(Stock photo/Ints Tomsons) We cannot tend the garden only when it is young. The weeds and grass may not even be a problem in the early spring; it is in the summer, near harvesting time, that grass or weeds can block the sun and destroy our efforts. In summer, we may need to water more than ever. We must be vigilant.
Parenting Lessons from Gardening
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MARCH 13, 2008
Craig Harris, HappyNews Columnist

I love the idea of getting out in a new garden, getting my hands in the dirt, and seeing what we can grow. It is a satisfactory feeling to watch the seeds we plant sprout and produce fruit. It is one of the joys of this time of year. But how much more satisfactory is seeing our children grow strong and emotionally healthy? Either way it takes effort.
In the garden, we must wait until the right time to plant, prepare the soil, water and fertilize it, and constantly battle to keep weeds from taking advantage of our fertile soil. If we give up the fight, the weeds will take over.
I think many of us are very enthusiastic about gardening at first, when it is cool and spring is young. We do a pretty good job of clearing a spot, tilling the soil, planting the seeds, watering and watching them mature. But as the season grows older our efforts may begin to wane. It gets hot out there and we may begin to lose the battle with the frustrating weeds that take advantage of the same sun, water and care.
Similarly, many parents are careful to watch and tend their young children, providing for their every need. They are involved in their school and social life. But then adolescence sets in and they begin to lose some of that enthusiasm. This is healthy to an extent because our children must find their own identities, but stepping out of their lives is just as bad an idea as leaving a garden to itself.
The trick is to allow our children to pull away, while we continue to motivate, encourage and push them forward. The warning of the garden is that doing nothing will allow weeds to grow up and choke the life out of the growing plants. If any parent believes he can allow his children to grow strong and healthy without any intervention, he must have never worked in a garden. And we cannot tend the garden only when it is young. The weeds and grass may not even be a problem in the early spring; it is in the summer, near harvesting time, that grass or weeds can block the sun and destroy our efforts. In summer, we may need to water more than ever. We must be vigilant.
Just when our children are nearly grown, we must work even harder to keep those communication lines open. Weeds are going to crop up and try to derail everything. They will face temptations that can sideline them, or at least set them back. As parents, we must remain active in their lives. Sitting by doing nothing will almost guarantee diminished or even tragic results.
We cannot simply till the ground, plant seeds, and expect success. There is always something to ruin everything. And so it is with parenting. We can never let our guards down. What we are raising is so much more important than any crop. We may feel awkward talking to our teenagers about topics they need to hear about, but we must try. We realize we are not perfect and have made our own mistakes, but we must let our children know how loved they are and how high are our expectations of them. We must continue to monitor their activities and educations. We must make the effort to listen to them without judgment. We must show them by our actions our morals and values.
Doing something is always better than doing nothing. Doing nothing is the worst way to grow a garden – or a child.

You can contact Craig Harris at lcraigharris.blogspot.com