saata VOL: 1, ISSUE: 1 - Dec 2021 facebook


Confession of an Overindulgent Parent

By Shruthi Ramagopal

I was a new mother when I started my journey with TA. Parenting became overwhelming with all the TA concepts I was learning then:

What injunctions am I imparting to my child?
How to not say ‘No’ all the time?
What permissions am I denying?
What negative messages he may assume?
How will all these affect his script decisions?

It was all scary in the first year, until my trainer reminded me of Saru’s words “Children will pick up what they have to anyway, so just be yourself”. It has been an adventurous journey since, from overwhelm to conscious parenting. TA concepts have helped me in understanding myself better and hence in parenting better. I want to share one recent insight I had because of my TA journey.

My struggle with saying 'No'.

I became aware of this issue through the years, yet I wasn’t able to easily identify how inability to say no manifested in my parenting style and what impact it was having on my child. As I struggled to say no to his asks and questions, it grew harder for me to put up with my child’s behaviour. At the back of my mind, the burning question was 'What's the unmet need and what am I doing wrong? I thought about nurturing, soft boundaries etc but I couldn't connect all the dots until recently, when I learned about Functional fluency by Susannah Temple. It was an eye opener for me.

I was being a Nurturing Parent is all I thought. 'Nurturing' meant 'positive care' to me. The Nine- option Behavioural Manifestation of Ego States model (Figure 1) talks about two elements of Parent function and of Child function. It shows that both Parental care and control and Adapted and Natural Child can be either positive or negative, thus giving 4 modes each in Parent and Child. Parent modes being -

  • ➔Criticising mode and Marshmallowing mode (negative)
  • ➔Structuring mode and Nurturing mode (positive)

This helped me realise that maybe I was being an overindulgent parent (Marshmallowing mode) with difficulty in holding boundaries which led to my struggle in handling my child's behaviour and I opted for Criticising mode sometimes.

So here’s my self-realisation!

I can make mistakes as a parent, there is nothing called a perfect parent. I choose to learn from them and forgive myself.

I am capable of saying NO when I need to, while being empathetic. It is OK for me to set firm boundaries while showing compassion and understanding.

I realised that experiencing unpleasant consequences, following rules they may not want to follow, and not getting what they want all of the time, are important experiences that may help children grow up to be healthy and responsible adults.


Reference: Susannah Temple (1999) Functional Fluency for Educational TransactionalAnalysts, Transactional Analysis Journal.


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