Oct 29, 2009

What is the Difference? A Values Difference vs. Values Collision

What is a "value"?

Many countries and organizations have constitutions. These constitutions are made of ideals, and beliefs which spell out how that country or organization is to function.

Values are the ideals and beliefs which make up our own personal "constitution" and determine how we behave and interact with others.

A behavior is not a value.

Ask yourself this question, "Does the attitude or belief of the other person have a direct and tangible effect on me?"

If the answer is no, it may indicate a values conflict.

VALUE: a belief or ideal which shapes behavior

We feel very strongly about some of our values and less strongly about others and this can determine whether or not we have a Difference of Values or a Collision of Values with our child or other person.

Values Differences

We may not like something our child or another person says, believes or does, but our feeling is; "I can 'live with it'."

Factors that can influence this are:
  • my relationship with the other person; i.e. my child or a casual acquaintance
  • The situation: i.e. young child living at home or 24-year old son/daughter living on his/her own
Values Collisions

In other situations the value involved may be one about which you feel very strongly and it is a fundamental part of your "Personal Constitution".

Additionally, the other person is your own child, partner or very close friend or colleague and your life or work together is directly affected by your conflicting values.

In these situations you want to influence your child/other because you don't feel you can "live with it". You feel the child/other has a problem and that his/her ideal, belief and accompanying behaviors will have a negative impact on his/her life.

Here's an example:

A pre-teen wanting to wear very short skirts and skimpy, provocative tops.

What do you think this is? A Values Difference or a Values Collision?

Oct 27, 2009

What can the F.E.T. Program Do For Me?

What This Program Can Do For You
  • Parents who as children suffered a disappointing, painful and unsatisfying relationship with their parents will be given a second chance by having a close and loving relationship with children of their own.
  • People living together will learn how to create "partnership" relationships, in which neither dominates the other, each respects the needs of the other, and conflicts of needs are resolved peacefully.
  • Parents will learn why using rewards with children not only is ineffective but also decreased their self-discipline.
  • Family members will become more accurate listeners and clearer communicator both with each other and with persons outside the family.
  • Parents will have children become more accurate listeners and clearer communicators both with each other and with persons outside the family.
  • Parents will have children who do better in school, have many friends, will become school leaders, will be self-disciplined and self-motivated, and will become good problem-solvers.
  • Families will learn what is needed to build a "democratic family" where each member actively participates in doing the work, setting rules, and making decisions.
  • Married couples will greatly decrease the odds of separation and divorce because both will be getting their needs met.
  • Married, separated or divorced couples will learn how to tackle conflicts head on and resolve them peacefully.
  • Married couples will increase the odds of being physically and emotionally healthier.
  • Couples will experience much less fighting and using verbal or physical abuse.
*Excerpt from Family Effectiveness Training, F.E.T. Adult Resource Book

Oct 19, 2009

How to choose the right parenting program for you

By Linda Adams, President of Gordon Training International

When Dr. Gordon taught the first P.E.T. class in 1962, parent training was a brand-new idea. At that time, most parents felt that they didn’t need training—that the way their parents had raised them was good enough. Still the idea caught on and in 1975, the New York Times called P.E.T. “a national movement.”

Now it’s been a little more than 46 years to the day since that first P.E.T. course began. And so much has happened since that day. Like every new idea, P.E.T. attracted a lot of imitators. In addition, people with very different views about how parents should raise their children came on the scene. Today, there are literally hundreds and perhaps thousands of parent training books and courses. Clearly, it’s an idea whose time has come.

Now, we know that parent training can have a major impact on how parents raise their children. There is overwhelming evidence that ineffective parenting is the cause of many of the problems that children and adolescents develop and struggle with throughout their lives. And we know that effective parenting can prevent many, if not most of these problems. In fact, it can do much more than that—effective parenting can create family relationships in which both parents and children can thrive.

With so many choices, how does a parent choose which model to follow?

Each model offers a specific philosophy of child-rearing and some offer skill training as well. There are several parent training models within which many parent training programs loosely fit. Most of them are based on the work of well-known and respected psychologists who have written books describing their theories. In most cases, their students and/or advocates developed courses for parents based on these theories.

