It is late autumn in South Africa, and time to harvest late summer plants and plant the early winter crops.
Each year, about this time, I find that my tomato plants have overgrown their tomato stakes and there is still a lot of fruit on the plant. Stabilizing the trailing branches at this stage is a very delicate business and I spend hours tenderly lifting and tying fruit-laden branches onto higher stakes.
I have tried different methods every year and I am still caught out by 2 things – the size of the plant and the duration of their fruit-bearing season. They simply outgrow their stakes and continue growing for longer than the rest of the summer plants.
The Lord prompted me to prepare my next tomato stakes higher and stronger … and then He reminded me about my parenting role in “Tomato Staking“.
When my kids were very young I read about Tomato Staking ~ Raising Godly Tomatoes. To quote ~
” … be your child’s tomato stake from early on, keeping him close to you beyond infancy, training him constantly to be as you want him to be — a godly child and eventually a godly adult. If you do this, eventually, when he is grown, he will be strong in the ways you have trained him and will not easily be persuaded toward the viewpoint and ways others.
Tomato Staking is a powerful tool that enables preemptive parenting. When you Tomato Stake, you can anticipate wrong attitudes and misbehaviors and nip things in the bud before they become ingrained habits. You are right there to encourage right behavior as well. And, of course, it’s easy to get to know your child when you spend time with him. And the better you know him, the more likely it is that you will develop a close, loving relationship, and will remain close throughout life. Tomato Staking provides you with the avenue to be a teacher, mentor, friend and more to your child.”
It is a wonderful parenting method and it works.
I am an “attached parent” and enjoy having my children with me and doing things with them. Perhaps this seems a simple approach, but it is the most positive way to raise children.
When toddlers spend too much time unsupervised and not positively directed, they can easily become like overgrown tomatoes which trail on the ground and spoil. Immediately redirecting and reinforcing the right behavior in a toddler is much easier to do than to later correct or discipline a wayward child.
Tomato staking can help mothers with older children too. Even a teen can be brought in close, kept within view and earshot and kept busy with whatever mom/ dad happens to be doing. While their loss of freedom and liberty is viewed as a punishment, being with the parent and kept positively involved can provide many opportunities to rebuild damaged relationships and address some of the deeper issues in a caring and personal way.
Quoting Louise’s description of what “Tomato Staking” as an older child in her home looked like, she says ~
“Tomato Staking was primarily a positive mentoring method used to mold and shape the character of the child. Occasionally it was used as a tool for discipline, similar to being grounded, but a much longer-term arrangement, with the child being kept near the parents, not sent to his room.”
Again, I am reminded that raising Godly children is a long process and, while methods and approach may change as they mature, the principle of constant guidance and support is vital.
Are my parenting support structures high enough and strong enough?
Do I have a variety of methods of keeping my growing children supported so that they can continue to bear good fruit in their characters as they mature?
- I pray that I parent positively, build and maintain an intimate relationship with each child, and encourage and support my children as they mature.
- I pray that I see the fruits of their lives ripen and fulfilled in God’s purpose and calling.
Can you share your Tomato Stalking experiences? Feel free to write in the comments.
Blessings as you parent,
And here are some references for the actual tomato gardener:
- http://www.mastergardeners.org/picks/tomato_staking.html – comparisons with pros and cons for several different tomato stake techniques
- What tomatoes taught me about Jesus (morganjaneblog.wordpress.com)
- Tomato planting in mind.. (rootstotable.wordpress.com)