There cannot be a better ending to the week-long deliberations on ‘parenting’ than quoting Dorothy Law Nolte, a lifelong teacher and lecturer on family dynamics, who presents a simple but powerful guide to parenting: instilling values through example. Here are Dorothy’s words:

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.

Each of these 19 couplets shouts aloud what each child wants his/her parents to understand. The Psalmist writes, “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.” Children are God’s gifts to be treasured by parents. What they experience in their daily walk with their parents, teaches them more than the verbal instructions that are imparted to them. Hence it is important for parents to understand that every child is uniquely gifted and has unique demands. The ‘all size fits one’ adage does not apply to children. Each child needs to be treated differently. Some need more assurance than others, while some need more outward tokens of approval than others. Parents need to identify the unique needs of their children and nurture them accordingly.

Children belonging to ‘single-parent families’ and children with ‘special needs’ need extra helpings of love and understanding so that they grow up to become confident well-adjusted adults. As adults, we also need to be sensitive towards the deprived children around us who are practically adults in the bodies of children, to whose parents these words of parenting would seem useless even as they struggle for one square meal per day. We may not be able to restore their childhood completely, but who knows, our kind gestures may go a long way in making a difference in the lives of these children.

Parents, cherish the heritage entrusted into your hands. Nurture them well. And, when they are fully bloomed, they will thank their Creator for the parents you have been to them!

  • Rajnandini Sahu