Have you ever walked through a field of newly blooming flowers? All of your senses are brought to life as you smell the fragrance, feel the flora between your fingertips, and the sight of the depth and width of it brings joy to one's spirit. It is a place where one can feel close to nature. Listen to the buzzing bees and startle at the small creatures that scurry away at the sound of your foot steps. If you are lucky, you'll find a fallen tree trunk to sit on and closing your eyes you'll feel the warm sun kiss your face.
Ahhh, that's what I call peace.
Very seldom do we wonder what it took to create a beautiful field of wildflowers. But, if you are a gardener of any sort, you know how difficult it is to grow a backyard garden worthy of calling it your sanctuary. I am terrible at growing plants. It's not my gift, and I would rather go someplace where they grow naturally than to have to weed, water, and feed them in my back yard. It takes more attention and time than I want to dedicate to the process and the reward of a full bloom seems to come too slow. One day I wake up to remember the plants and sadly find they have died from neglect. The weeds have over taken them, I've forgotten to water, and the soil is devoid of minerals.
This is how some parents raise their children. They give birth to them but forget to feed, water, and care for them. The children grow up without the nutrients they need to flourish and produce children of their own in soil devoid of certain minerals because the ground was never prepared properly. Nutrients that children need to flourish are love, encouragement, focused attention, and care. Much like the garden, they must be "tended to" daily and because they are children, they will not sit still. They will try your patience, they will test your knowledge, and they will debate their value as you define them as good, bad, beautiful, or ugly. All children are beautiful, but as I learned a long time ago, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," or in other words, you must SEE their beauty even if they can't. You must tell your children how beautiful they are even when they don't believe it. Show them where their weeds are. When temptation to do wrong is present, show them how to root out those negative behaviors. You must tend to their hearts as well as their minds, and you must teach them how to flourish and grow long after they have left your garden.
Ben Franklin set aside time every morning and evening to ask himself these questions: "What good shall I do today?" and at the end of the day, "What good have I done today?"
This is a simple way to teach your children good character. Have them write down their answers to these questions every day. Discuss it at the dinner table or as they lay in their bed ready to hear a night time story. Planting the seed to do good early in the morning will help them to look for the good things they can do during the day. They'll be more likely to recount the good deeds they've done in the evenings. And what a sweet field of flowers to fall asleep on.