Planting Small Souls

Raising children is arguably one of the most complex and profound challenges that we face. From the innocent days of infancy through the complicated chaos of the teenage years, child-rearing is fraught with questions and uncertainty.

Like a freshly germinating seed, each newborn requires a certain set of conditions to thrive. Tender, loving care, understanding and patience are some of the basics. Just as some varieties of foliage crave more sun and water than others, so too do our children have different needs. Even siblings born of the same parents can be found to have diverse temperaments and emotional requirements.

When a child is born and when a seed is planted a profound process has begun. A flower will not bloom faster by watering it more often or exposing it to additional sunlight. Neither a child’s nor a plant’s development can be rushed; patience is essential as we tend to the fledgling souls.

A story is told of a space shuttle mission to Mars that was cancelled at the last moment. Politicians were furious to learn that the cancellation was due to an error in the direction of the rocket of one-millionth of an inch! “For such a miniscule amount, the entire mission had to be cancelled?!”

The wise astronauts answered, “Although the difference from the correct course is only a millionth of an inch here on Earth, in space the distance will be magnified exponentially. Had we proceeded with this launching, the shuttle would not have reached Mars- it would have landed on Jupiter!”

And although a small difference in our attitude towards integrity, responsibility, or patience may seem relatively insignificant in our everyday lives, the shifts will be magnified with each future generation within our family.

Although you may be in the midst of a hot, long, tiring day, when you take that superhuman deep breath and respond with patience- rather than anger- to your child’s clumsiness, a more tranquil and emotionally secure home will await you and your family for generations to come.

Waking up several minutes earlier may seem like a small change in your present schedule, yet the effect of calm and happy mornings will linger beyond the visible day-to-day outcome of that change.

So, give yourself a hearty pat on the back for the seemingly small things- which are can have momentous effects on your child’s happiness and confidence.

As trees and children mature, the weather will change and a serene sunny day may suddenly be replaced by a dark and stormy night. What was effective yesterday may no longer be adequate today, and we parents search for answers anew amid the changing circumstances.

Parenting, like planting, is a journey- not a destination. Let’s go down the road together and strengthen one another with insightful tips and advice.

Do share the ideas that have born fruit as you raise your small souls!


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  1. Thanks for reminding me what precious gifts my children truly are. I need to stop, take a deep breath, and thank God for entrusting me these wonderful souls.

  2. michelle kilgore says:

    I think this is so true not only in the little things like responding with patience but also in the seemingly “white lies” we tell and our children observe and then we tell them it is wrong to lie. Children far understand actions, behaviors, and such that as adults we think they don’t see, hear, or “understand” This is even true when we argue in front of our children and then when they are asking questions or making statements because it is hard for us to then recognize our wrong we invalidate what they know. There is a need in our lives, in our children’s lifes to uphold honesty and integrety and validation of such.

  3. Liba Lurie says:

    Though we are reminded of the tremendous responsibility that has been placed on us as parents, the rewards are just as great. Not only do our children offer us an opportunity to nurture the generations to come but also to repair those of the past. What a wonderful gift we’ve been endowed with!

  4. Rose Schmitz says:

    I love the analogy of the Mars trip…and even better, the real life suggestions that make our families better. Thanks for your “down to earth” suggestions!

  5. I’m a firm believer in the “calm and happy mornings”. The morning sets your attitude for the whole day. The more good starts you have, the more good days you’ll have! Great advice ;0)

  6. The last PTA meeting at my son’s school featured a guest speaker who drew an analogy between parenting and gardening. Parents, like gardeners, are supposed to nurture and protect the tender and helpless little seedlings from too much or too little sunshine, rain, etc. to protect them from vermin and pests and help them reach their full potential. He acknowledged the hard work required and gave us a pep talk about how important this work truly is. We have to take the long view of things, as well, and be patient as our small souls grow and mature, like lovely flowers, under our care. I constantly remind myself that it requires patience to raise a child. Thanks for the encouragement and the support, especially in the Mars trip analogy: a tiny thing at this end of the trip can turn into something huge later on!

  7. This was fantastic! Thank you for writing this!


  8. Just when I think I’m at my wit’s end, I receive an e-mail from Ellen; thank you! The garden analogy as it appliees to the teen years is that I as parent try to maintain an orderly “garden” with a fence that is essentially my rules and ideas about the manner in which my son should live. The hardest part of parenting a teen is letting him make mistakes. I’m still working on it.
    Very thankful for the messages I receive from Raising Small Souls!

  9. Liz Cochran says:

    I have a quote on my refrigerator that reminds me of the same idea you are encouraging us to embrace.
    ” Patience, in time the grass becomes milk” As the mother of three sons it is a constant reminder that someday my boys will become men. Grass is green, milk is white, there is a process that must be completed before we see the results we seek.

  10. I have a quote in my desk that says, “We should see bad behavior as an opportunity to give love.” The way we respond to our children is significant!

  11. Hadassah says:

    I once wrote an article for a women’s magazine about parenting using the garden analogy. It applies in many ways. What a boring world this would be if all flowers were the same color, size, shape or texture. We need to value and appreciate the uniqueness of our individual children. Not all flowers bloom in the same season, and we need patience to cultivate a garden. A minor flaw in a seedling can become a huge flaw in a tree. keep the e-mails coming.

  12. hmm, how certain decisions and unhealthy outbursts can change the course of our lives.

    i love the idea about routinely getting up earlier to set a calm relaxed stage for the day

  13. Love Sandi’s quote – “we should see bad behavior as
    an opportunity to give love”
    This is what I needed to hear today.
    Thank you.

  14. Marilynn says:

    As a first time mother of a very strong-willed 20-month-old boy, patience is something I need more of every day!! Thanks for the reminders as to why this is so important.

  15. Claudia says:

    Like Holly, after being at my wit’s end and having made and executed a tough decision, I opened Ellen’s e-mail, and in the “Responses” was Kathie’s reply, which clearly delineated my stance. I was able to forward Kathie’s reply to the shocked teacher to further explain the situation. Thank you all for such support.