The Norm Letters #3, #2 and #1

The Norm Letter #3
May 2012
Fear cannot be without hope,
Nor hope without fear.
    - Baruch Spinoza


Laura writes: I got your information through Jordan Riak's PTAVE newsletter. I am a family therapist and often offer workshops on relationship based parenting (no punishments and no rewards) and democratic, student led schooling. I would very much appreciate receiving your newsletter.

NL: Glad youíre among us, Laura. This sad world needs more therapists and many more self-educated youth.

Kirby Mihalakis says: Hi, where is the rest of "A Stranger and Afraid" It was a very interesting read. I used to be involved with CASA (court appointed special advocates) I wasn't a CASA but I always "Adopted" Several children at christmas. But about a year ago (a little more) I became the Exec Dir of SUFK Houston. Its been a great year and so great to be able to help these kids. We do street outreach one evening per week and we have a drop in center one evening per week where we all sit down and have dinner. We bring lots of clothing and supplies with us so that the kids can get some new stuff. We have computers there and some kids are studying for their GEDs and some are applying for jobs. Our volunteers help with all of this.

Looking forward to reading more of your reports. Thanks

[later] We operate in almost 30 cities nationwide.

Kirby Mihalakis
Executive Director
StandUp For Kids Houston

NL: "A Stranger and Afraid" was written for my sons and sent to family members to share family history. It was never intended for public consumption, tho I posted a bit of it on my website so visitors would get a sense that there is a human being here.

I'm delighted and excited about your work in Houston.

Boyer August, Ed. D. sends his brochure:

A California, Non-Profit, Corporation Serving The Community Since 1978

Did You Know That It Is Illegal When:

  • You Are Embarrassed By A Teacher In Front Of The Class?
  • You Serve Detention During Lunch Or On Saturday?
  • You Are Given Laps Or Pushups As A Punishment?
  • You Are Not Allowed To Go To The Bathroom?
  • You Are Locked Out Of Class?
  • You Pay For Parking Spaces?

Please send your Norm Report and Norm Letter 2.

Thanks for your very important work!

With Blessings, Boyer

Boyer P. August, Ed. D.
Teacher, Administrator,
Therapist, Educational Consultant

[LATER] Norm, You have had a very trying, interesting and resurrected life. I am so sorry for all the pain, but your response has been an extraordinary journey! I love the blues piano, singing and dancing.

I have known Jordan [Riak] and his work, for about 30 years. He lives in Alamo CA and I use to live in Danville, a neighboring city which is in the same school district which fired me in 1970 because I was advocating for the rights of children while at school. That encounter closed all the administrative doors to my hopes to be a high school principal. I sued and was in court for 15 years eventually being vindicated by the California State Supreme and the United States Supreme Courts, but never being allowed to continue my position as a high sch school Dean of Boy/Assistant Principal .

My work as a teacher and a therapist the last 47 years has been to continue as a proponent for the educational rights of children. I continue to consul students, parents, educators and the public in this area and have published a handbook on student rights since 1975. Send me your address and I will mail you a copy. With Hope Always, Boyer

NL: Your book "Handbook on Student Rights and Responsibilities" is so powerful and exciting that I neglected garden tending, dishes in the sink, even skipped a "Mentalist" program so absorbed I was. Recognizing the legal decisions that affected my students as I labored in the teaching "dodge" took me back to memory lane. The book surely was a gawdawful bunch of work for you, and I so much appreciate it.

I moved to California three years ago, and Iím grateful and impressed that California is leagues ahead - in matters of freedom & studentsí rights Ė than, say, Arizona, where I lived among the brain-dead for twelve years. The revered school superintendent, his doctorate from BYU, kept a paddle under his desk to swat middle schoolers. When I kept challenging him at board meetings, he leaped from his chair to attack/silence me. Youíd have loved it.

Your book reads like a novel. Thank you again.