Some of the courses advocate that parents be in control (autocratic), though the degree of control varies. Almost none advocate permissiveness. Some, like P.E.T., show parents how to have a collaborative, cooperative relationship with their children (democratic).

To help those parents faced with the daunting task of choosing a model, I have summarized the philosophy and skill training (if any) of some of the most well-known and/or current parenting models in an article, “How P.E.T. Compares to Other Parent Training Programs.”

How P.E.T. Compares to Other Parenting Programs
Programs Included in this comparison:

Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.)
Nonviolent Communication (N.V.C.)
How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk
Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (S.T.E.P.)
Active Parenting
Love and Logic
Triple P (Positive Parenting Program)
Dare to Discipline

Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.)

Author: Dr. Thomas Gordon
Philosophy: Democratic
Applies to All Relationships: Yes
Year of Origin: 1962
Book: Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.), 1970, 2000.
Course: Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.), 1962, 1976, 1989, 2005.
Course Length: Eight 3-hour sessions

Summary of this Model:
This book and course offer a philosophy and set of communication and conflict resolution skills for helping parents develop and maintain a democratic, mutually satisfying relationships with their children and with each other. The conceptual model is the Behavior Window, a framework that Dr. Gordon developed for determining who owns the problem. Parents learn to use this window to help them to decide which skill to use depending on whose problem it is. There is heavy emphasis on learning the communication and conflict resolution skills so they can be used right away, both at home and in all relationships.

Main Concepts and Skills of this Model:
Three types of parenting styles: Authoritarian, Permissive, Democratic
Focus is on teaching the Democratic style
No use of parental power; needs of both parent and child important; conflicts solved so both get their needs met
Training is needed to learn any new skill
Behavior Window provides a framework for dealing with all behaviors
Problem Ownership
Communication and Conflict Resolution skills to handle any relationship problem
Acceptance of child as s/he is
Acceptance demonstrated through Active Listening
12 Communication Roadblocks
“Misbehavior” is the language of power
Authentic, congruent expression of true feelings without blame
Avoidance of labels and judgments
Anger and what’s beneath it
I-Messages vs. You-Messages
Shifting gears to deal with resistance to I-Message
Modifying the physical environment to prevent problems and conflicts
Harmful effects of both rewards and punishments, including logical consequences and time-out
Disadvantages of both strict and permissive parenting styles
Win-lose conflict resolution methods as compared with the No-Lose Method
Parents use influence, not control
Family rule-setting; Principle of Participation
Conflicts resolved so that the needs of both parent and child are important and both are satisfied with the solution; no one loses
How to handle values differences through modeling, consulting, I-Messages.

Nonviolent Communication (N.V.C.)

Author: Dr. Marshall Rosenberg
Philosophy: Democratic
Applies to All Relationships: Yes
Year of Origin: 1975
Book: Nonviolent Communication: The Language of Life, 2003
Course: Nonviolent Communication
Course Length: 13 2/12hour sessions

Summary of this Model:
This book and course offers a philosophy for having more meaningful, deeper connections with children, other people and oneself. It focuses on needs—one’s own and those of the other person and makes a case for learning to communicate in ways that create harmony and peace between people instead of arguments, misunderstandings and even violence. And it demonstrates the attitudes and skills that are needed to have such relationships both in the family and with others.

Main Concepts and Skills of this Model:
Observing behavior without evaluation
Identifying and expressing feelings and needs without judging
Taking responsibility for one’s feelings
Receiving other’s communication empathically
Reflecting back other’s feelings
Avoiding self-judgment
Expressing anger by connecting it with unmet needs
Harmful effects of punishments and rewards
Expressing appreciation vs. praise

P.E.T. as compared with N.V.C.

N.V.C. and P.E.T. are grounded in the same philosophy. They have quite different ways of presenting their models. Both Thomas Gordon and Marshall Rosenberg were students of Carl Rogers.

How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk

Authors: Elaine Mazlich and Adele Faber
Philosophy: Democratic
Applies to All Relationships: Yes
Year of Origin: 1980
Book: How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk, 1980
Course: How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk
Course Length: Six sessions, six 30-minute videos or audios.

