All of us were parented. For many of us, it went well. We were loved, our views were respected, our needs were tended to. It helped to make us the more or less sane people we are now. For others among us, things went really rather badly wrong. Perhaps there was unreliability, anger, humiliation, violence or worse. If there was, we’re liable to have been deeply marked. We may, even if it all happened quite a number of years ago now, keep noticing new ways in which the past is getting in the way of a good life in the present. Our inadequate parenting experiences undermine our ability to have sound relationships, the right sort of confidence and to extend adequate nurture to ourselves. We would like, of course, to move on. There is something unbalanced and deeply cruel in the idea of the first 12 years determining the next 50. We cannot change the past, but it does remain open to us to correct at least some of its repercussions. We may learn to do this through a neglected and yet deeply powerful process we call re-parenting. How our parents behaved will have laid down a template in our minds about how we should respond to challenges. But we don’t need to remain forever stuck with the kind of care which we imbibed in the early years. We by nature have an ability to parent ourselves. What this means is, an ability to – comfort ourselves at moments of difficulty – to interpret the troubles that beset us with imagination and kindness – to encourage ourselves in the face of anxiety and loss – and to reassure the more fragile, agitated parts of us by drawing upon our experience and our serene aspects All this is what good parents do for their children, but if this did not happen to us, we can still – in adulthood – step in and do it for ourselves. One part of the mind can speak to the other, one part can act as the sane, resilient counterweight to the bruised more immature side of the self. We don’t need to be limited in our spirit by those who were meant to care for us, we can figuratively put an arm around our own shoulder. Our experience of the shortfalls of our own parents offer us an expertise that is wasted if it stays stuck at the level of criticism. It should become the template for a far more useful project: the creation of an inner ideal parent, who acts in all the ways in which the real thing should have done, but didn’t quite. Knowing so much about what we did not have enables us to be experts at what we need – and should believe we can provide for ourselves. We already have the perfect inner parent; it’s simply in many ways the opposite of the one we had. Though childhood is a one off event in material time, in psychological time, it is endlessly recurring. The eight year old us is still there – and we can talk to it and respond to it in a way that allows it to mature and strengthen in the way it always should. We should make use of a much underestimated capacity of reparenting ourselves. f you liked this film, please subscribe to our channel and click the bell icon to turn on notifications. follow the link on your screen now to see our range of books, games and gifts all about Self-Knowledge.