If you have ever been to our property you would have seen all the different kinds of trees growing in my father’s yard. One thing that stood out to many was the Pele’s Hair (or Spanish Moss) that draped down several feet from the tree tops to the ground. It was a curtain of decor that ranged from eerie to mysterious. After being there for a long time, the winds finally got the best of it and many of those plants fell down and died leaving old 2X4’s strung across four different trees.
Two of those trees began to rot, we finally needed to remove them. The first tree fell over pretty quickly when I removed the boards that were holding it up. As I moved along to the other trees it became more challenging. The thick gauged wire was now IN the tree!
As I stood atop the 12 foot ladder, I imagined that this set up was rigged years ago when a ladder was’t required. As the tree grew taller and taller, it took the rigging up with it. As the tree got bigger and bigger, the tree grew around the thick metal wire and made it a part of it. Many of the wires could not be removed.
My friend walked by with his son and I began reflecting on the parallels of parenting with him. I wonder about the things I will “attach” to my kids. Things that I might even think are beautiful and decorative. Things that may seem good at the time. How will it become a part of them as they grow?
Well, when they are grown, it becomes much more difficult. When they are grown you may not be able to remove those things, just as many of those wires still remain in the tree. Just as the tree has grown, your child may be out of your reach.
Proverbs 22:6 teaches, “Train a child up in the way he should go, when he is older he will not depart from it.”
This is not meant to strike fear in parenting and I for sure do not have all the answers. Perhaps when you talk to seasoned parents you might ask them how they tended the “trees” in their yard. What would they have done differently and how have their teachings stuck with their kids over the years? What were the important things to have stick with them, and what could have been left to their own discovery and growth? In what ways should we avoid adding beauty and allowing the tree to grow into the beauty that it was meant to be? As a society we must teach our children and they are sponges ready to absorb everything. Parents and influential adults in the “tribe”. Teach the things you do not want them to depart from, the things that will embed into their lives as they grow. Not only what you say, but they watch what you do. Are your actions the actions you want your kids to display? Your children have a high probability to be stuck in YOUR ways as they grow taller and further out of reach. -jason