Good Girls, Good Boys

Many of us, when we were growing up, worked hard to be “good” and win our parents’ approval. We learned to be obedient, or cute, or smart, or tough, and to anticipate others’ needs. These Good Girls and Good Boys still live inside us as we go about our adult lives.

Often I find that my Good Girl is activated in social situations. I want to please others and smooth things over, even if my own needs are neglected.

Of course, I have other inner children who also have desires—attention, space to grow, independence. If Good Girl is in charge too much, I feel obscurely frustrated because my needs are not being met. I may feel that other people are pushing me around—but really, it’s my own dynamic!

So what do we do about these Good inner kids? It’s important, I think, to give them a lot of credit. My Good Girl enabled me to get through a difficult childhood that included incest and secrecy as well as parental distance. I honor her earnest and steady work. But sometimes I need to ask Good Girl to stand aside so that my Inner Adult can assert my legitimate wants, even if other people don’t like it.


Justine said...

I'm a new reader but let me just say that your content is amazing and is helping me SO much on my journey. I may want to do a write up on your site in the future. Thanks again so much and please keep it up!

Jane Rowan said...

Thanks so much, Justine! That'll help spur me on to post today.

I like your blog! So cool to find another writer with similar interests.

Dale said...

I like your notion that we can reclaim our innocence. I am very interested in working towards that--I find through maladaptive behaviors I have hurt my inner child and neglected him even more severely than did my family of origin. Giving him space to be, listening, rocking a pillow or teddy bear and singing lullabies are all things I feel comfortable doing. Thanks for sharing.

Dale Beaulieu

Jane Rowan said...

Dale, thank you for your insight. I agree, for years I was in the habit of neglecting and being mean to my inner child. I love hearing how you cuddle and care for your little boy. Our little ones are so sweet by nature!

Dale said...

I have been thinking of two things: shame and innocence.

Shame tell us not that we do *bad* things, but that our essence, our inner nature is flawed, bad, wrong (and you can find a lot of support for this from existing religious systems).

Innocence, as you mentioned on your site, is marked by spatiousness, room to be, explore, develop, grow. I think innocence is our rightful inheritance as human beings. When we, early on, were denied it, it was a fundamental brutalization, like not feeding or giving fluids to a child. We need it that much. I know I did.

My inner child wants me to treat him with respect, as an innocent. I, as an adult, have to come to him (often and often, because these destructive patterns reoccur) and ask forgiveness for times I judged him, didn't listen to his hurts, ignored his crying or did an action that kept a reign of punishment alive in his life. It takes time to turn that around.

One thing that helped me was to do some off-hand journaling. It makes you feel like a child. I found that I could ask questions and get answers. I could not believe how wrongly responsible my inner child felt for the abuse. he thought it was his fault.

Thanks for your response to my post. Good luck in finding an agent.

Dale Beaulieu