Summary of this Model:
This book and course offer parents empathic listening skills, authentic self-disclosure and problem-solving skills for raising children with high self-esteem and autonomy. It focuses on helping a child view him/herself differently by letting go of old ineffective roles or labels and as a result have freedom to develop and change.

Main Concepts and Skills of this Model:
Helping children deal with negative feelings
Accepting and acknowledging children’s feelings
Avoiding typical unhelpful ways to get children to cooperate
Gaining cooperation by being congruent (describe the problem, express feelings)
Instead of punishment, expressing feelings, stating expectations, telling child how to make amends, giving choices, taking action, problem solving
Setting boundaries and limits.
Encouraging autonomy by helping children function on their own
Praising children by describing their behavior, not evaluating it.
Avoiding labeling, allowing freedom for children to develop and change

P.E.T. as compared with How to Listen so Kids Will Talk…..

This model is based on the work of Dr. Haim Ginott (a student of Carl Rogers) and has a philosophy with some similarities to P.E.T.

Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (S.T.E.P.)

Authors: Dr. Don Dinkmeyer and Dr. Gary McKay
Philosophy: Democratic
Applies to all Relationships: No
Year of Origin: 1976
Book: The Parent’s Handbook: Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (S.T.E.P.), 1997
Course: Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (S.T.E.P.)
Course Length: Nine 2-hour sessions

Summary of this Model:
This book and course focus on how children grow and behave, on misbehavior and effective ways to deal with it, on the importance of encouraging children and how to do that effectively, on listening to children with empathy and talking to them authentically. It deals with both Natural and Logical Consequences as alternatives to rewards and punishments in disciplining children. (Natural Consequences are those which occur naturally. Logical Consequences are those created by a parent in response to a child’s misbehavior.) It advocates family meetings (to plan for fun, to express feelings, to make decisions, to resolve conflicts).

Main Concepts and Skills of this Model:
Three types of parents: Authoritarian, Permissive, Democratic
Focus is on teaching the Democratic style
Democratic style helps children become responsible by setting limits and giving choices within those limits
Why children misbehave
How to deal with misbehavior
Setting limits
Giving encouragement instead of praise
Reflective listening
Messages vs.You-Messages
Problem Ownership
Family Meetings
Giving choices
Disadvantages of punishment
Applying Logical Consequences as a way to discipline
Logical Consequences different than Punishment

P.E.T. as compared with S.T.E.P.

S.T.E.P.’s focus is on why children misbehave and how parents can deal with misbehavior effectively. The S.T.E.P. program offers many of the P.E.T. skills in a shorter version including Problem Ownership, Active Listening, I-Messages, Problem Solving. While both programs are opposed to the use of rewards and punishments as a way of disciplining children, S.T.E.P. advocates the use of Logical Consequences. In the P.E.T. philosophy, Logical Consequences are a form of punishment. S.T.E.P. is a combination of parenting methods based on the work of Alfred Adler/Rudolf Dreikurs and Thomas Gordon.

Active Parenting

Author: Dr. Michael Popkin
Philosophy: Democratic
Applies to All Relationships: No
Date of Origin: 1983
Book: Active Parenting Now, 2002
Course: Active Parenting
Course Length: Six 2-hour sessions

Summary of this Model:
This video-based program is very similar to S.T.E.P., i.e. its foundation is based on the work of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs and it includes a major component of P.E.T. ideas and skills in an abbreviated form.

Main Concepts and Skills of this Model:
Three types of parents: The Doormat, The Dictator, The Active Parent
The Active Parenting style is described as “freedom within limits” (see S.T.E.P. above for other concepts and skills)

P.E.T. as compared with Active Parenting
(see S.T.E.P. above)

Love and Logic

Authors: Dr. Foster Cline and Jim Fay
Philosophy: Autocratic
Applies to all Relationships: No
Year of Origin: 1980
Book: Parenting with Love and Logic, 1990, 2006
Course: Love and Logic
Course Length: Six modules

Summary of this Model:
This book contains two parts, the first of which explains the authors’ parenting philosophy. The focus is on teaching children to be responsible by setting limits, giving choices and encouraging the child to think for him/herself. The other part of the book deals with common discipline problems and how to handle them. These 48 “pearls” give parents advice on what to do about such issues as: “allowances, anger, bedtime, bossiness, church, discipline 101, homework, nasty looks and negative body language, pacifiers, sassing and disrespect, spanking, temper tantrums, toilet training”.

