Although I have had a garden for the past eight years, I am amazed by what I am still learning. Suggestions and advice have been most appreciated. I have done everything I know to assure the potential for growth — installed an irrigation system, erected an electric fence, added shredded leaves and manure every fall, tilled it three times during the winter months and even sprinkled ash from our fireplace. Having a garden isn’t easy. It’s labor intensive, expensive, and time consuming. I’m certain that a trip to the grocery is far cheaper and much easier. So why do it? The answer to that question is obvious come harvest time.
I’m guessing that growing children is about a million times more challenging than growing a garden, yet far too few seem ready for this task. Like a garden, considerable forethought is needed to prepare a home that is ready to give a new life the best shot at reaching its potential. Hopefully a few suggestions will be appreciated.
1. If you don’t feel basically good about yourself, work on this before considering becoming pregnant. Your feelings of self-worth and self-esteem define your self-concept which you, in turn, present to others. How you feel about yourself dramatically influences how your child will feel about herself.
2. Give your relationship with your spouse time to mature so that you will be ready to face the challenges of parenting as a united and committed team. Your growth as a couple demands time. Maturity simply can’t happen over night. Give yourself a minimum of three years together (at least 1,000 days and nights) before bringing a child into your relationship. Since the single greatest thing you will do for your child is truly love your spouse, this is time well-invested.
3. When your child arrives, make sure you provide the necessary nutrients for growth and then affirm the obvious growth that is taking place, both physically and emotionally. Give your child increased opportunities to express new abilities emerging from growth by encouraging them to do as much for themselves as they can.
4. Validate your child’s growth by expressing sheer joy in what is taking place. Growth is so exciting and should be celebrated.
5. Give your child the kind of attention she needs. Occasionally a little pruning goes a long way in ensuring that your child will reach her potential. When you do this, do so carefully, as too much or too little can have devastating effects upon your child.
6. Keep the weeds out of the garden of your home. This will make your home a safe haven in a larger world that has the potential to inhibit and maybe even destroy your child’s potential.
7. Most of all, consistently and continually provide the warmth of your unconditional love.
Of course, like in any garden, there are no guarantees, but giving your best can make the harvest sweet.