The single most important skill for any human being, parenting.

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If a child lives with encouragement, he or she learns to be confident…what words does your child live by?

My daughter’s school is about to have a new head teacher and last week he spoke to parents.  He emphasised discipline, learning and parent support as the 3 cornerstones he believes combine to produce great kids.

I loved the bit about discipline as I am a bit old-school (and was in the military).  Although he did not advocate the cane which I suppose means we really have moved forward since my day (and for those concerned, I am joking).

I often feel, as a single dad, my discipline is actually lacking.  I can be a bit soft on my “precious little girl”.  It would be interesting to know her views on that.

The part about learning was also great as he drew the link between teaching and enabling children to learn.  Again, reflecting on my schooling, if it went up on the ‘black’-board it was up to me to remember it.

But the part that really resonated and got my attention was about parent support.

Today, many children are brought up by one working parent or two parents, but both working full time.

It is a tough world, economically, especially at the moment.

Working and earning a living is certainly a huge priority, so in the time we commit to being a parent, it is essential we make the best use of that time.

So how and where are we to learn parenting?  A recent article by a great friend of mine, Kirri White, on Motherhood, an idea arose for leadership training for parents.

Well its a thought…

But our new headmaster had a wonderful way of offering that training in a few short lines.  He quoted a poem by Dorothy Louise Law Nolte (1924 – 2005).

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 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…


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?

I loved to hear these words and it brought a lump to my throat.  Just a brilliant way of describing why we should act a certain way at home.

Tired and irritable after a tough day working, working on my own and so sometimes feeling isolated, perhaps some things my daughter has left around the house (probably on the floor), still the washing up or laundry to do…

But now, by the front door so I can glance at these amazing lines as I open the door for her return from school…

How can I not show her the tolerance and praise she deserves?

I would love you to tell me which word from this poem sticks out most for you in your amazing role of parent.


Amusing Post Script:  In the Royal Navy, our discipline was guided by a book called the Queens Regulations for the Royal Navy (QRRN).  In this ‘bible’ were words that are also appropriate for Dorothy Nolte who wrote her poem before the days of political correctness (her reference to “he” throughout)…QRRN stated that “within this text, the male embraces the female”

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  1. kirri
    5 years ago

    That’s a beautiful poem! I try to approach parenting in the same way I aspire to build all meaningful relationships – from a place of positivity. If I had to choose one word that really resonates for my parenting style, I would pick ‘acceptance’…and encouragement’. (Sorry, Im just learning to enjoy breaking the rules!).

    If acceptance breeds love, it also leads to self-love and that is something that I want my daughters to hold onto and to embolden in others. As for encouragement, it is a great way of motivating and building self-confidence. When kids are encouraged to experience, experiment and feel safe to make mistakes, they bloom and learn that the world is both challenging and exciting and that they are wired to deal with anything that comes their way.

    A valuable article Terry…Thanks for the shout-out 🙂

    • Theresa
      5 years ago

      Would like to share my experience with my son last night.
      We were having one of those challenging family moments and he was not happy with what he was receiving from me.
      There was no argument but a bit of a wobble in the air.
      He approached me and asked me if he could say something. I gave him time to share what he wanted to say. The things he said I felt were not correct and we did have a discussion. I disagreed with his comments and we agreed to disagree.
      I then reflected on the situation.
      I am very proud that he is able to come to me and share his feelings and have the ability to have a view and opinion.
      I also shared that with him that evening. Credit where credit due. 🙂 Joys of being a mum of young men. I LOVE IT.
      Theresa recently posted..The single most important skill for any human being, parenting.My Profile

  2. Martine@themodernparent
    5 years ago

    I think for me security is a word that stands out in the poem. Things like tolerance, acceptance, praise, friendliness and fairness are all so important but sometimes the nature of our world means that these things are not always going to be. If one is secure within themselves and in their place in the world however, then they have a far better chance of coping and thriving when these things are lacking or they are presented with challenges that threaten these notions. As a parent therefore, giving our children unconditional love, guidance and boundaries will hopefully ensure that they are able to experience all those things but most importantly feel secure about their ability to lead happy and successful lives.

    • Terry
      5 years ago

      Thnx, Martine for dropping by. (Love your blog, by the way.)

      Security, yes so vital, particularly in the face of some violent times. But I appreciate you mean more than just physical security. Peace of mind from being in an emotionally safe environment. We may not be able to protect our children on the streets, but we can instill a sense of being that will give them every chance.

      Your boys are lucky!
      Terry recently posted..The single most important skill for any human being, parenting.My Profile

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