” and, if you didn’t hear this phrase enough as a child, “I love you.”
Issues in Childhood
Take a moment to reflect upon your childhood. What did you need from your parents and what were you given instead? Take a moment to also consider your parents doing the best that they could for you under their circumstances. With inner work, it is important to bring as much understanding and perspective into whichever scenario you are looking at.
Of course, this kind of objectivity and perspective should come after you first acknowledge all of your needs as valid. Once you get a feel for what you would like to re-parent yourself with, you can begin to see how these needs have come up as repeated patterns in your life and how you can now address them.
For example, some of us may want to address having parents or caretakers who brushed off and minimized our feelings, wants, and needs. Some of us had parents who belittled, bullied, neglected, or abused us. Some of us had parents who never encouraged us or built us up.
Some of us had parents who never hugged us. And some of us had parents who didn’t let us express ourselves. Some of us had parents who subjected us to strict religious practices or controlled our world-views- if this is the case for you, re-parenting will allow you to find your own truth and deprogram yourself from limiting belief systems that you no longer resonate with.
Maybe you had parents who were overburdened with financial issues, health issues, or issues with siblings or other family members? Poverty and a lack of resources makes parenting a far more difficult task if the parent is unable to provide basic needs and care for their children.
A common theme is having parents who couldn’t parent themselves, and therefore the lack of attention and care a child needs never gets met in that family line, so whatever issues or patterns that exist within a certain family only get perpetuated throughout the next generation. Parents lacking the emotional intelligence to deal with negative emotions and process their own feelings and communicate with their children tend to create a more hostile environment, where feelings are not processed or validated in the home.
It is also important to consider generational issues. For example, those who grew up in the “baby boomer” generation likely didn’t place their focus on emotional work, as that was not where the culture’s attention was at that time. Moreover, the era we are currently in has placed a greater focus on mindfulness and healing practices that were rarely discussed in the mainstream dialogue or consciousness fifty years ago.
There is currently a greater respect and focus on validating the emotions of children and encouraging the communication of their feelings, as well as understanding and embracing the concept of empathic children. For those of us who did not experience this in childhood, re-parenting allows us to travel back in time and provide an open dialogue with ourselves so we can better meet our needs.
Parenting styles have shifted over the generations as well, but often, cultural practices are at play that can impact how a child’s needs are met or overlooked, especially between parents and children who are considered the “first of their generation” in a new country.
For example, parents who enforce strict religious beliefs or punish with physical violence may justify those behaviors with statements like “This is the way our parents did it,” “This is the way it has always been done,” “I was beaten and I turned out fine and it made me stronger,” or “You need to learn.” Thus, our wounding may come from several places, but layer-by-layer, we can get to the origin or source of the wound and put back what was lost.
To begin, ask yourself, what patterns in your life emerged from any sort of lack in your childhood? One example can be a need to look for a parent in adult relationships and play out those child-parent dynamics.
For example, some children who were controlled or micromanaged have a harder time being independent as adults and will tend to attach to others and be in co-dependent relationships with their partners. They usually have a difficult time making decisions and rely on validation and direction from their partner. They never developed the independence and self-generating will required to fully support themselves emotionally. When they get an idea, there’s usually a hesitation to act because a voice of parental disapproval or discouragement colonizes their thoughts.
If this is the case for you, you can begin to re-parent yourself by making decisions on your own, sticking to them, and trusting yourself to lead the way. Validating yourself is key. Remind yourself that as an adult you get to create the next moment in your life, so when you’re inspired, its important to act on that inspiration, and validate your feelings and needs by telling yourself your ideas and goals matter and are important, and that you deserve to bring them to fruition.
Negative self-talk tends to come up with children who were bullied and belittled, so when you hear that voice come up pull the plug. Tell yourself that those negative thoughts are not true, release statements like “I’m not good enough” and “I’m not worthy” and replace them with “I can do anything” and “I am worthy,” then continue to re-pattern your thinking by reminding yourself how brave, brilliant, and resilient you are.
If your parents never told you those things, now is the time to tell them to yourself. This is the kind of inner child work that provides deep healing and transformation to those on the path of healing and integrating their inner child.
If you are having trouble pinpointing what your issues from childhood are, exploring shadow work (making the unconscious, conscious) will help you discover what your core wounds are. You may even discover that your core wounding is a family or ancestral pattern that has come up to be healed and integrated by you, on behalf of your entire generational line.
Importance of Re-parenting
Re-parenting is a lot like repairing. If something is broken, there is no benefit to just ignoring it in hopes of it working properly again. The same goes for re-parenting, if you feel broken, wounded, or have some sort of struggle in your life that you can trace back to your childhood, re-parenting yourself says: “I care enough to put these pieces back together. I am not going to throw them out or try to force something to work that is no longer working. I am going to the root of the problem to put the pieces back together.”
The beautiful part of healing is that things can be made whole again, but in a way that makes them even more beautiful than before, like the Japanese art of Kintsugi, which takes broken pottery and fills it with gold, so now the cracks which stand out and shimmer with gold make the whole piece more beautiful than before it was ever broken.
The beauty is in the cracks. Think of re-parenting as filling those cracks we accumulate in life with our own unconditional love, which is the emotional equivalent of gold. Re-parenting yourself will make you feel golden again, proud of those cracks, and stronger than ever before.
Goals of Re-parenting
When we take the time to re-parent ourselves, we can enjoy a deeper sense of emotional freedom by liberating ourselves from the pain of the past and cultivating a self-love practice that is created when we release old beliefs and negative patterns that are embedded in the subconscious mind.
This liberation can also come from simple acts like welcoming and celebrating ourselves, and our accomplishments and achievements. How often does one look back and think: “I did good,” “I am proud of myself,” or “I have overcome so much and I deserve to be here?”
Re-parenting can also come in the form of seeing ourselves as worthy and good enough, especially if you had parents that were never satisfied with anything you did, or who pointed out what you should’ve done better. If you were picked apart for anything that you did, now is the time to validate all the things that you have done right in your life.
The key is to re-write that internal dialogue that says to you “You are wrong” with “You always do your best and I am proud of you.” These positive statements take the place of any negative statements you hold against yourself and allows your true self, the one who is no longer overburdened by judgments and beliefs from the past, to safely emerge.
Meeting your needs by becoming your own inner-parent is the main goal of re-parenting. This will vary for everyone and is as simple as asking yourself: What do I need right now in this exact moment? If its acceptance, ask yourself: “What am I capable of accepting within myself that I have not been able to accept before?” If its comfort, tell yourself “I am always here for you.”
If it’s love, look into the mirror and meet your gaze, tell yourself “I love you” and sense if you can feel that anywhere in your body and let it imprint into your cells. Make sure you’re not just telling yourself these things in order to get through a checklist.
Really tune in and feel what you are saying. Repeating these acts over time is a way to re-write negative patterning and negative self-beliefs, and to release trapped emotions that have been stored in your subconscious since childhood. For this reason, re-parenting is a form of energy work and it will bring your inner healer forward.
We might even come to the perspective later that our childhood made us expand in ways that benefited our spiritual growth or acted as a catalyst to discover deeper dimensions of ourselves that we wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.
Re-parenting breaks the cycle of trauma that’s become the hallmark of the human experience where we have nothing to offer our children except our narcissistic wounding, expectations, or hostility. Re-parenting allows us to reflect on our lives and see where our issues come from and where we can take responsibility to heal and transcend them. Re-parenting is a sacred practice where the child becomes the parent, and the parent becomes the healer.
SF Source Wake Up World Mar 2020