Your inner child influences the way you parent

A mother shares how her relationship with her daughter changed for the better when she allowed her own inner child to flourish.

Mother and child walking in autumn park

By Janine Emerson

I first stumbled across this concept of the inner child when I was twenty years old. I bought some tarot cards named Inner Child Tarot which are based on fairy tales and fables. They had an innocent quality to them and helped me to see the magic and wonder in much of life’s predicaments; also the initiation and growth that come from these predicaments.

I can’t say that I fully understood the inner child concept until much later. So much later, in fact, that it has only been the past two or three years where I have delved into this aspect of myself to heal deep wounds and remove some unhealthy patterning.

Who is our 'inner child'?

I have come to understand though that our inner child is that innocent and creative aspect of ourselves that keeps us curious and in wonderment of the world around us. I have felt that our inner child is also our soul aspect – or a part of our soul – that wishes for us to live our true potential and life purpose.

Mother with daughter in autumn park

I thought I was living a happy life and reaching my true potential. I thought that I was content and on a path and a pretty well-rounded human being; until I heard a little voice deep inside telling me something different.

When I had my daughter – who is now 7 years old – life changed dramatically. I had anxiety, a lot. Like most parents, I felt overwhelmed with this massive responsibility of caring for a tiny human. I couldn’t cope well with her crying or strong-willed behaviour. I didn’t want to say ‘no’ in case she got upset, because I don’t do so well with confrontation. But I felt with every demand she would make, made me resentful. Sometimes I would even throw a mini tantrum of my own!

So, here is a thirty-six-year-old, well-rounded healthy adult throwing a tantrum! I had to stop and think about this. No, I actually had to stop and feel into this. What was this behaviour?

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And then it became clear.

That little girl inside me needed to be heard.

She needed to be loved and held and accepted unconditionally. My wounded inner child was affecting my parenting and my relationship with my daughter.

Silhouette of mother and daughter in the gym

Because that little girl in me was not shown how to deal with confrontation or strong emotional reactions, then this now meant that the adult ‘me’ had no previous experience or teachings on how to support my daughter. The adult ‘me’ became reactive and disconnected. The adult 'me' withdrew and was afraid to connect emotionally. The adult 'me' was harbouring an inner child that was triggered by the experiences my own daughter was going through.

My inner child was loudly saying ‘acknowledge me’!

So I did. I took the necessary steps required to acknowledge that little girl inside of me that was still crying from the lack of emotional intimacy she had with her own parents, or the feelings of abandonment and being misjudged.

I started to care for my inner child in a way that my parents hadn’t. I started to show her how it felt to be accepted, to be held, and modelled how to cope with strong emotions. And in doing so, I set her free.

The change was almost instant

In acknowledging my inner child, my relationship with my daughter has changed dramatically. I now can be a solid support for her when she is emotionally overwhelmed and not feel like I have to say ‘stop crying’ or disconnect from her experience. I can stay present and loving and hold her in that space.

If my daughter is being demanding, I can give her boundaries now without becoming over-reactive.

mother and children playing with flour

Rediscovering playfulness

I made a vow to my inner child that I would become more playful again, and this has meant I now play more with my daughter. We laugh together, make silly faces, dance around the house, become curious watching little crawly bugs and ponder on the workings of life.

I found meditations a helpful way of accessing and listening to my inner child as well as seeing a therapist who could hold me in a safe space to go deeper into my process.

As adults, when we remember to acknowledge our inner child - that aspect of ourselves that wishes to have a creative life full of wonderment and curiosity - then the child in us stays with us. When nourished and healed, that inner child will remember their own happiness and innocence, and we can be more present as parents.

So, start playing, be silly, laugh and dance and give yourself the biggest hug – your inner child will love it.

Janine Emerson

Janine Emerson

Contributor

Janine grew up amongst the rolling green hills of the Northern Rivers of NSW, where she still resides with her 7 year old daughter. She and her daughter started the journey of home education this year and the results are incredible. Janine is a practicing qualified herbalist and finds joy in making medicines in her home apothecary, as well as exploring the complex nature of human health and how we are innately connected to nature and our surrounds. She's on Instagram at @wildblendsco.