This post was written for Reparent Yourself Month.
No matter how wonderful or horrible your parents were at raising you, it’s inevitable that your inner adult world is darkened by a major emotional need that your parents failed to provide.
Call it what you will — developmental arrest, unfulfilled childhood needs or emotionally stunted growth — life would be easier if you were able to overcome whatever your parents did that holds you back.
I’m going to present a roadmap to becoming who you needed when you were younger (see the graphic below). Said differently, I’m going to teach you how to become your own parent to help you move forward on an emotional level.
You must know that I’m not promoting parent blaming in this process of reparenting yourself. We all go through periods of blaming our parents for our current problems.
During my training as a psychologist, I learned how to help clients trace all of their suffering back to parenting failures they suffered from in early childhood, which tends to manifest in adult life as the strangely enjoyable act of blaming parents for everything.
In truth, parent blaming is one of the most unhealthy things you can do in adulthood. It’s a lose-lose situation.
I’d like to offer some powerful suggestions for taking a giant step forward in your emotional development. Maybe you’ve already done most of the work that I will describe. If that’s the case, this will be a valuable refresher for you.
We must move past parent blaming, take responsibility and create for ourselves what we think we’re missing.
Don’t get me wrong — I love to tease my parents about something that they failed to teach me in childhood, but it’s usually a joke at this point in my evolution. For example, this summer I was walking with my father on the boardwalk by the beach and I tripped over mildly elevated wooden plank. After I did the obligatory post-tripping jog that most men do to hide the fact that they stumbled on nothing, I turned to my father and yelled at him for not teaching me in my early years to lift my feet when I walked. We laughed together about this.
The only reason I can joke with him about parenting errors without a shred of resentment in me is because I’ve committed to doing the inner work necessary to be my own parent, and to see my parents and their failures in a new light.
How to Reparent Yourself
So where do we begin?
Here’s the roadmap to reparenting yourself…
- Build a strong muscle of forgiveness (and start with your family).
- Develop a loving and accepting third-person inner voice.
- Embrace your strengths and weaknesses.
- Maintain a lifelong commitment to personal growth.
- Celebrate your tiniest successes with youthful enthusiasm.
- Learn to mentally revisit early childhood struggles as your adult self.
Get ready for an amazing reparenting experience. Stay tuned for my next post in which I dive into the first step.
Feel free to offer any feedback you have about this plan. I welcome your questions and comments.