Vail Daily column: Parenting yourself
Vail, CO Colorado
Let’s face it. Not every parent knows how to parent well, and some people seemingly know nothing at all about good parenting. Some parents are ill-equipped to be moms or dads – either because they don’t want to be parents; they’re not ready yet; because they’ve had poor parental role models from their own upbringing; because they’re self-centered and self-absorbed; because they adopt naïve and uneducated ideas about what kids need or want; because they aren’t in control of their own impulses, emotions or behaviors; because they’re intolerant; because they don’t know right from wrong and wise from unwise; or because they don’t know how to love. It makes you wonder why on earth it is easier to become a parent than it is to get a driver’s license.
Many people don’t feel they got what they needed from their parents—and some people clearly never recover from their childhoods and remain forever wounded—and sometimes emotionally crippled – by what happened to them as children. So would it come as a surprise to you if I told you that you can, as an adult, be your own best parent? You can guide yourself, coach yourself, teach yourself, nurture yourself, discipline yourself, hold yourself accountable, and give yourself approval, acknowledgement and praise? No, you didn’t give birth to yourself, but you can parent yourself all the same – and you just might be a far better parent to yourself than your birth parents were.
I am my own parent when I refuse to let my fears stop me from going after what I dream of. When I actively look at what I can learn from my mistakes and failures without beating myself up about it again and again. When I learn to like, love, respect and believe in myself. When I can be my own best friend.
I am parenting myself when I decide that my life is up to me, that I have all the tools and resources I need to succeed within me, and what I do with them is up to me. When I believe in myself. When I behave and speak in ways that are loving and caring toward me. When I treat myself with kindness, goodwill, gentleness and benefit of the doubt. When I decide what is really important to me in my life and then do everything I can to achieve my goals – rather than just hoping or wishing they will happen on their own.
I am my own best parent when I stop myself from indulging in things (too much alcohol, drugs, TV, passivity, self-sabotaging behavior) that keep me from experiencing my aliveness, my passions or my dreams. When I become a participant in life rather than an observer. When I quit wasting my time on things that do not genuinely serve my best interests. When I accept responsibility for my life and the direction I am heading, and I quit blaming other people or unfortunate circumstances.
In order to effectively and lovingly parent yourself, it would be good for you to:
Regularly rise to the occasion and hold yourself accountable for what needs to be done.
Quit doing things that hurt you or that hurt other people.
Make yourself productive and quit spinning your wheels.
Quit allowing your negative emotions to get the better of you.
Let hope run your life rather than fear.
Take overall better care of yourself.
Quit wallowing in your mistakes. Learn from your errors and miscalculations, but don’t let failures defeat you.
Risk acting unique, and live your life with some flair.
Face and deal with your shame, guilt, self-blame, anger, depression and other negative emotions until you gain control over them.
Act with integrity and honor in your dealings with others.
Be on your own side, and refuse to be in an adversarial relationship with yourself.
Allow yourself to love and to be loved.
Do these and you will become your own best parent.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder, Colorado, specializing in how people strengthen their intimate relationships. He can be reached at 303-758-8777, or e-mail him from his website http://www.heartrelationships.com.