These are my daughters. To say I'm incredibly proud of them would be an understatement.
So would saying that I'm not proud of the kind of father I used to be.
My hugs, kisses, and encouragement were intense and frequent when times were good and everyone was behaving. Step out of line, though, and my disapproval was equally intense. I screamed. I threatened. Corners were my weapon of choice, spankings were frequent, and time-outs were a daily event.
I had convinced myself that I was allowed these reactions, after all, because I was their all-knowing and all-powerful father. What I said MUST be obeyed without question.
I was wrong.
I thought my heavy-handed use of power and control was creating an orderly, “Leave It To Beaver”-type home.
What it was really doing was breaking the hearts of these two young women.
What changed me and my family was a heaping helping of humility, a daily dose of The Golden Rule, and Parent Effectiveness Training (PET).
- How to talk to our children so they will listen to us,
- How to listen to our children so they feel genuinely understood,
- How to resolve family conflicts and problems so that no one loses and problems stay solved, and
- A method for troubleshooting family problems and knowing which skills to use to solve them.
P.E.T. has been endorsed by numerous church denominations, public and private schools, child and youth service agencies, family service agencies of all branches of the military, Head Start, National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse, U.S. Offic of Substance Abuse Prevention, and juvenile courts across the country.
The benefits of PET were featured in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. Turns out that the writers of the show, after having completed a PET course, were so impressed with the program that they wrote an entire episode - entitled "Father Knows Least" - as an homage to it. PET remains the only parenting program of its kind to be positively portrayed in popular media. A clip from the episode is available for your viewing pleasure here.
Do we get frustrated and disagree with each other? Yes. But now we have proven skills to help us listen well and fight fairly. We don’t scream, yell, and spank to resolve our conflicts. And the only thing that spends any time in a corner anymore is the occasional cobweb.
We’re not alone in these results. Nearly 8 million people in 43 different countries over the last 50 years have been helped by the model on which PET is built.
For more information about PET, check out the following resources from Gordon Training International: