From the desk of Doc Smo: “Time on the vine”

I was out in the garden the other day picking beans when a thought crossed my mind that I want to share with you. Beans were plentiful this year and, as I was picking the them,  I noticed  three types of beans:  young, tender beans that were small and not quite ripe for eating; mature beans that had a certain snap, smell, and feel when picked; and older, larger, tougher beans that had been on the vine a long time and had become inedible.  An analogy to children struck me:  like the beans in my garden, children need enough “time on the vine” —time to grow, become confident, and learn the skills to be successful in life.  Cut that process short and children, like beans,  may not mature properly.  Similarly, if children have too much “time on the vine,” like my beans they become overgrown and degraded–their healthy growth is arrested.

Fortunately, most parents get it right by showing patience and encouragement when their preschoolers want to do things themselves, incorporating their school age children into a routine of family chores that can help the household, and allowing enough independence during adolescence that when the day comes for Johnny or Janie to go off on their own, they are ready to handle what comes their way.

Take a word of advice from Doc Smo. Start with the end in mind when it comes to parenting.  Our goal is to have happy, independent, unique children, skilled children who can successfully take care of themselves and hopefully those around them. Just like those beans in my garden, “fertilize” them by providing  loving home, opportunities to feel needed, intellectual stimulation, when they are young, “pick them” and turn them loose when they are ready, and make sure that you insist that they not “stay on the vine” longer than they should.

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