Weeds have often been compared to bad habits or character traits in children (or ourselves!), and over the past two days I have had ample time to contemplate the similarities between letting weeds grow in my yard, and letting the "weeds" of bad attitudes or bad habits grow in my children.
Here are just a few of the analogies I've drawn:
Different Times, Different Weeds
We've lived in this house for four years, and each spring I have been astounded to see a different weed take preeminence. Three years ago it was the cute little broadleaf plants that start so innocently and then grow to six-foot monsters. This year it's a pretty lacy sort of thing that I love because it's so easy to pull. In my children? Different ages = different challenges. At a younger age, it was plain ol' obedience (and tantrums... lots and lots of tantrums). Now it's attitudes. Later it will be (*gasp*gulp*choke*) boy-girl relations and teen issues. But the issues are under constant change - there's never a dull (or stagnant) moment.
|I'd never even seen these before this year!|
Have you noticed how blessedly easy young weeds are to pull? So quick, so smooth, so easy! But when those critters get a true hold in the ground, it takes blood, sweat and tears to get them out. This morning I fought against one such monster, and retired worsted. That critter is out there yet, grinning insolently at me and daring me to try again. The same thing with bad habits and sins in our kidlets - they're so much easier to take care of in the beginning than when those habits have a true hold in their hearts.
|These things are soooo cute when they're young... and then they mature into hideous beasts with foot-thick trunks.|
Pulling weeds quickly results in stems that break off, leaving roots in the ground - roots that will spring back very quickly with new fruit and new stems. Same with parenting! Quick fixes never work (for me, at least... if you know of any, for goodness' sake pass them on). It's slow and steady that works well over the long-haul - consistent application of parenting practices and a willingness to correct with longterm goals in mind.
No Root, No Good!
From above - if a parenting technique deals with the outward without dealing with the heart issue also, longterm positive change is unlikely.
Some Weeds Are Easier Than Others
I love the nice, clean, smooth weeds that come out easily and completely - rather than those stickery, painful monsters that snap off and leave the taproot in the ground. But oddly enough, I find myself neglecting the ugly ones to deal with the easy ones! Can anyone see how this applies to parenting? Yikes!
|Man, I hate these things. They are evil.|
Weeds Breed Weeds
I don't just find one weed... I find one weed that has spawned a whole bunch of other weeds, and which is now a huge problem patch. In parenting, I find that one sinful habit leads to another. Disobedience leads to disrespect, which leads to strife, which leads to bad sibling relations, etc. Neglecting weeds causes a huge spread.
|What used to be our lawn.|
Weeds Choke Out Good Plants
Weeds breeding weeds breeding weeds... eventually, the weeds choke out good fruit. Letting the bad habits and attitudes in my children go unchecked will undo any good work that I'm doing in their lives.
|Our garden, currently being choked out by weeds.|
Weeding makes me sneeze. You make the connection.