When your child is born, you give them your time, energy, attention, caring and love. You treat your baby with care, attending to his/her every need. All of these actions and positive feelings help to make the relationship strong and healthy. When the child feels loved and cared for, they develop feelings of safety, trust, and love back toward the parent.
One way to think of this is like money in your bank. When you have money in your account, your life can be stable, productive and you can function without undue stress about your financial security. Compare this to your relationship with your child; you have invested in your relationship with them. Like money in the bank, these “investments” in your “Relationship Bank” can be thought of as “Relationship Currency”.
Every time you show your child respect, listen to them, care for them and interact with them in positive ways, you are making “deposits” into your relationship bank. In order to have a continuing, strong, positive relationship with your child, it is important to keep deposits in your Relationship Bank.
Every time you use a You-Message, don’t listen to them when they have a problem or concern, or exert power to solve problems with them, you make a withdrawal from your Relationship Bank. Over time as the child grows, if all you do is send You-Messages and use power to solve problems, you may ultimately “bankrupt” the relationship. From your child or teen’s point of view, they feel there is nothing left of value in the relationship.
Everyone makes mistakes. Especially when the P.E.T. skills are new, it is easy to slip back into your old ways. Even when you have reached a high level of skill, stress, time pressures and other factors may result in your using Roadblocks or power. Consciously or unconsciously you may temporarily make withdrawals from your Relationship Bank.
However, there is good news! All is not lost. Just like with your bank account, you can make deposits back into the bank to strengthen your bank balance.
If you have used a You-Message or resorted to power, the next time you see your child you can make a deposit back into your Relationship Bank by Active Listening, expressing your feelings with an I-Message, or by being willing to redo the interaction through conflict resolution instead of using your power. Using the P.E.T. skills makes deposits back into your Relationship Bank and leads to continued strong relationships.