Do you think that your parents knew exactly how to raise you, what skills to give you or how to teach you? Probably not. Most parents lack the know-how of raising a well-adjusted child and you may lack life skills like confidence, self-belief, and forgiveness as a result of it. Think about it. Your parents may have left you with a lopsided legacy. As an adult, have you ever wished for a different childhood and better preparation for life? If so, it’s not too late. You can learn how to reparent yourself to get what you have always needed!
What Does It Mean to Reparent Yourself?
Reparenting yourself is when you reflect on your life, identify the areas of your life where you have failed as a result of being poorly parented as a child, and decide how you will address those shortcomings as an adult. It is about teaching yourself, experimentation, and searching for guidance that you didn’t get as a child. Reparenting yourself is not a temper tantrum aimed at mommy or daddy for not buying you that pony you wanted. Instead, it is becoming the wise parental figure you may have lacked and guiding yourself to gaining the skills and experiences you needed as a child.
When you reparent yourself, you are not engaging in self-spoiling. Instead, you are self-soothing and self-healing. You give yourself the knowledge, skills, and opportunities to heal from past traumas. You can develop into the person you could have been if you had been raised by parents who were more knowledgeable than your parents. To reparent yourself is not about getting even for being told “no” as a child. Instead, it’s about learning about yourself, what you want, and your own potential. You are the headmaster of the school of your life now, and you can choose what you will learn each day about yourself and about the world at large.
How to Reparent Yourself: The 7 Steps to a Better Self-Hood
Think about the kind of parent you would want to be. Would you be the kind of parent who smothers their child with love and attention, the kind that meets every possible whim, or would you be the kind of parent who is focused on success and achievement? Perhaps you’d rather be the absent parent who is so focused on earning that they forget they have a child who looks to them for learning. This is where you need to start your journey. One step at a time.
Step #1: What Kind of Parent Do You Want to Be?
The first step is asking yourself what you want in a parent. Start with your own parents. What characteristics or qualities did they possess that you look up to? Were they loving or driven or good providers? No matter who or how your parents were, you learned something from them.
What qualities do you have that would make you a good parent? Are you:
- A good listener
- A good communicator
- Balanced in your life view
What qualities do you have that won’t make you a good parent? Do you:
- Act selfishly
- Behave rudely
- Take things for granted
- Take advantage of people
- Hate being around people
- Struggle to talk to others
- Find expressing yourself challenging
- Get angry quickly
- Stay angry long term
- Hold grudges
- Want things your way all the time
- Expect things and then feel disappointed when the opposite happens
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you become the parent you needed as a child. You can be that parent now and teach yourself the lessons and skills you needed to learn as a child. Knowing your weaknesses can help you turn these into opportunities, but it all starts with knowing what your limits are and pushing beyond them. Initially, you may want to focus on what you lacked as a child, forgetting that you are no longer the child or the victim. You are now an adult and capable of becoming so much more with the right guidance—your guidance. Your childhood is no longer present.
Step #2: Developing the Skills to Be the Best Parent to Yourself
Now you know what you are lacking to be a good parent yourself, begin to develop the skills you need. Reexamine your list of qualities that would make you a bad parent. Which of those can you change and how? Can you change your selfishness through volunteer work at a children’s shelter? Perhaps you can change your attitude of taking things for granted to gratitude for what you have with daily reflections in a gratitude journal. There are so many ways you can retrain your brain to be the person you wish your parents had been and to provide for the needs you have today that were never met.
You can try these methods to develop the skills you need to reparent yourself (they can become goals too):
- Attend classes on socializing to unlearn rudeness and learn about compassion and caring
- Attend community groups and services to learn about the people around you so you can also discover their humanity and your shared roots in that humanity (this will also help banish loneliness)
- Go for communication coaching to help you express yourself more clearly
- If anger is your problem, attend anger management sessions so you can learn to think about anger calmly
- Read up about forgiveness, practice forgiving, and start to let go
- By learning about letting go, you can discover that the world is flexible and you are not always going to get what you expect, and that’s okay too
- Take up art classes to learn about the way in which you can work with the unexpected and how you can celebrate differences
Step #3: Fostering Self-Awareness
By this step, you will be bubbling with the idea of self-awareness. You are finally starting to know yourself, understand who you are at the moment, and envision who you want to become. Where you had been angry and resentful, you can become peaceful and practice acceptance. If you had struggled with communicating because your parents had perhaps insisted that “children should be seen and not heard,” you can learn to speak from your heart. Your parents may not have listened to you as a child, but you can listen to yourself now as an adult. A great way to see where your life has been lacking and where there are areas that your parents never helped you develop is to create a life pie chart.