Sherryl asks: WHERE would we humans have gone
Without violence
Our stories would be as the gentle fairy tale
With love and laughter
Sharing and caring
With patience - sherryl-annette

NL: Refraining from abusing children does not take patience, Sherryl. It takes the understanding that kids are NOT born in "sin", (the worst lie of the churchianity), but born full of GOODNESS & WISDOM. When impatience raises its ugly head, itís time for YOU to take a time out. Then remember that itís YOU who needs changing, not the kids. Punishment is inflicted for normal behavior. Do some homework and learn what normal child behavior is Ė or it will soon change to abnormal. (The irony: Parents CAUSE misbehavior, then punish for it.)

Jeff writes: I read all the chapters of your book, thoroughly enjoying the excitement of the possibility of what it would be like. My question is - how do you do it? Is there an outline somewhere of how to set up and run the family meetings? Best, ---

NL: It takes time and effort, but openness of mind above all. I wrote a whole book to respond to questions such as yours. If you understood what I was saying you would not be asking how I did it.

Re-read it, this time dropping your assumptions and prejudices about what you think you know about childrearing. Go to Chapter Five, on discipline. Let go of the notion that the child has to be "disciplined". The PARENT is the one who lacks discipline - and I don't mean patience. The essential task is to develop insight into the nature of a child - any child. You don't give me a clue, but I'm supposing you are talking about small children. In the book I describe how to conduct family meetings. Go back and read about it. Did you notice that at the end of each chapter there is an anecdote illustrating HOW to treat children without punishing them?

No, this is not your best.

Suggestion: go to a used bookstore and find a copy of A. S. Neill's "Summerhill". Pay whatever the store asks, and give them a generous tip.

Then read it, and read it again, until you can see what we're talking about.

Hint: We're talking not about changing kids, we're talking about changing ourselves. The kids are fine, it's we "grown-ups" that are f**ked up.

Sara says: Thank you so much! I have downloaded the Parenting without Punishing book and I thank you so much for it. My daughter is six. We have never used corporal punishment in our home, but I want to work more on patience and how we speak to one another, particularly my husband and me to her.

She did attend an early childhood program briefly during ages three and four; she was premature and her developmental team/therapists suggested it and against my better judgement I let her in. Now that is one of my biggest regrets as a parent and she no longer attends a program where she gets "time outs" daily for normal child behavior. She attended for three hours per day, four days a week, and it still produced such a shocking noticeable change in her that I learned to follow my own instincts rather than such expert advice again... I look forward to reading through your book and all of the past newsletters; I have also bookmarked Holt's Growing Without Schooling and have been reading through them, as well as his books and those of Alfie Kohn. Thank you so much, again, I really appreciate your help and the work you do!

NL: See above. I have seen countless beautiful, sweet children twisted out of shape Ė physically & emotionally Ė by clueless, immature parents, which explains why Iíve worked pro bono for over forty years to change it.

Paul Goodman called it "Compulsory Mis-Education" in his book by that name. Sending your child to public school is handing him/her over to be conditioned by the government. See the last two chapters of PWP. - Norm

List addresses are never sold, exchanged or shared. If you wish to be added to the mailing list for this NORM LETTER send name, e-mail address, and general location (state, city, or country), with "Please subscribe" in the subject box, to . If you have received this by mistake, and/or it is unwelcome, simply click Reply and type "Please remove" in the Subject box. Unless specifically requested otherewise therein, your e-mails to me will be considered for inclusion in The Norm Letter. - nl

The Norm Letter - #2

April 2012
E-mail: Norm Leeís Website:

Over 36,707 visits

To have The Norm Letter emailed to you, please send your name and email address to

Everyone thinks of changing the world,
but no one thinks of changing himself.

- Leo Tolstoy

Hello everybody -

So many messages came in thereís hardly room for them all. But Iíll try.

Hi Norm.....
So glad to see the newsletter !
Your birthday present to all of us !!
Thank you. - Deborah

How did you know?

- Norm

I think a two-way is brilliant and that you will be deluged with requests and comments, Norm... do you have time and energy to give to this now? You have a few challenges including the situation referred to as old age, I surmise. You are a tough old bastard, clearly, and it looks good on you. I appreciate so much any writing you have time to share.... Every time I find myself in a discussion regarding parenting or kids and adults together, I refer to several authors, and you are there.... the work goes on.... so glad to hear your voice again....
love from B.C.

