Critical Parent 

All adult children arrive at ACA with hypercritical messages in their minds. We can judge ourself or others without mercy. These are the "old tapes" that can pilot our lives onto the jagged rocks of self-destruction. The old tapes can be personified as the inner Critical Parent. This is the critical voice who blames and belittles or who judges and undermines. Becoming aware of the Critical Parent is essential for the development of the Loving Parent.

Many of us do not become fully aware of these negative messages until we stop long enough to hear them. They are there. Each day these messages can create self-doubt, self-disgust, depression or panic. This is the inner voice or feeling that tells us we are not good enough, smart enough or worth enough for our jobs or our relationships. There is also the critical inner voice of blaming others.

This unchallenged Critical Parent is the barrier that keeps us from experiencing wholeness and happiness. Some of us use a Twelve Step template to address our Critical Parent. In Step One, for instance, we recognize that we are powerless over this Critical Parent and its judgments. In Steps Two and Three, we ask our Higher Power for guidance. We ask for strength to turn over the false power wielded by the Critical Parent. With Steps Four and Five, whenever we say something that distresses us, we can immediately wrap our arms around ourself in a hug and say, "Well, we don't like how that went, so we will learn a lesson from it and do better next time." With Steps Six and Seven, we ask for the help we need from our Higher Power to integrate the Critical Parent into our lives. With Steps Eight and Nine, we make our amends for any behavior caused by acting under the influence of the Critical Parent. Finally, with Steps Ten through Twelve we stay mindful and present. We inventory ourselves, we meditate and we help others. We ask God, as we understand God, to continue to provide us with willingness and to love ourselves.