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Thursday
Apr232015

Parenting Wisdom from the Garden

Sue Badeau (and her husband Hector) share a powerful story about adopting and raising 22 children. Sue has a lot of experience and wisdom to share, as she does in this positive Parenting UPGRADE.

"I do not have a green thumb," Sue says. "I can’t even keep a cactus alive and cactuses barely require any attention! If I can’t nurture plants to bloom and flourish, how can I do it for children, especially those with special needs? Have you ever felt this way?"

Yes, Sue. Every parent faces challenges, and there were times I (Dawn) wished I had a special button to push to make my children immediately blossom into godly, productive human beings. Though Sue doesn't have a "fix-it-quick" solution for all your parenting issues, but she does offer wise counsel.

Sue continues . . .

When I was a child, my Papa had a huge garden. I loved spending time watching him there.  Being a pesky little kid, I peppered him with questions:

“Papa, why is this one in the shade?

“Papa, why do those need stakes to hold them up, but the others don’t?”

“Papa, how can you tell the weeds from the good plants?” 

And on . . . and on . . . and on!

He always patiently answered me.

I’ve learned that being a mom, particularly to children with special needs, is a lot like being a gardener. You prepare the soil, plant and water. You fertilize, weed and prune. Most of all you pray, watch and wait.

Some flowers need lots of light; others need a cooler, darker place to grow. Water this one every day— that one only once a week. This one needs rich soil. This one does better in a sandy base.  

So much to keep straight.    

You have no control over the elements—sun, rain, wind. Early frost, squirrels, vandals. You pray, watch and wait.  

Some children are like zucchini. They grow and thrive anywhere. Some are like hot-house flowers—all conditions must be "just so" for them to reach their full potential. Some require so much more work than others, it's exhausting! 

When a bud appears, I rejoice and marvel in wonder at its beauty as it unfurls. When one begins to bow or break, I carefully provide extra supports and TLC.  

Sometimes, my best efforts are not enough.

And sometimes resilience, in spite of all my mistakes,  amazes me. 

Here are three top parenting tips I learned in Papa’s garden:

1. Learn as much as possible about each child’s unique needs.

Learn about temperament, learning styles and more so you’ll know how to provide the right amounts of "sun and fertilizer" for each child.

2. Forget about being "fair" if your idea of fairness is to treat each child the same.

Children bloom best when treated as individuals. All children will squawk about fairness; don’t let this tempt you to treat them all alike.

3. Pray, watch and wait.

There is much you can't control as a parent, just as there is for a gardener. Stay faithful in prayer, and wait expectantly for God to do a good work in each child, remembering: His timeline may be different than our own.

My children are not zucchini. 

But each one is a magnificent addition to my garden.

"Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness" (2 Corinthians 9:10).

Which of these parenting "garden" tips speaks to you today? Is there something you need to do to tend your family garden?

Sue Badeau is a nationally known speaker, author, and child welfare and trauma expert. Sue and her husband Hector are lifetime parents of twenty-two children—two by birth and twenty adopted. They wrote the book Are We There Yet: The Ultimate Road Trip Adopting and Raising 22 Kids. Learn more about Sue at suebadeau.com and badeaufamily.com.

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