- Brian

You are back from teaching in Thailand, dear friend. Good to hear from you.

From Norm

Hey Bro Norm,
I like your tenacity and perseverance related to "Parenting Without Punishing" and applaud the work you have put into the cause for children all these years. The family as we know it, is disintegrating, or worse, has disintegrated, and one wonders if there's any going back. Best not to go back if you look at our case! Of course, we 3 were victims of the worst kind of abuse ...
- Lila H

Thank you, sister Lila.

- Norm

Hello Norm,
Glad to hear you are feeling better.
STOP Corporal Punishment in Schools

- Annette

Right. We got half the States to ban CP in schools already, thanks to the indefatigable Jordan Riak ( and persistent childrenís advocates like him. It took only 40 years.

- Norm

Dear Norm,

I have had a similar experience in raising 2 sons in the 60's as you did. I learned my democratic child-rearing techniques from Rudolph Dreikurs. I attended classes to learn from his book,"Children: The Challenge." I then taught the courses and practiced that beautiful lesson of RESPECT, RESPECT on my sons. It is now 50 years later and MY experiment worked perfectly. I have one son with a Ph.D, was a professor and who has a wonderful family in Brisbane, Australia. My other son not only has a Ph.D and was a professor... but then got a Law degree from Stanford and has a beautiful family. His eldest son is entering Harvard in the fall. Yes, it works! And then it passes down to the next generation! As violence passes down does a family atmosphere based on respect, as you know! Since the 60's I have voraciously and obsessively studied every scrap of info about child abuse specifically and what causes human behavior in general. I have read Jordan Riak's website for many years getting reference sites on this most important subject. I am so glad to hear about you and your work to give parents a plan to follow after they give up the horrendous traditional punitive methods. I have personally concluded after 50 years of study that this form of parenting and religious-based "discipline" is responsible for most of the "EVIL" in the world.

So, here is my e-mail address and name. It is easy for me to think that no one else in the world understands this basic concept of treating children like one would like to be treated. I am so glad that I have now found another concerned person. Future generations need exposure to this tradition-rejecting new way of treating our most vulnerable children. Thank you for caring to do this work.

- Barbara T

It is not often, rarely, actually, to hear from someone who has tumbled on to the Truth of childrearing without punishing. Iím delighted to hear from you, Barbara, and we need to hear more of your story. Like, how did you happen to find Dreikurs? I had not read him, nor Adler. It was A. S. Neill who showed me that it is best to throw out punishment, and John Holt who said toss out praise as well, and go with trust and respect. That was 1961.

- Norm

Welcome Back Norm! Still enjoy your letter.

Something to share:

I recommend: Sharon Salzburg's Book: The Force of Kindness. Sharon teaches meditation in the Buddhist tradition and a favorit excerpt from this book is:

"When we are dedicated to the development of kindness, we are no longer forcing ourselves into a mold we think we have to occupy; rather it becomes a movement of the heart so deep and subtle that it is like a movement of the sea close to the ocean floor, all but hidden but affecting absolutely everything that happens above. That--is the force of kindness."

- Isabelle

Sharon has much to teach us, profound wisdom to guide us if we will only do the practice. I read her in the Shambhala Sun magazine. Good to hear from you, Isabelle

- Norm

From Leslie W.:

I tried to teach my child with books.
He gave me only puzzled looks.
I tried to teach my child with words.
They passed him by often unheard.
Despairingly, I turned aside.
"How shall I teach this child?" I cried.
Into my hand he put the key
"Come," he said, "play with me."

- Unknown poet

Beautiful! Thank you. I say to young mothers, "It is not yours to teach. It is the child who teaches, if you can only learn it. THEY are the experts on children and childhood.

- Norm

Dear Norm,

I just discovered your website and am very interested in it. We have never spanked but sometimes do get a bit anxious when we just don't know what to do about certain things. It's sad to say but when you don't spank, bribe, punish, reward, criticize, insult or threaten... sometimes you just don't know what to do!

