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Knowledge is not information,
it's transformation.


Knowing something is not enough. That knowledge has to be brought into our lives in some practical way. That is why establishing a relationship with parents as a parent educator is more important than throwing books at them. I created FireWorks (a "conversational course" on anger management in adult-child relationships) with that goal in mind.

My child,
In the life ahead of you, keep your capacity for faith and belief, but let your judgment watch what you believe.
Keep your love of life, but throw away your fear of death. Life must be loved or it is lost, but it should never be loved too well.
Keep your wonder at great and noble things, like sunlight and thunder, the rain and the stars, and the greatness of heroes.
Keep your heart hungry for new knowledge. Keep your hatred of a lie, and keep your power of indignation. . .
I am ashamed to leave you an uncomfortable world, but someday it will be better.
And when that day comes, you will thank God for the greatest blessing man can receive, living in peace.

Letter from an executed Yugoslav partisan to his unborn child in World War II
The best exersize for strengthening the heart is reaching down and lifting people up. Ernest Blevins
We need to think more about "we" and a little less of "me." Taking time to care is what makes us humane and... stronger.
A ship in harbor is safe--but that is not what ships are for. John A. Shedd
Seeing a child leave the family harbor to sail in the world can be scary. We know there are storms and pirates out there that they will have to face. We can cheer them on from shore, but our children must ultimately do their sailing on their own.
Man's maturity is to regain the seriousness that he had as a child at play. Nietzche
Let's hope that all parents rediscover the greatness of play this holiday season. The best gift children can receive is their parents' presence.
...character does not require religious faith. But it does require the conviction of truth made sacred, abiding as an authoritative presence within consciousness and life, reinforced by habits institutionalized within a moral community. James Davidson Hunter, The Death of Character: Moral Education in an Age Without Good or Evil
Moral ambiguity does not benefit young children. If we want our children to learn to care about and for others, they have to see and hear the message from adults who are a part of their world that all life is sacred and worthy of respect and care. Hitting hurts and will not be tolerated. Clear messages about such matters can be reexplored as the child grows older. There may be times when you have to hit to defend yourself or to stop someone else from being seriously harmed by another. But these adjustments are beyond a young child's comprehension.
Injustice, swift, erect, and unconfined,
Sweeps the wide earth, and tramples o'er mankind.
Homer, Iliad

I think most citizens feel discouraged about the state of juvenile justice in our country. Most people, I believe, have little confidence that juveniles who are brought before the courts will be faced with experiences that will impress upon them the pain they have caused their victims. Nor will they receive the professional services necessary to enable them to become more responsible and caring citizens.
I can't say I was ever lost, but I was bewildered once for three days. Daniel Boone
Raising a child can be bewildering at times. There are moments when we might feel lost. But if we stop and think and talk to someone we can trust we might discover the right path to take.
If at critical times man's inhumanity to man seemed to gain ascendency, there has always been a Hillel, a Francis of Assisi, a Pasteur, a Nightengale to remind us that the chief intimation of our immortality is our unique human power for loving our fellow man.
Our approach to childrearing depends significantly on our assumptions about human nature. A parent who believes a child is born with an aggressive, selfish nature will view the imposition of authority as necessary to control such impulses. The parent who believes a child is born with an inclination to be kind will view authority as a form of shaping and giving substance to what the child has to offer. Each of these views (and the full range between them) are viewed as "truth" to those who hold them.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller
This is the challenge for so many parents. We have to look beyond words and actions to understand what our children are trying to tell us. The closed heart can never really know a child. The open heart invites a child to enter our life. Without it, our children will be strangers, forever lost to us in a personal way.
The principal thing in the world is to keep the soul aloft. Gustave Flaubert
I consider soul to be an inner quality of life that gives vitality, energy, and love. Soul makes us human. When we meet someone like this we think of the other as having soul, as being soulful. Someone who is trying to understand him or herself better is engaged in soul-searching. I think some parents (and children as well) can become so discouraged, so disenheartened that they lose this core vitality. They give up, pull back, retreat from life and from accountability.
We live in an age when tragedy does not have heroes, only victims. Roger Ebert
Consider the shootings last year at Columbine. Did you read about or hear from any adult in any position related in some way to that situation accept any kind of regret regarding their role in the tragedy? All we heard and saw was finger pointing. The parents, the principle, the teachers, guidance counselors, law enforcement--where were the heroes? It is much easier to play the role of victim than to stand up courageously and, if need be, accept the consequences of our decisions.
The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore. Vincent vanGogh
Parents have a lot in common with fishermen. They both set out for the unknown when they begin, knowing full well that they will face storms and high seas just over the horizon. Each knows that the challenges they will face will be a true test of their character. But they know that a noble and worthy goal is worth the risk.
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts. These are only hints and guesses,
Hints followed by guesses and the rest
Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.
The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation.
T. S. Eliot, "Dry Salvages" from Four Quartets

