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Integrating Self-Development and Parenting: Insights from "Raising Our Self, Raising Our Children" and IFS Parts Work

"Raising Our Self, Raising Our Children" by Kathleen Lockyer is a profound exploration of how self-development is crucial for effective parenting. This insightful book highlights the importance of nurturing our inner selves to create a supportive environment for our children. In this review, we will delve into the key themes of Lockyer's work and connect them to the Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy perspective, particularly the concept of parts work. We will also discuss how integrating Lockyer’s approach with IFS can enhance parenting more effectively than each method alone.

Understanding "Raising Our Self, Raising Our Children"

Kathleen Lockyer’s book emphasizes that parenting involves both raising children and raising ourselves. To be the best parents, we must first address and heal our own emotional wounds. This journey involves deep self-reflection, emotional intelligence, and the willingness to grow alongside our children.

Lockyer provides practical tools and strategies to help parents adopt a more conscious and compassionate approach to parenting. Her insights encourage readers to look inward, understand their own emotional triggers, and create a nurturing environment that fosters emotional resilience in their children.

Connection to IFS Parts Work

Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, developed by Dr. Richard C. Schwartz, offers a valuable framework for understanding Lockyer's approach. IFS posits that our psyche is composed of various sub-personalities or "parts," each with its own emotions, thoughts, and roles. These parts can be categorized as:

  • Managers: Parts that try to control our environment and protect us from harm, often manifesting as critical or perfectionist behaviors.

  • Firefighters: Parts that distract us from emotional pain through behaviors like overeating, substance use, or other compulsions.

  • Exiles: Parts that carry our deepest wounds and painful memories, often leading to feelings of shame, fear, or unworthiness.

In "Raising Our Self, Raising Our Children," Lockyer’s emphasis on self-awareness and healing resonates with the IFS approach of recognizing and harmonizing these internal parts. By addressing our own inner conflicts and traumas, we can become more present, compassionate, and effective parents.

Integrating Lockyer’s Approach with IFS for Enhanced Parenting

Combining insights from Kathleen Lockyer's book with IFS therapy can create a more robust and effective parenting strategy. Here are some ways this integration can be more beneficial than using each approach alone:

  1. Comprehensive Self-Discovery:

  • Lockyer's focus on self-awareness complements IFS's detailed mapping of internal parts. Together, they provide a deeper understanding of one’s inner world, leading to more profound self-discovery and healing.

  1. Enhanced Emotional Regulation:

  • While Lockyer offers practical strategies for managing emotions, IFS provides a structured method for addressing the root causes of emotional dysregulation. Integrating both approaches can lead to more effective emotional regulation techniques.

  1. Improved Communication:

  • Lockyer’s strategies for open communication in parenting can be enriched by IFS’s emphasis on internal communication among parts. This dual approach can improve both self-communication and interactions with children.

  1. Healing Past Traumas:

  • Lockyer's emphasis on healing emotional wounds aligns with IFS’s focus on working with exiled parts. Combining these approaches offers a more holistic method for addressing and healing past traumas, benefiting both the parent and child.

  1. Practical Tools and Techniques:

  • Both authors provide practical tools, such as mindfulness practices and journaling. Using these tools in conjunction with IFS’s techniques for parts work can enhance their effectiveness and provide a comprehensive toolkit for personal growth and effective parenting.

Key Themes and Insights

  1. Self-Awareness:

  • Lockyer encourages parents to become aware of their own emotional triggers and patterns. This aligns with the IFS practice of identifying and understanding our internal parts. By recognizing when a manager or firefighter part is activated, parents can respond more thoughtfully rather than reactively.

  1. Healing Emotional Wounds:

  • The book emphasizes the importance of healing our own emotional wounds to prevent them from affecting our children. IFS therapy offers a structured approach to this healing process by helping individuals access their Self and work compassionately with their exiled parts.

  1. Emotional Intelligence:

  • Developing emotional intelligence is crucial for effective parenting. Lockyer provides strategies for enhancing emotional awareness and regulation, which are also key components of IFS therapy. By understanding and integrating our parts, we can model healthy emotional behaviors for our children.

  1. Creating a Nurturing Environment:

  • The book outlines practical steps for creating a nurturing and supportive environment for children. This involves setting healthy boundaries, practicing active listening, and fostering open communication. These practices are enhanced by the IFS approach of leading from the Self, characterized by qualities like compassion, calmness, and clarity.

Practical Applications

  • Mindfulness Practices:

  • Lockyer and IFS both advocate for mindfulness practices to stay grounded and connected to the present moment. These practices help parents remain centered and responsive.

  • Journaling:

  • Journaling can be a powerful tool for self-reflection and understanding one's internal parts. Lockyer recommends journaling as a way to process emotions and gain insights, a practice that complements IFS therapy.

  • Therapeutic Support:

  • Seeking therapeutic support, such as IFS therapy, can provide parents with the guidance and tools needed to navigate their inner world and improve their parenting.


"Raising Our Self, Raising Our Children" is a profound book that highlights the importance of self-growth in the journey of parenting. By integrating the principles of Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, parents can better understand and heal their internal parts, leading to more compassionate and effective parenting. This book is a valuable resource for anyone looking to enhance their parenting skills while embarking on a journey of self-discovery and healing.

For more information on IFS therapy, visit IFS Institute and Psychology Today.

For additional parenting support, check out these resources:

  • Parenting Now: Offering parenting resources, tips, and support groups.

  • A comprehensive site for parenting advice, health tips, and child development resources.

  • Zero to Three: Focused on early childhood development with resources for parents and caregivers.

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