Each parent has a unique and different rectangle for viewing the behavior of another person. Two parents may have very different feelings about the same behavior of a child. There is “Good News” for parents in this fact. Parents can now rid themselves of certain myths about what a “Good Parent” must be like.
MYTH #1 A “Good Parent” must always feel accepting of his/her child. Having a negative feeling is “bad.”
The truth is just the opposite. No parent is unconditionally and always accepting of her or his child. It is psychologically impossible.
There will be times when you dislike very much what your child is doing, when you may have strong feelings of disappointment or anger.
No parent should feel guilty for having these feelings some of the time. Parents are people.
It is also true that some parents are much more accepting or unaccepting than other parents.
MYTH #2 Parents must be consistent with their children; their feelings must always be the same.
This is also impossible because of the three factors that we know keep the line of acceptance (a la the Behavior Window) moving up and down.
It’s a very human thing to feel grouchy about a loud TV one day and completely accepting the next because you are not the same person both days.
Likewise, you learned that you will have different feelings toward different children and different feelings about what a child is doing depending on the location–the environment – where the child is behaving.
No parent should feel guilty about being human, about having feelings that depend on different circumstances.
MYTH #3 When there are two parents living with a child, they must maintain a “united front.”
Again, we know that this is psychologically impossible. Each parent does have different feelings, depending on the factors of SELF, CHILD, ENVIRONMENT. And when one parent tries to “fake it” by acting falsely accepting or falsely unaccepting, not only does the child usually see through it, but the parent usually feels guilty for acting phony and often resents the other parent for insisting on the phony role.
In P.E.T., we believe that honest differences between parents are normal and ultimately healthier for all concerned.