My Kid Likes Your Kid


My kid likes your kid.

No, this isn’t a dialogue at the sandbox between two new moms.

Dr. Eric Berne served up his psychological ideas in the 1950’s by subdividing our “selves” into three states: parent, adult, and child. One of the best books on this topic is Born to Win: Transactional Analysis with Gestalt Experiments By Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward.

I read Born to Win in the early 1980’s. How I interacted with my husband Judge Blah, my prince, changed after that read.

According to Dr. Berne, as fully functioning human beings, we should be moving gracefully from ego state to ego state at the appropriate times. Visualize a snowman, made up of three circles the size of nickels. The top one is the parent; the middle, the adult; the bottom, the child. Now draw a vertical line through the snowman, cutting him in half. On that line, our ego state should be moving fluidly, up and down, depending on the situation.

Adult State: When we arrive at a formal dinner party at Buckingham Palace with the Queen of England, our adult should be in charge, adhering to protocol and offering tasty bits of upper crust wisdom that would surely please the Queen.

Parent State: When our teenager comes home drunk and past curfew, our parent should kick in and admonish our late and tipsy teen by lecturing her, grounding her, and ruining her life for at least one month. Note: in some unfortunate instances, the actual parent’s child kicks in and has a drink with his kid.

Child State: When we go on a cruise with our best friends, we allow our child to play and have fun, so we participate in karaoke, belting out New York, New York in a swaying room to perfect strangers. Never mind that we hold responsible jobs back in the States. Start spreading the news…

Most of us do not have three nickel sized circles as ego states. Instead, ours are concentric, creating the imbalance that screws up some of our transactions with others.

My snowman looks like this:
My parent state at the top is the size of a dime.
My adult state in the middle is the size of a nickel.
My child state at the bottom is the size of a half dollar.

What this neat little packaged image means is that I am slow to judge, act appropriately in business dealings, and relish a good time.

Judge Blah’s snowman looks like this:
His parent is the size of a half dollar.
His adult is the size of a quarter.
His child is the size of an electron.

What this neat little packaged image means is that he is quick to Judge (Blah), is always well mannered, and schedules a fun activity every third Sunday of the month from 3-5pm.

One doesn’t have to have a doctorate from the Freud Institute in Vienna to analyze our conflicts.

And yet, I chose him for his steadfast maturity and wisdom.
He chose me for my zest for life and humor.

What makes the relationship work is that we each are influenced by the gravitational pull of our personalities.

Photo by Cheri Block Sabraw 2008 Sedona, Arizona Toad Sculpture

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to My Kid Likes Your Kid

  1. Neo says:

    This, my friend has to be the most interesting thing I have read in a long time.

  2. Kathy Brakhage says:

    Very interesting. I think my child is the size of a large pizza…=) Have a great day Cheri!

  3. lakeviewer says:

    Fabulous! How about the “Teacher”, that takes over our adult-adult relationships when one of us knows more, or thinks he/she must always give an explanation?

    Perhaps, we go through life and have different needs and these determine the role we play.

  4. John Oscar Atkinson says:

    I never knew things worked like that. We raised three girls, all professionals. I admit I can act like a baby when my wife asks me to do the dishes. After 40 years my acting never improved.
    Cheri, I love this piece. Thanks, Timekeeper

  5. Wilwarin says:

    i always really enjoy your blogs. they are informative and interesting, funny, whimsical and about your life as a teacher (my favourite ones!)
    i love how talented you are, my favourite part of your blogs are the endings cos you, like in this one, tie the whole thing up so it makes sense, or you just have the funniest one liner.
    thanks for being such a great part in my day
    love wilwarin

  6. Sailing Past Maturity Straight into Senility says:

    I can only now as an adult fully appreciate being a child – and I completely gave up on being a parent once my kids hit college-age.

    And to use the snowman comparison, I’m a big muddy puddle to jump in.

    Love your blog. Thanks again for giving us something to consider.

  7. Douglas says:

    My brother always knocked over my snowmen, thereby destroying any semblance of order in my life and strong neurotic tendency to steal the carrot noses at every opportunity. Which explains why I have been banished to Florida.

  8. Cheri Block Sabraw says:

    Thanks everybody. This post was fun to write and I am glad you all enjoyed it. I also use TA in discussing literature. Think about the dysfunctional Loman family in Death of a Salesman. Linda Loman was the only character that had a functional parent. And Douglas, clever comment. Florida isn’t a bad place to spend the winter, right? Now, as far as Hurricane Season goes, give me my earthquakes.

  9. Becksta says:

    And yet, as we go through our lives, or snowman changes proportion.
    Does the size of one portion of our snowman determine it’s effectiveness, or the fact that we prefer that portion more than the others?
    Or does it really matter?
    Overall, I think the concept is very intelligent and has a good relation to everyday life.

    http://artsfreak.blogspot.com

  10. Cheri Block Sabraw says:

    Becksta,
    Interesting point you make. Understanding which ego state our behavior is coming from can be helpful in understanding why we conflict or click with others in our workspace, love relationships, or family.
    And yes, it is my view that with people whom we care about, it matters.

  11. Dina says:

    I can relate – my husband is so grounded and I’m more likely to dream and play like a kid in most circumstances. That’s why we’re good for each other.

    I think it would be a fun discussion to draw what I think my snowman looks like, and then have my husband or close friends draw what they think my snowman looks like based on observed behavior and vice versa.

