When your children are very young they require all your attention, much like a newly planted seedling that has to be tended to multiple times a day, watered, given the right temperature. It is no secret that as babes our children will take every ounce of our energy and attention, seedlings are not too much different.
If you want them to grow well, they need good soil
Children are no different. In order to grow strong and healthy, they need a good foundation not only nourishing their physical bodies with nutrients but also a loving home to help them flourish.
You have to let go little by little
With plants, it is called a “hardening off” process by which you slowly increase their time outdoors before actually planting them in the garden. With children we slowly teach them what to do so they can do for themselves, everything from walking and talking to potty training and playing independently.
You have to introduce them to the bigger world
When you remove the seedling from its container and plant it in the garden you have given it a whole new place to exist. It can’t be protected forever and neither can our children. We slowly introduce them to the world beyond our homes and the protection of mom and dad.
Watch for weeds
Weeds will choke out and starve a plant if you are not careful, some of the weeds of this world will do the same thing. You have to protect your child from the dangers and warn them that the world has people and things in it that will slowly eat away at them if they are not careful.
Cross pollination is not always a good thing
If you have ever planted a pumpkin and squash too close together you will understand. With children, we need to be careful what they are exposed to as the wrong influences can have a significant effect on the outcome of our children. We need to be careful what is pollinating them or indoctrinating them so we can help them form what they will grow up to be.
Sometimes you have to prune
With our children, we have to discipline to prune the bad behavior, with plants we prune to get the plant to produce the ultimate fruit, the same can be said of correcting bad behavior in favor of our children becoming better.
You have to be constantly vigilant
If you neglect your garden, even for just a week, the weeds and insects will take over. Our children are not much different, we cannot neglect their constant need for our attention as even a little bit of inattention means those enemies can sneak in and destroy what we work hard to grow.
There is a time for harvest
All that work in the garden yields rewards in the form of homegrown produce. Our children are much the same, whether it is the reward of an “I love you, mom” and a hug or accolades that take years to see, there is a reward in the end.
There is a time to let go
At the end of the season, I am always saddened that I have to walk away from my garden until the next season. I haven’t passed this valley just yet but the idea I have learned is that when you tend carefully to your children, you have hopefully prepared them for the life to come and there will be a time to step back and realize that your gardening is done for the season.
So you see, life’s lessons about rearing children can be summed up in the summer garden. There are seasons to our lives, rhythms, and stages and tending to a garden is not terribly different than tending to our children, dare I say I have learned more lessons than I care to admit both in the garden and in parenting.