Feb 9, 2012

The Debate Continues

Or can we really even call it a "debate?"

It's been several days since John Rosemond's antagonistic article about P.E.T. was published, and we are still seeing plenty of buzz about it.

Letters to the editor have been sent by the dozens, several of which have already been published. Thank you to all who have contributed to this - we're flattered!

And wouldn't you know it, when there couldn't possibly be a more perfect time, a recent study on the effects of spanking children just came out. (You can read the article by clicking here: http://health.yahoo.net/news/s/nm/spanking-kids-can-cause-long-term-harm-canada-study ) I can't help but wonder what he would have to say about this...

To most, it seems that Rosemond's article is filled with nothing but opinion, which he calls "research." To many savvy individuals who are familiar with him, it seems that Rosemond's untruthfulness is a reputation that has preceded him anyway.

In any case, of the floods of "Letters to the Editor" that we've been given a copy of, I thought it the right thing to do to share the "Best Of" with you all.

For your reading pleasure, enjoy:

Letters to the Editor - Snippets
It would be hard to exaggerate what a profound misinterpretation of, not only Thomas Gordon's Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.), but of the overwhelming evidence on good parenting, that is found in John Rosemond's baseless attack published in the starpress.com article. Even a rudimentary understanding of Gordon's model, or in fact, the work of Diana Baumrind whom he mistakenly uses to "refute" P.E.T., reveals striking similarities in their advice to parents. Baumrind advocates the "Authoritative Parenting Style," (not to be confused with authoritarian). If Mr. Rosemond had actually bothered to read Dr. Gordon's work, he would have found many similar recommendations and conclusions. One of Rosemond's many incorrect assertions is that Dr. Gordon encourages parents to give in to their children because the child doesn't like being told what to do. This is utter nonsense. P.E.T. certainly encourages parents to be assertive with their children. Dr. Gordon promotes the idea that children are human beings and that, as such, deserve a chance to respond to their parents needs in a responsible way.
 While it may be trendy to talk about the failure of professional psychology, in fact many of Rosemond's assertions are just plain wrong. I cannot tell from the article if he says these things out of spite or shoddy research but this sort of self-indulgent diatribe is damaging: to parents, to children and to our society as a whole. Maybe he is upset about something. As he says, "People who are ruled by their feelings say stupid things…." (Parenting: Children should be taught to control, not be controlled by feelings http://www.thestarpress.com/article/20120124/LIFESTYLE/201240301). 
If you want children who are respectful, thoughtful, caring, independent, assertive, creative, and engaged in the world in a constructive way, listen to Thomas Gordon. If you want more bullies and tyrants, listen to John Rosemond.
-Bill Stinnett, Ph. D.

 I find the tone of John Rosemond's "Parenting: Children should be taught to control, not be controlled by feelings" to be regrettable. For example, his judgmental labeling of Dr. Thomas Gordon and other experienced educators and likeminded professionals as "progressive parenting pundits" pollutes the climate within which constructive public discourse needs to occur when the nature of effective parenting is being discussed. 
Furthermore, when referring to Dr. Gordon's and others' methodologies and conclusions, claiming that they are "pulling this baloney out of thin air" discounts the hard-won discoveries and insights that have come from years of research and practice, and constitutes a form of expression whose usage we typically associate with someone who is being "controlled by feelings" - ironically, a state of being that Mr. Rosemond argues we should teach children to avoid.
- H. Tucker Upshaw, Ph.D.
All but a few parenting advisors (Dr. Rosemond included) have one thing in common: they teach parents to try control their children. This can be attempted either by trying to think for children, or physically restraining them. The former is impossible, the latter grows more difficult every day. Both techniques teach children what parents want, but neither teaches children how parents make decisions.  
But children are ravenous to know how the world works and how achieve their values! They urgently need parents to involve them in the process of gathering and assessing information, including information gained from emotions, and making thoughtful decisions. Effectively expressing intense emotions uncovers the thoughts behind them, allowing reasoned assessment and action. 
- Catherine Dickerson, L.C.S.W., M.Ed.

Gordon believes, as does Rosemond, that permissive parenting is ineffective and Gordon spends one-fifth of his book, Parent Effectiveness Training, explaining what is wrong with permissiveness and associated behaviors. Oddly, Rosemond states in his “Bill of Rights for Children” that children have the right to scream as much as they want. To me it seems contradictory to make your children control their emotions while allowing them to scream ... Gordon’s Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) teaches communication skills that helps children express their thoughts and feelings respectfully, and helps parents respond to a child’s unacceptable behavior while preserving the child’s self esteem and their relationship with the child. There is a reason Gordon’s P.E.T. program is used every day in 44 countries all over the world and why it continues to influence so many parenting programs over time. P.E.T. works.
-Meike Lemmens, Certified P.E.T. Instructor

Dr.John Rosemond says it is not complicated to deal with feelings. Adults simply need to teach their children to control them. So, you would think that adults must already know for themselves how to control their feelings, right? Here is the problem: You would rather not think of feelings because many of your feelings are quite scary. We are so unfamiliar with "feelings"!  We don’t know their strength or how to calm them down. Rosemond calls them "unruly and destructive beasts". However it is not the feelings or the emotions that are the beasts; it is the pain that we (un)consciously have attached to them. This pain can become so heavy that we would rather kill ourselves than feel it. By suppressing feelings and not acknowledging them, the pain expands and grows bigger. What you suppress expands. What was at first an insignificant event, becomes heavier and heavier. And there is where it becomes scary: when the pain is too heavy to bear, we don’t know what it will develop into or when this pain will be triggered.
Dr. Thomas Gordon was in his time looking for causes of filled up psychology and psychiatrist offices as well. But he made a daring change: to open up feelings and emotions to work with, instead of suppressing them. In promoting his belief and findings, he was the first one who understood that the parent should work on themselves first. Dr. Thomas Gordon incorporated working with feelings, making a training that works for all parents and making it accessible to the general public. This indeed brought him the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Psychological Association and got him three times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
- Cielja Kieft, Certified P.E.T. Instructor 

'Nuff said. What do you think? Let us know! Please respond by commenting below or chatting with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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