Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Gimme Shelter | Guest Post by Shannon Godby

Please welcome to the blog my friend Shannon, author of the sweet blog, Shannon On The Prairie! If you enjoy her guest post as much as I do, please be sure to leave her some comment love *smiles*...

Gimme Shelter
by Shannon Godby

To bring up the subject of sheltering our children, and the extent to which we should, would incite lively debate. There are extremes at both ends, from extreme religious fundamentalists to those who think nothing should be withheld from our children. I believe it is safe to say that most of us fall somewhere in the middle, even though the middle is a very big ocean in which to swim! As for me, I frequently turn to things in my life that are easy to understand in order to clarify the weightier issues.

Take, for instance, horticulture, or the study of plants.

“Uhhh…yeaaahh…” you might be thinking, and rightly so. I assure you, however, that there is a lot of enlightenment to be had among plants….please bear with me…

A greenhouse is a shelter made of materials through which light can penetrate. Commonly they are used to start and grow plants for personal satisfaction or commercial gain. A greenhouse environment is tightly controlled, from light and water needs to air circulation and nutrient uptake. These conditions allow a grower of plants to grow them when the weather conditions would not otherwise allow it. Like our human children, these plants are utterly dependent on their human caretakers to provide for their needs.

Most plants are not meant to live their lives in tightly controlled environments. The hope is that one day the plants will find a forever home or be sent out into the wide world to make their way to retail centers and gardens everywhere. The problem is this: if you take a plant out of a greenhouse right into harsh, natural conditions, that plant will likely perish. It does not know how to regulate its own water intake, it is not used to gleaning and storing nutrients when they have always been readily available, and wind, sun, cold and rain will beat it down because it has not learned to be strong. It has never had to be.

Good growers know that plants must be hardened off after living in sheltered conditions, and we have just seen why one cannot just stick a greenhouse-grown plant out to fend for itself. It’s a harsh world out there! So the grower will gradually expose plants to natural conditions. Artificial lighting will slowly be reduced, watering rates will be slowed, and fertilization will be tapered off. Plants will begin to harden and toughen in exposure to regular, gradual episodes of stress. Plant stems thicken and toughen, root systems stretch out and increase in number in their search for water, and leaves develop deep, green pigments to absorb and convert what they need from the sun and soil.

So it is with our children. It is our job to nurture, protect, feed and teach them. Our goal as parents, though, is to produce good citizens capable of living in a harsh world, being able to seek and meet their own needs. We do our children no favors by sheltering them their whole lives them shoving them out the door “Buh bye! Have a nice life! Live long and prosper!” As is appropriate for their ages, LET them feel some stress. LET them figure out how to solve basic life problems. As they get older LET them feel the sting of defeat so that they can learn, adapt and grow strong. It is a harsh world out there and their very survival depends on it.

{photo by Leif Brandt}
I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister. I love plants, horses, words and naturescapes. I have been a nanny and a stay-at-home-mom; a writer and a photographer; a student, a landscaper and a restorer of Illinois grasslands. I am only truly defined, however, by my relationship with Christ my Redeemer. You can find me online on my own blog, Shannon on the Prairie.


  1. very nice! I think it sums it up well. Good thing I can raise children, because I certainly can't raise plants. Inspiring for those of us who are soon to be empty-nesters!
    thanks for sharing!


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