Morelia, Mich. MEXICO
I've been thinking of you a lot in the last few days especially this last Monday when my daughter Sofía presented a great piece of work at her school where she said that repression causes rebelion in young people.
She used the example of the masacre of students by the government in Mexico back in 1968, just a few days before the Olimpic Games and went all the way back to the roots of this starting with the family system and how there's no way people can apreciate and much less nurture a democratic system if most come from repressive homes, where dictatorship is the norm that is reinforced by the schooling system.
She used your Ser Padres sin Castigar to show her point and talked about your work. She also shared about how her school was making some of the same mistakes, by not listening to what students truly needed.
She invited her father and me to her presentation. Her father was deeply involved in the 68 movement and narrowly escaped a grim fate when he decided not to attend the Tlaltelolco Meeting where students were murdered by the army on October 2nd.
I was so proud to see her there Norm!!! standing there and sharing her own truth!!! One of the teachers who was there to make questions about her work, whom Sofía had openly confronted last year about his often castrating ways, praised her work and told her that it was a brilliant piece of work indeed. He asked her about what she felt about her school and whether it met the students needs and she said it wasn't enough yet because they should listen to what students truly felt and had to tell, instead of mostly teachers' only, but that at least she knew that she would not be allowed to share her feelings this way in any other school that she knew of.
I wished so much that you could have been there Norm!!! You would have loved the work she did. She's a young woman who always stands by her truth with integrity and I know that she has the tools to live her life with integrity.
How are you my dear friend? ...
I'd love to hear from you.
Lots of love from your friend
I heard you at the aTLC conference, and was surprised to find myself sobbing at the sociopathic cruelty of those that should have loved you, and my own inability to change what had happened in your past. I resolved to quit just following these abusers around when I see them out there in the act of abusing, and actually go up and say something. When I spoke to you shortly after your talk, you told me about your website and the suggestions there. I want to thank you for these very practical interventions. While it will not be easy for me, coming from my particular background to actually confront these people, it is harder not to do anything, and feel terrible about it. The things that you have suggested are good options as they give ways to address different circumstances that also can be adjusted for the assertiveness, or lack thereof, of the person who wants to intervene. Many thanks for all that you are doing, and for being an inspiration of the kind of transcending and transforming we can all do with the trauma of our lives. Please add my name to your step up signers. I will.
ANSWER: Stepper Uppers are finding personal benefits from the practice of intervening. There is more strength of purpose, of conviction, and building of more confidence, increasing courage, so it gets easier each time. All resulting in a change of self concept, i.e., self respect. One cannot STEP UP for long without an increasing sense of worthiness. One does not earn that by "minding our own business", as the perpetrators tend to advise us. - Norm
"When it came my turn to speak ... This was a peak, changing experience in my life. We are changing the world." [aTLC Santa Barbara Summit Conference]
I was delighted to read this. I knew it would be like this and that you would deeply move your audience with the power of your own example. I wish I had been there myself. I would have sure cried myself as well,... even reading your deeply moving writings make me cry.
How wonderful that you are helping make a difference for many children who perhaps wont have to go through the hell your were forced to as a child and that having gone through it has not been in vain.
I would like to have my name added to the "Step Up to Prevent Hitting" Resolution.
Do you feel that the anger a person might feel at being publicly "noticed" will be taken out on the child in private, thus adding one more "reason" for the adult to abuse the child ? Have you ever addressed this issue ? More than one person has mentioned this to me. I have thought about it too. I do think it is still necessary to "Step Up..." but fear for the ramifications for the child once they are out of my sight.
Also, is it not the ongoing availability of an enlightened witness that ultimately helps a child ? I fear my one "fleeting chance" to witness is just not enough to make a difference in the child's life or adult's thinking or actions. It is a very frustrating feeling. I'd certainly appreciate any thoughts you have on this subject.
Norm, you said on your website that you're having some medical problems and I have not seen an update. How are you feeling now ?
I would like to see more "true life" stories about how you raised your sons. The vignettes you write are very precious. Are you writing a book, or have you already written one about their upbringing ? It looks like you also have a book about your life. What is the name of your book ?
I hope you have time for a reply, if you feel up to it.
Thanking you for your wonderful work.
ANSWER: Thx for writing, and signing on to STEP UP. And apologies for my lateness. I was at a conference in Santa Barbara when your message arrived, then I spent a week visiting my son.
