When I began my conscious parenting journey a decade ago, I knew little to nothing about reparenting yourself or connecting with your inner child. In fact, when those terms did scuttle across my radar, I usually dismissed them as concepts that were too “out there” or irrelevant to me. I just wanted to be kind, gentle, and respectful with my new baby boy. Why did I need to connect with a younger version of myself in order to do that? Why did I need to “reparent” myself? It all seemed silly and unnecessary if I’m being totally honest.
Soon enough, I began to understand why this work matters.
Naively, I just thought “wanting” to be conscious and responsive was enough. I thought I could white-knuckle my way to responding calmly and kindly in the face of my child’s epic meltdowns.
Nope. I soon discovered that I had unconscious or automatic responses to my child’s big feelings that were planted deep in my psyche many years ago.
I began to realize that I had inherited narratives about children and how to “discipline” them that need to be reviewed and radically revised.
And the only way to do that was to pay a visit to my younger self. I needed to start the process of overwriting scripts about punishment and hierarchy and over-powering children.
In short, I realized I was going to have to dip my toe into the waters of reparenting myself (as much as I didn’t want to and still felt skeptical about how necessary it was). Interestingly, the very thing I had been avoiding – reparenting myself – become a full-fledged passion and I began the work of empowering parents to raise themselves right alongside their children.
While I didn’t set out on this reparenting journey with a formula or 10-step-process, as I’ve reflected upon my own process, I can now see that there were six steps I consistently integrated into how I parented and related to myself that I’m sharing with you in this post.
Remember, this is a non-linear journey and it’s messy. Lean on these six steps as guides, not strict regimens you have to follow. Tune into that inner guide we’ve all got inside. Rediscovering her instincts is part of the healing journey.
FIVE WAYS I BEGAN REPARENTING MYSELF
#1 – I began paying attention to patterns I struggled to break.
This one is huge for me. Instead of running on autopilot and yelling because I was triggered, then beating myself up for the rest of the day, I began to get curious. I began to dig underneath the yelling and ask where my rage came from. I began to notice the things I unconsciously repeated (this applied not only to parenting, but other areas of my life like how I ate, consumed media, and so on.) Paying attention and cultivating awareness is always the first step in changing our behavior.
#2 – I began to confront childhood wounds I had previously suppressed
I found that when I began to notice patterns, the next step was learning to trace back to the roots of those patterns. Often, that led me to explore my childhood and confront any wounds I had inherited either from various institutions or influential adults or caregivers in my life. Identifying those emotional injuries gave me the opportunity and connect with the Younger Me and be a wise Inner Parent to her.
#3 – I got compassionately curious about my anger
I’ve unpacked this topic in a much more in-depth post here (link to post), but in short, I started befriending my anger. It took me many years to really get that if I wanted to respond to my child’s anger (or whatever intense emotion they were experiencing) with compassion and curiosity, then I needed to learn to respond to my OWN anger in the same way first.
#4 – I began prioritizing more fun in my life!
One of the most powerful healing moments I discovered in reparenting myself was that my worth as a human did not hinge on how much I produced or achieved. Embracing this truth – which is 100 percent counter-cultural from the world we live in – freed up more space, time, and energy for playfulness, creativity, and fun!
#5 – I learned the importance of forgiving myself
Self-forgiveness and self-compassion have been one of the hardest pillars for me to embrace. I was wired to think that berating and punishing myself for mistakes would help me improve. I learned the hard and long way that this simply isn’t true (as much as conventional parenting and much of society would have you believe). Only when I leaned into forgiving myself and embracing my messy, imperfect humanity. After all, if I wanted my children to be tender toward themselves, the best way to teach them was to model what that looked like.
Remember, friends: this is a journey and part of the healing is learning to tune into what you uniquely need, trusting that inner guide, and fine-tuning the steps you take along the way.
Ready to take a deeper dive into this work?
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