Do Kids and Gardens Have Anything In Common?
Raising kids is quite a bit 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!
At the first sign of spring, I plant my vegetable seeds. I tend the seedlings and wait for them to sprout. But this year, after a month of watching them grow almost big enough to plant outdoors, some got tall and lanky while others shriveled up and died! After all that work!
My frustration got me thinking about all the time and effort of raising anything. It’s so easy to think things will be easy. And parenting isn’t any different!
We all make mistakes when we’re learning new things. I won’t even go into all the ways I’ve messed up! But you know what it’s like to hold that baby for the first time — everything is just. so. new. Fortunately, God gives us a whole world from which we can observe and learn! 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!
I’m guessing you have kids — but even if you don’t have a garden — stick with me. Let’s see how the choices you make in your job as “mom” resemble the gardener and her crops. You can learn lessons from the garden to become a better parent. (When you finish this post, click here to join our community and get my God Values Your Family worksheets.)
Choices — and Consequences.
Choice 1: Use A Gardening Method Without Knowing Your Plant’s Needs
From the trouble I had raising my seedlings, I realized I must be doing something wrong. You see, I followed standard seed care: plant the seeds, put them under a grow light, painstakingly water them, and even offer a warming mat for their soil. So what happened?
Without the right lighting, nutrients, and moisture for each type of seedling, they become weak and pale. Their stems wither into thread-like strands, strangling those important first leaves. Some don’t even sprout. This can make gardening downright frustrating! But, with any new venture, this gardener has the opportunity to learn the dos and don’ts of plant care.
Our mistakes help us learn what not to do
the next time we try.
Let’s Relate This to Parenting — Your Method Affects Your Child
Parenting comes with some confusion about raising your kids, not much different from raising those seedlings. You don’t start out knowing that different children actually need different care. And so, we often follow the latest trend in parenting or our parents’ example, but we miss this important fact — children are created differently. Someone else’s method may not work for your child or your lifestyle.
Let me add this before we go on — it’s hugely important to remember that God loves you and, believe it or not, He loves your kids even more than you do. He gives enough grace and love to cover your mistakes. I’m sure 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.
So, 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 — you’ll need to discover which type of child you have. This is the important work of parenting. And it’s hard work. But hang in there! Learn as you go. It’s a process. But with your best effort to give your kids individual “care and feeding”, they’ll grow strong and bear fruit!
Choice 2: Expect Abundant Produce Without Much Knowledge or Hard Work
If you’ve ventured into gardening, you know this scenario. It happens to the best of us.
Those juicy, sweet tomatoes keep coming to mind (or some fruit or flower tempts you). You don’t have extra time for a garden — but the nursery department catches your eye. And the hope of a lush garden, like _______ has, draws you in! There’s even that spot along the driveway that just might work. So you dig a hole in the hard, rocky soil and shove those babies into their beds. You might even say a prayer. (You’re gonna need it! 😊 )
One super important lesson from gardening — especially when growing veggies — is that they need lots of sunlight along with just the right soil, good drainage, and special nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash. Without these, they probably won’t grow many flowers or fruit. They may develop spindly, pale leaves. Sometimes 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!
Soil, Sunlight, & Fertilizer. How Environment Affects Our Kids
Like plants struggling to grow in hard-packed soil with no nutrition, our kids can 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 that driveway. With so much energy spent fighting to gain a foothold, they have less energy to produce fruit. Children can be stifled from discovering their unique talent and aptitude. Don’t forget — 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!
Kids benefit from an environment where they can flourish rather than battle. Make the extra effort to offer them a strong foundation, spiritual nourishment, and lots of physical and emotional preparation. This enables them to develop their own unique personality and to stand strong and capable as they become adults. 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 offer a healthy environment for them to develop. Now let’s see how to do that!
Choice 3: Be 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 a ton of delicious, red, juicy tomatoes for our dinner table. Well worth the time and effort!
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!) Okay, I digress. 😉
For the best plants and produce, the gardener must know and understand the needs of each type of plant for a successful garden. You’ll definitely 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!