I'm responding on my other email service because I haven't yet learned to work the firstname.lastname@example.org properly. So use Reply [Ashley@eaznet.com] if you wish to answer. (computerwise, I'm a slow learner.)
Debbie, you express concerns that are widespread, but easily answered: There is not a modicum of evidence that a spanker/abuser increases punishment after having been admonished. I'll eventually post comments about that on the website. When a parent hits, spanks, shakes, he or she KNOWS it is wrong, even as they protest that it is the right thing to do to "discipline". They have simply lost touch with the inner humanity, and buried it with overlays of conditioning and fear.
After having been stopped, they continue reflecting on it, and at the very least they hesitate before doing it again. Perhaps more important than that, the child is defended, perhaps for the first time, and the "enlightened witness" (us) as Alice Miller terms us, provides the child with a powerful message that it is wrong to hit a child(!) The child MUST be shown that they are worth defending. So we must interfere, if for no other reason than that.
So your "fleeting chance" may be the child's chance in a lifetime. We know from experience that we are making an enormous difference, and you can too with your participation. Remember: Fear not, because anyone who would hit a child is a bully, and a bully is, by definition, a coward. Stand right up to them: That child is everybody's child, the harm you do will have to be paid for by the community.
As for heart disease, I'm on medication and herbs that seem to be working well, and I'm blessed with a wonderful physician and a host of loving and knowledgable friends. The cataract surgery for the second eye will take place on April 23rd.
My sons: On the website, "Parenting Without Punishing" is a book, and in time all 15 chapters will appear there (10 are posted at this writing). It will soon be published in hard copy and offered on the site. A previous one, "Principles of Painless Parenting", is self-published and available from me in wirebound format. (I've written others, mostly having to do with organic vegetable gardening and self-reliant living. Plus "Blithering Idiot's Guide to All A's in College".)
My autobiography Vol. One I published privately for distribution to my family/relatives only. But parts of it appear - and more later - on the website.
- Norm Lee
March 2, 2003
H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y dear Norm!
I am so sorry you have more upsetting medical news. It is horrifying that the beatings you received as a child have such a legacy, including lasting physical effects. But you showed them, didn't you! You are more clear-sighted than most of the people on this planet, and you have passed on your clear vision to countless people, saving children from physical abuse and helping many people with their own relationships with children. You are a hero.
With love and thanks,
March 2, 2003
HAPPY BIRTHDAY NORM...
Happy birthday my dear friend.... I am deeply grateful for the gift of your friendship, your hard-earned wisdom and indomitable spirit that no cruelly applied rod, nor blind and dark pedagogy could ever kill, or turn it into a frightened prisoner of somebody else's fears and blindness.
It is a gift for me as well as for many other parents worldwide and for countless very fortunate children...
and I feel grateful for the day, more than 74 years ago, when the doctor was not available to blind the light from your compassionate eyes.
February 28, 2003
I have over twenty years in the field of child development. I am currently an infant specialist, and focus primarily on promoting infant mental health. I work with parents, students and infant-toddler caregivers in various capacities. In addition, I am working on a Marriage Family Therapist License, and I am in the internship phase.
I was raised in an abusive, neglectful environment, and made a decision early on, I would change this cycle with my own children. I succeed to not repeat my parents' abuse and have three beautiful children as well as two beautiful step daughters, all of them are now young adults.
Thank you for your interest in the areas of my life that affords me the opportunity to prevent and stop adults from abusing children. - L
Hi Laurie -
It's exciting to hear of your embarking on such an adventurous career. There is so much more that's come to light about perinatal development during the past few years. I expect to learn much from the aTLC conference in Santa Barbara next month. If you've visited my website [ www.nopunish.net ] you know that I'm a survivor of abuse, now in my seventies, my sons nearly 40. I've found that as I learn better ways of parenting, it is folly to regret not having done better by my children when they were small. We need to remind ourselves that we did the best we could with what we knew then, and when we knew better, we did better. Thank you for signing on with us in the pledge to "step up" to prevent the hitting of children. Best wishes in your new career.
February 2, 2003
Dear Wizard of AZ,
So you're faced with your mortality! Be of stout (tho damaged) heart! An aspirin a day is a cheap insurance policy, along with a little dynamite in your pocket. Keep up the glass of wine too. Modern Science says it might help. (I don't follow my own advice on this one -- wine makes me sleepy and upsets my stomach, so what's the fun of that?) As for writing to do, how about that continuation of your memoirs that you've been talking about?
