Last week I started discussing the analogy between child raising and gardening. Here’s part two of that series.
After you have your little seeds in the ground you get to enjoy the next phase of gardening, weeding & watering. This phase seems so much easier than the previous two phases, but if these simple tasks are neglected, your garden can be ruined.
Water is essential for a garden to grow and though it seems like watering a garden is a pretty simple task, it takes more planning and foresight than you might think. You cannot wait until the sun is out and beating down on your tender shoots to bring out the sprinkler. Those plants needs their roots to be soaked in water before the sun even hits them. I remember my dad, who taught me everything I know about gardening, would go out to his garden each morning before the sun came up to make sure his plants got the water they needed for the day. For our children, water equals love and nurturing. We have to make sure that their roots are soaked in our love and in the knowledge of the love of the Father. This is done is so many ways daily that’s there’s too many to mention. However I will say that just saying, “I love you” does not cut it. Your kids must know beyond a doubt that you love them so that even when you are disciplining them they know you still love them. Like with the garden, this is where the strategic part comes in. It’s easy to cuddle with and demonstrate love to my daughter when she’s cute and well behaved. It is more difficult, however, when she’s throwing a fit in front of the checkout lady at Target, or when she refuses to go to sleep at four in the morning! But when I love her at these times by not lashing out in frustration and anger I am speaking volumes to her about how much I love her.
As we pour love into our children they will flourish in their personalities and talents and be confident in who they are. This is so vital to their growth and healthy development. When times of challenge, frustration, and questioning arise in their lives, as is normal and healthy, they will do well because of the love they know. That’s not to say there won’t be challenging times when they struggle, but that in the end they will come out stronger and healthier instead of weak and wilted.
Our garden sprouts are not the only ones that will take advantage of the good soil and water we’ve provided for them. Weeds are terrible at quickly sprouting up and taking over an entire garden plot. Weeding is a labor-some and irritating task, but if neglected those weeds can quickly choke out the life of our little plants. Until our plants are big enough to no longer be threatened by weeds, we must fight these irritations for them. As a kid one of my summer chores was to weed the garden. I HATED this task because it took so long to do right, and my dad insisted that we do it right. It was easy to rush through the rows and pull the weeds, most of which just broke off at the top, leaving the roots still in the ground. This was the wrong way to weed because though it looked okay from above ground, the roots, the real source of the problem, still lay below, just waiting to sprout again. My dad taught us to loosen the soil, use a spade if necessary, and get the tops and the roots out. You can imagine how much longer this took for a twelve-year-old whose aching to go climb a tree! Another important lesson my dad taught us was that it’s so much easier to get a weed out when it is little than waiting until it gets bigger.
Weeding is rich with analogies to raising our kids, I’m sure you’ve already connect most of them. In our children’s lives weeds can be thought patterns, behaviours, and external influences that, if left untended, can choke the life from our kids. At first they don’t seem that threatening, maybe even cute. What harm can such a little behaviour have? But if we fall into that thinking and don’t stop those actions when they are small, we’ll have so much more work when they have grown and gathered strength. Often a behaviour is the top of the plant and the roots are a thought pattern that a child has developed. It is vital that we not only treat the behaviour, but address the thought pattern and remove or change it so that the behaviour doesn’t just sprout up at another time. As with my childhood weeding experiences, this takes so much more work and often times I’m tempted to just deal with the current behavior.
Sometimes, especially when I’m tired, I’m tempted to let a behavior in my daughter slide. She’s little and I can easily find an explanation for her bad behavior. This is similar to letting a weed stay in the ground because it’s small and then fighting to get it out when it’s grown huge. I would much rather deal with a screaming one year old than a screaming, tantrum-throwing five year old. I have to remind myself of this when I’m tempted to look the other way or offer excuses for my daughter.
Wow! There’s so much more here than I anticipated when I first started writing that I am going to save the best, the harvest, for the next post. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts.