Learning to Parent Yourself

Learning to Parent Yourself

When you were child, you were raised by people who loved and cared for you. Your needs were taken care of every day. You were fed, bathed, educated, and you had shelter over your head. You were given what you needed. Some people are not so lucky. They didn’t have an ideal childhood. Regardless of what type of upbringing you had, it’s essential when you become an adult to learn to take care of yourself. That is a difficult challenge for many of us, but it’s a harsh reality. Once you know to take care of yourself, you are almost like being a parent to yourself. Here is what it means to parent you.


You’ve likely heard the buzzword “self-care.” It’s a simple term to refer to taking care of oneself. It’s a different practice for each person. Self-care for one individual could mean taking time to read a book or be alone. For another person, it could be taking a walk or calling a friend. There’s no right way to take care of oneself. It’s a matter of nurturing and respecting your needs. That’s what a parent does for you, and now it’s time to do it for you. When you take care of yourself, you are a parent to yourself. You are no longer a child, but you can provide for yourself.

Giving your inner child what it needs

No matter how ideal your childhood was, there are inevitably things that you did not get from your parents. Part of accepting your reality as an adult is understanding that you are responsible for fulfilling your needs. You can’t look to other people to give you what you need, because you will be disappointed when you don’t get it. Sure, relationships are important, and you can value your needs as well as the other person’s, but ultimately, it’s about satisfying your wants and desires. No one else is responsible for giving you what you need. What we lack in adult-life often dates back to childhood. Perhaps you have separation anxiety because you were craving the attention of your parent, and they did not give it to you. Maybe you did not get the praise that you needed as a child, so you feel invalidated or less then as a grownup. There’s something you can do about that. You can build yourself up as an adult and give that inner child what it needs. You can do things to boost your confidence. This is another way of parenting yourself.

Providing for yourself

When you find a job that resonates with you, it’s a great feeling. You are looking for a career where you feel like you are able to be genuinely yourself. One way of nurturing yourself is by providing for you and your household. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing a job that makes money. Being a parent is a full-time role. You are continuing the cycle of life when you’re a stay-at-home parent. Whatever your calling in life is, when you provide for yourself and your family, you are nurturing those around you, and that feels good.

It’s hard to give yourself what you need

A lot of times, we look to other people to give us what we need. If you keep doing this, you will be let down. Other people are not responsible for satisfying your needs. That can be a frustrating thing to come to terms with, but it’s the reality of life. You may find yourself in codependent relationships where you expect the other person to give you constant validation. There is a balance between wanting your partner to love and validate you and expecting and needing them to do so. You will push your partner away when you expect them to do what you need to do for yourself. These are issues that you can discuss with your friends and family as well as with a licensed therapist.

Talking about nurturing and parenting yourself in therapy

Online therapy is a great place to discuss issues with inner child work and parenting yourself. You might talk through issues surrounding projection in transference focused therapy. Perhaps you want things from people in your life that you didn’t get from your parents. You can talk about these concerns with a licensed therapist. You may be at a loss as to how to satisfy your needs, but that won’t last forever. Talking about these issues with the therapist can help you understand what you need and learn to satisfy those wants and desires. 

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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