Main Concepts and Skills of This Model:
Three types of parents: Helicopter, Drill Sergeant and Consultant
Consultant parent is the Love and Logic type: one who gives thoughtful guidance and imposes firm, enforceable limits
Parents in control
Problem ownership
Setting limits by describing what parent will do or will allow
Applying enforceable statements (“either…or…”)
Using empathy to help children learn from consequences of their behavior
Importance of child having positive self-concept
Encouraging instead of praising
Encouraging children to think for themselves
Logical Consequences and time-out as methods of discipline when children misbehave
Differences between Logical Consequences and punishment

P.E.T. as compared with Love and Logic

The Love and Logic model advocates that parents use their power to get children to obey, i.e., “healthy control”. It is based on the belief that this kind of discipline will teach children responsibility. P.E.T. is a model which advocates that parents not use their power to control their children. Instead, it advocates the use of communication and conflict resolution skills to influence children and empower them to become self-reliant, make positive decisions and control their own behavior.

Triple P (Positive Parenting Program)

Author: Dr. Matthew Sanders
Philosophy: Autocratic
Applies to All Relationships: No
Year of Origin: 1992
Book: Every Parent: A positive approach to children’s behaviour, 2004
Course: Triple P (Positive Parenting Program)
Course Length: Three 1 ½-hour sessions and other formats

Summary of this Model:
This book and course offers the concept of Constructive Parenting and defines that as a way of raising children to help them become socially and emotionally competent. Parents are in control; they set the rules and enforce them. How to deal with misbehavior is a main focus. The book contains chapters with age-specific advice on how to deal with such behaviors as crying, whining, temper tantrums, disobedience, interrupting, sleeping and bedtime problems, swearing and chores.

Main Concepts and Skills of This Model:
Helping parents learn to teach children self-control, how to follow rules, behave acceptably and respect others
Creating a safe, secure, engaging environment, i.e. interesting, amusing, purposeful activities
Fostering a positive learning environment, i.e. giving recognition, encouragement, acknowledgment
Using assertive discipline; dealing with disobedience and misbehavior
Parents deal with misbehavior quickly, decisively and consistently
Applying appropriate Logical Consequences so that children learn to accept responsibility for their own behavior
Difference between assertive discipline and punishment
Using rewards and praise (when children “behave”)
Making behavior charts
Parents set rules; enforce them
Taking care of self as a parent, i.e., eating well, getting enough exercise and sleep, etc.

P.E.T. as compared with Triple P

The Triple P model advocates the idea that parents exercise control over their children, expect obedience and apply discipline when children misbehave. P.E.T. views the parent/child relationship from a different frame a reference and teaches parents how to have collaborative, cooperative relationships with their children. It teaches a non-power method of raising children and offers skills of empathic listening, honest, clear and non-blameful self-disclosure and conflict resolution skills.

Dare to Discipline

Author: Dr. James Dobson
Philosophy: Autocratic
Applies to All Relationships: No
Year of Origin: 1970
Books: Dare to Discipline, 1970, 1996, The Strong-Willed Child, 2004
The Strong-Willed Child Workbook, 2005
Course: Unknown
Course Length: Unknown

Summary of this Model:
This model is based on the idea that parents need to begin teaching respect for authority starting when children are very young. The main job of parents is to teach their children to obey. When they are “defiant” and don’t obey, parents should punish the disobedient child by spanking him/her. After such confrontation in which the parent has demonstrated his/her right to lead, it’s important to explain to the child why s/he was disciplined and to let the child know how much the parent loves him/her.

