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Parenting and Planting

 “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” – Frederick Douglass

There’s an age old debate about how to raise children. There is no blueprint and there are no “Poster Parents” that exist to be the prime example. In fact, were all individuals with unique personalities. Each personality, when engaged has to be managed differently.

Everyone on this planet differs from another. Yes, society is so eager to bunch us together just to slap a label on our foreheads and call it a category. Were divided in many ways due to race, culture, zodiac signs and the list goes on. Division is one things externally but should never exist in your home. No one should be able to explain your child better than you. As children grow into adolesence they often become widthdrawn from thier parents and cling to thier peers. Sometimes its difficlut to have conversations or engage. However, I encourage you to keep trying. Teens and preteens my seem “Stoney” but at the end of the day they are just as eager to receive your love as the young ones are.

In this world of labels, children are fighting to find thier identity. There’s so much confusion and internal crisis wthin this area. Its important to provide space but not too much. They need monitoring and nuturing but like a plant there is no “cookie-cutter” template to care for agriculture. You must study the plant and figure out what works. They all need specific environments that are most beneficial to thier needs. What needs some may ask? That’s where we go wrong. Every child also has a love language and means of how they prefer to be addressed. My mother often yelled until she was informed that it only pushed me away. I explained how degraded I felt and expressed that I was mature enough for a conversation. When she began to talk to me things changed drastically. With another child, they would require a different form of interaction to get thier attention. For me, simple discussions did the trick so OBSERVE,LISTEN AND LEARN.

Many parents are stuck on thier version of how a child should be raised. Newsflash, what worked for your parents and even for you with another child may not be successful. Its time to analyze your parental style. Am I harsh, abbrassive, nuturing, loving or maybe a combition of things?. Balance is key but what happens when your culture dictates your behavior? Oftentimes within the West Indian community strict or harsh enviornments were fostered. They instilled fear into their children in order to instill manners and a host of other favorable characterstics. They figured the harsher the better your demeanor would be. They have passed that mentality on but it has backfired in numerous ways? Stated previously, that may not work for this generation or for your specific child, may not work for your child. You may hurt where you try to help so its important to do your homework. They are constantly shifting gears within phases and stages and may need a new approach. Are you a flexible parent?

A child who is nataurally loving and nuturing may find it rewarding to help you arround the house for in exchange of hugs, personal recognition and even affiramtion. If you are rough and tough and you rule with an iron fist, your child may be emotionally scared. This manifests in a number of ways. They can act out and bully and harm others, they may develop selfish behaviors to cope, they may be very cold and emotionally detached. To you, you beleive that your raising strong children who will not be bullied by life or people. Your goal may be reslilent in impenetrable children but they may find it hard to care for others. They may lack certain attributes like empathy, sympathy and even compassion. The age Scholarly fight of “nature vs. nurture” comes to mind. Would you produce carbon copies of yourself or would they break the mold and endeavor to be themselves and break away from the seeds you have sown? Will they become far worse? You don’t want to raise robots with the inability to create meaningful or deep interactions. Many children who are forced to be “strong” tend to assimilate to the harsh conditioning and later express difficulty connecting with others.

On the other hand, “babying” and sheltering them is causing more harm than good. They become comforatable living in a shell that is not exposed to real life scenarios or experiences. Coming to thier rescue and not allowing them to develop on thier own in crippling and when life truly introduces himself to your child, he is never a gentleman. This leaves them open for depression and a host of emotional a host of other issues. You cannot be their best friend either, lines of boundaries and respect go out the window or become blurry. Your new name will become Houston because you will have a problem.

A balance and consistency is key. Remember to keep your word. If they are punished, then do not take them out for ice cream immediately after like my Father did with me. If they are grounded then they serve their time without retracting. Many times, my father scolded me and felt bad about it. I was taken out to the famous “Taste the Tropics” icecream parlor in Brooklyn. Most times, I was taken after I had got in trouble. When I got straight A’s that would have been the ideal time to do that but he failed to grasp that concept. I was often confused about where he stood but was quite clear with my mom. Her yes were actual yes and her no was a definite no.

My parents failed to understand my love language. For me, it included words of affirmation, time and presence not just gifts or money. This is not a rant but an example. I love to see people live in harmony. Life is crazy on its own but when you enter your home there should be some peace and solace there.

One great mistake people make is comparison. They compare children to others both inside and outside of the home. Many who portray an image of being the “perfect child” or positive influence. Yes some children are amazing but keep in mind that “The definition of you will never be someone else”– Dr. Courtney M. Bradley. We forget that everyone has flaws and we are only called to be one thing in life, ourselves.


Give them your ear literally and figuratively..

Children often look for references of thier parents in their curshes and people they date.Your child is often like a project. You make a hypthesis and do some resarch via trial and error. No one is perfect so mistakes are inevitable. Moral of the story, you must remember that your raising your child for the world not yourself, You should want to just be your best self to live as an example providing the right balance.They need grooming. Your boy or girl will be someones student, friend, spouse, business partner and leader one day.

“If we do not plant knowledge when young, it will give us no shade when we are old.” – Lord Chesterfield

While your planting just consider the fruit you would like to see as you sprinkle your own mixture of parental nutrients. Remember to know who your dealing with. Get to know your chiildren and develop consistency with conversation and engagement. Remember to be present, even if they were to push you away they will always remember those moments you stood by thier side. Please attend games, showcases etc. when you can. If you phsycially cant be with them, get creative and show them that they are supported. Encourage thier hobbies, dreams and assist with their goals. Ask God to show you thier potential to encourage and push where necessary. We all need a strong team in our corner to make it in this harsh world.

No one can tell you how to raise your child but just don’t believe you have it down packed. Ask God to provide the blueprint for your child.He alone knows whats best. They only have one childhood and its best to build them but you need the right tools. What environment, nutrients and tools does your child require to grow? Seek God in prayer and do your part of being actively enagaged and an effective LISTENER. Add prayer to your family time. Plant the word in their spirit. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6 that they “will not depart” and its true. There is no need for force feed they will eventually build an that hunger later. Do not forget to plant your time, past experiences, support, encouragement, discovery, opinions, trust, and most of all LOVE and let God do the rest.

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