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Must our past define our present? Saving our relationships

“I’m a changed man and I want to lead a healthy life,” Michael shared, recounting the disconnect and disharmony between him and his three daughters pre-Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.): when they spoke, he silenced them; when they sought his attention, he dismissed them, and when they behaved in ways that bothered him, he blamed them for not meeting his expectations. History was repeating itself.

Having grown up in an environment in which he felt unseen, unheard, and oftentimes, unwanted, Michael had not learnt the art of communication. But he had learnt the immense pain that came from being raised in an unhealthy environment, and as his daughters became increasingly withdrawn, Michael knew he needed to act. His wife had completed P.E.T. two years earlier and embraced a harmonious relationship with their children, and so he decided to give P.E.T. a try too.

That was four years ago. Today, his relationship with his children is built on love, trust, and mutual respect. Active listening empowers him to listen to his daughters, so they feel heard in a way he wasn’t, confrontive I-messages enables him to be speak calmly, ensuring he feels heard too, and Method 3 ensures both his and his children’s needs are met. Meanwhile, the behaviour window has given him an acceptance and appreciation for his children’s age-appropriate behaviours.

But the impact of his learnings has reached beyond the parent-child relationship: Michael shares his relationship with his wife is stronger than ever as they are now on the same page when it comes to parenting. And, using confrontive i-messages, he feels better equipped to communicate his boundaries to his siblings and older relatives.

A father and husband willing to do the work, Michael says he is still learning, growing, and healing. History can stay where it belongs: the cycle is broken.