Aug 31, 2011

A Response to Questioning Parents

Explaining P.E.T. to doubtful parents is a challenge that I take on with eagerness. In its most common form, P.E.T. skepticism shows up as the assumption that it's the type of parenting that allows the child to run the show.

Some parents say, "That sounds great, but it wouldn't work on my kids. If I don't set limits, punish, show them who's boss (etc.), then my kids won't respect me, behave, do as they're told (etc.)" At times, this hesitation is expected. After all, the Gordon Model is an entirely new approach to parenting which offers a promising alternative to traditional win-lose methods. P.E.T.'s theory to not punish, discipline or use authoritarian power, suggests to some parents that their children's unacceptable behavior is left disregarded. In reality, parents should keep in mind that authoritarian power should not be used because it is emotionally damaging to the child (and the parent-child relationship) and that its long-term effectiveness have proven to be highly inefficient.

For those who aren't fully convinced that the P.E.T. method is not a form of permissive parenting, consider these words of Dr. Thomas Gordon: "Permissive parents get into as much trouble as overly strict parents, for their kids often turn out to be selfish, unmanageable uncooperative, and inconsiderate of the needs of their parents." Permissiveness creates the kind of individuals who grow up believing that they deserve everything that the world has to offer, without having to work for it.

Dr. Gordon continues: "What kind of persons are we producing if children are permitted to grow up with the attitude that the world owes them so much even though they give back so little? What kind of society will these selfish human beings make?"

Just as punishment and power can create insecure and rebellious individuals, overly lenient parenting can create egotism and narcissism. (Although I say "can create" here in order to avoid being overly bold by saying "will create," the chances of these outcomes are highly likely.)

Given these two options, it's relieving to know that P.E.T. offers a third choice. What do you think? Let us know...

by: Selena Cruz George, Program Manager

**Dr. Thomas Gordon quotes are excerpted from the P.E.T. book


  1. The reason why children are growing up with the attitude that the world owes them is that "the world" is that they did not get what they are owed as children. What they are owed is respect as a human being, being listened to, taken seriously, allowed to participated in resolving conflicts, etc.


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