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Reparenting Younger Headmates

June 29, 2013

Reparenting some of our youngers has been very important towards our recovery. A few are beyond reach, not co-aware enough and in states of mind too damaged and wrapped up in their own cocoon to do much of anything with, but the ones who are co-aware enough to interact in our internal landscape or to front are the ones we're able to work with.

It's much like play therapy, in some cases. We've even given the swaddled babies time to front in a safe space, with plenty of crayons and paper to express themselves and internal supervision. For some multiples, this may not be possible -- but if you've worked on internal collaboration for some time you may have healed your awareness and internal trust enough that you may be able to allow folk to front in low-stress situations without losing time or awareness.

It's good to pick a safe "mothering" or "fathering" figure or even a group of internal mothers or fathers to care for the children. In the case of having 70+ residents, we choose to have a group of safe people with whom our children interact inside. We take on different roles -- comforter, healer, guardian, playmate -- and share responsibilities for keeping tabs on them.

A few of our youngers have had co-awareness for a very long time, and are full participants in our meetings and house rule processes, so while they present themselves as young they're afforded privileges as if they are adults. Hart is one example, she has a saying "I may be 4 but I've been 4 for a very very long time." She is not really 4 in experience, skills, or self-control, but she feels safe at 4 and can stay there as long as she'd like. She can take advantage of our internal parenting at any time, if she chooses to. Frankly, anyone inside can take advantage of being comforted, healed, guarded or having fun with others inside -- it's not a privilege we only extend to the young.

Reparenting is sometimes necessary. We have done rehabilitation of our residents by way of being a better parent to them than the parents we were born to. We started spontaneously when we were very young.

When we were body-7 years old we started to have recurring nightmares. Our body-parents were in the next room, but we were paralyzed. We didn't trust our parents to run to them anyway, and some of the dreams specifically involved monsters being on the floor and under the bed, so we couldn't dare get up or even move.
So we would lay awake, trying to keep our breathing even so that the monsters in the room wouldn't know we were awake. We would try to go back to sleep, but the dreams came back. Eventually we became afraid to go back to sleep on days when we had the nightmares.
Inside, someone surfaced and spoke to us, mothered us. It was Star, we now realize, but she was just this voice, this calming presence. She would hush us, hold us from within, and love us. She would stroke our hair or cheek, hug us to her breast, and tell us that she was there to protect us from the nightmares, that we could sleep and she'd keep the nightmares away for the rest of the night. She was the mother we needed in the middle of the night -- a mother's comfort and nurturing. She didn't try to explain the nightmares away, or get upset that we'd woken her in the middle of the night. She didn't have a bed too crowded to sleep with her, she didn't have razor stubbly legs or complain that I kicked all night. She held us, we slept, and the nightmares didn't come back that night.

Reparenting is like that. You give what is needed -- positive discipline or rules, hugs and kisses for boo boo knees, chase away the nightmares with love and nurturing kisses, provide the foundation on which your inner children can grow. And these kids can grow. Hart's twin brother Hed grew up from 4 years old to 15 and changed his name to Rane. We reparented him, even though he's a little rebel spitfire. His role was always to protect Hart and the others from emotional and psychic abuse from our father. His voice would always surface in our mind, talking back in our head, getting angry in the face of our father's anger. He's like a filter -- having caught all the anger so that it didn't filter deeper into our system, so he's full of that anger. When we first consciously met him he was young and not co-aware, and now he's a teen rebel and co-aware. A little more constructive with his actions and anger, but still very much himself. He's not done with his own internal journey, but we've helped bring him farther than he went on his own.

I suppose reparenting from inside is simply providing what children need and sometimes what they want without spoiling them. Children need safety, structure, nurturing, play, tools, fun, creativity, learning, etc. We may not have had those, or had them consistently enough, to allow our inner children to flourish and grow -- so through a process of reparenting we can give them what they need in order to flourish and "age" inside if they so choose to.

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Wow...this is a great blog! Not sure 'zactly how we'd be able to work it out in our system, but it does feel like somethin' we could do. Thanks so much for sharin' this. : )

Comment by Heather Rose on July 09, 2013, at 11:11 AM

Hi, Heather Rose,

Thank you for the great comment! : ) If you check out the "Boot Camp" link in the main navigation, and check out the boot camp itself there's blog articles related to self-work that could be helpful for you. It's all about taking care of each other and becoming a great community inside. You don't have to agree on everything or become one person to get along and be productive.

You're quite welcome, and good luck!

Comment by Crisses on July 09, 2013, at 04:02 PM

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