Kathy Masarie MD, author of Raising Ours Sons and Raising Our Daughters, shared how raising children is much like tending a garden.
What do the traits of a good gardener tell you about parenting?
1. A gardener has a green thumb- which means more than anything, they pay attention. They know the earlier you can detect a problem, the easier it is to solve
a. As a parent, you might notice your child has been irritable and easily triggered over the last week and just take an afternoon off to be with her
2. A gardener uses the right tools at the right time-like the copper penny
a. Parents need to have a pretty big toolbox. When things aren't working out, they sometimes need to go searching for a new tools or talk to other parents about ideas. That is why I wrote two four hundred page books- to give parents tools and to get them talking to each other
3. A gardener provides nourishment to the inside rather than propping up from the outside
a. I call this support versus rescue. Sometimes support is doing nothing but watch your kids go hungry because they forgot their lunch. This is hard. Sometimes support is listening to your child brainstorm ways to remember your lunch next time.
4. A gardener lets the dirt get dry so the roots need to work harder to get nutrients
a. A little stress that gets us out of our comfort zone is actually the best way to learn and grow.
5. A gardener has patience - whole summer to support those darn tomatoes red.
a. With parenting we don't always see results right away for our efforts. And "thank you mom and dad" seems to be a pretty rare statement in the first 18 years of parenting.
6. A gardener moves at the speed of life
a. Take lessons from your garden Slow down your family schedule to a livable rhythm
b. Take care of yourself
7. Have fun and laugh often- who could enjoy gardening if it wasn't fun.
a. Think of a fun thing you could do with your kids this week- that doesn't involve spending money
I don't think these suggestions are for the faint of heart. I think parenting takes courage- to be brave and face danger, difficulty, or uncertainty without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action.
To do what is best for your family, even if it looks messy to other families.
To know when to ask for help and to know where to find the right tools when you need them.
To learn more visit Kathy's website.