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7 Functions of Self-parenting

Image of 2 small kids and a dad at a fair. Raleigh Psychotherapy, counseling, Katherine Broadway

Self-parenting is creating a conversation between two parts or aspects of yourself. One is the inner child and the other is the inner parent. The inner parent is there to take care of your needs. It needs to be a loving, nurturing and kind parent. These skills are learned.

Recently, we've been discussing the practice of self-parenting and how to use it to fill unmet needs from your childhood. Self-parenting is based on the same basic functions that any good parent uses to nurture a child. Let's look at some of those along with examples of ways you can employ them in order to develop your own loving inner parent

7 Functions and Behaviors of a Loving Parent

1. Attachment:

Any baby needs a caretaker in order to survive. To develop a sense of self, you need someone to see and hear you. To be secure, you need a safe person whom you could trust to be present.

The first task of self-parenting is to become attached to your Inner Child. It is necessary to listen, care, protect, and not abandon that part of yourself.

Example: Make a commitment to take care of yourself.

2. Make your inner child a high priority:

Babies' needs comes first. As you re-parent yourself, it is necessary to look at what your child needs and put your needs first. This will translate into good self-care.

Example: Instead of staying up late and watching television or going out partying on work nights, go to bed at a reasonable hour. Eat a healthy breakfast within an hour of getting up, instead of waiting for lunch.

3. Provide support:

Children need support both physically and emotionally. They need to know that someone is there in case they fall. They need someone to help them navigate their emotions. When they have big feelings, they need to know someone will reassure them.

Example: When you feel overwhelmed, take time to reassure yourself that things will calm down. Remind yourself that the situation will get resolved. When you get emotional, tell yourself that it is normal to have feelings. You can handle your emotions. Find help when you need it.

4. Provide encouragement and not criticize:

A strong sense of self and high self-esteem develop through the recognition of accomplishments. Loving words and validation of positive qualities is necessary for good self-esteem. Criticism does not motivate. It is discouraging and robs you of the courage and energy to grow and change.

Example: Self-esteem can be built in adults, just like it can be in children. When you do something well, tell yourself how well you did. If you are struggling, tell yourself how well you are doing by staying in the process. Reward yourself for a job well done, even when it is a small task.

5. Provide protection and create safety:

At every stage of development, a child needs to feel protected and safe. Each stage has a need for different levels of safety.

Example: Have a dialogue with yourself, find out what you need, and make an action plan to fill your needs. This could be a special place, object or pet. You may need to make new friends. It could be a commitment to being more consistent with maintenance on your car.

6. Spend time with your Inner Child:

When you spend time with a child, you are building a relationship and getting to know them. You must be intentional.

Example: This can be hard when you are afraid to be alone or to have silence. Let yourself have uninterrupted time to listen to your inner thoughts and feelings. Do fun activities alone. It may cause you to feel things that are difficult. You may hear thoughts and ideas inside that have been buried for years. Keep a journal to capture these moments.

7. Listen to your Inner Child:

It is important to hear what children are saying to you. The need to listen does not end when you get busy or have activities. Children want your attention as they tell stories and play. Children will seek you out to tell you what they need, if you will listen to them. The same is true for your Inner Child,

Example: Your Inner Child often speaks in a small quiet voice, or may scream. He or she will have questions about life and the future. Find answers to your questions and if

necessary, ask for help.

There are many ways to be a good parent to your Inner Child. Next week, we will look at more ways to help yourself.


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