We planted 8 tomato plants this year, but we only had 7 cages.  So one tomato plant was left on its own to grow without a cage.

When I went out to pick tomatoes one day, I noticed how the caged tomatoes plants grew tall and healthy and produced much fruit.

On the other hand the un-caged tomato plant was growing wild in all directions.   It went out rather than up, and it didn’t seem to have as many tomatoes on it as the caged plants.  Plus much of the fruit  had bottom rot or was eaten or picked at by bugs and insects.  The whole plant wasn’t worthless, but it didn’t meet its potential.

I realized that the cages, with their seeming restrictions, actually helped the tomatoes to grow.  It was like the tomatoes had something to lean on as they worked their way up.

So it is with parenting…

Children actually benefit from being “caged”.  Boundaries and restrictions show kids that you care and they help them meet their potential.  Clear rules and expectations give children something steady and sure to lean on as they grow up. So don’t be afraid to

Give your kids a bedtime

Tell them they can’t drink alcohol

Say NO when they want a third hotdog

Make them go to church or practice or school

Discipline them if they talk back to you

Take them to time-out even if they are only two years old

Take away their cell phones or iPods or lap tops if necessary

Enforce a curfew

Give them jobs and chores around the house

Don’t let them wear certain clothes


Don’t worry about being mean or saying no sometimes or being the bad guy when it’s necessary.  Because just like tomatoes,  kids grow best when they are “caged”.

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