Reder and Duncan's well-known studies of the 1990s on fatal child abuse drew attention to how parental scripts regarding their children could dangerously distort relationships in ways that were sometimes fatal to children. This article reports on a new system for assessing the 'meaning of the child to the parent', called the Meaning of the Child Interview (MotC). Parents are interviewed using the established Parent Development Interview, or equivalent, and the transcript of the interview is then analysed according to parental sensitivity and likely risk to the child. The MotC constructs were developed from those used in observed parent-child interaction (specifically, the CARE-Index) and the form of discourse analysis used in the Dynamic Maturational Model - Adult Attachment Interview, allowing a more systemic and inter-subjective understanding of parenting representations than often put forward. This article discusses the theoretical background to the MotC, gives a brief review of similar measures and then introduces the coding system and patterns of caregiving. The validity of the MotC is addressed elsewhere.