Main Concepts and Skills of this Model:
Parents’ job is to shape the child’s will without breaking the spirit
Parents in control; expect children to be obedient
Children are willfully defiant
Immediate proper response (punitive discipline) required when they’re defiant
Compliant child is the goal
Encourage normal curiosity; valuable means for learning
Difference between crushing the will of a child and teaching the child to rein it in for his/her own good
Logical Consequences
Love and control present in balanced proportions.
Anger is an ineffective tool
Physical punishment

P.E.T. as compared with Dare to Discipline

Dare to Discipline comes from the point of view that the parent/child relationship is a contest of wills and that the parent must always win at all costs. It is imperative that a child be taught to obey. Dobson advocates the use of corporal punishment as the way of dealing with “defiance” and disobedience. This is the only model in this comparison that advocates physical punishment. P.E.T. shows parents how to have a relationship with their children that is based on mutual respect as opposed to obedience. It offers evidence about the harmful effects of punishment on children and on the relationship between parent and child. And it offers communication and conflict resolutions skills that make punishment (and rewards) unnecessary.

Oct 15, 2009

Do Parents Who Have Learned the Skills for Creating Democratic Family Environments Also Foster Good Health and Well-being in Their Children?


In a study that combined the findings from 26 independent studies produced these findings:
  • P.E.T. trained parents showed improved scores on tests measuring "democratic ideals", acceptance and understanding of their children.
  • The greatest effect of P.E.T. training was an increase in child self-esteem (Cedar, 1985).
In a classic study done many years ago, three types of families were compared: autocratic, permissive and democratic. Children of these families were tested periodically until they reached adolescence. The findings were:
  • The IQ's of children decreased slightly in autocratic families, remained the same in permissive families, and increased on the average of eight IQ points in democratic families.
  • Children in the democratic families were given higher ratings by their teachers in originality, planfulness, patience, curiosity and fancifulness.
  • They held more leadership positions in school and scored higher in emotional adjustment and maturity (Baldwin, Kalhorn and Breese, 1945).
The idea that parents can actually make their children physically sick is not really surprising considering the intricate relationships between emotional stress and illness. Parental domination, punishment, criticism, restrictiveness, and rejection typically produce in children, fear, anger and frustration--behavioral manifestations of physiological stress. Certainly it is logical to assume that in families in which parents are less dominating and restrictive and more accepting, children would have a greater chance of growing up physically healthy and more resistive to physical illness.

Clinical evidence has shown that the feeling of losing control of one's life, of one's destiny, can be a cause of poor mental health--particularly depression, anxiety and stress. At the core of the F.E.T. blueprint is the value of promoting children's self-control versus adult control, inner control versus external control. Social scientist have recently become very interested in this issue, using the term "fate control." Autocratic teachers and parents who rely heavily on external control of children produce students with feelings of dependence and lack of fate control. Democratic teachers and parents who give children a lot of freedom and responsibility make children feel they are the ones responsible for the control of their destiny (Baumrind, 1971).

Oct 13, 2009

Are There Benefits To a Democratic Relationship?

Long-range Benefits of Democratic Relationships

Over the years I have come to believe more and more strongly that democratic relationships make people healthier--both physically and emotionally. They foster well-being, self-esteem, self-confidence and self-discipline.

On the other hand non-democratic relationships make people unhealthy. They produce both physical and emotional illness, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, aggression, rebellion, violence and lack of self-discipline. They produce delinquent, violent youth.

We see it in organizations. One study found that managers who use a democratic leadership style and practice "participative management" develop workers with high productivity and morale, low turnover, fewer grievances and low absenteeism. They feel better about themselves, like to go to work, have more self-esteem and self-confidence, less sense of powerlessness and fewer illnesses (Simmons and Mares, 1983).

We also see it in schools. In a study involving 600 teachers and 10,000 students from kindergarten through grade 12, the students whose teachers were trained in the skill of communicating empathic understanding (i.e. Active Listening) respect and regard for students as persons were compared with students whose teachers were not trained in those skills (Aspy and Roebuck, 1983). Students of the trained teachers were found to:
  • Miss fewer days of school during the year (four fewer days per child)
  • Make greater gains on academic achievement measures, including both math and reading scores
  • Be more spontaneous and use higher levels of thinking
  • Increase their scores on IQ tests (from kindergarten through fifth grade)
  • Make gains in creativity scores from September to May
  • Show increased scores on self-esteem measures
  • Commit fewer acts of vandalism to school property
  • Present fewer disciplinary problems
The study also found that teachers who were trained in the helping skills had classrooms in which there was:
  • More student talk
  • More student problem solving
  • More student verbal initiation
  • More verbal response to the teacher
  • More student asking of questions
  • More student involvement in learning
  • More eye contact with teacher
  • More physical movement
  • Higher levels of cognitive thinking
  • Greater creativity
Do parents who have learned the skills for creating democratic family environments also foster good health and well-being in their children?

