These are but two rows of my tomato plants. I grow about 12 different varieties. Some are the same from year to year, but others are new and I can't wait to see what the fruit will look and taste like.
This year, my husband Dave suggested I grow them on a wire trellis system rather than trying to put cages around them because those take up so much room and we have so many plants. I gladly accepted his advice and assistance and we got the plants training along the wires, adding new ones above as the vines grew.
It has taken a LOT of time and dedication to prune and attach the vines to the wires to keep them from falling down and breaking with the weight of their fruit.
Recently, while in the garden tying up new vines, I began to think about the parallels between the vines, this system and the raising of children. As we look at society today, we - so often - see a totally different kind of child than those raised by my grandparents - or even my parents. Why? Too many specific reasons to mention, but one sticks out clearly. We have fallen away from the concept of Biblical parenting. Proverbs 13:24,
"He that spare his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (in good time)"isn't about beating a child black and blue, it's about using the same concepts on your child I do on my tomatoes - pruning (of bad behavior through punishment of some kind) and training (explaining the ways of the world, man and God).
The problem is, that while tomatoes are silent when being pruned, children tend to complain about the process - often loudly! No good parent wants their child to be unhappy, so many parents relent, giving in to the wailing and gnashing of teeth. This won't work.
Like tomato plants, children grow quickly. Like tomato plants, the longer they are left to grow without training, the more tangled their lives become, and the harder it becomes for them to produce fruit. Parenting isn't for the weak and faint of heart. It is a CONSTANT 24/7 job and many times it's not pleasant.
So, for all those times it seems easier not to punish or lecture, picture that child as a tomato plant and realize that TRAINING IS LOVE and that lazy parenting provides untrained vines with few, hard to pick fruits.
Hang in there parents! Our job is tough but necessary and God has our back to do the job right! Be strong and encouraged in your task!