Do Kids and Gardens Have Something In Common?
It’s true! Raising kids is a lot like raising a garden.
You care for them. You tend and watch. You train. And you wait.
But how will they turn out? What kind of fruit will they bear?
Let’s see what we can learn from the garden to become a better parent!
My Botched Garden
At the first sign of spring, I plant my vegetable seeds. I tend the seedlings, waiting for them to sprout. But one year, after a month of watching them grow almost big enough to plant outdoors, they grew tall and lanky — some shriveled and died. After all that work!
This got me thinking about the time and effort to raise any living thing.
It’s easy to think growing things will be easy. And parenting isn’t any different — except that we’re growing humans!
Learning & Growing
We all make mistakes when we’re learning new things. I’ve messed up enough to fill a book! Do you remember how it feels to hold that baby for the first time? Everything is just. So. New.
Fortunately, we get to observe and then learn from the world around us. I’ve raised both children and vegetables for decades and believe it or not, they actually have a lot in common. Let’s see what we can learn from the garden to help you become a better parent!
If you’re reading this, you probably have kids. And even if you don’t garden — stick with me. You’ll see how the gardener and her crops resemble the choices you make in your job as “mom.” You can become a better parent using lessons from the garden. (When you finish this post, click here to join our community and get my God Values Your Family worksheets.)
Gardening Lessons for Better Parenting
Gardening Lesson #1: Know Your Plant’s Needs Before You Choose A Method
From my botched seedlings, I found out I was doing something wrong. I followed standard garden protocol: plant the seeds, use a grow light, keep them well watered, and use a warming mat for their soil. So what happened?
I used the same method for several kinds of seeds.
When we don’t use the right lighting, nutrients, and moisture for each type of seedling, some can become weak and pale. Their stems wither into thread-like strands, strangling those important first leaves. Some don’t even sprout.
But there’s good news.
Our mistakes help us learn what not to do the next time.
Parenting Lesson — Your Method Affects Your Child
Parenting comes with lots of confusion about how to raise kids. When we start this journey, we don’t understand that different children need different care.
Too often, we follow the latest trend in parenting or we follow our parents’ example — but we miss this important fact — children are created differently.
Another family’s method may not work for your child or your lifestyle.
Like plants with different requirements for light, nutrients, and moisture, children benefit from individual attention. Each child needs unique and thoughtful care.
• One child may need “flower care” using a different type of fertilizer — more hugs maybe?
• Another might need “veggie care” with lots of sunlight and warmth — more time to run and learn outdoors.
• And yet another, “succulent care” planted in a unique soil — more time to learn from books and research.
The point is — your kids will greatly benefit when you take the time to discover which type of child you have.
This is the important work of parenting. It’s hard work. But hang in there!
Learn as you go. It’s a process.
With your best effort to give your kids individual “care and feeding,” they’ll grow strong and bear much “fruit!”
It’s hugely important to remember that God loves you. He created you to raise your kids. Plus, He loves your kids even more than you do!
God gives enough grace and love to cover your mistakes. I know you want to do the best you can while you have the opportunity! With His counsel and grace, you have hope on this parenting journey.
Gardening Lesson #2: Expect Abundant Produce Without Enough Knowledge or Hard Work
If you’ve ventured into gardening, you know this scenario. It happens to the best of us.
Juicy, home-grown tomatoes come to mind. You don’t have extra time for a garden — but the local nursery catches your eye. The hope of a lush garden draws you in! You remember a spare space along the driveway. So you dig a hole in the stubborn, rocky soil and place your plants into their holes. You might even say a prayer. (You’re gonna need it! 😊 )
One super important lesson from gardening — especially when growing veggies — they need lots of sunlight, nutritious soil, proper drainage, and special nutrients. Without the right ratio, they won’t grow many flowers or fruit. They can develop spindly, pale leaves. Or they grow huge, green leaves — but no tomatoes. You’re left wondering why people love to garden! Been there, done that, and often still do!
Parenting Lesson #2 — Environment Affects Our Kids
Like plants struggling to grow in hard-packed soil with no nutrition, our kids battle the culture that surrounds them.
I remember too well my struggle to fit in, to say “no,” and my internal battle with my own identity. It’s hard for kids to be free to make wise choices when their environment is harsh and unforgiving. When it doesn’t equip them for life and learning.
Kids can be like those tomatoes struggling to grow along the driveway. With so much energy spent fighting to gain a foothold, they have less energy to produce fruit. In this environment, children become stifled from discovering their unique talents and aptitude.
Remember — kids, like plants, soak up everything they’re around — both the toxins and the beneficial nutrients. If the “soil” is damaging or the “nutrients” lacking, your child will be affected.
Hang in there — there’s hope!
A Healthy Environment
It’s not a surprise that kids benefit from an environment where they can flourish rather than battle. Your efforts will go a long way in giving them a strong foundation, spiritual nourishment, and lots of physical and emotional preparation. This helps them develop their unique personality while standing strong and becoming capable as enter adulthood. It gives them a “leg up” so to speak!
As parents, our job isn’t to make life perfect for our kids, but we can work to provide a healthy environment for them to develop.
Gardening Lesson #3: Parent Like A Professional Gardener — Give the Best Foundation, Support, and Nourishment
I saved the best for last!
When I was newly married, I wanted the same delicious tomatoes my mom grew. I researched and asked questions. I bought a huge plastic kettle and filled it with rich black soil and two tomato plants. Before long, those plants were three feet tall and producing bowls of juicy tomatoes for our dinner table. That was time and effort well spent!
If you’ve ever tasted them, you know there’s nothing like home-grown tomatoes! (If you and your kids enjoy a good folk song and you like John Denver, click that link!) I digress. 😉
So, we know to grow a successful garden — to get the best plants and produce, the gardener must know and understand the needs of each type of plant. You know when you get it right — your vases will be full, your arms overflowing with produce, or your home green with houseplants!
Oh, how I love my gardens!
And my kids!
Parenting Lesson #3 — Give the Best Foundation, Support, and Nourishment To Your Children
Simply put, just like those plants, our children benefit from the best environment and care for their needs.
So let’s dig into what that looks like in your life as a parent?
Lessons from the Garden for Raising Your Kids
A farmer tends his crops because he knows his life depends on it.
He knows his choices determine how well his crops do — and how well he’ll eat that year.
It’s just as important to see your parenting job the same way.
Your children’s future begins with YOU — and that includes the choices you make in how to care for them.
God’s design for the family is amazing! It’s an awesome honor and responsibility to instruct and raise our children.
Have you ever thought about this? Your babies don’t ask to be born? Yet they depend on you for everything — to love, nurture, and raise them well. And it’s all part of God’s plan!
Aim to serve God well and be the best parent you can be!
Let’s review these parenting lessons:
- Soil – Patio tomatoes need a healthy pot of rich soil — a place where roots grow strong and healthy. Children need a rich environment to grow, learn, and broaden their ever-expanding minds.
- Roots – The healthier the roots, the healthier the plant. Roots provide the plant with much-needed nutrients. The foundation and nutrients you give your kids are equally important. Be sure they get plenty of opportunities to learn and experiment with their unique interests and skills. These grow them into the individual they were created to be!
- Leaves – Tomato leaves — growing large, soft, and green — soak up the sunlight. This creates chlorophyll to provide the plant with just what it needs to produce delicious, nutrient-rich fruit. Exactly what it was intended to produce!
I know you might not believe it when you’re chasing toddlers or changing diapers, but your kids will grow up! Like plants, your child soaks up information from their surroundings. A healthy environment matures and grows them strong in character and skills. Their knowledge expands, and they use their talent and personality to add “fruit” to the culture around them making the world a much better place!
(Use my Parenting Worksheets and encouragement from my newsletters to help get your “soil” right!)
It’s Your Time to Be a Master Parent!
How Will You Tend Your Garden?
You and your husband are the best people in the world to decide how life is lived in your home. And you’re the best qualified to raise your children.
Take time to:
- think about how your kids are doing.
- where you’re headed as a family.
- how you might get there.
- assess your parenting style.
- see if you need to adjust anything — soil, nutrients, sunlight?
- make a plan to grow a great family!
Your Better Parenting Plan
Your child’s mind, like the plants we’ve been talking about, soaks up everything they come in contact with. Are these types of “soil” what you’d like your kids to grow in?
- Surrounded by love and the knowledge of God
- Filled with imagination and freedom to play and learn
- Lots of opportunities to experience new things and learn from the skills and knowledge of others
- Engaging relationships where they learn to accept differences and love unconditionally
Get my Parenting Worksheets and get started tending the garden of your kid’s lives.)
Remember — Only God is the Perfect Parent!
We all know that “perfect” family. We want the same for our family and so we try their methods and ideas. Then we hear of a new “technique” that promises success. I get it, I’ve grabbed at plenty along my parenting journey.
There’s nothing wrong with learning and growing from another family, but remember the lessons above. Your kids — your family.
Things you try and fail at can feel like mistakes — but they are truly lessons. They are growing you along the way.
Remember this — children are resilient and they have a loving heavenly Father, too! The best part? God uses our mess-ups. Remember Moses and David?
God is good — His perfect plan will show you the way.
There’s Hope For Better Parenting!
If you’re worried you’re kids will turn out like my sickly plant examples, have HOPE. Your kids will survive your mistakes!**
**Other than the worst-case scenarios, of course — and please, if you struggle with a serious issue that could affect the safety of your children, reach out to someone for help.
Like with anything you do, give it your best for a better outcome!
You might be wondering what my kids are like now that they’re adults. I’m amazed at what God has done with our big family! Each one is unique from the others. They’re strong and capable, think independently, have curious minds, and are raising great families. Best of all, each one loves and trusts God. I’m really proud of my kids! You can read about them here. But be “duly noted” — they aren’t perfect! 😉
And the goal isn’t perfection anyway, is it?
It’s progress — being the best parents we can, using our life, our faith, and our experience to help the next generation continue on that journey.
Steps You Can Take Towards Better Parenting
- If you have a family — are you happy with the way things are going? Do you need to make adjustments to the soil, sunlight, or water? Do you need to learn more about parenting? Ask, read, pray, and reconsider your current plan. Then make the changes needed. God will bless every effort you make to raise the future generation for Him. Now begin cultivating!
- If you’re not married yet — picture your future family and what you want for your children. What are your goals, hopes, and ideas for raising them? Write these goals down. Put thought into how you’ll get there. Take time to develop the “garden” you’ll raise your future children in. It will be worth your effort.
God’s word is filled with exhortations to parent well,
be responsible for your family,
and always to love well!
I encourage you to begin “living above the noise.”
Don’t be afraid to be different — to discover a style all your own.
You don’t have to measure up to what everyone else is doing — in your community, especially on social media, or even in your church.
This is your life — you only get one! Use it well and for God’s glory!
—> Have these lessons from the garden inspired you? Are you encouraged to become a better parent?
I’d love to help you get a plan for your parenting! Schedule a discovery call with me — your “Mom Mentor / Coach.”
—> Get your free “God Values Your Family” worksheets here. You’ll receive my newsletter and get notified when my parenting book comes out. Grab my devotional here —> “7 Days to Discovering God’s Value for You“.)
Train up a child in the way he should go;
Even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:7-10