  12. Cheri Block Sabraw says:

    Dina,
    Such a drawing would be fun. Your husband might draw his own snowman and then you can compare.

  13. twelvekindsofcrazy says:

    “His child is the size of an electron.”

    Yet another laugh out loud brought to you by Notes.

  14. Kathy says:

    Stop by Happy At Home if you have a minute Cheri..I have something for you =)

  15. Goldlava says:

    I have a question and then a statement.
    1) Does your husband’s inability to be childlike annoy you?

    Because I have a theory (and this isnt to say all marriages end in divorce but for the most part..those that do..can blame the following)…”The one thing we fell in love with in the beginning, is the one thing that ends up breaking us apart.”

    Ponder on that. You chose him for his steadfast maturity and wisdom. Now–you view him as unspontaneous and predictable. Isn’t amazing how the human mind works??

    As I have stated before, I love your blog!!

    Sincerely yours,
    http://goldlava.blogspot.com/
    Carol

  16. Cheri Block Sabraw says:

    Hi Carol,
    I wish my husband were more child-like, but I also recognize that I married him for who he is. I choose to focus on his good qualities.

    One snowman said to another snowwoman, I take you for better or worse, till melting do us part.

    You certainly make an astute observation about why some marriages get into trouble. Most failed marriages have many layers of disappointment.

    I enjoyed thinking about your question!

  17. Goldlava says:

    Maybe I worded it wrong. What I should have said was the one thing that you love in a person…over time because the annoying aspect of them. Not always leading to divorce! LOL

    I say this because in the beginning of my relationship with my husband..he was so thoughtful and asked about my day, worried if I hadnt done something that should have been done, very fatherlike, asked about the people in my life and how they were doing etc….

    Overtime, somehow this became irritating to me!! It somehow chnaged to nosey, OCD, and smothering. LOL Maybe it’s me? Could be. But I do like you do..I try and focus on the good qualities in him and all that I fell in love with. But years together sometimes can change the positive to negative. But I love him to death despite.

    So….with that I do make one final statement..Talk to people who are divorced adn ask them to find one thing that they loved about their ex-spouse. Then ask them what ultimately broke them up?? I guarantee, there will be some sort of connection between the two!

    example:
    1.He was free spirited and so carefree! result..he is irresponsible!

    2. He loves to have a good time! result: He parties to much!!

    3. He is gentle and in touch with his feminine side! Result : God! Be a MAN!

    4. He is such a giver! He will do anything for anyone! Result : He is such a DOORMAT!

    LOL–These statements are broad and general, but it is just something I have been observing with my girlfriends over years of friendships and seeing how they transformed over 20 years! It actually is pretty funny. Thankfully, none of them divorced over it.

    I look forward to your next post!

    Love Carol http://goldlava.blogspot.com/

  18. Cheri Block Sabraw says:

    The Irresponsible Party-animal whose Manhood has been replaced by a Doormat in your list above is what all of us women fear in approaching marriage, that legal contract that complicates so much.

    I like to quote Benjamin Franklin’s observations about marriage: Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.

    You made me laugh. Thank you for taking the time to comment.:)

  19. Jan bigotti says:

    cheri,
    My Mom has told me about your blog, I am happy to have found it. i think so often of all our fun family times. You are a wonderful writer and very creative!
    Jan bigotii

  20. janbigotti says:

    Cheri I just spent about an hour catching up on life with Cheri and your wonderful family. I think often of your Dad, he was so special, I miss him, and I know how much you and your family miss him. He is so proud of you all that you and yours have accomplished.
    Jan Bigotti

  21. Cheri Block Sabraw says:

    Jan! What a wonderful surprise to see your name in my comments box!! Boy did we have some splendid and hysterically funny days as kids. And yes, I remember WOW. Since you and Cori were such an integral part of my childhood, perhaps you can send me some ideas for this blog. We were, you know, partners in crime.
    Love,
    Cheri

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  23. Foreign Toe says:

    Could you supply the coin sizes in £ s d ?

  24. Cheri says:

    Hmmmm……
    His parent is the size of a 2 pound sterling
    His adult is the size of a penny
    His child is the size of a British electron?

  25. Foreign Toe says:

    Now I get the point.
    Which Canto are the circles in? I didn’t know they were concentric. I need a lot of instruction here, particularly how to get out of Hell.

  26. Foreign Toe says:

    Legal studies are highly unnatural and involve blood, tears, toil and sweat for most of us. With much regret, the child is abandoned. A good wife, like you, fills the lowest circle with joy and provides stability, the root of all good judgment.

  27. Richard Manchester says:

    I’ve just come over from HB and found the gates closed. Anyway, your mechanic showed me this chink in the wall – Snout, I think he said his name was-and so I’ll call for Toe and take him back to the asylum. He took that remark about his anatomy far too seriously.

    Here he is! I’ll tell him he can dream about benzene rings on a snowman, since it’s midwinter. You’ll now have a clean sheet after all. Please give my regards to AK and all at HB – especially Thomas. Thank you for having him. You were a great help. Same goes for AK.

    Richard.

  28. Cheri says:

    He is welcome back at any time, as long as he doesn’t wear a Toe ring.

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  30. Webmaster says:

    Hello,
    I just updated the ericberne.com website and your link is now obsolete. The new link is:
    http://www.ericberne.com/eric_berne_biography/
    Thank you.

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