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”.