Confrontive I-Messages in Action

More Free

“It seems to me (a mother) that before P.E.T. I had to play certain roles—be a certain way.  I don’t think I have to be that way anymore.  I’m free to be me.  And to risk that I’ll still be loved and accepted, and if not, well that’s all right . . . And it’s freed my husband to be more open, more willing to talk about things and not hold feelings in . . . The whole thing about sending an honest I-Message about how you feel … I feel now it’s OK for me to say, “I don’t have time for it or I can’t do it right now.”

Breaking Habits

“My son, four years old at the time, had developed the habit of sliding on his rear down the carpeted stairs.  I had used power messages— everything, including spanking.  In my need to stop the behavior, I had forgotten all about I-Messages.  One day, when he had slid down the steps again I remembered and said, “Mark, when you slide down the steps on your rear, I get very aggravated because I’m afraid the carpet will get torn loose from the steps and then the hall area will look like a mess.” Mark turned to me and said simply, “I didn’t know you felt that way.”  He has never slid down the steps since that day.”parenting behavior kids

Going to Church

“When our grandson, eleven years old, was visiting us recently and attended church with myself and my husband, we sat in a front pew.  He repeatedly stretched his arms over his head, much to my concern that he was distracting those behind us.  So I wrote him this message.  “When I see your arms stretched over your head, I think you disturb others behind us and it makes me feel embarrassed.”  He wrote back, “I’m sorry, Grandma,” and then stretched his arms in front of himself instead of over his head.  Later, he wrote me a note, “Am I embarrassing you, Grandma, when I write on the paper?”  Upon which, I wrote back, “Of course not, and I’m so happy to have you sitting in church with us.”

Frightened at Night

He (Michael, three years old) had expressed fears of certain objects in his room.  He loves monsters in the daytime but at night gets frightened—even of a drawing of monsters or a paper skeleton we had at Halloween.  He used to come in and get in our bed.  We said, “Michael, you know we’d appreciate it if you’d stay in bed because we really need our sleep; when you come in and wake us up, then we’re very tired the next day  and get grouchy.” The first few times he didn’t respond, but eventually he did.  He’d get up and play a CD.  Then we told him his CD also woke us up . . . He was so cute—he just turned it on so he could hear that hum.  And that was enough to comfort him.  Most of the time we couldn’t hear the hum.”

Expressing Feelings

“I (a mother) used to give out my feelings, but I would camouflage them to protect myself . . . I would always worry how the other person felt—how it would affect them.  And now I guess I’m putting the emphasis on myself. . . I have a lot of resentment built up because I don’t share myself.  But the formula for stating the I-Message (the three parts) helps me state a negative feeling in a positive way, without hurting the other person.”

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