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Be the Parent to Yourself That You Wish You’d Had

Whether you grew up without a parent or had one (or two) who weren’t great caretaker material, as an adult you need to know how to parent yourself well. If you take good care of yourself—and, to me, at rock bottom that’s what will turn you into a “normal” eater—it matters less what kind of early care-taking you received and more how you’re focused on re-parenting yourself now.

I’ve blogged about this before, but the process of taking care of yourself is worth repeating. If parents didn’t model healthy caretaking for you by how they treated themselves or each other or didn’t care for you well enough physically and emotionally, you internalized negligent caretaking. Then you proceeded to go along thinking that you weren’t worth treating better or that poor care-taking was normal. As a child, you likely didn’t know any better and poor self-care habits became entrenched. Perhaps as a teen, you had a notion that there were better ways, but still didn’t have enough positive role models or opportunities in which you were “parented well.”

And, here you are today, recognizing that you want to do better on your own behalf. Or wishing that you’d experienced better care so that you’d know what to do. Think for a moment what being the parent to yourself you wish you’d had would encompass. Break it down. What traits specifically do you look back on now and see that you didn’t receive? Which ones do you long for? Is it someone who:

  • had patience as you struggled to learn something
  • knew how to have fun other than eating
  • was comfortable with their body and yours
  • helped you when you needed assistance and left you alone when you didn’t
  • believed you could do anything you set your mind to
  • looked on the bright side and wasn’t a doom-and-gloomer
  • was kind to themselves and others
  • lived in a balanced way
  • was thoughtful and deliberate rather than impulsive and irrational
  • followed through effectively without being a perfectionist
  • managed emotions in a healthy way

What traits did your parents lack that you could provide yourself with now? Make a list and read it over every day. Give yourself what you didn’t get. It’s doable and necessary.