How to Reparent Yourself
In the previous article, Finding Your Inner Child, we were building the foundation to begin learning how to reparent yourself.
Over on The Root and Rise Podcast, I talk a lot about my experience with childhood traumas, neglect, and parenting myself. You can listen to this episode below!
How to Reparent Yourself
My exercise to find your inner child is a beautiful way to introduce yourself to your inner child – every version of it. Even the ones who are not children. You can absolutely use this exercise anytime you need to reparent yourself – because the act of offering wisdom, love, compassion, and validation to these past versions of yourself is reparenting yourself.
But I understand we might not always have the time or be in a place where we have the capacity to go through this entire exercise. Once you become familiar with these versions of yourself, it might be easier to acknowledge which part of you is hurting, triggered, or requires your attention. And then begin meeting their needs.
This felt very awkward and challenging for me when I first started. I couldn’t identify which part of me was hurting. And that’s ok. You don’t need to know to be able to care for yourself. Just acknowledging there is something in you that needs your attention is good enough.
Resources for Reparenting Yourself
There are a few different things that worked for me in the beginning. These tools helped me to begin understanding what needs were unmet at that time.
There are specific feelings and needs cards that are designed to help you figure out what you are feeling and what your needs are at the moment. You can shuffle through these decks and look at all of the different options. And see if you can put a name to your feeling or your need.
They have not only helped me personally but also help my husband and myself to better communicate with one another. And will one day allow the same for my children.
Using journal prompts helped too. I use the journal prompts found on this website and write out my thoughts. Then, I’d think about what guidance, encouraging words, love, or support that I would give to a loved one or child coming to me with these thoughts. My free 40+ Inner Child Journal Prompts can be found here.
Doing a quick brain dump when triggered or emotional can be super beneficial too. I mention this in a lot of my episodes because I’m a firm believer in the release that it can provide. And the clarity that can come afterward. If you are not familiar with the process of a brain dump, it’s exactly like it sounds. You are dumping everything from your brain. And I mean everything.
Write down or type out every single thought, feeling, concern, or worry that you have for 5-10 minutes. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or whether it really makes sense. And definitely don’t judge what comes up for you. This isn’t meant to be shared with others. You can go back through this brain dump and address each point as if a child (or yourself as a child) has written it asking you for guidance.
Talking with Yourself
This sounds a little strange at first, but another thing that really helped me was starting a conversation with myself. It’s just an internal dialogue, not as weird as it sounds. For me, it’s honestly like sitting down, closing my eyes, and starting a conversation with myself. Stating a worry, concern, emotion, or thought. And then picturing a child (or myself as a child) saying that. And considering how I would respond.
Reparenting Yourself while Parenting Your Children
Another important challenge to address is reparenting yourself while parenting a child. Or even multiple children. I feel like a lot of the time we might not realize or be prepared for all of the ways we’ll need to parent ourselves until a child comes along.
You will see how you treat them. And witness the love, care, attention, and nurturing you give them. And see what that looks like to give to yourself.
Coping With Triggers as a Parent
And you’ll need to do it alongside them while you are triggered. Parenting yourself at the same time as parenting them. Because like I keep saying, our children can be our greatest teachers. They challenge us in ways we have never been challenged before. And they can trigger our inner child in ways we have never been triggered before.
My Parenting Trigger
Because I was abandoned and my emotional needs entirely neglected, my biggest trigger with my son has always been his crying. On the one hand, the inner child in me is crying out for attention and being ignored. I hear it in his cry. And can kind of relive it in a way.
On the other hand, I’m striving so hard to be different from my mother. And my inability to soothe his cries quickly becomes a personal failure in my eyes. Even though it’s developmentally normal for babies to cry. It’s expected. And says nothing about me or my parenting at that moment.
I will still at my core feel as if I am neglecting or abandoning him if I cannot stop his crying immediately. And don’t get me wrong, I know that no one likes a baby crying. But I literally cannot handle it because of this trigger.
Feeling Jealous of Your Children
Another hard thing to talk about is that sometimes you will feel jealous of how much nurturing, validation, and secure attachment they receive. That’s ok. It’s the part of you coming up that didn’t receive that. This is when it’s really important to give yourself what you are giving your child. The same compassion, care, and nurturing love.
Mom Guilt and Reparenting Yourself
And sometimes you’ll need to battle mom guilt in order to address your own triggers before addressing your child’s meltdown. This is assuming of course that your child is not in danger, hurting, hungry, or needing some other basic need met for survival.
It feels odd at first – meeting your needs before your child’s (again apart from the child’s more urgent needs) but it allows me to be a much more pleasant and present mother to my child. They feed off of our energy. If we are chaotic, responding in a highly emotional way, or triggered – they sense it. They take that same energy on. And can somehow multiply it by 1,000.
Reparenting Yourself as a Parent
Having to parent a child while reparenting myself has been challenging. But it has also given me a new perspective and somehow made my understanding of my needs easier. So, if you are a parent, consider how you would talk to your child if they came to you with these feelings, thoughts, or needs that your inner child has.
And please don’t picture the perfect mother image you may fantasize about having or being – perfect mothers do not exist. How would a healthy, secure, and imperfect mother approach this situation?
Now give that to yourself. Say those comforting and reassuring words that you needed to hear. Validate those feelings and remind yourself of the truth – that you are whole, you are worthy, you are good. Meet your needs, do some self-care, journal, go for a run, or take a nap.
There is a section on my website dedicated to Self-Care Ideas and Journal Prompts. There is even a specific set of Journal Prompts for Finding and Healing the Inner Child. And while this episode isn’t over yet, don’t forget to subscribe to my podcast so you don’t miss out on my upcoming episode with Cynthia Ngoy about her favorite exercise for healing the inner child. You won’t want to miss it.
In doing your part to actively end generational trauma, in reparenting yourself, and hopefully exploring all of this in therapy… You are turning generational trauma into generational healing.
My aunt once told me that when you heal generational trauma you are healing your lineage or ancestors’ pain. You are healing your hurt mother, and your hurt grandmother, and the healing continues on further. But more immediately, you heal yourself. And you heal the future generations to come.
You’ve Got a Friend in Me
Check out these articles:
- 40+ Inner Child Journal Prompts
- The Mother Wound: How it Impacts Us and How to Begin Healing
- How to Deal with Triggers
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