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Parenting Lessons from my Poinsettia

How plants resemble children and their desire to flourish and grow.

Source: Pexels

Poinsettia plants are a beautiful representation of the holiday season. So bright red, so joyous, so content to just exist and bring people happiness just by doing the very thing that comes so naturally to them – grow and flourish.

My husband bought two large poinsettia plants right after Thanksgiving, and I wanted to enjoy them each and every day, so I placed them in my family room area by my son’s bearded dragon’s tank. Natural light was nearby but not directly reaching the poinsettia plants, but I was able to see them and enjoy them daily.

As the days went by, I noticed that the leaves were turning brown at the edges and drying up. Leaves were falling off in big bunches and, despite the fact that I was providing enough water, the plant started to droop and look unhealthy.

This got me thinking about how my poinsettia plant resembles children and their desire to flourish and grow. When we, parents and teachers, create unnecessary demands and expectations for them, they begin to shrivel and lose their joy for life.

Here are a few lessons that I learned from my poinsettia plant:

Avoid artificial light. Play in the sunshine

Our children spend too many hours indoors, in classrooms, working on homework, shuttling to and from extracurricular activities meant to enrich their lives and their future college applications. But are these classes, courses, and lessons really doing that, or are they stifling our children’s natural tendency to play and explore outside?

Our children need more time away from books, classes, and all of the pressures that come with being in elementary school, middle school, or high school and preparing for the “perfect” college. How about more free play time to just be and sit with their thoughts or engage in conversations with family members or friends.

Allow your child to choose their friends and allow for organic interactions where our children can explore their interests or find new ones. Remember the days when we went outside every day, found kids to play with and came up with games, negotiated, problem solved, reached out to friends by ringing the doorbell and then came home at the end of the night for family dinner, a shower and bed? We had time to think, create and play. We weren’t running to viola class or math enrichment.

Every child is born with a free spirit. Let it grow.

Each one of us is born with the natural ability to grow, explore, and create. As we grew older, we became dampened by our parents’ standards, goals for us, their expectations and dreams. But what happens when those dreams for our own children are not their dreams? What happens when we push goals for them that aren’t in sync with their natural abilities?

We stifle them. Our children will either work hard to please us, as their parents or resist us. In either direction, we are not allowing for natural growth and progression, and we end up wasting their time and energy, and also funds.

It’s very easy to look around and compare your child with other children who are taking extra classes and lessons on nights and weekends, but is that what works for you and your child? Does your child light up with the realization that it’s time for her art class or voice lesson? If not, let it go. It may be the thing that she is doing to keep you happy or a way to avoid a fight, but that’s not allowing your child to have the space and experience of learning something that excites them or allows for gratification and fulfillment.

My poinsettia story does have a happy ending! I placed my two plants in my sunroom where there is plenty of light coming in through the windows all day long. Within a few hours, the plants perked up and appeared healthy again. It was a pretty powerful observation for me to make, hence, these are the lessons that I learned from my poinsettia plant.

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