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Billy King


Nonviolence News



September 2006

[Go back to related issue of Nonviolent News]

'Readings in Nonviolence' features extracts from our favourite books, pamphlets or other material on nonviolence, or reviews of important works in the field (suggestions welcome).

Young roots

- The selection here is chosen and introduced by Roberta Bacic:

Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

Taken from

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

When sharing this poem with the readers of INNATE we should also remember that what is true of children and parents is also true of people and their rulers and helps to explain the mess we are in today. Dorothy Law Nolte, the author, died in 2005 and the following obituary tells more about her and the way her poem has been used.

Dorothy Law Nolte -- author of famous parenting poem
- Valerie J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times
Monday, November 14, 2005

"Dorothy Law Nolte, whose poem crafted on deadline for a Torrance (Los Angeles County) newspaper in 1954 became -- without her knowledge -- a child-rearing anthem that parents posted on refrigerators around the world, has died. She was 81.
Mrs. Nolte, a family life educator, died Sunday of cancer at her home in Rancho Santa Margarita (Orange County) said her daughter, Lisa Mulvania.
"Children Learn What They Live," originally written to fill Mrs. Nolte's weekly family advice column in the now-defunct Torrance Herald, has been reprinted in 30 languages and probably appeared more than a few times in "Dear Abby."
Until Mrs. Nolte decided to claim ownership of the poem by basing a 1998 book on it, she never earned a dime from the work often credited to anonymous. She also hadn't realized it was so revered.
"I simply wrote it and put it out there, where it has apparently moved through the world on its own momentum," Mrs. Nolte told the Los Angeles Times earlier this year.
When she discovered in 1972 that a company that made baby-nutrition products was distributing millions of copies of the poem to new parents, Mrs. Nolte decided to copyright the work. She let the company continue to use it for free.
The book, "Children Learn What They Live," devotes a chapter to each line of the poem and is filled with examples of positive teaching. The book has been reprinted in 19 countries and 18 languages.
"The book gave her ownership of her own poem and philosophy, and it gave her a platform," said Rachel Harris, her co-author.
"Teenagers Learn What They Live" followed in 2002 in a similar format. The first chapter is titled, "If teenagers live with pressure, they learn to be stressed."
The poem profoundly touched Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan, who discovered it in a Swedish textbook and announced he planned to raise his daughter by its principles.
In Japan, the book is a best-seller, and Mrs. Nolte often travelled there to lecture on parenting. She made her last trip in July.
She was born Dorothy Louise McDaniel on Jan. 12, 1924, in Los Angeles, the only child of Cyrus, an electrician, and his wife, Olga.
Married with two children, Mrs. Nolte trained as a family counsellor in the early 1950s and constantly reinvented her career. She held parenting classes, founded a pre-school, became a childbirth-education instructor, studied the stress-relieving technique known as Rolfing and called herself "a movement awareness specialist."
After her first marriage to Durwood Law ended in divorce, she married Claude Nolte in 1959. They met in a handwriting-analysis class and remained together until his death in 1988.
"She did a wonderful job as a mother," her daughter said. "She truly tried to live up to what the poem says."
Six years ago, she finally realised a tangible benefit from the poem. With profits from the book it inspired, she bought a house in Rancho Santa Margarita.
Mrs. Nolte is survived by two daughters, two sons, eight grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. '

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