Tuesday, March 5, 2013

the Unparented Parent

In my work as a shaman, I have been aware for awhile that – at least at a soul level – all parents love their children and all children love their parents. This begs the question of, if this is so, why do so many parents and children have such a conflicted relationship?

Having observed a great many of these parent child relationships in the healing process, I see a number of reasons for this failure of mutual trust, respect and regard. I will address one of the most common causes, which I call the Unparented Parent.

All too often in our culture, due to abandonment, death, illness or absence, children do not have a competent parent available to them in their formative years. In combination with chronic low-level traumatic stress, this can derail the emotional maturity of the child, leaving them stranded in a childish state, often for the rest of their lives. They have not received competent parenting themselves and so, when they become parents, their child is constantly in competition with that inner aspect of their child self, who still seeks the nurturing of a parent. This can lead to behaviors that appear narcissistic and inappropriate, because the un-parented child aspect of the parent is desperately trying to get his or her own needs met, and can feel very resentful and fearful of the infant that is now receiving the attention, caring, nourishment and nurturing that they feel they were denied.

This can become a trans-grenerational cycle that can inflict its wounds time and again. However this cycle can be broken by those rare adults who engage their own healing process fully, reintegrating their wounded child aspects, before becoming parents themselves.

Much of the shamanic work I do with my clients is directed at this sort of healing soul level wounds that reach back over many generations, usually to a parent who was lost to war, illness or other life trauma, leaving a family bereft.

The good news is that these wounds can and do heal. It is not to late for that child to finally receive the parenting he or she needs. What may be hard for some to hear, is that that parent needs to be you.

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