Welcome to the world of companion gardening, a concept that mirrors our place in the family and community.
Each plant in your garden needs it’s own space and particular nutrients of pH, soil makeup, water, and light. If any plant is not getting what it specifically needs then the result is poor growth, fewer fruits, an unhealthy change to the leaves and/or a vulnerability to fungus and mites. If this is the case you would investigate the problem and address the issue. The plant would be moved to another area of the garden to change the light spectrum, you would add fertilizer or you water less often. None of you would decide the plant needs to be taught a lesson and place the plant in the garden shed until it decides to grow better.
Similarly, our family members need the same attention. Notice behavior but act on needs. If someone is not working towards the good of themselves and those around them, then investigate the source of the problem, make the appropriate changes and nurture the person back to optimal health. Do they need more attention, security, love, companionship or autonomy? You would not punish the plant so why punish the person.
Those of you in my pediatric practice have heard me say, “You are raising a family, not a child.” Each member of your house has needs, such as shelter, love, autonomy, security, etc. The household is happiest when each member has their needs met, and this usually includes a good night sleep on a regular basis, daily exercise and healthy foods (even if your child has to stay in the daycare at the gym.) Each person then has an improved resilience to stress and is in a better position to assist in making life wonderful for everyone around him or her. Yes, please, sign me up for good sleep and well-behaved children.
However, if one person starts to make too many demands on the others, especially under normal circumstances, then explore why this is happening instead of resorting to the default cultural norm to punish our child with a timeout if they do not comply with our needs. All they may need is a little sunshine, fresh air, food and attention. You wouldn’t take the plant that isn’t growing well and put it in the closed garden shed to teach it a lesson so investigate what essential element of life is missing and take corrective action for your family.
I encourage parents not to fear to go against the grain with parenting. You may consider the very real movement known as positive discipline represented in an anecdotal tale of a tribal community that encircles an individual that is misbehaving. The tribe takes turns telling him or her all the wonderful things they do. The tribal member realigns themselves with the needs of the group and feels centered again. In this manner, we can borrow from positive discipline to create a culture of companion gardening to help everyone in our tribe flourish.
I hope you will start to think of companion gardening when you are with your family. Minding what makes each of us grow while remembering the gardener is vital to the health of the whole garden and comes before everything else in the house. Take care of yourself each day so you can show your partner, children and extended family healthy boundaries that you need to keep you well. They will love your authenticity and respond in kind. The example for your children will be life altering and can create a new dynamic culture for generations to come.