On Mother’s or Father’s Day, dealing with your difficult parents becomes even more of a minefield. They might already treat you as less-than and make ridiculous demands on a normal day, but – check the calendar – this day is all about them.
That’s where the concept of Self-Parenting Day comes in. The concept has only been around a couple years.
It’s an answer to Mother’s and Father’s Day, for those of us who didn’t get what we needed in childhood. It’s for those of us who have had to ‘re-parent’ ourselves in order to heal.
Why Self-Parenting Day?
Reddit user u/slackjaw99 first proposed the concept to acknowledge a common problem amongst those coping with complex trauma and other childhood-based mental health struggles.
When Mother’s Day or Father’s Day rolls around, it might feel uncomfortable to celebrate – you might feel like the good things you’ve become have less to do with your parents, and more to do with how you’ve reparented yourself.
In essence, you may have been a more effective parent to yourself, as an adult. So why should you not celebrate your own efforts, too?
That’s why you have permission to celebrate, today: Self-Parenting Day. It’s a day where you don’t have to deal with your difficult parents – all you have to do is something nice for yourself or for your inner child. Taking this time to recognize your own healing efforts may even help speed up your continual healing process.
In addition, this is not just a day to celebrate being a better parent to yourself than anyone else could be; the reddit user who initially proposed the holiday emphasizes that this day isn’t just to celebrate your own self-parenting efforts, but is also “an opportunity to celebrate fellow survivors’ inner parents.” There are whole communities of adults familiar with the self-parenting struggle, and the best self-help is done while helping others.
Who should celebrate? Signs you’ve self-parented
- You had to ‘take care of’ or worry about your parents as a child – emotionally or otherwise.
- You’re learning to regulate the same intense emotions your parents took out on you.
- You were raised by narcissists, or folks who frequently dismissed your needs (emotional or otherwise).
- You’re out functioning in the world, while your family members remain relatively dysfunctional.
- You fight depression symptoms to get out of bed, keep nourished, and do well at work – but you persevere!
- You decided to break the cycle of intergenerational abuse and learn how to raise your children better, starting with your inner child.
How to celebrate Self-Parenting Day
To celebrate how much you’ve been through, and all the work you’ve done to improve your own mental health, do something nice for yourself. Don’t know what that could be? Ask yourself any of the following questions.
Think about who you’ve been helping this whole time: your inner child. What are some things you loved, or plainly didn’t get to do as a child?
- Set up supplies to paint all day.
- Make a blanket fort with no consequences.
- Eat Pop-Tarts and Gushers for breakfast.
- Plan a visit to the zoo or an amusement park.
What would you do for a parent you really wanted to please on Mother’s or Father’s Day?
- Make them breakfast in bed? Prep your favorite breakfast the night before, so you can grab it, do minimal work, and eat right when you wake up on June 2nd!
- Buy mom flowers? Pick out your favorites, or get yourself a succulent that won’t die (at least not as quickly…)
- Get reservations at a family favorite restaurant? Try your personal favorite restaurant – and be happy it won’t be as crowded as on a more traditional holiday.
- Fulfill a wishlist item of dad’s? Low-key splurge on an item you’ve been eyeing for a while.
Another helpful question: What activities or resources help your personal healing process?
- Feeling safe and provided-for? Lock your door and create a warm nest in front of the TV, with snacks at hand.
- Staying hydrated? Buy yourself an extra favorite water bottle, to make it easier to drink enough water.
- Getting your thoughts out? Spend some time journaling or texting a sibling who knows how much you had to parent yourself.
- Knowing you’re not alone? Invite a friend over to celebrate together, or hop onto an online community you know understands you.
Since you’ve been strong enough to parent your own inner child, anything goes – as long as you’ll feel happy, relaxed, and/or generally taken care of today.
If you feel like you can teach yourself better ways to move through the world, but don’t know how, read this article for suggestions on how to re-parent yourself.
That said, if you haven’t started yet, you should still celebrate today. After all, Self-Parenting Day is the perfect time to practice just being kind to yourself — something all of our parents should have taught us to do.
Listening to your inner child and celebrating the kind, calm parent you’ve been to yourself will help cement your progress and keep your mental health on-track.
We, at Supportiv, are proud of every single person who has relied on themselves, worked against childhood patterns, and just survived in today’s crazy world. This day is for you.