Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tomato Staking

Okay, okay... I know it's been a while since I've blogged. But with good reason that I won't get into now.

One topic that has been (and always is swirling) in my mind is parenting and discipline. Even though my children are at an early age, I see more and more every day the effects of my discipline - or lack thereof- on them.

We all know the "do what I say because I said so" method does not work in the long term and the longer I am a parent the less I am interested in their outward obedience, but much more concerned with the attitude of their heart.

With this in mind, I am definitely a proponent of training and training young. Want to know what I mean by that?

L. Elizabeth Krueger says it well in her book Raising Godly Tomatoes:

So What is Tomato Staking Again?

Every gardener knows what I mean by "tomato staking". A tomato plant grows fast, big, and wild. If left untended, it soon sprawls out into an unwieldy heap. As the fruit grows, it weighs the plant down to the ground. Propping by this time is too late. Any attempt to retrain and redirect the growth of the branches will result in breakage and substantial loss of the fruit due to rot, disease, and pests.
On the other hand, a tomato plant which has been properly cared for, will produce an abundance of excellent fruit. From the beginning it must be watered, cultivated, pruned, fertilized, examined for pests, and staked up. The branches will grow the way they were propped and trained, and when the fruit is large and ripe the branches will have the strength to hold those beautiful tomatoes up off the wet ground. What a delight!

Side note from me: Want a visual of this? Look at my tomato plants that I neglected. They are wild, wooly and very out of control!! They should be twice the height of Haviland, NOT the same height. They should be very tall but have fallen over with the weight of the tomatoes and by the time I noticed it there was no help for it. I would've broken the stems of those bad-boys in no time. Why oh why did I not train them in the way they should go? Let's just say that it begins with an "L" and ends with an "AZY" which definitely applies to my parenting at times.

Okay, back to the book:

Think of your child as a tomato plant. Most parents provide too little staking for their growing young tomatoes. They care for them intimately when they are babies, but soon afterwards, begin letting them grow their own way. They feel uncomfortable assuming authority over their children and resort to the “Putting Out Fires” method of parenting. They try desperately to overlook misbehavior and avoid conflicts, unless forced into it by the magnitude of the offense or by their own anger. Serious character flaws and bad behavioral habits, once established, are very hard to change, just like the neglected branches of a tomato plant. Catching problems now and then won’t begin to make a dent in the problem. And just like the sprawling, unattended, unstaked tomato plant, there comes a point when it's simply too late. Your child’s heart will become firmly fixed in the position it has been growing for all the many hours in between your sporadic corrections and over the years when you’ve allowed outside influences and peer pressure to do your staking job for you.
How much wiser to be your child’s tomato stake from early on, keeping him close to you beyond infancy, training him constantly to be as you want him to be -- a godly child and eventually a godly adult. If you do this, eventually, when he is grown, he will be strong in the ways you have trained him and will not easily be persuaded toward the viewpoint and ways others.
Tomato Staking is a powerful tool that enables preemptive parenting. When you Tomato Stake, you can anticipate wrong attitudes and misbehaviors and nip things in the bud before they become ingrained habits. You are right there to encourage right behavior as well. And, of course, it's easy to get to know your child when you spend time with him. And the better you know him, the more likely it is that you will develop a close, loving relationship, and will remain close throughout life. Tomato Staking provides you with the avenue to be a teacher, mentor, friend and more to your child. Meanwhile, it provides your child with the avenue to become your student, apprentice, companion, and eventually a godly adult friend as well. By then, he will be standing secure, firmly holding to the right habits and godly values instilled in him by his personal apprentices – you, his godly parents – via a Tomato Staking lifestyle. Most importantly, he will be prepared to pass these habits and values on to his own children – the most precious legacy a parent can bestow.
I take this all to heart. Check out the site and delve into other topics. You may or may not agree to all she has to say, but I love her candidness and real-life examples of what tomato staking looks like.

1 comment:

Danielle said...

Man my "tomato plants" look just like yours!!! What am I doing wrong!!!! HAHAHAHA!

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