Oh, grow up.” When was the last time someone said that to you, when you were doing something they apparently thought was childish? Speaking of which, do you remember the time we couldn’t wait to grow up? What were we thinking?

Parenting. They say it takes a village. Where can I get directions to that village? Lol. I think we would all agree that it is up to parents to create a safe environment for their children, emotionally as well as physically. After all, don’t we all have the right to feel safe and secure in this ole world? But what happens when even well-meaning parents do not offer us a sense of true belonging, and we end up with a huge wound in our psyche or soul? After all, a grown up is simply a child with lots of layers on.

You know: You spend the first 12 months of your kids’ lives teaching them to walk and talk, and the next 12 telling them to sit down and be quiet. But seriously, please do not think that simply because you repress your feelings, that the impact may not be devastating and long-lasting. Believe it or not, many of our issues in the here and now can be healed by learning about and even communicating with our Inner Child who still lives inside of us to this day.

Some of us may feel damaged or way too needy at times. There is a part of each and every one of us that still feels and reacts like a child. That little boy or girl within you once felt innocence, creativity, and a sense of wonder about all things in life. Where has it gone? If that child was muffled and squished when you were growing up, perhaps you truly never met him or her. Were you free to show your feelings as a child, or told that they were not appropriate? Were you criticized often, especially when you were spontaneous or having fun? Perhaps you did not get too much in the way of hugs or physical affection. You know what they say: Everybody knows how to raise children, except the people who have them.

We all have strong needs for emotional support and deep love. Yet we may feel that we were not paid attention too much, or had some of our needs ignored. So we learned to repress all our feelings, fearing that they will be neglected all over again. If you feel anxious, angry, guilty, or inadequate often, chances are your inner child needs some healing.

They say the best way to prepare yourself for parenthood is to talk to rocks, because they have similar listening habits. Heh. The miraculous thing is that if our pain is heard by a trusted person and lovingly validated, we start feeling restored and healed. Please stop ignoring your own needs, and constantly changing yourself to be accepted by others. How can you love or feel sheltered and secure with yourself amidst your relentless self-criticism and judgment? You may have to rescue that child, and work through some past emotional trauma. The truth is that you may have to actually re-parent yourself.

Reconnect to that beautiful child within you. Yes, we do become our own protector and nurturer. Find out what feels “safe” for you. Okay, you may not decide to spontaneously jump up and down in middle of the office, or dance and sing with strangers in the street. But you can choose to be happy and entertained by the little things in your life. You know, like getting a phone update that actually makes the phone work better. Heh.

You know what’s funny? Lots of stuff – so lighten up. Lose yourself in simple pleasures. Go ahead. Get wildly enthusiastic about something. Exaggerate and embellish if you like. Being child-like is not the same as being childish. C’mon, break out that little girl if even just for a moment. Let that little boy take fearlessness for a test run today.

But don’t take a nap at work. Lol. And do not roll around on the floor having a tantrum if you don’t get what you want. By all means, remember the things that brought you joy as a kid, and do them. Unwind, reconnect, and release that little child inside of you. Feel the freedom? Stop taming and controlling him for a while. Just don’t let him take over the world. Do you have the urge to do something flat-out silly? What’s stopping you? After all, adults are just children with money.

Play just for playing sake. So what are your simple pleasures, sweet friends? How about when you break your graham cracker exactly on the line? Getting triple word score in Scrabble? Texting your friend and she responds immediately? Eating dessert before dinner? Telling corny jokes like naming my iPod “Titanic” so when you connect it in iTunes, it says, “Syncing Titanic.”

Do tell. In the meantime, ponder this: The idea is to simply die young, as late as possible.

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.