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Triple P Parenting or PET

Filed under: Boys / Youth / Education,Domestic Violence,Gender Politics,General,Law & Courts — MurrayBacon @ 9:00 pm Wed 14th March 2012

Parenting training is often seen as an insult.

This is unfortunate, as parenting skills are vitally important to the welfare of our children. Good parenting skills would also help negotiating skills, which alas may also be useful in making the best from being forced to separate. Parenting skills help with negotiating, which can also help in being a good employee.

Smaller families make it much more difficult for children to have a substantial amount of experience in caring for younger children. This is an important element in developing parenting skills. More importantly, it can help our children to make better informed decisions about when (or even if) they want to have children.

When parents have good skills, then parenting is less like hard work and much more enjoyable, for child and parent alike.
Parenting training is seen as an insult, only by the people who would benefit the most and their children would benefit the most too.
When parents separate, if anything they will need a higher level of parenting skills than ever before, if they don’t want to disadvantage their children by their separation decision.

NZ familycaught$ favours Triple P Parenting. Courses for Parents Auckland

I have found it very hard to find out exactly what Triple P Parenting is about. The little material that I have been able to access, has seemed to encourage parents to act authoritatively, to their children. There is a place for this, but the familycaught$ often (even usually?) depowers parents, in their dealings with their children. Is the familycaught$ deliberately setting up parents to “fail”, so that they can reap financial$ rewards?

In my own looking around, I have preferred the Parent Effectiveness Training system of Dr. Thomas Gordon. He emphasises negotiation, rather than power dynamics. This is practical, sustainable, ethical and sensible for “together” parenting. He emphasises that before parents can use their coercive powers on children, they must negotiate respectfully with each other and know where they stand with each other. My only complaint is about the USA accents…..

In particular, for “separated” parenting, where the non-custodial parent is generally quite depowered, the PET approach is about all that can sensibly be used.

Family First have recently highlighted some Australian criticisms of Triple P Parenting:


Can anyone provide further information about the good and bad sides of Triple P Parenting?

Why did the familycaught$ decide to support Triple P Parenting?
Does anyone agree with me, that PET is a more appropriate set of training than Triple P Parenting?

Best regards, MurrayBacon – axe murderer.


  1. We no longer raising children, but instead raise dogs. The similarities are amazing.
    When we had our first dog Sasha, she was out of control, and we paid an expert to come in and show is what to do. When the expert showed instant control of the dog, we realized that it was US, not the dog that was the problem. We learnt that
    1 We needed to establish and maintain AUTHORITY- this makes the dog feel secure, it does not have the burden of trying to be the boss itself.
    2 You need to give and receive love from your dog(s), not as an equal, but as its master.
    Miriam and I have both raised families, and recognized this as just like raising children.
    Now we have a pack of dogs, we breed and show thoroughbred Tibetan Spaniels- and the household runs smoothly because all members (Adults, dogs and the cat) know their places, and have mutual respect for each other.
    Getting advice on training dogs helped us with our animal family- Advice to new parents on raising children is equally valuable- PROVIDED IT IS GIVEN BY SOMEONE WITH PARENTING CREDIBILITY.

    Comment by John Brett — Fri 16th March 2012 @ 7:56 am

  2. Murray, perhaps parenting courses would be less “insulting” if BOTH parents were ordered to attend them rather than just one (usually the non-custodial Father.)

    Comment by golfa — Sun 18th March 2012 @ 9:53 pm

  3. Dear John, I agree that raising young children is closely parallel to raising dogs. Maybe people should show that they can care for a dog or horse, before they would be allowed to care for a chimpanzee or human baby?

    However, manipulative children, even quite young, can be a challenge that I cannot imagine dogs matching.

