Aug 25, 2009

Acceptance Must Be Demonstrated

It is one thing for a parent to feel acceptance toward a child; it is another thing to make that acceptance felt. Unless a parent's acceptance comes through to the child, it can have no influence on him. A parent must learn how to demonstrate his acceptance so that the child feels it.

Specific skills are required to be able to do this. Most parents, however, tend to think of acceptance as a passive thing--a state of mind, an attitude, a feeling. True, acceptance does originate from within, but to be an effective force in influencing another, it must be actively communicated or demonstrated. I can never be certain that I am accepted by another until he demonstrates it in some active way.

The professional psychological counselor or psychotherapist, whose effectiveness as a helping agent is so greatly dependent on his being able to demonstrate his acceptance of the client, spends years learning ways to implement this attitude through his own habits of communication. Through formal training and long experience, professional counselors acquire specific skills in communicating acceptance. They learn that what they say makes the difference between their being helpful or not.

Talk can cure, and talk can foster constructive change. But it must be the right kind of talk.

The same is true for parents. How they talk to their children will determine whether they will be helpful or destructive. The effective parent, like the effective counselor, must learn how to communicate his acceptance and acquire the same communication skills.

*Excerpted from the P.E.T., Parent Effectiveness Training, book by Dr. Thomas Gordon

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