Parenting from the Inside Out

Started reading “Parenting from the Inside Out.”  It’s about interactions between parents and children, and that if the parents have unprocessed events in their lives, it will affect their ability to raise healthy kids.  They talk about how relationships are created, through empathy, validation, and shared emotion.  It’s the shared emotion that makes you feel connected to someone.  That didn’t happen — or at least I don’t remember it — with Mom & Dad.  I remember the time I tried to connect with Dad by reciting a Robert Frost poem and he complained “You started me off wrong.”

They described “emotion” as an energy that integrates, integrates experience within a person, integrates a relationship between two people.

Reading this somewhat difficult material I feel overwhelmed and very sad.  I don’t remember any connecting experiences with mom or dad, or experiences of being felt, or taken in by one of them.  Attuned connection with a parent helps a child feel good about herself because their emotions have been given “resonance and reflection.”  This gives them a sense of vitality and substance, a stronger sense of themselves.

How you are treated, if there is no attuned empathy, is “who you are.”  It’s in “implicit memory” so it becomes an assumption that functions all the time without giving a sense of being in the past.  This is why I’ve had such a long struggle with trying to change who I feel I am, it doesn’t feel like something I’ve learned, but like the reality of me.

This is so painful.  I feel like the foundation of my sense of who I am is false, but I can’t change it.  I can know that intellectually but not embody it.  Seeing this makes me want to lie down and die.

“Both of us wounded, carelessly damaged for life…”

There is also a discussion of right and left hemispheres, and how they can work together.  There was the case of one man who couldn’t feel emotions.  He had been brought up by very intellectual parents who never validated or named what he was feeling.  He had to learn how to feel in therapy.  It helps me understand why I retreat to books when I need comforting or a retreat from “life” — from the struggle and the lostness.

I think of my response to Erica’s reflection and validation of me.  On the one hand, I’m hungry for it, it’s something I’ve never experienced, but knew right away it’s something I should have been given.  On the other hand, it contradicts all my knowing, the foundations of my personality, like being told that I’m really 6ft2”.

The quote is from a song that I haven’t been able to track down.  I’ve been told that Amy Helm is the singer and Mary Gauthier may have written it.  I couldn’t find it on either website.


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1 Response to Parenting from the Inside Out

  1. Patti Smith says:

    Jenny – thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts and feelings. I get more from reading what you write than from many books or even therapy sessions. The statement in italics describes my parents and me. I live in the realm of the intellect and while I observe others in loving relationships and sometimes think I may want to be in one (having even tried being married – twice), the prospect of doing so is always a mystery to me. Not in my skill set.

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