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Articles > Marriage and Family: > Children Learn What They Live

Children Learn What They Live

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."1

Change is rarely easy. In fact it can be very difficult to change the patterns learned in our developmental years. Solomon noted the importance of early training some 3,000 years ago. Dorothy Law Nolte explained it rather precisely in the following words:

   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 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.2

It hardly needs saying that we need to be very loving in the way we bring up our children. But what if we, as adults, didn't receive loving, wholesome training as a child ourselves? Can we change? Yes, if we truly want to and are willing to accept responsibility for doing what we need to do to change.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, knowing that my parents did the best they knew how, help me never to blame them for any problems I have, and please give me the desire to keep growing so I become a warm, loving, accepting adult/parent. And please lead me to the help I need to overcome the effects of any deficiencies in my childhood upbringing. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus’s name, amen.”

1. Solomon (Proverbs 22:6).
2. Adapted from "Children Learn What They Live" by Dorothy Law Nolte. See


All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.

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