Explanation of the Parent in Transactional Analysis
THE PARENT The Parent is like a tape recorder. It is a collection of pre-recorded, pre-judged, prejudiced codes for living. When a person is in the Parent ego state she thinks, feels and behaves like one of her parents or someone who took their place. The Parent decides, without reasoning, how to react to situations, what is good or bad, and how people should live. The Parent judges for or against and can be controlling or supportive. When the Parent is critical it is called the Critical Parent. When it is supportive it is called the Nurturing Parent.
One ego state can dominate a person to the exclusion of the other two. An example of this is the excluding Nurturing or Critical Parent, which happens when a person is unable to use their Child or Adult. This person is at a great disadvantage because in order to be a well-functioning human being, the ego states must be available when needed.
With an excluding Parent as the only functioning ego state a person has to live without the benefit of his Child or Adult and is therefore cut off from two thirds of his human potential.
The Parent uses old “tapes” to solve problems, and is therefore usually twenty five years behind the times (though it may be 250 or as much as 2,500 years behind the times.) and is useful when there is no information available to the Adult, or no time to use the Adult to think. The Child, on the other hand, will create novel solutions based on intuition but these solutions may not be as reliable as the fact-based Adult decisions.