Monday, March 19, 2012

"Children Learn What They Live"

When I was a kid my parents had this wood plaque with a poem on parenting that was a fixture in our home.  At the time, I knew that it held a lot of wisdom and was grateful that my parents, for all of their faults, found it important to hang such a poem in their home.  There are many versions, but this is the one that I saw growing up:

Children Learn What They Live (1969)

Gay Couple with Child
Image via Wikipedia
If a child lives with criticism,
He learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility,
He learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule,
He learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame,
He learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance,
He learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement,
He learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise,
He learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness,
He learns justice.
If a child lives with security,
He learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval,
He learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
He learns to find love in the world.

I thought about this poem a lot this past weekend.  I traveled to be with family and honor and remember my husband's uncle who died.  It was a great time of stories and reunion, mixed in with profound sadness.  Lots of people were talking about their childhood memories and the ways that their experiences shaped and scarred them.  It was a time to reconnect and to be reminded of the ties that bind. I'm back home now, in my own routine, and am ruminating on a series of interactions with one specific relative. 

No matter what topic was raised, no matter the time of day, no matter the age of the person that they spoke to, negative, critical, and disagreeable commentary spewed from their tongue.  My reaction was typical annoyance and frustration, replaced soon by anger and now as some distance is provided, pity.  All I can think of now, is the level of criticism that someone must have endured to turn them so negative.  This morning I rise and send up a prayer of thanksgiving for my flawed and loving parents.  I dig deep and send up a prayer for the broken and wounded bullies too.
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1 comment:

  1. Love this one, Lisa. It can definitely help keep us grounded with compassion and empathy to think of the hardships that may have led a person to act in a negative way. Such a great reminder, too, of how we should aspire to conduct ourselves each day. Those little eyes see everything...