Characteristics of “Parent, Adult, Child” Couple Interactions


In interpersonal relationships we interact with each other out of one of  3 states. In the Child state we are playful, do not have responsibilities and needs direction.  When in the Parent state, we care for another, give directives,and problem solve for another. In the adult state we are mature, independent and relate to another as an equal while problem solving.  We do our best problem solving when we are both in our Adult state.  Fights and miscommunication tend to occur when we are operating when in different states ( in the Parent state while the other responds from their Child state.)


Parent     Adult Child
Takes care of
Gives advice
Encourages and nurtures
Uses a lot of “shoulds”
Makes unilateral decisions
Criticizes, judgesDisciplines
States opinions, thoughts, feelings and needs
Shares ideas
Listens to others’ ideas
Clarifies and asks for clarification
Problem solves
Takes responsibility for own actions
Primarily operates out of the “thinking mode”

Has fun
Yells, screams, or demands
Has temper tantrums
Gets in power struggles
Likes adventure
Primarily operates out of the “feeling mode:


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