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Getting Fathers to Parenting Groups (without really trying) – P.E.T. in the news!

Getting Fathers to Parenting Groups (without really trying) – P.E.T. in the news!

Written by Larissa Dann

Parent Effectiveness Training in the News.

Summarised findings of a research project on men attending P.E.T. courses have recently been published in the Fatherhood Research Bulletin. This is an occasional publication of the ARACY Fatherhood Research Network, produced by Dr Richard Fletcher of the University of Newcastle.

The published article is below.  To see the poster from which this research was summarised, please follow the link:

Getting Fathers to Parenting Groups (without really trying) – my experience with Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.)

Larissa Dann

I have been teaching Parent Effectiveness Training  (P.E.T.) in Canberra for the past 16 years. During that time I have noted a high attendance rate (35%) of men (fathers, step-fathers and foster parents).  Intrigued, I sought to examine possible reasons for the interest of men attending P.E.T. courses in Canberra, and to look at some outcomes for participants over time.

P.E.T. takes a Rogerian, relationship-based, democratic approach to parenting (in contrast to a behavioural approach).  The 24-hour course (over 8 weeks) teaches relationship skills in the form of respectful communication.   P.E.T. helps parents empathise with their children, to look beyond the child’s behaviour to their need, thus aiding a change in attribution of intent.

I designed a10-question survey designed using the on-line tool “Surveymonkey”, and sent it to 61 men who had participated in P.E.T. courses from 2008 to 2010.  The survey was anonymous, and responses could not be linked with participants.  Thirty-two (53%) of the men surveyed responded.  90% of the respondents had attended the course more than six months previously.  Active listening was the skill most commonly retained and utilised by the participants (90%).

Participants reported they:

  • had better communication with their children, through utilising the skills of active listening and conflict resolution (taught in P.E.T).
  • had better insight into the other’s perspective/behaviour, and greater empathy.
  • were “less authoritarian”

Participants found:

  • they had calmer, more peaceful, cooperative and harmonious households
  • there was a benefit of a consistent P.E.T. approach to parenting with their partner.
  • They had a better relationship with their children,

It was clear that these fathers wanted an alternative to being, or being seen as, authoritarian or the ‘disciplinarian’.  Survey participants valued the P.E.T. approach, with its emphasis on relationship skills and listening skills.  Interestingly, respondents retained many of the communication skills taught in P.E.T. – well beyond six months.  Fathers emphasised the significance of relationships with their children (and partners).  These survey results support the importance of a course such as P.E.T. being available to fathers.  For contact:

Larissa Dann

Larissa Dann


I am an experienced P.E.T. instructor, having taught P.E.T. since 1996 to over 1000 parents. Importantly, I use the P.E.T. skills while raising my children - I endeavour to 'practice what I preach'. I have an Honours degree in Science, a Diploma in Counselling, and am an accredited mediator. In 2007 I was awarded the ACT Adult Learning Outstanding Teacher/Tutor award. Professionally, I worked as a counsellor, then manager, in a community organisation that specialised in counselling parents, children and young people. As manager and worker, I found the P.E.T. skills to be transferable across the workplace. I am a passionate advocate of P.E.T., and have presented posters on the topic at several international parenting conferences, as well as writing several articles on various aspects of P.E.T. I am a past member of the board of ETIA, and was the voluntary CEO in 2009/10. I am a blogger and writer, writing for my own website, and as both a paid and unpaid blogger on local and international websites.

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The Effectiveness Training Institute of Australia (ETIA) Ltd is a not-for-profit, community based organisation that is dedicated to making courses in communication and conflict resolution skills available and accessible to all people in Australia.

ETIA’s mission is to provide individuals with effective communication and conflict resolution skills to build connected, harmonious relationships.

Our inspiration and programs come from the late Dr Thomas Gordon who is the author and founder of Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) program and Gordon Training International (GTI).

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