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Tending The Garden Of Our Children

Lessons learned while dealing with shrubs can help the family.

It's officially spring and everyone has tuned to the great outdoors, specifically their own backyard.

I do love the idea of gardening but I have a "black thumb."

But when I first moved into our home, I had great plans for the yard. I put in just everything I thought would make the yard beautiful and all those exotic plants and shrubs I adored in everyone else's yard.

About four years ago, our American beech tree, almost as big around as a jeep, came uprooted in a windstorm and landed on our home. 

Wanting to give back to the neighborhood, I planted a tri-color beech on the advice of several well-intentioned, but ill-advised arborists. I later learned that they don't do well in an open space with lots of sun and in this type of soil and, well, in general they have a hard time early on in their acclimation.

Needless to say, it is year four and it still looks as though it belongs in a Charlie Brown Christmas special. After this year, however, I am going to yank it and put in something a tad hardier. 

That is my new method: If something isn’t doing well, I either "whack" it or "yank" it. And so far, this method has yielded great results. Two bushes I whacked are actually thriving now. When I lived on my grandfather’s farm, we didn’t actually garden and tend things, as there was way too much work to be hand trimming or fertilizing something ornamental. If it died, it died. We let nature take its course. 

I finally regained my senses and applied this logic to my yard. If it grows, great. If it doesn't like it here, it doesn't and something else takes over that does like it here. Gardening is far more productive and less stressful that way, at least for me.

So I started thinking about how this applied to our lives and more specifically to our kids. 

I think we need to put them into situations where they will blossom and help them to see where they don’t do as well.

We need to help them remember what type of an individual they are and not who they "think" they want to be. If you know who you are, complete with a realistic view of the self, you are a much stronger tree. You won’t be swayed by the turbulent times if your roots go deep. And let’s not forget about pruning. Sometimes you have to endure disappointments and cut downs in order to grow again. 

Carl Rogers uses a term, "congruence," which I think makes complete sense in this discussion. Rogers describes a self-concept as a collection of beliefs about your own nature, qualities that are unique to you and resultant behaviors.

If someone's self-concept is accurate, then it is said to be "congruent" with reality. Consequently, when there is a specific disparity between a person’s actual experience and their self-concept, incongruence results.

That's what happens when the young man who has toyed with a sport finds it difficult to accept that he isn’t getting into the minors let alone the majors.

And why the young girl gripping the karaoke microphone is devastated when she is not the next Taylor Swift.

In addition, parents who love their children unconditionally, produce children whose self concept is in tune with reality. And of course, the opposite is true.  Parents who do not do so, produce kids who are out of touch with who they really are, who do not have a clue about their strengths or their weaknesses.

The other concept that applies here is the crossbreeding and production of many more hybrid species. Many are simply gorgeous but they just don’t last.

The fact is they are much weaker as a hybrid.

I buy tulips in the store and plant them and if they are a delicate new item, they don’t do well. I think that may apply to our children.

Sometimes, we spread them too thin, or by living vicariously through them, push them toward an existence that just isn't them.

We need to simply stay with the basics sometimes. Look at the golden rule and think about the things we learned in kindergarten. We need to take turns, be respectful, treat others as we would want to be treated and share. The other parts of their development will come in time and will be put in proper perspective if we have laid the ground work.

Wrap your gardening tools around that!

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