Category Archives: Literature

If a child lives with…

Today would have been Dorothy Louise Law Nolte’s 83rd birthday. A trained family counselor (who also founded a kindergarten, taught parenting and childbirth classes, and was a published writer), Law in the mid-1950s wrote a poem, “Children Learn What They Live,” as a submission for her family-matters column in California’s The Torrance Herald.

Now, more than 50 years later, her simple words still serve as something of a guidepost:

If a child lives with cricism, he learns to condemn…

If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight…

If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive…

If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself…

If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy…

If a child lives with jealousy, he learns to feel guilt…

But…

If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient…

If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident…

If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative…

If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love…

If a child lives with honesty, he learns what truth is…

If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice…

If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith in himself and those about him…

If a child lives with friendliness, he learns the world is a nice place in which to live.

With what is your child living?

The piece was translated into 35 languages. Nearly 20 years after she wrote it, Law discovered it was being distributed by a baby food manufacturer. She then copyrighted it, but allowed the company to continue to use her words for free.

In the late 1990s, the piece was published as a book, with each line in the poem serving as the subject of a chapter. In 2005, it became a bestseller when Crown Prince Naruhito likened the book to his guide for raising his daughter, Princess Aiko.

Although Dorothy Louise Law Nolte died in 2005, her sentiment, her wisdom in these simple words, can live on through the lessons and values we teach our children.

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Filed under Children, Family, Literature, Parenting, Someone else said, Writing