Children Learn What They Live (1969)
BY DOROTHY LAW NOLTE
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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.