Monday, April 9, 2012

Parenting is like Gardening

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The first chapter in On Becoming Toddlerwise provides a great analogy of parenting to gardening.

A gardener is "...neither the creator nor its architect." "He does not create the bloom, or the petal, or the stem that produces the petal." "He cannot...make it more beautiful." (all on page 11). 

"The gardener, however, knows the environment. He knows the right amount of sunshine and moisture required for the unfolding of every blossom." "...he is the nurturer of the life placed before him" (all on page 11). 

Like a gardener over his garden, as parents, we are in charge of the nurture and care of our children. We can help them become the best versions of themselves they can be. We can't turn a daisy into a rose, but we can nurture that daisy to be the best daisy it can be. If we are fertilizing strawberries, we don't try to give it a combination for tomato plants.

I love my vegetable garden, but being that I am relatively young, I naturally have a lot to learn about gardening. In the quote from the book, the gardener knew just when to do what with the plant and just what it needed. That will be true over time, but it definitely takes time and experience to get to that point of knowledge. I find that to be true of parenting, also. I am a much more knowledgeable parent than I was nearly 7 years ago. 

Just like with gardening, I find it valuable to read books on parenting to increase my knowledge base. I find it valuable to talk to parents who have been there and have experience on the subject when facing new situations.

When I think of gardening, I also think of how different each plant is and that different plants require different planting times, amounts of water, amounts of sun, spacing, etc. Even if we are expert Zucchini growers, a new type of plant like Cauliflower might require some different techniques.

There are some great lessons to be learned from gardening that can  be applied to parenting. We nurture the child for who he or she is. We learn how best to parent over time, and we look to those with more experience than we on that topic to gain their knowledge.  We can't treat every child the same because each child is unique and might need different things than siblings. We can learn a lot from nature!

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Christine said...

I have been exploring your website for a while now and enjoy your posts and philosophies -- feels much like the "old-fashioned" methods used when I raised my five children. Now I have a new problem for which my daughter and I could use your help. My daughter and her two children, ages 4 and 2, recently moved into my home after the death of their father. The two-year old has not slept through the night since. She goes to bed ok, has a routine and settles down within a reasonable time (like you say, 2 yr olds have a little trouble with this) but she wakes several times a night, fussing, crying and sometimes screaming. She takes a bottle to bed and my daughter usually gives her another bottle at each waking. She doesn't eat well during the day (I know, another problem)and so my daughter knows that she is hungry at night. Where do we start in solving this problem? We all need some sleep!

Katie said...

Christine, I don't have any answers for you, but I just read your comment and wanted to say I'm sorry. This sounds like such a hard and heart-wrenching situation. I'm glad your daughter & grandkids were able to move in with you, but this all sounds very hard! Hope you can find some tips and help!!

Plowmanators said...

Christine, I am so sorry for your loss!

Really, I think I would consult a children's psychiatrist. If it weren't for the death of the father, I would have lots of ideas, but I think this is something that needs to be treated delicately.

Here is what I would do--you can see what professionals would think about this in light of the situation.

I would slowly wean from night feedings. If she doesn't eat at night, she will eat in the day. So for the first time she woke and gets fed, I would slowly decrease the number of ounces given until you get to zero.

Then I would do the same for the next night feeding.

When she cried and you weren't feeding, I would go in and comfort her back to sleep while soothing, but not feeding.

Best of luck in this hard time.


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