Parent-Child Relationships
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26. Parent-Child Relationships

Little Girl PaintingThe Personality Traffic Light in early childhood is termed simply as an ego state of the "child" in any examination of parent-child relationships. The child's reaction is however very important in the personalities of both adults and children. Dr. Eric Berne (1910-1970), who developed this analytic tool, wrote, "The child is in many ways the most valuable part of the personality, and can contribute to the individual's life exactly what an actual child can contribute to family life that is charm, pleasure, and creativity." When Jesus first met the woman at the well, he employed the child ego state in the parent-child relationship to open the conversation in John 4.7 with the simple question, "Give me a drink of water." Interestingly, the spontaneous expression of the natural child is sometimes seen in a drunken adult or someone high on drugs. "Usually excessive alcohol decommissions the parent first so that the child is freed in the parent/child relationship and is transformed into the natural child." So the intoxicated adult tries to do tricks, cries or laughs uncontrollably and doesn't care what people think about him or her. The kind of people who drink excessively or use drugs often have a deep desire for Godly satisfaction in their own life, yet just cannot seem to work this out logically. No counseling chain of Bible verses will help them, they have to simply come to God as a little child as in a loving parent/child relationship.

Good Shepherd

Jesus the Good ShepherdParenting actual children means to develop significant parent-child relationships with a child. To the child in all of us, Jesus becomes a friend, a parent, a healer, a comforter even a partner in life when we become a Christian. He becomes at different times a Good Shepherd, the Bread of Life, the Vine or the Living Water depending upon our need. Jesus said in Matthew 11.28-29, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Some of us may have a logical grasp on the way of salvation but unless we gain something of the child as well it could turn out to be merely a cold intellectualism. Didn't Jesus say that unless one became like a little child one could not enter the kingdom of heaven?


Person teaches two childrenThe "parent" in each one of us has two main and different functions. First, the parent enables an individual to raise actual children, thus promoting the survival of the human race. Secondly, the parent in us saves us a good deal of time and energy by making many automatic responses in everyday experiences. When we tell someone loudly and firmly, "Don't touch!" they instinctively pull their hand away from whatever it was that was a danger. God has given us parenting skills to free up a person from the necessity of making innumerable trivial decisions over and over again. This allows him or her to use either the more productive logical Adult functions or emotive Child functions more fully.

Subconscious Level

Power SwitchThe logical parent trait comes to bear in the human personality at the subconscious level in the parent/child relationship. The logical parent trait can present problems in a Christian witnessing situation. Some people have been taught by their parents never to discuss religion, so when faith is mentioned their "logical parent traits" mechanism shuts down the logical thought patterns and emotions to automatically change the subject or to switch off their mind completely. This block prevents the "adult" or the "child" responses. As this is an objection to thinking through the subject, the best approach is to search in the child area for an emotional response to God and work with that. There is always the danger of the fuse blowing again once you mention God but the Holy Spirit can break through at a subconscious level when human resources fail.

Adult Response

LogicThe three responses of child, adult or parent may be seen quite clearly in the way that people relate to God. The "adult" is seen in the verse to verse counseling chains and Bible exposition and appeals to the logical parent traits in all of us. The "child" comes out in the emotional hymn or the quietly repetitive or meditational prayer. The "parent" is evident when someone says, "But we were always taught to do it this way," perhaps because a minister or parent had said so! So we can see that by understanding our natural responses more clearly, we may be better able to lead someone to Faith who would otherwise not find it.

"Parent-Child Relationships"
by Ron Meacock © 1982-2019

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