Apr 27, 2011

Do You Really Like Children - Or Just A Certain Type of Child?

I have known parents who profess a liking for children, but who by their behavior clearly demonstrate that they like only certain kinds of children.

Fathers who value athletes often tragically reject a son whose interests and talents are nonathletic. Mothers who value physical beauty can reject a daughter who does not fit the cultural stereotype of female beauty. Parents whose lives have been enriched by music often show a non-musical child how deeply disappointed in him they are. Parents who value academic and scholastic competence can cause irreparable emotional damage in a child who does not have this special type of intelligence.

Fewer behaviors will be unacceptable to parents if they realize that there is an infinite variety of ways in life for them to go. The beauty in nature, and the miracle of life, is this vast variety in the living forms.

I often tell parents, "Don't want your child to become something in particular; just want him to become." With such an attitude parents will inevitably find themselves feeling more and more accepting of each child and experiencing joy and excitement watching each become.

An excerpt from Chapter 15 of the P.E.T. Book, by Dr. Thomas Gordon

Apr 20, 2011

Your Children's Safety and P.E.T.

A common question arises from parents regarding how to use the P.ET. skills when it comes to the safety of their children.
"What about when my kids start fighting and hitting each other?"

"I saw my son about to ride his bike in the middle of the street into oncoming traffic. I ran out to grab him but felt confused about using my power to stop him."

"I see that P.E.T. is against setting limits. What do I do when my kid is endangering himself? Isn't it my job as a parent to keep her safe?"
In P.E.T., the one exception to using your parental "power" is when your children are putting themselves in clear, present and immediate danger. By all means possible, parents should save their child from injury (or worse). No exceptions.

But parents should also be able to distinguish the fine line between their children being in "danger" versus their children doing something that the parents feel is "best" for them. We often see the word danger misused; i.e. not doing homework, not finishing vegetables but eating ice cream instead, playing games on the computer for hours on end, etc. Of course, there are rare and extreme cases in which their physical or mental health does become a serious concern. These are not the cases we're talking about.

Another aspect at play here takes us back to our favorite question: Who Owns the Problem?

If your child decides to do homework at the very last minute but it doesn't cost you any time, extra energy and/or money, then the problem is ultimately theirs. The same goes for many of the questions and concerns that parents ask us.

As a parent, you want to see your child succeed in making the right choices and turn out to become a well-adjusted and responsible adult. But getting your child to adopt your values and beliefs is done best through giving an effective three-part I-message.

As we said on the P.E.T. Facebook Page earlier this week: Cooperation is never fostered by making a child do something.

"One of the most universally accepted myths about child-rearing is that if parents force their young children to do things, they will turn out to be self-disciplines and responsible persons. They usually turn out to be persons who depend upon external authority to control their behavior. Each and every time they [parents] force a child to do something by using their power or authority, they deny that child a chance to learn self-discipline and self-responsibility."
-- Dr. Thomas Gordon, P.E.T. Book

Think about it...

We hope that this post in particular breeds more questions and comments from our readers. Please feel free to comment directly in this blog or email us at family@gordontraining.com. We will do our best to respond to each and every person.

by Selena Cruz George, P.E.T. Program Manager

Apr 12, 2011

Learning Stages and Your P.E.T. Skills

Learning any new skill takes time and practice. P.E.T. is no different from learning a new sport, language or work procedure.

P.E.T. teaches skills and concepts that are foreign to most people. Each person has a feeling about which "stage" of learning you are in. These are the four basic stages that participants find themselves in during and after going through the P.E.T. course, reading the P.E.T. Book or completing the F.E.T. Program.

Stage 1: Unconsciously Skilled:
You don't know what you don't know. You interact with your children and others in your relationship network unconscious of the fact that there are P.E.T. alternatives to your usual ways of communicating and solving problems.

Stage 2: Consciously Unskilled:
You know what you don't know (and can't do). Sometimes there are feelings of guilt as parents understand the negative effects of their non-P.E..T. behaviors on their children. The desire to learn and use P.E.T. skills grows.

As you start using your new skills, parents can feel extremely awkward and even phony. At this stage, not only does it seem phony to the parent, but also to the child or other person who is the recipient of their efforts. Using your new skills may sometimes elicit comments like "What's wrong with you?" "You don't usually talk like that!" "Don't try to be my shrink!"

Stage 3: Consciously Skilled:
At this stage in your skill development, parents are conscious about what they are doing. They make clear decisions about when and how to Active Listen and send I-Messages. Even though you are consciously using the skills, in most situations they come across as natural to the child or recipient.

Stage 4: Unconsciously Skilled:
At this stage, using the P.E.T. skills is done with little or no thought - the skills are not turned on and off depending on the situation. Active Listening and I-Messages have become the normal way the parent communicates. This stage is equivalent to Mastery Level learning in education.

However, even when this level has been reached by an individual, there are still times and circumstances, such as extreme stress or difficult conflicts, when you revert to consciously thinking about how and when to use the P.E.T. skills.

Being unconsciously skilled also does not mean that a person has "arrived" and has no more room for improvement. Ongoing refinement and mastery of the P.E.T. philosophy and skills continue on as a part of a person's life-long learning process.

So what stage are you in? As always, questions and comments are encouraged! Feel free to post a comment or question here on the blog or email family@gordontraining.com.

You can also find regular updates, interesting facts, quotes, skill reminders and more on Facebook and Twitter.

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This month's Family Connection Newsletter is going out tomorrow, so if you haven't already signed up, you can do so by filling out your name and email address on the lower right side of this page: http://www.gordontraining.com/parent-programs/

Posted by Selena Cruz George, P.E.T. Program Manager

Apr 6, 2011

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.
(Reuel 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 problems.

An excerpt from the F.E.T. Adult Resource Book