On a piece of paper, draw a large circle in pencil. Slice the circle/pie into 8 slices and label them: friendship, joy, and hobbies. Keep adding slices: companionship, love, work excellence, knowledge or learning, and faith or wisdom. For each slice, indicate how much you have developed for that particular aspect of life. If you have developed a lot, place a dot far out toward the edge of the circle. Should you have very little of that skill or aspect, place your dot closer to the center. Now draw a line joining each of these dots. Erase the outer circle and view the life pie chart.
- Where are you lacking in your life?
- Where is the chart skewed?
- Do you need to invest more in faith and wisdom or have you overextended in work excellence?
This is where self-awareness is important. It enables you to know what you need, what you have too much of, and what you desire or lack. Now start taking care of yourself so you can let go of the excesses that may become harmful in your life and develop that which you desire and need in your life.
Step #4: Self-Care
When you hear the words self-care, you may instantly think of a bubble bath and some candles, right? Yet, self-care is so much more than self-spoiling. Instead, self-care is you reparenting yourself and asking yourself what you need. Did your parents ever ask you how your day was when you were a child? Self-care is about doing exactly that and taking care of yourself as your needs arise. All too often, we are taught that we should live meager lives and self-sacrifice for the greater good, forgetting that we are also good and we also live.
Self-care is when you ask yourself how you are, and you allow yourself to take the steps to do what will make you answer that question positively. If you are tired, sleep. When you are hungry, eat good food. Need some entertainment? Then go out with some friends. Feeling stressed? Try some adult coloring pages. What is your need today? How can you address it, ensuring your life has meaning? Bear in mind that self-care is:
- Filled with growth and future development
Self-care is NOT:
- Harmful to yourself or to others
- About spending money
- A trade-off (when I do this, I will surely feel that)
- Getting even with others because of a long-held grudge
Step #5: Discovering and Honoring Your Feelings
How often do you find that others are quick to ask you about the weather, what you did on holiday, and what you had for lunch, but they neglect to ask how you are feeling? You may be the same when asking others about their lives, but you may not ask yourself about your life and your feelings. Ask yourself now: “How am I feeling?” and validate your answer. Before your next breath, you will be tempted to say “I’m okay.” This is like saying nothing at all. You are not just okay. Perhaps you are angry about something that happened at work, or you are happy about a promotion? Maybe you feel nothing because you have been shut down for so long.
How do you feel right now? Unbottle yourself in this step to learn how to reparent yourself. If you don’t know how you feel, you won’t be able to help yourself heal.
Step #6: Learning Discipline
A big role a parent is supposed to play in their child’s life is to teach them about “no” and setting boundaries. All too often, parents raise their children to be pleasing. As an adult, being pleasing can quickly turn into being a people pleaser. This breeds unhappiness and resentment. Reparent yourself with discipline, learning to say no to others and yourself when you need correcting. Begin to live with discipline. Choose one task each day that you focus on doing. This helps you keep your word, which boosts your self-confidence and self-esteem. It all starts with discipline from the moment you make your bed.
Step #7: Finding Joy
The last step in learning how to reparent yourself is to look for joy in each day. I always see this in young children at the park. They will be utterly thrilled with a butterfly fluttering across the daisy bushes. Yet, as adults, we can’t seem to find one single thing to be happy about in our traumatized lives. When last did you find something in your day to be joyful about? It can be a great song on the radio, the smell of that first cup of coffee, or finding a parking spot at the mall. Every day has at least one moment of pure joy in it—if you look. This is what makes children smile, and it is what childhood is about—finding joy. Rediscover your joy and see what it will do to your life.
Final Thoughts on Reparenting Yourself
It is a mental shift to learn how to reparent yourself. You move from the position of victim to a position of power, and this is both liberating and exhausting. Stick to the steps to keep from giving up and simply dragging yourself through your life. Decide what kind of parent you wanted to be to yourself so you can begin to see where your parents were lacking. Build your skills to take better care of yourself and help yourself grow.
Decide what kind of parent you wanted to be to yourself so you can begin to see where your parents were lacking. Build your skills to take better care of yourself and help yourself grow. Learning how to reparent yourself is about self-care and self-acceptance, so learn to “raise” your life and be a better you.
Article Credit: https://www.happierhuman.com/reparent-yourself/