Within each of us is an inner-child and also an inner-parent. How we were raised by our actual parents when we were children predicts what our future relationships will look like and how we experience or give love.
Just because you have a certain pattern of attachment inherited from patterns of your lineage, does not mean you’re stuck with it or have to pass it onto your children in turn. It is possible to heal those original wounds and develop healthy and secure attachments with other people.
Some wounds come from within the family, but others can be sustained through overarching systems within society such as organised religion and the state. Recognising them as other types of parental figures can allow you to heal those wounds also and to become the parent you never had for yourself.
There are generally four attachment styles studied by a researcher by the name of Baumrind as you can see in the picture above. They correspond to two axis of either warm/cold and permissive/controlling.
Neglectful Parenting: This is a combination of cold emotions and a lack of rules, structure or boundaries. Overall it conveys a lack of care for the child, selfishness on part of the parent, and potentially hazardous exposure to risk for a child not being supervised or cared for.
Permissive Parenting: This combines warm emotions with a lack of structure or intervention from the parent. It’s conveyed to the child that the parent cares, but that they lack the courage or wisdom to give the child structure, boundaries and security. It can be selfish on the parent’s part because they want to be a friend to the child and obtain emotional support for themselves from their child rather than providing it.
Authoritarian Parenting: When cold emotions are combined with strong control of the child, it becomes overbearing and confining. It’s the way of the parent or the highway, which can lead to a child who capitulates to bullying or who will rebel to their own detriment.
Authoritative Parenting: If parents can combine warm emotional attachment with clear boundaries and rules, they will have hit the sweet-spot with helping their child to develop. All of the other parenting styles are described as insecure-attachments, but this one is a secure attachment. Security in any relationship, whether parent/child or spouses, needs a combination of safety within the emotional exchange as well as standards of behaviour from both sides which displays mutual respect and dignity.
If your parents fell into one of the three insecure-attachment styles, you may have trouble giving and/or receiving love from others as an adult. You may also be hyper-critical of yourself, or perhaps too permissive of your bad habits.
People who are secure have both a realistic sense of themselves, but also err on the side of positivity to keep motivated and maintain self-belief and self-esteem. They also see the worth of other people and feel happy to both give and receive love within their relationships, but they won’t tolerate bad treatment from others of lower themselves to the point where they think it’s ok to treat others with a lack of care.
When you were a child you had needs which had to be fulfilled by other people based on the relationship you had with them. When you’re an adult, you have the ability to provide that for yourself without reference to other people. Part of a good childhood is your parents showing you how to be that person for yourself. Another part of a good childhood is to show you the balance between the childish neediness and the essential task of delaying gratification. Some people were only shown that all needs made them bad. Some people were shown that all needs and wants should be immediately satisfied, regardless of whether it’s good for you or not. Those are the two extremes of permissive and strict parenting.
Re-parenting yourself means learning how to manage the needy child screaming within, who has either need neglected and ignored, or who has been overly indulged and grown into a monster.
Having needs or desires is not necessarily bad, but it must be assessed by your inner adult who can determine if it’s possible to satisfy, or if it’ll be good for you.
Being that kind but firm parental figure is everything you need if you want to heal the wounds of the child.