“I had a very wonderful, peaceful childhood.”

Family parentingWould you like for your children to be able to say this?

“I often tell people that I had a very wonderful, peaceful childhood.

I have no bad memories at all.  It was a very good time.”

-EZ, P.E.T. Kid

As parents, we all strive to create the best possible life for our families.  Yet, sometimes, even with the best of intentions, we struggle to know exactly how to do it.

We’ve been speaking with individuals from across the world, raised with P.E.T., Parent Effectiveness Training, a program designed in 1962 by Dr. Thomas Gordon, founder of Gordon Training International.  We’ve asked them, “Do the P.E.T. skills really work?  Do they really help in creating better relationships?”

What we’ve learned so far has been amazing.  P.E.T.-raised Kids are saying being raised in a P.E.T. environment has made them more self-confident, improved their communication skills, and enhanced their conflict-resolution skills.  They also report having learned more empathy towards others and feel they have developed stronger, more long-lasting relationships with their families and friends.

We recently spoke with EZ to learn how the P.E.T. skills impacted his life. (Note:  EZ’s story is presented in three segments—this is the first of the three.)

Read his story below – and see how using the P.E.T. skills can impact your life too.

Sheryl: Can you tell me your thoughts about P.E.T and about being raised with the Gordon Model?

EZ: I think in the world of self-help – and billions of ‘how to be a better this or that’ books and methods – I really think that P.E.T.  is authentic.   I think it’s a really thoughtful, honest, safe approach, really, to life, and communicating with other human beings.

S: You mentioned that you tell people you had a wonderful childhood.   How do you feel P.E.T. had a role in making it that way?  How did it benefit you to be raised like this?

E: I have tons of memories of just the way we would converse as a family with Active Listening and I-Messaging.

The style of communication in our house, it was very soft.  It was very quiet and thoughtful.   I have virtually no memory of family fights that you always hear about.   I have no memory of hearing my parents yelling.  Certainly they didn’t yell at me when I screwed up as a kid.   It was lots of, “I’m feeling disappointed.”

I didn’t experience sort of the classic family spats and fights.  I can remember as a kid thinking, “Gosh, no one ever really gets their temper up.”

S: How do you feel being raised in a P.E.T. environment has benefited you as an adult?

E: Oh, in a lot of ways.   I think probably conflict resolution, whether it’s in business or with friendships, or in romantic relationships, or with my children.     

One of the things we used to talk about was the iceberg theory [Feelings Iceberg].   I really use that, because I see so many people build resentment, or build unhappiness, or build whatever negative thing is going on in their life, until it’s too late.   Until it’s a really big issue and it’s very difficult to chip away and to find out what really is going on.  So I tend to want to get to the bottom of whatever conflict is happening at the beginning.

I don’t think I let things get to a point where they’re difficult to break down.  But I’ll be accused of, from my kids or in other relationships, that I’m a lecturer.   I’ll talk till two in the morning to resolve something. I don’t want to, you know, let’s just put it under the rug and deal with it later.   I tend to want to communicate about how I’m feeling or deposition somebody on how they’re feeling maybe faster than they would want to.

S: How do you feel that being raised P.E.T. has affected your relationship with your children?

E: Really good.   I really think, going back to the P.E.T.  stuff, Active Listening is huge.   It’s so easy to have somebody say something and then let it stop there.  If my son, comes home and he looks upset and I say, “Oh, you look a little off today.   Is everything okay?”   “No, I’m so mad at my English teacher.   She didn’t like my presentation.”   “So you feel that your presentation didn’t get enough attention from your teacher?”   “Yeah, whatever.   She’s not that nice anyway.”  “So you’re relationship with her isn’t where you’d like it to be?”  You know, that kind of style.   

I think it really helps the more intimate and vulnerable style of communication and connection with your kids.  Instead of just waiting for the giant thing to be the thing you talk about, to help them communicate the little stuff.   I use that a lot.   

So you may be saying, “This all sounds just great – but how did he get to “It’s a Wonderful Life?”  How does he apply the P.E.T. skills in his real life?  Do they really work?  Can I do this too?

In the second segment of this three-part story  (to be posted TBD),  we’ll give you a step-by-step example of how EZ applied the Gordon Model with his teenage son.  The results were pretty incredible – and yes, you can learn to do this too!

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