The absence of love and security in childhood can lead to difficulties in adulthood. If you have a pattern of falling into abusive relationships or fearing intimacy it is likely you learned about love, affection and intimacy from inadequate models. This means that now you have to be the nurturing voice you never received from your caregivers in order to live a fulfilling life. Learning about the following will put you on the path to a better you.

Emotional Intelligence:

People that did not receive adequate parenting growing up can have difficulties with expressing their emotions in a healthy manner. They may have been taught that vulnerability is a weakness, or that they need to show dependency in order to receive love. The way your family approaches emotions will set the tone for the rest of your interactions. By learning about how you can show greater emotional intelligence, your relationships will improve. It is ok to feel ‘negative’ emotions and there are healthy ways of expressing those emotions.

Effective Social Skills:

The way in which we communicate with others is greatly impacted by our parental upbringing. It is important to learn effective ways of communicating with others and avoid communicating in the ways your parents did. For example, if your parents were verbally abusive, you have to learn how to communicate in less harmful ways. You have to learn how to ask for things and how to cope when you do not receive what it is you want. These behaviours require developed social skills which you can learn through practice. Read books on effective communication and then try out the techniques you learn in real life.

The Importance of Boundaries:

Another important quality to obtain is the ability to respect boundaries. You have to learn how to say no and respect when others say no. Growing up you may have been made to believe that your boundaries and choices don’t matter. All that mattered was what your caregivers wanted. But as an adult you do have a right to choose, you have a right to control your own life. As does everyone else.

What Healthy Relationships Look Like:

Many adult children of inadequate parents do not know what a healthy functional relationship looks like. They are often stuck in a pattern of dependency or abandonment anxiety. For this reason, it is important to look into what a healthy relationship is and what an unhealthy one is. This will help you see red flags long before you are stuck in damaging relationships as an adult. Research abusive traits and try to decrease those behaviours in yourself and avoid them in a partner.

Build Your Self-Esteem:

Those with inadequate parenting may have learnt to believe that they are worth only as much as the love they received – which is not much at all. As an adult, you have to believe that your worth is independent of the love you receive. Learn to say good things about yourself to others. A good exercise when you have a negative thought towards yourself is to imagine saying it to yourself at 5 years old. If that is difficult, imagine saying it to a child in your life. Treat yourself with the kindness you would give a child.

Seek Therapy:

A lot of these points are easier said than done which is why I would strongly suggest visiting a therapist that can help you work on these steps one at a time. It takes a long time to recover from poor parenting but with the right help, you can live the life you want.

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13 thoughts on “How to Self-Parent as an Adult

    1. Absolutely – those that have had difficult childhood are sometimes ‘fixers’. They want to save others around them since they had no one to do that for them. Overstepping boundaries can be learnt off a parent that also does the same. Often, we imitate the behaviour we saw growing up. If we are self-reflective enough and notice this we can stop these behaviours before they happen.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I and my best friend can relate well to these points, too. My best friend’s having a hard time dealing with her mom now. As for me, I’m not very close to my dad. We’ve suffered a lot in our friendships with others as we grew. We’re gradually trying to understand the whys of our behavior with the friends we choose. When I and my best friend came together, we had those symptoms of codependency come out more clearly.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. One thing I used as a therapist, which is sort of weird but seems to help, was for someone to “make up” a happier childhood. They would imagine themselves as kids getting a warm, helpful response from their parent (or some adult), and then imagine how they would be now if they had gotten that response. As adults we have a lot of resources and knowledge we didn’t have as kids, and we can sort of play it backward. How would we have parented ourselves then?

    Liked by 4 people

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