Book Review:  ‘Raising Kids O.K. : Transactional Analysis in Human Growth & Development’ (1976),  

Authors: Babcock, Dorothy, RN and MS, Keepers, Terry, PhD, Publisher: New York, NY: Grove Press.

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USATAA Reviewer: Karen Rightler, MFTI, RN, and TAP

This book applies Transactional Analysis principles to children, parents, and families. It is an excellent resource for parents interested in learning more about themselves and their children, and how they can raise them to feel “OK”. It is also very helpful for mental health professionals who want to integrate TA with their existing skills.

The book is organized into 3 parts. Part I begins with an overview of the following TA terms: Strokes, Time structuring, PAC ego states/Functional diagram, transactions, Games/Drama Triangle, OK Corral, Basic life positions and Scripts. Examples, exercises and suggested TA related-readings are at the end of each segment. The authors begin by making a point to address the importance of the self-care awareness. They note the importance of handling your own needs as a parent, then taking care of a child. Part I concludes with Berne’s Marriage Scripts. The authors provide information about different types of marriage scripts and parent programming about children.

Part II provides detailed information about Psychological Development, including theories on attachment, trust, and symbiosis from gestation to infancy. Within the appropriately simplified theoretical information, there are practical examples and also advice with the message of making you “OK”s as a parent. One excerpt from psychological development in infancy confronts over-parenting. If either parent discounts the babies’ needs for becoming more independent and growing, they are also discounting ourselves as complete persons. Basing our OK-ness exclusively on our parenting skills discounts ourselves as well as our children (p.95).

Babcock and Keepers take the reader through each phase of childhood and milestones. Each segment addresses age appropriate issues that arise, such as toilet training and emotional regulation for toddlers, teasing in grade school, and sexuality in multiple phases. All segments have an insightful section toward the end in bold titled ‘psychological tasks of parents’ pertaining to that particular stage.

The chapters continue on until adulthood and aging, addressing socialization, script development of the child, adult ego state development, and re-examining your own life script throughout. There are examples of transactions with diagrams within the text.

Part III is entitled ‘Troubleshooting’ section devoted to addressing behavioral issues, grief, loss, and changes in the family structure.

Karen’s Point of View:

There is so much to love about “Raising Kids OK”. Babcock and Keepers did a fantastic job of providing a comprehensive TA overview that is realistic and applicable to parenting in all phases. With the segments broken down a parent can flip to the section that applies to them after reading through the overview of TA principles. It was written in a way that parents could comprehend, and that people already familiar with TA would learn from as well.

As someone who is a parent of a young one, I continue to reference this book and recommend it to parents. The criticisms to point out may be its age and accessibility. Updating examples, format and content may help the reader. Supply is generally limited to purchasing used online. My copy must have been from a library since it was stamped red with “DISCARD” on the inside cover. Despite that, Raising Kids O.K. is not leaving my collection any time soon.

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