Find out on tomorrow's post!

Oct 12, 2009

What is the Difference in Self-Discipline and Imposed Discipline?

Self-Discipline versus Imposed Discipline

Almost everyone wants children who are capable of self-discipline--self-regulation, self-control. But where does it come from? Unfortunately, most parents believe that children will eventually develop self-control as a direct result of adults controlling and disciplining them. They think that outer-control will produce self-control and self-discipline.

The evidence is to the contrary. Children who have been extensively controlled and disciplined by parents and other adults often become rebellious and defiant to all adult authority. So disciplining kids does not produce self-disciplined kids.

Unfortunately, discipline by adults does produce some children who are obedient, fearful, shy and submissive, very different from self-disciplined children.

Studies show that self-disciplined children are those who were given a lot of freedom to make many of their own choices and decisions.*

*Excerpt from Family Effectiveness Training (F.E.T.) Adult Resource Book

Oct 8, 2009

What is the Nature of Conflict?

A conflict is the moment of truth in a relationship—a test of its health, a crisis that can weaken or strengthen it, a critical event that may bring lasting resentment, smoldering hostility, psychological scars. Conflicts can push people away from each other or pull them into a closer and more intimate union; they contain the seeds of destruction and the seeds of greater unity; they may bring about armed warfare or deeper mutual understanding.

How conflicts are resolved is probably the most critical factor in all relationships. Unfortunately, most people try to resolve them by using only two basic approaches in which someone wins and someone loses, both of which outcomes are ineffective and harmful to the relationship.

Few persons accept the fact that conflict is part of life and not necessarily bad. We look on conflict as something to avoid at all costs. We often hear husbands and wives boast that they have never had a serious disagreement—as if that means theirs has been a good relationship.

Parents tell their children, “All right, there is to be no arguing tonight at the dinner table—we don’t want to spoil our dinner.” Or they yell, “Stop that arguing, right now!” Parents of teenagers can be heard lamenting that now that their children are older there are many more disagreements and conflicts in the family. “We used to see eye to eye on most things.” Or, “My daughter was always so cooperative and easy to handle, but now we don’t see things her way and she can’t see things our way.”

At home or at work, most of us hate to experience conflict, are deeply trouble when it occurs, and are quite confused about how to handle it constructively. Actually, it would be a rare relationship if, over a period of time, one person’s needs did not conflict with the other’s. When any two people (or groups) coexist, conflict is bound to occur just because people are different, think differently, and have needs and wants that sometimes do not match.

Conflict, therefore, is not necessarily bad—it exists as a reality of any relationship. As a matter of fact, a relationship with no apparent conflict may be unhealthier than one with frequent conflict. A good example is a marriage where the wife is always subservient to a dominating husband or vice versa, or a boss-subordinate relationship in which the subordinate is so deathly afraid of the boss that s/he does not dare cross him/her in any way.

Most people have known families, especially large families, where conflict crops up constantly and yet these families are wonderfully happy and healthy. Conversely, we often see newspaper accounts of youthful criminals whose parents indicate complete astonishment that their boy could do such a thing. They say they never had any trouble with him; he had always been so “cooperative” which is usually a euphemism of “obedient.”

Conflict in a family or a work group, openly expressed and accepted as a natural phenomenon, can be far healthier than most people think. Members have the opportunity to experience conflict, learn how to cope with it, and be better prepared to deal with it in later life. And family conflict may actually be beneficial, provided that the conflict in the home gets resolved constructively.

This is the critical factor in any relationship: how their conflicts get resolved, not how many conflicts occur. It is the most critical factor in determining whether a relationship will be healthy or unhealthy, mutually satisfying or unsatisfying, friendly or unfriendly, deep or shallow, intimate or cold, peaceful or violent.

Oct 7, 2009

What Else is Unique About Family Effectiveness Training?

