I’m a gardener and by definition that makes me an optimist. Even my farming fizzles don’t deter me from continuing to bury peach pits or old potatoes. Those of you who’ve outgrown playing in the dirt may laugh, but every so often my efforts pay off big time. Like a couple of summers ago when the tomato gods smiled upon us. God did they ever! In fact, they were still laughing their heads off a full week before Halloween. Too bad you can’t carve a tomato.
When it comes to gardening, I’m not ashamed to say that I give only to get. I shower my plants with regular infusions of compost tea and worm castings because I want something in return. I believe that I’m entitled to a major payback for all my efforts otherwise I wouldn’t bother.
When it comes to raising kids, there isn’t really a payback. Not coming directly from them to you. Of course, there are rewards along the way. Like the joy we experience when they succeed at something they’ve worked for. And the pride we feel when our children honor us and themselves by making healthy choices–especially when we’re not around to prod them. But those perks aren’t why we give to our kids. We’d still do it even if we got nothing to brag about. Why? Because, the simple fact is that we parents are in the business of giving to give. Parenting, unlike marriage, is a one-way street.
Does this mean that you’ll inevitably raise a young adult focused only on her own needs? Hopefully not! Because a big part of what you should be giving your kids is an education about what it means to be thoughtful, loving and compassionate. Hopefully you demonstrate that in the way you treat them. Set clear expectations for the behavior you want them to exhibit and you’ll see more of the good stuff. When you do shower those young ‘uns with praise. And pat yourself on the back. You’re helping to launch a loving spirit into the world.
Now there’s a harvest worth a whole lot more than a basket of tomatoes.