Simply put, our children benefit from the best environment and care for their needs, just like those plants. So what’s that looks like in the life of 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 to care for them.
God’s design for the family is amazing! It’s such an awesome honor and responsibility to instruct and raise our kids.
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 that’s all part of God’s plan! Let’s aim to serve Him well and be the best parents we can be!
Let’s see how these gardening lessons will help you do your parenting job well. (Use my Parenting Worksheets and encouragement from my newsletters to help get your “soil” right!)
- Soil – Like the patio tomatoes with a healthy pot of rich soil — a place where roots grow strong and healthy — children need a nutrition-rich environment to grow, learn, and broaden their ever-expanding minds.
- Roots – The healthier the roots, the healthier the plant. Roots provide the stems and leaves with much-needed nutrients. The foundation and nutrients you give your kids are equally important. Be sure they get lots of opportunities to learn and experiment with their unique interests and skills. These grow them into the individual they were created to be!
- Leaves – Those 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 now but your kids will grow up! Like plants, your child matures and grows stronger in character and skill. 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!
Now it’s your turn to be the master gardener!
Take time to assess your parenting style. See if you need to adjust anything — soil, nutrients, sunlight — and then make a plan to grow a great family!
We have so many fears:
• Fear of failure
• Fear of going against the flow.
• Fear of being inadequate.
• Fear of what others may think.
• Fear that this idea won’t work.
• Fear of what our relatives will say.
• Even fear of success and how our lives will change.
>>> By the way, I’m writing an ebook on parenting well. It will include a variety of tools to help you discover your best plan for your family — raised God’s way! (Subscribe to my newsletter to get notified — and you can get “7 Days to Discovering God’s Value for You” devotional here.)
The Parenting Plan
Your child’s mind, like the plants we’ve been talking about, soaks up everything they come in contact with. Are any of these “soil” types somewhere you’d like to “plant” your kids? Be sure to add your own!
- 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 with others where they learn to accept differences and love unconditionally?
Now for the Big Question — How Will You Tend Your Garden?
You and your husband are the best people in the world to decide how life looks in your home — and the best qualified to raise your children. Take time to think about how your kids are doing, where you’re headed, and how you might get there.
I’m not here to tell you how to parent but to offer a perspective from my four decades of parenting. Like me, you’re hoping to get things right on your parenting journey. We all try methods or ideas because another family seems so “perfect” and we want that for our family. Or someone recommends some new “thing”. I know, I’ve grabbed at plenty of those choices along the way.
But remember — God is good and has His perfect plan for showing you His way. He gives us others as examples, but we too often rely on them instead of God. The best part is that He uses our mess-ups. Things you try and fail at can feel like mistakes — but they are truly lessons. They’re growing you along the way. We need to remember that children are resilient and have a loving Father, too!
If you’re worried you’re kids will turn out like my sickly plant examples, have HOPE. Your kids will survive your mistakes!** But with anything you do, give it your best for a better outcome!
**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.
You might be wondering how my kids turned out now that they’re adults. I’m amazed at what God has done with our big family! Each one of our kids is different from another, but they’re strong and capable, think independently, have curious minds, and are raising great families. Best of all, they all love and trust God. I love my kids! But to be “duly noted” — they aren’t perfect! 😉
But the goal isn’t perfection anyway, is it? It’s progress — being the best parents we can, using our life and faith and experience to help the next generation continue on that journey.
So how about you? How are you doing in the parenting department? Have these lessons from the garden inspired you? Are you inspired to become a better parent? I’d love to help you get a plan for your parenting!
(In case you missed it, get your free God Values Your Family worksheets to help you gain perspective and get your foundation in place. By signing up, you’ll get notified in my newsletters when my parenting ebook comes out! >>> It will include inspiration, tips, and even more tools to help you!)
- 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 want to encourage you to begin “living above the noise”.
Don’t be afraid to be different — to discover a style all your own.
Don’t worry about measuring 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!
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