I can’t tell you how many times my therapist would tell me that I needed to take care of my Inner Child. “I don’t understand what you mean,” I’d say. She’d retort, “Just like you did with your son!” (She thought I was an excellent parent. I wasn’t at all sure about that.) We were never able to move outside of this frustrating circle.
So I finally found Self-Parenting: The Complete Guide to Your Inner Conversations; Learn to Love, Support, and Nurture Your ‘Inner Child’, by John K. Pollard, III. (Generic Human Studies Publishing, 2018). This book is self-described as “written in a light and easy-to-read style,” with text starting not at the top of the page, but wherever it needs to in order to end at the bottom. The book is also chockful of drawings. These may well be problematic for many trans and non-binary readers; it is hard to imagine that any of the illustrations are of people of color, and they are nearly all quite stereotypically feminine or masculine. Fonts are big, spacing generous. In short, if you don’t trip over the drawings, it’s a fast read.
And it IS helpful. Pollard believes each of us has an Inner Child and he is adamant that partnering with this child on a daily basis will radically improve one’s life. He is also adamant that there is only one way to do this right. He prescribes using a particularly-formatted paper: divided with a line down the middle and with the left side devoted to what the Inner Parent says and the right side to the Inner Child’s response. He also prescribes a 30-minute conversation every day, warning that any break might make the Inner Child stop trusting you and/or start sabotaging you. Then it gets even more prescriptive, with the exact questions the Inner Parent should ask the Inner Child for many days, in order to establish trust (that the Inner Parent won’t judge what the Inner Child says). Only after all these steps are religiously followed can one consider asking unique questions of one’s Inner Child.
All of which gave me a serious conflict. Conflicts are supposed to be resolved between the Inner Parent and the Inner Child (there are very specific steps for that, too), but I feel stymied. I haven’t gone through two solid weeks of the prescribed questions, so Pollard says it’s far too soon to engage my Inner Child in a conflict dialogue. But that is my conflict: does my Inner Child really need 30 minutes a day every day for the rest of our lives? Or can we be successful with a more flexible approach?
I’ll let you know if we figure it out.