Updated: Apr 13
Written by Mimi Hewett, Relationship & Family Counsellor
It's another day during Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown in sunny South Africa. In a small house in Brackenfell, Cape Town, a family of four is adjusting to their new life:
- Mom, an introvert and business owner is growing used to not having her own space in the morning.
- Dad, an extrovert salesman has had to make peace with staying indoors - no more travelling, meeting new people or chatting up a storm with strangers on a plane while networking around the clock.
- Daughters, two extrovert primary school girls still asking when they can go back to school? They miss playing with and making new friends, going out and exploring new things.
Like many other families out there, it's safe to say this scenario has lead to some pretty interesting challenges, confrontations, and conversations. And I, Mom, am evermore grateful for a man named Dr Thomas Gordon and his Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) parenting course.
I am thankful I have the P.E.T. skills in my pocket during this time because:
I can apply my active listening skills to my husband and kids when I am genuinely trying to understand how they feel about not being able to go out to be with their friends. I can also hear their frustrations of not being able to physically go and visit friends, family, and work colleagues.
I see their faces light up when they are able to make a plan themselves – getting themselves out of a negative situation and building their self-confidence and independence to do it again next time without my help!
I possess the skills to help my daughter deal with her emotions – especially when her younger sister trespasses and enters her room without knocking. The skills help me to help her voice her feelings and calm her down to flush out the emotional flooding that's keeping her from finding a solution on her own - without me having to step in and "fix" it for her.
Recently I overheard something, which made me super proud and excited: My 6-year old daughter was talking to her sister – they had a conflict about something. My pre-P.E.T. response as a parent was usually to step in and "fix" the problem for them – but these days, I stop myself and give them a chance to resolve the conflict by themselves. So this is what my daughter told her sister: “We’ve got a problem here – I think we have to make a plan and find a win-win solution...” And just like that, I felt this sense of peace and hope for our leaders of the future!
I watch with satisfaction how boredom becomes the best thing for creativity to bloom and problem-solving to start taking form!
I have the skillset to listen to my husband voice his concerns about business, finances, and the whole state of our country. I can support him by helping him to calm down and start making smart plans. My skills allow him to voice concern, to be heard and understood, and restore emotional balance to think clearly, without his thoughts being clouded by anger, fear, frustration, uncertainty.
I know when I am “out of balance” as a result of not having any “me-time”, to relax and recharge my batteries. As a result, I am able to voice those feelings and my needs in an “I-message”, which is aimed at changing others’ behavior, without judging them or damaging the relationship.
I have the skills to “make a plan” and solve problems when we all have a problem or a conflict of needs, like the all too common “what are we eating tonight?”, or “what are we watching on the TV?” , or “whose turn is it to clean the kitchen?”.
P.E.T. also helped me a lot in my relationship with my daughters when we don’t necessarily agree on certain things, like: “Aren’t you going to put on some real clothes, instead of staying in your pyjamas all day?” or “When last did you brush your hair?”. This has taught me that our relationship is much more important than always seeing eye to eye. We are allowed to have different values. The most important thing is that we can respect each other and accept each other just the way we are - PJs, messy hair and all!
I now know that for us to have more time in the “No problem area”, we need three different types of time: Alone/Me-time; One-on-one relationship time; and Activity Time. I've discovered that the secret to having enough of each is both interesting and rewarding, that in the process we are building precious memories for many years to come!
And my final but probably most precious teaching...
I’ve discovered that there’s nothing like staying in bed all day with all four of us - plus two cats and one dog - doing as little as possible, for as long as possible. Together in a difficult time.
Thank you, Dr Thomas Gordon, for making all of this possible for our normal (and sometimes not-so-normal) family during the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa.
Contact Mimi Hewett
Mimi is a Certified P.E.T. Instructor. Contact her directly to find out more about her upcoming courses or should you wish to have an online consultation during this time.
Phone: 084 2055 723 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: www.mimihewett.co.za I first attended the Parent Effectiveness Training course as a parent, wanting to understand my children better, but also to see if the way that I’ve been raised was the only/best way to raise our children. My husband and I grew up in entirely different households, so we didn’t always agree on how to raise and discipline our daughters, and I was tired of being the bad cop and hubby being the good cop! I use the skills I’ve learned in all my relationships, not just with my children. I also encourage my clients in my practice to try it at home – with so many success stories.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this communication is not to be construed as medical advice. Consult a professional on any medical or psychological concerns. The articles and blogs are posted only as opinion or ideas, and are general in nature. The administrator takes no responsibility for any action or outcome a reader may make as a result of reading a post.