“Reparenting” always confuses me – what exactly does it mean?

Reparenting as an approach is being used more and more, but often the explanation is ambiguous Let's clear that up!

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Up until the age of about 8/9 we are like sponges; observing and absorbing everything that is going on around us. We don’t develop logic and critical thinking until after this age, around the age of 9 (although I’m quite sure my son was born with the critical thinking and questioning skills of a top lawyer!).

In these early years we learn our belief systems, our thought processes, our values etc, this is our conditioning specifically our childhood conditioning – how we have learned to behave and respond in given situations.

The skills and tools that we have to navigate our world, the ups and downs, the wins and challenges are set out in these foundational years and are predominantly learned through our parents or whoever was our main care giver when we were children.

Often skills such as self soothing, self belief, managing emotions, effective communications, establishing boundaries and self confidence are missing, or the information we learned when we were younger no longer supports us as adults.

Louise Hay explained this very simply in her book ‘You Can Heal Your Life’. She said “We learn our belief systems as very little children, and then we move through life creating experiences to match our beliefs”.

So what does this have to do with re-parenting?

Reparenting is learning the skills that you didn’t as a child. It’s about filling the gaps in your understanding, your coping strategies and your awareness so that you can let go of limiting belief patterns, feel more aligned with who you are and begin to choose different ways to behave.

It’s important to recognise that reparenting is not about placing blame, or passing judgement on your parents. Parents can only pass on the skills they themselves have acquired and learned, this is also the basis of what’s called generational trauma, a whole other topic that is fascinating and deep in itself.

My journey with re-parenting

Growing up I wasn’t encouraged to look inward or to celebrate my interests or passions. Self care and self love wasn’t a thing, I was taught to be humble, to put others before myself and to treat others how I would want to be treated. Whilst these are valuable lessons to understand, as a child you take things literally and see them as black and white. The result was that I played small and I became a people pleaser. I would do and be whoever I needed to in order to make someone happy or to make them love me, even if that was to my detriment. My boundaries were non existent and my relationship with myself was mediocre at best.

As an adult at a time when I felt I had lost everything through poor choices and self sabotage, I started spending time reading self help books, going on courses and talking with therapists. This helped me learn a lot and fill in a few gaps, but it was only information until I understood how to implement it and how it related to me specifically.

I began to explore my conditioning, my triggers and my limiting belief patterns. I could start to appreciate how they shaped my choices and my behaviours.

This allowed me to become consciously aware of my behavioural patterns, I saw how I had fed the loops I was in. That small window of awareness was enough to allow me to create different outcomes by choosing different behaviours. Effectively I reparented myself before I even knew it was a thing.

Reparenting as a strategy

Traditionally speaking reparenting is a therapy used by trained therapists whereby they play the role of the parent and re-imagine or recall scenarios and in some cases re-experience the entirety of childhood (total regression therapy) and give the adult/inner child the response they needed at the time.

More recently the term is used by coaches and therapists to mean both self reparenting, working through the journey yourself, and supported reparenting, whereby the coach or therapist can serve to uncover gaps or unresourceful understandings from childhood. From here they will support you and facilitate the unlearning and relearning of resourceful information, skills and strategies.

The Holistic Psychologist Dr Nicole LePera suggests there are 4 pillars of reparenting; Discipline, Joy, Emotional Regulation and Self Care. She suggests that these umbrella topics form the main areas where there may be gaps, outdated or misinformation in our understandings of ourselves.

The most important thing you can go into your own reparenting journey with, whether that is self reparenting or with the support of a coach or therapist, is an open mind. It sounds cliché but it can be deep and eye opening work, so allowing yourself the space to explore without constrictions will reap the greatest leaps and self discovery moments.  

Re-parenting is not exclusive, anyone can do the work to fill the gaps in their understanding, knowledge, coping strategies and awareness to let go of limiting thought patterns, feel more aligned with their authentic self and begin to consciously choose different ways to think and behave.

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