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What’s Self-Reparenting? (And Do I need it?)

Amanda Ann Gregory, LCPC, EMDR Certified 

Reparenting is a therapeutic intervention that’s often used in trauma treatment. It’s the process of experiencing parenting as an adult as a way to heal the parenting needs that you did not receive as a child. This is usually accomplished by a therapist acting in the role of a parent. Reparenting can also be accomplished outside of the therapeutic relationship by another person acting as your parent. An example would be if your friend’s mother provides you with parenting experiences such as checking in on you, holding you accountable for misbehavior, or encouraging you to take better care of yourself. This friend’s mother is providing you with re-parenting experiences. 

Self-reparenting is an intervention when you assume the role of your own parent. Here are a few ways to determine if you might benefit from self-reparenting. 

Does Your Inner Child Have Unmet Needs? 

The concept of reparenting is that we all have younger parts of ourselves inside of us. These younger parts are called inner child or inner children. Everyone has an inner child. There may be moments when you can sense your inner child. Perhaps when you feel excited, passionate, or silly. Inner children may have unmet parenting needs for a variety of reasons. It could be that you experienced trauma, abuse, neglect, distant or disorganized caregivers, or substance use or mental illness in your family. Yet, sometimes you may never know why your inner child’s need were not met. The important point is that your inner child has unmet needs that are impacting you to this day. 

Who’s Calling the Shots? 

If your inner child has unmet needs, they can negatively impact your ability to manage your emotions and make good decisions. Here’s an example: You need to wake at 6:30 am tomorrow morning. You have a busy day planned at work and you need you’re rest. But you are staying up late watching TV or playing video games. There is a part of you that knows this is a bad decision as you’ll feel fatigued, pitiable, and lack productivity at work if you stay up late. Who’s calling the shots? It might be your inner child. 

Here are a few examples of behaviors that indicate that your inner child may be calling the shots:

  •     Eating unhealthy foods
  •     Staying up late
  •     Gossiping or spreading rumors
  •     Seeking out negative peers
  •     Trusting people too quickly
  •     Avoiding intimate relationships
  •     Overspending
  •     Drug/Alcohol Use 

There are times when you want your inner child to call the shots. Some scenarios may be when you’re playing with children, having fun with your friends, creating art, and paying sports. Inner children can provide us with passion, love, energy, curiosity, and creativity. But they shouldn’t be calling the shots in adult interactions such as having sex, working, managing your relationships, meeting medical needs, and protecting your safety. There is a time and place for your inner child to call the shots and a time and place for the adult to take charge. 

Can You Benefit from Self-Reparenting? 

Everyone can benefit in some way from self-reparenting. You don’t have to experience trauma or a difficult childhood to benefit from reparenting. All you need is an inner child with an unmet need. For example, you may struggle to eat healthy due to your inner child waiting to eat fast-food and salty snacks. You could improve your diet by focusing on changing your eating habits but you might also want to consider meeting the needs of your inner child who might be choosing these unhealthy foods. If you solely focus on changing your diet you might be successful but if you’re inner child has unmet needs, you’d have greater success if you also meet the needs of this child. 

Do you need help self-reparenting? You could benefit from participating in therapy in Chicago. Contact Symmetry Counseling to schedule an appointment.

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