I would like to receive The Norm Report, please, and would also like to know if your book is published so that I can get a copy of it. I really appreciate you giving it out for free (I believe that is the best way to make a change in the world!) but it is much easier for me to read if I have it in book format. If it's not possible I'll definitely print it out :).

Thank you for everything,

- Linda

"Parenting Without Punishing" is out of print, but is posted on my website, available for downloading and printing without charge. You donít know what to do? You have to jettison the idea that you need to teach the child. Almost all misbehavior is caused by the parents, and most all punishment is for normal child behavior. We grownups donít know enuf to stop issuing orders, better we should watch and learn. The child is born full of wisdom, as we once were, but were layered over with the parent/school/church/society conditioning in what we "should" be. The child is the expert on children and childrearing. It is ours to set aside our self-importance.

- Norm

The Norm Letter - #1

Hello Again

When I appeared to jump ship last April, what happened was I was struck down by emphysema. For a couple months there I struggled, all day and all night Ė to breathe. It was like relentless days and nights gasping for lilfeís oxygen, like, I imagine, waterboarding. My son took me to the VA hospitalís ER in Palo Alto, and got me on my feet again. This disease adds to my list of battles with diabetes, congestive heart failure, and cancer.

Am I complaining? Hell, no. Grateful Norm passed his allotted "three-score years and ten" way back thirteen years ago. According to insurance, life expectancy Ė 74,4 years - my "death day" was July 25, 2003. So for nine years every day since then has been gravy.

More Cheerful News

There were during those months, numbers of emails inquiring about my health and urging me to pick up again on The Norm Report. To my surprise, the counter added over three thousand visits to my website during my absence. That fact, more than any other, brings me back to this keyboard.

Visitors to my website, found that over 100 Norm Reports offer plenty to consider about civil ways to treat children, showing the difference between decent parenting and junk parenting. None go out of date. Many of those reports can be found by clicking The Norm Report Archive.

This offers an opportunity to make certain changes I think weíre ready for.

Moving forward, I plan to widen the subject matter here to include more issues that are vital to our lives, altho we all know that everything we do and view relates to our relationship with the next generation. My thinking now is that it may be a good idea to urge you good people to provide feedback to share. Altho Iím accustomed to the regular column format, why not try a two-way discussion? What do you think about that?

This is Getting Old

Two years before my birth "Lucky" Charles Lindberg flew solo across the Atlantic, and landed at night outside Paris as dozens of excited Parisians shined their auto headlights on the landing field. On his return to New York he was even more surprised by the massive ticker tape parade the City gave him.

Two weeks before my birth Chicago gangster Al Capone, having a dislike for the rival gangís horning in on his booze racket, tricked them into a "peace meeting". Leave your weapons home, he asked them, as this is a friendly chat. Then he lined them up in a neat row and machine-gunned down the lot of them. Moral: Never trust a gangster.

On the day I was born, gas lighting in the front room and kerosene or wood stoves in the kitchen were common. And Henry Fordís Model Tís, soon to be replaced with Model Aís, were scaring horses on ubiquitous and muddy dirt roads.

Six months after my birth, the Wall Streetís stock market crashed, beginning ten years of The Great Depression. And that was the easy part of my earliest years.

But enuf of this. Time to plant food garden again. Click Archive and scroll down to Norm Report Month 108, March í11 for info on spring planting. - Norm

TOGETHER, WE CAN STOP THE MALTREATMENT OF CHILDREN. There is nothing sold here, nothing to buy. This information is Copyright 2012 by Norm Lee, and offered here free of charge. Commercial use of this material, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited. Permission is here given to forward a complete document, and/or to print complete copies for friends WITHOUT CHARGE to them. All quoting must provide source, author, and website List addresses are never sold, exchanged or shared. If you wish to be added to the mailing list for this NORM LETTER e-letter, send name, e-mail address, and general location (state, city, or country), with "Please subscribe" in the subject box, to . If you have received this by mistake, and/or it is unwelcome, simply click Reply and type "Please remove" in the Subject box.

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