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Children Need Roots and Wings

"Good parents give their children Roots and Wings." --Jonas Salk

The first time I heard this quote, it made me think. The two sound contradictory - roots and wings: one to tie us to the ground and the other to enable us to fly away.

As I thought about it, however, I realized that, in fact, it clearly summed up the two primary responsibilities we have as parents: to provide a safe, nurturing environment in which our children can grow, and to prepare them for the time when they will "leave the nest."

So how do we give our children roots and wings?

Of course the roots come first. We provide a safe home where our children develop a sense of belonging, and where they can grow and become strong.

To help our children develop strong roots, we can learn a few thing from gardeners. They will tell you that, when you first plant a seed, you don't see any progress for some time. The seeds send down their roots into the soil first, long before the tiny shoots appear above ground. So the gardener learns patience, trusting the natural process.

As parents, we need to have the same patience and trust the process.

Roots serve two purposes: they give the plant stability, by going deep and holding it to the ground. They also provide nourishment through the water and minerals that are drawn in.

Stability and nourishment. We parents provide the same things.

Stability:

Of course, by providing for their physical needs - a home, food, clothing - we create the framework of stability. But there is so much more.

We also need to provide an atmosphere that is nurturing, supporting, and safe - emotionally as well as physically. In this way, we give our children a sense of belonging and security.

Nourishment:

Just as plants draw water and other nutrients from the soil to support their growth, our children depend on us for their nurturing. Our words of encouragement and appreciation, our guidance, and especially our love - these are the nourishment they receive from us.

To provide a stable and nurturing home for your children:

  • Create an atmosphere that is loving and welcoming, so it feels good to be home.
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