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"Growing Beyond 'Wise-Soul': Navigating Adult Life with a Caregiving Childhood"

June 24, 20232 min read

"I am an only child to my parents, who showered me with love and care. They minimized their needs to provide me with quality education, a loving environment, and I know that I am fulfilling my duty towards them with gratitude and that will never change. However, I find myself growing increasingly frustrated with them. It's not just about the widening political perspective gap due to generational differences, but as a parent myself, I now realize that I spent a lot of my childhood worrying about my parents' emotional and other needs. I was often referred to as the 'wise soul,' the child who talks like a "Paati" (grandma), which I used to brush off with a laugh. Now, as I embark on the second week of Sangeetha's signature program, I've gained a whole new perspective on my needs and the triggers they create between me and my partner, as well as the reasons why parenting sometimes feels exceedingly difficult, in a way that is culturally safe for me."

Growing Beyond 'Wise-Soul': Navigating Adult Life with a Caregiving Childhood"

Let's break this down:

  • Our brains and attachment systems go through a developmental arc as we transition from infancy to adulthood.

  • Brain faculties, particularly the prefrontal cortex, responsible for impulse control, attention, and more, take about 25 years to fully mature.

  • To develop the ability to "self-regulate," our nervous system needs consistent high-quality co-regulation from our primary caregivers during our early years. Essentially, we rely on our main caregiver's ability to regulate themselves until our brains learn how to self-soothe.

  • However, many of us were raised in environments where this attunement might not have been consistently available, even if we received abundant love.

  • What do I mean? Many factors could have affected a caregiver's ability to offer co-regulation, such as absent parents, diagnosed or undiagnosed mental/physical ailments, an emotionally volatile household, chronic survival issues (economic, systemic, or otherwise), and/or unhappy partnerships.

  • As a result, the brain tries to develop self-soothing capabilities prematurely, before it has learned co-regulation. This could manifest as intellectualizing everything in life, high-achievement, and leading to being labelled as a "precocious child."

  • However, "parenting" your parents or other adults, before you're developmentally ready, can have a long-term impact on various aspects of your life - your self-esteem, ability to emotionally connect, intimacy, parenting style, struggles with authority figures, and job stability.

  • Parenting can feel exhausting for you because it comes on the heels of years of caregiving before your nervous system was ready.

Thanks to the incredible power of neuroplasticity, we can work to restore these developmental steps and put them in the right order. Co-regulation and resetting our social engagement system allow the body to feel safe and present first, which, when layered with a robust ventral vagal foundation, enhances self-regulation capacities.

Here's the thing - you don't have to guess.

Download our assessment to understand where you stand with this pattern. Are you ready to re-sequence your attachment system? Take the quiz here and find out -

parenting your parentprecocious childself regualtionnervous systemneuroplasticityattachment system
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Sangheetha Parthasarathy

CEO, Sangparth |Neuroscience| MIT-Harvard Med School Innovation Bootcamp | Ex-Accenture | Top 100 Global HC leaders | Somatic Experiencing Practitioner

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