Planting seeds. Pulling weeds.
Hope for parents. Planting seeds. Pulling weeds.
Seeds do grow...
All kinds of weeds - and other beautiful things.
It’s said that children will follow our example - not our advice.
That's a scary thing. As we know, the "following our example" part isn’t always the best outcome (‘cause we make so many darn mistakes) …AND it takes quite a long time to see any real impact of all of our “good examples”. In reality, it takes lots of sound advice along the (entire) way to compensate for the areas where we are a not-so-good example. Our children (can) often learn from the weeds - the mistakes - of their parents, if the right seeds of wisdom are planted, in the process.
Conscious, Constant, Consistent... parenting.
Seeds can be spread randomly, by chance, in wind, water and other elements, 24 hours a day, everyday. That’s how weeds take root in the craziest of places - and then show up virtually anywhere we can imagine, often in unexpected places.
As we know, the seeds that make the greatest impact are those that are planted intentionally… providing beauty, food, design and floral fanfare. We pretty much know the outcome of the seeds we plant by choice - if they are sown in a favorable environment for growth - and also nurtured in the process. These seeds can be the advice, the unwavering pursuit of teaching principles, even though we may not always adhere to them, ourselves.
I’m here to encourage every parent. Kids (even the grown ones) do listen - as they observe - albeit subconsciously. It’s not apparent, when we’re in the midst of the battle.
But we have to speak up.
...stronger than the world is pursuing them. Because the world, and our culture, is sowing seeds in our children, of the weed variety.
Often, it’s our persistence that makes the difference. It reveals relentless love - regardless of their response (or lack, thereof).
As I review my own journey as a parent over the last 30 years - I see the rewarding outcome of many of the intentional seeds. But, I also see the impact of the seeds sown in my children’s lives that were unconscious, careless — that took root and tried (hard) to grow. It’s pretty incredible that some of these “weeds” I inadvertently planted (or allowed) in their lives didn’t take over. We all know that’s exactly what weeds can do in the greatest of potential gardens.
My kids are grown, now.
And… I’m still planting in their lives.
To be certain, this is not with the same intensity or frequency as before they become adults - but the process continues, nonetheless.
Preparing them for their future - today.
This is parenting. To pursue our children, throughout all of life, and empower them to do the same - when they launch out into independence. The good seed (ultimately) wins - often in spite of our less-than-good example. And even though we plant the wrong seed into their lives more often than we realize - it’s the pursuit, the battle to nurture the good - that allows them to thrive in spite of less than optimal circumstances. I’ve seen it happen time, and time again.
And when they are grown... most of the weeds are pulled, we hope. Yet, it’s not really the time to close up shop with the parenting.
The approach of the pursuit does change with adult children. The key is to respect the parameters of the maturing process - and then their adulthood - to refrain from pursuing too closely (hovering), saying too much, doing to much. More on that, later. ;)
The preparation strategy.
This is what worked SO well (and still does) for me in the parenting path. Because I had a very wise person plant this tremendous seed in me, 25 years ago. A little history, here...
When my daughter was 5, "my little handful" become more than I could handle, by myself - and frankly, I was scared of it’s affect on us, both, and completely unprepared for it.
Sidenote: Isn’t it interesting that the greatest endeavor of life comes without a course, guide or handbook?
We learn as we go and grow (as parents) — and that’s THE most daunting part of parenthood.
In our home - I was responsible for most of the daily parenting because “dad" worked crazy long hours - 6 days a week. But things were amping up in my firstborn’s behavior, in areas that were foreign to my own personality - so I was lost, overwhelmed and defeated - before I ever began. I knew if I didn’t get professional help, that both mother and daughter would (literally) fall apart, with the risk of crazy repercussions, later in life.
So… I sought help.
I didn’t agree with everything the good doctor (psychologist) said about the whole situation. But I came away with a couple of seeds he planted - in me - and it grew both of us up, together (eventually) - once I got a handle on implementing the advice.
One part of his advice was that I consistently provide her with a glimpse (a synopsis) into situations and circumstances - before they happen - and provide parameters for acceptable behavior. In others words, she needed to see the roadmap, and what was coming, in order to navigate herself through it - with any proficiency. Some of us don’t deal well with new experiences - because of the insecurity and anxiety that comes with it. So, preparing her for (seemingly) every experience with preparedness of what it would be like, and how she should respond and behave, helped her to process the experience with correct expectations - and a calmer attitude. Therefore, the result was less over-reaction, fear, misbehavior, and drama, in walking through it.
Now, (spoiler alert) this didn’t solve everything.
Well, let’s just say, with this strategy, I could see there was a very dim, small light at the end of an crazy long, dark tunnel - but… it was there. It was the fact that I cared enough to constantly pursue, affirm, support, and encourage her through the struggles we both encountered. We talked through whatever we didn’t walk through so well.
I prayed (a lot) - because most of the time, I didn't feel that my words were getting through. I needed the power of The One who designed her, to intervene. And, according to His word - and promise - He did. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
My my… it seemed like weeds were winning in her life - choking out the good seed - for a very long time. But, this amazing, wonderful thing happened as I continued to persist in pursuing her, and preparing her.
She stopped running so hard from me - and started to come towards me. Breakthrough.
It was a painstakingly gradual process… like 12 years gradual. But somewhere in the latter teen years - the dots began (very slowly) connecting in our relationship, again. The good seeds planted by those she looked up to (not me, at the time) began to take root in her life. I continued to pull out the weeds, through prayer, and that changed the soil - her heart - to receive the good seed that was there, and ready to grow.
Parenting is not a pursuit to be left to chance. But, that's a trap that we all tend to fall into, at some point. We find ourselves reacting, and over-reacting to situations and behavior - rather than preparing (ourselves and our children) with strategies for imparting principles, responsibility, accountability, and integrity.
Business breeds weeds.
We tend to lose our sense of understanding (or trying to understand) our children's perspective. It's where our culture is today. More prayer, more talking through what they are walking through is needed. Yet when they won't listen to us - we have to find others they WILL listen to. Keep that good seed coming - any way possible.
It takes a village, y’all. I’m just one of your “fellow villagers”.
I welcome your thoughts and comments, below.
We owe it to our children (young and old), and their children, to prepare them for what’s to come.
Planting seeds. Always.