The Karpman Drama Triangle: Persecutor – Rescuer –Victim (PRV). We’ve all found ourselves in this energy-draining game chasing and being chased around the triangle. “You are WRONG!” says the Persecutor, whether with words or icy withdrawal. “I can’t do it! I won’t!” cries the Victim. “Let me fix this for you!” says the Rescuer righteously riding in his white horse to save the day.
You’ve made a really big change. Not a little “hey, I think might start eating healthier” type of change; a really big, core-level change. The kind of change fostered by travelling through the desert of your soul and being transformed. You are a new person!
Have you ever noticed that whenever you try to change yourself, even if you are changing to something better, other people in your world don’t necessarily react the way you would like? The reason is that any change, even good change, upsets the status quo. If you and I are in a relationship, we have unspoken “rules” for how we engage each other, how we support each other’s function and dysfunction, and if you go changing, well…that messes up our unspoken rules, doesn’t it?
Love means helping and supporting your loved ones, right? Or does it mean letting them figure it out on their own? Should we allow people the dignity of their own consequences or warn them when a mac truck is bearing down on them? Do we hold them accountable for their choices by confronting them, or do we just let the chips fall where they may and let the consequences be what they will be.
What is the best gift you can give your children this holiday season? An Xbox Kinect? A dancing Mickey Mouse? An iPhone? In November of 2010, Twenty parents (16 who were previous Pathways Training graduates), attended the Empowered Parenting Weekend in order to give their children an absolutely priceless gift… better parents. The training provided these devoted and courageous parents an opportunity to really look at, and overcome, barriers they had to being the parents they wanted to be, followed by learning some real and practical Love and Logic® tools.
A common theme in the class was that if God (the Universe or whatever your belief system) has put a child in your life for a significant amount of time, there is something important you are to learn from that child, a gift that child gives you. This is particularly true when we parent/teach/counsel or otherwise work with challenging children. Two sets of parents in the November class had special needs children. Children with special needs can be particularly challenging and this theme was particularly poignant for them.
Because most people parent the way they were parented or in reaction to the way they were parented, the Empowered Parenting Weekend training offered parents the opportunity to either overcome or appreciate their own parent’s influences. “I realized how much of my parenting style was shaped by my Dad and my Grandmother.” said Tony Cornell (Pathways Class 276). “I understand how lucky I am to have such great influences.” Even if adult trainees had dealt with, in previous trainings, any issues they had with their own parents, many found the opportunity to find even more healing. “There was one part I [still] needed to deal with in regard to my dad and it was good to have the opportunity over the Empowered Parenting weekend.” said Martin Lucas (Pathways Class 280).
Overwhelmingly, parents appreciated the Love and Logic® tools and found they could use them immediately. “I have been a (high school) teacher for 28 years, a coach, a Scoutmaster, and a parent of 5 children.” said Tony. “This class will improve my abilities in all these roles. It is a VERY powerful and useful training.” Martin reported that he was using the tools within the first 10 minutes of walking into his home after the training! In fact, most parents gave feedback of wanting even more of these tools. Future Empowered Training classes will have an expanded section on Love and Logic®, including more tools for working with younger children.
The TA (Training Assistant) team overwhelmingly found the new training inspiring and powerful. To be able to “witness parents, whether still together or separated trying to come together and learn tools that DIRECTLY affect how they care and love their children… working on behaviors and how they play a role in teaching their kids to take responsibility for their choices… this was very powerful!” said Sherry Boyer, TA for the training.
“I have 2 grown children.” said Sherry. “1 granddaughter and 4 step-grandchildren and the tools I learned help me when babysitting recently. I was able to use consequences that were appropriate for my 4 year old granddaughter, and I did not feel bad about her choosing not to behave which led to her being put to bed earlier than she would have liked.”
This is one of the keys to Love and Logic® which helps make parenting so much easier: instead of letting children push your buttons, parents learn to use empathy and allow the child to choose his or her consequences. Tony realized that “I should never use sarcasm as a parent. I use empathy a lot more. I’ve stopped arguing with my children; instead I calmly tell them what I need them to do. I then explain, if they do not, there will be consequences. It is awesome.” Doug Adams (Pathways Class 165) said that after the class, “I have more empathy than ever for my children’s issues and situations.” Most parents echoed how much empathy really is the key to making parenting less stressful because children will tend to push back less when they feel loved and understood.
Another great tool was learning easy statements to use so parents don’t get sucked into the drama triangle. As Sherry noted, “The tools taught in the training are great for dealing with people in general. As a parent, when my children were younger, I often found myself feeling either very angry or very guilty after punishments. I often questioned my parenting skills and took on way too much stress trying to be perfect and right. I wish that I had learned the Love and Logic® tools while they were growing up so that I could have taught them a better way. Now that I know, I can never not know, and so I am able to do things differently when the situation arises.”
Parents reported that several processes were unexpectedly impactful. “For me,” said Doug, “[one of the games] was one of the most powerful experienced based game training that I have played since the Pathways Walk Training.” The training uses heart-felt experiential processes to tap into parent’s motivation for doing the challenging work of day-to-day parenting. “Standing in front of people and sharing feedback is so full of heart and healing for me,” said Doug. “To know that you are not alone in this world in the way you were raised or past situations gives tremendous hope that with enough power and passion we can break the chains that can contaminate our lives and be free from passing along those same chains along to our children.”
For some parents, it was more about being more consistent with what already works as a parent. Lacey Buteyn (Pathways Class 262) said the most important thing she learned over the weekend was that she earns trust and respect and maintains a happy and peaceful home by maintaining the small commitments. “Little things really do add up for the better or the worse.” said Lacey. She added Love and Logic® concepts like empathy and keeping her commitments to her parenting tool kit, along with living her contract and letting her boys see her be real.
The day after the training, Facebook lit up like a Christmas tree with comments from parents and TA’s from the class who were using their new tools and seeing a different result with their children! So going into this holiday season, these parents get to do something different and avoid a lot of the stress in the family, and that makes it a lot easier to “remember that your children are gifts from God even when they are making you crazy,” as Tony so eloquently put it.
For information on upcoming Empowered Parenting Weekend, contact Jill Kunkel at