“Yes, I want to die.”
These were the words of a seventeen-year-old to his mother.
What would you, as a parent, say – what would you do – if your teenager said those words to you?
Below, Rumiko, a Japanese P.E.T.-raised Kid, and now a P.E.T. Parent and Instructor, shares her true story of what one mother did when her son said those words, “Yes, I want to die.” And it shows how P.E.T. helped this mother bring her son from the brink of death … back to life.
Sheryl: Can you tell me about a time one of your students used the P.E.T. skills?
Rumiko: There was a very serious problem that one lady had. Her 17 year old son had a big problem. He started to destroy his family. He destroyed the walls and furniture in his home. Yet he was a very good student, a top student in the school. So suddenly something changed drastically.
His mother was really confused, and she said, “I don’t know, maybe I did something wrong and this is why he became violent and destroyed our family.”
Actually she never did the wrong thing. She was always kind in raising her three children. The youngest one is only three years old. And the 17 year old was normally very gentle with his sister.
But then there was that sudden change in his behavior.
She said she realized after she attended my course, “I always used You-Messages and I never really listened to him. I thought I was a good listener. And when I learned about the 12 Roadblocks to communication, I realized I always used them.” She was always saying, “You shouldn’t do that.” Always saying things like that.
Then she started using Active Listening.
So one day, her son was angry and was going to destroy the living room desk. He was holding up a chair in the air above his head, ready to throw it and destroy the room.
At that moment, the mother said, “Maybe you are really, really sad about your situation and you do not know what to do.”
That was the first time that she spoke to him with Active Listening – and he froze and then he put the chair down. And he gradually started to calm down, so she said, “If you want to speak with me I have a lot of time today.” And he gradually started to sit down.
That was a good sign. So she sat down in another chair. And he didn’t say anything for a long time. Silence. And then he started to weep.
So she said, “You really, really feel sad.” And he said, “Yes, I want to die. I should die in this condition.”
It was really difficult for the mother to use Active Listening when he said that, because she didn’t want him to die. But she was really good. She said, “You want to die, because this is not the life you want”… and that was it.
After a long time, he said, “I was always a top student, but I hate to study. I am not good at studying.” And the mother wanted to say, “Oh! I never said that you have to study. You always do it by yourself.” But she didn’t say that. She just said, “Oh, you don’t like to study.” And he said, “Yes, I like baseball.” And she said, “Oh, you like baseball.” And he said, “Yes, I wanted to become a baseball player.” Then she said, “Oh, you wanted to become a baseball player?”
So it went like that. He would speak a bit and then there would be a long silence and then he would speak a bit more and there would be another long silence. So, it was already midnight, but she still kept listening to him, for more than five hours. And finally he said, “I do not want to live like this and I cannot be a top student anymore. I am so tired.”
And she said, “You really do not want to be like this, but you feel like you have to be a top student.” And he said, “Yes, because you love that. You want me to be a top student all the time.”
Then she wanted to say, “No, I never!” you know. “No, I never wanted that!” But she didn’t say that. She said, “Oh, you feel like I always want you to be a top student.” And he said, “Yes, I thought you always wanted me to be a good top student and you are always pleased about my good marks, so I wanted to make you happy. I just want to make you happy.”
So she said, “You want to be a top student because you wanted to make me happy?” And he said, “Yes, you were always tired from raising my young sister, so I wanted to make you happy.”
After that he seemed very calm and he went back to his own room.
After this, the mother said to me, “Rumiko, this is the first moment I realized what wonderful children I have. My son made an impossible effort for me, just to make me happy, just to make me smile. And now, he’s finally broken and he does not want to do it anymore.”
He actually wrote a suicide note. He was actually tempted to commit suicide. She found a suicide note in his room.
But after that conversation, he started to go back to school and he enjoyed doing sports and also he loved to draw. And finally he’s now a designer. He is making his own way and his mother is so happy about that!
That’s a really amazing example of how these skills work.
And as we continue to speak with P.E.T.-raised Kids, and P.E.T. Parents from across the globe, we have been humbled to learn just how amazing these skills really are.
They really do work.
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