Helping your child grow up is not just about proving the physical needs for their life. It includes hard stuff like “pruning.”
Every landscaper or gardener knows the importance of pruning bushes and trees. They trim plants by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems to increase fruitfulness and growth.
An unpruned vine will produce a great deal of unproductive growth, but little fruit. Cutting away unwanted and useless growth forces the plant to use its life to produce fruit.
That is what adversity does to us as humans. Adversity loosens our grip on those things which are not true fruit. For many adults, adversity comes in the form of losing someone dear to us, getting laid off, feeling rejected by friends or co-workers, struggling with financial difficulties, or feeling a relationship deteriorate.
When these things happen, it often causes us to think about what is really important in life. Position or possessions or even reputation don’t seem like such a big deal to us. We see that people are truly the most important gift we have in this life. The good fruits of kindness, honesty, compassion, loyalty, persistence, and strength will grow stronger as we allow adversity to “prune” us.
As parents, we are tempted to shield our kids from adversity. We want them to be happy and successful and so we either step in and solve their problems for them or pave the path in front of them so that they don’t have to encounter adversity.
But when we do that, we are actually stunting their growth. Oh, they may look like they are “flourishing” like those plants that don’t get pruned, but the overgrowth will be nothing but a bunch of empty foliage, with no real fruit.
What does this look like in parenting? Let’s say you always step in to solve your child’s problems in sports or in the classroom or you make things easy for them at home so that they always feel successful. At first glance, your child may appear like they are “flourishing” because they are happy and unconcerned about any problems in life.
But that “foliage” is empty, with little fruit because your child is not learning lessons in life that will make them better humans. They are simply experiencing temporary success which may lead them to become an entitled adult, expecting others to fix their problems for them.
I have talked to many, many parents over the years who did a great job of always giving their kids the best of everything, so much so that their kids never felt much adversity–mom and/or dad was always there to make things better for them. And those same parents do not understand why their young adult kids are making bad choices and causing them much angst with their entitled attitudes.
Not letting your child get “pruned” can lead to young adults who can’t hold down a job, who expect to be paid more than they are worth when they start a job, who lean on mom and dad for financial support far longer than they should, who don’t know how to work hard for wages, and who may even turn their backs on the positive things that their parents taught them.
Pruning is never fun for adults to go through and it’s never fun for parents to watch their kids go through, but in the long-term, the results are much more rewarding. Watching children produce the good fruit that comes from being “pruned” in life is one of the greatest rewards of parenting.