There are certain spring plants that need a little help standing tall and producing fruit. For example, every year when we plant tomatoes, we get these wire cages to help the tomatoes stand and not fall over from the weight of the fruit!  There are other plants that grow on a vine and need a place to climb, so we have wire climbers for them to attach their feelers to, so they can spread out and grow!  And still other plants are just weak and wobbly getting started, so we insert a small branch in the crook of the plant to keep it upright while it takes root.

And yet, there’s this idea that once teens get a certain age we are to remove all props and let them be.  We think they should have this freedom to “explore” whatever is out there, and then we just sit and “hope” they’ll grow strong.

I once heard of a celebrity mom that filled her kids’ bookshelves with books on every religion, every thought on spirituality, and then stuck the Bible in the middle of it all.  She apparently wanted them to have the “freedom” to choose whatever path they wanted to take, setting no limits and providing no guidance.

Just like those plants mentioned above, our teens still need props so that they produce good fruit, have space to expand and grow with support, and time to root deep, so as not to fall over when hard rains or winds show up in a storm.

Yes, kids have to make choices on their own.  But also yes, we need to be their anchor, their guide, their disciplinarian, and their example – their wire cage, their stand, their branch – until they leave our homes.  And guess what?  If we do this, they will one day (it might be another decade before they do) appreciate the support we gave them.

Teens are weak, when it comes to being influenced by the crowd.

Teens are often insecure in who they are, so the fall easily when unnoticed or teased.

Teens have hormones that wreak havoc on their emotions that influence their decision-making skills.

Teens are not adults yet, and won’t be for a long time to come.

Offering support does not mean being a parent that hovers.  Cages for tomatoes surround the plant, not smother it.  Wire supports just provide stability and actually a place to climb and thrive for the plants that are not supposed to just lie on the ground to be trampled.  And canes of support are just a bit of strength offered until the roots run deep. They’re not a substitute for the own plant’s root system.

As parents, we can provide only the truth in our homes, not allowing any lies or deceit or evil to enter our doors.  We can speak the truth and live it, and ask for forgiveness when we fail, which is so important.  We can listen, guide, pray, affirm, and all the things that we do to our gardens to make plants stand tall and shine until one day that stem is thick and the supports can be removed. Or that day when the colorful blooms of the climbing vine takes over so profusely that the wire support is no longer seen.  And when the fruit is produced and provides a blessing to others, we can share in the beauty of God’s blessings to our families because all the props were in place before our teens left home.

See the photo above?  That new plant was windblown to the side until we propped it up with a forked branch, and now it’s growing straight and tall. 

What’s on your shelves, in your home, and under your kids…so that they thrive while they grow?

Gotta Have Props
by Marcy Lytle

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