I was looking at some packets of seeds today, preparing to start them growing inside to transplant into my garden when the danger of frost has passed. The instructions said some do best in full sun, some in partial and some only thrive in shade.
Also, some germinate in 6-10 days while some take 20-30 days before peeking their tiny green shoots above ground. Some can be planted a half inch apart, and some need more room to grow.
It started me thinking how caring for children is like taking care of plants. They are not all alike. In order for them to grow, we have to take care to recognize what the best conditions are for each of them to thrive.
1 – they grow at different rates. So what a 3 year-old is doing in one family may be totally different from what another 3 year-old is capable of. And they are both normal.
2 – they need room to grow. Some are very social and can play closely with other children. Others do best with parallel play, rather than so much interacting. They seem to need their space.
3 – amount of sunlight. Some wake up raring to go and can’t wait to get outside and run all day. Others need a more sheltered, protected, slower pace to their day.
The challenge is children don’t come in convenient packets, with labels that help you get all the conditions just right. It’s a matter of getting to know your child, and noting what circumstances and people seem to help them grow, and those that don’t. You can’t make a sunflower grow tall in the dark – or a begonia do well in bright sunlight. So parenting skills need to be developed and refined for each child.
And what about that picture on the front of the packet that shows what the fully-grown flowers are supposed to look like? Wouldn’t that be nice to have for each of our children? If we knew what they would grow up to be like, we would have an easier time of preparing them along the way.
Our saving grace is that God knows. He has a special plan for each child, a plan to prosper them and not to harm them (Jeremiah 29:11). He loves them even more than we love them. And to provide them with a hope and a future, God has given them the very parents He wants them to have. When we don’t have the wisdom to parent them, He is willing to share His wisdom with us.
So be encouraged that if your child doesn’t look like another child, that’s okay. If they don’t grow at the same rate as another child, or have the same skills or interests, that’s okay too. Just like flowers are different, children are different. They’re supposed to be. Imagine if all the gardens only had one kind of blossom!
So we water and weed, fertilize and feed, provide shade and sunlight as best we can. But not being sure of what we’ve planted can be hard. Yet, there is hope. Know that even when you’re at your wit’s end, God will help you and give you what you need to parent your child.
Ask Him now. He is the Master Gardener.