Having worked with parents for the last 35 years and written books on parenting and relationships, I’ve discovered that one of the greatest challenges for us as parents is to be loving role-models for our children, showing our children through our behavior how to take personal responsibility for their own feelings and needs.
Our children need to learn from our role-modeling how to nurture themselves within and how to create a sense of safety in the world. In families where both a mother and father are present, both parents can participate in nurturing the child emotionally and taking care of the child in the world, and both parents can role-model what it looks like to do this for themselves.
Single parents have a far greater challenge – they have to be both mother and father to the child. Mothering energy is that energy that nurtures while fathering energy is that energy that protects in the world – that is, earning money, setting boundaries with others, speaking up for oneself. While our society often defines women as the nurturers and men as the protectors, both men and women are capable of both nurturing and protecting in the world.
In order for a single parent to successfully be both mother and father, he or she must have learned how to be both mother and father to the Child within. In other words, we have to have learned how to nurture our own Inner Child – how to take responsibility for our own fears, pain, anger, hurt, and disappointment, and how to take care of our Inner Child in the world – earn money, set boundaries, and so on. There is no way to successfully teach our children these skills until we are doing them ourselves, which means that each of us needs to be in a process of learning how to do this.
We have developed a process that teaches us how to care for and nurture ourselves, while also loving others. This process, called Inner Bonding, teaches us how to become a loving Adult to our own Inner Child and to our actual children. Inner Bonding is a six-step psychospiritual process that can be learned and practiced daily, and that leads to the development of a spiritually-connected loving inner Adult.
Inner Bonding defines the Inner Child as our core self, who we are when we are born – our natural creativity, intuition, playfulness, imagination, talents, feelings, and ability to love. Our Child is our inner experience. Our Adult is everything we learn after we are born. It is our thoughts, beliefs, and ability to take action. We start learning how to be an Adult from the moment we are born through watching our parents and other caregivers.
The Adult we learn to be is a child-adult, the part of us that learned many fears and false beliefs and learned addictive ways, such as using substances, TV, spending, anger, or compliance to avoid pain. A true loving Adult is that part of us that is spiritually connected to a Higher Source of truth and love and is able to bring that truth and love down into the Child and share it with others.
The adult many of us operate from most of the time is really a wounded child masquerading as an adult. It is our unhealed wounded self that causes us problems with ourselves and our children. Inner Bonding is a process for healing the wounded self and developing a spiritually-connected loving Adult.
In Inner Bonding, there are only two possible intents at any given moment: the intent to learn about love and the intent to protect against and avoid pain. The intent to learn says that we want to learn about our own pain in order to understand what we need to do to be loving to our Inner Child and others; The intent to protect says that we want to avoid experiencing our pain at all cost. The child-adult is always in the intent to protect and the loving Adult is always in the intent to learn.
The six-steps of Inner Bonding are:
1. The willingness to become aware of our pain rather than protect against it with our various addictions.
2. The conscious decision to move into the intent to learn.
3. Dialoguing with our wounded self to discover the false beliefs and resulting behavior behind the pain. Releasing anger and pain in appropriate ways.
4. Dialoguing with our Higher Power to learn about truth and loving behavior.
5. Taking loving action in behalf or our Inner Child.
6. Evaluating the action.
All parents needs to be in a process of healing themselves. It is particularly important for single parents to be in this process since they are the primary role-models for their children. The more you heal the fears and false beliefs of your wounded self, the more loving you will naturally be with yourself and your children. Learning to utilize these six step throughout the day, especially in times of anger, fear, anxiety and stress, will eventually heal the false beliefs leading to these difficult feelings.