How the Marital Relationship Affects Children

This training program is unique in emphasizing the profound effect on children of the quality of their parents' marriage relationship. The way husbands and wives relate to each other becomes perhaps the strongest model for the behavior of their children.

Unless parents learn how to build a loving, stable, and peaceful relationship with each other, they are unlikely to build such a relationship with their children.

This training will provide family members with an easy-to-use step-by-step procedure they can quickly learn to peacefully resolve their conflicts. Recent research evidence shows that marital conflicts are inevitable, but they are less likely to lead to unhappiness or divorce when the partners have good conflict-resolution skills, good listening skills and good self-disclosure skills.

Parenting Made Much Easier

You'll find, as many other parents have, that parenting need not be as complex, difficult, exasperating and time-consuming as so many other books and parent education programs make it seem.

When you learn and use the skills in the Gordon Model for effective parenting, here are some of the things you'll discover:
  • You won't have to be "an all-knowing super-parent" with answers to each of the countless problems every child experiences. Why? Because you will learn a single communication skill that will influence your children to come up with their own best solutions. We call that "empowering your child" of "fostering independence and self-confidence."
  • You won't have to spend your valuable time reminding and nagging your child (or your spouse) to do what they said they would do. Why? Because you will learn a procedure that greatly increases peoples' motivation to keep their promises and commitments.
  • You won't have to experience the pain and frustration of arguments that never get settled or serious conflicts that lead to anger and tears. Why? Because you will learn a communication skill that effectively prevents a lot of conflicts. And then you'll learn that certain conflicts are still inevitable in marriages, but there is a procedure you can use to resolve those conflicts peacefully--so nobody loses, both win.
Skills Not Solutions

This training is unique in deliberately refraining from giving family members solutions to their innumerable and various problems. Now you are probably thinking, "What in the world do we get in this training we can't use your expertise to give us good solutions?" The answer is that Family Effectiveness Training will teach a few learnable skills and procedures that will then enable family members to find their own unique solutions to their unique problems. It will empower you and other family members to be problem-solvers. You may have heard the following principle that describes empowerment:

"Give people a fish and you'll feed them for one day; teach them how to fish and you feed them for a lifetime."

That is what the Gordon Training skills will do.

Besides that, because families and their members are so very different there is seldom one best solution for the same problem in every family. So don't expect advice about how to handle money, relate with in-laws, spend more time together or any of the hundreds of problems families experience.

Oct 6, 2009

What is Unique About Family Effectiveness Training?

Focus on Relationships

The Gordon Model focuses on relationships as opposed to single individuals.

In the last 50 years we have seen the development of a new technology--a New Science of Interpersonal Relationships.

This new focus on relationships is a welcome one because relationships with others are important in every person's life. Each of us conceived as a result of an intimate relationship, each of was born into a relationship, and then lived most of our lives in relationships. All of these relationships greatly influence the kind of person each of us becomes.

Dr. Gordon has contributed to this new science of relationships by identifying the components of good relationships and developing training programs to teach them to others.

This family-focused training program is his most recent contribution to this new science.

Research-Based Facts, Not Opinions

People have been forming opinions and giving advice about family relationships long before there was any kind of "science". Today one can easily read or hear all manner of opinions about how to have a loving and lasting marriage or what is the best way to raise children. Much of it, however, has not been confirmed scientifically until recently.

Thousands of scientific research studies have built this new science, particularly studies focused on relationships in families, in schools, and in organizations.

We now have greater understanding of what makes these relationships healthy, strong, desirable, and lasting. Throughout this training program you will find many references to research studies that have proven what makes good relationships and what breaks them.

One exciting discovery of this new science of relationships is that there are common skills for making all your relationships sound and satisfying.

One Blueprint for All Relationships

This is another unique feature of Gordon Training: the skills you'll learn in this program will also strengthen and enrich all your relationships outside the family as well. "One set of skills fit all." This program will definitely teach the same skills taught in Dr. Gordon's Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.), the course that launched the parent training movement in the U.S. in 1962 and has now trained well over a million parents in 50 countries. The same skills have been show to strengthen marriages, teacher-student relationships, and manager-worker relationships.

