Eighteen years ago we moved from bustling southern California to rural Utah and tried to learn to work the land, to plant an orchard, to raise animals—to live a country life. It didn’t come easy! But, we were blessed to have old timers as neighbors and their farm wisdom was profound.
One adage that I heard repeated was, “A plant in need is quick to seed.” Whenever you see a plant that is immature and small, but blooming, you can be sure it isn’t getting what it needs to thrive. It senses that conditions are dire, and tries to bloom and set seed as quickly as possible, or its life will be in vain.
I have pondered this law of nature, and realized how much it applies to children. When children live in emotionally healthy conditions and are secure, nurtured and loved; they have lots of interests and hobbies. They feel there is plenty of time to grow lush and full and mature before they must concern themselves with reproduction. There is no rush. Rather, there is a feeling of full contentment in the growth process. They have lots they want to learn and do and see and try.
However, when home life is unsatisfying, when God is left out of their lives, when the culture overtakes them via the media, when great meaning in life, and a cause is not taught to children, it seems their focus jumps prematurely to being “quick to seed”. It amazes me how “boy-crazy” girls have become at such a young and tender age. It seems even 9-year-olds want to wear bras and make-up. Appallingly, they are concerned with looking attractive to the opposite sex! Few are “bashful-about-boys”, demure young ladies. More and more common are girls that are aggressive flirts.
Pruning has its human connection too. When we moved to our land, I was busy child-bearing. I was eager to grow fruit trees, but my days were filled with caring for my little ones and teaching my kids, and I was often interrupted in a task. I walked out in the orchard recently to see grown trees that are bent and leaning, unable to bear their load of fruit because of their crooked trunks. One tree even had its stake pounded neatly into the ground next to it, but for the pitiful lack of a cord, it grew slanted from the wind. Just a thin cord would have trained it straight and upright and able to bear the weight of its fruit.
So it is with children. Just a little consistent training when they are young will yield what dynamite can’t fix when they are grown. I didn’t know enough about this when I was a young mother. I didn’t realize that teaching them to say “please” for every favor when they were just barely able to speak would give them a pleasant social manner and a grateful heart. I didn’t think to make sure they they never missed saying their prayers. I didn’t realize that letting them slip out of work before the job was done well would backfire miserably.
Prune any wayward tendencies when they are young and only a slight pressure will hold them upright so they can grow strong and straight. Give them optimum growing conditions and they will grow tall and lush before they feel a need to focus on blooming and seeding. Farm wisdom.
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