Who are our children? Can we as parents go beyond the "hint half-guessed," the "gift half understood"? We have a lifetime of yearning and searching to discover the real person we helped bring into the world.
He gives not best who gives most; but he gives most who gives best. If I cannot give bountifully, yet I will give freely, and what I lack in my hand, I will supply by my heart. Arthur Warwick
In our materialistic world, we should never forget that the most important thing we can give children is our time, a part of our heart.
Stay, stay at home, my heart and rest; Homekeeping hearts are happiest. Longfellow
Let's salute all those parents who manage, despite the demands of work and other life pressures, to create space and time children can call home. To those moms and dads who cannot be home as often as they wish--your children will learn to appreciate your sacrifice of absence. Appreciation should also go to those who have made the choice to be a significant part of their children's lives.
If you can't fight, and you can't flee, flow. Robert Eliot
The ability to "flow" is a talent most parents need. If you have a difficult to manage child, then flowing is often much better than fighting. Sometimes we have to adapt to the child we have and give up the need to change. Knowing when to do each is an important part of the skill.
He alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.
Kahil Gibran

On several occasions the real meaning of these words was brought home to me because of the little kindnesses of my children. A very snug hug, a gentle kiss, a word of encouragment can touch us with that sweet song.
I find my joy of living in the fierce and ruthless battles of life. August Strindberg
If you have a "difficult to manage" child you might want to tape a copy of this quote on your bathroom mirror. Sure it's tough. But what could be more important in life?
You cannot always have happiness, but you can always give happiness. Anon
Being a parent can be at its most rewarding when we bring a bright smile to a child's face. What a wonderful recognition that our lives mean something. Small wonder that so many elders in nursing homes benefit from visits with children. How rewarding it must be to make a difference in bringing some joy, no matter how small, into a child's life.
The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart. Robert G. Ingersoll
I think it takes a lot of courage to be a parent today. Raising a child is indeed a test of courage. We all make our share of mistakes. So do our children. Sometimes the best we can do is to look ahead while we keep our heads up.
No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit. Helen Keller
And I would add to the list: ...raised a happy child. Despite whatever setback we may experience or the discouragement we may feel, we can look to the future optimistically. We can face the truth with faith.
You can understand and relate to most people better if you look at them--no matter how old or impressive they may be--as if they are children. For most of us never really grow up or mature all that much--we simply grow taller. Oh, to be sure, we laugh less and play less and wear uncomfortable disguises like adults, but beneath the costume is the child we always are, whose needs are simple, whose daily life is still best described by fairy tales. Leo Rosten
In Basic Parenting workshops, a strong emphasis is given to playful learning. Sometimes the best way to "teach" is to reach out to the childlike capacity of parents. It is on this ground that parents can connect with the experience of their children.
O summer friendship, whose flattering leaves shadowed us in our prosperity, With the least gust, drop off in the autumn of adversity. Philip Massinger
Autumn, if not winter, arrives in the life of every parent. We all need someone to hear our stories during those difficult times. Many parents have no one to talk to who will listen and provide encouragement. Parents of handicapped children are especially vulnerable to isolation. Initial good will and support can evaporate quickly when a parent has to face a daily struggle.
Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars. Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
Trying to find the right words to tell our children what we think and feel can be a difficult task. A young child may not understand the words we want to use. An older child may not want to listen. The best approach for a young child may be the best approach for any age: get the idea clearly in one's mind, convert it into simple descriptive words, and then say them with conviction. It's the simple tune that lingers in the mind.
Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul./ Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal. Pamela Vaull Starr
Creating a positive image of one's own future begins during the preschool years. "Being realistic" is not important at this point. What is important is that children are learning how to hope and envision a positive future for themselves. It can be difficult for some parents to affirm the child's image of what that bright future might be.
There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle. Charles A. Beard
The love we have for our children can sometimes be like that candle. The small flame continues despite the darkness--the discouragement, the worry, the self-doubt. Sometimes all a child may need is that light to get through difficult times.
Neither in environment nor in heredity can I find the exact instrument that fashioned me, the anonymous roller that passed upon my life a certain intricate watermark whose unique design becomes visible when the lamp of art is made to shine through life's foolcap. Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory
According to a Jewish legend, the evidence for forgetting the soul's preconceptual mission is pressed right into our upper lip. That little crevice below our nose is where the angel pressed its forefinger to seal our lips. As we shape a new insight or regain a lost thought, our fingers often go up to that special indent. Are we really nothing more than the cumulative effects of our environment interacting with our biology? Can everything special about us be explained away by the biologists and behaviorists? As a parent, I found myself on numerous occasions wondering about my children: Where did they get this talent, this love of something, this yearning to achieve something unique and quite different from their parents? Read The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling by respected psychologist James Hillman.
Our minds can shape the way a thing will be because we act according to our expectations. Federico Fellini
A feeling of powerlessness is often accompanyed by an impression that events outside of ourselves are taking charge. We may feel as though the world is spinning out of control. We may retreat, believing there is little or nothing we can do to change a situation. Fellini might suggest, though, that we write our own life scripts. Children too have a role to play in our drama. They are vulnerable to losing sight of themselves by working hard to live up to the expectations of parents they love.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Philo
Snap judgements are easy to make about parents who are struggling to raise their children. What we all need, though, is more understanding and kindness and less criticism. Each of us at some point in time will make mistakes under stress. Parents do that too. Standing back up, facing a problem, and making changes in one's life is difficult at any time. No one is lifted up by the discouraging stares of a critical audience. Allies, not enemies--that's what we all need.
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Author Informationhttp://www.ksu.edu/wwparent/quotes.htm-- Revised: February 26, 2002
Copyright © 1996-2002 Charles A. Smith. All rights reserved.