Raising Kids and Bamboo Trees

Tall bamboo treesParents are often frustrated with their kids and/or with their own parenting. I coach many such parents and they express a lot of frustration. You cannot blame anyone else for the way your kids turn out and raising children is not easy, so it is not surprising that parents become frustrated. I have the most wonderful kids but they did not grow up exactly the way I expected them to. No matter how much you learn or how much you know, they will come out different to what you imagine.

This is because we are different people when we give birth to them than when we imagined them. They are born in a time that is different to what we grew up with.

Raising kids is similar to raising bamboo trees. Here is a story I heard called the Bamboo Tale. Patience is one of the necessary skills in the parenting job description. Sadly, no one can tell just exactly how much patience they need until they are put to the test. They then have to find it within themselves.

The Bamboo Tale

Once upon a time, there was a man who was very disappointed with his life. He went to his teacher and told him he felt very frustrated with his life.

“Life seems to be the same, without any improvements. I worked hard all year and still things are the same. I feel hopeless.”

His teacher smiled at him and asked, “Do you how long it takes for a Chinese Bamboo to grow to the size of a building?”

“No” replied the man. He was very confused with his teachers’ question.

Bamboo trees through a window

“Do you know how a Chinese Bamboo grows?” asked the teacher.

“No” replied the man still not knowing how his frustrations were connected to the Bamboo tree.

“At first, you prepare the soil, pick the right spot and then plant the Chinese Bamboo tree. In the first year, you water it and nothing happens. The second year, you wait, water and fertilize and still, no bud, no twig, nothing happens. The third year, you keep watering it and protect the area to take care of the plant and wait. Still nothing happens. In the fourth year, you look at the place that you planted your seed and tell yourself that it needs more water and you water it but still nothing happens. On the fifth year, you come to your plant and see that it has started growing. In six weeks the Bamboo grows to 90 feet. So how long do you think it takes the Bamboo to grow 90 feet?” asked the teacher

“It took six weeks. Didn’t you just say it took six weeks to grow?” the man asked.

“No, my son, this is the big mistake. It took 5 years for the Chinese Bamboo to grow. If at any time in the five years, you stop watering it, it will die. Underneath the ground, where we cannot see, roots are forming to support the sudden growth of the tree. Growth takes time and needs patience and perseverance. Even though it seem useless, every drop of water makes a different in the life of the invisible Bamboo tree.”

Parenting is much the same as a Bamboo tree. Every action, every encouraging, happy and positive experience is like water to the bamboo tree. It makes a difference, but often one that is invisible to the human eye. It helps children grow and develop. Much like the commitment of the person who planted the tree, we need commitment and drive to raise happy and strong children. You never know when the exact second will be when your child will break through and reach amazing heights. You must keep believing that if you keep showering your child with love, support and care, he/she will eventually start growing. It is hard to believe that a seed, that seems to do nothing for such a long time, will grow into such a strong tree. Keep watering and your child will be as strong as the Chinese Bamboo”.

Green bamboo treesThis story is for all parents who are frustrated with their kids. Success is much like growing a Bamboo tree: first you need a seed, and you need to prepare the soil, water it, protect it from harm, keep watering and be patient. Yes, a big part of parenting is waiting. Use the time wisely – keep “watering” them with other skills and positive experiences. Kids are bamboo trees that never get too much water.

Much like the Bamboo tree, which needs the farmer’s belief in the outcome, kids need their parents belief in their success.

Keep watering your bamboo kid.

Hugs and love,