I spent a large portion of this afternoon tending to my much neglected little garden. Pruning the hedges, pulling out the weeds, turning the soil, watering the plants, neatening the edging…When I was finally satisfied, I realised how many similarities there are between raising children and the process of gardening.
With any gardening project whether it be growing flowers or veggies, you need to be well prepared to ensure success. The soil needs to be turned, watered and fertilised even before the first plant is put into the ground. You cannot attempt to do it once those plants are up and have grown too tall.
Similarly with children, this spring-season is when they are little. When they’re younger, they have open minds, learn quickly, they absorb so much more, and adapt so easily. This is the time when you want to put all those good ideas in their minds. Just like making sure their bodies get healthy food and are properly nourished, their minds too must be well fed to develop successful human beings. This is the time when we as parents, can plant the seeds that will ensure kids will grow into healthy individuals, when we can give them the freedom to grow towards the light, yet gently place barriers in place to keep them safe. To allow their individuality to flourish, while slowly instilling characterisitics such as compassion, kindness, and a general respect for humanity. If you wish to pass along your faith, now is the time to plant those seeds. Do you want to instill a sense of fairness, justice, and integrity? Begin to dig in the fertile soil of a childs’ innocent mind. Later, it may be way too late.
If at this point, we manage to plant a seed of faith and deep love of Allah in a pure and untarnished manner, it probably will carry on into adulthood. Plant a seed of love of knowledge and they will grow up to always seek it out. Plant the seed of tolerance and kids will grow up to respect others regardless of the differences. Plant a seed of the idea of eternal success and InShaAllah, it will grow into yearning for Jannah in the Aakhirah.
Once the initial seeds are planted, we still have to continually watch our crop, to ensure they thrive and bear fruit or sweet smelling blossoms. We need to constantly weed out the bad stuff. Watch what they see, hear, and experience. Monitor who they develop friendships with. Are they feeding your kids nourishment that uplifts and builds self-esteem, or are they crowding their minds with un-truths, and conflicting ideas, contributing to those weeds? Not, just their friends, but the adults in their lives as well. Teachers, family, coaches… Do they undermine your values, question your judgments, and tear down the ethics, morals, and life lessons you hold dear?
We can help our children by guiding what they do with their free time. The wrong programs on TV, the wrong music, and the wrong type of influences can give the wrong message. You will not always be there to correct misinformation or values you do not share. But if you keep lines of communication open, you can often undo any damage.
So keep on feeding, watering, weeding, praying for sunshine, and enough just enough rain, and InShaAllah, you will have a thriving delightful garden or a well-adjusted, strong-in-faith, opinionated, confident, delightful child. This process is a continual one and will last for many seasons as you raise this child to adulthood.