Why Wait?

Why Wait?

I recently found gold: an out of print copy of Dr. Thomas Gordon's P.E.T. in Action: How Parent Training Dramatically Improves Family Functioning. This follow-up book is chock full of examples and nuggets of wise advice.

In Chapter 13, he ticks off the various excuses he's heard against taking P.E.T. and deftly refutes them. Here's a summary plus my two cents.

"Loving your children is enough."

Dr. Gordon points out that this statement assumes love flows freely no matter how you feel or how your children are behaving.

Uh . . . no?!

Sometimes our love for our offspring can seem rather dicey, and we are so ticked off that we do or say things we regret.

Really, wouldn't it be comforting to have some actual skills in the following scenarios?

"we don't have any serious problems now."

Dr. Gordon questions this resistance to prevention: "If you have no serious symptoms of illness, why eat properly, exercise regularly, or quit smoking?" (page 266)

My children, my husband and I could have used P.E.T. when we had the teeny issues. Instead, I waited nine years and allowed them to burgeon into intense and overwhelming problems before reaching out for help.

You can choose another story arc for your family. 

"other parents need training much worse."

This statement is based on the idea that big problems -- such as dropping out of school or drug abuse -- happen to uneducated or low-income families. Wrong, Dr. Gordon says.

In Hong Kong, there is a special variation on this excuse. For many expats who now have full-time, live-in domestic help, there is the sense: Well, gee, I used to do this all by myself before -- what is wrong with me that I can't even get this right? It's as though it would be beyond indulgence to spend money on a course.

Regardless of how many degrees, helpers or drivers you have, parenting is hard! And 24 hours of training could be the start of something really wonderful:

"This was the most amazing course I have ever taken -- skills learnt that will be used for a lifetime."  

-- This mom of 2 took P.E.T. with me last fall (yes, she has a nanny)

"we've got plenty of time -- our kids are still young."

Let me just quote from the expert here:

This attitude fails to recognize that it’s in the first few years that children begin to develop their patterns of behavior . . . Parents need skills when their children are very young — this is when they pay off the most.”
— P.E.T. in Action: How Parent Training Dramatically Improves Family Functioning, pages 266-267

Parents in the course who have really young kids are the envy of the other participants. You don't know how many times they have been told, "You are so lucky you are doing this now!" 

'Nuf said.

"troubled kids come mostly from broken homes."

Dr. Gordon heartily disagrees and says it can sometimes be the other way around, i.e. trouble with the kids can cause divorce.

That makes sense, right? I mean, I've never felt more distant from my husband than when we were in conflict over a parenting issue.

The skills of P.E.T. will not only help with parenting but can improve your marriage and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOUR OTHER RELATIONSHIPS.

That's some serious value.  

"we're not emotionally sick people."

Bemoaning the stigma of P.E.T. as some form of therapy, Dr. Gordon makes it clear that the course is an educational experience

I'll vouch for that. Each minute of every session is accounted for -- there is so much to impart, discuss and practice. I do not provide psychological diagnoses; I don't have the expertise, the desire or the time.

Sure, parents may feel lighter leaving class than they felt coming in. But that's the power of Active Listening: sensing that someone has truly heard you and accepts the way you feel without judgment.

"nobody is expert enough to tell me how to raise my kids."

But that ain't what we do!

P.E.T. simply teaches:

proven skills and methods for fostering effective two-way communication, for getting kids to solve their problems themselves, for resolving conflicts between parent and child so nobody loses. These are the same skills you need to have good relationships with anyone -- your spouse, your friends, your co-workers, your in-laws. (page 267)

I just met a colleague from Down Under who said she sometimes describes parenting choices as a pull-down menu on a computer screen: P.E.T. will just be listed there for you to click or not. No one is taking away your free will as a parent.

We P.E.T. instructors of the world are simply offering you an invitation.  

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Is there a reason you've heard to which you have a persuasive response? Please do share below!

Let's be part of a movement to make parent training more the norm rather than the exception. Our children deserve it.

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