Clear Thinking About Words and Important Ideas

This training program is unique in explaining some of the knotty and confusing words and ideas your hear about families and parenting. Understanding the different meanings of these terms will help you understand why there is widespread disagreement about the "best way" to keep marriages intact or to raise good children. Did you know there are four entirely different meanings of the word "authority?" Also, there are two very different meanings for "discipline".

More tomorrow on what is so unique about F.E.T.

Oct 5, 2009

Do Families Need Dialogue?

Families Need Dialogue

Dialogue is to love what blood is to your body. When dialogue stops, love dies and resentment is born.

Dialogue has risks, unfortunately. However, when two or more people decide to do it and accept their fear of the risks, dialogue will bring important rewards.

This is the miracle of dialogue: it can bring relationships into being, and it can bring into being once again a relationship that has died (Howe, 1963).

Newborn infants and their parents begin a lifesaving series of dialogues. The infant communicates his/her needs and Mom or Dad responds by feeding, bathing, cuddling, talking or singing. These behaviors communicate the message that the parent loves him/her. Should the parent be rough, irritable, or neglectful, the child will feel unloved and unaccepted. To speak the words of love in a dialogue, is to be loved as well as to love.

The relationship between a man and a woman can communicate such mutual love by means of dialogue. The marriage vows are a first commitment to this kind of love-producing dialogue. In fact, Dr. Gordon's Credo promises that each will share their needs "openly and honestly, trusting you will listen with empathy and understanding." And every aspect of the marriage relationship needs dialogue: planning together, sharing individual experiences, choosing agreed upon responsibilities, discussing their sexual relations, conveying both their joys and their problems.

Both must try to speak honestly out of their own conviction, seek patiently to keep aware of the partner as another person, and try to keep open to the meaning of everything that happens in the relationship.

*Excerpt from Family Effectiveness Training (F.E.T.) Adult Resource Book

Oct 1, 2009

Should You Be A Strict or Lenient Parent?

To be strict or not to be strict, that is the question - in fact, it's the number-one question among child-rearing and education authorities, among teachers and, of course, parents. It's doubtful that there is a parent who hasn't at one time or another agonized over this.

There is a widespread uncertainty on how to be at home (or how to come across in the classroom) - tough or soft, to be a strict disciplinarian or a permissivist. Have you noticed, however, that you seldom hear a parent or teacher admit "I am authoritarian" or "I am permissive"? These are terms reserved for those with whom you disagree.

The question, whether to be strict or lenient, never ceases to be debated in books and articles, or at conferences and conventions. Dr. Gordon points out that this question is what social scientists call a "pseudo problem" and how it also is a clear case of "either-or thinking". Let's take a look at what he means by that.

Seldom parents or teachers seem to recognize that it is not necessary to make a choice between these two leadership styles. Few adults know it, but there is an alternative to being at either end of the strictness-leniency scale. There is the choice of a third style.

This alternative is being neither authoritarian nor permissive, neither strict nor lenient. Does that mean being somewhere near the middle of the scale--moderately strict or moderately lenient? Not at all. The alternative is not being on the scale at all! How so?

Authoritarian leadership--whether at home or in the classroom--means that the control is in the hands of the adult leader. It has been researched and proven for decades how ineffective maintaining control through power is. Authoritarianism often creates fearful and subservient children and/or rebellion.

Still, no parent or teacher really wants to suffer the chaotic consequences of unrestricted freedom and lawless permissiveness either. It's also true that most children are uncomfortable with the consequences of permissiveness. Permissive leadership means that control has been "permitted" to be in the hands of the youngsters. Children of permissive parents usually feel guilty about always getting their way. They also feel insecure about being loved, because their inconsiderate behaviors make them feel unlovable.

So what is that third viable alternative to both, authoritarian and permissive adult leadership? It's what Dr. Gordon in detail describes in his model of parenting, a set of skills and methods known as Parent Effectiveness Training that are geared toward rearing self-disciplined children in a harmonious family climate.

For now, let's just emphasize that this new approach to relating to youngsters requires a transformation in the way adults perceive children, as well as a shift in the way they treat them. This transformation can be accomplished by learning a few new skills and methods that are applied in everyday life.

This newsletter will describe and examine each of these skills and methods in its future editions and hopefully contribute to you having a more harmonious and peaceful home.