Yesterday’s post looked at the process of parentification: the process that occurs when children are placed in adult roles far too young. Today we look at steps we can take to re-parent ourselves. Very often, when a parentified child grows up, they follow suit with their childhood dynamic, and end up in a position of constantly taking care of others in their life. This can lead to a build up, to which at one point, they begin to ask themselves “Who am I? What about me? Aren’t I important too?”
When we begin to go through this self-actualization process, it will be important to keep in mind some key pieces that we can use towards moving forward:
- Begin to recognize that it is okay to make choices that line up to your own needs and your own best interests. This may feel foreign; you are going to wrestle with guilt. Know; however, that caring for yourself is an important part in healing from childhood wounds.
- Be curious. About your interests, potential hobbies, things that make you feel passionate. The first step towards expanding some of your horizons is being curious about what interests you.
- Begin to focus on self-care. Perhaps that might be through nutrition and exercise, getting out in nature, meditation, journalling or praying, getting proper sleep. Building up a self-care routine that feeds your comfort system on a daily basis is ideal.
- Be disciplined in building the foundation of habits or putting boundaries into place. Just as we need routine and structure as children to properly cement good habits, so do we as adults. You are simply giving yourself the same structure you lacked as a child.
- Seek joy. A parentified child lives daily with the stresses of their adult’s world. There was most likely not a lot of room for joy. It is okay to seek it now. Create human connections; find your tribe, find time to play, do something unplanned, be creative, listen to music, find things that make you laugh.
When we begin to line up our values with our interests and our needs, we begin to feel more balanced. We move to the healthier position of “I am important and so are you.” Being a parentified child may have been a part of your story, and will always hold an important part of your definition. Just know that it is okay to re-parent yourself; by reclaiming your childhood, you integrate that very part of you that so wants to be heard.