We all have a picture perfect image of how a mother or a father should be: The “Leave It To Beaver” Mrs. Cleaver 50’s era mom who wears an apron and always has dinner on the table at 6pm. She is there to tend to every cut and scrape, has endless patience and always says the right thing. The father who teaches us how to play catch, flies us around like an airplane, and models what a good man should be. Some of us are lucky to have amazing parents, but that isn’t always reality. In fact, more often than not, we might find that we are actually disappointed in our parents and how they raised us. We might even one day admit that we are really angry with them and that is okay.
Let’s face it…parents are humans too. We all make mistakes. We all do the best we can but sometimes, even our best isn’t great. The same goes for our parents. They might have done the best they could have but perhaps they seemed awful at that time due to the cards they were dealt in their own lives. It isn’t right and it certainly isn’t fair to you. So what do we do about it now?
We often carry emotional wounds from our childhood into adulthood. I have worked with many clients whom have a history of abuse or neglect, which often affects their adult lives and reactions. Childhood abuse or neglect is horrendous and those people, who were supposed to protect you, didn’t. The people who were supposed to make you feel loved, special, and safe actually did the exact opposite, perhaps leaving you confused and with a wounded sense of self.
Have you ever seen a toddler fall down? The first thing they do is look at their caregiver to see if they are okay. The caregiver’s reaction shows them whether they should cry, or brush it off and keep on going. Even if they took a pretty hard tumble, a smile and reassuring “You’re okay baby” is enough. Victims of abuse and neglect, or children whose parents had issues of their own (alcohol, drugs, unavailability, etc), often never got this reassurance.
As adults, it is time to repair these emotional wounds, and learn to parent ourselves in the way we wish our parents would have. Think back to times you may have been wounded as a child…What would you have wanted your parents to say to you? What would you have wanted to hear from your parents? That is what you need to say this to yourself. You may never get what you want or deserve from your parents, so it is time to take control and self soothe from within.
For example, if your parent forgot to pick you up from school one day, that may have given you the message that you weren’t important, good enough, or didn’t deserve their time. Later in life, the reoccurring theme of not feeling important or good enough, may surface in work, friendships, romantic relationships or other areas in life. It is important to identify the root cause of these negative thoughts…by remembering the first time you ever felt this way. Then imagine what you would say to that child (yourself) if you could.
Perhaps you would tell them that they are good enough, or that it is not their fault. Perhaps you would have told them they important and worthy of love. Tell yourself this now. Allow this to be your new mantra. Learn to re-parent yourself.