Have you ever noticed that water always finds the path f least resistance? It flows down hill every time, without exception.
A farmer who has plowed and prepared a new field with furrows for irrigating knows this first hand. Ignoring this fact would lead to his failure as a farmer.
In the early spring he prepares the soil by plowing or loosening the dirt, levels it and then forms straight rows for the seeds to be planted in and furrows to turn the water in. Before the water hits it, the dirt is soft and there are always weaknesses in the rows such as low spots or clods of dirt that dam the furrow making it easy for the water to wash out the rows.
All of these weaknesses will be exposed as the water starts coming down the row. The wise farmer knows that on his first few water turns he must \”tend\” it carefully, making sure the water runs down the furrows and gets to the end of the row. But once the water has made it down the rows successfully a of couple times and the furrows are formed with the dirt now crusted in harder mud, the watering will be much more automatic.
Children and teens are like water. They will inevitably find those places where parents don\’t have it all together. If one parent is more inclined than the other to say yes to requests, they will discover it. My son recently told me that he has learned that it\’s better for him if he goes to his Mom for some things and to me for others. We see this, and are currently working hard to close any gaps between us! Even if the pattern of parental behavior is more complicated they will, in time, find the weaknesses. If kids can identify those patterns, can you imagine the scenario where two farmers (two parents) are trying to take the water (the kids) two different directions? Disastrous! There have been deadly shoot-outs over who\’s water turn it was!
When parents are trying to change things at home and create order from chaos, the farm can teach us some invaluable truths, a few being:
1. here is much work to do in preparing the home for something new–preparation is vital.
2. All the preparation in the world will not change the fact that tests will come to the new structure. Parents must be patient, enduring and resolute over a period of time. Sometimes at 2 in the morning, the tests will come. At inconvenient times when they are tired or feeling uncreative, the tests will come.
3. If the boundaries are managed, maintained and strengthened, water (kids) will find the new path easier in time. Then if storms don\’t destroy the crop, a great harvest will come. And for parents the harvest comes as they see their child begin to internalize solid values, making good decisions, thus holding the boundaries themselves!
Finally, the farmer can sleep through the water turn. Happy day!
To Family Success and Happiness!
Tim R. Thayne, Ph.D.
Homeward Bound/Family Front