What started out as one ACA Zoom workshop, quickly turned into six, thanks to a collaboration with the Literature and IT Committees, the Global subcommittee, and many awesome tech hosts!
From April 11 to May 8, 2020, over 3,000 ACAs from across the world were introduced to the “Reparenting Check-In.” My original hope was that this practical tool from the Loving Parent Guidebook (LPG) would support ACAs during the pandemic. I had no idea it would launch a movement. So far two new meetings have been registered that use this process and more are forming. The reparenting check-in worksheet has been translated into a few languages, I just led a workshop for over 200 ACAs in Russian with live translation, and people have come together to practice this in their local communities.
Here is a sampling of the many shares:
- “Such a simple process, but so powerful.”
- “This work helps to de-bond from inner critical parent.”
- “I feel like this is what I have been missing in ACA after doing this for 5 years.”
- “I never learned to speak to myself lovingly – now I have the tools to learn how.”
The workshops led to breakthroughs for many – from discovering the inner teenager, to understanding the critical parent’s distorted attempts to keep them safe, to experiencing a gentle way to approach reparenting through the simple, yet powerful “fist” exercise. The workshop feedback we’ve received is helping ensure that the LPG will address the common challenges we can encounter as we begin to reparent.
After more than two years chairing the LPG subcommittee, it’s gratifying to see people connect so quickly and deeply to just one of the many practices they’ll discover in the guidebook when it’s published later this year. My experience had been similar when I joined ACA. I spent years meditating and being aware of my critical parent. But it wasn’t until I learned the reparenting check-in that things changed. I’d never realized that listening to the critical parent wounded my little girl. That motivated me, finally, to turn away from the critical parent and nurture her. My ACA counselor would ask, “What would a loving parent say to a hurting child?” When I couldn’t find the words, she helped me, as did my sponsor and Fellow Travelers.
Some of the loving messages people shared with their inner child and teenager included:
- “I am here with you.”
- “I get it, you are angry. It sucks. I’m here with you.”
- “This is temporary.”
- “I love you.”
- “I see you. I hear you. It will be okay.”
- “It’s safe to express your feelings.”
One of the most impactful pieces of the workshop was a cartoon with a critical parent interacting with a child whose turtle had just died. Many attendees said this was how they’d been parented. The next cartoon showed the same scenario with a loving parent. Many felt inspired to reparent their Inner Child in this way. Others connected to the loss of not receiving such parenting. Some expressed guilt at not connecting with their Inner Child – or with flesh-and-blood children that way. A few people judged the Loving Parent as fake, a sign that parts of us “don’t trust.” For parts of us, empathy can be foreign, or scary, or perhaps was used to manipulate us in the past. The guidebook will address these natural reactions.
You can attend The True Self ACA Group on Thursdays and Reparenting Check-In on Mondays for a taste of the new formats, which offer a fantastic opportunity to be in the Solution. You can find them at www.adultchildren.org under online meetings.
During the check-in process, members model what a Loving Parent does and says in a practical, concrete way. At the first True Self meeting, which uses a silent, guided check-in followed by timed shares, members shared powerful insights. They gave each other hope about becoming their own Loving Parents. In a test run of a second variation of the format I led, we paused at each phase of the check-in to “pop-in” with our responses. It was moving to hear others be vulnerable and speak to their Inner Child and teenager. It takes courage to break the “don’t talk, don’t trust, and don’t feel rules” and be witnessed in a group nurturing your Inner Child and teenager. It validates those younger parts like nothing else.
The Loving Parent Guidebook is an ACA WSO Literature Committee project. Because of many inquiries, I want to clarify that there is no draft of this guidebook in circulation. The reparenting check-in is unrelated to any pamphlet or workbook currently available. You can find it later this year at www.adultchildren.org where other WSO publications are sold (and where you can get a recording of the workshop). To learn more about the guidebook, or request materials to help you start a meeting with the new format, visit https://www.acawso.org and look for LPG on the committee list.