Classic New Beginnings: Gardening – Reaping The Benefits

Janet Weidman, Oregon

Editor’s Note: Over the years, many “classic” New Beginnings articles were available through both the La Leche League USA and La Leche League International websites. As these websites have been updated, the availability of the New Beginnings archives has changed, and many articles that were once found online may no longer be there. We’d like to bring back some of these parenting gems from earlier years. We thought we’d start with a seasonally appropriate contribution from the May-June 1991 issue of New Beginnings that compares the work and benefits of gardening with the labor of love that is parenting.

If you would like to see a “blast from the past” published on the New Beginnings blog that you no longer have access to it, drop us a note at [email protected]. While our physical archives are not complete, we do have access to a large library of back issues and may be able to dig up a particular story for you.

Toddler attending the garden raised bed strawberriesAh, the garden. Many of us enjoy gardening. It takes time, but we reap the benefits of our labors. I see this as true with parenting also. Ah, the children. They take time, physical and emotional nurturing, patience, and what we invest in them comes back many, many times over.

The children need watering – nurturing. They need weeding – guidance. They are the seeds of love – and they blossom with lots of love.

Nurturing a child is more time-consuming than watering the garden, and it can’t be overlooked for a day either! This is not just putting food on their plates; this is keeping their “love bank” or “emotional tank” full. When it is ignored, we all suffer, like a plant that is wilting. One evening I was puzzled by my daughter’s need to be right next to me while I talked to a friend long distance. After all, Katie had been happy all day long. She even had a friend over for the afternoon. Why should she seem to need me then? I’ve learned that children often need refills in their “love bank” after they’ve been busy all day with friends!

Guidance is important. Ultimately, we want our children to become self-directed, self-controlled, responsible adults. Gently guiding them in the rules of our own home will help achieve our goal.

How do we show them our love? Talking to your indoor plants may help you get them to grow, but telling a child that you love them is not enough. Holding hands while taking walks or sitting side by side with your arm around your child while reading feels nice. Sitting down or kneeling down to be at eye level with your child while he is sharing something that is important to him is a great way to focus your attention on your child. All these say “I love you” loud and clear.

It’s really no coincidence that when we actively listen and show our love, negative behavior improves dramatically. We are fixing the problem. Children need tons of attention and will thrive on the positive. Yes, you might say that they’ll blossom.

The beauty of this garden is that we reap the benefits. I have had some very wonderful gifts from my blossoms – hugs, wet kisses, back rubs, smiles, homemade “I Love You” cards, and even a “piano concert” by the three-year-old! It is even more satisfying when we see the oldest reading to the youngest in the rocking chair.

Parenting, as well as gardening, takes a lot of work. It is a challenge well worth the effort. I wish you all happy “gardening.”

Please send your story ideas to Amy at [email protected].

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