    Golfa, yes I have seen a counsellor recommend a parenting course for both parents. I suspect that the parent who needed it least, learned the most at the course. But, as the counsellor said, by both going, they can give each other more effective help long after the course has finished. The biggest issue, was getting to the first day of the course and by both going egos were more soothed. I am not suggesting blame for poor parenting skills, on the contrary the “blame” usually lies with their parents and wider family (and maybe we could say that it isn’t taught at schools either..).
    Thanks, MurrayBacon.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Mon 19th March 2012 @ 7:35 am

  4. if men are out working/earning doing their provider bit whos at home with the children passing on the learned behavior..women..females

    Comment by ford — Mon 19th March 2012 @ 8:07 am

  5. Ahhh,
    triple-p has a good theory background, plus in NZ it is part of a study by the auckland uni to encourage dads to do parenting courses. Some of the feedback is aready in – and that includes that both parents do them together… there is a free course in epsom soon for parents of troublesome 3-8 yr olds, contact tenille ph 09 6238899 ext 83042 if you know anyone who is really keen…!

    Comment by realkiwi — Mon 19th March 2012 @ 4:20 pm

  6. I took part in a Triple-P program a couple of years ago on the advice of my lawyer.. (Pre-emptively doing one, before I was ordered to do one)….
    I may still have the textbook they gave me around here somewhere..

    Firstly I’d guess that the family courts preference for Triple-P is probably because it is run by qualified child psychologists.. (at least the course I did was.) And who do you think the court asks when it wants to know what the best parenting course is.. (child psychologists..??)

    As for the course itself, IIRC Triple-P stands for Positive Parenting Program. It’s core ideas are based around using positive reinforcement to influence a child’s behaviour..
    i.e. Remembering to give kids a pat on the back when they behave well, not just telling them off when they misbehave.. “Well done Timmy, you’re playing very nicely with your sister”.

    I personally didn’t find this idea to be particularly revolutionary, it was pretty much my parenting style before starting the course. But I can see that there are parents (especially busy/tired parents) who do tend to ignore children who are behaving well, and they can end up in the situation where the only way kids can get a parents attention is to misbehave..

    Other areas of the course involved things like..

    – Offering rewards for good behaviour (“If you’re a good boy we’re stop at the playground on the way home”).

    – Setting achievable goals for children (Don’t expect a 4 year old to be a perfect angel for an entire hour on your first go.. But if you set a goal of 3 minutes, that’s achievable, the child gets to succeed and be rewarded & praised. Next time make it 4 minutes.. then 5.. If the child fails you don’t punish them, but you only reward successful good behaviour..

    – If a child is misbehaving with a toy (being deliberately noisy?), take it away from them for 5 or 10 minutes as a kind of time-out. Then give it back to them so that they can learn how to play nicely with it… Keep taking it away for longer and longer periods, and giving it back until they learn to play nicely with it..

    – Don’t give multiple warnings.. Giving your child three warnings before you punish them only teaches them that they can ignore you three times before you’ll do anything. (You may have interpreted this as authoritarian)

    – If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Especially when it comes to punishment. Hyperbolic hollow threats just undermine your credibility as a parent. (“If you leave your bike outside one more time I’m going to give it to the rubbish collector!!!!”)

    Overall my view of Triple-P….
    (I can only speak for the course I took part in)

    It seems to be overly focussed on trying to help parents with ‘problem’ children in the 3-9 year old age group, the sort that disobey their parents and throw tantrums in shopping malls. It makes assumptions that parents are still together and working as a cohesive team. And from my perspective a large chunk of it was basic common sense parenting, the sort of things that I thought everybody already knew, mixed in with a few interesting ideas for handling specific situations..
    Another important factor is the absurdly expensive price for Triple-P courses.. If I recall correctly it was nearly $700 for a course that only lasted 8 weeks.

    The staff are lovely (all female) and seem to genuinely want to help, but if I was a cynical person I’d suggest that the courses are primarily geared toward nervous professional couples from Remuera, who can afford to pay $700 a head to be reassured that they’re doing a fine job as parents.

    Triple-P doesn’t really have anything to offer fathers going through a separation.
    (Except a nice certificate to show the family court.)

    Comment by womblefish — Mon 19th March 2012 @ 11:08 pm

  7. Dear womblefish,

    thank you for your comments.

    Would it be possible for me to borrow, or purchase from you, the Triple P book? ph (09) 638 7275

    The general approach you describe sounds very generic (your description would equally apply for Dr Thomas Gordon’s PET course too). I would like to know what are the differences….

