It Takes Just One Person… - 15 December 2009

I remember one day my father smashed my grandmother's glass-topped table. After that my grandmother became an eagle-eyed woman. She would very carefully check on how I was, and she would sprinkle statements to counteract what she clearly understood was going on for me — things like ‘people can overcome all sorts of things' and ‘this is not your fault'. Children are like sponges for those kinds of messages.

It takes only one person in a child's life who gives them unconditional love and acceptance and time, and I believe my grandmother is one of the reasons I survived my family situation. She showed me Dorothy Nolte's poem ‘Children Learn What They Live', which begins: "If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn." It is about how children learn from the behaviour they see rather than from what they are told. I thought about that poem a lot over the years.

 

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