Do you have kids? Nieces? Nephews? Neighborhood children? Have you ever felt like you had to parent someone? Most people, in some form or another, have had to act like a parent to someone. Or perhaps we felt like someone should be in a parenting roll for a child or another adult.
If the concept of being a parent doesn’t ring true for you, did you have a parent or parental figure in your life?
Many people, for many reasons, have felt like they didn’t have a parent, or needed a stronger one. I hope you found someone, a friend or older adult, who helped you and acted in a parental manner toward you.
Sometimes, however, we can’t find a suitable person to be our parenting figure, or we need more care than the person we found is able to give. What if we were each able to learn to parent ourselves in those kind of situations.
That may sound like just some lame therapeutic tool, but it can be really valuable and practical. Imagine in a situation where you are struggling that you can say to yourself, “Jackie, what do you need to feel better at this moment? What do you need to make it through, even though it seems like you are all alone and everything seems overwhelming and beyond what you can do?” “Do you need to take a few minutes outside of the situation to calm down? Do you need to take a nap? Do you need to stand up for yourself and say something? What is it you need to do to get through this or take care of yourself in this situation?
I have had these moments in my life. I have had a lot of them actually. It seems strange to many of us, and we think that someone else knows the exact solution or knows what we need. Sometimes someone else does know what we need, but that is usually because we know ourselves well enough to have expressed to that other person what we need.
We have to do the hard work of learning to parent ourselves. For so many reasons, our parents weren’t there for us, or aren’t there for us anymore. There isn’t anyone else that can fix it for us. We have to do it.
And the work is hard. It is hard to realize we need to learn how to do it. It is hard to mourn the loss of the people who were supposed to do it. It is hard to have the self confidence to do it. It is hard to keep doing it.
Many of us, did not have very good examples of parenting in the first place. Then to take skills which are not engrained in our minds and use them on ourselves can be pretty scary. So many of us know, just feel it in our bones, that the way we were raised and treated just isn’t right. We would never treat anyone else like we were treated. We have to take that knowledge and use it on ourselves.
We would never say things to others to hurt them. We know what it was like to be hurt and even though we slip and make mistakes, we must learn that we, too, are people who do not deserve to be hurt and told bad things.
Parenting is hard. It doesn’t matter if you are parenting yourself or others, it’s hard work. Some of us have skills naturally to do it. Others of us have to learn as we go.
Regardless of the models you had, everyone makes mistakes. As you learn to parent yourself and treat yourself well and in a way you would like to be treated, be kind and know that even if you make a mistake, you have the opportunity to make a better choice and treat yourself better the next time.
We would love to know who your parenting role model was and how you have learned, or are learning, to parent yourself.