    All of the techniques you discussed were at a rational adult level and this is where 90% of adults can be helped. However, for the remaining 10% there may be a degree of psychosis, which acts as a communication barrier with children (and adults too). However, these parents may have gained a lot of experience covering their problems when dealing with adults, so it isn’t easily visible. Many parents have triggers, which may leave them homicidal for a short time after the trigger event has occurred. If these issues are not found and resolved, children who trigger them are at high risk of being injured or killed. These triggers are not easy to identify, before it is too late.

    I am wary of courses that jump into content, without first checking that the offered content is at the relevant appropriate level for each individual attendee. It isn’t as easy as just asking them!

    If??? content is just thrown at parents with psychiatric problems, even low level, it may help them with some issues, but it has also failed to address underlying problems. (If it has given a false feeling of confidence, it might have even made things worse?)

    There are lots of good courses available, but unless we can give people the right courses for their underlying needs, then we could be just wasting a lot of time and effort and maybe getting little more than a piece of paper.
    Was the certificate of any actual value, in the long run?
    Did the course leave you feeling more secure, as an individual person?

    On the course that you attended, did the course providers screen attendees, so that they could be given material appropriate to their needs? One subtle way, not fully reliable, is to get attendees to discuss their own childhoods, whether adopted, family stressors, position in family….
    Did they discuss being self aware and taking care of your own mental health?

    Best regards, MurrayBacon – axe murderer, with quite a few triggers.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Tue 20th March 2012 @ 8:49 am

  8. Hi Murray,

    I’ve had a look, and ‘success’ I found the book!
    Now that I have it in front of me, its more of a workbook than a textbook. Just over a 100 pages with about 50% text, 25% diagrams and charts, and 25% blank lines for your own notes.
    You’re more than welcome to borrow it.

    I’ll try to answer your questions as much as I can, but like many guys dealing with the family court, I’m always a little concerned that my wacky, outlandish and treasonous comments on various websites might one day be presented to a judge in the middle of a custody hearing..
    So there may be a few things I can’t answer here as they may identify me..

    “Was the certificate of any actual value, in the long run?”
    To be honest I think its a little like that old joke about ‘elephant repellent’. I know there was a point in my case where my ex questioned my parenting skills and her counsel recommended that I should go do a parenting course. I believe it was meant to be a delaying tactic. So, I was then able to whip out and metaphorically wave around a certificate showing that I’d already done one, and not just any parenting course, but a Triple-P course, the courts favourite, the one where opposing counsel can’t question the credibility..
    Yeah that shut her up good and quick.
    So I guess yes, having the certificate probably saved me a 2-3 month adjournment.. maybe..

    “Did the course leave you feeling more secure, as an individual person?”

    Yes. I have a positive opinion of both the course and the staff who run it. While I may have described it as basically a refresher course on common sense, it certainly did give me more confidence as a parent and a few interesting ideas for dealing with difficult situations.

    “Did they discuss being self aware and taking care of your own mental health?”
    Looking after yourself both mentally and physically was discussed quite early on. Although a large part of it seemed to be ‘make sure Mum gets a break’, ‘make sure Mum gets enough sleep’.

    “On the course that you attended, did the course providers screen attendees?”

    There certainly was a ‘getting to know you’ stage, ‘tell the group a little about yourselves etc’ on the first night. At the time I didn’t really think of it as being psychologically profiled. Now, having read the things you’ve written, I can see that perhaps there was a little more depth to the questions we were being asked. I do distinctly remember being asked about my childhood, eg what was your fathers parenting style….

    “so that they could be given material appropriate to their needs?”

    Everyone got the same course.
    This is my main problem with Triple-P
    As I mentioned the course participants seem to be a rather awkward mix of well off parents from the eastern suburbs and separated dads sent by the family court.
    The problem was best demonstrated when we’d learn some new parenting technique, and the tutor would suggest that everyone practice it with their children over the next week and report back the following week..
    The next week the tutor would go round the room and ask people to report back on their homework…
    The well of parents: “Oh yes, Bartholomew and Tiffany were absolute angels when I took them shopping this week”.
    Then they’d awkwardly get to one of the Dads..
    Dad1: “I couldn’t really do it because I haven’t seen my kids in 3 months”.
    Dad2: “I only get 1 hour a week supervised access, we can’t go shopping together”.

