by Anita DiGregory
The Power of Parenting
“A seed neither fears light nor darkness, but uses both to grow.” (Matshona Dhliwayo, Zimbabwean-born author of 50 Lessons Every Wise Mother Teaches Her Son)
I have a tree in front of my home. It is a beautiful tree. It was planted there just before we moved into our home 18 years ago. My children have grown up with that tree. I have yearly photos of them in front of it…in Halloween costumes, playing football together, building snowmen, looking for Easter eggs. Every year at Christmastime, my husband wraps it in twinkling white lights, and in the stillness we breathe deep and take in its beauty.
Over the years, our little tree has been home to many birds, and little nests adorn its branches. Today, our once tiny tree stands higher than our home. Its tremendous branches now provide shade to my granddaughter as she wades in her baby pool. Who would have thought? Certainly not that harried, anxious, crazy-busy mother of three rushing past that little tree for doctor appointments, soccer, little league, basketball, volleyball, and field hockey practices and games, through pregnancies and miscarriage, on days of celebration and days of loss. That momma barely had the time (and maybe not even the courage) to ponder that little tree and the growth the years would bring. But this mother of seven and grandmother finds herself pondering all of that and the power and potential of a tiny, little seed.
Do you know the word “seed” is used over 70 times in the Bible? The word means different things. In the Bible, it could mean the Word of God. It could refer to that embryonic part of the seed plant which can grow into a new plant. It could mean offspring. When used as “spreading the seed,” it can refer to instilling virtues and ideals.
Matthew 13:32 states, “”[The mustard seed] is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”
Have you ever seen a giant redwood tree? They can grow to over 300 feet tall. One adult redwood tree can yield six to eight million seeds a year, seeds so minuscule that it takes one million of them to weigh eight pounds.
How can something so small be so significant?
Maybe it is all the time quarantine and social distancing has created…maybe it is the condition of our country and world, but I have found myself doing a lot of pondering these days. With all the anger, sadness, fear, and anxiety swirling around us, do you find yourself feeling helpless and insignificant? I do. I wonder: what can I possibly do to make a difference.
The truth is, as parents we have the power to change the world, one soul at a time. Within our children, we can plant the seeds of strong moral values including Faith, hope, and love and live these virtues authentically. We can teach them about God. We can model charity, empathy, mercy, and compassion for them. We can talk to them and really listen to them. We can read them stories of great saints, leaders, and heroes. We can teach them the importance of discipline and hard work. We can show them how to pray and kneel with them in prayer. We can teach them about our country, “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” what that means, and how very important it is. We can celebrate their successes and their failures and when they fall, we can help them to learn, grow, and try again. We can talk to them about living intentionally and the necessity of doing the next right thing, even when we are scared, exhausted, or feeling lost. We can teach them to always stand for what is good, and right, and just.
Harvard Professor Elizabeth Bartholet knows the importance of parenting as demonstrated by her exuberance to severely regulate or ban homeschooling, partially to keep parents from having such an authentic influence on their children. She states, “Conservative Christians wanted the chance to bring their children up with their values and belief systems and saw homeschooling as a way to escape from the secular education in public schools.”
Dr. Rick Rigsby knows the power of parenting. In the now viral video of his graduation speech (look it up; you won’t be sorry), Rigsby states, “The wisest person I ever met in my life: a third grade dropout…who taught me to combine knowledge and wisdom to make an impact, is my father: a simple cook, wisest man I ever met.”
Mother Theresa said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” It won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth the sacrifices, sleepless nights, countless prayers, and hard work. You may not see it today. Today, amid all the shouting and pain in the world, you may feel small and insignificant, like you just can’t make a difference. Just keep watering those seeds; keep sheltering and pruning; keep working. Your tending and toiling, your love and devotion will make a difference.
And you know those giant redwood trees…did you ever wonder how they grow so tall, how they withstand all the wind? Turns out, the redwoods roots do not run very deep. Instead the roots run wide. They intertwine with the roots of the other strong redwoods around them which makes the trees able to withstand almost everything nature can throw at them. Each year they grow strong, some for over 2,000 years. They offer shelter, take in more carbon dioxide than any other tree (according to studies), and provide homes to countless creatures…all of that from a tiny and seemingly insignificant seed.
Take heart sweet parent… as a parent you have the power to form a soul, the power to change the world.