By Patricia O’Gorman, Ph.D. and Philip Diaz, M.S.W.

For more information on Self-Parenting and how you can begin your total process of recovery read 12 Steps to Self-Parenting, available from Amazon.comalong with the 12 Steps to Self-Parenting Workbook  … and attend one of our seminars or self-parenting retreats. Or better yet, contact us to conduct a retreat for you. There are a variety of specialized retreats available, such as “Self-Parenting for the Helping Professional.” We look forward to seeing you there.

Step 1 Admitted our  powerlessness to change our past — that our lives had become unmanageable and became willing to surrender to our love and not to our fear.
Step 2 Find hope in the belief that recovery is possible through faith and an acceptance of the fact that we are never really alone.
Step 3 Learned to let go of compulsive self-reliance by reaching out to our Higher Parent.
Step 4 Made an honest assessment of our strengths and weaknesses and accepted the impact our childhood had had upon us as adults.
Step 5 Learned to share our self-parenting issues with others without self-recrimination or shame.
Step 6 Become ready to change by giving up the demand to be perfect.
Step 7 Learned to embrace our uniqueness and connectedness to others in a spirit of love and humility.
Step 8 Learned self-forgiveness and made amends to our inner child.
Step 9 Healed our inner child by realizing the promises of self-parenting in our daily life.
Step 10 Practiced daily self-acceptance and learned to live in the present.
Step 11 Allowed the divinity in us to shine forth by surrendering to our Higher Power.
Step 12 Having had this spiritual awakening, we reached out to others in the spirit of giving, love and community.

Your Higher Parent and Your Inner Child

Each of us is composed of two vital selves, an inner child and a Higher Parent.  Your inner child is the center of your love, your feelings, your spontaneity, your curiosity.  It is the part of you which is exquisitely alive, vital, creative and from which you draw your energy. It is the part of yourself that feels your pain, that needs love and support and feels hopeless without it.Your Higher Parent is the center of your inner wisdom, your intuitive knowledge.  This is your problem-solving self, the part of you that will in healthy families gently and lovingly guide your inner child.  This is also the part of you who protects your inner child.  Your higher Parent is the part of you unaffected by your ego or your feelings.  It is the transcendent part of yourself, a direct channel to your Higher Power.

Vulnerable Cores

Living in an abusive family can traumatize the vulnerable cores of your being. And when traumatized, your inner child, deprived of the wisdom of your Higher Parent, may develop defenses that result in what we a compulsively dependent and what other call a co-dependent orientation to the world.

The Compulsive Dependent Self

With compulsive dependency, our inner child is locked away for fear that her spontaneity will cause embarrassment, humiliation or worse, overwhelming pain. The voice of the Higher Parent is silenced for fear that it will rock the family’s precarious boat, resulting in rejection. The compulsively dependent self that emerges is often controlling and needing to rescue others, or in turn to be rescued by them. Or due to their compulsive dependency, they will turn to other things in their search for completeness, such as overeating, compulsive sexual activity, compulsive spending, or working excessively, all in an attempt to be filled up.

The Promises of Self-Parenting

Self-Parenting is about freeing you inner child and releasing the voice of your Higher Parent, about accepting and nurturing yourself.  The promise of self-parenting is that you will be able to live in the present and leave the past behind and learn to unconditionally love yourself.  Based on the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, the 12 Steps to Self-Parenting, provided for you above, is about granting yourself a second change to parent the child within.  It is about learning to nurture yourself through self-forgiveness.It is about letting God in your life and learning to reach out for love.  It is about letting go the baggage of the past healing olds wounds, and learning how not to recreate these painful patterns in your present. It is about allowing your inner child to be spontaneous, joyful, alive, free.  It is about allowing your Higher Parent to guide you with you inner wisdom.

It is about learning to joining your Higher Parent and inner child in a healthy manner, making true intimacy with other possible, allowing you to break the bonds of isolation and compulsive or co-dependent behavior.  It is about learning through healthy self-parenting to use our Higher Parent as a beacon of light to guide us through the storms and dark times, while your inner child releases the healing energy of love and makes it available to you and those around you.

All of these constitute the total process of recovery. Self-parenting is about the long road home — the road from loneliness and self-doubt, to self-validation, unconditional self-love and intimacy.  The road from the pain of the past to the joy, unconditional self-love and fullness of the present.