Many of you know that since becoming an empty nester, I’ve taken up Square Foot Gardening. The concept is unique: you build raised-bed platforms, fill them full of fertile soil, and partition each one into sections that are exactly 12 inches by 12 inches.
In each square you can plant different crops. The size and nature of each plant determines how many of them you can put into one square: 1 cabbage, 4 spinach plants, 16 carrots, etc. As you can see from my photo, I had great success with it this past summer. I had 96 squares, each clearly labeled with the type of seeds that were planted in it. With that many squares at my disposal I planted just about every vegetable known to man!
One day in June as I was doing some weeding, I noticed one square with a plant I didn’t recognize. It certainly wasn’t the jalapeno plant that my label indicated should be growing in that spot. I almost pulled it out. But it looked determined and my curiosity got the best of me, so I decided to let it grow to see what would happen.
Before long, that plant was the tallest in my garden. As it grew, Cindy and I began to suspect that this would turn out to be a giant sunflower plant. Sure enough, that’s what it was! (Ironically, this was one of the few plants I hadn’t planted in my garden.)
It dawned on me that our children are exactly like this. We may have expectations of who they should become or what they will accomplish. But in the end we have no control over that. They are who they are. Our job is to discover who they are, how God wired them, and help them develop into their potential.
Sometimes we parents have expectations of how we want our kids to interact with others or fit in socially. We may have specific ideas of how they should learn, grow or develop. Sometimes we may want our kids to follow in our footsteps, make us look good, or achieve our own unfulfilled dreams. But is it possible that in doing so we may be pressuring them to be somebody they are not? Could it be that God designed them in ways that are uniquely different than our expectations? I suspect a lot of parent/teen conflict stems from just such pressure.
Better for us to look at our kids the way I did with that renegade garden plant — with curiosity rather than particular expectations.
As I often say, “Be a student of your student.” Enjoy watching them grow into who God made them to be. The harvest may not be what you expected, but it will be every bit as fruitful!