Making Chocolate When You've Never Tasted It

This is how one parent described her P.E.T. journey.

Indeed, if you've never grown up benefitting from Active Listening, assertive confrontation or collaborative problem-solving, using these skills could be akin to creating a confection you've never had!

This mom (I'll call her Felicia) was generous enough to speak to a new cohort of parents at the end of their Session 3. The group had asked whether they might hear a graduate's perspective. It was hard going, and they longed for advice on overcoming resistance -- both their kids' and their own.

Felicia shared just how much she's changed over two years: "My Line of Acceptance was so high you would never believe it's the same me!"

Before P.E.T., Felicia "always felt like a victim" of her kids (two tweens) and fought back with her favorite Roadblocks, sarcasm and judgment. Afterwards, she used to "beat herself up a lot" and feel "horrible" guilt.

The hardest was the despair Felicia felt when she fell back into her old ways after a period of calm; Nothing has changed! I wasted a whole lot of money! was her self-talk.

Yet, she realized later, that depressing summer marked a turning point. Soon thereafter, she decided to take a monthly refresher and things got back on track.

Backsliding is an opportunity, she impressed upon the group: 

"That's really the time to be good to yourself because that's when you can turn the corner! You deserve self-compassion. Ask yourself, 'What do you need? Anything?' This is hard work. We were also children and we are trying to make chocolate without knowing what chocolate is!"

The look of This woman totally gets me was on every single grinning face in that sunny room.

Felicia started and ended the talk with feelings. A growing comfort with emotions -- naming them, acknowledging them, accepting them -- was one of the primary benefits she saw of P.E.T.: "My children now talk about feelings! And the No Problem area is getting bigger and more profound." 

Winding up, she shared how, just the day before, she had had a flare up with one of her daughters. Shaking her head ruefully, she admitted it took her the "whole day" to figure out what was bothering her.  

She decided to share some of her real struggle so she paired a Declarative I-Message with her apology to her child. (A form of self-disclosure, this type of I-Message describes your opinions, likes/dislikes, propensities, beliefs etc.) "I'm back," Felicia told her, "because, growing up, I had a hard time talking about feelings and I don't want you to go through that too."

Felicia concluded her inspirational talk:

"What you're doing is better than a Christmas gift. You're giving your kids an aware parent who puts words to feelings. My kids took some time to adjust and they resisted my Active Listening: 'Stop saying that!' But now they are happier and more like 'OMG, she's listening to me!' What a gift!"

Yes, truly.

Thank you, Felicia, for setting us to dreaming about P.E.T. chocolate. We may never have tasted it when we were young, but -- by golly -- we can start to churn them out for our beloved children.

And, the best thing is, once the factory gets going, it'll be open for generations to come!

Credits: Making chocolate (; Box of chocolates (