    “There are lots of good courses available, but unless we can give people the right courses for their underlying needs, then we could be just wasting a lot of time and effort and maybe getting little more than a piece of paper.”

    ^^^ This. I agree with you very strongly.
    In my opinion there’s nothing wrong with the people or the ideas behind Triple-P. The problem is sending separated fathers to do a course designed for happily married couples.
    It wastes their time and money when they could be learning skills that are specific to their situation as separated parents..
    Triple-P could easily re-jig their course to focus on areas like ‘helping your child deal with separation’, ‘minimising emotional distress during changeover’ etc … But they have no need to, because the court keeps sending them more customers, and all the court cares about it the pretty certificate…

    I’ll try to give you a call Thursday after work if thats ok? And we’ll arrange to get the book to you. There’s also a couple of other things I’d like to mention, but I can’t here.

    Comment by womblefish — Wed 21st March 2012 @ 12:11 am

  9. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us womblefish. They reinforce my existing belief that PPP is probably the best parenting course currently available in NZ, but that it isn’t appropriate for separated dads who do not have regular access to their children.

    Murray’s contributions are also greatly appreciated. This kind of discussion reminds me why keeping MENZ running is worth my time and funds.

    It seems to me that the dynamics of parenting as a couple are quite different to how it is if you are solo. It’s not clear to me how well PPP addresses this issue.

    If anyone else reading this has done a PPP course, please jump in and tell us how it was for you.

    Comment by JohnPotter — Wed 21st March 2012 @ 7:50 am

  10. I am assuming we are making a distinction here between solo and separated. Being a solo parent without interaction with another parent, or interaction with a prospective step parent, would be very different to being a parent as a separated Dad. That course would need to include issues like how to deal with mothers
    who have mental health issues.
    who haven’t bonded with their children.
    who feel threatened by Dads parenting skills.
    who attempt to alienate the Dad.
    who use children as a weapon.
    who use children as a spy.
    who still expect to control the Dad.
    who expect Dad to remain single even though they don’t.
    The above list is far from complete and one could image the extent and complexity of this task as compared to the solo parent.

    Comment by Down Under — Wed 21st March 2012 @ 10:36 am

  11. A few people have spoken with me and I have rethought these issues through. I guess I have come to the conclusion that my criticism of Triple P was overdone (it was just based on what I had read, which wasn’t much) and that the difference between Triple P and PET was smaller than I had suspected (maybe this was the individual trainer’s style?).

    The other issue that came through, is that whatever the “system” it is probably the quality of the individual trainers that impacts the most on the quality of what is delivered.

    Which comes back to John Potter’s point, that he felt that Triple P wasn’t particularly appropriate for separated fathers. I agree strongly. I still believe that PET’s focus on having a very realistic understanding of the limits of your power and negotiating based on good understanding of other parties is the crux of effective separated parenting.

    I am not sure if this is what John was also including, but in any case I see it as important (unfortunately). That is negotiating under prospect of heading into familycaught$, or in the shadow of the caught.

    This is a whole different genre of negotiating, based on:

    applying power silently or through providing known wrong information, but disclaiming responsibility,

    subtle use of misrepresentation (I spent more time with the children, thus I am a better parent – diverts the attention away from actual relevant parental skill and present child needs analysis),

    use of opinions from “professionals of something else” eg legal-workers giving opinions on psychology or child protection, psychologists trained in adult clinical psychology giving opinions on child protection or parenting skill evaluation, or child/parent relationships or child attachment, medical treatment practitioners writing medical forensic reports,

    opinions from professionals who are not up to date in their profession and this has lead to opinions which don’t stack up under modern knowledge.

    in the absence of hard evidence, just guessing or in the face of evidence, just guessing against the evidence

    Good training of how to survive in this Alice in Wonderland negotiating space is sorely needed, by women as much as by men who are extruded through familycaught$. Alternatively, possibly it would be better to alter familycaught$, so that negotiating in good faith gave the best results!


    Comment by MurrayBacon — Fri 23rd March 2012 @ 8:01 am

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