Growth Spurts: How Does Your Garden Grow?
My husband Kevin has maintained a vegetable garden in our backyard for a few years now, and it just gets better every year! This summer’s garden has produced an abundance of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, lettuce, cabbage, corn, and other deliciousness. Our family has enjoyed the end results, but those results did not just come about on their own. Kevin planned, prepared, planted, and pruned. Do you sense a parenting analogy coming on? Me, too. (And, no, I couldn’t resist using alliteration.)
Kevin had to plan what he wanted to see growing in his garden. He had goals of harvesting foods that our family would enjoy. Similarly we, as parents, are the ones who initially set goals for our young children. We decide what kinds of character qualities are important to us and that we want to instill in our children. What kind of people do we hope they will become? How do we want them to treat others? What kind of work ethic, accountability, and sense of responsibility do we desire for them to have? Do we want them to be people of integrity, trust, loyalty, honor, justice, peace? Since we are the ones who have the most influence on them in their first decade or two of life, then we must plan our methods for impressing these values upon our children.
Kevin has done a good bit of research on the best soil to use in his garden in order to create an optimal setting for growth. He doesn’t just throw random things into the mix, and he does his best to keep all the bad stuff out of the soil. Is he 100% able to keep all the good things in and all the bad things out? Sadly, no. (Sound familiar?) But he keeps his eye on it all and does the hard work of discerning what needs to stay and what needs to go.
How much more should we be paying attention to the soil surrounding our children?! What music are they listening to? What movies, TV shows, and YouTube videos are they watching? Who are their closest friends, and what do they spend their time doing? What kind of atmosphere is present in our homes? Is it sarcastic, argumentative, disrespectful, condescending, unkind? In short, what types of environments are we placing them in, and are they favorable for producing the character results we hope to see?
Parents, we are responsible for monitoring the environments surrounding our growing children. If we desire good things in and from our kids, then we must do all that we can to foster an atmosphere that promotes and inspires good things. And sometimes the severe task of pruning is necessary in order to maintain a healthy environment. The only thing I personally contribute to our family’s gardening process (besides eating)is pruning. And I only do it with our bed of zinnias. If I see a flower that is dying, I don’t hesitate to snip its stem. Why? Because by getting rid of the decaying, I am opening up an opportunity for new growth and beauty. Our desire is always to increase what is both living and life-giving. And in some cases, this might mean bringing an individual plant indoors, to be closer to us for more attention and care, in order for it to be healthy. And yes, we have done this with each of our children from time to time over the years, and we will continue to do so as we feel it is needed. Sometimes the drawing in closer is only for a few moments or a few days, and other times it is for much longer. But we do whatever it takes for health, for strength, for growth, for beauty.
Although Kevin and I are so proud of our family “garden,” we are well aware that we cannot guarantee all the results. There is much that is beyond our control, which is as it should be. But for as much as is within our control, we will continue to work hard to provide the opportunity for optimal growth for all.