All is well here, tho one never knows when one's ally will tap on one's shoulder. Be of good cheer, and lift your glass high. Half full, half empty, who the hell knows? What does it matter? As for actuarial tables, my understanding is that no matter how long one lives, they're constantly updated statistically to predict a little more, then a little more, then a little more, till one becomes oneself one, i.e., a statistic....
January 31, 2003
[RE: listening to Alejandro Filio's new CD, "With Your Eyes"]
Wouldn't you say Norm that looking into your sons' eyes gave you back the beautiful child you once were? That being able to do that stopped the need of punishing anybody, including yourself? That being able to see that within your children's eyes was what gave you back your true inner essence and so there was no need to punish or abuse anybody, because you could see this gift being offered to you through your sons' eyes.?
I feel that this is what many of us often miss, when we are too blinded by the inner pain of not having been unconditionally loved. That we are so immersed within our pain, that we miss seeing our beautiful reflection within our children's eyes and keep on beleiving that we are only an abused, unloved and punished child, and keep on punishing ourselves, through punishing them, as you so clearly wrote.
Thanks for that beautiful piece of writing my dear friend.. so enlightening!!!
Please, never mind the projections I make. I do know you are no paragon parent, only someone who was capable of seeing his own beautiful inner child reflected on your children's eyes and thus stop punishing yourself for not being able to stop the horrendous abuse you once suffered, when there was just no way you could protect yourself.
Seeing what you were able to accomplish just helps me to mirror myself, my pain and it helps me stop punishing myself for not having been a perfect mother.. the perfect mother I thought, or rather my own inner wounded little girl thought she had to be, I had to be, to gain my own mother's love, which is what I have often found there is beneath my pain and my compulsion to punish myself.... beneath the huge panic I feel rising so often when I am with my children.
January 15, 2003
How delightful to visit your website again. I am so glad for you and for the many, many people who will surely benefit from it... but very especially for the countless children I know, will be able to have very different lives from what most of us got.
This is a long and painful process that sometimes seems to take forever without seeing any evident change. But I agree with Lloyd that changes ARE indeed happening, even if at what sometimes would seem like too low speed. I am pretty sure that my own parents improved with us the way they had been brought up by their parents, just as I myself have changed many things from the way I was brought up and my children will sure help to make a difference in this generational chain of pain, with their grain of sand helping to turn it into one of love, at their own pace. I always have tears in my eyes when reading those wonderfully written and deeply moving pages about your childhood Norm and the life long struggle to become whole again and to reclaim your true essence, which has never left you, or you would not be doing what you are doing now and being the kind of loving and compassionate man you are today. Who could tell that that little terrified, terrorized and battered boy would achieve what you have Norm!
It is encouraging to see that it can be done and that the indomitable human spirit can survive and even thrive despite such beginings. It is also painful to realize that many are not so fortunate and do not make it.
I always wonder about what it is that makes the difference for some and not for others. How for many of those deeply wounded and battered children, even life long years of therapy can only but keep them barely out of jail or from the asylum, but not help them to trascend the destructive madness of the unresolved rage, that seems to never leave their hearts, in a never ending embrace of deadly terror and distrust, keeping the old wound open by never trascending that pain understanding that is all in the past, and that it is not what we are today, in the hear and now of our present lives.
It sure is a pleasure and an honor for me to be allowed to add my grain of sand to your efforts in that website, dear friend.
Thanks for your very supporting emails to me. They mean a lot to me.
I will keep contributing to your efforts with my translating skills. It means a very pleasurable break from my daily tasks.
January 14, 2003
I am so grateful for your efforts. Clearly, your horrible early experience was a crucible and you were brought to everything you needed, including a practice, to effectuate change. I hope you don't [mind] me commenting about your life, but it is wholly positive and intended to support.
Your comments to me about a year ago when I was with the website -- the offshoot of Alice Miller's work -- were dear and touching. I also have made some good lemonade, though I in no way wish to trivialize my own difficult childhood.
The new website is terrific. I am glad for your autobiographical material.
Every week I watch in wonder at not only at the names from all over the world added to the list but people's experience and courage.
Do you recall or have anywhere how to locate Kafka's extraordinary letter to his father?
I look forward to each missive you send.