How to reparent yourself by grieving a lost childhood

Photo by Yiqun Tang on Unsplash

If our parents were unreliable, abusive, neglectful, or worse, we fail to learn some basic life skills. We need to reparent ourselves to learn things like setting boundaries, healthy habits, emotional regulation, and relationship building.

When parents fail to give children what they need, the child grows up feeling unheard and unseen, like they don’t matter. In some cases, they will depersonalize or feel unreal, lacking a concrete sense of self upon which to build a life.

Because our parents were crucial to our survival, poor parenting can leave the child feeling like the world is a scary place. As if no one is on their side, and they have only themselves to lean on.

All our energy and resources go into survival. We grow up with a feeling of deprivation, like we don’t deserve love, or things other people enjoy.

Lack of parenting in childhood negatively impacts our relationships, creates self-loathing and an intense inner critic, and leaves us feeling unsupported and isolated.

When we reparent ourselves, we begin to live lives that align with our values and make us feel more like ourselves. We discover who that “self” really is.

Reparent by grieving your lost childhood

reparenting yourself

Grieving a lost childhood means honoring the innocence you missed when innocence equated with danger and hurt. It means drawing out that playfulness and curiosity you never experienced as a child.

Children in healthy households learn by trial and error, and feel free to explore thanks to their secure attachment figures. We need to practice that playfulness now.

Grieving your lost childhood means letting down your hypervigilance and need to control. It means letting things unfold.

If you get hurt, it’s not the end of the world. You have the inner stores as an adult to encourage and praise yourself for your courage to get outside your comfort zone.

Grieving means acknowledging your needs weren’t met, and this has led you to believe those needs aren’t important. But your needs do matter, and you are not selfish to want to fulfill them.

So, how can you begin to take care of those needs today? The first step is figuring out what those needs are if you’ve suppressed them.

For example, I began to take care of my deep desire for time alone to reflect. I had denied this need all my life and filled my days with self-sacrificial tasks and activities that only made me feel more detached from my true self.

Now I spend most of my time doing things that feel good or align with my values and goals. I have no trouble saying no and feel free to explore new relationships. Or get out of them if they’re not meeting my needs. I believe the same can be true for you.

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