Integration of the Critical Parent

In Saturdays I usually go to an ACA Re-Parenting group/meeting. It’s more of a free form processing group with minimal structure vs. a workshop model. We read Chapter 8 (Re-Parenting) of ACA’s Big Red Book and share our experiences, voice our concerns or struggles, and try an exercise in re-parenting if one should be suggested. We also have a crayons, markers, and colored pencils if the need to create something strikes out fancy.

I usually get something out of each of these meetings and usually when it’s someone else processing something. It’s so much easier to see the bigger picture on others, and when I do, I can then integrate it easier for myself. 

Last Saturday was no exception. In our reading, it stood out to me that one of the goals of re-parenting is to integrate (not eliminate) the critical parent. When I read this I felt a bit of a burden lifted from and the journey or re-parenting feels less painstaking. What does an integrated critical parent look like? Dunno yet. I still have to read more of Chapter 8.

I always knew my critical parent as very judgmental. It was the old family story that would yell out in times of stress and doubt. “What are you, stupid?”, “Who do you think you are?”, “You can’t do that!” What I didn’t know was that the critical parent is also present when you compare yourself to others and when you gossip. 

Another note on integration, I tend to understand things in my head first, then later in my heart. During the time in between, I feel imbalanced. When I understand it in my head, I easily judge myself (critical parent). Once I understand something in my heart, I am able to be compassionate with myself and I feel more integrated. Funny thing is that in regards to action, it’s the reverse. When things come up that throw me off, I need emotional support first, then I can I move onto practical support and action.

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